Talk:Choosing a Roman name

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This article has gotten to be much more than Choosing a Roman name. Should we move the present article to "Roman name" and make a much smaller article on the procedures for choosing an name and leave that here? In origin this was a guide for new citizens and I think it has gotten to be quite a lot to take in all at once. M. Lucretius Agricola 21:10, 20 April 2006 (CDT)

By all means, move stuff around. I just wanted to get all the content up there, but now it's there we can sub-divide it into separate pages or whatever. I don't really know the best way to structure things in a wiki so I'll leave that for others to do.  :) Cordus 06:49, 21 April 2006 (CDT)
I agree. Let's keep it simple for the newcomers, but have another version elsewhere (linked to from here) that explains the full details for those who are interested. Marcus Octavius Germanicus(t) 09:03, 21 April 2006 (CDT)
You can borrow and adapt my beginner guide; it's at Your Roman Name: The User's Manual. -- Marius Peregrinus 21:33, 10 September 2007 (CEST)


Female names

Let's not forget a discussion of female names and if and how we diverge from ancient practice. Agricola 01:05, 8 February 2007 (CET)

Too much info

I think that things such as filiation, not being part of the name selection process for new citizens, need not be mentioned here. 04:18, 4 August 2008 (CEST)

Other Elements

Although the tria nomina are the core of a Roman name, there are times when a Roman might include other elements in his name. These are not really part of his name as such but are additional pieces of information about him and his place in the community.


After a person's nomen and before his cognomen a Roman may include the praenomen of his father and, sometimes, his father's father. This is done in the following way:

M. Tullius M. f. M. n. Cicero

This means "Marcus Tullius Marci filius Marci nepos Cicero", or "Marcus Tullius, son of Marcus, grandson of Marcus, Cicero".


A tribe was not an indication of common ancestry; the tribes were distributed geographically and a man belonged to the tribe in which his main residence was located. The tribe was an essential part of citizenship, since voting was often carried out by tribe. By the Middle Republic the abbreviation for tribe in which the person was enrolled was added to the person's name.

Read more about tribes in ancient Rome.

Tribes are not ethnic groups, but membership of a tribe is normally hereditary (though it is possible for a person to move from one tribe to another at the discretion of the Censores). The urban tribes contain those citizens who do not pay annual taxes.

How to use Roman names?

It's not enough to choose a correct Roman name, you have to use it correctly as Romans did. You can find much interesting information on using Roman names and other forms of address in the article "Using Roman names".

An agnomen may refer to a victory over a particular enemy people (e.g. Britannicus, "victor over the Britons") or in a particular place (e.g. Africanus, "victor in Africa"), a particular virtue (e.g. Pius, "dutiful"; Sapiens, "prudent"), or general preeminence (e.g. Magnus, "great"; Maximus, "very great").

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