The First Blood by Anthony Esolen

Illuminations

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 Mexicanu . . .