Roman Gens and naming conventions
Gens was considered a group of families in ancient Rome claiming descent from a common ancestor and united by a common name and common ancestral religious rites. The gens was an important social structure in ancient Rome and throughout Italy especially during the period of the Roman Republic. Being part of a Gens usually meant that you can validate your birth given status as a Roman citizen descending from early days of this glorious city-state. From gens names Romans created their nomen gentilicium.
Name giving process
Nomen gentilicium, or “gentile name”, was name for a Roman citizen’s that indicated his membership in a gens. Ancient roman people had their full names given by the tri nomina rule. Already mentioned Nomen gentilicium was second part that can be considered as a family name. First part was called praenome. It can be considered as a first name because from the early period of ancinet Rome people recognize one another by that name. Eminent rose of population led to the third part of tri nomina routine that was called cognomen. With adition of cognomen wich can be described as a family name within gens that was given to people by some distinguish feature on their body or some acomplishment that they achived or by any other means that differentiate that indiviual from other people the tri nomina rule was complited. Nomen gentilicum usually had various cognomen that represented blood relative families inside gens as a hole. That rule of naming people was later incorporated in many other cultures and it is foundation for names and surnames in modern western world.
Overview of Roman Gens
Over the course of republic period some of the Gens became very popular in politics and army officer ranks and they were considered as a patrician families. Most of them dragged their ancient heritage from Romulus an Rem epic founders of Rome. Some other Gens although strong in numbers because of historic circumstances never got high status and were plebeian. Their places of work were more within trade, agriculture and military ranks as a common legionaries. Transition from republic period to Imperial Rome was hard for most Gens because during that period many of them lost their actual strength and power. Main reason was diminishing power of Roman Senate.