I asked this on the HistorySE site, without much luck, so thought I'd try here. If it's inappropriate for this forum, please let me know and I'll delete it.

I have just been reading this which is admittedly very old, and there is a statement which has me totally confused.

... the master might disregard the regular form and give the freedman any name he pleased. Thus, when Cicero manumitted his slaves Tiro and Dionysius, he called the former, in strict accord with custom, Mārcus Tullius Tīrō, but to the latter he gave his own praenōmen and the nōmen of his friend Titus Pomponius Atticus, the new name being Mārcus Pompōnius Dionysius.

I do not understand how Cicero could give his freedman the nomen of another. My understanding was that in formal contexts, Tiro, for example, would be M. Tullius Tiro l M - eg Marcus Tullius Tiro, freedman of Marcus - which would indicate a clear identity and affiliation. How would Mārcus Pompōnius Dionysius do this?


  • Guess: Perhaps he formally sold the slave to his friend and had the friend free the slave. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 15 '16 at 13:43
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Done. As for the sale you suggest, I doubt it. From one of Cicero's letters perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/… to Atticus it appears that Dionysius belonged to the latter, and may have been given/loaned to Cicero by his richer friend, which might explain it? – TheHonRose Nov 15 '16 at 15:22

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