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Re: are these names now technically "taken" for dinos?
Erik Boehm <email@example.com> wrote:
> Thats it, if I stumble across some
> fossil dinosaur (or any big reptile fossil for that matter),
> I'm going to call it Casesarsaurus/Caesarosaurus, not that I
> go out looking for fossils, or in any area I know to be from
> the mesozoic.
> The prefix "Caesar" seems to be pretty comparable to a
> "tyrano" prefix, and almost equivalent to "rex" (as a Roman
> "Caesar" was very close to a Rex/King) so I don't see why it
> couldn't be used, as it is Latin after all.
So would you be naming "Caesarsaurus" after a person (e.g., Julius Caesar) or
after the title Caesar? There's no reason why you couldn't name a dinosaur
after Julius Caesar; after all, we have _Scipionyx_, named after one of his
predecessors (Scipio Africanus). But as a title, "Caesar" is comparable to
'rex' or to 'tyrannos' only in the loosest possible sense.
The first Roman emperor was Augustus Caesar; his names (Augustus and Caesar)
were adopted by his successors as imperial titles. Although Augustus Caesar
re-shaped the Roman republic into an autocracy, he wanted to maintain the
illusion that he was in fact preserving the republic and its institutions. So
he studiously avoided the title of 'rex' (king), or any other title that might
invite comparison with the hated monarchy that had ended centuries before.
After Augustus, Roman emperors used his name 'Augustus' as an imperial title.
Upon assuming the purple cloak of office, an emperor (or usurper) was acclaimed
'Augustus'. However, although the name 'Caesar' was also adopted by some
emperors upon their succession, its usage was initially quite irregular. Over
time, 'Caesar' came to be a title reserved for the chosen successor to the
emperor (e.g., his eldest son). When the western Roman empire disintegrated,
and the eastern Roman empire continued on as the Byzantine empire, the latter
abandoned the title Augustus in favor of the Greek 'basileus' (king). Still,
'Caesar' was retained as a title for the 'second-in-command', never the supreme
It's really only a quirk of history that 'Caesar' later came to be used as a
title for a supreme leader or emperor (Kaiser, Tsar, etc). It probably has
something to do with the fact that peoples outside the Roman and Byzantine
empires tended to refer to the rulers of these empires as 'Caesar'.
The German word 'kaiser' is actually more faithful to the original Latin
pronunciation of Caesar than the English word Caesar used in 'Caesar salad' or
'Caesarian'. The original derivation of the Latin name (cognomen) Caesar is
unclear; some authors have speculated that it meant 'hairy'. If so, the name
may have a deliberate ironic twist, because the men of that family went bald.
Julius Caesar was notorious for his comb-over, and for using laurel leaves to
disguise his baldness. Caligula was reputedly very sensitive on this issue,
which struck in his 20's. You didn't want to get on to Caligula's bad side...
Incidentally, if you were to name a dinosaur "Caesarsaurus", the C should
probably be pronounced like a K, not an S, in order to keep faith with the