Masterfully Coherent Plan

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Masterfully Coherent Plan

Postby Q Valerius on Sun Sep 24, 2006 1:43 am

Salvete sodales optimi Societatis. If you have been wondering why it took so long to get this together, please consider both personal problems I’ve been having (long story, I might talk about it later) and the sheer magnitude of this proposal I set out for you. Without further ado, I present to you my “masterfully coherent plan”.

The roots of our society ultimately lie with the group Nova Roma. Therefore, it is vital to assess Nova Roma if we are to truly understand the nature and purpose of this society. I myself was never a part of Nova Roma, nor was I even a founding member here. However, I do understand that ultimately, Nova Roma was a place where people who felt Roman could come together to recreate our bountiful mother. SVR, on the other hand, left Nova Roma and cast off all pretensions of a “micronation”. The original regulae before our last reform read:

The Societas Via Romana is an international fellowship and community dedicated to the remembrance, re-enactment and, as far as applicable, re-creation, of the Roman heritage of Mankind, especially in its humanism, universalism, and dedication to freedom under the rational rule of law, as well as the Religio Romana, the Lingua Latina, the philosophy, literature, and virtues of Rome, and other aspects of the multicultural Roman civilization maintaining validity and worth to the present era.

While this is no longer valid and has been supplanted by a different purpose, it is difficult to find meaning without keeping something of our old heritage. Ultimately, is there anything really wrong with the above passage? Are we not, in some way, still doing this? This, on the other hand, is our current purpose, according to the most recent regulae:

The Societas Via Romana (Roman Way Society) is an international fellowship and Internet community of people sharing a common interest in all aspects of ancient Rome and the heritage that it brought forth for Western Civilization. The Societas therefore acts as an educational organization among its members to discuss and learn together about the various aspects of ancient Rome, its cultures, languages, history, religions, arts, and sciences.

The differences are telling. While at first we were organized for recreating Romanitas, we have now become a mere forum for discussing Rome. All the virtues we instilled in our Society have now gone to the wayside. Only a slim thread is holding SVR from becoming ruins. Do we want to repeat, in a mere six years, what took Rome over a thousand to do?

One may ask, how we have gotten ourselves into this? The answer should be plain and obvious to any who seeks. We banished Rome from the Roman Way Society. We threw out the Senate, the council of elders who knew the Society better than anyone else. We got rid of our magistrates, and now rely on a system of moderators who differ not at all with ordinary fora. What’s the difference between SVR and, say, UNRV? Why, UNRV has more traffic! What about SVR and AMC? AMC, although about the same amount of traffic, perhaps a bit more, has a broader scope so a variety of people will find themselves there. What really does SVR have to offer? What really do our collegia do that other forums don’t? Other websites have an equally impressive, if not more, collection of essays. What makes SVR different? Well, as of now, nothing. But we have a chance.

What is necessary now is to return to our Roman heritage, and re-establish our dead Republic. We can bring life back to Rome! I have a plan to accomplish it, too. I implore you to let down the old guard while I deliver my plan. After all, change is always necessary, for an unchanging society is a stagnant society. It would pain me to see my beloved Society stagnant and dying, rather than its potential – full of life and conquering in the war.

My proposition for this sanct society is to return to Rome, to restore Romanitas, to once again become the sign of Rome, a mark for the world to see. I want to see a restoration of certain regulae reformed to better suit SVR. I don’t want a mere forum, I want the Republic.

Glorious Roma was not ruled by an oligarchy, but of elected officials from across the city to manage her affairs and protect her citizens. Roma cared for her people. She fed them during famine, she fostered trade, she protected her borders, she loved her citizens. Is it no wonder that the spirit of Roma was Amor?

We also need to do this. We need to protect SVR, foster discussion, feed our sodales. We need to first reorganize our hierarchical structure allowing for more movement. The way it stands, we’re so dreary save a month or two out of the year, with little discourse in the between. We need to engage our sodales, and we need to start from the top.

