"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

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.