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Three Things Named for Caesar and Three Things Not Named For Caesar

December 7, 2016

Named After Julius Caesar?

Three Things Named for Caesar

Some namesakes of the Roman general Julius Caesar (100–44 B.C.)—or GAIVS IVLIVS CÆSAR, as it was spelled in his day.


Before Caesar, the Roman calendar year was too short and no longer synced with the seasons, so the Roman leader implemented the Julian calendar: For the first time, every year had 365 days (plus a leap day every four years). His birth month was renamed Julius, or July, after him.

Kaiser & Czar

Caesar’s five successors were related to him and thus included “Caesar” as part of their names. The Caesars ruled Rome for the next 120 years. Over time, the term caesar came to mean “ruler.” Pronounced in Latin with a hard “c,” caesar spread to the Germanic languages—it was pronounced the same way but spelled kaiser. Caesar was also adopted into Russian, becoming the Old Slavic word tsesari, or tsar. It came to English as czar, meaning any person in power (like a drug czar).

Three Things Not Named For Caesar

Cesarean Section

Contrary to popular belief, the Roman general was not born via the procedure. We know this because Caesar’s mother, Aurelia Cotta, survived to see her son rise to prominence. (Until the late 19th century, mothers did not live through the operation.) Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23–79) claimed that the Caesar family name came from an ancestor of the general who was born by being “cut” from his mother’s womb. The Latin word for “cut” is caedere; the past tense is caesus. So Caesar may have been named after the term that gave us cesarean section, not vice versa.

Caesar Salad

It was invented in the 1920s by Italian-born restaurateur Caesar Cardini in San Diego during a busy Fourth of July celebration when kitchen supplies were running low.

Orange Julius

Also from the 1920s, the Orange Julius is a sweetened, icy orange drink. It was first sold by Julius Freed. Customers would line up and shout, “Give me an orange, Julius!”
Strange History

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