Crucial in identifying ourselves with Rome would be to adopt the old names, heavily reformed, of course. In a way, Rome was set up like a successful business, and we can learn a lot from that. Does SVR have a human resources department? Where do people go to file a complaint? Surely we should learn from Old Athens that using the entire populace for legislation is impractical. Instead, we need our old ways back – for problems with management, we need someone whom people can go to. And while we’re replicating Rome, why not call them tribunes? As for forum moderation, why not use aediles? For supervisors, wouldn’t praetor be a nicer name? How about administration? I could not have said it any better than Rome did – two consuls each with veto power over the other. And what about our treasury? (Oh yes, we will need a treasury, and you’ll see why soon enough. And no, it will not be for collecting “taxes”, the gods forbid such a thing!) Well, treasurers in Rome were called quaestors. That works, no? And of course, we’ll still need a committee to process applications. After all, why bother daily administration with a task that can be solved more efficiently with someone dedicated to it? And of course, censors are a perfect adaptation from Rome.

Ecce, sodales! In a mere paragraph, we have re-established a major part of our Roman cultural heritage, with just a slight change in what we do now. But it certainly feels more Roman than our current terminology. In fact, our current hierarchy was never Roman. Looking Roman is just as important as acting or thinking Roman. It’s a face, and people identify with faces.

After this, we need to restore our Senate. While we still have the Curia working, it is no Senate. The Senate was not the current collection of magistrates, but the collection of the senior elite. It was a place where the elders could congregate for legal issues and other matters.

In Roman times, it wasn’t a perfect institution, but it was indeed needed. In fact, it was probably the decline of the importance of the Senate that led to the downfall of the Republic. Likewise, what aspirations do members of SVR have without a Senate? We all can name some things, but certainly a distinguishing seat in the Senate is always proper. Besides, we need a council of elders. Going back to the business metaphor, merely electing officers isn’t that well off without a board of directors. And who better to choose for the board, the Senate, then outstanding and long-lasting members?

While the current administration, residing in the extremely exclusive Curia, has done a well-enough job for an interregnal period, it by nature is unable to do what is necessary to bring back life to the Societas.

The Senate should have the capability to not only guide the Societas, but in certain cases make the decisions as well. There’s so much work that goes into maintaining an active Society that calling upon the Comitia to make every little decision, not that we actually practice that now, even though it still is the effect, that it is nigh impossible to get things in working order. However, a board of seniors, the Senate, can more efficiently decide on certain minor but necessary decisions, such as caretaking of the site or bestowing awards on outstanding achievement, such as awarding patrician status to deserving members, or even in a time of crises when a suitable dictator would need to be called up to restore order.

Can we really trust to call upon all the members of the Society to make an efficient decision to that effect? We can hardly make voting quorum, let alone decide on what’s best for the forum. No, amici, some things need a smaller group to decide. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the sodales who aren’t senators. Not at all! There should be a recourse for them to follow for complaints and advice, but as far as overall voting, I say let’s make this the easiest possible.

What I am now about to propose will be more radical than aforementioned. Once, it would not have been so queer, but we’ve changed as a Society, and this change has been choking us since. I envision a new direction, rather, a revived direction for the Societas. Once, we were a Roman organization, and now we are what? Well, I propose we return to being Roman. Apart from the Senate, these ought to be brought to the Societas.

We first need to establish a Castrum. All Roman citizens who owned land fought in the military when needed to. All Roman citizens trained from youth to be capable of fighting militarily. Times have changed, indeed, but certain underlying premises have not. Ranking ourselves already we use military ranks. Why not take it a step further and formalize it? Military rank should not be only post count, but quality posts and other achievements apart from the forum itself. This allows us better judgement in deciding who is Senate material and who is not. It allows us to make better judgements in voting for magistrates. This allows us to recognize the great among us and reward it accordingly.

The Castra would be where this military organization is settled. Now, certainly we do not do any real fighting, for such a thing belongs in days gone by. We are not a nation of any kind, so thus we can wage no war. However, the military being so crucial to Rome, it is certainly a remnant that we should preserve.

What purpose, some of you may ask, does the Castrum serve? Quite simply put, the most important function, besides determining rank, would be to be our official representative institution for establishing diplomacy. The entire Senate would have gone through it, so it of course is intimately tied to the great institution itself. Having the heads of the army, the consuls, their legates, and the highest officers, all of which have already proven themselves worthy, as diplomats represent Rome at its finest.

