|Population||344 million inhabitants|
2nd largest city
|Population density||32.7 inhb/km²|
|de jure language||Latin|
|de facto languages||Greek|
Ap. Vergius Angelus Augustus
|GDP||- billion Dn|
Foundation : 21 April 753 BCE
Europe up to Vistula and Tyras
The Roman Empire (Latin: SPQR) is the larger of the two superpowers of Eurasia, eclipsing China in both population and land. After its civil war, Rome entered a period of rapid social reform in accord with the tenets of recent moral philosophers. These ideas are introducing new perspectives on old political institutions, convincing the Senate and Caesar of the need for reform to satisfy modern ideals.
Rome holds sway over the entire Mediterranean Basin, a region referred to by its citizens as their sea. With the acquisition of most of Arabia, the Red Sea is becoming similarly exclusive territory for Roman ships. In the rest of Europe, everything is Roman up to the rivers Vistula and Dniester. In Africa, the empire extends into Ethiopia and the jungles of Ghana.
Political power is concentrated in only a few cities but its legitimacy is dependent on the authority of a widespread citizenry. In this sense, the empire is not a monarchy but a republic. Roman culture treats regimes that are not republics - referred to by the disdainful word regnum - as no better than nationwide systems of slavery and regards the subjects of kings as no more free than slaves. Now that this similarity is clear to the Roman Senate, its actions have begun to disregard the authority of regal laws and governments, treating foreign subjects only according to the law of nations - a code with jurisdiction over all of mankind.
As the only republic among kingdoms, Rome conferred upon itself the authority to adjudicate on matters in any part of the world, in order to uphold the law of nations. The global need for a republic to enforce the international principles of fairness in diplomacy, commerce, and war was made clear to Rome by the consequences of allowing the Caliphate of Persia to grow unchecked. The atrocities that the Persians committed in Syria are a fresh memory, reminding the Senate of the duties of Rome.
- 1 Name
- 2 Politics
- 3 Territory
- 4 Government
- 5 Military
- 6 Society
- 7 Law
Roma (Rome) is the primary endonym for the institutions that govern and handle the public affairs of this empire. The term refers both to the capital city itself and, by synecdoche, to the state as a whole. The symbolic importance of this name has only grown with the age of that city and emphasizes the unique status of that city within the community of cities that compose its empire.
Civil documents, laws, and philosophers have more technical names. The Roman state is the Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR), translating roughly as the Roman Republic. In this sense, the Latin word populus refers both to a people and to a form of government where the people govern themselves. The main other form of government is a regnum (kingdom), referring both to aristocracies and monarchies. Mixtures of these two extremes have more nuanced terminology, as seen in the name of the Roman Republic itself, acknowledging that its government is partially aristocratic through its Senate.
Another term that gets thrown around in discussions about the Roman Republic is that of being under Roman rule or, in Latin, under Imperium Romanum. Since citizens are considered Romans (Romani) and the lands of the Republic are seen as being under the authority of these citizens, this name is often used for the lands of the Republic itself - calling it the Roman Empire or Imperium Romanum.
A balance is struck in Rome between rule by the many (democracy), rule by the few (aristocracy), and rule by one (autocracy). Its political system incorporating these different parts is maintained by a complicated network of checks and balances that defies explanation in terms used for other systems of government. For this reason, the most efficacious way to describe Roman politics is using the terminology of Roman philosophers, since the evolution of the Republic has been their primary model for theory.
Following the Greeks, Romans consider civic participation (officium) the basis of politics and regard the involvement of a people in governance to be the primary distinction between a populus (republic) and a regnum (kingdom). There are many ways in which a citizen can engage in politics, encompassing more than voting (suffragatio) and running for office (cursatio). Altogether, these activities constitute the public life (civitium) of a citizen. By contrast, the private life of a person is constituted by leisure (otium) and business (negotium). Politicians especially draw sharp distinctions between activities done in different compartments of their lifestyles, to the degree that political enemies may sometimes be close friends or business partners.
Commoners tend to lead simple public lives. Heralds, periodicals, and rumors keep city folk abreast of ongoing political issues and of notable political figures over the course of a year. When a popular assembly is called, a citizen weighs the inconvenience of going to his place of assembly against his desire to voice his opinion on the issues. Although every vote must occur on a day before a national market day, i.e. the second day of the week (Lundis), and with a minimum four weeks of notice, most citizens do not participate on any given vote. Only elections draw more than the majority of voters registered by the census.
The Census itself is the other side of the coin of public life for the average citizen. Roughly every five years, a Roman citizen can expect to be visited by a censitoris (census-taker) to whom he must publicize his private affairs. The process takes only about five minutes, since everyone knows the drill, but a tremendous amount of information is divulged in that short span. Although most data is pertinent to taxation, the modern Census also records travel history, medical history, religious observances, military service, family ties, and other miscellaneous information on lifestyle choices. Privacy is a non-issue for the Census since compliance with the censitores is ingrained into Roman culture and is obligatory under public law.
From the bottom to the top, much of the politics of Rome takes the form of patronage (clientela) - a relationship between one powerful faction and the factions that depend on the exercise of its power but give their support in return. At an individual level, a patronus (patron) is a citizen of wealth and influence who offers support and protection (patronitium) to his clientes (clients) in the form of loaning money, being a guarantor for bank loans, supporting candidacy in elections, lobbying for votes, representation in court, facilitating business contracts, and making social connections. Clientela between individual citizens forms a hierarchical network that includes the majority of Roman citizens. In this mutual relationship, clients are socially obligated to follow their patron in voting, to protect their patron from threats to his life, and to speak highly of their patron to others. In general, a man's number of clients affects his political clout and partially determines his auctoritas (authority and influence), since it becomes more difficult to oppose a man as he has a larger number of loyal supporters. Client obligations are "enforced" through the loss of reputation that accompanies their violation, alongside the ability of patrons to pressure individual clients using their influence.
At the national level, Rome itself is considered the patron of the nations in its sphere of influence. The Republic is constituted by the clientela of Rome with its co-dependent client nations (foederatae) and independent client kingdoms (foederati). The latter are not seen as under the Roman Empire - they are not directly within the imperium of Rome - but they still send soldiers to fight in its wars, pay a tribute similar to taxation, and direct a great deal of their trade toward Roman cities. Another primary difference is that the people of client nations that are not states (i.e. are not kingdoms) often have the benefits of Roman citizenship, are within the bounds of Roman military fortifications, and enjoy some of the benefits of the expenditure of the Roman Senate. Furthermore, only client nations are home to coloniae - settlements that consist almost entirely of Roman citizens.
On a societal level, the emperor is regarded as the patron of the citizenry as a whole. His patronage takes the form of the free dole of grain distributed out of his palace, the daily audiences he holds with citizens, and his hosting of festivals, games, and theatrical performances in cities that he visits during his reign. In this way, the emperor is the ultimate patron in Roman culture and as a result, has the greatest authority of any noble in the Republic.
Roman culture fixates on certain social concepts that distinguish its politics from governance in other nations. Although these ideas have a basis in ancient traditions, their current form is the result of a history of social evolution and political philosophy.
A magistratus (magistrate) is a member of the Senate in whom the people of Rome have vested a power to command citizens for a specific purpose. In other words, the orders of a magistrate within a specific context must be followed by citizens, otherwise they face a legal reprisal from the state. The ability of a magistrate to command his fellow citizens in certain respects is his imperium, a power delegated to him for the duration of his term in office and only within his assigned domain.
The imperium of a magistracy may have either geographical or contextual restrictions. For example, magistrati provinciales are elected to positions within specific provinces or nations, preventing any exercise of power outside that jurisdiction. Other limitations on imperium pertain to the range of orders that the magistrate may issue and the citizens to whom he may issue them. In addition, there is an obvious temporal restriction on the imperium of a magistrate, meaning the time in which he is vested with his powers. Only censors and emperors have no such term limits for their office (unless they are forced to abdicate).
A concept that has changed from ancient times more than the idea of imperium is the auctoritas of a citizen. While a magistrate enforces his decisions through the threat of legal ramifications for disobedience, a senator or private citizen can assert himself in the popular assemblies or the Senate through his social influence. Discounting illegal coercion, a person has auctoritas over his peers through their awareness that refusal to comply will upset the common people or the members of the Senate. In other words, the auctoritas of a man is greater as there are more commoners or senators who support his decisions. The importance of dignitas (reputation and social standing) for auctoritas diminished over time, as the word lost its nuances of traditional and moral authority. Nevertheless, religious authority remains a potent source for auctoritas, as it has always been in Rome, since going against the opinions of religious leaders tends to upset the citizenry due to the close association of religious authority with virtue and wisdom.
In theory, auctoritas is regarded as the authority to pronounce the legitimacy of a particular use of imperium, where in practice this authority derives from the support of a person of auctoritas by the populace or Senate. Social obligations are now a primary source of auctoritas; a person to whom many people owe a social debt due to past assistance or patronage is a man of great auctoritas, although he may have little dignitas if he is despised for other reasons. Abusing the patron-client relationship is considered a despicable act for patrons as well as clients - a black mark on the reputation - and an easy way to lose legitimacy. In these ways, dignitas is only effective for auctoritas when a man's reputation would lead the public or Senate to protest those who oppose him.
In principle, imperium is distinct from auctoritas. The former enforces the commands of a magistrate (in a specific domain) while the latter recognizes that a magistrate knows what commands should be issued. In practice, Romans have found that these two factors are best separated into different types of magistracies, where the validation of one magistrate balances the power of another. In most cases, the expected auctoritas of a magistracy is bolstered by highly restricted but potent forms of imperium.
