From the experts:
Although Greek in origin--in the fourth century, a bishop by that name established the principles of the Greek Orthodox Church--Basil for years took on the aura of aquiline-nosed upper-class Britishness of Sherlock Holmes portrayer Basil Rathbone, then spiced with the fragrant aroma of the herb that entered with the Pesto generation.
Now, it's time to take a fresh look at Basil.
Basil was on the U.S. popularity list quite regularly up till 1970, reaching a high of Number 328 in 1904. Its history includes several rulers of the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Orthodox saints, including one whose grandmother, father, older sister and two younger brothers were all saints as well.
Basil has also been seen as a figure of fun, as in the manic Basil Fawlty in the British TV comedy classic "Fawlty Towers," in the Disney movie "Basil of Baker Street," and as Basil Brush and Basil Wombat in other kids' entertainment.
The Russian version, Vassily, is another possibility.