But alas, it also stands as a symbol, a symbol for hope of glory, a symbol of power for the purpose of peace and enlightenment. How can one not hope for such?

Finally, concerning the Society’s structure, I also propose to add a new college – the Circus Maximus. It will be where we can hold forum Games, including RP threads. It could also be a place for stunts and other entertainment. However, I did promise to bring Romanitas, did I not?, the Circus Maximus will be the venue for real games. That’s right – you heard it correctly – REAL LIFE GAMES. Ludi Viventium.

One of the appeals of Nova Roma and the SCA is the indulgence in fantasy. However, why stop with fantasy? Sure, if that’s for you, we can accommodate, but I, and I know several others here as well, want something more to life than merely a fantasy. I want a Roman life. I want to meet fellow Romans, speak to them in Latin, actually learn Roman combat, and, in my case especially, become fluent in Roman thinking educationally. I want to speak Greek to my children, I want to tell them about the other Valerii, a long and noble family, I want them to understand true rhetoric. I want to be Roman.

There are ways of doing this magnificently, and there are ways of butchering this. Of course, I caution against going the way of the Other Place, no nation! However, I have the heart and the voluntas for keeping Rome inside of me despite modernity. It can work, and SVR has the capability for being the conductor. Roma per Societatem, Societas pro Roma. Bringing Games to the SVR, and setting goals to work for Ludi Viventium is a goal that is not only able to be accomplished, but with work, can be done well and right.

Firmly founding our return to Romanitas, we furthermore should supplement it with necessary amendments. Already we begun by revising the names, but apart from that, there is so much we could do for the Societas.

One I am fond of, both in foro et in vita, is the patron system. Patrons would be, if it is the will of the sodales, exemplary members of the Society, most likely patricians, but certainly all Senators. Patrons would be tied to the gens, as well.

Ah, that is something we had forgotten as well! The gens! The family! We also need to strengthen the tie that holds the gens together. This is all tied together. The nomina, the gentes, the familiae, the patroni. All are very useful in identifying the Societas and its members. Without it, what are we? Why even bother if it has no use? If we were to throw away all other “remnants” then why even retain as much a pseudonym? Non iam est nomen “pseudonym” sed nomen mihi.

The final piece of legislation I will propose will be to once again have Latin as our lingua officii. It was so in the original regulae, though never enforced. Of course, I see no reason why we couldn’t have translations also, but even if I have to do all the Latin myself, the lingua Romanorum will be dead soon. I can’t let that happen.

Amici, sodales, Romani, I have a vision for the Societas. I imagine greatness. I imagine Rome once again revived. Revived by whom? By her guardians, the Sodales of the Roman Way.
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Y digo yo...

Postby Aldus Marius on Sun Sep 24, 2006 6:58 am

Ex papilionem Aldi Mari Peregrini salutem plurimam dicit:

I am in complete accordance with the above sentiments, and with the spirit of the document that follows them. There are, of course, many details about which I have questions, comments, or alternate suggestions; but bear in mind that my differences with Magister Scerio on these matters are ones of degree, not of kind.

I want the same things he does. I want, and have always wanted, any Roman group I have been associated with to be, not just a discussion group, or even a political simulation...but a repository of the Heritage, a fount of scholarly and practical knowledge for those who would learn to live in the Roman way.

My own initial vision owed a lot to the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). That organization was founded for the purpose of reliving the Middle Ages, not so strictly the way they were, but the way they might have been. Thus there are varying degrees of fantasy and realism, roleplay and scholarship, politicking, battles, and apprenticeship going on; and much debate about the balance between these elements. But its members, one and all, no matter which facet most claims their attention, describe what they are doing as "playing at who we really are."

When I first made this statement to Nova Roma, I was shouted down by people whose togae got all tangled up in the word "play". I was accused of not being serious, of wanting to reduce the Rebirth of the Republic to an online fantasy game. They were not aware, evidently, of what a serious business play is to a developing, sentient being. It is how we try on different versions of ourselves, discover things, make mistakes without crashing the system or getting anybody genuinely angry. Play helps us determine what we will become, and lets us practice the skills to get there.

