The Complex Naming System of Ancient Rome

TLDR The ancient Romans had a complex naming system with three names: the pranomen, nomen, and cognomen. These names were assigned based on various factors such as gender, adoption, and achievements, and were used to identify individuals in Roman society.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The ancient Romans had a complicated naming system with different rules for men, women, and adopted individuals.
01:38 The Roman naming system consisted of three names: the pranomen, the nomen, and the cognomen, with the pranomen being the first name assigned to a child on their deus leutricus, or the day of lustration, and there were only a limited number of pranomans in use.
03:04 The nomen in the Roman naming system referred to a gens, which is similar to a Scottish clan, and people could claim membership in a gens even if they weren't closely related to others in the clan.
04:37 The Cognomen was a family name used within a clan, developed as a nickname that became hereditary, while the Aognomen was an honorific used to distinguish men with similar names, often given to generals who conquered a particular territory.
06:07 In Rome, filiation was used to reference a person's father, but it was not commonly used in normal speech and was mostly found on inscriptions for tombs and buildings; adoption was common in Rome, and when a son was adopted, he would take the name of the adopted father, usually using the diminutive of his previous nomen as his Aognomen, while women were usually given the feminine version of the family nomen and were not typically given a pranomen.
07:47 In the imperial period, women in Rome were often given a second name that came from their mother, another female relative, or a male relative from the other side of the family, replacing the practice of numbering daughters; women did not change their name when they got married, including their family name.
09:20 In casual use, Romans would refer to someone by their cognomen, which is why Caesar is known as Caesar, and Cicero is known as Cicero, and after his death, Augustus became known as the divine Augustus.
Categories: History Education

Browse more History