Roman gentes

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Yes.
Free-born women only had one name, which was the nomen gentile of their father. So if somebody had the nomen gentile of Claudius, all of his daughters would be called Claudia.
 
Hey, Bitmap, thanks! Arguing the point with my girlfreind this Saturday in the age of coronavirus and self-quarantining (need I say who took which position?). Now, to give me total victory, will you please verify that the Romans reckoned descent patrilineally?
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Now, to give me total victory, will you please verify that the Romans reckoned descent patrilineally?
Well, sort of ... the Romans didn't care much about blood lines. It didn't matter much whether you were somebody's real son or whether you were just adopted.
However, lineage exclusively depended on the male line ... maybe with the exception of great-great-great-grandmothers who were allegedly raped by gods or forefathers who were born by goddesses (like Caesar and Augustus claimed).

In fact, it is extremely difficult to trace Roman family histories matrilineally because, as I mentioned above, women only had one name, and when reading about a mother called "Iulia", you often don't know which Iulia was who because there were so many around.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
Depending on the period (that is, from second century annis Domini on), things get complicated,
but yes, this is the principle, and it applied pretty regularly until the first century a.D.

Gaius Iulius Caesar (the famous one) was
son of Gaius Iulius Caesar,
grandson of Gaius Iulius Caesar,
great-grandson of Gaius Iulius Caesar.

His daughter was Iulia,
his paternal aunt, Iulia.

His adopted son, Gaius Octavius, would become Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus. (Who came to be the Augustus.)

Now, as for praenomina, it would vary. Some families would do the same for all the sons, others would vary among a couple or three praenomina. Once many children died, it was common that the boy (or girl) would only get his name later. The Iulii commonly used Lucius, Gaius or Sextus, so, it's quite probable that Caesar had uncles and cousins called Lucius Iulius Caesar, Sextus Iulius Caesar. There were gentes, though, that tended to name all the boys the same, and differenciate by some cognomen or the like...

As for girls, yes, they would commonly receive the name of the father's gens, but it began to vary chaotically in the second century too. They would have names of gentes of uncles, grandparents, and it seems some sort of homage (and, maybe, somewhat of interest on the parents' part...) to the person whose name she'd get, but it had to be related.

From the second century a.D. on, it became very common, specially for wealthy people, to accumulate many names, including maternal ancestors. So, a guy could be called L. Stertinius Quintillianus Acilius Strabo Q. Cornelius Rusticus Apronius Senecio Proculus... Note that there are even two praenomina within the name. This name is attested in inscription, and there are many more like this, some even bigger. There's possibly adoption issues too, concerning a name as large as this.
 
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Yay...that's close enough! I just took a victory lap around the living room, as my girl looked on, sheepishly. Wait a minute...

I just told my girl that she, as well, might be able to claim that she has been raped by a god. She rolled her eyes. ;)
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
If I ever have a daughter, I'd love to call her Olivia, because I have olive in my paternal surname...
 
If I ever have a daughter, I'd love to call her Olivia, because I have olive in my paternal surname...
That's super cool! I'd go for it. As for me, I'm having trouble getting my woman to support my claim to deity. She keeps saying things under her breath in Spanish that I can't get the gist of. What is it that "coño" means in Spanish???
 

LCF

a.k.a. Lucifer
Well, sort of ... the Romans didn't care much about blood lines. It didn't matter much whether you were somebody's real son or whether you were just adopted.
I am having a hard time believing this.
 
I am having a hard time believing this.
Actually, I believe that to be more or less true, having read that adoption by a high ranking member of a gens was, by the "mos maiorum" (ancestral custom - no small consideration for a roman citizen) universally accepted by all members of the gens, and that such adoptions, even of adult individuals, were neither frowned upon or uncommon. Remember the adoption of Judah Ben Hur in the movie....that was apparently not very far-fetched. Roman gentes and Greek gene seem to not to have had the same obsession about bloodlines as later feudal societies did, for what would seem to be obvious reasons (titles and castles to inherit). Perhaps, as well, the Roman attitude about this could only obtain in a time without DNA tests and Jerry Springer to give the news: "Gaius....you ARE the father of little Claudius." Just sayln'...
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
I am having a hard time believing this.
Death rate was really high. Adoptions (of adults) assured perpetuation of the name.

Not that they didn't care at all, but it was a different relationship with it, and, you know, Romans were a practical people.

It's estimated that half of the babies died before 1 year old. Another high proportion with children until 5 y.o. Cornelius Fronto relates to Marcus Aurelius that he lost one child after another. Whenever one new one was born, it was happening while he was mourning the previous one.
 

LCF

a.k.a. Lucifer
I understand adoption in the upper class when there was no male succession, but I'm having a hard time accepting that this was a common practice among the plebs.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
I understand adoption in the upper class when there was no male succession, but I'm having a hard time accepting that this was a common practice among the plebs.
As for that I tend to agree with you (though I have no facts to present you).

Most information (concerning everything) tells what life was like to those who had at least money to leave a tomb, or, moreover to raise a statue with a base telling his story.

We have no clue what happened with the plebs, so we can only guess, and it makes sense, I guess, that the plebs possibly tended not to care about adoption. Although, in a way, you know, as still today, the plebs have the patricii as a role model. Also, a number of the plebs were former slaves, who took the name of the gens of his last owner... Which was another way to make the name go on, somehow. Many freed slaves were like sons, although not like an adopted one, of course... Adoptions were arrangements not unlike marriages, between older richer patrician guys and younger politically promising quaestors, young senators.

Would the plebs in a farm like the idea of adoption? Probably not. Maybe the wealthier ones, if their kids were all dead and only a girl had survived, or not even this. Which wasn't uncommon.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
So we agree then. Though not frowned upon, adoption was not a common thing.
Among plebeians, ..possibly not. Too vague data for me to go as far as probably. So, speculation.
Among patricians, extremely common, attested by data.

Again, considering infant death rates, difficult to say even among plebeians if this wasn't a common practice.
 
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meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
Can you show me where it is attested? Apart from a small number known cases (Octavian etc..)
I've been reading biografies of random people in the 2nd century aD as research for my stories. If you go one by one, you'll see that there are many cases of adoption, really many cases.

But if you take emperors really, for instance, Nerva adopted Traianus, who adopted Hadrianus, who adopted Antoninus, who adopted Lucius and Marcus. Commodus was the first natural son of an emperor to become emperor since Flavius Domitianus.
 
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