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The patrician family of the Claudii (for there was a plebeian family of the same name, no way inferior to the other either in power or dignity) came originally from Regilli, a town of the Sabines. They removed thence to Rome soon after the building of the city, with a great body of their dependants, under Titus Tatius, who reigned jointly with Romulus in the kingdom; or, perhaps, what is related upon better authority, under Atta Claudius, the head of the family, who was admitted by the senate into the patrician order six years after the expulsion of the Tarquins. They likewise received from the state, lands beyond the Anio for their followers, and a burying place for themselves near the capitol. 1 After this period, in process of time, the family had the honour of twenty-eight consulships, five dictatorships, seven censorships, seven triumphs, and two ovations. Their descendants were distinguished by various praenomina and cognomina, 2 but rejected by common consent the praenomen of Lucius, when, of the two races who bore it, one individual had been convicted of robbery, and another of murder. Amongst other cognomina, they assumed that of Nero, which in the Sabine language signifies strong and valiant.
1 Intramural interments were prohibited at Rome by the laws of the Twelve Tables, notwithstanding the practice of reducing to ashes the bodies of the dead. It was only by special privilege that individuals who had deserved well of the state, and certain distinguished families were permitted to have tombs within the city.
2 Among the Romans, all the descendants from one common stock were called Geniles, being of the same race or kindred, however remote. The Gens, as they termed this general relation or clanship, was subdivided into families. in Famias velStirpes; and those of the same family were called Agnat. Relations by the father's side were also called Agnai, to distinguish them from Cognat, relations only on the mother's side. An Agnatus might also be called Cognatus, but not the contrary.To mark the different genies and familiae, and to distinguish the individuals of the same family, the Romans had commonly three names, the Praenomen, Nomren, and Cognomen. The prasnomen was put first, and marked the individual. It was usually written with one letter; as A. for Aulus; C. Caius; D. Decimus; sometimes with two letters; as Ap. for Appius; Cn. Cneius; and sometimes with three; as Mam. for Mamercus. The Nomen was put after the Pranomen, and marked the gens. It commonly ended in ius; as Julius, Tullius, Cornelius. The Cognomen was put last, and marked the familia; as Cicero, Casar, etc. Some gentes appear to have had no surname, as the Marian; and gens and familia seem sometimes to be put one for the other; as the Fabia gens, or FabiafamiKa. Sometimes there was a fourth name, properly called the Agnommn, but sometimes likewise Cognomen, which was added on account of some illustrious action or remarkable event. Thus Scipio was named Publius Cornelius Scipio Aficanus, from the conquest of Carthage. In the same manner, his brother was called Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus. Thus also Quintus Fabius Maximus received the Agnomen of Cunctator, from his checking the victorious career of Hannibal by avoiding a battle.
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