|Kate Dolan as Portia by John Everett Millais|
Origin: Ancient Roman
Meaning: "Pig" or "Port, harbor"
Other Forms: Porcia
Portia is a favorite of mine, with a rich history and plenty of strong namesakes.
The only thing holding it back is the meaning - "pig".
Portia is thought to come from the Ancient Roman family name Porcius, which comes from the Latin porcus, "pig". The original feminine form was Porcia, giving Portia a bit of ambiguity, with some thinking it's more likely to be a form of Portius which means "port" or "harbor". It last placed in the US top 1000 in 1991 at #961, making it a perfect pick for someone looking for something unique.
In Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Portia is the beautiful and witty Belmont heiress with a love of proverbs and wordplay. She later saves the life of her choice of suitor, Bassiano's, friend Antonio in court by disguising herself as a man and a lawyer's assistant. This Portia was said to be inspired by not only Elizabeth I, who herself was fond of proverbs, but by Porcia Catonis, the second wife of Marcus Junius Brutus. She inspired the "Portia Hypothesis", which claims women with more masculine sounding names are more successful in legal professions than women with more feminine ones.
Porcia Catonis is most famous for convincing her husband she could keep the secret of his plans to assassinate Julius Caesar by cutting her own thigh with a barber's knife, thus proving she could take the pain and keep the secret, even if she was tortured. She was said to later kill herself by swallowing hot coals, though the plausibility of this is debated, with it being suggested she burned coal in an unventilated room instead and suffocated.
John Adams called his wife Abigail Adams "Portia" in his letters, with her calling him "Lysander". There is also a moon of Uranus called Portia, named after the Shakespearean character. As for more recent bearers there is model and actress Portia de Rossi, who changed her name from Amanda Ross, and actress Portia Doubleday, best known for her role in "Mr. Robot".