Sunday, March 02, 2008

Why we need a cursus honorum

The 2008 Election may well be a matter of experience. And ancient Rome had a way of ensuring the leaders who decided on war and took the troops off to it had requisite experience. The cursus honorum provided that no man could run for consul without having first been praetor [and that no younger than age 39]. The brilliant C. Julius Caesar Strabo [cousin of the father of the famous Julius Caesar] was stopped from running for consul for this very reason -- he had never been a praetor.
By that time a man won office as praetor, he had been in the Senate since age 30, before which he had done 2 years military service. And after serving as a praetor he had to wait two years to run for consul. So no man could run for consul before age 42 with few exceptions [P. Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus being one]. And the consuls were the ones to head the army. There were two consuls, alternating their presiding over the Senate every other month. The one with most votes was senior consul and presided over the Senate the first month, then the junior consul took over the next. Every year new consuls were elected. Each consul then had a dozen years experience in the Senate by the time they first ran for office.
Bloodline alone wasn't always good enough to ensure a win at the polls. Quintus Caecilius Metellus Scipio, born a Scipio and adopted by Metellus Pius, never won election -- he had to rely on his son-in-law, Pompey, elected as sole consul, to appoint him. And the brilliant new man Cicero, with no ancestry to speak of, won election to the office. As did Gaius Marius, from backwater northern Italy, win office 7 times.
The war powers tend to be the most important in government -- extending its control over the youth [who form the infantry], providing the basis for trading some liberties [such is the cost of freedom], and justifying its own purpose ["to provide for common defense"]. And they reside in the hands of the head of our Republic.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Test thy mettle...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lex Licinia Mucia...

Since my friend Kahunah and I were talking about our being the new Roman Republic, I wondered how we'd do with a look at the law Rome introduced on their own Latin immigration problem. Rome's Latin neighbors had over the years been granted certain rights, and were often drafted into the Roman armies -- they took a heavy casualty loss at Arausio in 106 B. C. Some even married Romans.

In 95 B. C., the consuls Quintus Mucius Scaevola [the Pontifex Maximus] and Lucius Licinius Crassus [the famous orator] introduced a law expelling the illegal immigrants who had connived to get their names onto the previous census done by Marcus Antonius and Lucius Valerius Flaccus. M. Antonius and L. Flaccus, as censors, had the task of counting all the citizens of Rome.
Antonius had a son by a non-Roman woman, and the son was named Gaius Antonius Hibrida [hybrid son of a citizen father and non-citizen mother], who was to be consul 63 B. C., colleague of Cicero and prosecuted by Caesar.

Special courts were also enacted by the consular law, presided over by ex-consuls who went out to the Italian cities to find who was and who was not illegially enrolled.

Eventually, the Italian allies went to war with Rome, and in the end, Lucius Julius Caesar, consul of 90 B. C. censor the next year [and cousin of a more famous Julius Caesar], carried a law granting citizenship to all Italians not having taken up arms against Rome -- to the consternation of conservatives who decried the amnesty being granted.


Friday, May 04, 2007

why Cicero should be required reading

"The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary's case with as great, if not still greater, intensity than even his own. What [Marcus Tullius] Cicero practiced as the means of forensic success requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truty. He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what the are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment."

-- John Stuart Mill, quoted in Morality and Moral Controversies, 7th edition, edited by John Arthur; Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tiberius Canardius Scriptor Magnus

Yes, soon I shall be able to add another title to my name: writer. The upcoming July 2007 issue of the New Orleans Genesis will carry an article of mine on the royal ancestry of Charles de St.-Etienne de la Tour, Governor of Acadia (d. 1666). Many Louisiana families descend from him, most famously the Mouton family so prominent in Lafayette. They include in their illustrious number the 9th governor of Louisiana, Alexandre Mouton (1804 - 1885).

I will be obtaining several extra copies .

Somewhere I think my father is smiling.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Trading a window for a door...

Today is the first birthday I've had without my father. Last night I had a dinner attended by two of my aunts, an uncle, my cousin, my sister, my sister's adoptive parents, and CK. We went to one restaurant that told us they could not fit a party as large as ours together, could not seat incomplete parties, and could not keep holding tables while the rest of our party arrived.

So, CK, observant of the smoldering wrath of my plans in ruins, called Copeland's and we went there. I gave my sister and my cousin copies of Redwood Delta, about the platoon my father served in while stationed in Vietnam. I gave my aunts copies of the report I wrote up on my father's royal line to Emperor Charles II the Bald.

Had my father been alive, I doubt I would have had the visits with my sister and her adoptive parents that I've had since last October. They 've taken me into their family by my being brother of their adoptive daughter.

Friday, March 16, 2007

One idea of Imperio

A quote from Sir Ronald Syme,

"The nobiles by their ambition and their feuds, had not merely destroyed their spurious republic: they had ruined the Roman People. There is something more important than political liberty; and political rights are a means, not an end in themselves. That end is security of life and property: it could not be guaranteed by the constitution of Republican Rome. Worn and broken by civil war and disorder, The Roman people was ready to surrender the ruinous privilege of freedom and submit to strict government as the beginning of time....So order came to Rome. "Acriora ex eo vincula", as Tacitus observes."

(The Roman Revolution, Oxford)