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Old 04-29-2021, 09:52 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
I think Morthoron has already addressed that; personally I recall (but do not have a source at hand) Basileus used somewhere in some circumstances in the medieval Latin-speaking world too, maybe as the sort of mix-and-match, and exactly redundantly in the sense like this. Otherwise at least as far as I can speak for 1-3rd century Greek, basileus was simply a "ruler" there. For that matter, the world "tyrannus" also was not originally Latin (although that was being used), and it just sounds like adding more redundant titles that just make it sound like "how many times can we say that I am a ruler in different ways to hammer the point". But if you read the King's name and simply swap "basileus" with "ruler", it sounds perfectly normal.
There is quite the rabbit hole you can disappear down on this here I go!

Basileus is not the original Greek word for king. The original word was "Anax," which while losing the status of a title, is still present in the Greek language and appears in such places as personal names.

"Basileus" in origin was a lower title subservient to an anax. The reasons why anax faded into dusty obscurity and basileus came to the fore are, at this far removed, lost to us. I've read speculation that "anax" had more of a sacerdotal association and "basileus", as it ultimately developed, was more secular in nature. There are also implications of what we could consider a feudal hierarchy at play where the anax was the high king and the basileus were autonomous rulers loosely subject to the anax. This is the political system at play in The Iliad. When the Bronze Age collapse occurred, there was no longer an anax but a host of petty basileus’ and that title came to dominate because it was so common.

I don't know if this potential sacred vs. secular dichotomy was what the editors were referring to in saying that "basileus" had the connotation of "administrator". It would be a pretty obscure reference if it was.

Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne View Post
Now this seems off to me. Yes basileus was used in the greek speaking parts of the roman empire, but to my knowledge not used by the latin speakers. Surely the west used "Imperator"?
It is a bit murky and there is a lot of what to us in the modern era is a frustrating non-standardization of usage. That being said, the "titles" if you will (which in itself is a bit murky and not a totally accurate description) were "Augustus" and "Caesar." At some point down the road after the end of the Roman Empire in the West "Augustus" completely lost its connotation of being a title, which it very much had in the time of what I will call the classic Roman Empire. In fact, it was the title "Augustus" that unambiguously identified the person of the emperor, not the title "Imperator." After the end of the Western Empire the word Augustus ultimately became what it is today; a personal name specifically associated with the person we now call "Augustus."

"Caesar" has experienced a similar phenomenon, although to a lesser degree. There is still some sense in the collective consciousness that Caesar was used as a title, but it is mostly associated as the name of Julius Caesar. More on “Caesar” below.

However, to ratchet up the levels of confusion "Imperator" was used, especially in an informal sense and "Imperator" as a title (for whatever reason) is the one that ultimately won out linguistically in the West. It was used in its connotation of "command - commander - command sphere or realm." In a way, from a pure definition standpoint, it is similar to the Arabic title “emir.”

My theory for why “Imperator” leading to “Emperor” became the utilized title in the West is that the preferred word order changed from Latin and "Imperator" won because it was the word that came first and was thus more prominent and "Augustus", reflecting its status as being a pretended nickname came later in the name and people lost the original importance of the word.

Of course, this is very much not the case in German as the word for emperor is “Kaiser” coming straight from “Caesar.” Same thing in Russian with “tsar.” I’d be interested to know if there is a similar practice in other Eastern European languages.

This is actually a topic of keen interest to me, so please forgive my digression on this.

That is a peculiar connotation, I wish there was a footnote to the footnote explaining the source.
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Last edited by Kuruharan; 04-29-2021 at 09:59 AM. Reason: Making a long post even longer.
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