Barry Popik namecheck

Barbara Need nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Mon Apr 7 14:44:14 UTC 2008

Actually Octavius was a nomen (the gens, or family, name) rather than
a prenomen (given name), such as Quintus. Females were
unimaginatively named with the feminine form of the nomen followed by
the genitive of the cognomen (sub-family--and possibly words to
indicate birth order: major, minor, tertia, etc.), though not all
families had a cognomen (e.g., the Antonii). Some people had a fourth
name, often some kind of nickname based on the individual (e.g.,
Creticus for someone who "conquered" Crete). Octavius may have it
roots in the word for 'eight', but if so it is really old. The form
Octavian comes from the fact the he was adopted by Gaius Julius
Caeser and so was subsequently known as Gaius Julius Caeser
Octavianus (though the Gaius here was his own prenomen: Gaius
Octavius Thurinus).  Some adoptees took the full name of their father
(e.g., Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica, born Publius
Cornelius Scipio Nascia).

Can you tell I have been reading too many mysteries set in the late
Roman republic?


Barbara Need

P.S. IXX? What century does that represent?

On 6 Apr 2008, at 14:53, sagehen wrote:
> on 4/5/08 1:21 PM, Wilson Gray at hwgray at GMAIL.COM wrote:
>> The ancient Romans used a variation of this naming method. No doubt
>> everyone here recalls Quintus, i.e. "Fifth," Tullius Cicero, one of
>> Caesar's generals and Marcus Tullius Cicero's younger brother. The
>> Romans had no names for women at all, only feminine ordinal numerals
>> and their nicknominal and diminutive variants, for example,
>> "Priscilla," a nickname based on "Prima," i.e. "First (Daughter)."
>> -Wilson
> ~~~~~~~~~~
> There are quite a few Octaviuses (Octavii?) & Octavias in my family
> tree.  I
> doubt if they were all eighth-born, though the IXX Cent families in
> which
> they appeared  did tend to have big broods. (There is also a
> Tullius Cicero
> -- no ordinal in evidence -- mentioned in the same genealogy). My
> grandfather's uncle, Octavius Decatur Gass, seems to have owned a
> lot of
> what later became Las Vegas. I haven't seen it, but I understand
> there is a
> large sign ("Welcome to GASS Station") somewhere on the strip, put
> up by the
> local historical society.
> AM
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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