But my actual, hoped-for message, here as in NR, is contained within the words "...who we really are". We are Romans. We feel most like ourselves, most true to ourselves, when we are being Romans. We read Roman works, go Roman-ish places, do Roman things as inclination and scholarship permit. At the very least, we attend every Easter pageant and Gladiator screening in town--secretly to enjoy, of course; but mostly because we like poking fun at the historical blunders. <g>

And when we can gather together face-to-face, the very centuries fall away: we wear our real clothes, call each other by our real names, swing into the tempo of ancient life; and the rest of the world drives by and says..."What's with the sandals??"

That's what it is "to play at who we really are." It is not the same as "play-acting". It is touching base with the Heritage as often as we can. If we do not, something within us withers.

Hic Scerio:


The original regulae before our last reform read:

"The Societas Via Romana is an international fellowship and community dedicated to the remembrance, re-enactment and, as far as applicable, re-creation, of the Roman heritage of Mankind, especially in its humanism, universalism, and dedication to freedom under the rational rule of law, as well as the Religio Romana, the Lingua Latina, the philosophy, literature, and virtues of Rome, and other aspects of the multicultural Roman civilization maintaining validity and worth to the present era."

...is there anything really wrong with the above passage? Are we not, in some way, still doing this?


This is still what the SVR is for me. What the SVR was going to be for me I shall describe as we go along. I can say that it was to be something grander than this. There was going to be significant face-to-face activity. There was going to be active recruitment in our communities. And the Collegia were not going to be mere discussion fora but someting more akin to the medieval universities and the craftsmens' guilds. The SCA has the right idea with its Arts and Sciences division. I wanted a Roman SCA, badly. But this concept got diluted even before we began.

I have enjoyed the SVR for what it is. But I still don't have what I seek, and nothing else like that exists in all the world. Nova Roma tried, bless them, but was broken on the Tarpeian Rock of its personalities, and even now does not realize that it is in ruins. Romans-in-Spirit really have nowhere to go. Once heirs of Empire, we are now a dispossessed people.

Valerius Scerio's proposal resonates with my early longings. The details will need to be hammered out, surely, and the iron we start with is not the steel it will become. But I feel it in my bones, in a way that I have not felt my own Romanitas since it was raped in that Other Place five and a half years ago. (Yes, amici, magistri: Everything the Societas Via Romana has ever had from me has been Marius running on fumes. You figure out what was lost.)


This, on the other hand, is our current purpose, according to the most recent regulae:
[quoted; don't make me do it again...]

The differences are telling. While at first we were organized for recreating Romanitas, we have now become a mere forum for discussing Rome. All the virtues we instilled in our Society have now gone to the wayside.

We banished Rome from the Roman Way Society. We threw out the Senate, the council of elders who knew the Society better than anyone else. We got rid of our magistrates, and now rely on a system of moderators who differ not at all with ordinary fora. What really does SVR have to offer? What really do our collegia do that other forums don’t? Other websites have an equally impressive, if not more, collection of essays. What makes SVR different? Well, as of now, nothing...


Before the Societas was born, before Nova Roma was born, I was already a member of several Roman-themed Listservs and online fora. These served the purpose of information exchange very well, and the purposes of my spirit-quest hardly at all. I have described what I had hoped to see from, and bring to, any Roman group I threw in with. If I could have been satisfied with what the mailing-Lists and newsgroups had to offer, what would have brought me to the SVR at all?

As may be inferred from magister Scerio's comments, the SVR has moved a long way from its initial conception, and an even longer way from mine. These are not crimes; they are only the consequences of large and small decisions made throughout the history of the Societas, which have had this cumulative effect. Evolution applies to every living thing, and we can no more return the Societas to its "New Foundation" than we can shove a baby back into the womb.

I think much of the change in the Societas has been a matter of "settling": We began with a dream, found it was difficult to maintain once more than a few people were involved, and began, little by little, to pare down our hopes to the expectations of the membership, and to what we thought we could get them to do. We have "settled" for what we could get, for what merely worked; and we have become just ordinary Roman enthusiasts in the process, instead of showing the membership at large what it is to be a seeker, a pursuer of the Heritage.

