Saturday, 20 February 2016

What's in a Name

Strange how the vast majority of famous people from history are referred to by their surname; Botticelli, Newton, Shakespeare, Pompey, etc., but a select few are known to us by their forename; Galileo, Michael-Angelo, Rembrandt..

Julius Caesar is an odd one; his full name was Gaius Julius Caesar, the Julius being his gens or surname, and Caesar being a cognomen, or sub-clan nickname given to an ancestor of his. He should be referred to as either Gaius Julius or possibly Gaius Caesar - the names he was addressed by in the senate.

Kings, queens, emperors, and some dictators, are naturally enough known by their forename. Napoleon who was both a commoner and an emperor was first known as Bonaparte and later as Napoleon.

Popstars tend to favour the royal naming convention, but many do have ideas above their station.

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