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New Publication: Latin Female Cognomina. A Study on the Personal Names of Roman Women


The Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters has published a new book: Latin Female Cognomina. A Study on the Personal Names of Roman Women, Tuomo Nuorluoto (2023).

The book can be purchased through the bookstore Tiedekirja, Snellmaninkatu 13, 00170 Helsinki or be read online.


This book is about cognomina, more specifically the cognomina used by Roman women. Chronologically speaking, the cognomen was the latest component of the Roman onomastic system. Eventually, it was also the last component that survived in the nomenclature of most Romans. The use of individual cognomina started to spread throughout the Roman society in the late Republican period and, during the early Imperial period, the cognomen became the primary individual name of Roman men and women.

For women, this development was of particular significance. Throughout the Republican period, most of them seem to have borne only one name, i.e. the feminine form of their father’s nomen gentilicium. In a sense, women in this period were, from an onomastic point of view, seen as members of their patrilineal family or gens rather than as real individuals. This apparent lack of women’s individual names has often baffled scholars, even if it is, by now, clear that women sometimes did have praenomina, i.e. first names of more personal nature. The use of female praenomina, however, was never a universal practice. It was only through the advent of the cognomen that all Roman women, for the first time, received a name that gave them a true individual identity in the public eye.