). I. Greek. The Greeks
had no names denoting family, and so corresponding to modern surnames (Pausan. vii. 7, 4).
Hence the name of the new-born child was left to the free choice of the parents, like the
Christian name with us. The child usually received it on the tenth day (δεκάτη
) after birth, the occasion being a family festival. (See Amphidromia
.) According to the most ancient custom,
the son, especially the first-born, received the name of his grandfather, sometimes that of
his father, or a name derived from it (Phocus=Phocion) or similarly compounded
(Theophrastus=Theodorus). Girls, in like manner, received the name of the grandmother (Isae.
De Pyrrh. Herod.
30). As a rule, a Greek had only one name, to which was added
that of his father, to prevent confusion— e. g. Ἀλκιβιάδης
(sc. the son) Κλεινίου
. Sometimes, also, the
name of the country was added in the form of an adjective—e. g. Θουκυδίδης ὁ Ἀθηναῖος
. A great many names were compounded with
the names of gods (Heracleitus, Herodotus, Artemidorus, Diogenes), or derived from them
(Demetrius, Apollonius). Frequently names of good omen for the future of the child were
chosen. Sometimes a new name was afterwards substituted for the original one; so Plato
was originally called Aristocles, and Theophrastus, Tyrtamus. Slaves were usually called after
their native country, or their physical or moral peculiarities. See Becker-Göll,
, ii. p. 26.
II. Roman. The development of the Roman name was co-ordinate with
the growth and development of the Roman State. In the early period, when, in the small
community, the individual was all-important, the strictly personal name was prominent; but as
the community increased in size and consequence, added importance was given to certain
determinatives, which marked the individual as a member of society and distinguished him from
his fellows. These determinatives probably belonged to the name in its early history,
notwithstanding the statement, Varro simplicia in Italia nomina fuisse ait
found in the fragment De Praenominibus
, assigned to Valerius Maximus by Julius
Paris of the fourth century. This statement is there supported by reference to Romulus and
Remus, names belonging to a mythology of late origin, but is controverted by reference to Rhea
Silvia and Silvius Numitor. The first of these early determinatives was the word, indicating
potestas, manus, mancipium
, in the genitive case—e. g. Marcus
Marci, Caecilia Crassi—followed later, as shown in the inscriptions, by f
) or f(ilia), uxor
). The second early determinative was
the word indicating the family (gens
) distinguished from the other
elements by the suffix -ius.
Thus the three elements of the early name
were the individual name, the name of the one in authority, and the name of the family. Among
the Romans the order of the last two was reversed, while among the Greeks, Umbrians, and
Volscians the original order was maintained.
In the course of time the necessity of still further identifying the individual led to the
use of other elements, the name of the tribe and the cognomen
additional personal name. The latter afterwards came to indicate the branch or family, stirps
, of the gens.
The name of a free-born citizen
then consisted of a praenomen, nomen, cognomen
, with the insertion in
formal usage, before the cognomen
, of the words denoting filiation and
descent, followed by filius, nepos, pronepos, abnepos, adnepos
, and of
the name of the tribe. The order indicated—praenomen, nomen,
—is violated in the inscriptions only for metrical reasons, or because
of Greek influence or rustic usage. In literature the same order is observed in prose of the
good period, even in Livy , when the praenomen
is given; but if the praenomen
is omitted the older order, that followed by Cicero, is cognomen, nomen;
while the later order, that followed by Caesar, is nomen, cognomen.
In social intercourse children, clients, slaves, addressed
the master of the house by his praenomen
, while strangers used his cognomen.
