On Ancient Naming Conventions

Because I had a reveiwer on ask.

Ancient naming conventions very closely follow Roman/Latin naming conventions, because I took entirely too many years of Latin in school and that's basically how SG1/SGA made it seem with the language.

So the basic Ancient name looks like this:

Iohannes Ianideus Licinus Pastor

with Iohannes being the praenomen, Ianideus being the nomen, Licinus being the cognomen (all of which feature in the traditional Roman tria nomenia convention) and Pastor being the agnomen, which is more a title in this verse than it is an additional cognomen like it was in Ancient Rome.

Praenomen are basically what they sound like: First names. Ancient Rome didn't have too many of these, particularly for women, but the Ancients did. (Though in all honesty Iōhannēs comes from the Greek Yôḥanan, meaning Yahweh is generous, which probably wouldn't have been something you'd see in the very atheistic, irreligious society I portray the Ancients as having.)

Nomen are last names. These usually follow the conventions English last names do, although which parent they're inherited from sort of depends on the parents in question. For instance, Iohannes' mother, Alianora Cado Trebal Legata, gets her nomen - Cado - from her mother, Constantina Cado Historica, and not her father, Festus Alder Tribunus.

This is not always the case, however. The ending -deus in this 'verse signifies son of ____. The suffix -dea would serve the same purpose for a daughter. So Ianideus means son of Ianus. The nomen Iohanideus, which Iohannes gives to Lorne in "Iudex", means son of Iohannes. Should he ever have a daughter, her nomen would be Iohanidea. This patronymic naming convention is only native to Ancients from Nebrius, one of Atlantis' sister-ships. As Iohannes' paternal grandmother, Beatrix Aquilidea Nebriae Tribuna, was one of the few refugees to escape the Fall of Nebrius, his grandparents decided to adopt that naming convention for their own son, Ianus Ishachidus Ianitos Rector, where Ishachidus means son of Ischachus, specifically Ishachus Ival Magister of "Daemones" fame.

Cognomen are nicknames. Not all Ancients have them, just as not all Terrans do. Iohannes' happens to mean spiky-haired and, yes, there is a story behind it. I'll write it up in a drabble one day. Most nickames come from physical attributes or personality traits and, often, the nicknamed are known solely by these names instead of their formal, bulky ones. Thus Iohannes' mother, Alianora Cado Trebal Legata, is known only as Trebal - as we know her in the episode "Aurora" - and his cousin, Danielia Ival Helia Navarcha, as Helia - of "The Return, Part 1" fame.

There is one additional, special kind of cognomen that arises out of Roman adoption conventions, which was a big deal in Ancient Rome. When a boy was adopted into a new family, he took the nomen of his new family as his own, but he would often keep his old, original nomen as a cognomen by attaching the suffix -anus to the name. So where Lorne's "original" nomen in "Iudex" is Argathelius, when Iohannes adopts him it becomes his cognomen as Argathelianus. (Which is explained further below).

Agnomen in this 'verse are largely titles. Things like Pastor, Rector, Custodia, Legatus and the like, which I've already explained in detail here and here.

Here are some other examples:
Ianus Ishachidus Ianitos Rector
Nicolaa de Luera Pastor
Ganos Lal Cancellaria

There's also the matter of taking Terran names and turning them into Ancient ones, which 'Lantis is quite fond of doing. The problem is that, for a lot of English names, there isn't a direct Ancient equivalent.

For instance, as she discovered in "Nomen," there is no Latin version of Rodney. They have to go with his first name, Meredith, to get him a proper Ancient name - Moreducus. And as the translation of McKay, thanks to, is:

Scottish and northern Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Aodha ‘son of Aodh’, an ancient personal name meaning ‘fire’. Etymologically, this is the same name as McCoy.

his last name becomes Ignius, which means fire in Latin. And since he is the Head of R&D, he's also Rector, but since he's Custodia as well, that title overrides the first, so Rodney's Ancient name is:

Moreducus Ignius Custodia

Elizabeth's name in "Daemones" was Elizabeta Molia Praefecta - Molia coming from the word moles, meaning dam, of which a weir is a type of.