This, too, happens to most organizations. We had meant to be different; we have not been, except (and, it must be said, satisfyingly) on the individual level. Nothing about the SVR is keeping anyone from "mainlining the Ancestor-spirits". But nothing about the SVR is triggering that experience either. This is our greatest deviation, and our greatest failing, from our original intent.

Very much more on this as we discuss the specifics...! >({|:-)


> If you have been wondering why it took so long to get this together...


Nihil est, Quinte Valeri. Quality takes time!

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Getting into it

Postby Aldus Marius on Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:38 am

Salvete omnes...

Anyone who truly wants to understand what Marius (and Scerio, for that matter) are carrying on about can pick up a lot of context with just a little homework. There is, in the Comitia-->Ideas for a Better SVR topic, a post entitled "A New Foundation" from July of last year. Quite a bit earlier, in October of '02, I shared some notes about how to form a Roman community wherever one happens to be. This one's in General-->Being Roman, and is simply called "To Be Roman (and get a bunch of people to do it with you!)"; it is also featured in the Collegium Philosophicum section of the Web site. (That's an odd place for it, I think; I shall have to move it when I get around to doing any of my stuff at all.)

Between the two of them, these were my original vision for a Roman society, more fulfilling than the one we had just left, which I presented to those who were on the verge of founding the Societas Via Romana. No, the Societas was not my idea; but some of my ideas became part of it. Perhaps, amici Romani, you will understand why I take the SVR so personally.


We need to first reorganize our hierarchical structure allowing for more movement. The way it stands, we’re so dreary save a month or two out of the year, with little discourse in the between. We need to engage our sodales, and we need to start from the top.


We need to engage our sodales. I'm not much of a top-down person, unless the membership has grown so apathetic that the "top" is all that's left to keep the thing going. But who could blame the sodales for that? We are truly lacking in finding things for existing members to do. We have our various contests, games, and symposia on the Board. The SCA has its tourneys, fighter practices, Bardic festivals, meetings of craftsmans' Guilds, and of course the plainclothes "staff meeting" sorts of things. Granted there are not enough of us, most places, to get a lot of live-action events going until we reach critical mass; but that's what those chapters of local Romans in "To Be Roman..." would be for, nonne?

We need someone(s) to come up with these things, to recruit participants, to referee the events and announce the outcome. I don't know how possible anything is in a group where our highest election turnout this year was a mere dozen people, where that election result was not published until two months later, and where most of the activities we've put on have suffered from too few participants. But if we persist in making interesting things happen, we may see new and previously-silent members exploring those new opportunities.

Okay, now let's look at the top (pacete, omnes; I'm not done with the rest of the membership either; it's all actually the same discussion). Specifically, let us consider the persons in leadership as sodales themselves, and their jobs as a continuation of "things for existing members to do". As with any other possible activity, service in the administration of the Society should be a Roman and a fulfilling thing. More so than any other aspect, it should also be seen as an honor. There is neither honor nor Romanitas in being called merely an "officer", and having to do a bunch of work, most of it invisible to the membership, without much hope of recognition unless your colleagues can kick you out of the room long enough to vote you an Attaboy. Knowing these conditions beforehand, who would want to run for office? And yet one reason for the last reform effort was our inability to find candidates for these positions.

What amazes me is that we ever adopted such a watered-down charter last summer, when almost no one who was on the Concilium likes it. Were we in such a hurry to meet the time-frame allotted that we'd settle for the first thing we could push out the door? The titles, the Senate, the elections and such gave the Societas a bit of Roman flavor, now missing, and some of us wonder what was supposed to have taken its place.

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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:27 pm

Salvete Mari et Sceri,

Videte, I agree with you whole heartedly about the loss of a feeling of "color" (titles, honors, gentes, etc.) in the Societas under the new Regulae. I warned about this in the Concilium, and the loss of pomp has indeed been felt by many. This loss is easy to restore. There is no need to rewrite the Reglae, or event to amend them, to do it. The Regulae are intended to serve merely as the foundation for whatever we choose to build in the Societas. That's why I voted for them despite their lack of color -- we could always paint in the color later.

