John A. Crow explains it perfectly in Spain, The Root and the Flower, University of California Press, 1985:
Spain was first called Iberia, a name given to it by its Iberian inhabitants (from North Africa). The name was supposedly based on the Iberian word for river, Iber. They reached Spain around 6000 BCE. When the Greeks arrived on Spanish soil around 600 BCE. they referred to the peninsula as Hesperia, meaning "land of the setting sun." When the Carthaginians came around 300 BCE. they called the country Ispania (from Sphan, "rabbit"), which means "land of the rabbits." The Romans arrived a century later and adopted the Carthaginian name of the country, calling it Hispania. Later, this became the present day Spanish name for the country, España. Thus, because of the Romans and their language, the rabbits won over the sunset and over the river.
This collection contains stories either written by or collected by Rachel Harriette Busk, Charles Sellers, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, Andrew Lang and by José Muñoz Escámez. Translations from Becquer are by Cornelia Francis Bates and Katherine Lee Bates.
As ever it’s been a delight to work on these stories, many of which I had not read before working through some of these original collections. There is a real flavour of the peninsular in these stories, reflecting as they do Spain and Portugal’s long history of thought, religion and conflict. I hope you enjoy these stories.
Tales From The Land Of Rabbits
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