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The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a
personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:orthonym, orthonym'' is the proper name of the object in question, the object of onomastic study. ...
chosen by the parents of a
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
child. It was first bestowed on the ''
dies lustricus In ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman ...
'' (day of
lustration Lustration is the purge of government officials in Central and Eastern Europe. Various forms of lustration were employed in post-communist Europe and more recently in Ukraine. Etymology Lustration in general is the process of making somethi ...
), the eighth day after the birth of a girl, or the ninth day after the birth of a boy. The praenomen would then be formally conferred a second time when girls married, or when boys assumed the '' toga virilis'' upon reaching manhood. Although it was the oldest of the ''
tria nomina Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Ancient Rome, Romans and other peoples of Italy employed a system of nomenclature that differed from that used by other cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, consisting of a combination of give ...
'' commonly used in
Roman naming conventions Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Ancient Rome, Romans and other peoples of Italy employed a system of nomenclature that differed from that used by other cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, consisting of a combination of giv ...
, by the late republic, most praenomina were so common that most people were called by their praenomina only by family or close friends. For this reason, although they continued to be used, praenomina gradually disappeared from public records during imperial times. Although both men and women received praenomina, women's praenomina were frequently ignored, and they were gradually abandoned by many Roman families, though they continued to be used in some families and in the countryside.


Background

The ''tria nomina'', consisting of praenomen,
nomen Nomen may refer to: *Nomen (Roman name) The (or simply ) was a hereditary name borne by the peoples of ancient Italy and later by the citizens of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. It was originally the name of one's (family or clan) by p ...
and
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC ...
, which are today regarded as a distinguishing feature of Roman culture, first developed and spread throughout
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
in pre-Roman times. Most of the
people of Italy File:Italy-demography2006est.png, Population 1960–2006. Number of inhabitants in thousands. This article is about the demographics, demographic features of the population of Italy, including population density, Ethnic group, ethnicity, educati ...
spoke languages belonging to the
Italic branch
Italic branch
of the
Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
; the three major groups within the
Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Reg ...
were the
Latino-Faliscan languages The Latino-Faliscan or Latino-Venetic languages form a group of the Italic languages within the Indo-European family. They were spoken by the Latino-Faliscan people of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repub ...
, including the tribes of the
Latini The Latins (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Rep ...
, or Latins, who formed the core of the early Roman populace, and their neighbors, the
Falisci Falisci ( grc, Φαλίσκοι, ''Phaliskoi'') is the ancient Roman exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. The ...
and
Hernici 250px, Map showing location of the Hernici in central Italy. The Hernici were an Italic tribe of ancient Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern ...
; the
Oscan language Oscan is an extinct Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the ...
s, including the
Sabines The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; grc, Σαβῖνοι ''Sabĩnoi''; it, Sabini, all exonyms) were an Italic peoples, Italic people that lived in the central Apennine Mountains of the ancient Italian Peninsula, also inhabiting Latium north of the An ...
, who also contributed to early Roman culture, as well as the
Samnites The Samnites were an ancient Italic people The Italic peoples were an ethnolinguistic group identified by their use of Italic languages a branch of the Indo-European language family. The Italic peoples are descended from the Indo-European speak ...

Samnites
, and many other peoples of central and southern Italy; and the
Umbrian language Umbrian is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Or ...
s, spoken by the
Umbri The Umbri were an Italic people The Italic peoples were an ethnolinguistic group identified by their use of Italic languages a branch of the Indo-European language family. The Italic peoples are descended from the Indo-European speaking peoples ...
of the Central
Apennines The Apennines or Apennine Mountains (; grc-gre, links=no, Ἀπέννινα ὄρη or Ἀπέννινον ὄρος; la, Appenninus or  – a singular with plural meaning;''Apenninus'' (Greek or ) has the form of an adjective, which woul ...

Apennines
, the rustic
Picentes Image:Iron Age Italy.svg, 300px, Approximate distribution of languages in Iron Age#Italy, Iron Age Italy during the sixth century BC. The name Picentes or Picentini refers to the population of Picenum, on the northern Adriatic coastal plain of anci ...
of the
Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...

