Ever since we learned that a lot of our men are low-key always thinking about the Roman Empire, we find ourselves always thinking about the fact that men are always thinking about the Roman Empire. It’s an ouroborus of Romans but, honestly, we don’t hate it. After all, Ancient Rome was absolutely fascinating, and it turns out they were really pretty good at baby names. No joke. There are so many excellent Roman Empire baby names out there that we’ve gathered some of our favorites for you to consider. Some are fairly obvious, but others are a little bit of a deeper cut, all are fit for an Emperor, or maybe even a goddess.
A word of warning before we continue: the Roman Empire is not known for its unproblematic heroes and strong sense of feminism. It was a brutal time where even the heroes were somewhat awful and women were held in such minor regard they rarely got their own names. (See our entry for Octavia.) So some of the rulers mentioned on this list weren't the greatest people. That said, we tried to steer away from some of the really bad ones aka you're not going to find Nero, Caligula, or Pontius Pilate on the list, and, even if they were somewhat cancellable by today’s standards, they did have some pretty rad names.
Sure, Roman is extremely on the nose, but it’s also just one of those solid, strong names that you can’t help but love. It means (you’ll never guess...) “from Rome.” Mind blown.
Magnus Maximus was a Spanish general who rose to prominence for his battles against the Britons and Picts in the modern day UK. So prominent, in fact, his soldiers declared him Emperor and he thought “Yeah, OK. I guess I could just usurp Emperor Gratian...”
The name Magnus means “the greatest” and is a pretty strong name for a little one.
This stunning classical baby name of Lucretia, which can also be spelled “Lucrezia” or “Lucrecia” (but is always pronounced “loo-KREE-shuh”) means “profit” or “wealth.” Lucretia was a noble but tragic figure of Roman legend, which is pretty par for the course when you’re talking about legendary Romans. After she was assaulted by Sextus Tarquinius, the Etruscan prince of Rome, she made her father and husband swear revenge before falling on her own sword. They drove the ruling family from Rome and established the Roman Republic.
Marcus is the perfect warrior name for your little one for two reasons. For one, it means “dedicated to Mars,” who was the Roman god of war. Secondly, it’s an allusion to Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher king who was also known for leading the Macromannic Wars north of Rome.
If you’re a fan of the Greek gods, Roman gods will be familiar to you in all but name — the stories are variations on the same tales their Mediterranean cousins were telling before them. Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, war strategy, and weaving and is Roman equivalent of Athena. Minerva means “intelligent” or “understanding.”
Another of the Five Good Emperors, Trajan was known as a soldier-emperor who expanded the Empire enormously through conquest. He was also renowned for his philanthropy. The name Trajan means “enduring.”
Aurelia, the feminine version of the Roman last name, Aurelius, means “the golden one.” A fairly common girl’s name, Aurelia was the name of Julius Caesar’s mother, who was known as highly intelligent and capable.
Known as one of the “Five Good Emperors,” Hadrian was known his travels throughout the empire and the various construction projects he built along the way. In fact, Hadrian’s Wall, a fortification constructed in Britain, the far north of the Roman empire, still exists in some spots to this day. Hadrian means “dark-haired.”
The name Emilia, which is where we get both the names Amelia and Emily, comes from the Roman surname Aemilius. It means “rival.”
Augustus is one of the most famous emperors of Ancient Rome, probably because he founded it. Augusutus Caesar, also known as Octavian, established the imperial cult, which saw emperors as divinely appointed rulers and, in some instances, gods themselves. The name Augustus means “great” or “magnificent.”
Claudia is the feminine version of the male name Claudius. The most famous Claudia of the Empire was Empress Claudia Octavia, who was both the daughter of an emperor, Claudius, and the wife of another, Nero. If that last name is ringing bells, it should — Nero was known for wanton cruelty and it probably doesn’t need to be said that this did not go well for poor Claudia Octavia.
The name Claudia means “lame” or “enclosure.”
Julius is probably one of the first that comes to mind when one hears “Roman Empire baby names” and with good reason. Julius Caesar lived an extraordinary life. A general and politician, he initially ruled with a triumvirate (alongside two other men) before amassing power and declaring himself sole emperor of Rome.
