"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

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Bears, honey and mice - an alternative fairy tale

There once were twenty-six bears that lived in a rather nice house called The Curia down in the depths of the woods.

One Saturday morning some of the bears decided that as everything was tidy in the house they could set off for a quiet stroll through the woods while their breakfast cooled. They left two bears fast asleep in their beds, or so they thought.

On their return the bears were shocked to find that the door to The Curia had been kicked down. In fact there was so little left of the door that the bears wondered if the NRA had raided them looking for trophies. They just stood looking at the remains of their nicely polished and maintained entrance; slivers of wood and broken shards of glass lay everywhere. Fearfully the bears peered in expecting to find the bullet-ridden corpses of their two co-occupiers, but there was no sign of them.

Stepping into The Curia the bears looked in each room. In the dining room they found five extra places had been set. They tip-toed upstairs to the bedrooms of the other bears, where the shock of their lives awaited them. In a bedroom that was meant to be vacant they found a large pot marked “Censorial F avoured Honey”.

This was in fact “Censorial Flavoured Honey” which all the bears had only handed out in the past after a communal meeting of the House Council. Obviously someone had scratched out the missing “l” on the label. As they looked into the pot the bears saw a mouse squirming and wriggling in sticky gloop that was their pride and joy. They went and checked four other vacant bedrooms and to their increasing dismay they found in each, a similarly defaced pot complete with mouse.

The bears were now quite irritated but at the same time puzzled as to how the mice had destroyed the front door, they were just mice after all, so ignoring them they went to look for the missing two bears. When they opened the door of one of the bears, who was in fact a polar bear, they found them both sitting on the floor with a deck of cards dealt between them. Each card had a name of a mouse on. When asked what they were doing and what the mice were doing in the honey pots, one of them, a real GEM of a bear, replied that they were nice mice and they deserved a swim in the honey.

One of the bears said “So let me get this straight, behind our backs, without even a hint of what you were going to do, you smashed our door down and let these mice into our house? These wouldn’t be the same mice that help fund your rent here would they?"

The GEM bear roared out “You're obviously angry, and as obviously have no damn idea what you're talking about. Whose favors do you think were returned?”

Another bear said “What are you doing with all those cards?”

GEM said without a hint of embarrassment or guilt “Right now I'm in the position of horse trading.”

Polar Bear said nothing, but then he rarely did.

The other bears just sat down wearily on the floor and watched as GEM and Polar kept gambling away. Apparently they were going to parcel out the remaining rooms in The Curia, until it would be so full that the walls would bulge. It seemed certain that GEM wanted to move all these new tenants in so that he could command a majority on the House Council and be allowed to stay top bear for the remainder of his life.

So children, do you think that the Bears sorted out their differences and lived happily ever after? Well the end of this story has yet to be written, but it seems certain that GEM bear will continue handing out pots of honey to his friends.

What a marvellous Patron GEM is. I wish I were a mouse, don’t you children?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The potestas pot

As the 29th January draws close, individuals known to be either members of the Libra Alliance or the Moderati are trying to convince citizens to emancipate themselves.

One of them is in the Censor's office and would be privy to the number of requests for emancipation. One can surmise that had the majority of active citizens applied already there wouldn't have been so much consternation. The 29th is the date when the sun sets over the concept of the large all embracing gens and rises over that of the familia. The concern of these people, of course, lies with patria potestas.

The Lex Equitia de Familia enshrined formally the extent and operation of patria potestas. This was a substantial step in the direction of reconstruction. Not everyone was happy, with some existing paters decrying the attempt to create more historic structures as too much, too soon.

Since very little of major note ever happens as far as reconstruction is concerned, this is somewhat alarmist. A number of the old gens had paters who were silent, head count and even socii; they had essentially abandoned their gens. The emphasis on the familia will create a structure where there is order, structure and a sound historic basis.

What could those in the Libra Alliance and the Moderati have against the concept of patria potestas? It appears that they fear that people will be "controlled" by their pater. Of course this actually translates into their being very concerned that the familia will form voting blocks, and one also assumes that the fear is that they will vote against Moderati and Libra Alliance candidates.

We have had to endure a number of alarmist posts in this vein. Gnaeus Iulius Caesar Cornelianus attempted to rectify that imbalance by a number of posts urging that citizens be left to their own devices. All he got for his trouble was a series of confrontational posts from some of the emancipators.

The familia was the core unit around which early, regal and Republican Rome grew. Anything that promotes the familia in Nova Roma is a good thing. Patria potestas is a historic fact, and its benefits within a familia structure are obvious.