Adriatic
coast, and the
Volsci The Volsci (, , ) were an tribe, well known in the history of the first century of the . At the time they inhabited the partly hilly, partly marshy district of the south of , bounded by the and on the south, the on the east, and stretching ro ...

Volsci
. In addition to the Italic peoples was the
Etruscan civilization The Etruscan civilization () of ancient Italy The history of Italy covers the Ancient Period, the Middle Ages and the modern era. Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Magna Graecia, Greeks, Etruscan civilization, Etruscans, and Celts ha ...
, whose
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...
was unrelated to Indo-European, but who exerted a strong cultural influence throughout much of Italy, including early Rome.''Oxford Classical Dictionary'', 2nd Ed. (1970) The Italic nomenclature system cannot clearly be attributed to any one of these cultures, but seems to have developed simultaneously amongst each of them, perhaps due to constant contact between them. It first appears in urban centers and thence gradually spread to the countryside. In the earliest period, each person was known by a single name, or nomen. These nomina were ''monothematic''; that is, they expressed a single concept or idea. As populations grew, many individuals might be known by the same name. Unlike the other cultures of Europe, which dealt with this problem by adopting ''dithematic'' names (names expressing two ideas), the peoples of Italy developed the first true surnames, or cognomina.''Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft'' At first these were generally personal names, and might refer to any number of things, including a person's occupation, town of origin, the name of his or her father, or some physical feature or characteristic. But gradually an increasing number of them became hereditary, until they could be used to distinguish whole families from one generation to another. As this happened, the word nomen came to be applied to these surnames, and the original personal name came to be called the praenomen, or "forename", as it was usually recited first. Cognomen came to refer to any other personal or hereditary surnames coming after the family name, and used to distinguish individuals or branches of large families from one another.William Smith, ''A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities'' As the ''tria nomina'' developed throughout Italy, the importance of the praenomen in everyday life declined considerably, together with the number of praenomina in common use. By the 1st century CE they were occasionally omitted from public records, and by the middle of the 4th century CE they were seldom recorded. As the Roman Empire expanded, much of the populace came from cultures with different naming conventions, and the formal structure of the ''tria nomina'' became neglected. Various names that were originally nomina or cognomina came to be treated as praenomina, and some individuals used several of them at once. However, some vestiges of the original system survived, and many of the original praenomina have continued into modern times.''Dictionary of Greek & Roman Biography & Mythology'' T. R. S. Broughton, '' Magistrates of the Roman Republic'' (1952) Most common praenomina were regularly abbreviated in writing (in speech the full name would always be used). Although some names could be abbreviated multiple ways, the following tables include only the most usual abbreviation, if any, for each name. These abbreviations continue to be used by classical scholars.


Latin praenomina

Each of the Italic peoples had its own distinctive group of praenomina. A few names were shared between cultures, and the Etruscans in particular borrowed many praenomina from Latin and Oscan. It is disputed whether some of the praenomina used by the Romans themselves were of distinctly Etruscan or Oscan origin. However, these names were in general use at Rome and other Latin towns, and were used by families that were certainly of Latin origin. Thus, irrespective of their actual etymology, these names may be regarded as Latin.


