In ancient Rome, to the first name (praenomen) and family name (nomen) in the first century BCE was added nickname (cognomen). It happened because at the end of the republic’s existence the families began to grow significantly. Initially, only patrician families adopted the nickname.
The first nicknames were associated with the main classes of the Romans at that time. Nicknames were often associated with plants, which only confirms our belief in the agricultural nature of the original Roman society. For example, the Cicero family took its name from peas (cicer), and Fabius from bob (faba). Still other nicknames were associated with some characteristic of a family member, e.g. Cincinnatus – “curly”, Cato – “clever” or nickname killer Caesar – Brutus, which means “fool”. The nickname could also indicate the origin of a person or distinguish his personal characteristics.
Winniczuk Lidia, Mały słownik kultury antycznej: Grecja, Rzym, 1968
Wipszycka Ewa, Vademecum historyka starożytnej Grecji i Rzymu, 1985
Support IMPERIUM ROMANUM!
IMPERIUM ROMANUM is in process of translation over 3300 Polish articles about history of ancient Rome. If you have the opportunity to financially support the further translations – even with smaller amount – I will be very grateful.