In more formal address both nomen
—The strictly personal name was conferred by parents upon
their children on the dies lustricus
, the ninth day after birth in case
of boys and the eighth in case of girls. The assertion of Q. Scaevola, as given in De
, to the effect that boys did not receive the praenomen
until they assumed the toga virilis
, or girls before
their marriage, must refer to the formal conferring of the name, for the inscriptions of
persons dying in childhood often contain the praenomina.
were employed by the patrician families: A. ,
Aulus; D., Decimus; C., Gaius ; CN., Gnaeus; K., Kaeso; L., Lucius; M'., Manius; M., Marcus;
P., Publius; Q., Quintus; SER., Servius; SEX., Sextus; S., Spurius; TI., Tiberius; T., Titus;
AP., Appius; MAM., Mamercus; N., Numerius. Certain of these were selected by the individual
patrician families; thus, the Cornelii used A. , CN., L., M., P., SER., TI.; but the Cornelii
Scipiones, CN., L., P. (see table given by Momm. Röm. Forschungen
15). Other praenomina
were employed, some of which fell into disuse at an
early period, and are known from the fasti
or from statements of authors,
while others were of foreign origin and rare occurrence. Varro, in De Praenom.
3, names fourteen ancient praenomina
not used at his time: Agrippa,
Ancus, Caesar, Faustus, Hostus, Lar, Opiter, Postumus, Proculus, Sertor, Statius, Tullus,
were used at times as praenomina
in Gallia Cisalpina—e. g. Maximus, Rufus; also in the imperial family in the
employment of such names as Cossus, Drusus, and Germanicus. The word imperator
in the time of Augustus became a praenomen
imperial name. Nomina
also served as praenomina
—e. g. Aelius, Aurelius—after the middle of the second
century, and even suffered abbreviation.
—The second determinative in the early Roman name belonged to
all members of the same family, and was at first identified with a certain locality. The nomina
of the old Roman families ended in -ius
closely related terminations -aius, -eius, -eus, -aeus. Nomina
terminations may be assigned to the localities to which they originally belonged—e.
g. -arna, -erna, -enna, -ina, -inna
show Etruscan origin, while -as, -anas, -enas, -inas
testify to Umbrian derivation. Other nomina
are directly derived from names of places —e. g. Acerranus
); Verres, of Roman origin, stands by itself, and may have been
originally a cognomen.
—This last addition to the Roman name was first used as a
strictly personal name employed as appropriate to the individual—e. g. Albus,
Barbatus, Severus, Siculus. The position of the cognomen
after the name
of the tribe indicates a time of introduction subsequent to the Servian Constitution; and
judging from its use in inscriptions the custom of writing cognomina
dates back to the fifth century of the city, while its regular use may be assigned to the
latter part of the seventh century. The cognomen
afterwards served as an
indication of the family of the gens
, so of the gens
there were the Cethegi, Lentuli, Scipiones, while of the Scipiones there were
the Nasicae; also as an indication of nobility, being employed by patrician families and
certain of the plebeian. In the late republican period the cognomen
given to all free-born citizens and frequently to freedmen, and at this time served as an
indication of freedom. The custom of using more than one cognomen
very common in the early days of the Empire, and prevailed generally in the second and third
centuries. These additional cognomina
were regarded by the grammarians
after the fourth century as new elements, and were termed by them agnomina.
Of this class were the cognomina ex virtute
g. Caudinus, Hispanus—and names, indicating the parentage of those adopted, made
with the termination -anus
—e. g. Aemilianus.
Names of Women.
—The names of women in the early period consisted of
an individual name, praenomen
, followed by the nomen
of the father and the genitive case of his praenomen
, or by the nomen
of the husband and the genitive case of his praenomen
—e. g. Maior Anicia C. f(ilia). Subsequently the praenomen
disappeared, and the female name consisted of merely the nomen gentile
of the father or husband alone—e. g. Aemilia, or accompanied,
when more formal, by the genitive of the praenomen
of the father or
husband—e. g. Acilia C. f(ilia); cf. also Curtia Rosci (uxor). At the close of the
were used with names of women —e. g.
Caecilia Metella; and from the middle of the first century the custom prevailed generally
—e. g. Furia Sabinia Tranquillina.
Names of Slaves.
—The name of the slave originally consisted simply
of the name of his master in combination with the word puer;
Marcipor= Marci puer.
