Medical and Science

Why Julius Caesar Could not of been Born by a Cesarean Section

There is a long time myth that Julius Caesar was delivered by a cesarean section.  This has led rise to rumors he was either named after the surgical procedure or the procedure was named after him.  This has actually become so widely known that it was placed in the Oxford English Dictionary.  But there are some key factors that play into this being an impossibility.

National Archaeological Museum of Naples by ell brown, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  ell brown

What is a Cesarean Section

A cesarean section is a surgical procedure that is performed on an expectant mother that is having complications proceeding with normal child birth.  It is where the abdomen is cut open in order to deliver the baby.  During the time that Julius Caesar was born, cesarean section procedures were extremely dangerous and were only performed on the mother if she had died, or was likely to die while delivering her baby.

Dangers Associated with a Cesarean Section

During Roman times there wasn’t any kind of anesthesia and of course no real means of sterilization. Plus they did not have a proper procedure for suturing a wound of that size.  So performing a cesarean section during those times would mean certain death to the mother if performed.  Even if a woman were to survive such a procedure, the wound would most definitely become infected, which in turn would lead to death.

Reasons Why Not

There were some known cases of cesarean sections being performed earlier than Caesar’s birth.  But of course there aren’t any successful cases known where the mother survived.  The earliest known case of a c-section that the mother survived is 1500 A.D.  This is one major reason this rumor could not be true.  Mainly because if he had been delivered this way, his mother wouldn’t of survived the procedure, and she didn’t die until Caesar was 46 years of age.

This procedure couldn’t of been named after Caesar simply because the Caesar name had been around for many generations predating Caesar’s birth.

Similarities between the Names

Although Caesar couldn’t of been born by c-section, there are some similarities

denarius julius caesar by Jennifer Mei, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  Jennifer Mei

between the names.  According to one author, the name Caesar could of been derived from this procedure due to a distant relative being born this way.  They believe the name to of come from the Latin word caedere, which means “to cut”.  Or possibly from a law called Lex Caesarea, which involved a c-section only in the event the mother had passed away while trying to give birth.

Other Possibilities

Then again, the Caesar’s name may of had nothing to do with the operation at all.  It could of come from the word caesaries, meaning “mane” or  “luxuriant hair”.  This is based on the belief Julius had an ancestor that was born with a massive head of hair!  Yet another could be caesuis or “blue-gray”, from an ancestor born with blue-gray eyes.

One possibility that has some reference to back it up is the belief Caesar may come from the word caesai or “elephant”.  They say he had an ancestor that killed an elephant during the First Punic War.  This is possible because Julius Caesar did have coins made that had an elephant on them with his name above it.  These coins were made during his reign.

So you see, the possibility that Julius Caesar’s name was derived from the word cesarean, or vice verse, is quite unlikely.  But it is still an interesting theory.  There’s really no facts to say exactly where this name came from, but the facts that do remain definitely suggest it wasn’t because he was born by the Cesarean Section surgical procedure.

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3 thoughts on “Why Julius Caesar Could not of been Born by a Cesarean Section
  1. Had a good laugh reading some of those things there!

    I really hope the procedure was named after Julius Ceaser and not the other way round!

    Imagine someone being named liposuction! or masectomy! …. :-))

    1. LMAO! Now you’re talking! It would make it easy to cut someone down.

      Hey liposuction, “You Suck!”

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