In reality the likely result after the 29th January is a mix of familia and emancipated individuals. Gradually those that are emancipated will gather familia members around them. There will be no great crisis and Nova Roma will endure and if everyone concerned applies enough wisdom, it will benefit greatly from the focus shifting to the familia.

Will those in familia vote for Moderati and Libra candidates? Who knows. A paterfamilias cannot exert his potestas in respect of voting or the membership of the Ordo Equester, so their electoral success or failure will depend, as always, on whether those factions appeal to individual voters. It is exceptionally sad that as this milestone approaches these few individuals who engaged in these alarmist posts had only the self-interest of these two political factions at heart.

To be fair there was one member of the Moderati who did his best to strike a balance in the advice he gave, and he did succeed in doing so. Others in their posts risked whipping up a maelstrom of concern and anxiety and the strong suspicion is that the motivator for doing so was concern over the electoral fortunes of their factions.

In the face of the most recent real injection of significant historical reconstruction the modernists urged a move away from the familia, the backbone of ancient Rome. The conclusion must be drawn that despite all the florid statements to the contrary, reconstruction is just too unappetising for them.

One assumes they won't be dipping into the pot of potestas, because that would be too contradictory and hypocritical - or will they?

Perhaps those paters and maters that enter into a covenant to advocate support for the Moderati and Libra factions will receive a certificate allowing the bearer to dip at will into the potestas pot?

I think I will pass on that particular dish. It would probably be poisoned anyway.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Wolves back at Rome's door

ROME (AFP) - Wolves are back at Rome's gates more than 2,000 years after the animal became a symbol of the capital, the discovery of a dead wolf in a nearby national park reviving environmentalists' hopes and farmers' fears.

Ecologists are excited by the discovery of the young wolf's carcass along a roadside, seeing it as the fruit of a 30-year protection programme after Italy's lupine population flirted with extinction in the 1970s.



Nero's buried treasure

ROME, Jan. 18 -- When the infamous emperor Nero fell from power in A.D. 68, weakened by military revolts, his successors decided no personal trace of his reign should remain. They covered with debris the giant and sumptuous Domus Aurea -- the Golden House -- that he built on a hill in central Rome. They replaced an adjacent artificial lake with the Colosseum.

The entombment of the palace was meant to make everyone forget Nero. Instead, it conserved, as if in amber, his residential compound as few ancient sites in Rome have been preserved. This week, almost 2,000 years after Nero's rule, Rome city officials unveiled a new find from the palace that offers a tantalizing hint of the treasures buried beneath the hill."



Monday, January 17, 2005

Long-lost star catalog discovered

An ancient mystery may have been solved by Louisiana State University Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Bradley E. Schaefer.

Schaefer has discovered that the long-lost star catalog of Hipparchus, which dates back to 129 B.C., appears on a Roman statue called the Farnese Atlas. Hipparchus was one of the greatest astronomers of antiquity and his star catalog was the first in the world, as well as the most influential. The catalog was lost early in the Christian era, perhaps in the fire at the great library in Alexandria.



Monday, January 10, 2005

Van Helsing and Count Bonus

The coming year offers all of Nova Roma an opportunity to choose between two roads, one of reconstruction and the other of stagnation. Of course one could be forgiven for saying, “well you would say that Caesar, being a reconstructionist” but that assessment is not based on a narrow view of reconstruction versus modernism, but instead on an assessment of what were mooted as ideas by the modernists over the course of the previous year.

The central tenet of the Moderati and to some extent (muted and veiled though it is) of the Libra Alliance as well, is opposition to the Boni. The prospect of another year of listening to interminable speeches about the wicked Boni is mildly amusing, given the fact that the Boni are defunct. The only thing that could conceivably breathe life into that corpse is, ironically, the persistent and unyielding shrieking about Boni plots and the need for vigilance. The ferocity of the opposition is sadly not a testament to the effectiveness of the Boni, but rather to the inability of certain individuals to seize on a position other than that the monster is not dead, just sleeping.

With the fervour of Van Helsing, our collection of vampire hunters run around Nova Roma in a frenzy of Transylvanian terror, yelling to a largely uninterested populace, that Count Bonus is not dead, but has turned into a bat and flitted off to hide in the shadows, awaiting the moment to rise again. At the slightest hint of conservatism these individuals scrabble around in their carpetbag of stock speeches, trite sayings and hackneyed phrases and produce the ubiquitous political stake and hammer. An almost orgasmic rush to plunge the stake into the suspected scion of the un-dead follows but often the target is missed and instead the vampire hunter’s own foot gets neatly pinned to the Main List for all to see.

