Saturday, December 18, 2010


Version at BMCR home site

Andreas Kakoschke, Die Personennamen in der römischen Provinz Gallia Belgica. Alpha-Omega 255. Hildesheim/Zürich/New York: Olms-Weidmann, 2010. Pp. 565. ISBN 9783487143187. €198.00.

Reviewed by Andreas Klingenberg, Universität zu Köln

Table of Contents

This book has quite a long history, for it is based on a database generated by the author in 1997-1998 as a preparatory work for his 2001 Oldenburg dissertation about foreigners in the provinces Germania inferior and Germania superior.1 The dissertation, followed in 2004 by a complementary study on "Germans" away from home,2 added much to our knowledge of migration and mobility patterns in the northern part of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, Kakoschke has undertaken the task of publishing revised and updated editions of his preparatory catalogues, of which the book under review is the most recent volume.3

Despite its title the book is in fact more than just a collection of personal names from the imperial province Gallia Belgica. It is rather a prosopography of persons who left (mainly epigraphic) traces in this region or are known (or supposed) to stem from there. This work needs no justification as there are no publications with the same or at least a similar scope. The 'Onomasticon Provinciarum Europae Latinarum' (OPEL), for all its undisputed usefulness offering the possibility to look up the distribution of Roman names in the European provinces of the Roman empire, is not much more than a register; the only information given is the names and the province where they are attested.4 The name index of CIL XIII is rather outdated and can for most matters be replaced by Kakoschke's more comprehensive catalogues, that is, for the provinces they cover.

Kakoschke accepts the borders of the province as given in CIL XIII with the exception of the civitas Tungrorum, i.e. the region around Tongeren in modern Belgium, which in imperial times seemed to have belonged to Germania inferior, as an inscription found some years ago has shown (AE 1994, 1279). The main focus lies on the first three centuries A.D., covering the time from Augustus to Diocletian under whom Gallia Belgica was divided into two provinces. The sources taken into account are inscriptions and literary works in which persons from Gallia Belgica are named. In his analysis of the epigraphic material Kakoschke did not consider the so-called instrumentum domesticum, graffiti, and the like, but he did include the names given by military diplomas and also by pottery stamps, as far as they seem to be relevant for the book.

In the catalogue the prosopographical material is presented in two separate modes, with the entries in alphabetical order according to the gentilicia in the first half of the book and according to the cognomina in the second half. Thus overlappings between both parts occur, but the division as a whole adds to the accessibility of the material and is therefore rather useful. Each entry gives the full name(s) of the person(s) bearing the respective nomen gentile (or cognomen), presented in tabular form, adding (if known) information on social status and provenance as well as the origin of the names, i.e. whether they are Roman, Celtic or whatsoever. The sources are referred to after every cited person, withdate and provenance. For each nomen gentile (or cognomen) the author specifies the distribution of the particular name in the Roman Empire. In addition, for each entry there is a commentary in which Kakoschke discusses more specific matters and offers a bibliography.

Fragmentary names are listed separately at the end of each part, some included on a more or less hypothetical basis. The author has gathered more than 3,000 personal names in his catalogue which are assigned to 557 gentilicia (to which add 164 fragmentary names) and 1505 cognomina (to which add further 311 fragmentary names). The persons named are from different social strata, ranging from freedmen to Roman senators; the evidence shows a broad variety of occupations, from merchants and craftsmen to province governors. All necessary information is given, thus making the catalogue an indispensable tool for further research on onomastics, social status, the population and other questions concerning the province Gallia Belgica. There are no statistics based on the material or other forms of analysis included, because that was part of the above mentioned dissertation. Some tables would have been useful, though.

There is one criticism that cannot be omitted in this review, even if it is hardly to be blamed on the author himself, and that is the poor printing quality. Throughout the book there are streaks in the print (on some page more and on others less) so that it looks like it was made at home with a laser printer running out of toner. For the enormous price of €198 (about $275), which seems far too high considering that the author seems to have done the typesetting by himself, one could have expected more. But this criticism does not affect the overall usefulness of the volume which should be in the collection of every library concerned with classics and Roman history, if they can afford to buy it.


1.   A. Kakoschke, Ortsfremde in den römischen Provinzen Germania inferior und Germania superior: eine Untersuchung zur Mobilität in den germanischen Provinzen anhand der Inschriften des 1. bis 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., Möhnesee 2002.
2.   A. Kakoschke, "Germanen" in der Fremde. Zur Mobilität aus den römischen Provinzen Germania inferior und Germania superior anhand der Inschriften des 1. bis 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., Möhnesee 2004.
3.   A. Kakoschke, Die Personennamen in den zwei germanischen Provinzen, Rahden/Westfalen 2006-2008 (in 3 Volumes); Die Personennamen in der römischen Provinz Rätien, Hildesheim/Zürich/New York 2009, see BMCR 2009.08.61.
4.   B. Lörincz (ed.), Onomasticon Provinciarum Europae Latinarum, Vol. I: ABA – BYSANVS, Editio nova avcta et emendata et corrigenda ad vol. II – IV, Budapest 2005; Vol. II: CABALICIVS – IXVS, Vienna 1999; Vol. III: LABAREVS – PYTHEA, Vienna 2000; Vol. IV: QVADRATIA – ZVRES, Vienna 2002. Note also H. Solin and O. Salomies (edd.), Repertorium nominum gentilium et cognominum Latinorum, Editio nova addendis corrigendisque augmentata, Hildesheim/Zurich/New York 1994, see BMCR 95.05.02.

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