Roman praenomina

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Roman praenomina

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sun Jan 05, 2003 7:04 pm

Salvete Romani,

Just a question. A Latin proverb goes "nomen est omen" (the name is an omen); in other words the hope (or fear) is expressed that one will become or has become what his name means.

But I wonder. Most Roman praenomina were actually ranking numbers and didn't mean anything at all. And do names like Lucius, Gaius or Marcus have a meaning? Or did they mean cognomina? Can anyone enlighten me on this?

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Sun Jan 05, 2003 9:33 pm

Salve Scorpio,

Well, I think it's quite easy, the proverb indeed goes "nomen est omen", not "praenomen est omen", so I think they didn't considered Quintus, Sextus, ... as an omen, but the nomina, the gens-names.

Someone with the nomen Iulius for example, would probably like the comparison with THE Iulius, Gaius Iulius Caesar. Bearing that in mind, I don't think they wanted to become what their name meant, but that were hoping to become as great, as smart, as rich,....as someone before him had become bearing that nomen.

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