Imperium also differs from auctoritas in the sense that the repercussions for disobedience toward the latter are not enforced through the law - the reprisal results from social norms and is often less severe. For a senator of Rome, auctoritas can be more useful than imperium. A senator with auctoritas can sway votes in his favor - more easily in the Senate than in the popular assemblies - and can control entire businesses or markets, through his influence over his clients, even without legal coercion to back up his auctoritas. By contrast, the auctoritas of a tribune depends heavily upon their constitutional powers, even though the continued existence of these powers relies on the refusal of the populace to ever again accept its removal.
A number of constitutional laws employ the notion of a legal boundary to the city of Rome (Pomerium), extending the term to the cities of Byzantium in Thrace, Alexandria in Egypt, Carthago in Africa, Parisium in Gaul, and Antioch in Syria. These cities are the core members of the Roman community and important capitals of nations in their own rights, earning them a great deal of respect in Roman culture and the laws of the Republic.
The Pomerium denotes a geographical jurisdiction for the imperium of a category of magistrates known as magistrati curules (imperial magistrates), distinguished from the magistrati provinciales (provincial magistrates) who have a jurisdiction of a specific province or nation within the empire. An imperial magistrate cannot exercise his political authority outside the boundaries of the six cities incorporated into the Pomerium, unless the Senate grants him an extension to his powers. All magistrates and military officers above a certain rank fall under one of the above categories, except the emperor and censors.
Using the concept of the Pomerium, Roman law establishes strict geographic boundaries to its most powerful magistrates, keeping them from commanding armies or impinging on the domains of other magistrates without the approval of the Senate. This latter act of protenatio (spatial extension of imperium) is similar to the prorogatio (temporal extension of imperium) that the Senate continues to use to appoint former magistrates as governors of the provinces.
Other laws associated with the Pomerium forbid generals from crossing its boundaries without relinquishing their command of legions and outlaw edged weapons within its limits (restricting praetorians to blunt instruments even in defense of the emperor). The ancient prohibition on soldiers wearing military dress has long been dropped but legionaries are still forced to wear civilian clothes during their visits to cities incorporated into the Pomerium.
Historically, Pomerium had persisted as an important concept to Roman politicians after its appropriation by the Christian Church as an extension of the earlier sacred boundary that defined the city of Rome. The term quickly re-entered the political sphere due to the distinctions made between cities and slowly came to encompass other centers of political powers than Rome. In 847, the latest city of Parisium became included in the legal definition of the Pomerium, following the entries of the other cities mentioned above. Today, the Pomerium retains some religious significance as symbolic of pax (peace) and concordia (harmony) between citizens, but is primarily cited in laws that need to distinguish these cities from other territories within the Republic.
As a whole, the Republic is a political association of co-dependent nations under the guidance of a single city. Other nations that are politically and financially independent of Rome are only allies of the Republic, as part of distinct mutual political associations. Every nation within the Roman Republic consists of one or more territories governed directly by the Senate in Rome through its appointment of senators. Cities are the primary centers of political and commercial authority within these territories.
Foederata et Foederatus
In principle, the Republic has long been only a political union of nations pledging themselves as clients to Rome as their patron. The reality is that Rome, through its own intermediaries, controls the finances, militaries, and laws of these nations, leaving them only a nominal independence. When this system of governance evolved in 190 CE out of the earlier informal union of territories, the nations handled their own legal affairs and only paid a tribute to Rome, as they had before the reign of Octavian Caesar. Today, this system has only become more formal and regulative, leaving them only a nominal status as self-governing nations. A nation with this type of relationship with Rome is known as a foederata (client nation or federation of provinces).
The importance of this status for the stability and legitimacy of the Republic is difficult to overestimate and it would be inaccurate to understand it as a ruse or mere formality. Many Roman citizens, throughout the empire, see the SPQR (the Republic itself) as an incomplete union of mankind into a single polity (cosmopolis) under one law. Under this ideal, Rome is regarded as the arbitrator between nations - both within and without the Republic - with the executive power and authority to settle matters of law and order for the sake of the two civil virtues of peace and harmony. Roman philosophers and senators recognize an actual law of nations that prescribes solutions to disputes between nations but the Republic is seen as the institution for enforcing those standards.
As a partial realization of this ideal, Rome has procedures for cooperating with truly independent nations. A state that offers military support to the Republic, pays a single tribute through its own government, and follows its own laws is known as a foederatus (client kingdom or allied nation). The Senate has started to regard these allies as nations on the path to joining the Republic, as recently occurred with Ghana and in a similar way as kingdoms were bequeathed to Rome in ancient times.
Since Roman law must be enforced within client nations and the legions of Rome must be distributed through them, the Senate divides the Republic into provinciae populorum romanorum (territories of the Republic) governed through its own delegates. A governor of a province is a senator of praetorian rank or greater, usually serving in the period directly after completing a term as a magistrate by receiving an extension (prorogatio) of the powers voted to him by the people. The governor (propraetor) of a province was responsible for supervising the use of the ager publicus (public land) within his province; reporting news about his province to the Senate; and arbitrating between the president of the regional nation, the justice of the peace in his province, the financial supervisor for his nation, the military commander in his nation, and the municipal officials for settlements in his province.
Municipia et Coloniae
The Senate organizes all settlements in the Republic into a simple grading system that determines which regulations they must follow and what benefits they will receive. A settlement that is disregarded by this system is called a pagus and is usually some small village or tribal settlement out in the frontier provinces, something that has not been recognized by the Census. Two types of settlement are recognized by the system: a colonia (colony) is a planned settlement whose inhabitants are solely citizens and an oppidum (town) is a settlement that is neither a colonia nor a pagus (i.e. some mixture of citizens and non-citizens). Villae (cottages), tabernae (inns or taverns), and other small groups of buildings are similarly not part of the system.
Towns and most colonies are regulated by the same grading system. The exception is the colonia moenia (fortified colony) which are built at their full size within the span of several years for the purpose of settling veteran legionaries, alongside citizens whose immigration is subsidized to fill out the businesses in the colony. Other colonies are coloniae probatae (honoured colonies). While all construction in an honoured colony is planned, it happens gradually over time rather than as a single project. Although fortified colonies rarely house more than 10,000 residents, an honoured colony has no limit on its size and grows according to the grading system for oppida. The grading system for towns operates strictly on the basis of minimum population and minimum standards of living for the residents, as overseen by local administrators. A town that exceeds the population minimum has ten years to meet the requirements before facing an extra tax on its citizens (in practice, the deadline is the passage of two censuses).
The grades for towns and their cumulative conditions are as follows:
- vicus (village), a town of >8,000 people that has a forum (open-air marketplace), an amphitheatrum (arena), some quisquilia (public street cleaners), and a senatus vicinus (neighborhood senate).
- municipium (large town), a town of >25,000 people with a statio (post office), a censitorium (census office), a galenaria (public hospital), thermae (baths), several ludi litterarii (elementary schools), and an aquaeductus supplying a minimum of two amphorae (13.8 gallons) of water (per resident per day).
- urbs (city), a town of >80,000 people with a banca (licensed bank), a castella (garrison barracks), an equilum publicum (public stables) with space for no less than seven dozen horses, a fons (public fountain), an aqueduct supplying a minimum of four amphorae (27.6 gallons) of water, drainage and a cloaca (sewer system) along its main roads, sufficient latrinae (public latrines), a main forum meeting a certain minimum size, a fire department (spartoliani) alongside vigiles (guardsmen) numbering 1 in every 1,000 residents of the city, and a senatus asticus (city senate) with its own curium (senate house).
- magnum urbs (grand city), a city of >250,000 people that has a magnum opus (great monument) approved by a committee of senators and satisfying the conditions of being on public land as well as providing some utility to the public (rather than being a mere statue), and that has an aqueduct supplying a minimum of ten amphorae (69 gallons) of water.
- caput mundi (capital of the world), the city of Rome which must satisfy its own set of unique regulations.
Every local governing council receives a stipend from the Treasury of 1 Dn for every resident and 4 Dn for every citizen in its city. These funds supplement the town revenues from the latrines, baths, and other public services which are not paid to the Roman Senate. Larger towns receive additional revenues from the Treasury during the ten year period when they are transitioning from one grade of town to a higher grade, since a municipium or urbs may not have close enough communities to pool local resources for the necessary construction projects that may be required to achieve the next grade.
Using this simple system, the Senate ensures a certain lifestyle for the urban population of the Republic and pushes major cities to work towards becoming a models for the rest of the world. The result is that Roman cities have fewer streets covered in filth or lurking with criminals, have residents who bath regularly in well-maintained facilities, and are managed by a government body that is elected from the locals and by the locals for the improvement of the city. In short, these regulations, over the course of nearly a millennium, have turned the cities in the empire into effective copies of Rome in their people, administrations, and laws.
List of territories
At the present time, the Roman Republic consists of 18 foederatae and 67 provinciae:
- Italia, also known as Patria (the Fatherland), consisting of Sicilia, Sardinia, Corsica, Melita, Alpes, Raetia, and Noricum.
- Gallia, consisting of Gallia Narbonensis, Gallia Lugdunensis, and Gallia Aquitania.
- Hispania, consisting of Hispania Baetia, Hispania Lusitania, and Hispania Tarraconensis.
- Belgica, consisting solely of Belgica.
