From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Classical Greece and Rome (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is part of the WikiProject for Classical Greece and Rome, a group of contributors who write Wikipedia's Classics articles. If you would like to join the WikiProject or learn how to contribute, please see our project page. If you need assistance from a classicist, please see our talk page.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.

Additional information on the Gens as a formation studied in early sociology by the likes of Lewis Henry Morgan and Friedrich Engels, for example in Engels' The Origin of the Family, Private Property and The State (see here: ) should be included in this article.

The suggestion that the importance of the gens in early sociology be included in this article appears reasonable, but it should be approached with caution not to stray too far from the essential nature of the gens as it related to Roman culture and society. Any detailed discussion should be dealt with under the topic of sociology, or individual studies, or as a separate article. P Aculeius (talk) 00:30, 13 December 2009 (UTC)


please check my edit.100110100 01:22, 3 May 2007 (UTC) estan mal esto no es un GENS —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:01, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

The statement labeled dubious in the second paragraph of the section on the social function of the gens was intended to assert that the gentes were far more influential in the development of Roman law and religion than in political areas or the Roman constitution. This is stated in nearly identical terms in the article on the gens in the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd Edition. I have revised this paragraph to emphasize the intended meaning, in case a different one was implied. P Aculeius (talk) 00:30, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Since no additional information has been submitted concerning this topic, and disputing the statement in the source material, can we remove the dubious flag? P Aculeius (talk) 22:20, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

date of Trojan War[edit]

I don't think this is particularly relevant to the article, but if it stays in, the date of the Trojan War needs to have its own citation, as other "traditional" dates are also given: see Dates of the Trojan War on how many there are. The date isn't necessary to the article, as the point is that these genealogies are legendary — maybe only a general sense of the period. My earlier tag was deleted with no correction or explanation. Cynwolfe (talk) 02:11, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

I did provide a citation to Eratosthenes (as cited by Michael Wood in The Search for the Trojan War). The DGRBM enabled me to identify the work Wood was citing from as the Chronographia. The edit summary should mention this... did I put it in the wrong place? Obviously, giving a time frame for the period covered by the legendary origins of the gentes was what I had in mind, and why I included the date. I agree, it's a bit awkward, but it seemed like the simplest way to describe the time frame in specific terms. P Aculeius (talk) 03:00, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Do check the link to the Trojan War article, if you haven't had a chance. It lists many dates based on ancient sources; the one from Herodotus is the one that I've heard most often — which doesn't mean I'd go with that one, only that there are many "traditional" dates. Maybe simply a reference by century? — "traditionally dated from the late 13th or early 12th century BC", since as I understand your point it's that these are lost in the mists of time. Thanks for your patience. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:04, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Actually, the reference to the end of the Trojan War was prompted by Livy's description of Italy at the time Aeneas landed with the Trojan refugees. Book I of Livy's history of Rome mentions a number of gentes which traditionally existed between that time and the foundation of Rome. The idea was to be specific if there was a reasonable basis for doing so, and the prehistory of Rome is pretty much bookended by the fall of Troy. Varro's date for the foundation of Rome in 753 B.C. is well-known, as is Eratosthenes' date for the fall of Troy. In both cases, there are other calculations and estimates, but these were the most widely accepted, and it makes more sense to give two years than one year and one rough estimate of a whole century.
Wood says, "as for the date of the war itself, most calculations varied between around 1250 BC in Herodotus and 1135 BC in Ephorus; the earliest was 1334 BC in Doulis of Samos, the most influential the date arrived at by the librarian of Alexandria, Eratosthenes (1184-1183 BC)." Wood explains that most of these were based on the date of the first Olympiad, using genealogies, which could be quite accurate, although the Parian marble, which Wood describes in detail, and which dates the sack of Troy to June 5, 1209, seems to be based on a misunderstanding of a line in the Little Iliad. Eratosthenes was an expert chronologer, and according to the Trojan War article, the current thinking on the ruins supposed to relate to the Troy of the Iliad places the city's destruction about the 1180's, agreeing with Eratosthenes. So I think it makes sense to use his date.
Of course, the date is really incidental to the article; it's there to place the span of time in context. If anybody wants more information about the date, they can just click the link to Trojan War, and see a longer discussion (although it doesn't really say anything about the various dates suggested by ancient historians; it just says what date each person proposed). P Aculeius (talk) 01:48, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Ah, I see: your point is the traditional Roman dating, as in Livy and Varro, and how Romans used genealogy to create their place in history as heirs to the Trojans. On this subject, I'm very fond of T.P. Wiseman's “Legendary Geneaologies in Late-Republican Rome,” Greece & Rome 21 (1974) 153–164, but it would probably not be easy for you to obtain if you don't have access to a university library, as I don't seem to find it online even in limited preview. If I find something on Google Books that encapsulates this in a way that might be useful to you, I'll pass it on. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:15, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Since the date does have a source, and is a traditional date for the event (even if other dates, mostly close to the one in Eratosthenes, do exist), can we remove the citation flag? P Aculeius (talk) 22:20, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Linking Dates[edit]