The name Julius means “devoted to Jove (the Roman name for the king of the gods)”
Unlike most of the other Roman Empire baby names on this list, Theodora comes to us from the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium. Theodora was the wife of Emperor Justinian, but she wasn’t merely a figurehead. Rising from humble origins, she was an active ruler alongside her husband. Her name is of Greek origin and means “God’s gift.”
The consul of Emperor Caligula who eventually became emperor himself, Claudius is perhaps best known as the man who expanded the Roman Empire into Africa, the Middle East, and Britain,
or as the man who bears the same name as Hamlet’s murderous stepfather in Shakespeare’s great tragedy. Claudius means “lame” or “limping,” and, incidentally, Claudius himself had a limp stemming from a lifelong illness. 15 Sabina d3sign/Moment/Getty Images
The name Sabina means “a Sabine woman” which doesn’t mean much if you don’t known your history. The Sabines were an Italian tribe from central Italy, northeast of Rome.
Again, Caesar is a baby name that’s a bit on the nose but if you’re going with Roman Empire baby names then we’re going to go ahead and guess that you’re not terribly interested in subtlety.
Caesar means “long haired” or “thick head of hair.” It originated with Julius Caesar but became an imperial title for the rulers of Rome ever after. Moreover, various languages have adopted some form of caesar to mean “king,” from
kaiser in German to czar in Russian. 17 Tulia
Tulia Minor is a legendary figure of the Roman Empire. She is said to be the last queen of the Roman Kingdom. She did not have a happy ending, but honestly “happy ending” and “Roman empire” aren’t exactly phrases you hear together. The name Tulia means “heavy rain” or “downpour.”
Anti-hero of Shakespeare, Titus did not rule for long (just two years) but is known as an open-handed emperor who helped in the aftermath of both the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the great fire of Rome in 80 AD, and for completing the Coloseum. The name Titus means “honor.”
The woodland god of the Romans, Silvanus, had a cadre of nymph-like goddesses that traipsed about with him known as the Silvanae. The singular of that word is Silvana and it just so happens to be a magnificent name.
Lucius Aurelius Verus was the Emperor of Rome for eight years in the second century CE as co-ruler to Marcus Aurelius. While he successfully conquered the kingdom of Parthia, expanding the Empire, ultimately this campaign would prove disastrous as his legions brought smallpox back to the city triggering the Antonine Plague. Some historians suggest this Plague triggered the beginning of the end for the Empire.
The name Lucius means “light.”
The Queen of the Roman gods, Juno ruled over matters of “womanly” life. Marriage, fertility, and childbirth were within her purview. The name Juno means “rejuvenating,” though etymologists aren’t sure about that. It could also mean “young” or “to benefit.”
Born in Northern Africa, Septimus Severus ruled over the Empire for 18 years, which is a long time in the (literally) backstabbing world of Ancient Rome. He died in what is now York, England. From the beginning of his life to its end is a sort of a nice metaphor for the breadth of his reign. The name Severus means “grave,” “serious,” or “stern,” and it’s also a fun choice if you’re a big Harry Potter fan.
The most famous Cicilia in Ancient Rome was St. Cicilia. A noblewoman who converted to Christianity, she died a martyr sometime between 222 and 235 CE. She is the patron saint of musicians.
The name means “blind” and can be spelled either as Cicilia or Cecilia.
Valerian was a fairly common name in the Roman Empire, including at least one Emperor — Publius Licinius Valerianus, called Valerian. He is best known as the first Emperor to be captured in battle. The name Valerian means “strong and healthy.”
The feminine version of Julius, Julia became especially popular during and after the reign of Julius Caesar. The most famous Julia of the Roman Empire was probably Julia the Elder, she was the only child of Emperor Augustus. She was also an Empress through marriage and the mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to many more. Sadly, she died in exile.
The name Julia means either “youthful” or “Jove’s child.”
