Caius or Gaius?

Here you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Latin, and more.
Post Reply
User avatar
Textkit Member
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:04 pm

Caius or Gaius?

Post by Cathexis » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:16 pm

Off to the beach tomorrow for a summer vacation & hope to catch the eclipse in Charleston, S.C.
(Sadly, looks to be cloudy all up and down the Mid-Atlantic states, but The Fates will decide).
Anyway, bringing my Loeb Caesar I, II, III to read. They are the perfect size for the beach and
frankly I need the translations.

But I notice that even within individual volumes Caesar is sometimes C.(Caius) as in the text
and sometimes G.(Gaius), as in the intro. Which is correct? Or,.. How could both be correct?
BTW, I notice that Gnaeus Pompeius also sometimes C. Pompeius though perhaps that was
his son? I did notice that Caius seems to be the modern preference. I just remember that in
high school Latin we were always taught, "Gaius Julius(Ilulius) Caesar." Can you help?

Romani ite Domum

Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 564
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:34 pm

Re: Caius or Gaius?

Post by Timothée » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:16 pm

As you probably know, the letter G was a Roman innovation, formed from C with an extra stroke. The distinction c [k] vs. g [g] is important in Latin, which is why they had to make that letter innovation (what had happened so that this had become the prevailing situation is a somewhat longer story, and not actually known with 100 % certainty).

However, praenomen abbreviations became settled and established before the introduction of the letter G. Abbreviating Gaius as C. and Gnaeus as Cn. were so entrenched that they were not changed. Cf. kalendae, Karthago quite entrenched written with k-, quite an obsolete letter in Latin (though despite this it was borrowed into languages that use Latin alphabet).

Or another example: as late as in the Dead Sea scrolls the name of God (JHWH) is still written with the old Palaeo-Hebraic letters, although the Aramaic alphabet (which developed into the square script we know today) had been borrowed and used ever since the Babylonian exile.

Here’s one inscription where you can see the C in use.

Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1941
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Caius or Gaius?

Post by Hylander » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:52 pm

That's not an ancient inscription, it's Fascist kitsch. The epigraphy is obviously modern. Anno x a fascibus renovatis (literally, "in the tenth year of the renewal of the fasces") probably means "in the tenth year of Mussolini's rule," which would be 1932.

In an ancient inscription, C. Iulius would not have been referred to as "perpetual dictator" (but this title would have likened him to Mussolini), and his name would have included his father's name and probably his grandfather's, too, something like: C. IVLIVS C. FIL. C. NEP. CAESAR IMP. After his death and apocolocyntosis, he would have been referred to simply as DIVVUS IVLIVS. The dots would have been raised, but I can't replicate that.

J. Caesar's family tree here: ... ius_Caesar

Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 564
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:34 pm

Re: Caius or Gaius?

Post by Timothée » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:48 pm

Oh dear. :(

A statue of Iulius Caesar was erected in his honour on the Acropolis of Athens—and on the pedestal these words appear:
Ὁ δῆμος [Γ]άιον Ἰούλιον Καίσ[αρα, ἀ]ρχιερέα καὶ δικτά[τορα, τὸν ἑα]υτοῦ σωτῆρα κα[ὶ εὐεργέτην].
Hylander wrote:After his death and apocolocyntosis

Post Reply