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Old November 26th, 2008, 05:11 PM   #1

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Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


Why do we refer to some (western) historical figures by their first name, & others by their last? For example, why Dante instead of Allighieri? Why Ceasar & not Julius? Or Galileo preferred over Galilei?

Is it that one is more pronouncable than the other? More unique? Or would it be more a matter of their image in the public imagination.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 02:09 AM   #2
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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


Well Caesar was a title for the Roman Emperors after Augustus who adopted it, so it would have been used instead of Julius from then on I’d guess. The Russian Czar and German Kaiser are variants.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 02:10 AM   #3
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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


Was Caesar originally a surname or a title?
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Old November 27th, 2008, 05:12 AM   #4

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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


I don't agree with Caesar, it is very often used Gaius Julius Caesar.
Gaius (praenomen) is his name, Julius (nomen gentile) means something like family and Caesar (cognomen) is some nick (very often son heritated it, but Caesar means hairy).
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Old November 27th, 2008, 06:08 AM   #5

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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
Was Caesar originally a surname or a title?
It was surname, wasn't it?
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Old November 27th, 2008, 06:25 AM   #6
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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


Originally it would have been a family name but when Gaius Octavius, known as Octavian became Augustus and took the family name of his uncle Gaius Julius Caesar. From then on the Roman Emperors all took the title, for that is what it had become of Caesar related or not.

Its variants became the title of Kings or Emperors, Czar and Kaiser are examples.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 07:24 AM   #7

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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


or císař
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Old November 27th, 2008, 07:58 AM   #8

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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


I wonder if it doesn't have a meaning in Latin as well? I mean like the names, Brown or Baker. Or did it refer to a place?
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Old November 27th, 2008, 06:56 PM   #9

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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


Ceasar meant "hairy" I think, as Madria pointed out. Was that your question, Lucius?

As for the title question- I got it. Duh. Aside from his civil & military exploits Napoleon was also an emperor & so "reigned" under his personal name as most royalty does.

Does anyone know why when referencing men such as Galileo Galilei or Dante Allighieri we commonly use their personal name instead of family name? After all, no one refers to Isaac with regard to Newton or William for Shakespeare. Anyone think of any other non-royal historical figures fitting this description?
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Old November 27th, 2008, 08:57 PM   #10

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Re: Why Napoleon instead of Bonaparte?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurelius View Post
Ceasar meant "hairy" I think, as Madria pointed out. Was that your question, Lucius?
Aurelius,

Yes, thank-you, that's what I was wondering. I found this from here -

'Caesar was originally a name, specifically a cognomen, of the gens Iulia. A cognomen is usually the third name in the Roman naming convention; originally a nickname, it had lost that function when it became hereditary (similar to surnames in medieval England.) The first recorded man with the name "Caesar" reached the Roman office of praetor during the Second Punic War. A much later source claimed that this man had killed an elephant in battle and that "Caesar" derives from the Punic word for elephant. It's interesting that perhaps the most famous of coins minted by Julius Caesar is the elephant-trampling-serpent issue. It has also been speculated that the cognomen "Caesar" means "hairy" or "full head of hair." This would suggest that either the Caesars of the gens Iulia were either renowned for their full head of hair or, given the Roman sense of humor, were known for going bald, as was the famous Julius Caesar (full name: Gaius Julius Caesar.) This story may, however, be a later invention.'

But isn't baldness inherited from one's mother?

Last edited by Lucius; November 27th, 2008 at 08:59 PM.
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