:"See Praenomen (Ancient Egypt) for the pharaonic throne name."In Roman naming conventions, the "praenomen" (literally "forename", plural "praenomina") was the only name in which parents had some choice, roughly equivalent to the given name of today. It was a personal appellation given to a male infant on his day of lustration. As a rule only the immediate family would call a person by his praenomen. "Praenomen" is derived from the prefix "prae-" ("before") and "nomen" ("name"). For most of Roman history, women did not have a "praenomen" (see the section on use of praenomina below).

Number and frequency of praenomina

Compared to most cultures, Romans used very few given names: the common praenomina were fewer than 40. The 17 most common male praenomina accounted for 98% of all male Roman names [Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum] . The most popular – Lucius, Gaius, and Marcus – constituted 59% of the total.

Praenomina are in the "o"-stem (nominative in "-us"). Many of the praenomina used by male citizens were abbreviated to one or two characters in writing or inscriptions; the more common abbreviations include: Appius (Ap.), Aulus (A.), Flavius (Fl.), Gaius (C.), Gnaeus (Cn.), Decimus (D.) Lucius (L.), Manius (M'.), Marcus (M.), Publius (P.), Quintus (Q.) Servius (Ser.), Sextus (Sex.), Spurius (Sp.), Titus (T.), Tiberius (Ti.).

For a time in the 3rd century the "nomen" Aurelius became one of the most popular praenomina, after the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla) granted universal Roman citizenship to all freeborn subjects throughout the Empire as new citizens adopted the name of their emperor in gratitude.

The names "Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius, Nonius", and "Decimus" mean, respectively, 'first', 'second', 'third', 'fourth', 'fifth', 'sixth', 'seventh', 'eighth', 'ninth', and 'tenth', and were originally given to first, second, etc. sons in birth order. There are, however, abundant examples of this birth-number significance being later lost: for example, Sextus Pompeius was not a sixth son. A possible explanation for this is that the numerical praenomen came instead to stand for the number of the month in which the person was born.Fact|date=April 2007 Another explanation is that eventually parents thought the names were euphonic, and names such as Decimus no longer had to be the tenth child or born in December, and had become common names.

Use of praenomina

Some gentes used only a few praenomina, and some praenomina in turn were used only in one "gens". For example, the Cornelii named almost all their sons Gnaeus, Lucius, or Publius. This is partly due to the practice of the "pater familias" naming infants after himself.

It was a Roman tradition for senatorial decrees to outlaw certain families from using certain praenomina. Livy relates how in the 4th century BCE Marcus Manlius Capitolinus was tried and condemned for treason. It was decreed that no member of the Manlia gens might thereafter bear the praenomen of "Marcus" which none did until the 1st century CE.

Normally, only close friends and families would use the "praenomen", while outsiders used it for mock-intimacy (sarcasm). [J. P. V. D. Balsdon, "Romans and Aliens", p. 158] The Greeks, until the 1st century, tended to use the "praenomen" alone when referring to Romans. [Powell, J.G.F. "A Note on the Use of the Praenomen " "The Classical Quarterly, New Series", Vol. 34, No. 1. (1984), pp. 238-239.]

In the earliest period, Italic "praenomina" had female versions, which often end in "-a" (e.g., "Larthia" for "Larth"). But by the time of the historically attested Republic, women no longer normally had "praenomina". Exceptions were women in the imperial family, who were often given the name "Julia" (especially wives of the emperor, but occasionally sisters and mothers as well). [ Dictionary Of Roman Coins] ]


See also


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  • PRAENOMEN — Isidoro hinc vocitatum est, quod nomini praeponatur, ut Livius, Quintus, i. e. nominigentis; quam ob causam Nomini proprio apud nos respondet. Cum enim varia Romani nomina haberent, Praenomen eiusdem familiae distinguebat Fratres: Nomen signabat… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Praenomen — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El praenomen de los romanos correspondia al nombre de pila en la actualidad, siendo el único nombre en que los padres tenían elección. Por regla general, sólo la familia inmediata llamaba a una persona por su… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Praenomen — Pr[ae]*no men, n.; pl. {Pr[ae]nomina}. [L., fr. prae before + nomen name.] (Rom. Antiq.) The first name of a person, by which individuals of the same family were distinguished, answering to our Christian name, as Caius, Lucius, Marcus, etc. [1913 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Praenōmen — (lat.), Vorname …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Praenōmen — (lat.), Vorname, s. Name; vgl. Gens …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Praenomen — Praenomen, lat., der Vorname …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • praenomen — index call (title) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Praenomen —   das, s/...mina, im lateinischen Namenssystem der an erster Stelle, vor dem Gentilnamen und dem Cognomen stehende Name, z. B. »Marcus« bei Marcus Tullius Cicero …   Universal-Lexikon

  • praenomen — [prē nō′mən] n. pl. praenomens or praenomina [prēnäm′i nə] [L: see PRE & NAME] the first or personal name of an ancient Roman, preceding the nomen and cognomen (Ex.: Marcus Tullius Cicero) praenominal [prēnäm′i nəl] adj …   English World dictionary

  • Praenomen — Der im alten Rom verwendete Vorname (lateinisch praenomen) war das erste Glied der tria nomina männlicher römischer Bürger. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Männliche Vornamen 2 Weiblicher Name 3 Literatur 4 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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