Livius

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Livius is the nomen of an individual male of the Livia gens, a family of ancient Rome. Collectively they were termed the Livii (plural form). Any individual female was called Livia. Both male and female names might be qualified by one or more agnomina. Males in addition had a praenomen. The family preferred Marcus, Gaius, Lucius or Titus.

The Livii are known mainly from the Roman Republic. However, they must be much older as they descended into five branches designated by five agnomina: Denter, Drusus, Libo, Macatus and Salinator. The most famous were the Livii Drusi, who rose to imperial rank. Smith says[1] (citing Suetonius[2]) that the family was of plebeian origin, but was of great prominence in the Roman Republic, having been honoured with "eight consulships, two censorships, three triumphs, a dictatorship and a mastership of the horse."

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Etymology

The only words that look like Livy in the Latin dictionary are a set related to English livid: livere, "be blue"; livor, "blueness"; lividus, "blue", livesco, "grow blue" and so on. Accordingly it has been proposed that Livius and the Gallic name Livo mean "blue."[3] This derivation had been taken so much for granted that biological nomenclaturists named the common pigeon Columba livia with a supposed meaning of "blue pigeon." The root would be Indo-European *sli-, "blue", in the stem *sli-wo-, with the *s- dropping away in only Celtic and Latin.

There was not, however, a Latin adjective, *livius, "blue." The dictionaries now generally give livor as the source of neo-Latin livius. Moreover, lividus has a -d- too many and Livo has no -i-; that is, Livius does not fit the "blue" derivation. The linguist, Julius Pokorny, therefore hypothesizes "aber lat. Livius vielleicht etrusk.", "but Latin Livius is perhaps Etruscan.[4] Certainly, no stories of any legendary men named blue exist.

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