List of Standard Praenomina
These are the standard praenomina,
from most common to least common.
A praenomen, the first part of a Roman name, is a personal name which distinguishes an individual from other members of the same family. The praenomen is not normally used on its own: normally only close relatives or very close friends call each other by their praenomen.
There were few praenomina in active use. The seventeen listed here account for 99% of all Roman names. These standard praenomina are listed here on the right, in order of frequency from most common to least common:
Note that each of the common praenomina, and some of the rare ones, has a standard abbreviation. Each abbreviation is unique to that praenomen: a praenomen cannot be abbreviated simply by using its first letter. For example, T. always means Titus, never Tiberius; Ti. always means Tiberius, never Titus.
Most of the time praenomina are abbreviated rather than written out in full, so M. Tullius Cicero is normally seen rather than Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Many gentes and families used only a handful of praenomina. The first child of a marriage was almost always given the same praenomen as the father; the second child was given a different praenomen, perhaps the same one as an uncle or grandfather, for example.
Thus the elder son of P. Cornelius Scipio was named P. Cornelius Scipio (Africanus); his younger son was named L. Cornelius Scipio (Asiagenus) after his grandfather.
Special praenomina were used only by one or two well-known families, but the use of these names is well established during the classical period and these names were always considered as part of the best traditions of Roman naming convention:
- Caeso (K.) - used by gentes Fabia, Quinctia, Atilia, Duilia, sometimes by Acilia, Fabricia, Latria.
- Mamercus (Mam.) - used by gentes Aemilia and Mamerca.
- Postumus (Post.) - used for children born after the death of their father.
These were very archaic names and do not appear (or appear extremely rarely) in the classical period, and they entirely disappeared during the empire:
- Faustus (F.)
- Octavus/Octavius (Oct.)
- Opiter (Opet.)
- Paullus (Paul.)
- Proculus (Pro.)
- Sertor (Sert.)
- Statius (St./Sta.)
- Vibius (V.)
- Volesus/Volero (Vol.)
- Vopiscus (Vop.)
- ↑ Salway, B. (1994), "What's in a name? A Survey of Roman Onomastic Practice from 700 B.C. to A. D. 700", The Journal of Roman Studies, vol. 84, pp. 124-145 (Retrieve from JSTOR)
Personal Names in the Roman World