What are some Roman last names?

What are some Roman last names?

What are some Roman last names? 

It is a good question: last names of the end of the Old Empire or surnames (like here in Brasil: Silva or Santos)? As a surname, Roman is a Spanish surname, and as a name, Romanus is a name, and it is Latin.

It seems the top class of the rich and political people had surnames, but it is confusing for me to understand how it was used, LOL. But if you mean the last names used, I couldn’t find an answer.

Catholic Church may help you because they have a good book translated here in Brasil that mentions names of slaves, strangers, rich people, people descendant from men of the seas (like sailors), etc.

They had this kind of thing: if you were rich, you would never give your kid the name of a slave: different classes, different names.

What are some Roman last names?

Who is the angel Amenadiel?

The Romans used cognomina as their last name, and the number that an individual could have was unlimited, but nobody had, far from it, as many as:

  1. Quintus,
  2. Pompey,
  3. Seneción,
  4. Roscio,
  5. Murena,
  6. Celi,
  7. Sextus,
  8. Julius,
  9. Frontinus,
  10. Silius,
  11. Decian,
  12. Galius,
  13. Gayo Julius,
  14. Euricles,
  15. Herculaneum,
  16. Lucio,
  17. Vitellius,
  18. Pío,
  19. Augustana,
  20. Alpinus,
  21. Belicus,
  22. Solerte Julius,
  23. Aparus,
  24. Deucenius,
  25. Próculus,
  26. Rutulianus,
  27. Rufinus,
  28. Silio Valente,
  29. Valerius,
  30. Nigro,
  31. Claudius,
  32. Augustus,
  33. Saxa,
  34. Amintianus,
  35. Socius,
  36. Priscus,

Consul of 169 d. C., whose thirty-six cognomina are known by a commemorative inscription found in Tivoli, a few kilometres east of Rome (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 14.3609).

Julio is used three times, and Silio twice would have made it easier for him to remember who he was.

What are some Roman last names?

What are some Roman last names?
What are some Roman last names?

Interestingly, some very prominent family names came down to us from ancient Rome, but now they are generally first names. Some of these names are:

  • Cornelius
  • Claudius
  • Julius
  • Lucretius
  • Horatius (from which we get “Horatio”)

Each of these names has a corresponding feminine version ending in “a”, such as “Claudia.”

It’s interesting that at the time, these were “patrician” names — names of the oldest and most prosperous of the old money — literally, “City Fathers.” But despite the respect they commanded thousands of years ago, they survive today as somewhat “nerdy” or “old fashioned” names that most people aren’t crazy about.

They don’t sound “cool.” That these names survive at all is probably because they come down through some family legacy.

These are initially “pagan” names, and they survive because of the immense prestige that the Romans have had in western culture.

List of Roman cognomina

List of Roman nomina

Caesar (most famously Gaius Iulius Caesar), Cicero (most famously Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great orator), Scipio (most famously Publius Cornelius Scipio, called Africanus from his victory over the North African city of Carthage).

The middle name typically referred to the gens (clan; a larger group to which a family belonged) and was called the “Nomen gentile.” Thus Julius Caesar belonged to the “gens Iulia”, & Cicero belonged to the “gens Tullia.”

There were only a few first names common among the Roman upper classes, such as Gaius, Marcus, & Publius, which often makes distinguishing among them confusing.

Did Ancient Romans have last names?

Yes. Romans of lower social rank had two names, the praenomen and cognomen. They functioned the same as a modern first and last name.

Patricians had a third name called the nomen gentile and placed in the middle. It was a clan name and denoted membership in a broader group of families that traced their lineage back to very early Rome.

The guy we call Julius Caesar was Gaius Julius Caesar (or GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR, no J, U, or lowercase letters in Latin). Gaius was his name. Caesar was his family name. Julius was for the gens or clan Julia.

Your family or closest friends would use your praenomen. The cognomen is what everyone else would have called you (there was no Latin equivalent of Mr, Mrs, or Ms).

No one would have called you by the Nomen. So ironically, the guy we call Julius Caesar was called Julius by exactly nobody in ancient Rome.

