Review of Adoptive and Polyonymous Nomenclature in the Roman Empire

by Olli Salomies
Book Reviewed
Book Title
Adoptive and Polyonymous Nomenclature in the Roman Empire
Book Author
Olli Salomies
Book Publisher
Societas Scientiarum Fennica
Place of Publication
Book Review Citation
Review Author
Jerzy Linderski
The American Journal of Philology
Select License
January 23rd, 2013
OLLI SALOMIES. Adoptive and Polyonymous Nomenclature in the Roman Em-
pire. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1992. iv + 179 pp. Paper,
price not stated. (Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum, 97)
Finland is a bastion of Roman brick studies (cf. CP 78 [I9831 89-90) and of Roman name studies. In the latter field Iiro Kajanto, and more recently Heikki Solin and his school, have produced a stupendous series of monographs and manuals that have changed the face of Roman onomastics. Who can now seri- ously study Roman epigraphy, or social history, or prosopography, without hav- ing at hand Kajanto's Latin Cognomina (1965) or Solin's Die griechischen Per- sonennamen in Rom (1982) or Solin's and Salomies's Repertorium Nominum Gentilium et Cognominum Latinorum (1988)? Of many detailed monographs we can list Solin's delightful Namenpaare (1990) and now Salomies's study of that pervasive (and for prosopographers frustrating) phenomenon, the polyonymous nomenclature in the Roman Empire.
In the Republic everything was simple. A Roman had always two names, and normally three, as Marcus Tullius Cicero: praenomen (cf. Salomies, Die romischen Vornamen, 1987), nomen, and cognomen. Into this system the first complication was introduced by the practice of adoption, whereby the adopted son took the tria nomina and the filiation of his adoptive father, but retained his previous gentilicium with a modified ending in -anus, as, e.g., F? Cornelius F? f. F? n. Scipio Aemilianus (a son of L. Aemilius L. f. Paullus adopted by P. Cornelius P. f. P. n. Scipio).
The main goal of adoptions was to ensure the continuity of the gens and of the name. Hence we hear very little of adoptions of women: apart from adop- tions in imperial families only four or five cases are attested, and none under the Republic (4, 20 n. 1).
Following in the footsteps of the classic study by D. R. Shackleton Bailey on adoptive nomenclature in the late Republic (2d ed. 1991), Salomies ventures into the Empire, a magnus labor indeed. First he tabulates the amazing variety of adoptive name-forms that sprouted up in the closing years of the Republic and proliferated in the Principate. On the basis of a full catalogue of adoptions (fifty-eight cases, but excluding adoptions in the imperial family) he distin- guishes seventeen name types (an important feature of the name system under the Empire was the disappearance of the hereditary cognomen, p. 83). The adoptee would normally include in his style the adoptivepraenomen and nomen, but would now often also retain his original cognomen or even the whole original name, old and new elements variously collocated. This produced long strings of names, e.g. (pp. 37-38) Cn. Domitius Sex. f. Volt(inia tribu) Afer Titius Mar- cellus Curvius Lucanus (ILS 990). As we know from Pliny (Ep. 8.18.5), Lucanus and his brother Tullus were adopted (testamento) by Cn. Domitius Afer, an orator from Nemausus. Their natural father appears to have been another nota- ble from Nemausus, Sex. Curvius Sex. f. Vol(tinia) Tullus (cf. Mart. 5.28.3:
Curvii fratres). This leaves the elements Titius Marcellus unexplained; they probably came from the name of Tullus' (natural) mother.
This illustrates well the difficulty in dealing with the polyonymy: the vari- ous name elements could either derive from adoption or could be a combination of the paternal and maternal names (a phenomenon that deserves a separate sociological study), sometimes with further items inherited from other relatives. Take, for example, Sex. Pulfennius M. f. Ter. Salutaris M. Luccius Valerius Severus Plotius Cilo (CIL 10.4864).Without further information (as in the case of Domitius Tullus) we are not able to elucidate the provenience of the individ- ual items of this name (p. 19).Such names are onomastic and prosopographical puzzles, and those who enjoy solving them will love Salomies's book.
Set your country here to find out accurate prices

Seller Condition Item Price Shipping Total Cost
AlibrisFair Buy with confidence. Excellent Customer Service & Return policy. Ships Fast. 24*7 Customer Service.US$ 323.21 US$ 3.50US$ 326.71
  • Recommend Us