Censorial Edict from Caeso Fabius Quintilianus XXI dealing with Roman Nomenclature


This Edictum is hereby enacted to provide a frame in the way prospective citizens can choose their roman name. It encompasses historical research in the form of attested lists of Republican names and takes into consideration the laws of Nova Roma that deal with citizenship approval and the scope of Pater/Mater Familias authority on this particular matter.

Application to Nova Roman citizenship implies acceptance and agreement to the terms of the present Edictum and is subject to a probationary period as described by Lex Equitia De Tirocinio Civium Novorum. The Censores reserve the right to refuse any application that does not abide by the following articles.

I. Nomenclature

As per Roma Antiqua the nomenclature of free male citizens is that of the "tria nomina" (three names) formed as "praenomen-nomen-cognomen".

The preferred choice for female nomenclature in Nova Roma is also the "tria nomina": This is to reflect the equal treatment of each prospective citizen regardless of his/her gender required by the constitution. The Censores, however, recognise the Roman tradition in naming female citizens and may, in certain exceptional cases and after a personal application to the Censores, allow the following nomenclatures: "nomen only" or "nomen-cognomen"

II. Praenomen

Here is presented a list of Republican praenomina available to the prospective citizen. Each praenomen has been historically researched and attested. This list will be reviewed as and when new evidence comes to light : Please note that NO Praenomen that does not appear on this list will be accepted by the Censorial office without a special application.

Please note that this list includes all the most common praenomina : They are accepted as standards by most scholars and will also be accepted by the censores without discussion. There are however a few other, far less common, praenomina available on request. The full list can be obtained on request and censorial approval of these unusual praenomina is necessary before any application is processed.

Male Praenomina
Appius, Lucius, Publius
Aulus, Mamercus, Quintus
Decimus, Manius, Servius
Gaius, Marcus, Sextus
Gnaeus, Numerius, Tiberius
Kaeso, Oppius, Titus

Nota Bene : Historically certain praenomina were used only in certain gentes. Although we will not restrict their use we warmly recommand that established practice should be followed if and where possible. The praenomina in question are :
Kaeso used by the gens Fabia
Numerius used by gens Fabia
Appius used by gens Claudia
Mamercus used by gens Aemilia

Female praenomina
Appia, Mania, Quinta
Aula, Marcia, Salvia
Fausta, Numeria, Servia
Gaia, Oppia, Spuria
Gnaea, Paula/Polla, Tiberia
Iulla, Postuma, Titia
Lucia, Publia, Vibia

The above lists may change slightly as more evidence comes to light and Censores will keep a special webpage for Roman names updated as best as they can. The praenomina on the webpage will take precedense, as they are updated by the Censores, over those in this edictum.

III. Nomen

The Nomen or genticile serves to identify which gens a prospective citizen will belong to. The list of Nomina (or gentes) available in Nova Roma can be found in the album gentium.

A citizen wishing to join a familia within a gens must seek the approval of the Pater/materfamilias of the said familia.

The choice of a gens is subject to the articles II.2.3. and II.2.4. of the Edictum Censoris Fabii Quintiliani de Approbationibus.

In an effort to encourage real life bounding and closer ties within Familiae and Gentes, the Censores will not approve new gentes at present. Therefore no nomen that does not appear on the album gentium may be accepted.

However, prospective citizens are authorised to petition the Censores if they wish to create a new Gens, thus introducing a new nomen in Nova Roma. If their claim is justified, historically valid and supported by adequate evidence, the censores may, exceptionally, consider such request and eventually decide to go against the above point. The Censores will therefore create a new familia in the new gens. The decision of the censores is final.

In any case, Nova Roman citizenship, whether a citizen enters an existing gens or petition to create his/her own, is subject to a probationary period as described in Lex Equitia De Tirocinio Civium Novorum.

The Censores will publish a list of historical nomina on the Nova Roma webpages for Roman names and there will also the nomina listed in the Album Gentium be listed once again. This list will be updated by the Censores as and when new evidence comes to light.

