Praenomen

From Wikipedia:

The praenomen (Classical Latin: [prae̯ˈnoːmɛn]; plural: praenomina) was a personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. It was first bestowed on the dies lustricus (day of lustration), the eighth day after the birth of a girl, or the ninth day after the birth of a boy. The praenomen would then be formally conferred a second time when girls married, or when boys assumed the toga virilis upon reaching manhood. Although it was the oldest of the tria nomina commonly used in Roman naming conventions, by the late republic, most praenomina were so common that most people were called by their praenomina only by family or close friends. For this reason, although they continued to be used, praenomina gradually disappeared from public records during imperial times. Although both men and women received praenomina, women’s praenomina were frequently ignored, and they were gradually abandoned by many Roman families, though they continued to be used in some families and in the countryside.

. . . .

The tria nomina, consisting of praenomen, nomen and cognomen, which are today regarded as a distinguishing feature of Roman culture, first developed and spread throughout Italy in pre-Roman times. Most of the people of Italy spoke languages belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family; the three major groups within the Italian Peninsula were the Latino-Faliscan languages, including the tribes of the Latini, or Latins, who formed the core of the early Roman populace, and their neighbors, the Falisci and Hernici; the Oscan languages, including the Sabines, who also contributed to early Roman culture, as well as the Samnites, and many other peoples of central and southern Italy; and the Umbrian languages, spoken by the Umbri of the Central Apennines, the rustic Picentes of the Adriatic coast, and the Volsci.

In addition to the Italic peoples was the Etruscan civilization, whose language was unrelated to Indo-European, but who exerted a strong cultural influence throughout much of Italy, including early Rome.

. . . .

Each of the Italic peoples had its own distinctive group of praenomina. A few names were shared between cultures, and the Etruscans in particular borrowed many praenomina from Latin and Oscan. It is disputed whether some of the praenomina used by the Romans themselves were of distinctly Etruscan or Oscan origin. However, these names were in general use at Rome and other Latin towns, and were used by families that were certainly of Latin origin. Thus, irrespective of their actual etymology, these names may be regarded as Latin.

. . . .

Philologists have debated the origin and meaning of these names since classical antiquity. However, many of the meanings popularly assigned to various praenomina appear to have been no more than “folk etymology”. The names derived from numbers are the most certain. The masculine names Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius and Decimus, and the feminine names Prima, Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, Quinta, Sexta, Septima, Octavia, Nona and Decima are all based on ordinal numbers. There may also have been a praenomen Nonus, as there was a gens with the apparently patronymic name of Nonius, although no examples of its use as a praenomen have survived.

It is generally held that these names originally referred to the order of a child’s birth, although some scholars believe that they might also have referred to the month of the Roman calendar in which a child was born. Like the masculine praenomina, the months of the old Roman Calendar had names based on the numbers five through ten: Quintilis (July), Sextilis (August), September, October, November, and December. However, this hypothesis does not account for the feminine praenomina Prima, Secunda, Tertia, and Quarta, nor does it explain why Septimus, Octavius, and perhaps Nonus were rarely used.

Philologists have debated the origin and meaning of these names since classical antiquity. However, many of the meanings popularly assigned to various praenomina appear to have been no more than “folk etymology”. The names derived from numbers are the most certain. The masculine names Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius and Decimus, and the feminine names Prima, Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, Quinta, Sexta, Septima, Octavia, Nona and Decima are all based on ordinal numbers. There may also have been a praenomen Nonus, as there was a gens with the apparently patronymic name of Nonius, although no examples of its use as a praenomen have survived.

It is generally held that these names originally referred to the order of a child’s birth, although some scholars believe that they might also have referred to the month of the Roman calendar in which a child was born. Like the masculine praenomina, the months of the old Roman Calendar had names based on the numbers five through ten: Quintilis (July), Sextilis (August), September, October, November, and December. However, this hypothesis does not account for the feminine praenomina Prima, Secunda, Tertia, and Quarta, nor does it explain why Septimus, Octavius, and perhaps Nonus were rarely used.

. . . .

The Etruscan language was unrelated to the other languages spoken in Italy, and accordingly it contains many names which have no equivalents in the Latin or Oscan languages. The Etruscan civilization, the most advanced of its time in that region, was a strong influence on the other peoples of Italy. The Etruscan alphabet (itself based on an early version of the Western or “Red” Greek alphabet) was the source for later Italian alphabets, including the modern Latin alphabet.

However, the cultural interchange was not all one-way. With respect to personal names, the Etruscans borrowed a large number of praenomina from Latin and Oscan, adding them to their own unique names. The Etruscan language is still imperfectly known, and the number of inscriptions are limited, so this list of Etruscan praenomina encompasses what has been discovered to this point. Included are names that are certainly praenomina, no matter their linguistic origin. Names that might be nomina or cognomina have not been included.

Link to the rest at Wikipedia

Sometimes, PG simply must go off on a frolic of his own.

The sentence that really captured PG’s frolic-prone mind was:

Philologists have debated the origin and meaning of these names since classical antiquity.

How could PG be expected to resist debates among philologists that have continued for well over two thousand years?

During the course of his long and illustrious legal career, PG has represented a handful of pig-headed clients who simply could not be persuaded to compromise over matters such as who should start the fire intended to burn down a long-abandoned house so the owner could collect an insurance settlement.

The house did burn to the ground. Before it reached that state, the two arsonists, who had encountered difficulties in actually getting the house to catch fire until they went to town, bought five gallons of gasoline, climbed up to the attic, emptied the gas can, then dropped a match. As a result of quite a grand attic fire, they couldn’t get to the attic stairs to leave. They escaped the attic by accidentally by falling through the attic floor and second-story ceiling by mistake. Thereafter, they descending the sort-of-intact stairway from the second floor to the first floor of the burning house and ran outside. The two partners in crime inhaled so much smoke, they were still sitting on the ground coughing heartily when the rural fire department and a deputy sheriff arrived on the scene. Their smoke-stained visages and shirts and pants featured burned holes where embers, etc., had landed, causing a lot of burns not severe enough to require more than on-the-scene application of ointment from an ambulance attendant who showed up shortly after the deputy sheriff arrived. The quick-witted deputy concluded that the two arsonists had been up to no good and slapped some cuffs on them before the ambulance took them to the jail instead of the hospital.

Prior to the trial, one of the arsonists decided he would blame his partner for starting the fire and the partner counter-blamed the other for actually dropping the match. For the benefit of the continuing legal education of visitors to TPV, you don’t have to actually drop the match to be guilty of arson. Carrying the gas can into the house that burned shortly thereafter is quite enough to earn you a stretch in the state penitentiary.

2 thoughts on “Praenomen”

  1. Happily I have (so far) evaded much exposure to legal actions , but I did run the bankruptcy committee for a public company as a private individual (due to a cascade of giddy internet company buyouts/fraud), an experience which I hope never to repeat and failed to profit from. Still, we actually showed a profit of some size at the end of the exercise (which the Chicago judge then gave away to his favorite charities).

    Long story, but very educational (in the same way that accident and illness are always educational)…

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