Roman characters such as Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, and Marcus Aurelius have well-known and oft-used Roman names. The options for Roman names extend far beyond the most famous ones, though. Just as there are hundreds of French, English, Irish, Russian or Nigerian names, there are hundreds of names of ancient Roman characters that expectant parents could choose for their children.
Perhaps the best way to choose a Roman name for the newest addition to your family is to learn a little about how ancient Roman names were constructed. Ancient Roman names consisted of four parts: the praenomina, the nomina, the cognomina, and an optional fourth part called the agnomina, which acted like a secondary cognomina.
The praenomina was like a first name, but was rarely used by anyone but family and close friends. The nomina was the name acquaintances used and was used to distinguish the tribe from which someone originated.
The cognomina was sort of like a nickname because it was derived from an individual's personality traits, physical characteristics, jobs, and the like. The agnomina was used to honor someone, to distinguish him from someone else with the same name in the same family, or by the adoptees who wanted to recognize the group from which they came (a great idea if you are adopting and want to name your child in the Roman tradition).
That was all true for how Romans named the boys. Girls were usually given a feminine form of the father's nomina. For example, if a father's name is Julian (more likely these days than Julius), his daughter's nomina would be Julia. Even though daughters were given a name on the eighth day of life (boys were given names on their ninth day), a girl's name was not actually considered official until she wed. A Roman name for a boy became official when he was about seventeen. Your little Victor or Vitalis will, of course, have an official name from the beginning of life.
When bestowing a Roman name on your new arrival, it is a good idea to think about the meaning behind the name you choose. The beautiful sound of some ancient Roman names belies their humorous meanings. Unless you want a daughter who is a busybody, you probably should not name her Celata, which means nosy. And while Calvus seems like a strong, virile name, it may only suit your baby for a short time; it translates to "bald one."
Some Roman names sounded fine in ancient Rome, but have connotations now that are not socially acceptable. For example, Candida meant dazzlingly white to the Romans, and would be a lovely name for your baby girl, with her porcelain skin or platinum blond hair, if it didn't make most modern people think of a venereal disease. Word associations are a definite consideration as your family chooses a Roman name for your newborn.
Most parents are looking for distinguished Roman names. Below are ten names that will work from infancy through adulthood. As a guide to pronunciation, remember that Roman characters in the alphabet are usually in the order in which they are to be enunciated, just as with English. There is an "m" next to the male names, "f" next to the female ones, and "b" next to each name that could work for either boys or girls. (The girls names that end in "A" need only be changed to an ending of "us" to become a boy's name).
Name What does it mean?
Amanda (f) Lovable
Auden/Audens (b) Daring
Bella (f) Lovely
Caesar (m) Fine-haired
Casta (f) Pure
Clemens (b) Forgiving
Marcellus (m) Warrior
Valens (b) Strong
Victor (m) Conqueror
Hilara (f) Joyful
There are many more Roman names from which to choose, and they all could not possibly be listed here, but this list will give a running start to those parents who are taking the bold step of choosing a Roman name for their baby.