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OT Roman names (was: names in conlangs)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Monday, June 12, 2006, 6:46
Michael Adams wrote:
> Julius Giaus Ceasar > > First name = Julius > Gaius = patrinome or tribe/clan > Ceasar = immediate family name.
No, no! The guy was: Gaius Iulius Caesar. Gaius - 'praenomen' Julius - 'nomen' Caesar - 'cognomen' As the terms above suggest, the 'nomen' or middle name was considered important one. It designated the 'clan' (gens) int which one was born. The _gens_ was a grouping of families, held together by sharing a common 'nomen' and by certain religious rites. The only way in which a person might change 'gens' (clan) was by adoption into another one as, for example, when the said C. Iulius Caesar adopted his niece's son Gaius Octavius out of the Octavian gens and into the Julian gens. (Thereafter the adjectival form 'Octavianus' was added as an _agnomen_). Some older books BTW sometimes refer to the 'nomen' or 'clan' name as the 'gentile' name. This is nothing to do with with the Jewish~Gentile division; it is a use of the adjective "gentile", meaning 'of or pertaining to a gens' (Latin: gentilis) :) I don't know the word 'patrinome', not does my dictionary list it. But if you mean "patronym", then this is not so. The Romans did not use patronyms. 'Caesar', the cognomen, was indeed his immediate family name. These, like our surnames, often began as nicknames to distinguish one familia within a clan from another. It does not seem that everyone bothered with a cognomen; AFAIK the cognomen, if there was one, of the young Gaius Octavius is unrecorded. Also, although they were inherited, it seems they could also be changed - i.e. the were less permanent than our surnames. The praenomen (forename) was the personal name given to a child at a naming ceremony which IIRC was eight days after birth. Unlike us, the Romance had a small set of recognized given names, and they were almost always written as single or two-letter abbreviations, there being no ambiguity by what was meant. 'Gaius', for example, was almost always written _C_ (reflecting the older spelling of the name). As well as the three above, a Roman could also have one or more 'agnomina' added at the end. Thus when Publius Cornelius Scipio defeated Hannibal at Zama (201 BCE) he became: Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. When Gaius Octavius was adopted into the Caesar family of the Julian clan, he became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianius. -- Ray ================================= ================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>