Masculine names

In the early centuries of the Roman Republic, about three dozen praenomina seem to have been in general use at Rome, of which about half were common. This number gradually dwindled to about eighteen praenomina by the 1st century BCE, of which perhaps a dozen were common. *
AgrippaAgrippa may refer to: People * Agrippa (mythology), semi-mythological king of Alba Longa * Agrippa (astronomer), Greek astronomer from the late 1st century * Agrippa the Skeptic, Skeptic philosopher at the end of the 1st century * Agrippa Meneniu ...
(Agr.) * Appius (Ap.) * Aulus (A.) * Caeso (K.) * Decimus (D.) * Faustus (F.) *
Gaius Gaius, sometimes spelled ''Gajus'', Cajus, Caius, was a common Latin praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a given name, personal name chosen by the parents of a Ancient Rome, Roman child. It was first bestowed on the ''dies lustri ...
(C.) * Gnaeus (Cn.) *
Hostus ''Hostus'' is a monotypic taxon, monotypic genus of Malagasy Oxyopidae, lynx spiders containing the single species, ''Hostus paroculus''. It was first described by Eugène Simon, Eugène Louis Simon in 1898, and is only found on Madagascar. See al ...
*
Lucius Lucius ( el, Λούκιος ''Loukios''; ett, Luvcie) is a male given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a as well, and differentiates that pe ...
(L.) * Mamercus (Mam.) * Manius (ꟿ. or M'.) * Marcus (M.) * Mettius * Nonus * Numerius (N.) * Octavius (Oct.) * Opiter (Opet.) * Paullus *
Postumus Marcus Cassianius Latinius PostumusJones & Martindale (1971), p. 720 was a Roman commander of Batavian origin who ruled as Emperor in the West. The Roman army in Gaul threw off its allegiance to Gallienus around the year 260,The year of Postu ...
(Post.) *
Proculus Proculus (died c. 281) was a Roman usurper Roman usurpers were individuals or groups of individuals who obtained or tried to obtain power by force and without Legitimacy (political), legitimate legal authority. Usurpation was endemic during the R ...
(Pro.) * Publius (P.) *
Quintus Quintus is a male given name derived from ''Quintus (praenomen), Quintus'', a common Latin language, Latin forename (''praenomen'') found in the culture of ancient Rome. Quintus derives from Latin word ''quintus'', meaning "fifth". Quintus is an ...
(Q.) * Septimus * Sertor (Sert.) *
Servius Servius is the name of: * Servius (praenomen) Servius () is a Latin ''praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. It was first bestowed on the '' dies lustricus'' (day of lustration ...
(Ser.) * Sextus (Sex.) * Spurius (S.) *
Statius Publius Papinius Statius (; ) was a Roman poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience. ...
(St.) *
Tiberius Tiberius Caesar Augustus (; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March AD 37) was the second Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...
(Ti.) *
Titus Titus Caesar Vespasianus ( ; 30 December 39 – 13 September 81 AD) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thro ...
(T.) * Tullus * Vibius (V.) *
Volesus:''This page is about the ancestor of the Valerii. For the Latin personal name, see Volesus (praenomen).'' Volesus or Volusus, sometimes called Volesus Valerius, was the eponymous ancestor of ''Valerius, gens Valeria'', one of the greatest patrician ...
(Vol.) * Vopiscus (Vop.) Notes: * ''Caeso'' is frequently (especially in older records) spelled ''Kaeso''. The abbreviation K. was retained to distinguish the name from ''Gaius'', abbreviated "C." * ''Gaius'' and ''Gnaeus'' are abbreviated with C. and Cn., respectively, because the practice of abbreviating them was already established at the time the letter , a modified , was introduced to the Latin alphabet. Although the archaic spellings ''Caius'' and ''Cnaeus'' also appear in later records, ''Gaius'' and ''Gnaeus'' represent the actual pronunciation of these names. * ''Manius'' was originally abbreviated with an archaic five-stroke M (ꟿ), borrowed from the Etruscan alphabet (from which the Latin alphabet was derived) but not otherwise used in Latin. The apostrophe is used as a substitute for this letter. * ''Octavius'' (with an i) seems to be the only form of this name found as a praenomen, although the form ''Octavus'' would be consistent with the adjective from which the name is derived. * ''Volero'', a praenomen used by the Publilii, is believed to be a variant of ''Volesus''. Some of the praenomina in this list are known from only a few examples. However, the overall sample from which they have been taken represents only a small fraction of the entire Roman populace. The ''Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft'' mentions about ten thousand individuals whose praenomina are known from surviving works of history, literature, and various inscriptions. These individuals are spread over a period of over twelve centuries, with the smallest sample coming from the early Republic, when the greatest variety of praenomina was in use. During that same period, the sample consists almost entirely of Roman men belonging to the leading patrician families. Many of the names which were uncommon amongst the patricians appear to have been more widespread amongst the plebeians, and the appearance of rare names in Latin inscriptions outside of Rome suggests that many names which were uncommon at Rome were much more common in other parts of Latium.