- Magna Britannia, consisting of Britannia, Caledonia, and Hibernia.
- Germania, consisting of Germania Varinensis, Germania Marconensis, Germania Gothica, and Cimbria.
- Dacia, consisting of Dacia, Moesia, Sarmatia, and Odrysia.
- Illyria, consisting of Dalmatia and Pannonia.
- Magna Graecia, consisting of Achaea, Epirus, Macedonia, Thracia, Phrygia, Lycia, Bithynia, Creta, Galatia, and Pontus.
- Syria, consisting of Syria, Cilicia, Cyprus, and Cappadocia.
- Judaea, consisting solely of Palestina.
- Arabia, consisting of Arabia Petraea, Arabia Rubricana, and Arabia Deserta.
- Ægyptus, consisting of Ægyptus, Cyrenaica, and Nubia.
- Æthiopia, consisting of Æthiopia Rubricana and Æthiopia Aksana.
- Armenia, consisting of Armenia and Mesopotamia.
- Africa, consisting of Africa Deserta and Africa Carthaginia (formerly known as Africa Proconsularis).
- Mauretania, consisting of Mauretania.
- Gana, consisting of Gana and Gauum.
After its long history as a democracy that became an absolute monarchy, Rome now employs a mixed form of government, based on Greek, Roman, and Chinese models. In its own terms, Rome is a republic (populus) that relies on the executive decisions of an aristocratic assembly (senatus). The people that constitute this republic are citizens (cives romanes) and possess different rights than the non-citizens (peregrini) who live near them within the same territories.
In reference to the earliest democratic assemblies, the Senate replaced the Comitium Gentium (National Assembly) by dividing the citizenry into groups with more nuanced distinctions between social orders. After a censitoris records the private information of a Roman citizen, he confirms if that citizen intends to vote in the foreseeable future. If the citizen does plan on voting, then he or she is asked polar questions about major legislative and national events in the preceding five years. The answers of each voter to this civil examination are recorded for eventual analysis by specific magistrates. All of the questions concern matters of fact and are designed to determine the recent diligence of the citizen in paying attention to events that would have affected voting. Around an hour is devoted to administering these examinations to every citizen that resolves to vote.
Every citizen that asks to participate in the popular assemblies is assigned to a curia (weighted voting group). There are a total of 3,600 curiae for the entire population of citizens but not all curiae are the same. Differences between groups come in the form of their numbers of members. Citizens that are deemed fidatia (civically responsible), based on analysis of their examinations, are placed in curiae with less than a third as many citizens as regular curiae. In this way, the votes of citizens are unequal by design, with weighting based on civic knowledge rather than social class. This system came from the immediate reactions of senators to the equal weighting of votes in the Comitium Gentium, appealing to the earlier manner of weighting votes based on social status and to the Chinese custom of allocating political power using civil examinations. Citizens whose votes are weighted more heavily in the Comitia Curiata (Civil Assembly) have the status of gines (pl. ginites), from the Chinese jinshì (進士) and shì (士).
Citizens who have failed to achieve the status of gines retain the default status of plebis (pl. plebes). The creation of the above meritocratic class is a divergence from the financial separation of voters into plebis and eques while the new voting system is seen as an improvement over the old system where members of the equestrian order voted in smaller groups than plebeians (improved only after the attempt to institute equal voting had been made by an emperor). In practice, there are other inequalities in votes due to incomplete attendance of popular assemblies but this issue is mitigated by selecting the members of each curia suffragia from across a range of distances away from their assigned place of assembly.
On the whole, the Civil Assembly is one of two direct democratic components of the Roman government. Neither magistrates nor senators can attain their offices without election in this Comitia Curiata. No alterations can be made to jus publicum (public law) except through majority agreement within this type of assembly. Furthermore, changes to jus privatum (private law) are possible through the popular assemblies, but are rarely made due to how often private law must be modified and how complex the issues tend to be for private law. Romans are proud of their reliance on popular assemblies for their most important legislation and the act of voting has become nearly as ubiquitous of a social convention as farmers going to the city for a market day.
Of the appointed or non-popular assemblies of Rome, the largest is the Senatus Romanus (Roman Senate). Members of this body are known as senatores (sing. senator) and form a third status of citizenship. Prerequisites for joining the Senate are recognition as a gines through the Census and recognition as an eques (pl. equites) by wealth - i.e. all senators are ginites and equites.
Once he meets the wealth and responsibility requirements, a male citizen only requires evidence of his competence to become eligible as a candidate for the seats in the Senate that would have opened up for new members since the last election month. There are several ways of demonstrating the level of competence required to attempt to join the Senate:
- graduating from the Academia Bellica (War Academy) and fulfilling a term of service (5 years) as an officer in the Legion
- spending seven years as an avocatus (legal advocate) and having a court record that is approved by the emperor
- spending seven years as a numerarius (accountant), an argentarius (banker), or an adeptarius (import-export merchant)
- achieving the rank of archiator (medical chief) after graduating from a medical academy and working as a medicus (doctor)
Regardless of his earlier path, each prospective senator must pass a civil examination in Rome that verifies literacy, financial skills, knowledge of the law, and understanding of proper morals. Failure in any category disqualifies the person unless he can succeed in the examinations at the start of the next year. Once a citizen passes, he may apply to the Senate for the yearly selection of auditor-generals for the provinces and for the treasury. After a year as an auditor-general, he can finally enter his name in the yearly elections for senators, in which he requires both majority approval and placement, by number of curiae, above a sufficient number of other candidates to get one of the available seats. By this selection method, only men who are competent, popular, and wealthy may achieve the illustrious position of senator.
At its heart, the Senate is the place where the most capable men who have the luxury of spending days on end discussing the affairs of the state (rei publicae) do exactly that sort of thing. Every bill, whether for the Comitia or for the Senate, gets drafted by a committee of senators and must receive the permission of both a chief justice and a representative of the people before getting a drafting committee. There are restrictions on committee membership for different types of bills and, in general, rules are in place to prevent junior senators from drafting bills without more experienced approval. A wide variety of possible bills can be debated in the Senate, with varying results should a vote end in favor of certain types of bills:
- alterations to jus privatum (private law), including additions, abolitions, and edits.
- levies or abolitions of taxes (vectigales) and tariffs (portorii) for the treasury.
- budgets for how treasury funds are to be allocated to treasury officials in each client nation.
- extensions to the jurisdiction of a magistrate in either duration (prorogatio) or region (protenatio).
- public statements declaring war against a foreign nation, city, individual, or institution.
- requests to the treasury to commission public works (operae publicae).
- requests to the treasury for funds (bursa) to disburse for a proposed purpose.
- orders to a department (magisteria) of the government to reduce or enlarge the size of its officium (staff) of civil servants.
- orders to a magistrate (magistratus) or a department to abide by a specified policy or to take a specified action.
- requests to the emperor to abide by a specified policy or to perform a specified action.
- requests to the clergy of the Christian Church to perform a specific action.
- public statements on the stance of the entire Senate on a bill that is going before the Comitia Curiata.
- public statements defaming (damnatio) a specific individual either inside or outside the Republic (alive or dead).
When the Senate meets quorum (numera satis) and achieves a majority (plerus) vote on a bill, the bill is presented by messenger to its stated recipients. Requests and public statements are only issued as senatus consulta (recommendations of the Senate), indicating that they only represent the advice of the Senate to the recipient. As for its force, the senatus consultum issued before every vote in the popular assemblies is the advice of a body recognized for its wisdom and indicates the direction voters should take at the risk of going against this knowledge and experience. Orders that are addressed to magistrates or departments must be followed by the recipient without question. However, some magistrates are beyond the authority of the Senate in certain matters, forcing the Senate to limit itself to issuing a recommendation. All senatus consulta are posted in the main forum of national capitals on a public board known as the Acta Senata (Public Records of the Senate) and are read to the people by public heralds.
On the whole, the Senate is the core aristocratic component of the Roman government. Every action taken in the name of Rome is interpreted through the lens of approval or disapproval by the Senate. Its members are some of the most competent men in the Republic, among male citizens who are wealthy enough to devote their time to politics and ambitious enough to pursue politics. A maximum of 1000 equites can be in senators but the actual number falls as members die between elections. Since every organ of the government employs senators as its executive officials, this assembly is essential to the operation of the Republic.
The other direct democratic component of the government is the Concilium Tribunum (Legislative Council). The greatest honor for men without wealth - members of the ordo plebeianus (lower class) - is to become a tribunus plebis (tribune of the plebs). Three male plebes or ginites are selected each year by lottery from every nation in the Republic and named tribune of their nation. Aside from the requirement of order, a male citizen is only included in the lottery for the tribuneships if he is over 29 years of age and has not committed any crimes in the past. Although a tribune is financially compensated at the end of his year, a selected pleb may refuse the powers and responsibilities, as many do to stay with family or to maintain their businesses.
As an individual, a tribunus possesses the imperium tribunum which allows him to intercede (intercessio) in the passing of nearly any bill in the Senate and to propose a popular assembly for voting on a bill drafted by a committee of senators. Every tribune has the power of veto on his own but the entire Concilium of 39 tribunes must vote to continue the action if even one tribune vocally speaks against a veto as it is announced in the Senate. If a majority of tribunes support going ahead with the intercession, then the veto carries through and the bill is only recorded as a senatus auctorum (will of the Senate) without any executive force. For this reason, the action is virtually ineffective against bills for delivering public statements or requests.
