Name Changes of Individuals
Name Changes of Individuals
Abstract and Keywords
The practice of changing the name of an individual is attested in ancient literature, papyri and inscriptions, which constitute the basis for the present analysis. These changes can be divided into different groups, among which the following are singled: name changes of slaves; name changes as a consequence of changes in status or of “Hellenisation” and “Romanisation”; name changes in cases of conversion from one religion to another, in particular by Christians. The aim of the paper is to examine some examples of each kind and to find out the possible reasons for the substitution of one name by a new one.
CHANGES IN NAMING SYSTEMS ARE not rare in history; nor are name changes within groups of people. It is, however, much less frequent for individuals to change their personal names, and the reasons for doing so are even harder to detect than in the case of groups. Fortunately, there are exceptions, and some of them are thought to have to do with religion. A clear example in this context is an Egyptian Pharaoh: when Amenophis IV replaced Amun by Aton as the supreme god, he duly changed his own name to Akhenaton. Upon the reversal after his death, when the priests of Amun got the upper hand again, Tut-anch-Aton, apparently Akhenaton’s son, was forced to change his name to Tut-anch-Amun—thus, back to the old religion—and that is the name by which he is still known today.
This leads immediately to a second example, one closer to the classical world, which is, at least at first sight, comparable: the change from Saulus to Paulus. The common and well-known explanation is that this man took on a new name upon converting to Christianity. However, an obvious question presents itself: what is so Christian about the name Paulus that it could serve as a marker of the bearer’s religion? Simple answer: nothing. What, then, is the motive for this famous name change? Different explanations have been offered,1 but they do not need to concern us here (any more than the question as to when exactly and under what circumstances Saulus took on the new name), since the change from Saulus to Paulus is, in fact, not a real change—that is, a change by which a new name replaced the old: Paulus is instead a second name, as is clearly expressed in the form Σαῦλος ὁ καὶ Παῦλος.2
Apart from a—more or less clear—religious background, there are other reasons for the change of an individual’s name, and in what follows I would like to draw your attention to a number of such cases without, however, trying to be exhaustive. For some of them we can find an explanation, for others we are unable (p.139) to do so and may be reduced to guesswork instead. And we have to distinguish between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ name changes, that is, changes that were decided by the person concerned and those that were imposed by others (e.g., on slaves by their masters). I will try to exemplify this by examining different categories of name change, namely (1) those of slaves (‘passive’); (2) cases of a change in status and, in connection with this, what I would call ‘individual Hellenisation’ and ‘individual Romanisation’ (‘active’); and (3) other name changes of free-born people.
It will turn out that it is not always easy to determine why a person chose to change his name or why a person’s name was changed by others, and this is, I am afraid, even more complicated regarding name changes by Christians in the first few centuries. The general understanding seems to be that this was rather frequent. Unfortunately, it was apparently not; at least, I have been unable to find many examples. This is also the result of the investigation by Heikki Solin, who states explicitly: ‘No evidence survives for the total disappearance of the old name.’3 Even the phenomenon that we all know, the new name of a pope on entering office, is apparently attested only once before the 10th c., namely with John II in 533. This question can, therefore, not be treated here.4
What will also be left out, however, are instances that are not really changes from one exclusive name to another exclusive name, but rather the addition of names, such as ‘supernomina’ or second names (like the above-mentioned Σαῦλος ὁ καὶ Παῦλος) or nicknames;5 or the addition of Roman onomastic elements after becoming a Roman citizen; or the Egyptian custom of taking a Greek name in addition to the indigenous (sometimes though not always a ‘translation’ of it), after which one either used the latter in addition to the former or decided to use just one of them, depending on the circumstances and the ethnic environment.6 I will also not speak of name change as a result of adoption of a Roman citizen by another Roman citizen, which took place within the system of Roman nomenclature and is well explained and, therefore, uncontroversial.
Name Changes for Slaves
It is well known that, in the Greco-Roman world, a slave usually received a name from his or her master when he or she was bought.7 This is, however, not so (p.140) much a case of naming a person (except for slaves born in the house, οἰκογενεῖς) but rather one of changing a person’s name, since slaves naturally already had a name, given them by their parents. The new name was often derived from the name of the country they came from (or in which, in general, many slaves originated); many slaves thus bore personal names in the form of an ethnic, such as Θρᾷξ, Σκύθης or Σύρα, ‘Phrygia’ or ‘Lydia’ and so on. This practice was already observed by Strabo, who writes: ἐξ ὧν γὰρ ἐκομίζετο, ἢ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἐκείνοις ὁμωνύμους ἐκάλουν τοὺς οἰκέτας, ὡ ς Λυδὸν καὶ Σύρον, ἢ τοῖς ἐπιπολάζουσιν ἐκεῖ ὀνόμασι προσηγόρευον, ὡ ς Μάνην ἢ Μίδαν τὸν Φρύγα, Τίβιον δὲ τὸν Παφλαγόνα.—‘For they (the Attic people) were wont either to call their slaves by the same names as those of the nations from which they were brought (such as “Lydus” or “Syrus”), or addressed them by names that were prevalent in their countries (such as “Manes” or else “Midas” for a Phrygian, or “Tibius” for a Paphlagonian).’8 However, this was practicable only when there were not many slaves of the same ethnic origin in the same household or in other places where numerous slaves were employed. In such cases an individual name was a necessity, and either this was the slave’s actual name given to him by his parents (see above) or, certainly much more frequently, the owner had to choose one.9 And since the names, chosen by slave-owners (or perhaps already by the slave-dealer), were often taken from the Greek onomastikon, it is only in the case of slaves bearing ethnic names such as Thrax (which referred, of course, to non-Greek regions) that we can know for sure that the slaves received their new individual names from their buyers.10 There were, however, many possible ways beside the ethnic of (re-)naming a slave,11 and their owners were almost completely free in choosing a name; this can be seen from a now lost Athenian decree that prohibited (p.141) the worst excesses in this respect, if, for example, someone wanted to call a slave or another person of similar social standing after a panhellenic festival.12
The reasons for a name change were manifold. To name but a few:13 a foreign name was often difficult to pronounce, let alone to memorise;14 the new masters could show their power over their new subjects by deciding on such an important personal issue as a name; they could assign names expressing hope of good service or, on the contrary, belittling or even ridiculing their slaves;15 they could hint at their intellectual interests by naming slaves after famous authors, poets or philosophers; slaves could be named after famous politicians; and so on.
