Summary of Name Structure
The typical Roman had three names: the praenōmen (first name), the nōmen (gēns name), and the cōgnōmen (family name).
- Mārcus Tullius Cicerō =
- Mārcus (what’s up, Marcus?) +
- Tullius (the time-honored descendants of Servius Tullius, 6th kind of Rome)
- Cicero (the Cicero family, descended from some particular Tullian who earned the nickname ‘chickpea’)
A gēns is much larger than a family, and a Roman was more formally and less intimately attached to the name. ‘Mārcus Tullius Cicerō‘ may be compared to todays ‘John Proper III, descendant of James Black, Duke of York.’
- On the day-to-day, he was just Mārcus Cicerō
- When two members of the same family are mentioned together, the cōgnōmen is plural: Pūblius et Servius Sullae
What About Women?
No first names–no praenōmina, and no family names–no cōgnōmina.
- Cicero’s daughter was Tullia
- Further daughters would have been Tullia secunda, Tullia tertia, etc.
The Essential AG: 108, 108b
Famous Phrase: nōmen est ōmen : the name is a sign
[tied with nominative determinism–the outlook that given names inform what we become and how we develop]