Feminine names

In the earliest period, both men and women used praenomina. However, with the adoption of hereditary surnames, the praenomen lost much of its original importance. The number of praenomina in general use declined steadily throughout Roman history, and as most families used the same praenomina from one generation to the next, the praenomen became less useful for distinguishing between individuals. Women's praenomina gradually fell into disuse, and by the first century the majority of Roman women either did not have or did not use praenomina. A similar process occurred throughout Italy, except amongst the Etruscans, for whom feminine praenomina were the rule., ''Roman Female Praenomina: Studies in the Nomenclature of Roman Women'' (1994) The abandonment of women's praenomina over time was more the result of practical usage than a deliberate process. Because Latin names had both masculine and feminine forms, the nomen itself was sufficient to distinguish a Roman woman from her father and brothers. Roman women did not change their names when they married, so a Roman wife usually did not share her nomen with any other members of her family. Diminutives, nicknames, and personal cognomina could be used to differentiate between sisters. When there were two sisters, they were frequently referred to as ''Major'' and ''Minor'', with these terms appearing after the nomen or cognomen; if there were more than two, the eldest might be called ''Maxima'', and the younger sisters assigned numerical cognomina. Many of the cognomina used by women originated as praenomina, and for much of Roman history there seems to have been a fashion for "inverting" women's praenomina and cognomina; names that were traditionally regarded as praenomina were often placed after a woman's nomen or cognomen, as if a surname, even though they were used as praenomina. The reverse was also common, especially in imperial times; a personal cognomen would be placed before a woman's nomen, in the place of a praenomen. In both cases, the name was functionally a praenomen, irrespective of its position in the name. For this reason, it is often impossible to distinguish between women's praenomina and personal cognomina. In imperial times, Roman women were more likely to have praenomina if they had several older sisters. A daughter who had been called simply by her nomen for several years was less likely to receive a praenomen than her younger sisters, and because it was usually easy to distinguish between two daughters without using praenomina, the need for traditional personal names did not become acute until there were at least three sisters in a family. ''Tertia'' and ''Quarta'' were common praenomina, while ''Secunda'' was less common, and ''Prima'' rarer still. ''Maxima, Maio'', and ''Mino'' were also used as praenomina, although it may be debated whether they represent true personal names. ''Paulla'' was probably given to younger daughters, and was one of the most common praenomina. Most other women's praenomina were simply the feminine forms of familiar masculine praenomina. Examples are known of all common praenomina, as well as a number of less-common ones. Only in the case of praenomina which had irregular masculine forms is there some uncertainty; but these probably became feminine by taking diminutive forms. ''Caesula'' or ''Caesilla'' appears to have been the feminine form of ''Caeso'', and the personal cognomen ''Agrippina'' probably represents the feminine form of ''Agrippa''. Two notable exceptions to the usual formation are ''Marcia'' and ''Titia'', both of which regularly formed as "i-stem" nouns, instead of the expected ''Marca'' and ''Tita'' (although those forms are also found). Feminine praenomina were usually abbreviated in the same manner as their masculine counterparts, but were often written in full. One notable exception occurs in the filiations of '''', where the abbreviation "C." for ''Gaia'' was frequently reversed to indicate the freedman of a woman. Here the name "Gaia" seems to have been used generically to represent any woman, although in some instances an inverted "M." for ''Marcia'' seems to have been used as well. The following list includes feminine praenomina which are known or reasonably certain from extant sources and inscriptions, and which were clearly used as praenomina, rather than nicknames or inverted cognomina. Several variations are known for some praenomina, of which only the most regular are given in this table. The abbreviations are usually the same as for the corresponding masculine praenomina; where variation exists, only the most common abbreviation has been provided. A few of these names were normally written in full, or have not been found with regular abbreviations. * Appia (Ap.) * Aula (A.) * Caesula * Decima (D.) * Fausta (F.) * Gaia (C.) * Gnaea (Cn.) * Hosta (H.) * Lucia (L.) * Maio (Mai.) * Mamerca (Mam.) * Mania (M'.) * Marcia (M.) * Maxima * Mettia * Mino (Min.) * Nona * Numeria (N.) * Octavia (Oct.) * Paulla * Postuma (Post.) * Prima * Procula (Pro.) * Publia (P.) * Quarta * Quinta (Q.) * Secunda (Seq.) * Septima * Servia (Ser.) * Sexta (Sex.) * Spuria (Sp.) * Statia (St.) * Tertia * Titia (T.) * Tiberia (Ti.) * Tulla * Vibia (V.) * Volusa (Vol.) * Vopisca (Vop.) Notes: * ''Maio'' and ''Mino'' are the forms usually found as praenomina, although ''Major'' and ''Minor'' are also found. As cognomina, ''Major'' and ''Minor'' seem to have been preferred. * ''Secunda'' was usually abbreviated ''Seq.'', although ''Sec.'' is also common. In archaic Latin, C was used primarily before E and I, while Q appeared before O and U, and K before A. In a few instances the name is written ''Sequnda''.


