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.
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
'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.
"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760