The Wikipedia Manual of Style does not recommend linking to years unless they pertain closely to the subject matter of the article (see Wikipedia:Linking). In this article, the dates are merely being used for illustrative purposes. Additionally, two of the three dates linked in the most recent edit are to articles that don't yet exist. I don't see any compelling reason for linking to these years in this article... if you click on 379 B.C. you might find a mention of the destruction of the Fabii at the Cremera, but you'd find that more easily by clicking on those words instead of the year, and the article on 379 won't talk about gentes in general, so it isn't really relevant to the subject matter of this article. I think that the dates should be delinked. P Aculeius (talk) 22:20, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Establishment of the gens[edit]

"However, the establishment of the gens cannot long predate the adoption of hereditary surnames." Why? There are examples of many cultures where the tribe was divided into clearly defined clans, without establishing a formal name for everybody. --Jidu Boite (talk) 08:15, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Interesting. ("Surnames" here is probably a misleading term anyway, since we're really talking about the gens name.) I'm guessing that the answer to your question would point to some things that were characteristically (which is not to say "uniquely") Roman. If you find anything on what underlies this assumption, please post. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:19, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree that there could be circumstances in which a clan might exist without a hereditary surname. But if conventional scholarship about the gens is mistaken, there needs to be some documentation for that proposition.
As for the use of the term surname, even though the word cognomen translates as surname and the word nomen is simply name, in form and function it was the nomen gentilicum that most closely approximated the meaning of the word surname in English; that is, a hereditary name indicating membership in a particular family and/or descent from a common ancestor, distinct from and complementary to the personal name chosen by someone's parents. It was an indispensable part of the nomenclature, at least before imperial times.
Cognomina, however, were exceptional in early Roman history, when they were used primarily by the patricians; they could be either personal or hereditary, and could be bestowed or abandoned at any time. That is, the cognomen was not an indispensable part of the nomenclature, and might or might not indicate relationships between individuals. In fact, the word cognomen originally referred to the nomen gentilicum, when the word nomen still referred to the personal name.
Livy uses this meaning in Book I of his history, referring to the adoption of the cognomen Silvius by the royal house of Alba Longa. For that matter, throughout his history, Livy frequently ignores the cognomina of many individuals, which creates some confusion in distinguishing between members of the same gens. Of course, in other cases he uses the cognomen alone without a nomen, but the point is that the cognomen was neither essential to the Roman name, nor did it have the same function as surnames do in modern times, unlike the nomen gentilicum. P Aculeius (talk) 01:08, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Italics or not[edit]

P Aculeius removed most instances of italics from the article, noting, "No longer italicizing 'gens, stirps, praenomen, nomen, cognomen' etc. except when used 'as words.' Fixed some links to individual gentes established in WP since 2009." While I appreciate the desire for internal consistency—which is what I was also after when italicizing some of these items that were still roman—I'm not sure we should default to roman. Looking at the relevant portion of the Manual of Style, I find that "Wikipedia prefers italics for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words that do not yet have everyday use in non-specialized English" but that "loanwords or phrases that have common use in English, however—praetor, Gestapo, samurai, esprit de corps, e.g., i.e.—do not require italicization." So there's the nub: we need to figure out which, if any of these terms, are in regular English use among non-specialists. As a preliminary foray, I'll see which words are included in the New Oxford Dictionary (1998), not because it's the authority we necessarily need to refer to, but because it happens to be on my desk and is reassuringly hefty.

  • gens, pl. gentes
  • praenomen (no plural listed)
  • nomen (no plural listed)
  • cognomen (no plural listed)
Not included:
  • stirps

So this is interesting: if we were to follow the New Oxford Dictionary, stirps and stirpes should still be italicized passim, but P Aculeius' move is otherwise vindicated. What do others think? Should we see what Merriam-Webster and so on have to say? Or I am off-base in referring to dictionaries to start with? All the best, Q·L·1968 00:42, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

This should be a matter of common sense, not finding proof that one way is preferred by the right authority. When I started writing all these articles on gentes, it seemed more important to be technical with style and treat all Latin words that might not be familiar to English-speaking audiences as non-English words. But after a couple of dozen articles I began to sense that the constant repetition of italics for words that aren't really that complex was more of a distraction than it was worth.
Even though stirps isn't a common term in English, it is used on occasion for legal purposes when describing methods of inheritance. Of course, then it's often used as part of a Latin phrase, per stirpes, in which case italics are quite reasonable. But that's not required, and I believe the term is also used a bit in biology, although I don't know what the preference for italics is in that case.
To be honest the word isn't used much in the gens articles, since even the source material rarely mentions the concept by name. But since the language tends to be formulaic to begin with, sometimes the word can be useful in alternation with "branch." At any rate, I stopped italicizing all of these words in the gens articles years ago, and occasionally when I edit one of the older ones that still uses italics, I remove them, except in instances where the words are being referred to as words. That in itself can be a bit of a fuzzy concept at times... but my general feeling is that none of these words is sufficiently "non-English" to justify italicizing it on every occasion that it appears. P Aculeius (talk) 05:18, 19 January 2015 (UTC)