Classics 2123: The Roman Way Spring 2008 Roman Names A Roman had three names: praenomen (first name) nomen (name of the gens or clan) cognomen (family branch) Thus for: Publius Cornelius Scipio praenomen nomen cognomen his given name was “Publius,” he was of the Cornelius gens , and “Scipio” indicated the branch of the Cornelius clan to which he belonged. The cognomen was often in origin a nickname. Occasionally, for honorific purposes, a man could be awarded an agnomen to go after his cognomen. When Publius Cornelius Scipio defeated the Carthaginian general Hannibal in 202 BCE at the battle of Zama in Africa, he was given the honorary title “Africanus” and his name was thus: Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. A DOPTIONS : An adopted son took the name of his father and added as a fourth name an adjectival form of his original nomen . So, for example, when C. Octavius was adopted by C. Iulius Caesar, the former’s new name was C. Iulius Caesar Octavianus. W
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