Sabinus (cognomen)

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Sabinus is an ancient Roman cognomen originally meaning "Sabine"; that is, it indicated origin among the Sabines, an ancient people of Latium. It was used by a branch of the gens Flavia, of the gens Calvisia, and several others, and is by far the most common of the cognomina indicating ethnic origin that were in use during the Republican and Augustan eras. Sabine heritage carried a positive stereotype of traditional values and trustworthiness, and since the cognomen may have been appropriated by some politicians for its aura of uprightness, it should not always be taken as a mark of authentic Sabine origin.[1]

Earliest uses of the cognomen[edit]

T.P. Wiseman lists the following as the earliest known use of Sabinus as a cognomen for each gens (in bold) known to use it:[2]

Flavii Sabini[edit]

Sabinus was a cognomen of a branch of the Flavii. The Titi Flavii Sabini listed following are father, son, grandson and great-grandson. The grandfather of Vespasian was Titus Flavius Petro, a veteran who had served under Pompeius Magnus ("Pompey the Great") in the East during the 60s BC. After the civil wars of the 40s, he was pardoned by Julius Caesar and returned to civilian life. He came from Reate in Sabine territory, and his son used the cognomen Sabinus, either choosing to honor his heritage or perhaps returning to a name used earlier by the family. The Flavii Sabini are also the first family known to use the same praenomen (Titus) for brothers.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gary D. Farney, Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 90ff. online.
  2. ^ T.P. Wiseman, New Men in the Roman Senate (1971), pp. 257–258, as cited by Farney, Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition, p. 91, note 14, who adds T. Siccius/Sicinius Sabinus to Wiseman's list.
  3. ^ Barbara Levick, Vespasian (Routledge, 1999), pp. 4–5 online.