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Who is this Nero?

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I was wondering if Caius Claudius Nero who defeated Hasdrubal at the Metaurus was a direct ancestor of the Emperor Nero? Nero does not seem to have been a very common name.

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Actually the name Nero was quite common. If you look where Nero is placed, that is not his family name. If I remember correctly, Nero was more or less a nickname. Kind of like Maximus, Caesar, etc. These names all connotated something special about that person. The first name was the name he would have been given as a child. Gaius, Sextus, Octavius, etc. The second name would be the family name, Julii, Claudii, Brutii, Tarquinii, etc. Does this make sense?

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Actually the name Nero was quite common. If you look where Nero is placed, that is not his family name. If I remember correctly, Nero was more or less a nickname. Kind of like Maximus, Caesar, etc. These names all connotated something special about that person. The first name was the name he would have been given as a child. Gaius, Sextus, Octavius, etc. The second name would be the family name, Julii, Claudii, Brutii, Tarquinii, etc. Does this make sense?

 

Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and was adopted into the Claudii gens by, appropriately enough, Claudius. Both emperors Tiberius and Claudius were born into the Claudii gens with the same given names... Tiberius Claudius Nero. While its certainly possible, one would have to follow the line back to see if the Caius Claudius Nero in question is a direct ancestor of either or only a distant relative of the same family branch. Maybe Nephele can provide some insight.

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Suetonius, in his Life of Tiberius, gives us the origin of the Claudian use of "Nero":

 

The patrician branch of the Claudian family (for there was, besides, a plebeian branch of no less influence and prestige) originated at Regilli, a town of the Sabines. From there it moved to Rome shortly after the founding of the city with a large band of dependents, through the influence of Titus Tatius, who shared the kingly power with Romulus (or, according to the generally accepted view, of Atta Claudius, the head of the family) about six years after the expulsion of the kings. It was admitted among the patrician families, receiving, besides, from the State a piece of land on the farther side of the Anio for its dependents, and a burial-site for the family at the foot of the Capitoline hill. Then as time went on it was honoured with twenty-eight consulships, five dictatorships, seven censorships, six triumphs, and two ovations. While the members of the family were known by various forenames and surnames, they discarded the forename Lucius by common consent after two of the family who bore it had been found guilty, the one of highway robbery, and the other of murder. To their surnames, on the other hand, they added that of Nero, which in the Sabine tongue means "strong and valiant."

 

-- Nephele

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Wasn't the 'cognomen' a sort of descriptive name, e.g., 'Cicero' = 'Chickpea'?

Wouldn't one then trace the 'family' by the nomen?

Edited by Gaius Octavius

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Wasn't the 'cognomen' a sort of descriptive name, e.g., 'Cicero' = 'Chickpea'?

Wouldn't one then trace the 'family' by the nomen?

 

The cognomen is indeed a nickname attached to certain branch of the family, for example the Claudians has too branches: one was the patrician who bore the cognomen "Nero" and the other were plebs who bore the cognomen "Marcellus", while the two are related they are not considered to be of them same family.

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...for example the Claudians has too branches: one was the patrician who bore the cognomen "Nero" and the other were plebs who bore the cognomen "Marcellus"...

 

There were a good many more than just two branches to the Claudii. Smith's lists the patrician branches as being: Caecus, Caudex, Centho, Crassus, Nero, Pulcher, Regillensis, and Sabinus. The plebeian Claudii were: Asellus, Canina, Centumalus, Cicero, Flamen, and Marcellus.

 

In addition to those Claudian branches mentioned in Smith's, there was: Glaber, Glicia, Hortator, Lepidus, Russus, Ugo, and Unimanus, all of whom are recorded (Broughton's) as having held magisterial positions at one time or another. The reason why there were so many branches to the Claudii may have much to do with the fact that the Claudii were one of the earliest recognized families of ancient Rome. There are numerous branches to other old gentes, such as the Aemilii and the Cornelii. As families grew over time, different branches would desire to distinguish themselves from each other.

 

The same cognomen might be used by two different gentes (e.g. Claudius Lepidus and Aemilius Lepidus), so G.O. is right that it was the gens rather than the cognomen alone that might indicate familial relationship -- the cognomen being basically an individual's distinguishing nickname that became hereditary. But in the case of gentes with specific, attached cognomina, those members (sharing both the same nomen gentilicium and cognomen) would have a closer relationship to each other than those who were merely members of the same gens.

 

-- Nephele

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As Nephele has pointed out above in her citation of Suetonius, the cognomen 'Nero' was added to this branch of the Claudii due to its Sabine meaning of 'strong'. (The Claudians were of Sabine origin) However, I have never known an instance of this particular cognomen being used within another gens - but Nephele may know more about this.

 

As for Gaius Claudius Nero of The Metaurus being an ancestor of the Claudii Nerones, this was indeed an accepted fact within Livia's time at least. In fact, his fellow consul Livius Salinator was also her ancestor (Suetonius, Tib.4)

 

The Emperor Nero, although not born a Nero, as PP says above, was directly descended from the Claudii Nerones via Drusus, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Drusus' son Germanicus who was the father of Agrippina the younger, mother of Emperor Nero.

