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The Romans, in the republican times, bad their names in the following order: prcenamen (= our "Christian name"), nomen (name of race, gentile name), cognomen (surname, denoting the family). The gentile name, which originally (always in patrician names) had for derivative suffix -ius (e.g. Iunius, Cornelius, Tullius), was common to all those connected with the gens, men, women, clients, and freedmen. The prcenomen was given to sons on the third day after birth, the dies lustricus, and was officially confirmed when the toga virilis was assumed and the name was inscribed on the roll of citizens. The original meaning of the prcenomen, in which there was sometimes a reference to peculiar circumstances at birth (e.g. Lacius=born by day, Manius=born in the morning; Quintus, the fifth, Decimus, the tenth), came to be disregarded in the course of time, when the name was given. As a rule, the eldest son received the prcenomen of his father. Of these there was a comparatively limited number in the noble families; some were employed only by certain gentes, even by certain families, as for instance Appius exclusively by the Claudii, and Tiberius especially by the Nerones who belonged to this race; while others were actually prohibited in certain families, e.g. Marcus in that of the Manlii.[1] The prcenomen was usually written in an abbreviated form; thus, A. stands for Aulus, C. for Gaius, Gn. for Gnceus, D. for Decimus, L. for Lacius, M'. for Manius, M. for Marcus, P. for Publius , Q. for Quintus, Ser. for Servius, S. or Sex. for Sextus, Ti. for Tiberius, T. for Titus. The surname (cognomen), the use of which was, in early times, not customary among the plebeians, served to denote and distinguish the different families of the same race, which often included several, patrician and plebeian. Thus the gens Cornelia comprised the patrician families of the Scipiones, Sullce, etc., and the plebeian families of the Dolabellce, Lentuli, etc. [It is true that some patrician families had fixed cognomina (e.g. Nero), but it was quite common for plebeians to take cognomina or to have them given; e.g. Cn. Pompeius Magnus, C. Asinius Pollio, and his son Asinius Gallus. Some plebeians never took a cognomen, e.g. the Antonii. But the Tullii are Cicerones in the last century of the Republic. Cognomina, whether fixed or otherwise, are generally of the nature of nicknames, or, at any rate, add a description of some personal characteristic; e.g. Naso, Strabo, Gallus, Scrofa, Asina, Rufus.] To the surname there was sometimes added a second and even a third, in later times called the agnomen, to indicate a lateral branch of the family, for instance the Scipiones, Nasicoe; or, in memory of some remarkable exploit in war (e.g. Scipio Africanus, Asiaticus, etc.), or in consequence of a popular designation (e.g. Scipio Nasica Serapio) or of an adoption. It was the original custom for the adopted son, on passing from one gens to another, to add to the prcenomen, nomen, and cognomen of his adoptive father the name of his own former gens with the termination -anus. Thus the full name of the destroyer of Carthage, the son of L. Aemilius Paulus adopted by one of the Scipios, was P(ublius) Cornelius Scipio Africanus Emilianus. After about 70 A.D. there were many irregularities in the way these names were given,the tendency being to give very many. Women originally had only one name, the feminine form of the gentile name of their father, e.g. Cornelia. In later times they sometimes had prcenomen also, which they received on marriage. It was the feminine form of the husband's prcenomen, e.g. Gaia. Sometimes they had both names, e.g. Aula Cornelia. The prcenomen went out of use for a time during the later Republic, and it was afterwards placed after the nomen like a cognomen (e.g. Iunia Tertia). Under the Empire, they regularly had two names, either the nomen and cognomen of the father (e.g. Caecilia Metella) or the nomina of father and mother (e.g. Valeria Attia, daughter of Attius and Valeria). Slaves were originally designated by the praenomen of their master, e.g. Marcipor = Marci puer (slave of Marcus). Later, when the number of slaves had been greatly multiplied, it became necessary to give them names chosen at random. Freedmen regularly took the nomen, afterwards the prcenomen also, of the man who freed them (or of the father of the woman who freed them), while they retained their previous name as a cognomen; thus the name of the well-known freedman of Cicero was M. Tullius Tiro, and of a freedman of Livia (the wife of Augustus), M. Livius Ismarus.
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