When a new Roman was born, the parents would give their child a name (praenomen). Since there is a significant number of known names, there must have been variations in their relative popularities across the Roman history. I would like to know more about these variations.

What do we know about the changes in the popularities of given names in ancient Rome? Are there studies or resources on the evolution of relative popularities of Roman praenomina? A serious study in this direction requires a large number of names and approximate dates, the best source of which are probably inscriptions in graves. There will certainly be a bias, as the name distribution may depend on wealth, location, and other factors which effect the making and durability of graves. A good study acknowledges the bias and gives some results about popularity variations within a specific group of people — whether or not exactly identified — and that can hopefully give some insight to broader trends.

I would be delighted to find something similar to the Finnish name service when restricted to first names. While I understand that information with this level of detail may be unlikely or impossible for the Roman world, I hope it gives an idea of what I am after. I am not aware of any kind of onomastic databases for ancient Rome.


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When you can read German, here is a transcript from Theodor Mommsen's work on Roman praenomina. It deals with the time of the Roman republic and the Augustean era.

A list of names with attribution to the Roman gentes is given in part 5 of the transcript.

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