The meaning of praenomina

Philologists have debated the origin and meaning of these names since classical antiquity. However, many of the meanings popularly assigned to various praenomina appear to have been no more than "folk etymology". The names derived from numbers are the most certain. The masculine names Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius and Decimus, and the feminine names Prima, Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, Quinta, Sexta, Septima, Octavia, Nona and Decima are all based on
ordinal numbers In set theory Set theory is the branch of that studies , which can be informally described as collections of objects. Although objects of any kind can be collected into a set, set theory, as a branch of , is mostly concerned with those that ...
. There may also have been a praenomen Nonus, as there was a gens with the apparently patronymic name of Nonius, although no examples of its use as a praenomen have survived. It is generally held that these names originally referred to the order of a child's birth, although some scholars believe that they might also have referred to the month of the Roman calendar in which a child was born. Like the masculine praenomina, the months of the old Roman Calendar had names based on the numbers five through ten: Quintilis (July), Sextilis (August), September, October, November, and December. However, this hypothesis does not account for the feminine praenomina Prima, Secunda, Tertia, and Quarta, nor does it explain why Septimus, Octavius, and perhaps Nonus were rarely used. Several other praenomina were believed to refer to the circumstances of a child's birth; for instance, Agrippa was said to refer to a child who was born feet-first; Caeso to a child born by the operation known today as a
Caesarean section Caesarean section, also known as C-section, or caesarean delivery, is the surgical procedure Surgery ''cheirourgikē'' (composed of χείρ, "hand", and ἔργον, "work"), via la, chirurgiae, meaning "hand work". is a medical or dental ...
; Lucius to one born at dawn; Manius to one born in the morning; Numerius to one born easily; Opiter to one whose father had died, leaving his grandfather as head of the family; Postumus to a last-born child (whether or not the father was dead); Proculus to one whose father was far away; Vopiscus to the survivor of twins, the other of whom was born dead. Most of these are not based on credible etymology, although the meanings assigned to Lucius, Manius, and Postumus are probably reasonable. Amongst other credible meanings assigned to praenomina, Faustus certainly means "fortunate" in Latin; Gaius is thought to derive from the same root as ''gaudere'', "to rejoice"; Gnaeus refers to a birthmark; Marcus and Mamercus refer to the gods Mars and Mamers (perhaps an Oscan manifestation of Mars); Paullus means "small"; Servius appears to be derived from the same root as ''servare'', ''to save'' or "to keep safe"; Volusus (also found as Volesus and Volero) seems to come from ''valere'', "to be strong". One popular etymology that is certainly not correct belongs to Spurius, a praenomen that was amongst the most common, and favored by many leading patrician and plebeian families during the early Republic. It was later said that it was a contraction of the phrase, ''sine pater filius'', "son without a father", and thus used for children born out of wedlock. This belief may have led to the gradual disappearance of the name during the 1st century AD. Appius is sometimes said to be of Oscan origin, since it is known chiefly from the descendants of
Appius ClaudiusAppius Claudius is a combination of first name ''(praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a given name, personal name chosen by the parents of a Ancient Rome, Roman child. It was first bestowed on the ''dies lustricus'' (day of Lustratio, ...
, a Sabine from the town of Cures, who came to Rome in the early years of the Republic, and was admitted to the Patriciate. His original name was said to be Attius Clausus, which he then Romanized. However, the praenomen Appius is known from other Latin sources, and may simply represent the Latin name closest in sound to Attius. Aulus, Publius, Spurius, and Tiberius are sometimes attributed to Etruscan, in which language they are all common, although these names were also typical of praenomina used in families of indisputably Latin origin, such as the Postumii or the Cornelii. In this instance, it cannot be determined with any certainty whether these were Latin names which were borrowed by the Etruscans, or vice versa. The best case may be for Tiberius being an Etruscan name, since that praenomen was always connected with the sacred river on the boundary of Etruria and Latium, and the Etruscan name for the Tiber was ''Thebris''. However, it still may be that the Romans knew the river by this name when the praenomen came into existence.
Jacques Heurgon Jacques Heurgon (25 January 1903 – 27 October 1995) was a French university, École Normale Supérieure, normalian, Etruscology, Etruscan scholar and Latinist, professor of Latin language and literature at the Sorbonne. Married to Anne Heurgon-De ...
, ''Daily Life of the Etruscans'' (1964)


