Lucius (/ˈlʃ(i)əs/ LOO-sh(ee-)əs, Latin: [ˈluːkiʊs]) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was one of the most common names throughout Roman history.[1] The feminine form is Lucia (/ˈlʃiə, lˈə/ LOO-shee-ə, loo-CHEE, Latin: [ˈluːkia]).[2][3] The praenomen was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gentes Lucia and Lucilia.[4] It was regularly abbreviated L.[5][6]

Throughout Roman history, Lucius was the most common praenomen, used slightly more than Gaius and somewhat more than Marcus. Although a number of prominent families rarely or never used it,[7][8][9] it was amongst the most frequently given names in countless others.[8] The name survived the collapse of the Western Empire in the fifth century, and has continued into modern times.

Origin and meaning edit

In the treatise De Praenominibus (Concerning Praenomina), of uncertain authorship, Lucius is said to have been derived from lux, light, and is supposed originally to have been given to children who were born at dawn.[10] This was the general belief among Roman scholars.[2][11][1]

Chase connects the name with the archaic adjective loucus, which meant "bright" or "shining", although by the classical period it had come to refer to a cleared grove. He points out the Greek cognate, leukos, from which the personal name Lucas or Luke is derived.[12] The cognomen Lucullus is supposed to be a diminutive formed from the same root, referring to a grove.[13] The Etruscan form of this praenomen is Lucie.[14]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Chase, "The Origin of Roman Praenomina", pp. 156, 157.
  2. ^ a b Varro, De Lingua Latina, ix. 60.
  3. ^ De Praenominibus, 7.
  4. ^ Chase, pp. 125, 130 (and note 2).
  5. ^ Mommsen, Römische Forschungen, p. 17.
  6. ^ Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, p. 1102 ("Nomen").
  7. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Tiberius", 1.
  8. ^ a b Mommsen, Römische Forschungen, pp. 15–17.
  9. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 762 ("Claudia Gens").
  10. ^ De Praenombinibus, 5.
  11. ^ Paulus Diaconus, Epitome de Significatu Verborum, s. v. Lucius.
  12. ^ Chase, p. 157.
  13. ^ Chase, p. 113.
  14. ^ Heurgon, Daily Life of the Etruscans.

Bibliography edit