In addition to assigning names to newly bought slaves, it was apparently also common for owners to change their slaves’ names whenever it suited them. This is already attested for classical Athens: Plato, himself a slave owner, has Hermogenes say that is was custom to change one’s servants’ names: τοῖς οἰκέταις ἡμεῖς μετατιθέμεθα16 (which, of course, does not mean that owners frequently changed the same slave’s name). Nothing, however, is said as to why a new name was given, and the cases where details are given tend to be untypical. For instance, if we are inclined to believe a story told by Philostratos, Herodes Atticus had a very unusual reason for giving (new) names to twenty-four of his slaves: he named them after the letters of the alphabet, because he saw no other way of teaching the alphabet to his rather retarded son.17 Similar is what the philosopher Diodoros Kronos in the late 4th c. BC did in this respect: he gave his slaves the names of particles.18 This was a witty way of showing, against the position adopted by Plato in Cratylus, that the relation of name to thing named is entirely arbitrary. Other philosophers seem to have chosen names for their slaves that had something to do with their intellectual labours.19 There are, however, other occasions for name changes, more frequent and much more down-to-earth than the examples involving philosophers. These occurred when slaves were re-sold or when they changed their owners in another way (e.g., by gift) or upon manumission.
To start with manumissions, there is, for example, the case of a certain Νικόστρατος/Κλεόμαντις, known from Delphi of the late 1st c. BC.20 He was (p.142) born to a woman (Εἰσιάς) in παραμονή, perhaps a ‘semi-freed’ slave-woman who had to stay with her former master and still to fulfil certain duties to her former owner;21 when her former owner, Κλεόμαντις, freed her completely, this applied to her son Νικόστρατος as well, whom he adopted and renamed Κλεόμαντις after himself:22 Κλεόμαντις Δίνωνος | ἀπέλυσε τᾶς παραμονᾶς Εἰσιάδα τὰν ἰδίαν θρεπτάν, καὶ ἀπέχω τὸ ἐν τᾷ παραμονᾷ καταγεγραμένον χρῆμα, | κ̣αὶ τὸν γεγενημένον ἐν τᾷ παραμονᾷ ἐξ αὐτᾶς υἱὸν Νικόστρατον, ὃν καὶ μετωνόμασα θέσει Κλεόμαντιν κτλ.—‘Kleomantis, son of Dinon, freed from the paramone Eisias, his own threpte, and I received the money prescribed in the paramone, and (I also freed) her son Nikostratos, born during the paramone, whom I renamed Kleomantis through adoption.’
While it is easy to understand in this case why Nikostratos was renamed Kleomantis, this is not so in inscriptions that mention slaves by two names, where one is specified as old, the other as new, without any indication of how and why this change came about.23 Thus, an inscription from Delphi (182 BC) recording the manumission of a slave by a woman Κλεοβούλα states:24 ἐπὶ τοῖσδε ἀπέδοτο Κλεοβούλα Δελφὶς Ἀπόλλωνι | τῶι Πυθίωι σῶμα γυναικεῖον ἇι ὄνομα Ζωπύρα, τὸ δὲ | πρότερον ἦν Σῖμον, … εἰ δέ τίς κα ἅπτηται | Ζωπύρας τᾶς πρότερον καλειμένας Σίμου, κτλ.—‘on these (conditions), Kleoboula, a woman from Delphi, sold to Pythian Apollo a female slave, whose name is Zopyra, but was Simon before … however, if someone lays hands on Zopyra, formerly called Simon, etc.’.
Unfortunately, the number of inscriptions that clearly attest a name change connected to manumission is very low, since this usually occurred after manumission and so after the publication of the inscription.25 There may, however, be another example, this time from Cos and dated to the 2nd c. BC.26 The inscription records the donation of a sanctuary to Artemis and Zeus by a man called (p.143) Pythion and a priestess, whose name is erased, but who was presumably Pythion’s wife; the donation also included the manumission of a slave.27 The relevant text runs: ἀνέθηκε δὲ | Πυθίων Στ̣ασίλα καὶ ἡ ἱέρεια [[rasura]] παιδ|ίον ὧι ὄνομα Μακαρῖνος ἐλεύθερον ἱε|ρὸν τᾶς θεοῦ κτλ.—‘Pythion, the son of Stasilas, and the priestess [name erased] dedicated a slave, whose name is Makarinos, as free and sacred of the goddess etc.’ At first sight, there is no mention of a name change, and the name Makarinos could have been given to the slave by his Coan owner prior to his manumission; at all events, this name is typical of Cos, to the extent that there is no single attestation of a bearer of the name outside the island.28 Nevertheless, the first editor Fraser may be right in assuming that Makarinos is a new name received by the slave upon manumission.
There are, however, some allusions to this practice in Greek literature, already cited by Fraser: they are of course invented, but presumably bear some relation to possible reality. Late in the 4th c. bc, Theophrastus’ Κακολογός (Characters XXVIII.2) mentions a man who, apparently starting with his manumission, changed his name according to his life’s constantly changing circumstances. He had presumably been a slave, then became a mercenary and after that a citizen of Athens: τούτου ὁ μὲν πατὴρ ἐκ ἀρχῆς Σωσίας ἐκαλεῖτο, ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τοῖς στρατιώταις Σωσίστρατος, ἐπειδὴ δὲ εἰς τοὺς δημότας ἐνεγράφη <Σωσίδημος>. ‘This man’s father was originally called Sosias, but in his military service he was called Sosistratos, and when he became a demesman he became Sosidemos.’29 We see here that manumission was only one possible occasion among many to change one’s name, and that it seems not to have been too difficult to do so. And we encounter here a succession of a ‘passive’ (a name that he may have received when he was bought as a slave) to two ‘active’ name changes for the same person.