Historical trends

Many families, particularly amongst the great patrician houses, limited themselves to a small number of praenomina, probably as a means of distinguishing themselves from one another and from the plebeians, who used a wider variety of names. For example, the Cornelii used Aulus, Gnaeus, Lucius, Marcus, Publius, Servius, and Tiberius; the Julii limited themselves to Lucius, Gaius, Sextus, and Vopiscus; the Claudii were fond of Appius, Gaius, and Publius; the Postumii favored Aulus, Gaius, Lucius, Publius, and Spurius; and so on. The most prominent plebeian families also tended to limit the names of which they made regular use, although amongst both social classes, there must have been exceptions whenever a family had a large number of sons. Many families avoided certain names, although the reasons varied. According to legend, the Junii avoided the names Titus and Tiberius because they were the names of two sons of
Lucius Junius Brutus Lucius Junius Brutus ( 6th century BC) is the semi-legendary founder Founder or Founders may refer to: Places *Founders Park, a stadium in South Carolina, formerly known as Carolina Stadium * Founders Park, a waterside park in Islamorada, Florid ...
, the founder of the Republic, who were executed on the grounds that they had plotted to restore the king to power. Another legend relates that after
Marcus Manlius Capitolinus Marcus Manlius Capitolinus (died 384 BC; sometimes spelled ''Manilius'') was Roman consul, consul of the Roman Republic in 392 BC. He was the brother of Aulus Manlius Capitolinus. The Manlia (gens), Manlii were a Patrician (ancient Rome), patrici ...

