What does my Nickname mean and where did I find it?
Publius Cornelius Scipio Iucundus
scipio -onis, m. a ceremonial staff.
Scipio -onis, m. a family of the gens Cornelia; Scipiades -ae, one of the family of the Scipios, a Scipio.
Cornelius -a -um, name of a Roman gens. Adj. Cornelianus -a -um.
Publius -i, m. a Roman praenomen, abbrev. P.
iucundus -a -um, pleasant, agreeable, delightful.
In high school I was required to take two years of a foreign language. I chose Latin because, well, because it was different. As in most foreign language classes in the US, to help the students become familiar with the culture, on the first day you choose a name in that language. Supposedly you would then be known by that name for the rest of the year in class, although it never seemed to work out that way. In French boys choose names like Jean and Pierre, in Spanish names like Juan and Marco, and in German, Hans and Frederik
In ancient Rome, there were less than twenty first names for boys (girls' names derived from their father's). The more common ones being Quintus, Gaius, Marcus, Publius, Sextus, Gnaeus, and Lucius. Our Latin teacher let us use a little broader based spectrum for choosing names, picking a historical figure's name, or even using demi-god names. My best friend was known as Orcus, a demi-death-god.
I originally chose Tiberius, the name of one of the first great Caesars. After reading more history, I came across the name of Scipio Africanus and added his onto my name (a common practice in Roman times, although the name was rarely chosen by the bearer, but instead by his piers, and often denoted some attribute of the person. Flaccus, for instance, meaning "big-ears") thus going by Tiberius Scipio. I had just run across the name and it sounded good. After reading more about him, I decided I liked him more than Tiberius and dropped the name Tiberius completely, going the rest of the year simply as Scipio.
Just beginning at University, I acquired an internet account, and was shown IRC. I had for several years been an avid user of BBS systems, and was known on several systems as Opus. When I first logged onto IRC, however, Opus was being used and I was told to choose a different name. After about five minutes of struggling (I am horrible with names) I fell back on Scipio. Since then it has stuck quite well. Now, more people at University and also on IRC know me as Scipio rather than by my real name.
P. Cornelius Scipio was born 236 BC (518 AUC by Roman reckoning) to a father of the same name. Early in life he distinguished himself militarily, especially in the battles of Ticinus and Cannae. At the age of 26 he was given proconsular imperium by the People rather than the Senate, and was dispatched to fight against the Carthaginians in Spain. For 5 years he fought, defeating every Carthaginian army and won for Rome its 2 Spanish provinces. He became consul in 205 BC at the early age of 31 and despite senatorial opposition gained permission to invade Africa. He did so thru Sicily, conquering both. Whereupon he was invited to assume the cognomen Africanus (meaning of Africa). He was elected censor and appointed Princeps Senatus in 199 BC, and was consul again in 194 BC. He warned Rome that Antiochus would invade Greece, and when it happened, he became his younger brother Lucius' legate, and accompanied the Roman army to the war against Antiochus.
At some point in time, Africanus incurred the enmity of Cato the Censor (famous for ending every speech to the Senate with Karthago delenda est, Carthage must be destroyed). Cato embarked on a persecution of all the Cornelii Scipiones, particularly Africanus and his brother. It would appear that Cato won, for Lucius (his cognomen was Asiagenus) was stripped of his status as equites (the political order between senatus and plebs) in 184 BC. Africanus died later that year.
Africanus was married to Aemilia Paulla, the sister of Lucius Aemilius Paullus, the conquerer of Macedonia. He had two sons, neither of whom distinguished himself, and two daughters. The elder daughter married her cousin, P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum, and the younger Cornelia was the mother of the brothers Gracchi.
P. Cornelius Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus (the younger) was born in 185 BC to Lucius Aemilius Paullus. He was given up in adoption to the elder son of Scipio Africanus and his younger brother was given to the Fabii Maximi for adoption, as Lucius had 2 younger sons, however, these two died within days of each other in 167 BC and Lucius was then without an heir. Scipio Aemilianus was married at an early age to his cousin, Sempronia, the only surviving daughter of Scipio Africanus' youngest daughter, who bitterly despised him.