IV. Cognomen

The Censores understand the personal nature of cognomina and the fact that they reflect physical or behavioural characteristics. Therefore cognomina may be accepted even if they don't appear on the recommanded list. The prospective citizen must be able to justify his/her choice on either historical or personal grounds and that must be subject to the expressed condition that the chosen cognomen be a latin word.

Please note the restriction applied to cognomina that are already attached to a family in a particular gens (see point II.2.1.1 of the Edictum Censoris Fabii Quintiliani de Approbationibus).

A list of recommanded cognomina can be found in the Nova Roma webpages for Roman names. This list will be updated by the Censores as and when new evidence comes to light.

Special Cognomina

Honorary cognomina including, but not limited to, Maximus, Magnus, Augustus are conferred upon a citizen by special dispensation. They can be awarded by a Senator, Curule Magistrate or Pontifex in recognition of service to Nova Roma. They are not available to be chosen at the application stage.

Honorary cognomina that refer to a provincia or regio (ie Germanicus, BritannicusŠ) of Nova Roma and Roma Antiqua are subject to the same limitations as they were customarily bestowed upon a general after a succesful campaign. Rare exceptions can be made by the censores in the case of citizen born in the provincia covering the territory of his/her macronation.

Cognomina that refer to the name of a deity will not currently be accepted unless the prospective citizen specifically expresses a desire to honour a god or goddess that he/she already worships and contact the Censores to present his/her case prior to sending his/her application.

V. Name Change

The choice of a Roman name being a very personal and intimate matter, the Censores and their staff must do their utmost to guide and help prospective citizens to choose the right name on the first instance. As such no name change should be allowed after the original application has been approved to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

However, on exceptional circumstances, the Censores reserve the right to authorise such name change if the citizen in question can effectively argue his/her case and only if this change affects the praenomen, cognomen or agnomen. The ruling of the censores is final.

Adoption (both adoptio and adrogatio)

In case of a nomen change (ie change of gens), the only procedure authorised is that of adoption. Adoption takes the forms of adrogatio or adoptio according to the status, Sui Iuris or Alieni Iuris, of the adopted party. The procedures of Adoption are defined by the Lex Equitia De Familia and the effect on name are described below :

The citizen wishing to change his/her nomen must seek approval from the new Pater/Materfamilias whose domus he/she wishes to be part of. Upon approval, this prospective citizen will adopt the praenomen, nomen and eventual cognomen of his/her new Paterfamilias (or, if he/she has no new Paterfamilias, of his/her new Materfamilias). He/she will also gain a new agnomen formed from the root of his/her old nomen to which will be added the suffix "-ianus/-iana".

Example. Marcus Aemilius Brutus wishes to join the Domus Cornelia Scipio, part of the Gens Cornelia. Upon approval from Lucius Cornelius Scipio, a Paterfamilias of the Domus Cornelia Scipio, Marcus Aemilius will now be called : Lucius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus."

Further observe that there are other routines outside the Censor's office that are required for an adoption to take place, for example the involvement of witnesses, the comitia curiata, etc.

VI. Proviso and Potestas Censorum.

VI.1. The above points of the Edictum are subject to Censorial Potestas : All decisions made within its scope are final and not subject to appeal.

VI.2. The Censores, while taking responsability for this Edictum, do hereby authorise nominated censorial scribae or elected magistrates to act in their name and place in the areas where they have duly delegated their authority.


Mika Kajava "Roman Female Praenomina" Institutum Romanum Findlandiae Vol. XIV, Rome 1994: Senatorial Women's Praenomina in the Republican and Imperial Periods( p. 136):

Diana Bowder "Who Was Who In the Roman World", Cornell University Press, 1980

John Boardman, Jasper Griffin, Oswyn Murray "The Oxford History of the Roman World", Oxford University Press, 2001




VIII. This Edictum becomes effective immediately.

Given the 18th November, in the year of the Consulship of Gnaeus Salix Astur and Gnaeus Equitius Marinus, 2757 AUC.