Why is the Roman emperor Titus known as Titus? Usually we don't refer to a Roman by his first name (praenomen). And it's not as if it serves to distinguish him from his predecessor (and father) or his successor (and brother) - they were also named Titus! How did this come about - and when?

  • 1
    At least he wasn't just given a number. Think about all the Sextus's and Septimus's that were around ancient Rome
    – user6487
    Aug 9, 2014 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


Romans weren't very concerned about unique names for just about anyone. In the Late Republic, Fathers, sons, grandsons had about three between them per family. All girls were just named after the family with a feminine ending. i.e. Julia --> "Julian Girl".

In the case of Vespasian's family, the second son had the name Domitianus added to the standard names pack and thus was known to history that way. Father and eldest son having the same name didn't seem to bother the Romans then. I haven't looked in Tacitus or Seutonius in the original Latin so I can't say now if the original historians called both Vespasian and Titus as "Titus Flavius". I know that Caligula was known as Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar in his time, not by his current nickname.

Edit: Seutonius in Latin titles his chapters "Divvs Titus" and "Divvs Vespasianvs" and "Caligvlae". In the text for all except Caligula he uses the same name inside. He uses C. Caesar in the text then.

A modern translation will give the standard names to avoid confusion for moderns, who aren't experienced with Roman quirks, namewise.

  • 4
    Suetonius uses Titus, it would seem. Aug 9, 2014 at 0:29
  • @HaukurÞorgeirsson why does Suetonius say Titus is his cognomen? Aug 9, 2014 at 11:36
  • He's saying that Titus and his father shared the same cognomen, that being Vespasianus. Aug 9, 2014 at 16:12
  • This needs proof by citation
    – user1990
    Aug 10, 2014 at 16:57
  • follow the link in Haukur's comment for the Latin Text.
    – Oldcat
    Aug 11, 2014 at 17:46

Tiberius and Nero are also known by their respective praenomen. So it is not without parallel.

  • Caligula is known by a childhood nickname!
    – Oldcat
    Aug 9, 2014 at 0:06

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