Marcus Manlius Capitolinus
was condemned for treason, the decreed that no member of ''gens Manlia'' should bear the praenomen Marcus, a tradition that seems to have been followed until the 1st century A.D. However, normally such matters were left to the discretion of the family. In most instances, the reason why certain praenomina were preferred and others avoided probably arose from the desire to pass on family names. Several names were used by only a few patrician families, although they were more widespread amongst the plebeians. For example: Appius was used only by the Claudii, Caeso by the Fabii and the Quinctii, Agrippa by the Furii and the Menenii, Numerius by the Fabii, Mamercus by the Aemilii and the Pinarii, Vopiscus only by the Julii, and Decimus was not used by any patrician family (unless the Junii were, as is sometimes believed, originally patrician), although it was widely used amongst the plebeians. Throughout Roman history, the most common praenomen was Lucius, followed by Gaius, with Marcus in third place. During the most conservative periods, these three names could account for as much as fifty percent of the adult male population. At some distance were Publius and Quintus, only about half as common as Lucius, distantly followed by Titus. Aulus, Gnaeus, Spurius, Sextus, and Servius were less common, followed by Manius, Tiberius, Caeso, Numerius, and Decimus, which were decidedly uncommon (at least amongst the patricians) during the Republic. Throughout Republican times, the number of praenomina in general use declined, but older names were occasionally revived by noble families, and occasionally anomalous names such as Ancus, Iulus, or Kanus were given. Some of these may have been ancient praenomina that had already passed out of common use by the early Republic. As they vanished from use as personal names, many older praenomina, such as Agrippa, Faustus, Mamercus, Paullus, Postumus, Proculus, and Vopiscus were revived as cognomina. Other examples of names that may once have been praenomina include Fusus, an early cognomen of ''gens Furia'', and Cossus, a cognomen of ''gens Cornelia''. By the 1st century B.C., the praenomina remaining in general use at Rome were: Appius, Aulus, Caeso, Decimus, Gaius, Gnaeus, Lucius, Mamercus, Manius, Marcus, Numerius, Publius, Quintus, Servius, Sextus, Spurius, Titus, and Tiberius. However, older names continued to be revived from time to time, especially in noble families, and they probably continued to be used outside Rome. By the 2nd century A.D., several of these names had also passed out of general use at Rome, leaving Aulus, Decimus, Gaius, Gnaeus, Lucius, Manius, Marcus, Numerius, Publius, Quintus, Sextus, Titus, and Tiberius. Under the empire, confusion seems to have developed as to precisely what constituted a praenomen and how it should be used. A number of emperors considered ''Imperator'' as a praenomen, and thus part of their names. As a larger percentage of the Roman populace came from backgrounds that had never used traditional Roman names, the praenomen was frequently omitted, or at least ignored. In its place, an increasing number of magistrates and officials placed common nomina, frequently with praenomen-like abbreviations. The most common of these were Flavius (Fl.), Claudius (Cl.), Julius, Junius, Valerius (Val.), and Aurelius. These names appear almost arbitrarily, much like praenomina, and probably were intended to imply nobility, although ultimately they became so common as to lose any real significance.


Oscan and Umbrian praenomina

Many Oscan praenomina appear throughout Roman history, as the Romans encountered both friendly and hostile tribes, and slowly absorbed the peoples of Italy into their sphere of influence. Umbrian praenomina are less well-known, but appear to have been similar to those of the Oscans. Although it is widely believed that the Latin praenomen ''Mamercus'' was of Oscan origin, since ''Mamers'' was a Sabine form of Mars, it is not clear to what extent the two cultures (which sprang from the same origin) borrowed praenomina from one another, and to what extent they shared names based on roots common to each language. It is impossible to provide a complete list of Oscan praenomina, but these names are clearly identifiable in extant histories and inscriptions. Abbreviations do exist for some of them, but they were less regular, and less regularly employed, than the Latin abbreviations. * Ancus * Attius * Decius * Herius * Marius * Mettius * Minatus * Minius * Nerius * Novius * Numa * Numerius * Ovius * Paccius * Pompo * Salvius * Seppius * Statius * Taurus * Trebius * Vibius * Vettius Notes: * The ''-ius'' ending found in Latin sources is frequently found as ''-is'' or ''-iis'' in Oscan inscriptions. * Ancus is known from only two sources:
Ancus Marcius Ancus Marcius (–617 BC; reigned 642–617 BC)"Ancus Marcius" in ''Encyclopædia Britannica, The New Encyclopædia Britannica''. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 379. was the Roman mythology, legendary fourth kin ...
, the fourth King of Rome, who was of Sabine ancestry, and Ancus Publicius, an early member of a plebeian gens. * Attius may be the Oscan equivalent of the Latin praenomen Appius, since the Sabine Attius Clausus took the name Appius Claudius upon settling at Rome; however, it could also simply have been the closest praenomen in sound. * Decius, Pompo (and variations thereof), and Seppius are the Oscan equivalents of the Latin praenomina Decimus, Quintus, and Septimus. A 'P' in Oscan frequently corresponded to a 'Q' in Latin. * Nerius, or Nero, a praenomen common to Oscan and Umbrian, was said to mean ''fortis ac strenuus'', that is, "strong" or "vigorous".


