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Guest Ambiorix

The Names Of The Roman Aristocrats

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Guest Ambiorix

Could someone give me the 3 names of an aristocratic Roman? And where was each one of them used for?

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Gaius Julius Caesar

 

Gaius was the praenomen and is a simple informal name generally handed down from the fathers side.

 

Julius is the nomen representing the clan or family name

 

Caesar is the cognomen and represents a specific branch within the family.

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Gracchus,

Gnaeus Pompey

Marcus Aonelius

 

If one takes Gaius Julius Caesar as an example:

 

GAIUS was his given name - there were a limited range of such names: Lucius, Marcus, Gnaeus, are examples.

 

JULIUS - is the family or clan name. Caesar belonged to the Julian clan - allegedly descended from Iulus son of Aeneas and thus from the goddess Venus. He was a patrician, of high-born ancient stock - his forebears had been Senators (Patres or fathers) in the days of the kings of Rome, before 509BC).

 

Daughters took this name as their own - so any daughter born to a Julian was likely to be called JULIA - they were differentiated by pet names, or numbers used as names - Prima (first or eldest), or Tertia (third) etc

 

CAESAR was a family nickname - this one means a head of hair (which, if Caesar's famous early baldness was hereditary, may have been a pun!)

 

In early Roman times, men usually had only two names. the third name (the cognomen) as has been said, could come to identify a branch of (say) the Julian clan.

 

Gnaeus Pompeius was awarded his cognomen (again perhaps ironically) by Sulla, who greeted his young ally as "Magnus" (the great). Pompey eventually came to use the name - which was somewhat justified, iff a little arrogant - by his achievements.

 

Does that help?

 

Phil

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I could add that Roman names seem confusing partly because the one used by modern writers, out of the 2/3/4 names that a male Roman had, seems almost to be chosen at random. And sometimes it varies from country to country too. We call the historian of the Republic Livy, while in French he is Tite-Live (his real name was T. Livius, i.e. Titus Livius).

 

And Romans changed their names during their lifetimes, e.g. if they were adopted: thus Octavius became Ocatavianus when he was adopted by Caesar, and then later still Augustus.

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so if I style myself Primus Aurelius Pertinax does this add up? Primus as first born,Aurelius (well I have to pick a clan) and Pertinax ( personal antisocial tendency).

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so if I style myself Primus Aurelius Pertinax does this add up? Primus as first born,Aurelius (well I have to pick a clan) and Pertinax ( personal antisocial tendency).

 

 

I don't think that Primus was one of the approved praenomina. The name is not thus ROMAN in that sense.

 

Cicero was "Tully" after his nomen (Tullius) to the C18th and C19th.

 

Phil

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