Caesarean Section and Julius

Cecil has commented before and currently (or perhaps it is a reprint) that it is mythic thinking to assert that Julius had a caesaean section and that the first mother to survive such an operation was in the 1500’s.

Some of you may be aware that the Torah, the founding document so to speak of the Jewish people, commands us to redeem our first born sons by giving 5 shekels of silver (or equivalent value) to a Cohen (descendent of Aaron, a member of the priestly class). There is an automatic exemption from the requirement for first born of either priests or Levites.

The language used in the Torah is “peter rechem” which means one who opens the womb.

The Talmud, which is a record of oral traditions and interpretations of the Torah was written down by the year 500. It specifically exempts a baby born from a c-section from the requirement to be redeemed. The term for a c-section baby is a yotsei dophen which literlally means one who came out the side.

Interestingly, the term yotsei dophen is used in Yiddish to mean an odd-ball.

But at least we see that 1600 years ago the concept of a caesarean section was common enough that the heads of the Jewish academies had to have legal discussions about it.

A) Was Julius Caesar born by cesarean section?

B) Cecil mentions the Talmud in the column. He also mentions the possibility that an ancestor of the Dictator may have been so born, which is the original, ancient form of the story, anyway. In fact, the family may have been named for the operation, not the other way around, though there are at least two other theories. But C. Julius Caesar, himself was not so born, for his mother lived to see her granddaughter married.

I distinctly remember my high school Latin teacher telling the class that the cognomen Caesar originally meant (or derived from some expression that meant) “the hairy one,” applied to some distant ancestor of the great general. Admittedly this was many years ago, but an old friend who was in the same Latin class with me also clearly remembers it. It seems pleasantly ironic, especially when you consider how versions of “Caesar” have since been appropriated by other rulers, Tsars, Kaisers and the like, seeking to enhance their dignity (not to mention the fact that America has a drug Czar).

However, this etymology is quite at odds with what Cecil says on the matter in the article linked above, and I do not know of any Latin word meaning anything like “hairy” that also sounds anything like “Caesar.” A quick online check tells me that the Latin for hairy was “pilosus,” although I should imagine that there were other words with similar meanings. Can anyone with a better knowledge of Latin than what is left from my ancient O-level throw any light on this? Was our teacher putting us on?

Just because one Latin word means “hairy” does not mean that another Latin word doesn’t, too. The word in question is “caesaries”. But the name could also come from “caedere”, “to cut”. It is also possible that it could come from “caesiis” referring to gray eyes, or to “caesai” (a Moorish word) referring to having killed an elephant in battle.

Or maybe it was an ancestor who led a band while hosting a quiz show.

So it is possible that my teacher was right, then. Could there be actual evidence that he really was, or do you think he must have been just guessing? Caesaries does seem to be closer to Caesar than any of the other words you mention.

:confused: That one went over my head, I am afraid.

No doubt a reference to Kay Kyser.

As far as I know, the only theory with actual evidence is the Caesarean-Section/Caedere one; i.e., Pliny says so. But we don’t know that he wasn’t just guessing. On the other hand, all the others are definitely just guessing, except that there is a bit of really vague evidence for the elephant/caesai theory, which is that Caesar seems to have thought that elephants were cool decorative themes, and we don’t know any other reason for it.

What an oddly concise word for that concept. They did a lot of that, did they?

So did any of you newtimers understand the reference to Miss Lillian? Man, that column was written a long time ago.

I can give you a second plausible reason: He found out that his name happened to sound like the Moorish name, then started collecting elephant memorabilia.

Karen Lingel said:

Yep. Hit up wiki, who said it was Jimmy Carter’s mother. Which went a very different direction than I was thinking from the column.

Which wiki?
Powers &8^]

Start at the top and work your way down.

Which wiki would have info on “Miss Lillian”? How about the one that bills itself as an encyclopedia.

Which wiki would you use?

I think it’s pretty obvious that Julius never had a Caesarian section and I doubt he was born by one either. :wink: