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M. Porcius Cato

Twin Ps

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While doing some research on Roman Gaul for an upcoming trip to France, I came across the name of a Gallo-Roman landholder named Clippius, who lent his name to Clippiacum (now Clichy). The double-p in Clippius struck me as Latin-atypical, though I'll bet you'll immediately recall one prominent exception: Agrippa.

 

Now, there's something funny thing about that name too. First, where did it come from? Supposedly, there was an early patrician family that used Agrippa as a praenomen but mysteriously went extinct. I say 'supposedly' because this family seems to have been discovered under Augustus (who wanted his Vipsanius Agrippa to be a patrician), and from out of nowhere "Agrippa" was also being promoted as the name of some long lost Alban kings. If we can agree that that line of praenomen-bearing Agrippae is pure bunk (and *really* where else does one find Agrippa as a praenomen?), then where did 'Agrippa' really come from?

 

Then, the original funny business to explain: How common were double-p names among proper Roman republican families anyway? I toss in 'republican' as a delimiter in this context just because I want to try to find something Italian in origin, and after the 1st C, Italy was simply filled with the dregs of the whole empire -- non-Latin names and all.

 

Any thoughts?

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While doing some research on Roman Gaul for an upcoming trip to France...

 

You have my envy!

 

...Agrippa. Now, there's something funny thing about that name too. First, where did it come from?

 

Well, Livy mentions the Alban king Agrippa in his History of Rome (I.3): "Then Agrippa, the son of Tiberinus; after Agrippa, Romulus Silvius ascends the throne, in succession to his father." (translated by D. Spillan)

 

But it's likely that the name Agrippa is of Greek origin (despite Pliny's fanciful explanation of the name in his Natural History). The name Agrippa itself doesn't occur in Greek sources, but there are a number of similar names to suggest that the Italians borrowed the name from the Greek colonies in Italy and altered it. Agrippa most likely means "wild horse" (from the Greek agrios and hippos).

 

...(and *really* where else does one find Agrippa as a praenomen?)...

 

Livy mentions a few people using Agrippa as a praenomen: Agrippa Menenius, Agrippa Menenius Lanatus, and Agrippa Furius.

 

Then, the original funny business to explain: How common were double-p names among proper Roman republican families anyway? I toss in 'republican' as a delimiter in this context just because I want to try to find something Italian in origin, and after the 1st C, Italy was simply filled with the dregs of the whole empire -- non-Latin names and all.

 

I don't know whether this might count as "popular," but here are a few double-p gentes who had representative members serving as magistrates during the republican era: Appuleius (also spelled Apuleius), Eppius, Oppius, and Poppaedius (sometimes rendered Pompaedius). There were also the Poppaei and, although they're not represented during the era of the republic as having held magisterial office, they were most likely around during the republic.

 

The Appuleii also had a branch which sported a double-p cognomen: Tappo. (The cognomen of Tappo can also be found in a branch of the Valerii). Another form of this cognomen

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Poppaedius, also rendered as Poppeaus is best known through the Sabinus family, especially Poppea Sabina, the unfortunate wife of Nero. Is the name originally Marsian?

 

With the Philippus clan - there's notably the husband of Atia, and his (presumed) ancestor who commanded Roman forces in Macedon in 169 BC (though presumably this name is a derivative of the Greek Philhippos, which brings us back to horses).

 

Another name worth throwing into the mix is Iuppiter. Only one known bearer of the name, but quite a significant one.

Edited by Maty

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Poppaedius, also rendered as Poppeaus is best known through the Sabinus family, especially Poppea Sabina, the unfortunate wife of Nero. Is the name originally Marsian?

 

Maty, I'm not quite certain that the names Poppaedius and Poppaeus represent the same families. It appears to me that the name Poppaedius/Pompaedius may have been derived from Poppaeus/Pompaeus, just as Aufidius was derived from Aufeius, Decidius from Decius, Fufidius from Fufius, and so on. But each of these developed into distinct families, despite the derivation of their names. If I'm wrong about Poppaedius and Poppaeus being distinct families, then I shall forfeit my week's supply of Falernian wine to you.

 

And, that's a good point -- wondering whether the name might be originally Marsian. You're thinking of Quintus Poppaedius (or Pompaedius) Silo, right?

 

-- Nephele

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Thanks Nephele. You're right that there are quite a few cognomen with the double-p -- that doesn't really bother me since cognomen are often imports (e.g., Damasippus), and the cognomen itself is a bit of an innovation anyway. But Maty's got the example that I just can't wiggle out of for anything -- Iuppiter. By Jove, Iuppiter is as Italic as it gets, isn't it? But then why do we render it as Jupiter? (The J-part I get.)

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But Maty's got the example that I just can't wiggle out of for anything -- Iuppiter. By Jove, Iuppiter is as Italic as it gets, isn't it? But then why do we render it as Jupiter? (The J-part I get.)

 

I'd like to know, too! My hefty Lewis & Short only states that the double-p in Juppiter should appear "in all good manuscripts." There is a reference to Wagner, Orthogr. Vergl. sub hac voce, which I presume (from the catalogue at the front of the book) is to a note on orthography under the word "Juppiter" in Philip Wagner's work on Vergil (if I'm deciphering this correctly). Not having ready access to the work, I can only wonder if the answer to the double-p might be found there.

 

Maty -- what say you?

 

-- Nephele

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This is one for the linguistic archaeologists I'd say ... there's various ideas how Jupiter got his name, with the common idea being that the '-piter' bit is an old Latin variant of 'pater'. From there we can either go to the Indo-European Djus-pater (father god), or to 'Zeus pater' father Zeus.

 

There another idea I'd be inclined towards, because it it explains the double 'p'; which is that Jupiter was originally 'Father Jove', which give us a vocative of 'Iovi piter' and from there the extra 'vi' sound was subsumed to a 'p'. But frankly, I'm stretching.

 

Does anyone know if dear old Sextus Festus has anything to say on this?

 

Thanks for reminding me of Silo, Nephele - I knew the name seemed Marsian to me, but I didn't make the connection, though it was evidently in the back of my mind. Re the changing spelling of the gentilictium, I agree that this could be caused by different spelling as branches of the family became separate clans, but it could also be a matter of personal preference, as young Clodius demonstrated.

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