More interestingly, though, is Lorne's name (at least in my opinion). His name in 'verse is Evan David Lorne, and since Evan is essentially the Welsh version of John - and, thus, Iohannes - we have to go with David - and, thus, Davidus - for his praenomen. He gets his nomen, Iohanideus by being adopted by Iohannes, and his agnomen Pastor by holding that title. His cognom is most interesting, because, as an adoptee, it comes from his original last name. Which is a problem, since Lorne doesn't translate into Latin. BUT I discovered that the title Marquis of Lorne is a courtesy title for the heir of the Duke of Argyll, and Argyll does have a Latin translation - Argathelius - which when one tacks on the -anus ending becomes Argathelianus. Thus Lorne's Ancient name is:

Davidus Iohanideus Argathelianus Pastor

Any questions?


You gave this a lot of thought. This is quite interesting, though I stumbled a bit on "Argathelianus". The first time you mentioned it, I had no idea where you were geting the "Argatheli" bit of it, but you explained at the end.
Popkin, love, darling, bb, when do I ever NOT give everything a lot of thought?

But yeah, trying to find a name for Lorne was insane. It's a very un-Latin name, and even doing the lazy thing and tacking "-s" or "-ii" onto the end doesn't make for a name that would sound right in Latin/Ancient.

but, yeah, he has a doosy. Best part is, rather than call him "Davidus", most Ancients would probably call him "Argathelianus". Which they, of course, can pronounce and he can't....

It would probably sound a bit like "are-gat-heel-ee-ANNE-us
I'm glad people do. You should see the one about puddle jumpers I have planned in my head for tomorrow
Oh, are you going to be putting the laws of physics to work explaining how the brick can actually fly? Because that would be super neat.
How it can actually fly? No. (though that's a good question. I imagine it involves more fluid dynamics than I'm familiar with though). How it can dial a gate, yes.
It's just that it's even less aerodynamic than a bumblebee, the drive pod nacelles are ridiculously delicate for the type of craft it's supposed to be, and what kind of power source are they using, anyway? And how do they recharge?

Yes, the remote dialling thing is a curiosity, isn't it? Although, theoretically, the Darts would have the same mechanism, right?
I'll address all that - though it's mostly the gate travel that interests me at the moment.

Aerodynamics, though, really doesn't matter in space. I mean, look at the lunar landers. They are the most hideious, spidery, impossible things - but they get the job done.

I don't think the puddle jumpers were ever designed to be fighters. They're more like shuttlepods from ST - for transport. Or maybe C-2A Greyhound. IDK. I'll have to do a lot of wiki-ing tomorrow
Yeah, but jumpers are endo/exo atmospheric craft, so aerodynamics does matter for in-planet flight--they have to be able to get to space in the first place, right? That takes a lot of power, as well as a reasonably good design since they're like helicopters in how they take off and land. It's just that the show never addressed the how of the jumpers, and looking at them leaves a lot of questions. But, yes, the gate travel thing is probably much easier/more important to answer!
As with all things ancient, I will have toassume that, if they can throw enough power at it, which they can, they can make anything work.
I've been thinking maybe it creates a localised anti-grav field, or possibly some other form of levitation field to get airborne, then puts out a ton of power to stay that way. It's possible there are charging stations in the jumper bay. Dunno. It's an interesting problem, one I am only qualified to speculate on, I expect.
oh, definately. the power requirements have to be absurd. Not quite ZPM absurd, but up there. It's truely amazing they all still worked after 10,000 years - but, then again, it would have made for a very diffrent first episode if they didn't.
O_O This is so awesome! I love reading about these, and learning things, even though I haven't read the fics! (Trying to get there when I have some time off this summer...)

No wonder you're able to create such a large 'verse, you really put a lot of effort and love into this ^_^

Edited at 2013-04-11 10:48 am (UTC)
Thanks bb! I am a world builder at heart, and can't write unless I know how EVERYTHING is supposed to work out. Thus... this.
I agree with you on that last point. I have bits and pieces of thoughts written down for SGA and Harry Potter, going back as far as 2011. The actual story part is quite crappy to write (don't have much practice with that) but I have bits of scenes here-and-there and a *TON* of back-story for both.

At the current stage, both stories are actually backstory with a few random scenes (that need a lot of polishing). I'll probably never get to actually posting a real story, unless I do back-ground bits like yours or think of something else up.


The previous rambling was actually meant to show you're not the only obsessive-thinker and that that's why I like reading your journal. :)