Later inscriptions commemorating the early centuries of the Republic supply these missing surnames, although the authenticity of some of them has been disputed. An eldest son was usually named after his father, and younger sons were named after their father's brothers or other male ancestors.  For example, the suffect consul of AD 118/9, Gaius Bruttius Praesens Lucius Fulvius Rusticus, has a name which is composed of two standard sets of tria nomina: he was the natural son of a Lucius Bruttius, and added the nomina of his maternal grandfather, Lucius Fulvius Rusticus, to his paternal nomina. New cognomina were coined and came into fashion throughout Roman history. , The binomial name consisting of praenomen and nomen eventually spread throughout Italy. , The development of the nomen as the second element of the Italic name cannot be attributed to a specific period or culture. Its chief purpose had nothing to do with providing homes for children; it was about ensuring the continuity of family lines that might otherwise become extinct. Many nomina were derived in the same way, and most praenomina have at least one corresponding nomen, such as Lucilius, Marcius, Publilius, Quinctius, or Servilius. In this way, the same praenomina were passed down in a family from one generation to the next. In time, as the plebeians also acquired wealth and gained access to the offices of the Roman state, they too came to participate in the Roman system of adoption.  However, toward the end of the Republic, as hereditary cognomina came to be regarded as proper names, a woman might be referred to by her cognomen instead, or by a combination of nomen and cognomen; the daughter of Lucius Caecilius Metellus was usually referred to as Caecilia Metella. Furthermore, a number of the oldest and most influential patrician families made a habit of choosing unusual names; in particular the Fabii, Aemilii, Furii, Claudii, Cornelii, and Valerii all used praenomina that were uncommon amongst the patricians, or which had fallen out of general use. "Aurelius" quickly became the most common nomen in the east and the second most common (after "Julius") in the west. , Most Roman women were known by their nomina, with such distinction as described above for older and younger siblings. This is a list of Roman nomina. , The origin of this binomial system is lost in prehistory, but it appears to have been established in Latium and Etruria by at least 650 BC. The emperor's stepson and eventual successor was born Tiberius Claudius Nero; after his adoption by the emperor, he became Tiberius Julius Caesar (retaining his original praenomen). During the late Republic and the Empire until AD 212, the three-part name was a sign of Roman … Because a Roman woman did not change her nomen when she married, her nomen alone was usually sufficient to distinguish her from every other member of the family. Roman Last Names – Male & Female Surnames. The cognomen were names that often described the person’s physical traits or personality.  Even among the senatorial aristocracy it became a rarity by about 300 AD. "Tiberius Aemilius Mamercinus, the son of Lucius and grandson of Mamercus" would be written Ti. , Adding to the complexity of aristocratic names was the practice of combining the full nomenclature of both one's paternal and maternal ancestors, resulting in some individuals appearing to have two or more complete names. Over time, this binomial system expanded to include additional names and designations. Toward the end of the Roman Republic, this was followed by the name of a citizen's voting tribe. Although filiation was common throughout the history of the Republic and well into imperial times, no law governed its use or inclusion in writing.  As a result, "New Romans" and, under their influence, "old Romans" too, either dropped the nomen from their name or, in some cases, treated the nomen as a praenomen. The name of the tribe normally follows the filiation and precedes any cognomina, suggesting that it occurred before the cognomen was recognized as a formal part of the Roman name; so probably no later than the second century BC. For example, the first emperor, known conventionally as Augustus, began life as C. Octavius C. f., or Gaius Octavius, the son of Gaius Octavius. A Survey of Roman Onomastic Practice from c. 700 B.C.  Although the Octavii were an old and distinguished plebeian family, the gens was not divided into stirpes and had no hereditary cognomina; Octavius' father had put down a slave revolt at Thurii and was sometimes given the surname Thurinus (a cognomen ex virtute), but this name was not passed down to the son. Required fields are marked *. At the age of eighteen in 44 BC, Octavius was nominated magister equitum by his granduncle, Gaius Julius Caesar, who held the office of dictator. , The number of tribes varied over time; tradition ascribed the institution of thirty tribes to Servius Tullius, the sixth King of Rome, but ten of these were destroyed at the beginning of the Republic. However, adoption did not result in the complete abandonment of the adopted son's birth name. It stands for Marci filius Quinti nepos, meaning "son of Marcius, grandson of Quintius", tribu Galeria indicates membership in the tribe of the Galeria, Antonia Major, Antonia Minor (two daughters of an Antonius), Livia Tertia (third daughter of a Livius), Julia Marciana (daughter of a Julius Marcianus). His brother, born Decimus Claudius Nero, subsequently became Nero Claudius Drusus, exchanging his original praenomen for his paternal cognomen, and assuming a new cognomen from his maternal grandfather.  Most praenomina were regularly abbreviated, and rarely written in full. The very lack of regularity that allowed the cognomen to be used as either a personal or a hereditary surname became its strength in imperial times; as a hereditary surname, a cognomen could be used to identify an individual's connection with other noble families, either by descent, or later by association. This was the most democratic of Rome's three main legislative assemblies of the Roman Republic, in that all citizens could participate on an equal basis, without regard to wealth or social status.  With the mass enfranchisement of 212, the new citizens adopted the nomen "Aurelius" in recognition of Caracalla's beneficence (the emperor's full name was Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus, with Aurelius as the nomen). , Apart from the praenomen, the filiation was the oldest element of the Roman name. The cognomen ex virtute was a surname derived from some virtuous or heroic episode attributed to the bearer. Roman name generator . As Roman territory expanded beyond Italy, many foreigners obtained Roman citizenship, and adopted Roman names. , Thus, although the three types of names referred to as the tria nomina existed throughout Roman history, the period during which the majority of citizens possessed exactly three names was relatively brief. The emperors usually prefixed Imperator to their names as a praenomen, while at the same time retaining their own praenomina; but because most of the early emperors were legally adopted by their predecessors, and formally assumed new names, even these were subject to change. Under the Empire, however, the cognomen acquired great importance, and the number of cognomina assumed by the Roman aristocracy multiplied exponentially. For the names of the thirty-five tribes and their abbreviations, see Roman tribe.. The question of how to classify different cognomina led the grammarians of the fourth and fifth centuries to designate some of them as agnomina. This was the most popular of the praenomina. Because few families were admitted to the patriciate after the expulsion of the kings, while the number of plebeians continually grew, the patricians continually struggled to preserve their wealth and influence. Lastly, these elements could be followed by additional surnames, or cognomina, which could be either personal or hereditary, or a combination of both.  In the east, however, the new citizens formulated their names by placing "Aurelius" before versions of their non-Roman given name and a patronymic. Here, Lemonius is the nomen, identifying each person in the family as a member of the gens Lemonia; Publius, Lucius, and Gaius are praenomina used to distinguish between them. However, in both writing and inscriptions, the tribus is found with much less frequency than other parts of the name; so the custom of including it does not seem to have been deeply ingrained in Roman practice.  Marcus Terentius Varro wrote that the earliest Italians used simple names. Most were of Latin, Greek or Etruscan origin.
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