We still can. There has been an excellent discussion thread in the Curia about rewarding Sodales with honors of different stripes. But no legal proposal in the Comitia where things get done. So let's see some proposals! How about a bill to rename the officer positions to reflect their specific duties, per Scerio's proposal? Or to establish a castrum or some other type of cursus honorum which would lead to Senate membership? I'd like to see some specific language that we could vote on.

Likewise, there is nothing in the present Regulae that prohibits local recreation groups, the collection of monies, or their administration by a quaestor. Almost everything is possible under the present Regulae. To continue my analogy, they provide a broad foundation.

Now the practical reason that we voted for Regulae that were just a foundation with little superstructure is that we didn't, and still don't, have enough active members to sustain a complex building. The fact that very few of our sodales were contributing maybe 80% of the action and we could not even get people to vote in elections was the main impetus behind the reform of the Regulae. We opted for a smaller governmental structure that could be maintained by a few active members.

The question is, if we now build it (a beautiful, complex superstructure) will they come to live in it? I doubt it. And without enough active sodales we'll run into the same problems that we had before.

My point is not that I'm against adding complexity and thus interest to SVR, I'm just counselling that we do it a little bit at a time. Let's act on one or two proposals and then see if they help add active members. If so, let's build more.

Finally, let us (horatory subj) concentrate on making SVR an interesting community through new proposals, rather than trying to reform the Regulae to make them perfect. I for one am tired of that.

Vobis gratias ago for your thoughts and continued ideas. I'd love to see them enacted, and I'll vote for any well-crafted proposal introduced in the Comitia.

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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:40 pm

Salvete.

Scerio's plan is essentially sound. While I am not entirely certain that we have enough active members to see it through - I fear, for example, that with these extra posts, we may find that we have, to adapt the American phrase, too many senators and not enough legionaries - it would be a good idea to inject a little extra colour into the procedings here. The boards lack activity, and I feel some Roman flavour could help differentiate us from some of the other boards. We ought probably to work on a Latin translation of the phpBB interface :)

Finally, concerning the Society’s structure, I also propose to add a new college – the Circus Maximus. It will be where we can hold forum Games, including RP threads. It could also be a place for stunts and other entertainment. However, I did promise to bring Romanitas, did I not?


This proposal especially bears close examination. More concrete proposals are needed, however. I await those with excitement.
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Postby Q Valerius on Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:04 pm

Tergeste,

I certainly can understand frustration! It's easy to see we are at a loss, that on one hand we lost the color of Romanitas, on the other hand, what's the point of bringing it back if we cannot run it?

Well, amice, I believe we can run it. We just got to know how. Nova Roma is relatively successful because they're immersed in Romanitas. It covers their entire aspect. I too would like to see this place so immersed. Perhaps not as bad as NR, which is to their detriment in my opinion, but much more than before.

And yes, I think we would be able to sustain it. At the beginning, we might have to take certain liberties, but I know of many people who would like a sort of "role playing" environment. I also think it fundamental if we include it from the beginning.

No, it won't be perfect at first, and of course we'll have to change. But some people don't want to put in the time and effort if they don't already have a working system in place. I seriously doubt "role players" will come here if all they see is just another Roman forum. If you build it, they will come. Yes, we will need the dedication of a few members to start it, but I will be one. I'm sure Marius will be another. I know others too who would like to. Make it large enough, and we'll always have room for more.

The problem with before is that we focused too much on forum discussions. There wasn't anything to connect with people. Give the people what they want. Give them excitement. Give them a chance to be a real public official, not some behind the scenes guy. Elections, if marketed right, are very attractive.

I don't think the regulae in their current form really allow for such an undertaking. Certainly they can be amended, and if that's the will of the Senate, then so be it. But if we start small and only take baby steps, then we'll reach goal only when it's too late. Now is not the time for idle walking, but taking leaps and bounds!

Likewise, there is nothing in the present Regulae that prohibits local recreation groups, the collection of monies, or their administration by a quaestor. Almost everything is possible under the present Regulae. To continue my analogy, they provide a broad foundation.

