I thought of this question when talking about Mark Twain and his hometown, Hannibal, MO. If there’s a town named for Hannibal, what is there named for Julius Caesar? Apart from the month of July and the Julian calendar?
There are plenty of places named after Caesar Augustus, including Caesarea in Israel, Augsburg in Germany, Aosta in Italy and Zaragoza in Spain. But there are fewer named after Julius Caesar. A couple of places which were named after him in the past have different names today - e.g. the town of Apamea, in Turkey, was renamed by the Romans as Colonia Iulia Concordia, but it later reverted to its original name. It’s no longer an inhabited settlement.
New York apparently doesn’t have any place named after Julius Caesar. Which is surprising because our state is full of classical place names. Apparently there was some minor public official back in the early nineteenth century who was a huge fan of classical history. So New York has towns named Athens, Aurelius, Brutus, Carthage, Cato, Camillus, Cicero, Cincinnatus, Corinth, Elba, Fabius, Galen, Hannibal, Hector, Homer, Ithaca, Junius, Lysander, Manlius, Marcellus, Ovid, Pompey, Ravena, Rome, Romulus, Salamanca, Savona, Scipio, Sempronius, Solon, Syracuse, Troy, Ulysses, Utica, and Virgil.
Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
We have a whole section named caesarian.
But not named after Julius, though. If anything, the other way around. It comes from Latin caedere, to cut.
Caesar’s name was *possibly *derived from the same verb. There is a disputed claim that one of his ancestors was delivered by this method. It’s not certain.
He didn’t invent Caesar Salad either.
Could be, I suppose, although I’ve only ever heard that the name Caesar comes from caesaries, meaning “hairy”. Which is a derivation that makes sense for a Roman cognomen. They often started out as rather blunt nicknames for a particular individual (big nose, floppy ears, good looking, bean farmer, etc), which would then sometimes become family names for that person’s branch of a gens.
It’s not surprising at all. The Founders, and indeed most educated Americans of their generation plus a few before and after, admired republicanism and despised those who destroyed the Roman Republic, among whom Julius Caesar ranks high. They would no sooner name something after Julius Caesar than the Germans in 1946 would name a town after Hitler.
There’s a street, Viale Giulio Cesare, in Rome. That’s all I got.
Jersey (the Channel Island), and by extension New Joisey, is named for which Caesar?
Heh. I was just looking into that on this here interweb. Long story short:
Apparently, the name Caesarea first appears as a name for one of the Channel Islands in the Antonine Itinerary, from ca. the beginning of the third century, along with Sarnia, Barsa, Silia and Andium.
However, it is not clear a) which Caesar the name refers to, b) whether “Jersey” is derived from “Caesarea” at all (the “-ey” part, also found in Guernsey, Orkney, etc, is Norse for “island”, suggesting a Viking origin for the name), or c) whether Jersey is even the island called Caesarea (some think Jersey is Andium, which roughly translates as “big island”).
Interesting – thanks. So, probably a toponymic equivalent of a “folk etymology,” like thinking (wrongly) that asparagus derives from sparrowgrass.
Thanks Carl Pham, I’m familiar with the classically named NY State towns but didn’t know much about the ideology behind the founders.
Another few classically named NY towns to add to Little Nemo’s good list are Attica, Sparta and Marathon. The NY town named Alexander is not named for Alexander the Great but for Alexander Rea, an early settler: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander,_New_York
As to the meaning of the name Caesar, “it originated according to Pliny the Elder, with an ancestor who was born by caesarian section (from the Latin verb to cut, caedo, caedere, cecidi, caesum). Historia Augusta suggests three alternative explanations: that the first Caesar had a thick head of hair (Latin caesaries); that he had bright grey eyes (Latin oculis caesiis); or that he killed an elephant (caesai in Moorish) in battle. Caesar issued coins featuring images of elephants, suggesting that he favoured this interpretation of his name.” (Wikipeda)
Julius Caesar himself had a receding hairline so another possible explanation is that his family may have carried the gene of male pattern baldness and the nickname “Caesar” (hairy) was ironic.
Robert Graves’s research led him to prefer the “hairy” meaning; in I, Claudius he writes a poem which is a supposed prophecy from the Cumean Sybil, about Julius Caesar and his descendants. This is the verse about Julius Caesar:
A hundred years of the Punic Curse
And Rome will be slave to a hairy man,
A hairy man that is scant of hair,
Every man’s woman and each woman’s man.
The steed that he rides shall have toes for hooves.
He shall die at the hand of his son, no son,
And not on the field of war.
And the explanation that Claudius gives:
the first of the hairy ones, that is, the Caesars (for Caesar means a head of hair), was . . . Julius . . . Julius was bald and he was renowned for his debaucheries with either sex; and his war charger, as is a matter of public record, was a monster which had toes instead of hooves. Julius escaped alive from many hard-fought battles only to be murdered at last, in the Senate House, by Brutus. And Brutus, though fathered on another, was believed to be Julius’s natural son. ‘Thou too, child!’ said Julius, as Brutus came at him with a dagger.
Not quite. The first part of this line refers to his alleged preference for being penetrated, which was a great disgrace in those days - penetrating another man was fine.
If that’s the case, it’s interesting that they named towns after Brutus (although not Cassius) and Caesar’s opponents Pompey, Cato, Scipio, and Cicero.
I guess you aren’t from New Jersey?
They were seen as Republican heroes, defending the Republic against Caesar’s tyranny. If you ever get the chance, read Addison’s 1721 play “Cato”, which was a big favorite of the Revolutionary generation.
A bit of a stretch but there is the town Kaiser in Wisconsin (The German Kaiser being based on the Roman title, which was ultimately named for Julius Caesar).