Slightly later, in the 3rd c. BC, Herodas has an example of an obvious name change of a man who can be assumed to have been a (manumitted) slave. In Mime 2.37–8 a man, accused of having maltreated a prostitute, is characterised by ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Φρύξ οὗτος, | ὁ νῦν Θαλῆς ἐών, πρόσθε δ᾿, ἄνδρες, Ἀρτίμμης—‘but this Phrygian, the one who is now Thales, but formerly, gentlemen, Artimmes’. This is understood to mean that Artimmes had changed his name ‘to conceal his barbarian and possibly servile origin’,30 and the implication may well be that Artimmes had been manumitted,31 upon which he chose a ‘decent’ name.
(p.144) A less ambiguous literary example is to be found in the 2nd c. AD. Lucian in his Timon or The Misanthrope has Ploutos say about a manumitted slave: ἐκεῖνος μέν, ὅστις ἂν ᾖ ποτε, ἁρπασάμενός με αὐτῇ δέλτῳ θεῖ φέρων ἀντὶ τοῦ τέως Πυρρίου ἢ Δρόμωνος ἢ Τιβείου Μεγακλῆς ἢ Μεγάβυζος ἢ Πρώταρχος μετονομασθείς.— ‘Whoever he may be, he snatches me up, tablets and all, and runs off with me, changing his name from Pyrrhias or Dromo or Tibius to Megakles or Megabyzus or Protarchus.’32 If Lucian can so easily allude to the changing of names for or by manumitted slaves, it must have been a widely known procedure. Whether at that time, in the 2nd c. AD, this is to be regarded as a result of Roman influence33 (where, however, the libertus received his former master’s nomen gentile) is hard to say, but the example of Simon/Zopyra in Delphi from the early 2nd c. BC and, if applicable, the yet earlier ones given by Theophrastus and Herodas demonstrate that the practice already existed in the Hellenistic period at the latest.
A reason for the change of name upon manumission is nowhere stated, and it is sometimes difficult to find one, so that most commentaries are either silent or end in aporia.34 One obvious motive for taking on a new name would be to exchange a ‘barbarian’ name for a ‘decent’ Greek one, and this is sometimes what is alluded to, as we saw above regarding the name change of Artimmes to Thales in Herodas. The name Αρτιμμης is indeed utterly ‘barbarian’, attested only in south-western Asia Minor, specifically in Caria, Lycia and the Kibyratis-Kabalis (including Olbasa). The evidence is exclusively epigraphic, and the name is always spelled Αρτιμης,35 which is, however, not a problem since gemination or degemination of consonants is common,36 and Herodas is the only source where the name is spelled with a double μ. A variant of this name is Αρτιμας, attested in almost the same regions.37
This explanation may also apply to Theophrastus’ Σωσίας, since this name apparently had the association of being frequently given to slaves, at least in Attic comedy.38 But it does not work in the case mentioned above of Νικόστρατος/ Κλεόμαντις: he took on the name of his former owner (and perhaps father) Κλεόμαντις, even though his previous name was already Greek. And it is at least difficult in Lucian’s story, where a distinction is made between what are apparently vulgar names such as Pyrrhias, Dromo and Tibius and more prestigious names such as Megakles, Megabyzus and Protarchus.39 Neither are all the (p.145) former ‘barbarian’ nor all the latter Greek. Πυρρίας and Δρόμων are, in fact, Greek but they mean ‘Redhead’ and ‘Runner’, respectively, and as such were not ‘respectable’ Greek names;40 Τίβειος originated in a region which was often despised by the Greeks: it was apparently a Paphlagonian (or perhaps rather a ‘Pontic’) name, and quite a number of slaves in Athens are so called.41 Megakles and Protarchus are, on the contrary, perfectly Greek, and as compound names (in particular when they contained elements such as μέγας and πρῶτος) were favoured by aristocrats.42 Megabyzus is an Iranian name (Bagabuxsa), borne by many Persians of noble birth, which was in Ephesos apparently later used as a title for the νεωκόρος of the Ephesian Artemis,43 and for Greek ears it certainly sounded like one of their own Μεγα-names (unless Lucian was making a witty joke when listing this name among otherwise Greek names, in particular if he knew about the μεγάβυξοι in Ephesos). The distinction between these different categories of names is thus not that one group is Greek, the other ‘barbarian’; the important difference is rather that the rejected Greek names are ‘simple’ names in contrast to compound names, which had, at least in Athens (not so much everywhere else), an ‘aristocratic’ ring.44 Literary sources present other supposed cases of such ‘trading up’ in names: Simon to Simonides, Rouphos to (p.146) Rouphinianos, Stephanos first to Philostephanos and potentially in the end even Hippokratippiades or Dionysiopeganodoros!45
Besides manumission, the donation of slaves, to a sanctuary for example, could also apparently lead to a change of their names, as a case in Delphi clearly demonstrates. In 102/101 BC, King Nikomedes III of Bithynia and his queen Laodice were honoured in Delphi.46 They had been asked to donate slaves to the sanctuary, promised to do so, and eventually sent thirty σώματα (slaves) through their envoy Bias. What happened to the slaves (or at least to five of them, if the text is to be taken literally) is interesting for our question, and I quote here the relevant lines 12–15 (after which follows a list of names):
12 …, ἃ καὶ παρέδωκε Βίας διὰ τῶν προγεγραμμένων ἀρχόντων [ἐν τᾶι πρώται ἐκ]-
κλησίαι, σώματα τριάκοντα, ἃ καὶ ἔδοξε τᾶι πόλει διατάξαι [- - - - - - - - - - - - -]
14 καὶ δόμεν τοῖς μὲν ταμίαις Κλέωνι Ἥρυος καὶ Ταραντίνω[ι Δρομοκλείδα? πο]- τὶ τὰς ὄεις τὰς ἱερὰς σώματα πέντε, οἷς ὀνόματα τὰ μετο[νομασθέντα - - - - - -]
‘(the slaves) … which Bias gave through the aforementioned officials [in the first] assembly, thirty slaves, which the polis decided to distribute [- - - -] and to give to the treasurers Kleon, son of Herys, and Tarantinos, son of [Dromokleidas?], for the sacred sheep five slaves, of whom the names, when they had been changed, (were): … (list of names) …’
It is, unfortunately, not obvious why the slaves had their names changed upon being assigned to the sanctuary of Delphi, and the commentaries are largely silent in this respect, but at least some of them contain references to other authors. So Jacquemin, Mulliez and Rougemont refer to D. Mulliez, CID V (with parallels from Delphi), and to the same scholar in the acts of a colloquium ‘Nommer les hommes’, held in 2002, both of which have the disadvantage of not having appeared yet. But there is always Louis Robert to turn to, and Ameling refers in his commentary to a brief note of his, where, however, Robert quotes this very inscription only as evidence for his rejection of the concept of ‘slave-names’, since the slaves’ new names have nothing to distinguish them from the names of free men.47 Consequently, the idea, feasible in itself, that the name change could have had a connection with the duties the slaves were assigned, is out of the question, and we are none the wiser.