In the republican period the slave was known by an
individual name, often of foreign origin, followed by the nomen
afterwards the praenomen
of his master, both in the genitive case. His
servile condition was indicated by the word servus
, abbreviated in the
inscriptions S. or SER. Thus, Helenus Hosti Q. s.=Helenus, slave of Quintus Hostius. In the
imperial period the name of the owner is given in full—as, Martialis C. Oli(i) Primi
s(ervus). The transfer of a slave to a new master was indicated by the use of an additional
name, made from the cognomen
of his former master, with termination -anus
—e. g. Epitynchanus Caes(aris) n(ostri) ser(vus) Candidian(us).
Names of Freedmen.
—Originally the freedman received the nomen
of his patron
, and selected his praenomen
, which might be his early servile name. His former state was indicated, as
shown in the inscriptions, by the word servus
, following the genitive
case of his patron's praenomen
—e. g. C. Sextius V(ibi)
s(ervus). In the seventh century of the city a freedman received his patron's nomen
, a Roman praenomen
(regularly that of his master), and used
his former slave name as a cognomen.
His former state was indicated, as
shown in the inscriptions, by the word libertus
, abbreviated L. or LIB.
—e. g. P. Helvidius P. l. Hermes. When freedmen were liberated by the emperor, the
expression Aug(usti) l(ibertus) or Caes(aris) n(ostri) l(ibertus) took the place of the praenomen
of the patron. Freedmen of women took the nomen
of their patroness and the praenomen
father—e. g. M. Livius Aug(ustae) l(ibertus) Menophilus. Freedmen of a colonia
out of the word publicus
, since they had been servi
, or from the name of the colonia
—Ellendt, De Cognomine et Agnomine
Romano (Königsberg, 1853)
; Th. Mommsen, Römische
, art. Die römischen Eigennamen (Berlin,
; J. Marquardt, Das Privatleben der Römer
, 2d ed.
; Cagnat, Cours d'Épigraphie Latine
ed. (Paris, 1890)
; E. Hübner, Handbuch der klassischen
, vol. i. 2d ed. art. Römische
Epigraphik (Munich, 1892)
.—Nicknames were freely given
by both the Greeks and Romans, based upon any bodily or mental defect or peculiarity, or upon
some well-known circumstance of the individual's career. Thus Demosthenes, from his childhood,
was called Βάτταλος
, because of his stuttering (C.
126, 141); and Aristophanes gives several names of birds
that were used as nicknames (Arist. Av.
). Dionysius of Heraclea was popularly styled Μεταθέμενος
, or “turn-coat,” from his abandonment of the
Stoic philosophy; and Hegesias of Cyrené got the name of Πεισιθάνατος
, or “Death's Advocate,” from his gloomy view of
life. Epicrates was styled Σακεσφορός
, from his large beard;
and one of the Ptolemies Φύσκων
, from his paunch.
Collections of Greek nicknames are given by Athenaeus (vi. p. 242); and cf.
ii. 2, 31; Lucian,
; and Athen. x. p. 436).
As already shown, many of the Roman family names were originally nicknames; as, Naso,
“bignose”; Flaccus, “flop-ear”; Varus,
“bandy-legs”; and Scaurus, “knock-kneed.” The Rufi
were named from a red-headed ancestor; and the name Cicero is said to have been due to a wart
like a pea (cicer
) on the face. Some of the nicknames were accepted by
their subjects as formal names, and hence passed into history, as Cunctator
(“slow-coach”) and Caligula. The last emperor of the West, Romulus
Augustus, was, because of his insignificance, styled Augustulus, just as Victor Hugo dubbed
the Third Napoleon, Napoléon le Petit.
Pompey was nicknamed
“Sampsiceramus” by Cicero, after a petty prince of Emesa (Ad
ii. 14, 16). The bibulous tastes of Tiberius led the people to change his name
from Tiberius Claudius Nero to Biberius Caldius Mero (from bibo, calda
). Sometimes a whole phrase was applied as a nickname, as
(Tac. Ann. i.
23Tac. Ann. 41
) and Manus ad ferrum
6), much as in modern times “Cœur de
Lion,” “Rough and Ready,” and “Me Too” have
been so applied. The Latin term for a nickname is signum
iv. 8; Tac.
Ann. i. 41