was a personal name
A given name, in Western contexts often referred to as a first name, is a personal name that specifies and differentiates between members of a group of individuals, especially in a family, all of whose members usually share the same family name...
chosen by the parents of a Roman
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....
child. It was first bestowed on the dies lustricus
(day of lustration
Lustration is the government process regulating the participation of former communists, especially informants of the communist secret police, in the successor political appointee positions or in civil service positions in the period after the fall of the various European Communist states in 1989 –...
), 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
commonly used in Roman naming conventions
By the Republican era and throughout the Imperial era, a name in ancient Rome for a male citizen consisted of three parts : praenomen , nomen and cognomen...
, 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.
The tria nomina
, consisting of praenomen
By the Republican era and throughout the Imperial era, a name in ancient Rome for a male citizen consisted of three parts : praenomen , nomen and cognomen...
, and cognomen
The cognomen nōmen "name") was the third name of a citizen of Ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. The cognomen started as a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name in order to identify a particular branch within...
, which is today regarded as a distinguishing feature of Roman culture, first developed and spread throughout Italy in pre-Roman times. Most of the people of Italy spoke languages belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family; the three major groups within the Italian peninsula were the Latin branch, including the tribes of the Latini (Latins), who formed the core of the early Roman populace, and their neighbors, the Falisci and Hernici; the Oscan branch, including the Sabines, who also contributed to early Roman culture, as well as the Samnites, and many other peoples of central and southern Italy; and the Umbrian branch, including the Umbrian culture of the Padus (Po) Valley, the rustic Picentes of the Adriatic coast, and the Volsci, neighbors of the early Romans. In addition to the Italic peoples were the Etruscans, whose language was unrelated to Indo-European, but who exerted a strong cultural influence throughout much of Italy, including early Rome.
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
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.
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 they were occasionally omitted from public records, and by the middle of the 4th century 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.
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.
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.
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 B.C., of which perhaps a dozen were common.
Agrippa is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was most common during the early centuries of the Roman Republic. Despite ending in -a, it is a masculine name...
Appius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, usually abbreviated Ap. or sometimes App., and best known as a result of its extensive use by the patrician gens Claudia. The feminine form is Appia...
Aulus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was common throughout Roman history from the earliest times to the end of the Western Empire in the fifth century. The feminine form is Aula. An alternative pronunciation leads to the variant spellings Olus or Ollus and Olla. Aulus was widely...
Caeso or Kaeso is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, usually abbreviated K. Although never a common name, Caeso was regularly used by a number of prominent families, both patrician and plebeian, during the period of the Roman Republic. The feminine form is Caesula...
Decimus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, usually abbreviated D. Although never especially common, Decimus was used throughout Roman history from the earliest times to the end of the Western Empire and beyond, surviving into modern times. The feminine form is Decima...
Faustus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name. It was never particularly common at Rome, but may have been used more frequently in the countryside. The feminine form is Fausta. The name was not usually abbreviated, but is occasionally found abbreviated F. During the period of the Roman Empire, it...
Gaius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was one of the most common names throughout Roman history. The feminine form is Gaia. The praenomen was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Gavia...
Gnaeus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was common throughout the period of the Roman Republic, and well into imperial times. The feminine form is Gnaea. The praenomen was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Naevia...
Hostus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used in pre-Roman times and during the early centuries of the Roman Republic, but become obsolete by the 1st century BC. The feminine form was probably Hosta or Hostia. The patronymic gentes Hostia and Hostilia were derived from Hostus...
Lucius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was one of the most common names throughout Roman history. The feminine form is Lucia . The praenomen was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gentes Lucia and Lucilia, as well as the cognomen Lucullus...
Mamercus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used in pre-Roman times and throughout the Roman Republic, becoming disused in imperial times. The feminine form is Mamerca. The patronymic gens Mamercia was derived from this name, as were the cognomina Mamercus and Mamercinus...
Manius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used throughout the period of the Roman Republic, and well into imperial times. The feminine form is Mania. The name was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gentes Manlia and Manilia...
Marcus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was one of the most common names throughout Roman history. The feminine form is Marca or Marcia. The praenomen was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Marcia, as well as the cognomen Marcellus...
Mettius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used in pre-Roman times and perhaps during the early centuries of the Roman Republic, but which was obsolete by the 1st century BC. The feminine form is Mettia. The patronymic gens Mettia was derived from this praenomen...
Nonus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name. It was never particularly common at Rome, but may have been used more frequently in the countryside. Although not attested in surviving Latin inscriptions, the name must have been used occasionally, as it gave rise to the patronymic gens Nonia. The...
Numerius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, usually abbreviated N. The name was never especially common, but was used throughout the period of the Roman Republic, and into imperial times. The feminine form is Numeria...
