Roman Naming Practices During the Principate
Jul 5, 2007
Practically even before a child of Roman parents was conceived, during the period of the Republic his or her name was already prescribed by a rigid system of personal identification. During the Principate, however, naming practices began to change, making this period a particularly interesting one for Roman onomastics.
Of the tria nomina, the three-part name borne by most freeborn male Roman citizens, the Roman praenomen came first and was the only one of the three names that offered parents some choice in naming their son. Even so, there had always been for Roman parents a limited number of praenomina from which to choose when naming a son and, of these, a mere seventeen constituted 98% of all praenomina in use by Roman males during the Regal and Republican periods…