The phenomenon of name changes for slaves is not found only in records of manumissions and donations in Greece. We have, for instance, several examples, admittedly of the imperial period, from Egypt too. Yanne Broux has recently (p.147) assembled several contracts for slave sales found on papyri in Egypt and Syria from between the mid-2nd and the mid-4th c. AD. In one of them, a contract found in the Fayoum, but issued in Side in Pamphylia, the same term to express the giving of a new name appears as in the inscription from Delphi: κοράσιον Σαμβατίδα τὴν μετονομασθεῖσαν Ἀθηναΐδα—‘the girl Sambatis who has been re-named Athenais’.48 This does not help much, but it is interesting to look at how the text continues; it says: ἢ εἴ τινι ὀνόματι καλεῖται—‘or by whatever name she is called’. This is a phrase that—in contrast to the use of the verb μετονομάζω—also occurs in this form or with variations in the other papyri collected by Broux; a significant variant is the use of the future tense κληθήσεται, meaning ‘(or by whatever name) he or she will be called’. This has been explained (rightly, I think) by a certain ‘indifference’ toward the names of slaves. Broux draws the conclusion that ‘slaves did not have official names’ and that ‘[since] the choice of the name was up to the master, slave names could indeed be changed each time they were sold and were thus by definition temporary’.49 Their names mattered to the administration only because slaves had to be mentioned in census declarations. On the other hand, since a slave who constantly had his or her name changed would become unidentifiable in the course of time, the former name was added by way of precaution. This is most probably also the reason why Kleoboula in the manumission inscription from Delphi, mentioned above, indicated the old name of the slave whom she manumitted in addition to the current one, and it also explains the mention of the name changes of the slaves donated by the Bithynian king to the same sanctuary.
Name Changes of Free-Born People as a Consequence of Changes in Status or of ‘Hellenisation’ and ‘Romanisation’
A change in status within the circle of free-born people, too, could entail a change of name. This must have occurred more often than is mentioned in our extant ancient sources when a person moved to the Greek-speaking world, in particular if he came to occupy a prominent position there. It is known for instance from Diogenes Laertius that the Carthaginian Kleitomachos, head of the Academy at Athens in the late 2nd c. BC, was originally named Hasdrubal.50
Many examples of this phenomenon, usually concerning humble people, again come from Egypt where the papyrological record provides deeper insight (p.148) into everyday life than inscriptions on stone generally do. In this respect we have to discriminate between at least two slightly different forms of advancement, the first of which is being accepted as Greek, while the second follows what is usually called ‘Romanisation’.
I mentioned earlier the Egyptian custom of taking Greek names, sometimes by translation, in addition to indigenous, and, from then on, using both names. While this is a well-known procedure, there are several cases where the old, Egyptian name is replaced by a Greek one altogether. However, to change one’s name while at the same time giving up the old one, was not as easy as it may seem at first sight, at least not when the ‘official’ name was at stake, that is the name by which a person had to identify himself or herself in administrative matters. There is evidence that this had to have the approval of the authorities, although we do not know exactly how this was done. At all events, we have the copy of a letter to the office of the Idios Logos (an office of the Egyptian finance administration) by a certain Eudaimon, dated to AD 194, in which Eudaimon asked that his parents’ names be changed from Egyptian to Greek: his father Psois should be renamed Heron, and his mother Tiathres should become Didyme. The answer of the Idios Logos is also preserved on the copy, and we see that the request was granted, certainly after a thorough examination of the people’s status and merits, and letters were sent to the administrators of the nomos where Eudaimon and his parents lived.51
The reason for Eudaimon’s request is, unfortunately, not stated but may be deduced from other instances of indigenous names being replaced by Greek. In Greek cities one had to be regarded as Greek in order to be eligible for most offices. There is a curious list of names from an unknown metropolis in Egypt of the period between AD 202 and 212,52 dated on the basis of the absence of Aurelii and the mention of bouleutai, which is conceivable only after the metropoleis were given the status of Greek poleis in AD 201. The list contains pairs of names, one Egyptian and one Greek, and in many, if not most cases the Greek name is a translation of the Egyptian. The wording varies in that sometimes προχ(ρηματίζων)— ‘previously styled as’ is used, sometimes διὰ προσαγγέλματος—‘according to declaration’, or ἀνθ᾿ οὗ—‘instead of which’. This has been explained by van Minnen on the assumption that with the elevation of the provincial metropoleis to Greek poleis in AD 201 a sufficient number of Greeks had to be available to serve as bouleutai, and many rich citizens were eager to show their Greekness through the adoption of a Greek name. This second factor had probably also been the reason for Eudaimon’s request of a name change: he too wished to be considered Greek. However, as Broux has pointed out, Eudaimon’s case is dated to AD 194 and thus well before the elevation of the Egyptian metropoleis to Greek poleis.53 So there must be another motive, which eludes us, behind Eudaimon’s request; (p.149) and the date of the request may even cast some doubt on van Minnen’s explanation for the pairing of names in his list from after AD 201.