As a council, the tribunes can overrule the major veto of the emperor but only when a majority of tribunes are opposed to its use. Majorities in the Concilium can also reverse the judicial verdicts of any chief justice or prohibit a project that demands funds from the treasury. Any individual tribune also possesses the authority to provide sanctuary (asylum) to any citizen facing prosecution, letting that citizen be housed in the Basilica Popula, a large private residence east of the main forum in Rome.
In many ways, the office of tribune has been designed to accommodate the fact that tribunes are merely random male citizens from the various cities of the Roman Empire. All tribunes live in the same building and eat their meals together, ensuring that tribunes are almost always within sight of other tribunes. A cohort of 500 praetorian guards watches their comings and goings to record any suspicious behavior and to send an escort any time a tribune leaves the residence or the Senate. Combining this with other rules, bribery is made next to impossible - being bribed as a tribune and bribing a tribune are serious offensives on the level of treason. Furthermore, every tribune is paid a salary of 3000 Dn for his year in office, both supporting his family in his absence and allowing him to easily restore any decay of his estates upon his return.
On the whole, the tribuneship is an influential populist check on the powers of the Senate and the emperor, preventing the passing of laws that are opposed to the desires of a random sampling of commoners from Roman cities. Furthermore, tribunes are a key component of the Comitia Curiata, as a tribune must agree to call the assembly if a committee of senators is to get their bill passed by popular referendum. Roman philosophers view the lottery nature of the tribuneship as a superior form of democracy than the mass gathering of people for votes, due to the mob mentality that can dominate in the latter. For this reason, the tribuneship is praised more by philosophers than the popular assemblies.
The collective body of the departments of the government of the Roman Republic is known as the Curulis Magisterium. This institution formed as a system of organization for the various officia publica (civil staffs) that were subordinate to the Senate and its magistrates. In this way, the different departments (magisteriae) can more easily share apparitores (civil servants) and closely share information gathered and processed for the purposes of each specific department.
Although the Fiscus (Department of the Treasury) is the largest magisteria, other departments have grown in influence over the centuries of Roman rule, evolving from the ancient Concilium Civium (Council of Citizens). Hiring, organizing, and supervising the various civil servants of the Magisterium is the Magister Officium (Chief of Staff), head of the small Magisteria Officis. His tasks are to coordinate who works with what department on which days and to ensure that a sufficient number of officials are available for the purposes of the entire Magisterium.
Some magisteriae only temporarily require the services of apparitores, requesting them from the Chief of Staff on a regular basis. Among these magistries, the most vital is the department of the Magister Archiatorum (Surgeon General of the Republic). Among his constant duties, the Surgeon General appoints all of the archiatores (medical chiefs) for public hospitals throughout the empire and regulates their decisions on staff size, public funding, and equipment. In general, the Magister Archiatorum determines Rome's health care policies, in concord with the intentions of the Senate and of the popular assemblies.
Other magisters in the Roman Republic, in addition to their duties, are:
- Magister Correctores (Overseer of Overseers) - oversees the activities of provincial governors and recalls governors who are suspected of extortion, violating the law, or generally any improper conduct.
- Magister Memoriae (Master of Public Knowledge) - oversees the distribution of information to the people through praecones (heralds) and regular publications (acta); supervises designs of coins; and arranges the public appearances of the emperor.
- Magister Militum (Master of the Soldiers) - oversees the distribution of funds to the legions throughout the empire; manages the civil affairs of the entire military; and corresponds with military officers on behalf of the Senate and emperor.
- Magister Gentium (Master of Nations) - oversees the Officium Barbarorum (Bureau of Barbarians) which maintains all of the Roman diplomats in foreign nations and hears the concerns from the various client nations within the Republic.
- Magister Urbanorum (Master of the Cities) - oversees the compliance of cities with urban regulations; appoints the praefectus vigilum (prime commissioner of municipal services), praefectus comitanum (prime commissioner of the watch), and the praefectus collegianum (overseer of commercial guilds); and supervises the praefectus urbanus (urban prefect).
- Magister Scholasticum (Master of Learning) - oversees the distribution of funds to the various musaea (universities) throughout the empire and supervises the scholarches (headmasters) appointed to each institution of higher learning through the appointment of praefecti docationes (academy supervisors).
- Magister Alimentum (Master of the Grain) - oversees the shipping routes for grain and appoints praefecti annonarum as supervisors for the major grain ports in the empire.
- Magister Censorium (Master of the Census) - the censor that supervises the activities of the censitores; appoints and oversees the praefectus jurimitarum, who oversees the book register and the issue of patents as well as copyrights, and the praefectus censitorium, who organizes the allocation of funds to the Census.
- Magister Vehiculorum (Postmaster General) - organizes the routes of the public postal service and oversees its couriers.
- Magister Itinerarium (Master of Travels) - organizes the routes for the public carriage and shuttle services and oversees the maintenance on the public highways throughout the empire (through the appointment of equestrian praefecti viarum).
In general, every magister is responsible for submitting a budget request for his department and for advising other magistrates in his area of expertise. Unlike other magistrates, the magisters are regularly voted extensions to their imperium by the Senate, often once someone who is suited to the work gets voted into the position by the people. In this way, a magister tends to remain in office for decades, unless a public event reveals an unnoticed incompetency to the Senate or people.
Although magisters are extremely powerful compared with most other magistrates - sufficing to warrant assigning each a guard of twelve praetorians - the responsibilities and pressure of the positions are sufficient to keep out most people who are unsuited for their tasks. For example, the Surgeon General tends to be a former medical chief and the Master of Coins tends to have been an accountant or other financial expert during the early phase of his career. Nevertheless, there are times when a less suitable senator is elected magister over better peers - such is the nature of popular voting.
Since a great deal of the power of the Senate comes from its wealth, the Treasury is its largest and most powerful department. The tremendous responsibilities and powers of the Magister Fiscalis (Master of the Purse) reflect this concentration of imperium. The powers of the Magister Fiscalis include authorizing appointments of the quaestores (auditor-generals) by the Senate, authorizing budgets passed by the Senate, and blocking individual items of expenditure, all on the grounds of wastefulness. Since justifications are required for these decisions, they can be overturned by the tribunes or other regulatory bodies.
In Rome itself, the highest officer of the Treasury is the praefectus argentarius (overseer of the silver), a low ranking magistrate who supervises the operation of the imperial mints and supervises the handling of new coins being disseminated through banks and other services. Outside Rome, the primary facilities for the Treasury are at the Aerarium (Treasury Vaults) in Byzantium, where the golden aquillae (eagle standards) of celebrated legions, the gold reserves of the state, and hundreds of millions of denarii in coins are stored. From these vaults on the second hill of Byzantium, funds are constantly disseminated to the rest of the empire for the policies and programs of the government in Rome.
No money leaves the Aerarium without the written approval of an aedilis (financial overseer). Within the Pomerium, there are ten aediles curules available to sign for individual items of spending or minor withdrawals of funds. Reports from all aediles are sent to Byzantium for review by the Magister Fiscalis. Each imperial aedile also has his own special duties within the Pomerium, such as arranging festivals, public games and military triumphs, financing the public grain dole, and maintaining the public buildings (basilicae). These duties are mirrored in the tasks assigned to the aedilis provincialis of each nation in the empire.
While an aedilis is always involved in removing money from the Treasury, the internal management of finances and the oversight of money collected for the Treasury is in the hands of the auditor-generals of the empire. A quaestor curulis (treasury auditor) may be assigned by the Magister Fiscalis either to Byzantium or to Rome. At the Aerarium, a quaestor would be comparing accounts at the various stages between revenue and expenditure, ensuring the consistency of account documents. Otherwise, quaestors there would be preparing financial statements for Rome and assisting in formulating predictions based on past finances. At the Senate, a quaestor curulis would be tasked with organizing financial documents and communicating with Byzantium.
Auditor-generals appointed by the Senate with fewer votes are deployed as quaestores provinciales, where each of them audits the tax reports for an entire province and oversees the usage of treasury funds in that same province. A provincial auditor has a less prestigious position than a treasury auditor but once he completes his year of service, he is also eligible to run as a senatorial candidate in the following July. Since there are nearly three times as many of the former as there are treasury auditors, the majority of senators have started their career in the government as a quaestor provincialis.
Although they are not yet senators, quaestors are highly respectable men within the empire as every quaestor has a high level of education and has a past career in a distinguished profession such as medical administration, legal practice, or military command. A quaestorship is in some sense the final test for men of wealth and honor before they can attempt to join the Senate. Campaigns for a senatorship often revolve around reputations built as a quaestor, especially when one's career before being appointed to a quaestorship by the Senate was not especially noteworthy in the eyes of the public.
Aside from its quaestors and senators, the Treasury employs thousands of civil servants as numerarii (accountants), fiscatores (tax collectors), argentarii (bankers), and monetores (coin pressers). As the largest institution in the government, even exceeding the Senate itself in membership, the Treasury also has thousands of secretaries, aides, and messengers in addition to its own facilities containing offices, meeting rooms, and archives. Due to its function, the Treasury interacts with every branch of the state and has civil servants in every province and nearly every major settlement within the Roman Empire.
The primary regulative government body besides the Legislative Council is the Comitia Censoria (Censorial Assembly), a group of ten senators chosen from among the most accomplished members of the Senate. Members of this assembly are known officially as censores (sing. censor). Each censor is chosen by existing censors from among the senators elected for life as curatores pro censores (acting censors), who assist the full censors in their more laborious duties. Although no more than ten senators can be on the assembly itself, there are forty positions for procensors that are filled by direct election.