If we are to keep the current Regulae, then we need to make many amendments. Not merely leges, but actual constitutional changes. However, with those small changes, I will consent to merely making future legislation leges, modeled distinctly after Republican laws, e.g. one I am to propose for patricians would be called the Lex Valeria de Patriciis. But whether we make constitutional changes or merely lots of new legislation will depend on the people.

We still can. There has been an excellent discussion thread in the Curia about rewarding Sodales with honors of different stripes. But no legal proposal in the Comitia where things get done. So let's see some proposals! How about a bill to rename the officer positions to reflect their specific duties, per Scerio's proposal? Or to establish a castrum or some other type of cursus honorum which would lead to Senate membership? I'd like to see some specific language that we could vote on.


Well, I do have a plan for that too. However, it's rather encompassing and intricate. Without a castrum for a cursus honorum, without more freedom to higher officers, and without a Senate, my plan for rewarding Sodales goes up in the smoke.

I decided to first release my entire plan, something which differentiated the most Roman of politicians and the demagogues. I want to show up front what I have in mind, and thus nothing too specific was proposed. Depending on how this discussion goes, I will be proposing specific pieces of legislation for voting, and the details will be abound. I wanted, however, to hash out any disagreements before I brought it to a vote. I thought that would be the sensible thing, no?

Now the practical reason that we voted for Regulae that were just a foundation with little superstructure is that we didn't, and still don't, have enough active members to sustain a complex building. The fact that very few of our sodales were contributing maybe 80% of the action and we could not even get people to vote in elections was the main impetus behind the reform of the Regulae. We opted for a smaller governmental structure that could be maintained by a few active members.

Yes, I remember. I served on the decemvirate myself, remember? I remember the circumstances clearly, and I think we just went about it the wrong way. Not that its impossible to work with, but that without the structure, we *won't* get more active members. We need to offer something unique, and it, in my opinion, calls for an overhaul.

The question is, if we now build it (a beautiful, complex superstructure) will they come to live in it? I doubt it. And without enough active sodales we'll run into the same problems that we had before.

I don't doubt it! It will take time and effort, but yes, they will come. I will see to that personally.

My point is not that I'm against adding complexity and thus interest to SVR, I'm just counselling that we do it a little bit at a time. Let's act on one or two proposals and then see if they help add active members. If so, let's build more.

It doesn't work like that. I do see wisdom in deciding to proceed cautiously, but new members aren't going to see it like that. They need the whole shebang or else they won't have the interest to remain, especially if it takes too long.

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Postby Q Valerius on Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:20 pm

P. Scribonius Martialis wrote:Scerio's plan is essentially sound. While I am not entirely certain that we have enough active members to see it through - I fear, for example, that with these extra posts, we may find that we have, to adapt the American phrase, too many senators and not enough legionaries - it would be a good idea to inject a little extra colour into the procedings here. The boards lack activity, and I feel some Roman flavour could help differentiate us from some of the other boards. We ought probably to work on a Latin translation of the phpBB interface :)

Salve P. Martialis,

I certainly would be one for a Latin board! Latin is crucial to my proposals as it lends an air of authenticity. Sure, we will also have to have the option of English, but a board in Latin, and official correspondance in Latin will help foster each's sense of Latinity. What is Rome without Latin? It certainly isn't Rome anymore. Even in Italy, every child must learn Latin, and the Vatican still has it as its official language. Even if I alone have to help everyone learn it, which I would!, the end result would be beneficial. I'm not mandating that it be the only language, or that even perfect Latin must be used, but some Latinity is essential to our uniqueness.

This proposal especially bears close examination. More concrete proposals are needed, however. I await those with excitement.

This is the most different part of my proposal. Essentially, scholastic discussions on what the games were can go into any number of collegia, probably the Vitae Cotidianae best. However, the Circus Maximus will be where the actual games in action go.

I wanted to extend this to real life. Certainly, we're not at that stage yet, but planning and outreach can help us reach that goal. The SCA didn't start overnight! I'm sure that a sufficient outreach will gather enough people to sooner or later host the Ludi. Meanwhile, if anyone "role plays" on their own, or knows of Roman gatherings etc..., the Circus Maximus will also be the place to post this information.