Similar, but clearer cases are known in connection with integration into the Roman world. By this I do not mean the adoption of tria nomina when becoming a Roman citizen, but a less official way of assuming a Roman name or changing one’s name into a more Latin sounding form. A famous example of this is the emperor Diocletian, whose name was actually Διοκλῆς, which he changed to Diocletianus since that sounded more Roman to him.54 And Diocletian was not the only emperor to change his name, even if the change made by the emperor Zeno was a different one, from an indigenous to a Greek name: born as Ταρασικοδισσας (an Isaurian name), he decided to call himself, even before he became emperor, Ζήνων.55
In addition, there are instances of soldiers changing their names on their entry into the army, that is, long before they received Roman citizenship upon being discharged. These changes are not of the type ‘new name instead of old name’, but an extension of the old name by adding the Latin ending -ianus or, in Greek, -ιανός. This procedure is best known from Egypt and has been explained by assuming imitation: many Roman soldiers had names ending in -ianus, and new recruits in Egypt may have decided to add -ιανός to their Greek or Greco-Egyptian names to create anthroponyms such as Ἀντιοχιανός, Ἡρακλιανός, Ἀμυντιανός, Χαιρημωνιανός, Ἀμμωνιανός or Ἡρωνιανός.56
Another, slightly different case is that of Gaius Iulius Apol(l)inarius.57 In an application to an archidikastes, this man identifies himself by the following phrase (lines 7–9):
παρὰ Γαίου Ἰουλίου Ἀπολιναρίου τῶν ἀπολελυμένω(ν)
8 στρατ̣[ι]ω̣τῶν ὡ ς δὲ πρὸ τῆς στρατείας κεχρηματι-
κότ[ος] Ἀπολλωνίου τοῦ Μέλανος τοῦ Πτ[ο]λεμαίου
‘by Gaios Ioulios Apolinarios, a discharged soldier, who had, before his military service, the name Apollonios, son of Melas, grandson of Ptolemaios’.
This is different from the preceding cases in that Apol(l)inarius is a discharged soldier and thus a true Roman citizen with tria nomina, and because he indicates his original name, in his case ‘Apollonios’, thus a name that differs from his (p.150) Roman cognomen ‘Apolinarius’ (although both are derived from the same root). This should not surprise us: while it was customary to keep one’s original name as cognomen, one was not obliged to do so but was free to choose a completely new name—or one that was similar to the old one. And as in the case of the many -ianus names just dealt with, Apollonios simply modified his name by adding an ending that would make him sound more Roman.
Other Name Changes of Free-Born People
Free-born persons could be induced to change their names also for other reasons than those connected to status, although there are not many such cases to be found, as far as I am aware. One of these reasons could be their profession, and this leads to the category of stage names, for example names of gladiators (or hetairai). Many names by which gladiators are known sound ‘artificial’—names that they themselves took on when they became gladiators or perhaps during the course of their career. Whereas some of them are clearly indicated as additional names, introduced by ὁ καί, others are given as sole names so that we can only guess that they are stage names.58 However, there are a certain number of gladiators’ names that certainly replaced earlier ones, such as Φλαμμεάτης ὁ τὸ πρὶν Ζώσιμος in an inscription from Beroia.59 With gladiators’ names we can fortunately infer the reason for the change, at least in most cases, since the new names are ‘speaking’ names such as Βίκτωρ (Victor), Πολυνείκης, Νεικηφόρος, Στέφανος and so on; others may allude to famous gladiators who had used these names before.60
Other examples of possible name changes which may or may not have occurred among free-born persons are not so clear. One of the oldest persons of free birth for whom a name change is reported is, as far as I know, the lyric poet Stesichoros. The entry in the Suda (1095 Adler) says about him: ἐκλήθη δὲ Στησίχορος, ὅτι πρῶτος κιθαρῳδίᾳ χορὸν ἔστησεν· ἐπεί τοι πρότερον Τισίας ἐκαλεῖτο (‘he was called Stesichoros since he first established a chorus for citharody; but formerly he was called Tisias’). Here, the change from Τισίας/Τεισίας, a reputable Greek name,61 is conveniently explained by his profession, but we are not told who was responsible, Tisias/Stesichoros himself or his contemporaries. What is not clear either is whether this is a real change in name or just the addition of a nickname or the adoption of a stage name (which it sounds like), and whether he continued using his original name too. Even less obvious are the very questionable name (p.151) changes supposedly undergone by other famous Greeks (Plato, Theophrastus), which I therefore pass by.62
An interesting and in a way peculiar case is to be found in a Hellenistic text from Apollonia in Illyria, which seems—at least at first sight—to attest a double name change:63 Ἀριστὴν Παρμενίσκου | ὁ καὶ | Λύσων Ἀντιμάχου | χαῖρε. Here not only the person himself but also his father seems to have changed his name. However, as the editors suggest, this may have been caused by adoption: a man called Λύσων, son of Ἀντίμαχος, was adopted by a certain Παρμενίσκος, upon which his name was changed to Ἀριστήν. Thus, only the adopted individual received a new name, whereas it was not the father’s name that changed, but the ‘father’ himself.
In an inscription of the imperial period found near Tyriaion in Pisidia, a woman is introduced with the wording Πρεῖμα ἡ μεταονομασθεῖσα Ἀρτεμεις ἡ καὶ ἀναγραφεῖσα ὑπὸ ΝΑ̣[- - -].64 There is no indication whatsoever in the inscription why the woman was renamed by the common indigenous name Artemis in place of the Latin name Prima, especially since this name change goes in a direction opposite to those encountered so far. Naour, who republished the inscription in his corpus of Tyriaion, explained the text in the following way: when Prima, certainly free-born, got married, she changed her name (for a reason not known to us), and, in order to make this official, her new name was written down in the archives (ἀναγραφεῖσα) by a person whose name is to be sought after ὑπό, perhaps her husband.65 This is possible—but it still leaves us in the dark as to a reason for the name change.
In another case from about the same time, a woman again receives a new name, but only after her death, which is peculiar but can be explained. The change is reported in a funerary epigram from Catania, where the last two lines (5–6) state:66
οὔνομα τὸ πρίν με πᾶς ἔκλῃζεν Ἐπαγαθώ,
νῦν δὲ Ῥοδογούνη[ν], βασιλίδος τὸ ἐπώνυμον.
‘formerly, everybody called me by the name Epagatho, but now Rhodogoune, the name of the queen’.
The queen alluded to is most probably the legendary Persian queen Rhodogyne, to whom Epagatho is being assimilated, either because Epagatho had in her life demonstrated the same qualities as the Persian queen, or in order to console her (p.152) family. This would then be an example of the common assimilation to heroes and heroines which is, during the lifetime of the persons concerned, usually expressed by the formula ὁ νέος/ἡ νέα.
The result of this brief study is rather disappointing: neither are there as many name changes to be discovered in the Greek and Roman world as one would expect, nor are those that do occur easy to explain.