Is there any ancient Roman family left today?

It’s impossible to know with certainty; record-keeping suffered much during the early Middle Ages. One Italian family, the Massimos, claim to be the descendants of the Roman dictator, Fabius Maximus.

The Massimo’s have a traceable lineage back to the 10th century, making them one of the oldest extant families in Europe.

Napoleon Bonaparte once asked a member of this family if they were descended from Fabius Maximus. The man responded: “to be honest; we’re not sure; it’s just a rumour that’s been in our family for 900 years”.

What are some Roman last names?
What are some Roman last names?

The population size of Rome within Europe or Italy alone guaranteed that. Originally they were a composite of leftovers and runaways from all other neighbour tribes, in their policy of open free city or village in a no man’s land between more powerful full cities-states (a road lupanar?). That’s how their power grew even before they started challenging or being challenged by those cities, seeing their threatening rise and growth.

After their rise, merging or allied to larger tribal ethnicities of large regions with multiple cities, slaves were taken back. The endless migration of individuals and whole families “to try their fortunes in a big city” where Italy’s fortunes went and concentrated, trickled down, made Rome grow five times larger before the end. Republic.

At one time, concentrated a little more than a third of the Italian population around it and its river Tiber shores.

With those numbers, whatever happened in Italia after the fall of the Empire, as the city dwindled by abandoning residents moving back through the countryside, made sure Romans continued blooming, however, stagnated population growth during the Middle Ages and setbacks by famines and The Great plague.

Notably, if you are guessing about the leading noble families, their numbers increased after the Sulla laws gave Roman citizenship and access to Senatorial class to leading families from Italy’s main allies, included Gauls from the Cisalpine north Po valleys. 

Regardless of their decimations by the Civil Wars era before the Empire, the Caligula, Tiberius, or Nero’s depredations among them and their roles in Rome’s body politic had neutered even the Senate by Emperor’s de facto dictatorship.

They continued to provide prominent roles in the Administration of such large Empire provinces, becoming very wealthy in the process, which Empire afforded with fewer risks than the Republic was becoming.

But after the foundation of Constantinople and the government of Rome removed itself to Ravenna, Patrician and Knights families had some significant Exodus from their ancient cradle. Along the Tiber into those and a few other capitals and the main town of the Provinces where they acquired personal real estate, wealthy properties, industries, and villas.

What are some Roman last names?

These happened along with the wealthiest lands in Italy from Campania and Naples South to Lyon, London, Vienna or Milan.

So the wealthiest Roman families spread even out of Italy nearer their wealth possessions and away from primary Empire politics as they couldn’t change as much unless in Court administration.

They merged progressively intermarrying with local nobility neighbours, even off provincial ethnic origins -as Caesar or Mark Anthony did with Cleopatra. They could build a power base in the central provinces as generals to access imperial power coups or alliances.

After the disintegration of the Empire, these wealthiest and influential families of Senatorial or nobles ranks, even bishops still not forbidden to marry mixed and integrated with oncoming barbarian elites eager to join their lifestyles and status however foreign customs that will exchange in both directions.

The new nobles intermarried the already wealthy. In these, you can find the pools where Roman aristocracy changed from Togas for the new military capes and survived another thousand years.


Roman name system (for men) worked like this. First name, Family name, additional name (either personal or inherited in family, and even possible second additional name like this:

  • Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  • First name: Publius,
  • family name: Cornelius,
  • additional name 1: Scipio, denotes that he comes from the Scipio branch of Cornelii,
  • additional name 2: Africanus was taken from his victory over Hannibal.

Second example: Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix.

  • First name Lucius,
  • family name: Cornelius,
  • additional name 1: Sulla, denotes that he comes from the Sulla branch of Cornelii,
  • additional name: Felix, meaning lucky, chose the name for himself, believing he was the favourite of Goddess of luck.
  • Roman last names

More straightforward name example: Gaius Marius.

  • First name: Gaius,
  • family name: Marius.
  • No additional names.

What are some Roman last names?

Someone’s mum has four sons.

What are some Roman last names?

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