"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

Monday, January 02, 2006

Exposed at birth

The shambles that passes for an election process in Nova Roma has concluded. There was a complete loss of focus in some quarters on the crux of the issue, namely what would happen when the clock in Rome struck midnight on the 31st December. Either the votes would have been counted, the ties broken and the results properly delivered, or the process would still be unfinished.

An interrex was not some subversive attempt by patricians to seize control of the government, nor was it unconstitutional since that office is established under the authority of the constitution. It was a practical and sensible attempt to provide for the possibility that the new consuls would not be in place..

The common sense efforts of Cn. Equitius Marinus and C. Popillius Laenas were then quickly seized upon and carried to the nearest hillside in an attempt to expose them shortly after birth. This was generated by the usual paranoia that grips a number of individuals in Nova Roma whenever a small crisis develops, a paranoia that stems in part from the fear that someone must be plotting, something, somewhere.

Of course the electoral process this year was a mess, but Marinus and Laenas acted with highly commendable promptness and decisiveness, and that was the root cause of the complaints that followed. They had had the temerity to take action.

Procedure is important and in the normal order of business the usual timeframes for calling the Senate would have been followed, as they have countless times before. This however was a crisis, not a very big one, but still a crisis. With the clock ticking it was important for our senior magistrates to develop a solution.

We should all be grateful that we don’t live in Rome of antiquity, beset as we are by this paralysing fear, for the Gauls would be busy dispatching us all to meet the ferryman, with some magistrates insisting, as the heads were rolling onto the floor, that due process would have to be followed before the Senate could meet to order the Consuls to close the gates and defend the city.

It is at times like this that the Senate performs its historic role, and we should be grateful we had two magistrates that had the gumption and backbone to try to deal with the problem, rather than ignore it.