Octavius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name. It was never particularly common at Rome, but may have been used more frequently in the countryside. The feminine form is Octavia. The name gave rise to the patronymic gens Octavia, and perhaps also to gens Otacilia...
Opiter is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used primarily during the early centuries of the Roman Republic. It is not usually abbreviated, but is sometimes found with the abbreviation Opet., apparently based on an archaic spelling of the name. No examples of the feminine form are...
Paullus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, used throughout Roman history. The masculine form was not particularly common at Rome, but the feminine form, Paulla or Polla, is one of the most common praenomina. The name was later used as a cognomen in many families...
Postumus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was most common during the early centuries of the Roman Republic. It gave rise to the patronymic gens Postumia, and later became a common cognomen, or surname. The feminine form is Postuma...
Proculus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was most common during the early centuries of the Roman Republic. It gave rise to the patronymic gentes Proculeia and Procilia, and later became a common cognomen, or surname. The feminine form is Procula...
Publius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and was very common at all periods of Roman history. It gave rise to the patronymic gens Publilia, and perhaps also gens Publicia. The feminine form is Publia...
Quintus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was common throughout all periods of Roman history. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gentes Quinctia and Quinctilia. The feminine form is Quinta...
Septimus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name. It was never particularly common at Rome, but it gave rise to the patronymic gens Septimia. The feminine form is Septima. The name was not regularly abbreviated....
Sertor is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used during the Roman Republic. It was never common, and is not known to have been used by any prominent families at Rome. It gave rise to the patronymic gens Sertoria. The feminine form was probably Sertora...
Servius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used throughout the period of the Roman Republic, and well into imperial times. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Servilia. The feminine form is Servia...
Sextus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was common throughout all periods of Roman history. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gentes Sextia and Sextilia. The feminine form is Sexta...
Spurius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used primarily during the period of the Roman Republic, and which fell into disuse in imperial times. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Spurilia. The feminine form is Spuria...
Statius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used during the period of the Roman Republic, and into imperial times. It was not widely used at Rome, but gave rise to the patronymic gens Statilia. The feminine form is Statia...
Tiberius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used throughout Roman history. Although not especially common, it was used by both patrician and plebeian families. The feminine form is Tiberia. The name is usually abbreviated Ti., but occasionally Tib.For most of Roman history, Tiberius...
Titus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, and was one of the most common names throughout Roman history. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Titia. The feminine form is Tita or Titia...
Tullus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used from the earliest times to the end of the Roman Republic. Although never particularly common, the name gave rise to the patronymic gens Tullia, and it may have been used as a cognomen by families that had formerly used the name. The...
Vibius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was occasionally used throughout the period of the Roman Republic and perhaps into imperial times. It gave rise to the patronymic gens Vibia. The feminine form is Vibia...
Volesus, Volusus, or Volero is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was occasionally used during the period of the Roman Republic, and briefly revived in imperial times. It gave rise to the patronymic gentes Valeria and Volusia. The feminine form is Volesa or Volusa...
Vopiscus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was occasionally used during the period of the Roman Republic, and later as a cognomen, surviving into imperial times. The feminine form is Vopisca...
- Caeso is frequently (especially in older records) spelled Kaeso.
- Gaius and Gnaeus are abbreviated with C. and Cn., respectively, because the practice of abbreviating them was already established at the time the letter G
G is the seventh letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.-History:The letter 'G' was introduced in the Old Latin period as a variant of ⟨c⟩ to distinguish voiced, from voiceless, . The recorded originator of ⟨g⟩ is freedman Spurius Carvilius Ruga, the first Roman to open a fee-paying school,...
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 (𐌌), 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.
Originally, all girls received praenomina on the dies lustricus
, which would later be confirmed upon their marriage. Most of these were the same names that were given to boys, but grammatically feminine. Because relatively few women's praenomina have survived in records and inscriptions, it is not clear whether there were feminine forms of certain uncommon praenomina, such as Agrippa, Opiter, or Sertor. If so, they were probably formed in the same way as diminutives, for the feminine form Agrippina
later appears as a cognomen, just as the masculine forms of these praenomina were gradually revived as cognomina.
A few names, such as Prima, Secunda, Tertia, and Quarta, occur regularly amongst women, although the corresponding masculine forms were rarely, if ever, used for boys. Paulla (often spelled Polla
) is also especially common, although the masculine name Paullus was uncommon as a praenomen.
Over time, women's praenomina disappeared from Roman public life. This probably occurred because the praenomen, whether masculine or feminine, held little importance outside of a person's immediate family and friends. Unlike the cognomen, which was generally regarded as an unofficial or informal name throughout the Republic, the praenomen was always part of a person's legal name, and so was recited on formal occasions and inscribed in public records. But there was little need to do so in the case of women, who seldom participated in public life, and who were generally known by their father's nomen or cognomen, with the addition of nicknames, such as "major" or "minor" when necessary.