Procensors are given two related duties: approving the assignments of legal status to people based on regular census data and keeping abreast of the activities of high profile citizens, through civil servants that gather information for them. In principle, this provides no additional political power to procensors - who are anyway the most authoritative senators in the Republic - but together these responsibilities make them the most common instigators of investigations that would strip senators of their offices and other citizens of their wealth or citizenship. The only judgement that they pass in this process is the decision to investigate a person but that alone can be a tremendous power, adding to the deference accorded to them by other senators and citizens. Another power of the procensors is their review of publications for the Index Censorio (public register of banned and approved books). Members of the Comitia Censoria are responsible for checking books on political, religious, or moral topics for review but the procensors are given those books that are known to cover other less sensitive topics (according to a reading by a civil servant).
A key right of procensors is that they are the only senators eligible for positions on the Comitia Censoria itself. As a whole, this judicial body votes on the stripping of imperium from senators and the revoking of citizenship from Romans, in extreme cases, even voting on forcing the emperor to abdicate or to remove citizens from the Senate. No decisions can be made on the voting rights or legal status of a person, with the exception of naturally granting citizenship to children, unless eight out of ten votes here are in favor of that course of action. No other body in the government of the Roman Empire has such authority.
The Comitia Censoria often judges large groups in a single case, such as deciding whether a certain act of treason committed by numerous citizens was offensive enough to strip the citizenship of anyone who took part in that act. Since citizens are immune to the death penalty, this verdict is the worst that can befall a citizen and usually leads to exile. Although the Comitia has this power over citizens, its use is regulated by requiring the instigation of a procensor and the authorization of five chief justices. Also, the powers of the Comitia Censoria are restrained by the ability of the Senate to remove any of its members if a majority approve of the abdication, although a majority of the Concilium Tribunum must second this approval before it takes effect.
Each year, a senator is elected to the position of princeps judex (First of the Judges), filling the role of supreme justice of the Republic. In his position, the princeps judex may overturn a verdict of any other judge, except of the censors. At other times, the princeps judex presides over the Justitia (supreme court of Rome), where legal disputes of national importance are decided. Since verdicts in this court may ignore the prescriptions of existing criminal and private law, on the principle that cases only come before this court when injustice was served by the lower courts, the Justitia has been a venue for introducing new precedents to the law. Due to the high profile nature of cases in the Justitia, these precedents usually pressure the Senate into modifying civil law. While injustices have been overturned by this court, there have been cases of senators using it to evade prosecutions. However, the fully public proceedings of the supreme court - like any public court of Roman law - prevents the most obvious injustices from occurring.
Although the Justitia is the highest public court in Rome, the praetorian courts are not far down. Of the 30 praetores curules (chief justices), five-sixths hold court regularly in a public space in the capital and another four hold court elsewhere in the sacred region of the Pomerium. The last and most important chief justice is the praetor urbanus (urban praetor), who supervises the other praetors on behalf of the populus and selects the cases that merit judgement before the Justitia.
The praetor legionis (chief justice of the army) presides over the military tribunals for members of the Legion, holding court in the main plaza of the War Academy in Carthage. The praetor fiscalis (chief justice of the treasury) presides over tribunals over misconduct by members of the Treasury, unless the case goes to the public courts for treason, embezzlement, or extortion. The other two praetors sent outside Rome are the praetor gentis (chief justice of the law of nations), who presides over tribunals of people who are not citizens (such as foreign rulers or local non-citizens), and the praetor scholastis (chief justice of academia), who presides over tribunals for serious academic misconduct by teachers or students.
Other praetors preside over their own public courts, distinguished by the crime that concerns them. In effect, any prosecution that is instigated by the state itself is tried in one of these 25 public courts, including cases that the state takes over at the request of the defendant, where each praetor has the liberty to refuse or accept at his discretion.
Other courts of law in Rome are presided over by judges (judices) recognized in the album judicum, the list of judges licensed by each praetor to preside over specific cases of criminal or private law. For private disputes over breaches of contract, judges go onto the list at the discretion of the urban praetor, who must concern himself with such suits in law. Litigation in this sense is the most common type of case brought before the Justitia, since criminal affairs are only brought there under serious accusations of legal misconduct. For this reason, the Justitia is regarded as the public court for contract lawsuits (criminal and tort law are conflated as private law but breaches of contract are classified as one of 16 domains of private law)
The public courts outside Rome are each presided over by a praetor provincialis (justice of the peace) who is assigned to the province in which the crime occurred. Unlike in Rome, there is only one senatorial judge in each province, resulting in most cases going to the judges licensed by the justice of the peace to preside over courts in his province.
In general, praetors and Roman judges can only take cases involving Roman citizens - non-citizens are left to their own devices regarding their legal affairs. The exception is a violation of the Law of Nations, usually by powerful individuals in another state. Rome has taken upon itself the responsibility of upholding these laws across the whole of humankind.
Each component of the Roman government contributes to its utility for the public. The directly democratic parts reduce corruption and promote fairness; the aristocratic components reduce the bandwagon effect and promote skillful leadership; and the unique autocratic component reduces discord and promotes decisiveness. Selected by his predecessor and authorized by the Roman Senate, people, and clergy, the princeps civitatis (First Citizen of the State) and princeps senatus (First Man of the Senate) is the peerless leader of the Roman Republic, known to other cultures as the Emperor of Rome.
Although he is first among equals (primus inter pares) - which is to say he is without equal - the princeps has his powers heavily regulated by the people and the Senate. An emperor reigns for life but can be deposed by a majority vote of the Comitia Censoria - unless either the Senate or the Comitia Curiata refuses to back its decision - and any of his actions can be blocked by a majority in both the Senate and the Concilium Tribunum. Furthermore, various magisters can overrule the decisions of an emperor within their respective jurisdictions, on the basis that, in their expertise, the action is deemed unwise.
Unlike before the civil war, most magistrates cannot be dismissed by an emperor. Censors and tribunes have always been immune to dismissal but now the list of independent magistrates includes magisters, praetors, and the leaders of client nations. An emperor is still within his rights to dismiss provincial governors, prefects, and military officers. With this power, an emperor commands great authority within the provinces and his word is almost always followed to the letter by citizens below the rank of magistrate.
In the complicated system that is Roman politics, an emperor must be careful to avoid losing face before the Senate or the common people of Rome. Otherwise, his auctoritas may be called into question and his role as a ideological leader for the Republic, one that brings unity to the conflicting ambitions and desires of hundreds of senators, becomes untenable. Although as pater patriae - the great patron of the people - an emperor can almost always rely on popular support, his auctoritas in the Senate is undermined when senators believe that following his political stances is less palatable than suffering the ire of the commoners and clergy. This type of event requires either tremendous ideological unity among senators against him or undeniable incompetence in his decisions. In either case, his services are no longer to the benefit of the Republic and his lawful deposition is warranted, in an analogous, secular way to the Chinese Mandate of Heaven.
Maintaining this role of concorditor (keeper of the peace), the princeps has a number of powers besides dismissing magistrates:
- summoning senators to the Senate for a discussion or vote.
- arranging for the Comitia Curiata to assemble for a vote.
- presiding over assemblies of the Senate (among several magistrates that have this power).
- requesting funds from the Treasury, without question, to a maximum of 5% of state revenues.
- beginning the process of acquiring citizenship for any foreigner or group of foreigners.
- circumventing the lottery of provinces to appoint a praetor as the next governor of any province.
- intervening in the passing of legislation by the Senate or Comitia Curiata, unless the tribunes disapprove by majority.
Aside from these political actions, the princeps can act in his capacity as pontifex maximus (Supreme Pontiff or Pope) to form the policies of the Christian Church. In order to control ecclesiastical policy, the emperor may issue epistulae canonae (papal charters) to the bishops, either to provide practical advice for responding to contemporary events or spiritual advice for answering theological questions. Furthermore, the princeps may appoint episcopes (bishops), as opposed to the usual process of election by the clergy. As Patriarch of Latium - spiritual leader of the Latin liturgy - he ultimately settles decisions on how to worship in some churches, decisions that tend to be imitated by the other four Patriarchs of the Church in managing their respective liturgies.
At this time, the princeps has become a unifying force for the Republic, encouraging the Senate to find agreement on issues that would otherwise split the assembly along partisan lines. The reigning emperor is powerful enough not to require allegiance to any partisan groups of senators to remain in power but not powerful enough to abuse the Senate as a political tool. For this reason, the public regards the emperor as a symbol of concordia and for his military role, they regard him as a symbol of pax - the two principle virtues that Romans praise about their Republic.
Peace and harmony within the Roman Republic would be impossible without the presence of a professional army of volunteers. Since the dominion of Rome can only be guaranteed using militaristic power, the priority of the Senate is to fund its armed forces and motivate some of the citizenry to enter military service for a large portion of their lives. At any given time, nearly a million men are milites (soldiers) within the Legion (professional army), Auxilia Limitana (border guard), or Classis Romanis (Roman Fleet). The core branch of these forces consists primarily of the elite horsemen known as legionaries.
As the foundation of its army, legionaries are the best trained and best equipped soldiers of the Republic. Although once heavy infantry, the legionary has been refitted as a heavy cavalry unit in the wake of the war with Islamic Persia. A single legionary is covered from head-to-toe in crucible steel plate armor - weighing around 27 kg - with a removable visor across the face. Plates are ridged to more easily deflect arrows and the shoulders are covered by segmented plates in a long tradition of legion armor. On joints, legionary armor employs lames, i.e. riveted strips of plate that form a large section of the armor. Coverage is sufficiently extensive that harming a legionary requires penetration of steel plate, excepting a lucky strike through the circular visor grating.
