Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Roman Name Game

Ahhhhh, What's in a name? 
At least for gets complicated.

We always laughed at Grandma when she read fella's name that ended with I, II, or IV. She would have said it John One-eye. John Two-eye, or John Eye-Vee. She didn't bother with Latin. But now that I've played with the Romans, I think understand why she did it. And  where this 'One-eye' thing comes from. 

I'm going to start with the hero of my Red Fury series. Gnaeus Julius Agricola.  His full legal name is  

 Gnaeus Julius Luci filius Aniensis Agricola Foror Julii. 
Gnaeus is his forename/praenomen. 
 His family name/cognomen is Julius.
 Luci was his father's forename/ Lucius.  
His nickname/cognomen was Agricola meaning 'farmer.'
His voting tribe was Aniensis.   
He was born in the Forum Julii.

But we'll call him 
Gnaeus Julius Agricola
 since that was his formal name.

When meeting and introducing, Romans used the full proper name. Gnaeus Julius Agricola or they simplified it to Julius Agricola  during casual discussions.
He was only called by Gnaeus by his family and his wife...and only after being married. Not before.
If you did use his personal name and were not married to him or related, you were considered rude and disrespectful. And proper Romans honored respect.

Now here comes the issue as a writer and gets really complicated.
Both of his sons were named
Gnaeus Julius Agricola. 
Both of them or, no matter if it were all six of sons, all of the sons took their father's name.
(But, Julius only had two)

Now, think how this works out if you are writing a scene with both father and sons are talking. How do you keep them apart? Yeah. that is the question. 

Julius had a daughter. 
 She married Cornelius Tacitus who didn't bother to mention her in his histories, so we can presume her name was
Daughters kept their father's name however in the feminine form of an 'a' usually.
Julius/Julia. Valerius/Valeria. , Lucius/Lucia. Aelius/Aelia
And if there were more than one daughter...
 there was 'Julia Prima', "Julia Secunda" and so on. 
And she didn't change her name to her husband's, but kept her father's name
Gnaea Julia Agricola

Now, add her voice to her brother and father's conversation and, if I stayed 'proper,"  I would have the poor reader going bonkers. Trust me I really tried to keep it simple.
I used 'Younger' and 'Elder' some as in 'Pliny the Younger,' adopted nephew of 'Pliny the Elder'.  This is fine with one son on board. In Vows of Revenge I have the elder Cassius Julius Gullus and the younger Cassius Julius Gullus. Gullus meaning 'rooster. 'But two sons? Yikes! Fortunately, there was only one son to deal with and that was enough.

So I have to break rules  and allot nicknames as I did with 'Nonia Rosa' who is referred to in Threatened Loyalties as' Rosa.' Unless she's in trouble. And she did have an older sister named 'Nonia Prima' but she wasn't in the book much.  Rosa's brother was 'Marcus Nonius Balbus' but I called him improperly as 'Marcus.' Her father Marcus Nonius Balbus was called 'Balbus' because that was what the research books called him. However, if I did have to introduce the father it was 'Marcus Nonius Balbus'. Balbus meaning 'stutterer'. But he doesn't stutter. Well Marcus pretends to stutter...Marcus the son does, I mean...the younger Nonius. You know the Younger Marcus Nonius Balbus....

Nuts isn't it? I still don't think I've  mastered this Roman name game, but I'm appreciating Grandma's idea of 'One eye' and Eye-Vee.
Available Amazon...September 2012  At last!!!!!

Judy Ridgley
My website:
http://www.jfridgley.comRPride website

My blog- Writer's Riding Right: http://
www.jridgley.wordpress.comMy Roman blog- http://www.juliagaleriacasca.wordpress.comDreamin' blog-

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