This is the perfect baby name if your partner can’t stop thinking about the Roman Empire and you love the musical
Les Misérables. Gaius Marius was a general and statesman and was consul for a record seven times. The name Marius means “manly” or “dedicated to Mars.” 27 Flora
This sweet name of Flora is giving both “Roman Empire” and “little old lady you know from church.” Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers and the name itself means (you guessed it) “flowers.”
There were a whole bunch of Emperor Constantines, but the most famous by far is Constantine I, also known as Constantine the Great. He was the first Emperor to convert to Christianity, making enormous headway for the faith throughout Europe.
The name Constantine means “steadfast.”
Octavia was a fairly common Roman name for girls, but the most famous Octavia in the Roman Empire was probably Octavia the Younger, who was ironically the older sister of Emperor Augustus and the half-sister of Octavia the Elder, the fourth wife of Mark-Anthony. She was a bright political operator without sacrificing her loyalty and compassion.
The name Octavia means “eight.”
We know what you’re thinking: why would two daughters have the same name? This was actually a very common naming convention in Ancient Rome. Daughters were basically just given the feminine version of their father’s name and differentiated by number thereafter. So Octavian’s three daughters would be Octavia Prima, Octavia Secunda, and Octavia Tertia (aka Octavia First, Second, and Third).
Felix was the last name (or
cognomen) of a Roman procurator of Judea. Probably, this started out as a nickname that was used to distinguish different branches of a larger family. Ultimately it became a family name and then first name in its own right.
The name Felix means “happy” or “lucky.”
There were a whole lot of Cornelias in Ancient Rome. Julius Caesar’s first wife, the mother of the Gracchi Brothers, famed social reformers. This second Cornelia in particular was known for her great love of learning.
The name Cornelia means “horn.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the Roman goddess Laetitia, you could be forgiven: she was one of the more minor deities. That said, she’s a pretty cool one. She was the goddess of good times. She was associated with times of abundance and gaity.
The name Laetitia means “joy” or “gladness.”
St. Sylvester was born in Rome and was one of the first popes of the early-Christian church. According to tradition, it was he who converted Constantine. He was also pope during the famous Council of Nicaea (though he didn’t attend himself).
The name Sylvester means “wooded” or “wild.”
Though modern folks probably think of Apollonia primarily as the ill-fated first wife of Michael Corleone in
The Godfather, first it was a city located in Illyria (modern-day Albania).
The name Apollonia means “belonging to Apollo.”
35 Atticus Mikolette/E+/Getty Images
Atticus was a surname in Ancient Rome that gradually became a first name. It belonged to a long-time correspondent of the philosopher Cicero (Titus Pomponius Atticus) and well-to-do Athenian rhetorician and Roman senator (Herodes Atticus).
The name Atticus means “a man of Attica.”
The Roman goddess of the home, hearth, and family, Vesta was rarely depicted as a woman but as a flame. Her temple was considered vital to the continued existence of Rome.
The origin of the name Vesta is unknown, but it has come to mean “pure,” and “goddess of the hearth.”
Perhaps best known as the villain of Shakespeare’s
Julius Caesar, Gaius Cassius Longinus (best known as Cassius) was a Roman senator and general. He was also behind the assassination of Julius Caesar in the senate with his brother-in-law, Brutus.
The name Cassius means “empty” or “hollow.”
The goddess of beauty and love, Venus is the Roman version of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. This is also a great name if you happen to be a tennis fan (all hail Venus Williams).
The name Venus means “love” or “charm.”
Rufus was a fairly common name in antiquity and means “red-head.” It started out as a cognomen (or nickname) that morphed into a proper last name and then ultimately a first name. It has a certain spunk I just love for a little one.
Poppaea Sabina was a revered beauty and wife to two emperors, Nero and Otho (though the latter was not emperor when she was married to him). Nero went into deep mourning after her death (even though it’s very possible he was the cause of it). He was so bereft that when he saw a freedman named Sporus who bore a striking resemblance to his lost love, Nero ordered the young man castrated, renamed him Poppaea, and married him. That’s... a lot of love.
The name Poppaea means “of the people,” and I love the idea of calling your little Poppaea “Poppy.”
This is a great starting point, but there are hundreds of excellent Roman Empire baby names out there for you to conquer like so many Gauls...