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Roman women got Roman numbers.

There are so many interesting things to think about.  How does anyone ever fall asleep?

Well, I’m one lucky girl.  Every night the amazing TingTong reads to me.  Fifteen minutes is usually enough to free my mind of whatever thing I’ve been pondering.  It’s a bedtime 
sleight-of-hand, a misdirection that tricks my brain into letting me sleep.

But suddenly there’s trouble in paradise.  The new book is too good.

Sure, it does a great job of distracting my mind from the other stuff. But it’s so goddamn interesting that Ting falls asleep and I’m left wide awake, thinking about the book, wanting to grab Ting’s iPad and secretly read ahead.

The book is Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy.  And, yes, you rocket scientists guessed correctly:  it is indeed a biography of Julius Caesar.

And it is fan-freakin-tastic.  No kidding, I’ve been looking for this book all my life, lol, one that provides the historical context in which these events occurred.  And Goldsworthy can write — his clean, clear style is a terrific fit with the material.

Will you like it?  Here’s a paragraph from last night …

Names revealed much about a person’s place in Roman society.  Caesar possessed the full tria nomina or ‘three names’ of a Roman citizen.  The first name (praenomen) served much the same purpose as its modern equivalent, identifying the individual member of a family and being used in informal conversation.  Most families employed the same first names for their sons generation after generation.  Caesar’s father and grandfather were both also named Caius, as presumably had been many more first sons of this line of Julii Caesares.  The second or main name (nomen) was most important for it was the name of the ‘clan’ or broad group of families to which a man belonged.  The third name (cognomen) specified the particular brand of this wider grouping, although not all families even amongst the aristocracy were distinguished in this way.  Caesar’s great rival Cnaeus Pompey and his own lieutenant Mark Antony both belonged to families who did not possess cognomina.  A few individuals acquired an additional, semi-official nickname, which, given the Romans’ robust sense of humour, was often at the expense of their appearance.  Pompey’s father was known as Strabo or ‘Squinty’, as was a distant cousin of Caesar’s, Caius Julius Caesar Strabo.  Caesar’s name was never added to in this way.  As a boy he received the full three names, but had he been born a girl he would have been known only by the feminine form of the nomen.  Caesar’s aunt, sisters and daughter were all called simply Julia, as indeed was any female member of any branch of the Julian clan.  If a family had more than one daughter, in official contexts their name was followed by a number to distinguish them.  This disparity between the sexes says much about the Roman world.  Men, and only men, could play a role in public life and it was important to know precisely who each individual was in the competitive world of politics.  Women had no political role and did not need such specific identification.

Now I ask you —  how am I supposed to fall sleep after learning this?

Yes, Roman women got numbers, not names.  Am I a lucky girl?  You do the math.

Anyway.  Go.  Get this book.   And make me jealous because you’ll read it 
in three days but it’s gonna take me and Ting three months.


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