The First Blood
by Anthony Esolen
When I first encountered Roman history, I was puzzled by some of the cognomens of their heroes, such as Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. Was Scipio an African, or at least born in Africa? Was Tiberius's brother Germanicus born in the shadows of the Alps? It never occurred to me then that you would be given a name from some deed you had performed in battle, and that then it would become a family name, passed down to your children and your children's children. Imagine Douglas MacArthur Philippinus, or Theodore Roosevelt Mexicanus.
Sometimes your name came not from the place where you shed other people's blood to win glory for yourself, but from some peculiarity . . .
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Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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