) formed one of the three parts of the typical Roman name
. It followed the praenomen
. Originally cognomina were nicknames
, but by the time of the Roman Empire they were inherited from father to son. Thus the cognomen in combination with the nomen functioned as a surname
, breaking families into smaller groups than just the nomen alone.
There were hundreds of cognomina in use. Some well-known examples are given in the following table.
|Brutus||senator Marcus Junius Brutus|
|Caesar||dictator Gaius Julius Caesar|
|Cicero||orator Marcus Tulius Cicero|
|Martialis||poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial)|
|Nerva||emperor Marcus Cocceius Nerva|
|Scipio||general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus|
|Seneca||orator Lucius Annaeus Seneca|
|Tacitus||historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus|
|Valerianus||emperor Publius Licinius Valerianus (Valerian)|