An exception are name changes in cases of ‘acculturation’, when people became so much used to a different cultural environment that they tried to imitate its naming system or gave children foreign names or even took on new names, thereby completely giving up their old ones, those that they had received from their parents. They usually did this when they changed their civil status or when they thought it advantageous in other ways. We have seen this most clearly in Egypt, where in the early 3rd c. AD the need for Greek citizens in the new Greek poleis may in some cases have brought about an urgent desire to be seen as Greek. The case of Eudaimon, mentioned above, is particularly interesting. He himself already has a respectable Greek name, but this apparently did not seem sufficient to him to pass as Greek; so he asked that his parents’ names be changed from Egyptian to Greek. And this happened before the new Greek cities in Egypt needed ‘real’ Greeks. Could this perhaps be explained by the assumption that the transfer of the status of a Greek polis to the Egyptian metropoleis was not a sudden event, but was prepared by a gradual process of ‘Hellenisation’ on the part of the population, of which the adoption of Greek names formed part?
At about the same time—or perhaps starting even earlier—evidence for similar behaviour towards Roman names is detectable, but presumably by people of a lower social status, that is those who entered service in the Roman army. This too is best known from Egypt where we find numerous examples of the adoption of a Roman name (mostly, however, in addition to the original Greco-Egyptian name) or the ‘Romanisation’ of a Greco-Egyptian name by adding a typical Latin ending such as -ianus; the latter method was sometimes also applied by men of higher birth, as by that Διοκλῆς who, upon becoming emperor, called himself ‘Diocletianus’.
Outside these contexts, name changes by the free are hard to detect. The group most subject to name change, as we have seen, was that of slaves, whether the change was imposed by new masters or chosen by the ex-slaves themselves at manumission. The slave case illustrates why name change matters: the intimate link, in some contexts, between one’s name and what one is felt or feels oneself or wishes oneself to be.
(*) I am grateful to Robert Parker, in particular for pointing out to me a number of individual name changes from Greek literature, and to the anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions.
(1) See, e.g., G. H. R. Horsley, ‘Name Change as an Indication of Religious Conversion in Antiquity’, Numen 34 (1987), 7–8 (the Apostle uses his Roman cognomen Paulus ‘reflecting his perception that his work was to be among Gentiles’).
(2) See, e.g., H. Solin, Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum XXV (Stuttgart, 2013), 784 s.v. ‘Name’.
Proceedings of the British Academy, 222, 138–152, © The British Academy 2019.
(3) Solin, RAC XXV, 785 s.v. ‘Name’; he continues ‘the hagiographic legends that cite some instances relevant to this are not reliable sources’.
(4) Helpful is still Horsley, ‘Name change’. For naming practices among Christians cf. T. Corsten, ‘“Christliche” Namengebung in Kleinasien’, in W. Ameling (ed.), Die Christianisierung Kleinasiens in der Spätantike (Asia Minor Studien 87; Bonn 2017), 473–89, and Destephen, Chapter 12, this volume.
(5) See, e.g., Horsley, ‘Name Change’, 2, with reference to S.-T. Teodorsson, The Phonology of Ptolemaic Koine (Gothenburg, 1977), 12.
(6) See, e.g., Broux, ‘Explicit Name Change’, 314. For translations of names cf. also the old, but still useful, article by R. Herzog, ‘Namensübersetzungen und Verwandtes’, Philologus 56 (1900), 33–70.
(7) Contrary to what has long been assumed, there was no clearly defined category of ‘slave names’, as, e.g., L. Robert has pointed out in Fıratlı, Stèles funéraires de Byzance, 179; cf. also, following Robert, O. Masson, ‘Les noms des esclaves dans la Grèce antique’, OGS I (Paris, 1990), 159 (originally published in Actes du colloque sur l’esclavage 1971, Besançon, 1972, 21). For Attic ‘slave names’ see, in the same sense, K. Vlassopoulos, ‘Athenian Slave Names and Athenian Social History’, ZPE 176 (2010), 113 and 130.
(8) Strabo 7.3.12 p. 304 C (translation adapted from that of H. L. Jones, The Geography of Strabo III, Loeb, Cambridge, MA, 1961, 213). Cf., e.g., Masson, ‘Les noms des esclaves’, 150, who detects this practice in the Odyssey already; P. Fraser, Greek Ethnic Terminology (Oxford 2009) 104, 217–18 (with reference to Strabo); for Athens two works to which I owe much, C. Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen von der spätarchaischen Epoche bis in die römische Kaiserzeit. Eine historische und soziologische Untersuchung (diss. Mannheim 1986), 8 and 13–21 with a useful list, and Vlassopoulos, ‘Athenian Slave Names’, 113–44 (with reference to Strabo on p. 118, and numerous references to the relevant modern literature); for Boeotia, C. Fragiadakis, ‘Die böotischen Sklavennamen. Zusammenstellung und Auswertung’, Tyche 22 (2007), 9–33, at 30.
(9) Cf. Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 70.
(10) Masson, ‘Les noms des esclaves’, 150 and Fraser, Greek Ethnic Terminology, 104–6, refer to lists of slave names, in particular those from Rheneia (M. T. Couilloud, Les monuments funéraires de Rhenée [Exploration Archéologique de Délos 30], Paris 1974, no. 418; 2nd c. BC) and Athens (IG I3 422; late 5th c. BC).
(11) Masson, ‘Les noms des esclaves’, 151–4; Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 8–10.
(12) The content of this decree is only known from much later references: Ath. 12. 587 c and Harpokration s.v. Νεμέα, both relying on Polemon, Τὰ περὶ τῆς Ἀκροπόλεως; cf. Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 8–9 with note 12 (p. 180), who suggests dating it to the period of Demetrios of Phaleron’s control over Athens (317–307 BC).
(13) For a list of possible motives for assigning a slave a particular name see Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 82–126.
(14) Fraser, Greek Ethnic Terminology, 104.
(15) See, e.g., Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 69 (with a warning against the, in many instances biased, image provided by Greek comedies); 71 with notes 54 and 55.
(16) Plato, Kratylos 384 d; cf. Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 7–8.
(17) Philostr. VS 2.1 p. 558 (in fact, Philostratos speaks of τέτταρας παῖδας καὶ εἴκοσιν ἰσήλικας); cf. Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 9; W. Ameling, Herodes Atticus (Hildesheim, Zürich and New York, 1983), I, 95.