As a result, feminine praenomina began to vanish at Rome, and seem to have been abandoned by many families in favour of nicknames. The linguists of the 1st century B.C. and afterwards debated whether women could be said to have praenomina, although it was generally admitted that they once had used them, and lists of those remaining in limited use, or supposed to have been used at one time, were sometimes given. However, the body of inscriptions from other parts of Italy shows that feminine praenomina continued in general use. Even at Rome, vestiges of the original nomenclature continued, and at least some women continued to use praenomina as late as the 4th century A.D. A number of feminine praenomina survive today as personal names.
These are the corresponding feminine forms of masculine praenomina, which would have been available to Roman women. Names known to have been used only by women have been included, but Major
have been omitted, since they were probably never considered proper names. Feminine praenomina were generally abbreviated, if at all, in the same manner as masculine praenomina, but those abbreviated with a single letter were sometimes abbreviated by writing the letter upside-down, to indicate that the feminine form of the name was intended.
- Caesula is found with various spellings, including Cesula, Caesilla, and Caesellia.
- Marca and Tita are found with the variants Marcia and Titia, retaining the -i stem much as the praenomen Octavius, Octavia does, appearing instead of the expected Octavus, Octava.
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, and Decima are all based on ordinal numbers. 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 caesarian section; 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 serve
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 A.D.
Appius is sometimes said to be of Oscan origin, since it is known chiefly from the descendants of Appius Claudius
Appius Claudius Sabinus Inregillensis or Regillensis was the semi-legendary founder of the Roman gens Claudia.He was born Attius Clausus, Atta Claudius, Titus Claudius or a lost original name from which the other versions derive. To the Romans he was known as Appius Claudius. He was a Sabine from...
, 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.
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 was the founder of the Roman Republic and traditionally one of the first consuls in 509 BC. He was claimed as an ancestor of the Roman gens Junia, including Marcus Junius Brutus, the most famous of Caesar's assassins.- Background :...
, 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 was condemned for treason, the Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...
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.
During the Imperium, 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.
- The -ius ending found in Latin source is frequently found as -is or -iis in Oscan inscriptions.
- Ancus is known from only two sources: Ancus Marcius
Ancus Marcius was the legendary fourth of the Kings of Rome.He was the son of Marcius and Pompilia...
, the third 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. The sounds of P and Q were frequently reversed between Latin and Oscan, much as B and V are between Latin and German.
- Nerius, or Nero, a praenomen common to Oscan and Umbrian, was said to mean fortis ac strenuus, that is, strong or vigorous.
The Etruscan language
The Etruscan language was spoken and written by the Etruscan civilization, in what is present-day Italy, in the ancient region of Etruria and in parts of Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna...
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. Etruscan culture, the most advanced of its time in that region, was a strong influence on the other peoples of Italy. The Etruscan alphabet (itself based on an early version of the western Greek alphabet) was the source for later Italian alphabets, including the modern Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...
. 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.
As the Etruscan language is still imperfectly known, and the number of inscriptions limited, so this list of Etruscan praenomina must also be incomplete. Included are names that are certainly praenomina, no matter their linguistic origin. Names that might be nomina or cognomina have not been included.
- Arruns (Ar.)
- Aule (A.)
- Cae (C.)
- Cneve (Cn.)
- Laris (Lr.)
- Larth (La., Lth.)
- Lucie (L.)
- Mamarce (Mam.)
- Marce (M.)
- Puplie (P.)
- Sethre (Se.)
- Spurie (S.)
- Tite (T.)
- Vel (Vl.)
- Velthur (Vth.)
- Vipie (V.)
- The Romans rendered Lar, Larce, Laris, and Larth all as Lars. Interestingly, this is the only Etruscan personal name that has survived to the present day, probably due in part to the frequency with which it is mentioned in Roman histories, in connection with the legendary king Lars Porsena
Lars Porsena, in Etruscan Pursenas, was an Etruscan king known for his war against the city of Rome. He ruled over the city of Clusium...
Clusium was an ancient city in Italy, one of several found at the site. The current municipality of Chiusi partly overlaps this Roman walled city. The Roman city remodeled an earlier Etruscan city, Clevsin, found in the territory of a prehistoric culture, possibly also Etruscan or proto-Etruscan...
- 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).
- Fasti (F.)
- Hasti (H.)
- Ramtha (R.)
- Tanaquil (Thx.)
- Titia (T.)
- Thana (Th.)
- 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).
- List of Roman praenomina
- Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 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 light on all aspects of Roman life and history...