Every legionary rides his own war horse in combat. These chargers come from an equine stock that has been bred for battle over nearly a millennium, making them leaner and more muscular than any other breed but still smaller than draft horses. Since these horses are almost entirely covered in solid and lamellar plate, there is no significance to the coat colors of different war horses, although selection of mounts is prioritized by rank and Romans have a tendency to favor black coats on horses. In desert regions, legionaries are mounted on camels, building on a millennium of experience in desert warfare.
Since heavy cavalry is not suitable for many battlefields, legionaries are trained for both mounted and dismounted combat, in effect making the Legion the most versatile force in human history - able to alternate the entire backbone of its army between foot and cavalry to match presented conditions. Military academies place heavy emphasis on an understanding of terrain and on finding the appropriate tactics based on circumstances such as environment and the types of soldiers fielded by an enemy, making the legion commanders adept at configuring their versatile resources for each battle.
Adding to their versatility, legionaries each carry a repeating crossbow, known as a polytrahos, that is used to engage enemies from a distance, replacing earlier uses of the pilum (spear). They are instructed not to carry this weapon away from their mounts as its presence hinders movement on foot, despite its small size and weight. As a ranged weapon, the handheld polytrahos is on the low end of the scale for penetration and distance but outclasses other bows with its high rate of fire. With this light crossbow, the common soldier has access in combat to even more roles than those of cavalry and infantry.
The diverse array of functions of the legionary would be impossible without the five years of training that each volunteer receives before he is assigned to a legion. Tirones (legionary trainees) are subject to a grueling regime that builds physical strength, forces unflinching discipline, and practices skills such as riding, digging, woodworking, brickworking, and melee combat. Once a trainee is accepted as a munifex (green recruit) in a legion he goes through five years of military service before he is eligible for specialized training in a certain field of military logistics or operations. When the specialists in his chosen field recognize his skills, usually after a minimum of four more years, the legionary is granted the rank of immunis (specialist) in his field.
An immunis is not a commanding officer (CO) of the other soldiers but receives certain benefits as befit more experienced soldiers. Outside of combat, the immunes are exempt from the more arduous tasks involved in setting up camp - both as a reward for years of service and as a practical measure to allow them time to attend to their more specialized duties. Options for specialization within the Legion include: artillery maintenance, medical staff assistance, military architecture, resource management, and cartography. Furthermore, immunes tend to get selected over untrained legionaries for promotions to CO.
The basic squad for legionaries is the camp (conturnia). When an army of legionaries makes camp, legionaries sleep in tents with the same ten brothers-in-arms - the most senior of whom directs his fellows in setting and dismantling the camp. The lowest officer rank in the Legion is the commander of a centuria (century) of 80 legionaries - the famous centurion. Most centuriones come from promoted legionaries, in sharp contrast to the majority of higher rank officers. With the occasional exception, the highest rank that a citizen can achieve without going to the war academy is primus pilus - the principle centurion of his cohort.
A signiferius commands a cohort of six centuries, each distinguished by a different color displayed by their centurions. On the field, officers of this rank are distinguished by bearing the vexillum (cloth standard) of their respective cohorts while the highest ranking signiferius of a legion carries its aquillum (golden eagle standard). Operating away from direct combat, the dux (general) of each legion relays orders to the six cohortes under his command, both inside and outside of combat situations. In this hierarchy, the chain of command within a single legion operates as follows during battle:
dux ==(1)==> aquiferius ==(5)==> signiferii ==(6)==> centuriones ==(80)==> legionarii
Above the rank of general is the legatus (commander) of the armed forces within a specific client nation. For this reason, there are as many legati as there are foederatae. Although in principle the same rank, each legatus has a command limited to his designated region and therefore, his actual authority varies with the number of legions stationed within his domain. On the lower end, the legatus of Italy only commands the trainees at the Castella Martiana, where effectively all legionaries are trained. Conversely, the commander of Roman forces in Arabia tends to hold sway over as many as eight legions. In less militarized nations, the duties of the legatus are to communicate the need for naval forces and to supervise the municipal militia in his cities.
Only two ranks of equal military imperium stand above legates. In Rome, the Caesar himself possesses unique authority over the praetorian guard and token authority over all soldiers and their COs. However, the authority of an emperor over the Legion is only valid during peacetime and can be superseded by orders from the Generalissimus Legatus (most general legion commander). An officer elected by the people every year, the Generalissimus ranks as the supreme commander of all the armed forces for the Roman Republic and is regarded during his tenure as the source of national military strategy. In this capacity, the only orders that he must take from the Caesar concern the political goals that the military accomplishes through force.
Although legionaries satisfy the roles of cavalry, infantry, and light ranged support, the Legion would not be nearly as effective as it has been without full ranged support to supplement its core troops. For this reason, the artillery corps is directly integrated into the Legion and plays a large role in most field operations. There are two types of unit in artillery: ballistarii (artillery observers or simply artillerymen), who provide technical support and help aim the larger weapons, and libratores (gunners), who operate the field artillery and perform the necessary manual work. Officers (centuriones ballistarum) are trained at the same war academy as regular officers and are equal in rank to signiferius whereas regular ballistarii are trained in schools across the empire, receiving an education in mathematics and military strategy to inform their directive role in combat. Artillery officers answer to the general of the legion to which they are assigned but are expected to coordinate with the regular aquiferius in the absence of existing orders.
A core component of the artillery corps are the doctores ballistarum (military engineers). These experts possess years of training at the Technaeum and must be knowledgeable about both the mechanics of all military machines and the kinematics of operating ranged weaponry, ideally from a firm understanding of advanced mathematics and from personal experience. All units in the corps depend on the engineers to maintain equipment outside of combat and oversee the planning of maneuvers based on considerations of the range and power of each piece of equipment. This technical oversight that has gone into Legion operations over the centuries has contributed immensely to the effectiveness of the Roman military.
The most common unit in the artillery corps is the scorpiator (arbalist). His sole weapon, aside from a polytrahos sidearm, is the famous manuballista, a heavy crossbow that is accurate enough to reliably strike a person up to a range of ~600 meters. Although this weapon can, as the name suggests, be wielded in the hands of the operator, it is most effective when laid out using a stand. No expense is spared in the assembly of the manuballista, where its effectiveness is concerned - same as any legion equipment. Legion manuballistae are among the highest quality crossbows in the known world - both in design and construction.
Every ballistarius must understand how to use and maintain his machinery but arbalists are mere libratores and depend on others to assist them in maintaining their equipment (although most possess some knowledge from experience). The most skilled and closest in knowledge to the military engineers are the support artillerymen (also ballistarii), who serve as technicians for the engineers and construct the larger artillery pieces that can only be built onsite during the preparation for a siege. A third type of artilleryman is the operator of the medium-sized artillery piece - the mobile artillery cart fitted with a polytrahos about a meter and a half long. Where the handheld polytrahos has a magazine of 12 bolts and releases one bolt every ~1.5 seconds, the artillery piece can hold 40 bolts simultaneously and, in strong hands, can be unloaded in less than a minute. Bolts for this heavier artillery piece are large enough and fired with sufficient force to knock a man off his feet, unless the force of impact is distributed by impalement. Operators for these pieces are also libratores but batteries of these machines must be supervised by several ballistarii.
A fourth type of artilleryman is the operator of the heaviest field artillery piece - the plumballista. At several meters in length, each plumballista must be handled by several libratores and when fired, can destroy stone walls and thick wooden gates. Ammunition for this piece is a ~64 kg lead shell which is fronted with a steel tip. The aerodynamic design of the shell increases the range over which a shot is effective, up to a distance of several hundred meters at full tension. Although the plumballista sees most of its use on ships and is often replaced by other large siege engines, it is a staple artillery piece for the Legion.
A more effective application of the plumballista is in the testuda (armored mobile artillery piece). Driven by five libratores, a testuda is a roughly conical vehicle protected by over an inch of crucible steel and equipped with two medium-sized polytrahoi for tasks that cannot be resolved with slow firing, heavy artillery. Since four laborers are needed to move a testuda, the vehicle is forced to be stationary when using any of its three weapons. The armor of a testuda cannot be pierced using handheld weapons but the vehicle can be held in place by about a dozen men, rendering it almost useless once surrounded. Outside of combat, every testuda that accompanies an army is pulled by horses, giving its pilots a rest and preventing unnecessary wear on the machinery, which is durable but still sensitive to extreme overuse.
Unlike in other armies, artillery is an integral component of the Legion. There are nearly a third as many libratores as legionarii and a regular complement of them accompanies every legion. There are 1000 scorpiatores, 600 gunners for polytrahoi, 400 artillery technicians, and an assortment of 140 other artillerymen allocated to every legion. Most legions also field a few hundred gunners for plumballistae and several testudae but their numbers are not as strictly regulated as other artillery pieces.
Protecting the important citizens and cities is an elite military corps known as the Praesidium Praetorianum (Praetorian Guard), composed of legionaries selected by generals or magistrates for special service. In this way, praetorians are on average more skilled than legionaries and, due to their prominence, are better equipped. Their tasks have an importance that matches their effectiveness: protecting magistrates, policing the Pomerium, and spearheading vital military operations.