(19) Cf. the examples in Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 112–14.
(20) F. Delphes III. 3 no. 333 lines 1–4 (with the explanation mentioned above); this instance was referred to also by Fraser, Greek Ethnic Terminology, 108, and P. Fraser, ‘An Inscription from Cos’, Bulletin de la Société Archéologique d’Alexandrie 40 (1953), 59.
(21) See, e.g., L. Darmezin, Les affranchissements par consécration en Béotie et dans le monde grec hellénistique (Nancy, 1999), 211–18. The exact meaning of παραμονή and the difference from ‘ordinary’ manumission is still controversial: see, e.g., R. Zelnick-Abramovitz, Not Wholly Free: The Concept of Manumission and the Status of Manumitted Slaves in the Ancient Greek World (Leiden and Boston, MA, 2005), 222–48, esp. 239–48.
(22) Fraser, Greek Ethnic Terminology, 108 (cf. also Fraser, ‘Inscription from Cos’, 27), assumes that Kleomantis was the younger Kleomantis’ father, which is quite possible but hard to prove. Masson, ‘Les noms des esclaves’, 151, quotes several cases where the slave is homonymous with his master; cf. also Zelnick-Abramovitz, Not Wholly Free, 170 and 259–61. For children born by slaves to their masters and adopted by the latter see also Zelnick-Abramovitz, Not Wholly Free, 162–3 and 167–9 (where this inscription is quoted, among others).
(23) Cf. Zelnick-Abramovitz, Not Wholly Free, 172, who refers in particular to papyri.
(24) SGDI 2061 lines 2–4 and 8–9; cf. Fraser, Greek Ethnic Terminology, 108 note 9. The date given here is that of G. Daux, Chronologie Delphique (F. Delphes III, hors série, Paris, 1943), 51.
(25) Cf. P. M. Fraser, ‘Thracians Abroad: Three Documents’, in M. Andronikos (ed.), Ancient Macedonia V. Papers Read at the Fifth International Symposium Held in Thessaloniki, October 10–15, 1989 (Thessaloniki, 1993) I, 447 note 17.
(26) Fraser, ‘Inscription from Cos’, 35–63, on the name change 56–9. The inscription is now IG XII.4.1. 349.
(27) Fraser, ‘Inscription from Cos’, 51 thought that the slave was, upon his manumission, to perform the duties of a ἱερόδουλος; cf., however, Zelnick-Abramovitz, Not Wholly Free, 91–4.
(28) LGPN I s.v. collects the total of seven attestations.
(29) The above translation is that of Fraser, ‘Thracians abroad’, 447, who referred to this passage also in his ‘Inscription from Cos’, 57 note 1; cf. also J. Diggle, Theophrastus. Characters (Cambridge, 2004), 488–9. The man’s last name is a modern conjecture, but should be fairly close to what is to be expected after Σωσίστρατος (cf. Fraser; also R. Ussher, The Characters of Theophrastus, London, 1960, 237 note 3).
(30) So, to quote just one example, I. C. Cunningham, Herodas, Mimiambi (Oxford, 1971), 89.
(31) Cf. Fraser, ‘Inscription from Cos’, 57–8 with note 1. The problem, pointed out by Fraser in his note 1 on p. 58, concerning a (then) new reading of the papyrus of Mime 2, that in I. 8 Artimmes/Thales is called a metic (μέτοι(κός) ἐστι τῆς [πό]λιος), seems to have disappeared; in Cunningham’s edition (see above) the passage reads: [….].σμε..ι̣.. ἐστὶ τῆς [πό]λιος.
(32) Lucian, Timon 22 (tr. A. M. Harmon, Loeb).
(33) This possibility was cautiously pointed out by Fraser, ‘Inscription from Cos’, 58 (on this passage).
(34) See, e.g., Fraser, ‘Inscription from Cos’, 56–7.
(35) See LGPN V.B and V.C s.v.
(36) So also Cunningham (see above). For gemination and degemination in Asia Minor see, e.g., C. Brixhe, Essai sur le grec anatolien au début de notre ère (Nancy, 19872), 31–3.
(37) See LGPN V.B and V.C s.v.
(38) Cf. Diggle, Theophrastus. Characters, 488. There are indeed several examples in Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 373–4.
(39) For the following cf. already N. Hopkinson, Lucian: A Selection (Cambridge, 2008), 180.
(40) Hopkinson, Lucian, 180, claims that these two names ‘were commonly given to slaves’, but this is not borne out by the record in LGPN with a very small number of cases where a person with these names is without doubt a slave (see http://clas-lgpn2.classics.ox.ac.uk/). For Πυρρίας cf. also Vlassopoulos, ‘Athenian Slave Names’, 123.
(41) For slaves with this name in Athens see LGPN II s.v., some examples from other regions in LGPN I (Thasos and Eretria), III.B (Demetrias, Thessaly), IV (Black Sea region), V.A (Tieion), V.B (Iasos), and V.C (Eastern Phrygia and Paphlagonia). For its Paphlagonian (or ‘Pontic’) origin see already Strab. 7.3.12 p. 304 C (quoted above, n. 8), who, referring to slave names which were derived from the region the slaves came from, mentions the name Τίβιον for Paphlagonia. Robert, Noms indigènes, 530–1, defends the attribution of this name to Paphlagonia against differing views; cf. also Masson, ‘Les noms des esclaves’, 153 and 155; Fragiadakis, Die attischen Sklavennamen, 9 (a list of persons with this name, not all of them slaves, on 375).
(42) Hopkinson, Lucian, 180, refers to the well-known passage in Aristophanes’ Clouds 60–74, where Strepsiades and his wife debate their son’s name.
