"Sed fortuna, quae plurimum potest cum in reliquis rebus tum praecipue in bello, parvis momentis magnas rerum commutationes efficit; ut tum accidit."

C. Iulius Caesar - Commentarii de Bello Civili Bk III.68

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A choice between tradition or trend

The long awaited report by Pontifex Gaius Iulius Scaurus on whether female pontifices should be appointed was released today by the Pontifex Maximus, Marcus Cassius Iulianus. The report concluded that "adlection of female pontifices will violate fundamental gender taboos of the Religio and constitute an inexpiable impietas prudens dolo malo". That means no they should not be appointed, for to do so would be an act of malicious impiety against the Gods which could never be forgiven. Scaurus cited primary historical sources as well as secondary sources as evidence for his conclusions. The Pontifex Maximus, not surprisingly disagreed with his findings.

The issue is simple. Do we ignore the absence of female pontifices in Rome of antiquity and the evidence Scaurus a university professor in a classical discipline has amassed, in favour instead of modern sensibilities and political agendas?

Women today have equal rights in most Western style democratic countries, though some would argue that is only in theory since, we are told, bastions of male domination still exist in all areas of human life. Let us however accept the theory of equality as true.

One could argue that as Nova Roma is based on reconstruction of laws, philosophies and a social fabric from a period over 2000 years ago it should be cut and dried that women cannot expect to assume the rights they enjoy outside of Nova Roma. One could indeed argue that but of course someone else will cite macronational law, "decency", the fact the Nova Roma only takes the best of Rome, to name but a few of the protests, to demonstrate that women should be adlected as pontifices. Add to this veritable mixing bowl a unhealthy dose of Nova Roman politics and the resultant dough that rises in the oven of our debate is bitter and rancid.

The most fundamental principle that underpins Nova Roma's existence is reconstruction. Without this goal, we are truly nothing more than an eclectic collection of mummers, drifting through a convoluted dance of mimicry and self-delusion, however even on this very basic principle we cannot find common ground. The cherry pickers are in the orchard selecting the fruit of their choice, discarding the older crop and preferring instead either the unseasoned fruit, or as in this case not even the cherry but the cranberry.

The modernists have no alternative, they have to be selective for if they were to be true to the dictates and needs of reconstruction they would have to swallow many a bitter pill that would slowly (and thankfully) poison this monstrosity that they are building. This lumbering and shambling pale reflection of Rome hoves into view and female pontifices are just another plank in this nonsensical sham.

Even in this modern world, where everyone wants everything and believes in nothing that smacks of tradition, there are some things that people simply cannot grab for themselves. Scaurus will no doubt be condemned for his findings, though really few can be surprised since the result was such a self-evident truism that the only amazing fact is that we had to impose on this scholar's time at all to render a verdict that should have been obvious, even to the most half-witted. This is one of those areas where the "gimme now" philosophy has no place. Reconstruction means just that; not taking bits of antiquity (and precious few at that) and large doses of modernism and mixing them all together.

No doubt it will be an unpopular view amongst some cives, but women have no historic basis as pontifices and therefore since we are reconstructing what was, then we must do just that and not impose modern standards and principles. If we do the latter then we are only fooling ourselves that we are rebuilding Rome, for we are not but are in fact building a monstrosity of impiety and historic inaccuracy.

For those of the Religio, the risk of participating in a inexpiable impietas prudens dolo malo should be too great a risk, just in order to satisfy the demands of modernity, politics and personal ambition.

Nova Roma has as its bedrock antiquity, not modernity and that fact carries with it certain consequences, one of which is that women should not be pontifices. If the consequences of historic accuracy are so distressing then clearly those that feel that made a mistake in becoming Nova Roman citizens.

If you are interested in the triumph of traditionalism, then you should applaud the report. If you are a modernist, recreating that mess of modern society in Nova Roma then no doubt you will be condemning it. Two camps. Two clearly distinct views of what the methodology of reconstruction is.

Nova Roma must stand fast and hold to the line of traditional reconstruction. No to impiety and no to avaricious grasping of that that never was and therefore never should be.