Bryn Mawr Classical Review 02.06.20


Heikki Solin, Namenpaare: Eine Studie zur römischen Namengebung. Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 90 (1990), Societas Scientiarum Fennica. Helsinki: Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, 1990. Pp. 92. ISBN 951-653-202-0, ISSN 0069-6587.


Reviewed by Henry M. Hoenigswald, University of Pennsylvania.

S.'s topic is novel and well-delimited, the execution thoroughly competent, and the printing a model of typography and reproduction (there are photographs of CIL VI 7426 [with its odd apex in Cálais, against the prosody of this name in Propertius and Ovid], 23730, 25244, 37391 [Rome], X 2872 [Puteoli ?, new reading]. Two chapters are revised versions of the author's contribution to Studia ... I. Kajanto (1985) 229-259. Notes 55-75 contain important additions to S.'s Namenbuch.

S. has examined all Roman and a good many other Latin cognomina for instances in which siblings or pairs of slaves were named in special ways. The only examples of mythological twins so employed are the Boreads Calais and Zetes, Castor and Pollux, and the Theban 'Dioskouroi,' Amphion and Zethos. Other meaningful examples are nearly nonexistent; S. demonstrates this by canvassing the evidence for pairs that might occur but don't. Thus, the names Helena and Paris were each extremely popular but never occur in association with each other (27). This makes occasional exceptions of a marginal nature more significant, as when a L. Aponius names a fraternal pair of slaves Palinurus and Tiphus (Tiphys), CIL VI 23730. S. credits the cultured 'upper class' as he does in other contexts.

Historical pairings are used at least as rarely as mythical ones. Among Christians Petrus and Paulus can form a pair but not for long; for some reason examples vanish after the third century. Cosmas and Damian appear together in Egypt but not in Rome, in spite of the great popularity of the joint cult in the later church. Geographic names and ethnics figure here and there, in part as learned affectations. Significantly paired names were infrequent even for twins.

There are many cautiously offered guesses that are well worth following up. Alphabetic ordering, familiar as it is to us, was, however, hardly a factor in giving precedence to one member of a name pair (10-1, 18, 66-67). At least the hints in L. Daly's work on that subject (Collection Latomus XC, 1967) do not encourage this idea.

In the final chapter S. carefully summarizes his observations and asks why the findings are so scanty. What we see are occasional efforts on the part of well-educated slave-owners, mostly urban (though the author cannot be sure on this point [8, but 82]), to add style to their households. Custom and habit left little scope for more.