Praenōmina

While we’re on the topic of names, let’s go over the 18 typical Roman praenōmina.

Origin of the Praenōmina

A&G list the praenōmina, but they don’t discuss their origin, their use, or why there are only 18.

  • From what I can tell, the names became concentrated because fathers had a habit of naming their sons after themselves
  • Marcus Tullius Cicero was Marcus, son of Marcus, son of Marcus, son of Marcus, (son of Marcus?)
  • Certain names became associated with certain patrician gentēs, encouraging further concentration
  • I assembled my information from this page

The List

Honestly, if you just sit down and decline all of these by hand, you’ll likely be set for life. You may not be able to list them off from memory, but when you encounter Mām, you’ll no longer forget it’s Māmercus.

  • A. Aulus
  • App. / Ap. Appius
  • C. / G. Gāius
  • Cn. / Gn. Gnaeus
  • D. Decimus
  • K. Kaesō
  • L. Lūcius
  • M. Mārcus
  • M’. Mānius
  • Mām. Māmercus
  • N. / Num. Numerius
  • P. Pūblius
  • Q. Quintus
  • Ser. Servius
  • Sex. / S. Sextus
  • Sp. Spurius
  • T. Titus
  • Ti. / Tib. Tiberius

Go on, now. Decline them! They don’t even have plurals. It won’t take you more than ten minutes.

The Essential AG: 108c

Famous Phrase: nōmen nesciō (n.n.) [I don’t know the name]

[An N.N. number is assigned to Jane Does in certain European countries, in order to protect the identity of witnesses or victims]

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