Praetorians are organized into cohortes of 500 guardsmen, each commanded by a centurionis praetorianus (praetorian officer). The 30 officers in the Praetorian Guard report directly to the emperor, unless they are stationed away from him. When away from the emperor, a praetorian officer must follow the orders of the legate or general to whom he is assigned by the emperor. In this way, the chain of command for praetorians is integrated into that of legionaries. Since praetorian officers report to the emperor, there is no one man, besides the emperor, with total authority over the security forces in the capital, mitigating the chances of a military coup against the emperor. This safeguard has been in place since the 3rd century.
With a population of around 344 million people, the Roman Republic is the most populous state in human history, surpassing the current population of Xián China by nearly 200 million. Two-thirds of people living in the Old World are under Roman rule but only around 70% of that fraction are Roman citizens.
In the eyes of the Senate, every citizen of the Republic is a Roman. Most Romans live an agrarian lifestyle on farms or in small towns, only participating in politics every couple of years. The ~30% of citizens who live urban lifestyles more than compensate for the political inactivity of the rest, some going to the saeptae (voting stalls) several times per month. Rural citizens support their compatriots in the cities through more than food and raw materials; without rural immigration, the population of most cities would be stagnant, or even in decline, due to their tendency for higher mortality rates and lower birth rates.
Although men live shorter and sometimes more brutal lives than women, the ratio of genders in the Republic favors men, in sharp contrast to most contemporary nations. Despite women living longer natural lives than men, the data is skewed by the frequency of death during childbirth, hovering somewhere around one maternal death for every 2000 births. Other nations are known to have much higher maternal death rates but constant warfare seems to favor the number of women over men, whereas the number of Roman citizens who die in battle has been low since the civil war. However, people living in cities fight their own "war" of a sort, as the rates of murder in cities are orders of magnitude worse than in rural communities.
There are seven recognized ethnicities within Roman society. Numbers for each group are unknown since the Census does not acknowledge distinctions on the grounds of race but certain trends are evident from a glance at different regions.
Most citizens are regarded as Hellenae (Hellenes). After centuries of intermingling, the distinctions between Hispanians, Egyptians, Greeks, Italians, and Syrians have blurred and this increasing homogeneity has not gone unnoticed. Distinguishing features of Hellenes include an olive skin tone, darker hair, and a typically Graeco-Roman facial appearance. Due to their prevalence in the Mediterranean and Red Seas, Hellenes are the racial stereotype recognized by most foreigners as Roman.
Further inland in Europe, the stereotypical ethnic groups are Germanae (Germans), Britannici (Britons), and Gallianae (Gallians). In contrast to Hellenes, people regarded as of these types have lighter skin tones, lighter hair color - usually blonde or red for the Britons and Germans - and typically Celtic or Germanic features. Although the Ancient Celts are completely assimilated into Roman society, there has been constant contact with Germanic peoples in the East and Scandinavians in the North, an influence that has long altered the racial identities and appearances of citizens. On the easternmost fringes of Europe, the people are taller and darker skinned than in either formerly Celtic or Germanic lands. These Dacianae (Dacians) are known for their striking appearance - a combination of blonde hair, astonishing height, and a mixture of Roman and Scythian facial features.
In Africa, the inland provinces are known for a diversity of ethnic groups but the most common heritage professed in that region is Aethiopiani (Ethiopians), due to the former prominence of the Kingdom of Aksum. Further north, a number of people identify as Nubianus (Nubian) but the Nubian culture has been almost entirely assimilated by Roman Egypt. In the West, the northerners tend to identify as Mauri (Berbers) while the southerners, near the West African rainforests, are considered Ganaiani (Ghanaians) and strongly identify with their distinct culture heritage as only a few decades have passed since their nation joined the Republic.
Rome is the principal destination for migrants from the Germanic kingdoms, Scandinavia, and Southern Africa, although numbers for these newcomers are difficult to track through the Census. The only well-documented migration trend is the mass emigration of Arabs from Roman Arabia, due to the harsh treatment of Islamic law and customs. Although the Senate has not mistreated any Arabs of other faiths, it has deemed Islam a threat to Rome itself and has committed itself to a policy of suppression.
A distinct feature of Roman culture, due to its extensive medical community, is the importance of hygiene, since doctors have long advised that one of the indirect causes of disease is the settling of miasma (pollution) on the body from filth or dead flesh - unbalancing the bodily humors. Most citizens bathe regularly in local thermae (public baths) or using private supplies of water. Due to regulated cleansing, bath houses tend to have clean facilities and tools, preventing the miasmatic infection of their clients. Similarly, hospitals disinfect all of their instruments between operations using concentrated vinegar, a substance that is also used in the dressing of wounds and in the washing of hands between appointments or procedures (as well as in the cleansing of bath houses). The behavior that these attitudes produce has led the Germanics and Persians to look at Romans queerly for their typical aversion to dirtiness.
Alone among nations, the Republic offers a degree of free medical care to its citizens. Every galenaria (public hospital) charges patients for physical examinations, medicines, and haircuts (with one free examination per lustrum) but is obliged by law to perform surgery, obstetrics, dentistry, and optometry without charge. Furthermore, the severely sick are admitted for free at hospitals for quarantine (separatura). There are entire wings in all major city hospitals designated for this purpose, often adjacent to the cleansing rooms on the premises (where the quarantined sick are forced to bathe almost daily).
For medical care, Roman physicians have access to a range of medicines, therapies, and procedures. Although opium is the most common anesthetic, hospitals extensively prescribe the leaves of the cannabis plant for their anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, analgesic, diuretic, antipyretic, and antiepileptic effects. Both the poppy and the cannabis plants are grown in vast quantities to supply hospitals throughout the Roman world, inspiring an agricultural industry comparable to the harvest of flax or sugar. In recent centuries, Romans have also expressed a high demand for Chinese remedies, importing them at often ridiculous expense.
Surgeon (chirurgius) and doctor (medicus) are highly respected professions in the Republic. Academies at large hospitals across the Roman world train physicians for these two rolls but no school is more famous than the Aesculapion in Pergamum, Phrygia. This massive institution sits on the site of the ancient aesculapium (healing center) at the foot of the acropolis and is a place of learning for both surgeons and doctors (unlike the similarly famous Academia Galena in Alexandria, Aegyptus for doctors and Academia Corinthiana in Achaia for surgeons). Like other institutions of higher learning, these academies are funded by the governing councils of their cities but much of their revenues come from charging fees to students.
Despite its cost, universal health care has alleviated the suffering of millions of citizens, made dozens of chronic diseases more manageable, and protected thousands of cities from potentially disastrous epidemics over the centuries. It is safe to say that Rome owes its unparalleled population size as much to its health systems as to its sophisticated agriculture.
The language of commerce and governance in the Roman Empire is the lingua Latina. Latin is spoken and understood by more than a majority of the populace but only indirect efforts have been made to spread the language to the diverse subjects of Rome. Not even citizens are required to know Latin, although any official documentation for a citizen (census info, wills, birth certificates, etc.) must be written in Latin. The historical spread of Latin has been driven by its value to its speakers - namely, by its utility for trade, politics, literature, and law. All written laws are inscribed somewhere in Latin and most available records of laws are only available in Latin. Similarly, correspondence between the Senate and city councils is universally in Latin. In many ways, Latin is the language of power for the Republic and citizens aspire to pass it to their children to ensure them greater opportunities.
Nevertheless, Romans often speak of "[their] two languages" and a similar reverence is afforded to the lingua Graeca. Fluency in Greek is practically a prerequisite for academics and the nobility, and is a source of great pride for nearly half of the Roman world. Although the days when Greek was the language of philosophy and science are gone, most philosophical works continue to be copied into Greek, partially for the desire of many Romans to own important books in this more prestigious language. Scholars tend to write their original work in Latin while the more popular texts are written in Greek for this reason.
Other languages remain common throughout the empire. In the 5th century, the theologian Augustine of Hippo had advised the Church to use specific languages in specific regions and the continuation of this practice has had some effect in keeping knowledge of these languages (Punic, Syriac, Aramaic, Gallic, and Coptic) relevant. In fact, the present form of these languages is heavily influenced by the specific dialects originally adopted for Christian sermons and texts - indirectly affecting the choice of dialect for regional literature over the last eight centuries. With that said, these languages have remained prevalent in their own rights as people continued to use them in their daily lives.
In this environment, bilingualism is the standard for the majority of people in the Republic. For most people, this linguistic ability takes the form of knowing Latin and the local language. In this way, trilingualism is common for the literate elite of Roman society and no one would be distinguished as a linguist without knowing anything less than five languages.
Citizens living in villages or on farms - that is the majority of the population - receive no institutionalized education, learning instead from family or community mentors. Children in municipia or cities have access to ludi litterarii (primary or elementary schools) that are regulated by the Societas Latinae (Latin Institute) in their lessons on reading and writing in Latin. Although basic Latin is the core material in elementary school, students are also taught Greek, basic arithmetic, and basic geometry at these institutions. Arts are incorporated through poetry and music (an addition to the curriculum from the rebirth of Greek culture in the 5th century CE). A ludus litterarius may have as few as one litterator (elementary school teacher), simultaneously teaching students across a range of ages. Most lessons are not in the form of lectures so this type of learning situation is at least compatible with the teaching style. Although primary schools are available to everyone, they charge a fee that excludes the poorest of people in cities.
