Greek Patronymics in Latin

Patronymics are generally Greek-derived Latin nouns with special endings, appearing frequently in epic poetry and rarely elsewhere. They may be masculine or feminine, but always one or the other, depending on the specific ending:

  • -adēs, idēs, īdēs and -eus are masculine
  • ās, is, and -ēis are feminine

In Greek, these are usually adjectives; in Latin, they are usually nouns.

Exempla:

  • Tydareus, -ī (the Spartan king) —> Tyndaridēs, -ae (either Castor or Pollux, the twin sons of Tyndareus)
  • Tydareus, -ī (the Spartan king) —> Tyndaris, -idis (Helen, the daughter of Tyndareus)
  • Anchīsēs, -ae (Anchises, the Dardanian prince) —> Anchīsiadēs, -ae (Aeneas, the son of Anchises)
  • Tydeus, -ī, (Tydeus, the Aeolian hero) —> Tydīdēs, -ae (Domedes, the son of Tydeus)
  • Oīleus, -ī (Oileus, the Locrian king) —> Aiāx Oīleus, Aiācis Oīleī (Ajax Minor, the son of Oileus)
  • Hesperus, -ī (the Evening Star) —> Hesperis, -idis sg. (a daughter of Hesperus) —> Hesperides, -um pl. the Hesperides (not Hesperidēs, -ae, which would be masculine)

The Essential AG: 244

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Āgnōmina

Somehow, this post got very political. I trust you’ll still enjoy it.

Agnōmina

Fourth or fifth names may be added to denote particular family distinctions.

  • Pūblius Cornēlius Scīpiō Āfricānus Aemiliānus=
  • Pūblius (my widdle Pubb-pie, as his mother might say)
  • Cornēlius (an important gēns with uncertain origins)
  • Scīpiō (the Scīpiō family, descended from some particular Cornelian nicknamed for his ‘ceremonial rod’)
  • Āfricānus (for Pūblius’ exploits in Africa)
  • Aemiliānus (adopted from the Aemilian gēns)

The Romans simply saw these as further cōgnōmina, but later writers described these as agnōmina 

Gēns vs. Familia

If you’re worried about the difference between the gēns and the ‘family,’ just imagine that each gēns stretched back to some great ancient ancestor, whereas each family stretch back to some more recent republican ancestor

  • We’re distantly related to Thomas Jefferson (gēns Jeffersōnia)
  • I heard this form uncle George (George Jeffersōnia Bush Īrācānus)
  • George W. would have been George J. B. Minor in his early days
  • You may think he doesn’t deserve the āgnōmen ‘Īrācānus,’ and neither do I–so let’s realize just how political these little nicknames really are [I’m sure a number of Romans refused Scīpiō his ‘Āfricānus’]
  • George’s great-grandfather, Sam Prescott Bush, may have added a fifth āgnōmen–the gēns name of the Rockefellers–because he rose to prominence with the aid of John’s brother, Frank Rockefeller
  • This entire example is complicated by the fact that the Bushes would be publicans not patricians

The Essential AG: 108a

Famous Phrase Revisited: ‘cēterum autem censeō Fedem dēlendem esse.’ [and what’s more, I claim that the Fed must be destroyed]

Ron Paul as Catō Maior

[if you have no idea what my politics are, then I’ve designed this post correctly!]