In 149 and 148 BC, he fought in the Third Punic War and distinguished himself so greatly that he was elected consul in 147, despite very bitter opposition, and the fact that he wasn't old enough for the position. He was then sent to Africa to take charge of the continuing War, and in 146 Carthage fell. After which he tore the city apart stone by stone, however there is debate as to whether or not he did salt the ground. In 142 he was elected censor. In 140 he set sail east with his friends Polybius, the historian, and Panaetius, the philosopher. He was re-elected consul in 134 and was commisioned to deal with the town Numantia in Nearer Spain, which had defied Roman armies for 50 years. When Scipio Aemilinus arrived, it lasted 8 months. After it fell, he had the city torn apart stone by stone, and either executed or deported its four thousand citizens.
When he found that his cousin and step-brother, Tiberius Gracchus (the elder of the Gracchi), then Tribune of the Plebs, was undermining the established order, he encouraged Ti. Gracchus' enemies, especially their mutual cousin, Scipio Nasica. In 133 a group of senatorial soldiers, led by Scipio Nasica clubbed Tiberius Gracchus to death on the steps of the Capitol along with some of his followers. Scipio Aemilianus publicly condoned the murder, and even though he had not yet returned from Spain, he was often credited with the deed. In 129 BC, at the age of 45, he died so suddenly and unexpectedly that it was rumored he was murdered, and that the first suspect was his wife, Sempronia, sister of the brothers Gracchi.
The system of names in Rome was very strange indeed. A young boy had three (but not always) parts to his name: his praenomen, his nomen, and his cognomen, in English, his first name, his clan name, and his family name.
Your gens, or clan, determined your nomen. The family line was determined by your father, as Rome was a patriarchal society, therefore you had the same nomen as your father. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus's father was also a Publius Cornelius Scipio. Many clans conferred social status throughout Roman history. The gens Cornelia (the noun gens is feminine, so all clan names are spoken about in their feminie form, ie, ending with "a") was a patrician clan, while Caelia was a plebian clan. Often, a girl's name was simply her father's clan name, expressed in the feminine, which she kept even through marriage into a different clan. Thus, Gaius Iulius Caesar's daughter was Iulia, and likewise the daughters of Scipio Africanus were known as Cornelia. Africanus' wife was Aemilia Paulla, daughter of an Aemilius Paullus.
During the time of Cicero there were only about 20 masculine praenomen in use, half of those being MUCH more common than the other. Most praenomina were abbreviated to save time and space in writing, since everyone knew them. The more well known are: Publius, Marcus, Tiberius, Gaius, Gnaeus, Lucius, and Quintus. However, to make the options even less, most clans favored only certain praenomina, the Iuliae preferred Sextus, Gaius and Lucius; the Corneliae favored Publius and Lucius; while the Pompeiae favored Gnaeus, Quintus, and Sextus. The praenomen Appius was used only by the gens Claudia.
Cognomina were a different story. Not everyone had one. More commonly, the cognomen was the name of a certain family in the more general clan. The Caesars were a family in the clan Iulia, while the Scipios were a family of the clan Cornelia. A Roman could have a limitless amount of cognomina. As said above, these additional names were more often bestowed by friends, and denoted certain traits or deeds. Flaccus meant "big-ears", while Cicero meant "chick-pea (garbonzo bean)". The first Cicero was probably a garbonzo bean farmer. Scipio was invited to assume the cognomen Africanus after his victory in Africa. My friend in high-school, Orcus, invited upon himself the cognomina "mendaces et furcifer, puellae suspirilarum" meaning "liar and scoundrel, and lover of girls". My own cognomen, Iucundus means "joyfull, happy, gay."
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by Chris McCoy <email@example.com>