Primary school usually ends for children around the age of nine. Some children go from primary school into an apprenticeship for a particular craft but the ones who come from wealth usually enter a ludus grammaticus (secondary school). A grammaticus (school teacher) instructs students in the reading and analysis of poetry and other forms of literature. Usually, philosophical works are included among their selections of literary texts, depending on the preferences of the grammaticus. There are no regulations for grammatici but the restrictions on elementary schools have ensured that secondary schools also stick to spelling, grammar, and pronunciation that meets the approval of the Latin Institute.
Both stages of Roman education follow a similar format. Most classes are held in privately-owned buildings known as inducetoria. These schoolhouses have spaces that get rented out to teachers on a schedule. Primary school teachers are also known to use public spaces such as gardens and fora for their classes. Another similarity is in their methods of assessment. Most evaluations of student performance are on-the-spot, often on an individual basis - singling a student out for questions or demonstrations. All exercises are done in the moment, usually without allowing students to prepare, and assessment comes in the form of feedback (namely, criticism for mistakes and praise for being correct). Both educational environments are highly competitive among students, creating a large gap between high performers and the slower students.
Beyond the grammatical level, an adult may pursue an education in a number of specializations. Medical schools are popular and profitable options for wealthy families, preparing students for a career as a physician, perhaps with an eye to joining the Senate. Similarly, a person may join the Academia Bellica in Carthage to become an officer in the army or navy, on the road to politics. Outside of a military or medical career, a wealthy young adult may pursue a philosophical education at a specialized academy or at a musaeum (university). The latter are publicly-funded academic institutions whose members are paid to instruct new students in certain areas of knowledge and to investigate the unknown as part of a nationwide community of scholars.
A distinguishing feature of academic institutions in the Republic is the close communication between facilities in different places, in the desire of scholars to build on the knowledge of their peers throughout the Roman world. For this purpose, both medicine and philosophy are fields that employ their own universal technical vocabularies to facilitate discussion and the sharing of ideas, avoiding the esoteric language of astrologers and mystics.
Rome and the Universal Church (Ecclesia Catholica) are closely connected institutions. Christianity has been a dominant source for the beliefs of most Romans since the 6th century, after becoming the state religion in the 4th century. There was a mixing of Roman and Christian values over the course of centuries, where each influenced the values and tenets of the other until the two social institutions became almost synonymous. The mos maiorum (way of the ancestors) was gradually dismissed in favor of the doctrines of Christianity, whose customs the Roman elite has come to refer to as the mos divini (way of the divine), but its notions remain as certain values (e.g. gravitas, virtus) and in the role of the mos divini in complex social relationships (e.g. clientela).
Since the Church and Rome are intertwined, loyalty to Christian doctrines is strongly associated with loyalty to the emperor and with loyalty to Roman law. Citizens that do not agree with the Church are not persecuted or formally ostracized but they are seen as more untrustworthy and as less responsible citizens.
Roman Law is a sophisticated system of written (jus scriptum) and unwritten (jus non scriptum) laws upheld at various civil levels. At its foundation is the legislative authority of the people. Most laws are not enacted with the direct consent of citizens but any that are not passed by them are still promulgated by a magistrate or an assembly that they have elected. In this way, the Roman Republic operates on principles of democratia (power of the people), despite the concentration of power in certain individuals.
On the whole, law in the Republic is outlined by a fundamental distinction between jus publicum (public law) and jus privatum (private law) that roughly corresponds with laws promulgated by popular assemblies and laws promulgated by magistrates. From the point of view of their application, their differences are more complex but can be summarized in short order. By contrast with law in the Germanic kingdoms, Roman law does not distinguish between crimes and civil wrongs but rather distinguishes offenses into roughly 20 categories based on the form of the offense. All wrongs are brought under the term delictum (crime or offense).
There are two general types of public law: constitutional laws, that regulate the duties of magistrates and the structure of the various levels of the government, and that establish broad restrictions on private law; and the public criminal code, that outlaws certain actions as crimes against the public even though they are beyond the purview of crimes against individuals. There are few de jure delicta publica but any regular crime that happens in the Pomerium and that either involves magistrates or gets pleaded to the level of praetor is seen by the courts in Rome as a de facto delictum publicum - i.e. must be handled by a praetor curulis.
From the perspective of legislators, de jure delictum publicum refers primarily to treason and sacrilege, crimes that only a public prosecutor could bring to court. This definition has evolved from the ancient conflation of criminal and tort law that was partially dissolved with the reorganization of the praetorship by Caesar Agricola and disappeared entirely under the Codex Ulpianus. Now delicta publica has the above two meanings: one from a legislative perspective and one from a judicial perspective, but the latter is inclusive of the former and matches the colloquial sense of a crime against the public.
The most important of the public laws are the constitutional laws of the Roman Republic. Codified originally in the 6th century, the laws that define the duties and powers of the different branches of the Roman government have evolved over time to meet the changing ideals of political theory and the desires of the Senate and People of Rome. Since constitutional law was put in the hands of the popular assemblies, senators and emperors have had limited power to shape the state to their whims.
There are two categories of private law that are similarly distinguished by their legislative sources: jus praetorium (praetorian law) or magistratuum edicta means unwritten laws enforced in a jurisdiction by its praetor and jus populum (republican law) means laws enforced throughout the Republic and passed by the Senate or a popular assembly. Within the Pomerium, edicts are passed by the twenty praetores curules - as in the provinces, these edicts are only precedents for judgements and unlike in the provinces, each praetor may only establish rules within a specific domain of the law. Praetorian law is only binding during the term of the magistrate that proposed the rules but successive praetors often uphold the edicts of their predecessors. The point of separating these two forms of private law is for the praetors to establish rules within the confines of republican law in order to account for the contingencies of the changing times and of the local circumstances (essentially, modifications of republican law).
Private law encompasses a substantial portion of the present criminal code - including the majority of cases involving assault, theft, and other actions that endanger the health, safety, or property of a person. Only offenses against God or the state are taken outside the context of private law, as matters to be handled by public prosecutors. Another section of private law is tort law which accounts for civil wrongs - offenses that are not criminal but still harm the victim. These are the subject of litigation and are the most common type of offense brought before Roman courts. In general, no distinction is made in the laws themselves between tort and criminal law, except for crimes against the public, as both are seen as rules that regulate the compensation of the victims for wrongs inflicted and the punishment of the perpetrators. Since all offenses are categorized by the assigned jurisdictions of the praetores curules, the specific distinction between lawsuits and criminal cases only arises in more colloquial contexts and breaches of civil duty are regarded on a similar level as offenses such as theft or assault - each being a violation of civil law.
Division of Law
The division of offenses into distinct domains is most visible in the assignment of jurisdictions to the praetores curules. Since there is no distinction in Roman law between civil wrongs and criminal wrongs, the work of that separation is handled by a more thorough division of private wrongs that may be best summarized by enumerating some of the chief justices in the Pomerium:
- Princeps Judex - presides over legal cases for breaches of contract (as in business, marriage, and other agreements).
- Praetor Repetundum - presides over cases for extortion.
- Praetor Peculatum - presides over cases for embezzlement.
- Praetor Fideicommissum - presides over cases for breaches of trust (as in trusteeship and trust-based inheritance).
- Praetor Tutelum - presides over cases for breaches of duties toward dependents (e.g. duties of care).
- Praetor Caedium - presides over cases for assault and murder.
- Praetor Furtuum - presides over cases for theft and other violations of property rights (jus commercium).
- Praetor Obaeratum - presides over cases for debt.
- Praetor Falsum - presides over cases for perjury and other misconduct in court.
- Praetor Familium - presides over cases for adultery, sodomy, and other sexual misconduct.
- Praetor Damnatium - presides over cases for defamation.
A private wrong is regarded as a public wrong when its magnitude is serious enough to warrant the attention of judicial magistrates rather than the judges that they had licensed. The courts of the praetores curules are public courts, in the sense of dealing with cases of delicta publica or public wrongs, but the offenses are regarded in themselves as governed by private law (for this reason, jurists conceived of the distinction between a de facto crime against the public and a de jure crime against the public).
Offenses that always demand the attention of a chief justice and that are governed by public law may be summarized by a similar enumeration of the other chief justices in the Pomerium:
- Praetor Majestum - presides over civilian cases for treason (majestas).
- Praetor Sacrilegium - presides over cases for heresy and other sacrilegious conduct.
- Praetor Militum - presides over military cases for treason, i.e. breaches of duty in the military.
- Praetor Fiscum - presides over administrative cases for treason, e.g. misconduct with Treasury finances.
- Praetor Ambitum - presides over cases for violation of electoral law.
Law of Nations
Whereas citizens are subject to a jus civile (civil law) promulgated by magistrates, popular assemblies, and the Senate itself, non-citizens are permitted a degree of self-government through their own laws. However, the autonomy afforded to communities to follow their own laws is limited by certain universal rules. Philosophers of law in Rome recognize a concept of jus naturale (natural law) that arises from the state of men in a social union with other men. As a precondition of social co-operation, certain rules must be obeyed, not only for the purposes of sustaining the union but for the consistency of the principles on which the union operates.
In recognition of these universal laws, the Roman Senate issued a statement in 1042 acknowledging the many principles of this Jus Gentium (Law of Nations). Although not strictly an act of legislation, this unique senatus consultum has served as the standard for the law of nations over the last century, governing the interactions of Rome with its neighbors and foederati. The codification of the law of nations stands as the most celebrated accomplishment of Roman jurists, with praise exceeding the codification of constitutional laws by Ulpius.