Edited by The Augusta

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As Nephele has pointed out above in her citation of Suetonius, the cognomen 'Nero' was added to this branch of the Claudii due to its Sabine meaning of 'strong'. (The Claudians were of Sabine origin) However, I have never known an instance of this particular cognomen being used within another gens - but Nephele may know more about this.

 

Yes, you're right -- it appears that the Claudii were the only ones to have used "Nero" as a cognomen. But "Nero", besides being a Claudian cognomen of Sabine origin, was originally a Sabine praenomen. As such, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum includes several instances of Sabine and Umbrian families (e.g. Capidas) using "Nero" as a praenomen. Interestingly, Suetonius reports in his Life of Claudius that Claudius' father, Drusus (son of Livia and brother to the emperor Tiberius), "at first had the forename Decimus and later that of Nero". Which indicates that the cognomen Nero had either been revived as a praenomen in later times, or it was still somewhat in use all along as a very rare praenomen.

 

Perhaps the early Claudii retained "Nero" as a cognomen in order to maintain some link to their Sabine ancestry, as they were (according to Friedrich M

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Actually the name Nero was quite common. If you look where Nero is placed, that is not his family name. If I remember correctly, Nero was more or less a nickname. Kind of like Maximus, Caesar, etc. These names all connotated something special about that person. The first name was the name he would have been given as a child. Gaius, Sextus, Octavius, etc. The second name would be the family name, Julii, Claudii, Brutii, Tarquinii, etc. Does this make sense?

 

Can I just point out here, longshot, that 'Octavius' is actually a 'nomen' or family name. You are correct, of course, with Gaius and Sextus being praenomina (or the rough equivalent to our Christian/forenames), but Octavius was definitely not a praenomen.

 

Actually, and I'm sure Nephele will bear me out here, there were very few praenomina to choose from in Rome - off the top of my head I can think of: Aulus, Appius (used only by the Claudii again - I think), Decimus, Gaius, Gnaeus, Lucius, Mamercus, Marcus (and there's another 'M' abbreviated to M' but I can't think what it is - help Neph!), Publius, Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Tiberius and Titus. As I say, these are off the top of my head, but I'm sure Nephele, who is our expert in naming practises, can find a few more praenomina. Thus, in consular or other lists, the use of the initial A. - for Aulus, or T. for Titus (or Ti. for Tiberius) would always suffice to tell people what the praenomen was. There's a Sp. too - which I think is Spurius. However, the men were at least more fortunate than the ladies, who had no praenomina at all! They were simply known as the feminine forms of their father's nomen and cognomen. Typical!

 

As Nephele points out with the name 'Nero' however, this did become more of a praenomen under the JCs, which may reflect earlier traditions. To return to the original poster's question - by the time Nero was Emperor, it had become 'fashionable' for the rulers to be known by their praenomina (rather like our British and European Royalty). Tiberius and Gaius (the official name of Caligula). Claudius, of course, was a return to the family name. His own praenomen was Tiberius, but one can understand why he did not choose this as his 'regnal' name! Thereafter, there seems to be no fixed rule. Vespasian was not known by his praenomen, but Titus was. Caracalla, for instance, was known by his cognomen. It's all quite fascinating stuff.

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Can I just point out here, longshot, that 'Octavius' is actually a 'nomen' or family name. You are correct, of course, with Gaius and Sextus being praenomina (or the rough equivalent to our Christian/forenames), but Octavius was definitely not a praenomen.

 

Yep, Octavius was a nomen gentilicium -- the major giveaway being the "-ius" ending, indicative of the majority of nomina gentilicia. Although, it should be noted that "Octavius" was derived from "Octavus", which was originally a nickname and infrequently a praenomen denoting numerical position of birth in a family. Perhaps Longshotgene was confusing Octavus with Octavius? By the same token, the nomen gentilicium "Quintius" or "Quinctius" was derived from the praenomen "Quintus", and "Sextius" (the name of a plebeian gens) from the praenomen "Sextus".

 

Actually, and I'm sure Nephele will bear me out here, there were very few praenomina to choose from in Rome...

 

I think what you mean to say here, Augusta, is that there were very few praenomina in common use. There were actually quite a few praenomina available to the Romans, although very infrequently used, as I brought up in an earlier discussion here.

 

And, while it's true that Roman women for the most part had no praenomina at all, I'm sure you'll recall that often numerical names (distinguishing daughters within the same family by their order of birth), such as Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, etc., served as sort of feminine "praenomina" -- while not always placed in the forefront of the woman's name, as were men's praenomina, but perhaps "praenomina" in the same way that their masculine counterparts of Quintus, Sextus, and Decimus originally indicated birth order of sons. Although, in later years, the original meanings of Quintus, Sextus, and Decimus were disregarded, and sons could be given any of those praenomina regardless of their actual birth order (see Livia's second-born son, Decimus Claudius Drusus, for an example of how the "tenth" meaning of "Decimus" had become meaningless).

 

-- Nephele

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(and there's another 'M' abbreviated to M' but I can't think what it is - help Neph!),

 

I submit that M' abbreviates "Manius" - but Nephele knows best.

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