Etruscan praenomina

The
Etruscan language Etruscan () was the language of the Etruscan civilization The Etruscan civilization () of covered a , at its greatest extent, of roughly what is now , western , and northern , as well as what are now the , , south-eastern , southern , and west ...
was unrelated to the other languages spoken in Italy, and accordingly it contains many names which have no equivalents in the Latin or Oscan languages. The
Etruscan civilization The Etruscan civilization () of ancient Italy The history of Italy covers the Ancient Period, the Middle Ages and the modern era. Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Magna Graecia, Greeks, Etruscan civilization, Etruscans, and Celts ha ...
, the most advanced of its time in that region, was a strong influence on the other peoples of Italy. The
Etruscan alphabet The Etruscan alphabet was the alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that ...

Etruscan alphabet
(itself based on an early version of the Western or "Red" Greek alphabet) was the source for later Italian alphabets, including the modern
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived ...

Latin alphabet
. However, the cultural interchange was not all one-way. With respect to personal names, the Etruscans borrowed a large number of praenomina from Latin and Oscan, adding them to their own unique names. The Etruscan language is still imperfectly known, and the number of inscriptions are limited, so this list of Etruscan praenomina encompasses what has been discovered to this point. Included are names that are certainly praenomina, no matter their linguistic origin. Names that might be nomina or cognomina have not been included.


Masculine names

*
ArrunsArruns, also spelled Aruns, is an Etruscan civilization, Etruscan praenomen, thought to mean "prince." Various figures in Roman history were known by this name, including: *Arruns Porsena, son of Lars Porsena, the legendary king of Clusium. *Arruns ...
(Ar.) * Aule (A.) * Cae (C.) * Caeles * Cneve (Cn.) * Karcuna * Lar * Larce * Laris (Lr.) * Larth (La., Lth.) * Lucie (L.) * Mamarce (Mam.) * Marce (M.) * Metie * Pavle * Puplie (P.) * Sethre (Se.) * Spurie (S.) * Thefarie * Tite (T.) * Uchtave * Vel (Vl.) * Velthur (Vth.) * Vipie (V.) Notes: * The Romans rendered Lar, Larce, Laris, and Larth all as Lars. * Aule, Cae, Cneve, Lucie, Mamarce, Marce, Metie, Pavle, Puplie, Spurie, Tite, Thefarie, Uchtave, and Vipie may be recognized as the Latin praenomina Aulus, Gaius, Gnaeus, Lucius, Mamercus, Marcus, Mettius, Paullus, Publius, Spurius, Titus, Tiberius, Octavius, and Vibius. There is no agreement on whether any of these were borrowed from Etruscan, or whether all were originally Latin. * The Etruscans used a number of diminutives for both masculine and feminine names, including the masculine names Arnza (from Arruns), Venel, and Venox (from Vel).


Feminine names

* Fasti (F.) * Hasti (H.) * Larthi * Lethi * Ramtha (R.) * Ravnthu * Tanaquil (Thx.) * Thana (Th.) * Titia (T.) * Vela Notes: * Fasti may be borrowed from the Latin praenomen Fausta. Hasti may be a variant of the same name. * An example of a diminutive of a feminine praenomen is Ravntzu (from Ranvthu).


See also

* List of Roman praenomina *
Agnomen An ''agnomen'' (; plural: ''agnomina''), in the Roman naming convention Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , fou ...
*
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum The ''Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum'' (''CIL'') is a comprehensive collection of ancient Latin inscriptions. It forms an authoritative source for documenting the surviving epigraphy of classical antiquity. Public and personal inscriptions throw l ...


References

{{Personal names Roman naming conventions