Roman Names - Clans
The Romans were divided into various
clans, (gentes,) and each clan into several families. Those
of the same gens were called gentiles, and those of the same
family, agnati. But relations by the father's side were
also called agnati, to distinguish them from cognati,
relations only on the mother's side.
Roman Names - the
The Romans had three names,
to mark the different clans and families, and distinguish
the individuals of the same family - the praenomen, nomen
The praenomen was put first, and marked the individual. It
was commonly written with one letter; as A. for Aulus: C.
for Caius, sometimes with two; as Ap. for Appius. Not all of
the Roman names were used; commonly just two names, and
sometimes only the surname. But in speaking to any one, the
praenomen was generally used as being peculiar to citizens,
for slaves had no praenomen. (See the article on
Roman Literature for lots
of examples of famous Roman Names)
Roman Names - the Nomen
The nomen was put after the praenomen, to mark the gens, and
commonly ended in ius; as Julius, Cassius, Cornelius, Fabius.
Roman Names - the Cognomen
was put last, and marked the family; as Cicero, Caesar.
The surnames were derived from various circumstances, either
from some quality of the mind; as Cato, from catus, wise: or
from the habit of the body; as Calvus, Crassus, etc. or from
cultivating particular fruits; as Lentulus, Piso, &c.
Quintus Cincinnatus was called Serranus, because the
ambassadors from the senate found him sowing, when they
brought him word that he was made dictator.
Roman Names given to sons
The praenomen was given to boys on the ninth day, which was
called dies lustricus, or the day of purification, when
certain religious ceremonies were performed. The eldest son
of the family usually received the praenomen of his father.
The rest were named from their uncles or other relations.
When there was only one daughter in the family, she was
called by the name of the gens: thus, Tullia, the daughter
of Cicero; and retained the same after marriage. When there
were two daughters, one was called major, and the other
minor. If there were more than two, they were distinguished
by their number; thus—prima, secunda, tertia etc.
Roman Names - The Fourth
Sometimes there was also a fourth name, called the agnomen,
added from some illustrious action, or remarkable event.
Thus, Scipio was called Africanus, from the conquest of
Carthage and Africa: for a similar reason, his brother was
Roman Names - The Freeman
Those were called liberi, free, who had the power of doing
what they pleased. Those who were born of parents who
had been always free, were called ingenui. Slaves made free
were called liberti, in relation to their masters; and
libertini, in relation to free born citizens.