Hail, Caesar!

At the beginning of the new American Experience first episode on World War I, Oliver Platt’s narration informs us that at the war’s outset Germany was ruled by a Kaiser, Russia by a Czar. Why is this of interest, when neither country has such a post any longer? Because etymologically speaking, kaiser and czar are both variants of that better known word for ruler, caesar. Those old Romans defined a lot of things for the rest of us, none more so than power.