All this medieval madness is thoroughly pointless. The Boni were never the threat that its opponents painted them out to be. They were a group of very conservative citizens who saw the need to defend the primacy of the Religio as a state religion, to protect the Collegium Pontificum from attempts to either dismantle or cripple it, and to promote the mos maiorum. I wish I could say that the Boni was as organised and focused as its opponents make out, but this was not the case.

The Boni were never a political party but in an apparent triumph of propaganda the opponents of the Boni obviously have now fed well and too long on the various distortions that were deliberately propagated. The Libra and the Moderati have presented a far more unified and political platform than the Boni ever managed to do. In that respect the Boni were the most Roman of factions and its opponents have constructed a well oiled and disciplined party machine to combat a myth.

The one success of the Boni was to unknowingly befuddle its opponents into believing that it was organised, and the willing abettors in the spread of that most delicious rumour was in fact those people that form the Moderati and the Libra. The Boni have crumbled to dust and left the Moderati and Libra in full possession of the field.

The trouble is that having whipped up some of the villagers into a state of hysteria over Count Bonus and consistently maintained the Main List at a state of red alert, they now don’t believe that the monster is a small pile of dust in the corner. These people with the objective of destroying the Boni have invested too much time and effort to simply give up and go home. Life as an unemployed vampire hunter pales by comparison and certainly lacks the rush that they no doubt experienced in the full flow of combative Main List posting.

Despite the profusion of olive branches and the various statements of good intent they are still caressing their stakes and fingering their hammers. They are still rooting around in the graveyards of Nova Roman political life hoping to catch a glance of the un-dead, so they can start the whole tiresome process again.

What may happen now is that those that echo conservative views maybe pursued and pinned with a large stake for all to witness. Never mind the fact that these people never were members of the Boni. Never mind they may be new citizens. Never mind that the Libra Alliance spokesman could equally say much of what they say and suffer no verbal assaults. Our vampire hunters need targets, they have an adrenaline addiction to feed and sooner or later it will surface unless they face the reality of a post-Boni political landscape.

The way ahead for Nova Roma this year has to be to increase the numbers of its citizens, seek innovative ways to raise money, which do not involve grants thereby compromising our independence, and to make a conscious effort to stop terrifying the populace with all these tales of blood sucking wraiths lurking under the bed.

If those olive branches were genuinely proffered then the stakes and hammers have to be put away. The price we will all pay if this doesn’t happen is another year of unbridled enmity. The continued existence of two political machines, the Libra and Moderati, founded to combat the myth of an organised and effective Boni is itself a testament to how myopic some people can be.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A spoonful of sugar from Brussels?

I suppose I could start by saying that the excitement of the elections is now over, however excitement would be too dramatic an adjective. Not all positions were filled, few were actively contested and generally it remained a damp squib.

The minor distraction of Maior managing to demonstrate that she is an excellent markswoman when aiming at her own foot was the only relief in an otherwise drab affair.

It is impossible to say what lies ahead for the coming year. The Libra Alliance were short on details but long on promises to be very traditional. Only time and an insight into their legislative platform will provide hints as to the veracity of this claim.

Our new senior Consul, Franciscus Apulus Caesar seems to hanker after obtaining grants from the European Union. In order to do that he has said Nova Roma will need to be incorporated in Europe.

We don’t need grants. We need citizens that stay and participate. If all our listed citizens paid their taxes that would provide sufficient relief for the moment. We also want to avoid being subject to review by macronational governmental bodies (or is that busybodies?) interfering in our internal affairs and laying down conditions for grants or how they can be spent. Apulus Caesar may see no matters of concern here, but he is so deeply enmeshed in the European Union that he is far from objective on the matter.

As for our Praetors, it will be interesting so see if they try to extend Nova Roma’s judicial reach into columns like this one, or private lists. In keeping with Nova Victoriana that some seem so dedicated to building on the bones of Nova Roma, the “Nanny knows best” approach to life in Nova Roma continues to remain the biggest single threat to popular liberty.

The odious characters that worked Madame Guillotine all wore caps of liberty. Just because someone is plebeian and a former Tribune (or a current one) doesn’t mean that they have any real concept of popular liberty, or the value of an uncensored and politically robust community.

We don’t need Mary Poppins as Consul feeding us spoonfuls of sugar to make the medicine of censorship and enslavement to the European Union go down our throats more easily.