(43) For the Iranian form of Greek Μεγάβυξος (this seems to be the right form, not the spelling Μεγάβυζος as was formerly assumed) see R. G. Kent, Old Persian. Grammar, Texts, Lexicon2 (New Haven, CT, 1953), 199 s.v.; M. Mayrhofer, Iranisches Personennamenbuch I.2 (Vienna, 1979), 16 no. 19; S. Mitchell, in Old and New Worlds, 157–8 (citing Benveniste); J. N. Bremmer, ‘The Spelling and Meaning of the Name Megabyxos’, ZPE 147 (2004), 8–9. A man with the name Μεγάβυξος is mentioned by Herodotus as one of Darius’ helpers against the false Smerdis (e.g. Hdt. 3.70.3), his homonymous grandson by Thucydides (1.109), and another Megabyxos by Xenophon as a friend of Cyrus (Xen. Cyr. 8.6.7); cf. Bremmer. An Ephesian neokoros with this name occurs first in Xen. An. 5.3.6, and a Μεγάβυξος Μεγαβύξου from Ephesos is honoured in Priene: I.Priene 2014 (IK 69) 16 and 150 (in the latter inscription called νεωκόρος τῆς Ἀρτέμιδος τῆς ἐν Ἐφέσωι; no. 16 is dated to between 334 and 323 BC. in I.Priene 2014, but P. Fröhlich, RÉA 118.2, 2016, 561–8, esp. the table on p. 564, follows C. Crowther’s dating in Chiron 26, 1996, 195–238 and assigns the text to 295 BC). Strab. 14.1.23 p. 641 C claims that the Ephesians had eunuchs as priests whom they called μεγάβυξοι (οὓς ἐκάλουν μεγαβύξους).
(44) See J. Curbera, ‘Simple Names in Ionia’, in Parker, Personal Names in Ancient Anatolia, 107–43, esp. 107–9 and 115–16.
(45) Lucian, Gallos, 14 (where the change is specified as being from δισύλλαβος to τετρασύλλαβος); Anth. Pal. 11.358 (again with stress on Rouphos as δισύλλαβος); Anth. Pal. 11.17. For the (supposed) inferiority of disyllabic names cf. also Phylarchos, FGrHist 81 F 12.
(46) Select publications: OGIS 345; F.Delphes III. 4 no. 77; W. Ameling, in id., K. Bringmann and B. Schmidt-Dounas, Schenkungen hellenistischer Herrscher an Städte und Heiligtümer I (Berlin, 1995), no. 98; A. Jacquemin, D. Mulliez and G. Rougemont, Choix d’inscriptions de Delphes, traduites et commentées (Athens, 2012), no. 185.
(47) Robert, OMS 6. 691.
(48) BGU III 887 ll. 3 and 14; Broux, ‘Explicit Name Change’, 320–2 (the phrase is quoted in the table p. 320). J. Nollé, I.Side II, 617 no. P2, refers to U. Wilcken, ArchPF 1 (1901), 557, who explained the new name by the fact that Athene was the city goddess of Side.
(49) ‘Explicit Name Change’, 322.
(50) Diog. Laert. 4. 67: Κλειτόμαχος Καρχηδόνιος· οὗτος ἐκαλεῖτο μὲν Ἀσδρούβας (‘Kleitomachos the Carthaginian: he was called Asdroubas’). Aristotle fr. 549 Rose (ap. Athen. 13.576 A–B, from the Constitution of the Massaliotai) tells of a Phocaean Euxeinos who married the daughter of a local king and changed her name from Petta to Aristoxene.
(51) SB XVIII 13175; Broux, ‘Explicit Name Change’, 314–16.
(52) P.Amst. I 72; cf. P. van Minnen, ZPE 62 (1986), 87–92.
(53) Broux, ‘Explicit Name Change’, 318–20.
(54) See PIR2 A 1627; cf. Salway, ‘What’s in a Name?’, 138. His original name is still attested in P.Oxy 3055, in his first year as emperor.
(55) PLRE II s.v. Zenon (7) and, in particular, D. Feissel, BCH 108 (1984), 564–5 n. 105.
(56) N. Dogaer, ‘Greek Names with the Ending -ιανός/-ianus in Roman Egypt’, The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 45 (2015), 45–63. Cf. also the name change of the emperor Diocletian, referred to above. For names in -ιανός in general see Corsten, ‘Names in –ιανός’; for their use and meaning after the Constitutio Antoniniana D. Feissel, ‘Citoyenneté romaine et onomastique grecque au lendemain de la constitutio Antoniniana: les cognomina en -ιανός dans les inscriptions de Pamphylie et de Bithynie’, in B. Takmer, E. N. Akdoğu Arca and N. Gökalp Özdil, Vir Doctus Anatolicus. Studies in Memory of Sencer Şahin/Sencer Şahin Anısına Yazılar (Istanbul, 2016), 349–55.
(57) P.Oxy XLI 2978; cf. Broux, ‘Explicit Name Change’, 318 n. 15 with reference to D. Hagedorn, BASP 16 (1979), 52–3 n. 27a.
(58) See L. Robert, Les gladiateurs dans l’Orient grec (Limoges, 1940), 297–302. For additional names cf., e.g., the gladiator Νεικηφόρος … ὁ καὶ Νάρκισσος in an inscription in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum: Robert, Les gladiateurs, 79 no. 12, and further examples quoted p. 297.
(59) Robert, Les gladiateurs, 85 no. 16 (now EKM I, Beroia, 388); more examples in Robert, Les gladiateurs, 297.
(60) See Robert, Les gladiateurs, 297.
(61) LGPN I–V.C s.v. Τεισίας has 72 entries from the entire Greek world (but few examples from Asia Minor), the overwhelming majority of which are not later than the Hellenistic period.
(62) Cf. Parker, above pp. 4–5.
(63) P. Cabanes, N. Ceka, Corpus des inscriptions grecques d’Illyrie méridionale et d’Épire I.2 (Athens, 1997), no. 55 (SEG XLVII 849).
(64) G. E. Bean, BSA 51 (1956), 155, no. 57 (SEG XVII 747; C. Naour, Tyriaion en Cabalide: épigraphie et géographie historique, Zutphen, 1980, 65 no. 25).
(65) Naour in the commentary p. 65 with reference to M. Wörrle, ‘Zwei neue griechische Inschriften aus Myra zur Verwaltung Lykiens in der Kaiserzeit’ in J. Borchhardt, Myra. Eine lykische Metropole in antiker und byzantinischer Zeit (Berlin, 1975), 259 n. 516 for the meaning of ἀναγράφειν.
(66) W. Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften. I Grabepigramme (Berlin, 1955), no. 1936; recently thoroughly commented upon by E. Sverkos, ClMed 59 (2008), 139–49 (SEG LVIII 1044), whom I follow.