Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Some Latin Names

Lillian B. Lawler (1898-1990), "A Stroll in a Corpus Index," Classical Journal 22.6 (March, 1927), pp. 438-449 (at 438; the volume is IX, covering Calabria, Apulia, Samnium, the Sabine Territory, and Picenum):
One can conceive of a great many things vastly more exciting than the index of a volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, especially as it presents itself to the casual observer. Lists, lists, lists; columns, words, cabalistic symbols; capitals, italics, numerals; poor, disjointed combinations of letters, some of them attaining to the dignity of a half-word, more of them hopeless wrecks, with all traces of their identity gone — a dry enough aggregation, in all conscience! And yet concealed in it all lies an incredible amount of curious and interesting information.
Id. (at 442, on cognomina):
Others were named for personal characteristics (258 names). Of these, the 131 names denoting physical peculiarities are interesting and varied, especially those derived from names of parts of the body. The feet (Plantanus), the beard (Barba), the teeth (Dentio), the mouth (Bucco), the head (Capito), the heart (Corellius), the hip (Coxsa), the back (Tergus), the forehead (Fronto), the lips (Labeo), the breast (Mamulla), the nose (Naso), sinews (Nerva), the eye (Ocella), the shoulder (Scapula), the legs (Sura, Valgus, Vatinianus), veins (Varex), the stomach (Ventrio) — all these are well represented. Names denoting the hair (or lack of it! — cf. Calvenus and Glabrio) are particularly numerous: Cincinnata, Crispus, Flavianus, Fulvius, Rufus, Russinus, Rutilus, Subincanus, Villus, etc. Many of these, in turn, are color-names — cf. English Gold and Gould, Grey, Whitehead, and "Reddy," and German Roth. Other names denoted general physical appearance, e. g., Curvus, Macer, Venusus. In this group there are also a few color-names — Albulus, Albinus, Candidus (English White and Whiteman); Aterianus, Nigella, Niger (English Black); Fuscus, Fuscinilla (English Brown); Pullo, Pullus (English Grey). Names denoting size were likewise frequent — Celsus, Latus, Longanicus, Magnilla, Maximilla, Paullus, etc. (English Little, Longfellow, Small, Stout). Still others were names the roots of which imply characteristic activity of some sort. In some cases these verge closely on mental traits (e. g., Vemens and Violentilla). Names implying haste, or a great deal of activity in general, are common here: Activa, Agilis, Celer, Strenuus, Vibrio. Others are Dexter, Mordax, Scaeva, Sollers. Other individuals bore names denoting their age (Iunior, Perpetuus, Pupilla, Senio, Vetus), or their physical condition (Potens, Salutaris, Satur, Valens, Vitalis).

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