It's the real world I'm concerned about most. As Marius said, the website is, well, the website! The online extension of the Societas. It functions as are communication for the Sodales. It shouldn't be all that there is to the Societas.

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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:41 am

Many of these ideas need further elaboration and scrutiny.

One I am fond of, both in foro et in vita, is the patron system. Patrons would be, if it is the will of the sodales, exemplary members of the Society, most likely patricians, but certainly all Senators. Patrons would be tied to the gens, as well.


What precisely is meant here? I fear that any system of privilege or faction would drive wedges between the membership.

On the subject of the new offices:

Tergestus is doubtless a little skeptical that enough new members can be found to justify this increase in infrastructure. If we have many new offices without warm bodies to fill them, we risk either the embarrassing situation of having to elect the same people each term or, worse, having the leadership split into two rival feuding camps. If, on the other hand, we have enough new members, we have an interesting diversion, and a structure to the forum which encourages openness and accountability.

Tergestus, if I've understood him, believes that a membership is necessary to make the new system work, while Q Valerius Scerio believes that a change in the structure of the organization would encourage new membership. Perhaps if Q Valerius could demonstrate that there exist a body of prospective members who are looking for such a structure, Tergestus' objections would disappear.

Finally, I would add that, if we wish to increase our membership, we ought to consider making our transactions in the Collegia viewable to those who are not sodales. We may be able to generate more 'passing trade' if the googlebot were privy to our scholarly discussions.
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Postby Q Valerius on Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:14 am

P. Scribonius Martialis wrote:Many of these ideas need further elaboration and scrutiny.

Yes indeed! Point out what needs more detail and I'll get right to it. And if anyone has any further suggestions, feel free to chime in.

P. Scribonius Martialis wrote:
Q Valerius Scerio wrote:One I am fond of, both in foro et in vita, is the patron system. Patrons would be, if it is the will of the sodales, exemplary members of the Society, most likely patricians, but certainly all Senators. Patrons would be tied to the gens, as well.


What precisely is meant here? I fear that any system of privilege or faction would drive wedges between the membership.


It's certainly understandable that it may come across that way, but what sort of wedges could be driven? What is there really to divide up? I don't see much politicking here. Instead, I wanted to foster a sense of community among the sodales. A patron would be the "guide" and "advocate" for new members. The gens serves as it did in Rome - a sense of belonging to a group. It gives no one any priveleges on any kind, and in no sense does are we to think of the nobility as it were in Rome - plebeian and patrician are individual distinctions based on merit not gens.

Tergestus, if I've understood him, believes that a membership is necessary to make the new system work, while Q Valerius Scerio believes that a change in the structure of the organization would encourage new membership. Perhaps if Q Valerius could demonstrate that there exist a body of prospective members who are looking for such a structure, Tergestus' objections would disappear.

I've been busy recruiting different people who expressed great interest in my ideas. However, it is hard to get support for something that doesn't yet exist. All they have for now are my promises, and hopefully until we get off the ground they will stay interested.

Finally, I would add that, if we wish to increase our membership, we ought to consider making our transactions in the Collegia viewable to those who are not sodales. We may be able to generate more 'passing trade' if the googlebot were privy to our scholarly discussions.

If no one objects, I'll move it accordingly.
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Honores, anyone...?

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:16 am

Salvete omnes,

Mi Scerio, unless something you've said didn't make it through the fluff in my head, I do not see any actionable proposals. You have given us a vision of a way you would like to see the Society go; you have even provided thumbnail sketches of some of the elements of that structure. It's this tall, and yay wide, and has ceramic knobs on the drawers...but what is it?

Clare Martialis, AFAIK every visitor and registrant can read almost everything on this Board, the Comitia included. What non-members cannot do is post to the Comitia. The Collegiae are fully-accessible to everyone. Is this what you were asking about, or something else...say, getting us registered with the search engines vel simile?

Onwards and upwards...

~~~~~~~

What does the SVR have to offer its sodales? A lot of friendly and knowledgeable discussion of Roman themes and topics; a welcoming atmosphere for newbies and other discoverers to ask questions and share their insights and experiences, unafraid; a different and in some spots unique perspective on Ancient Rome, not as a dry and dusty thing to be studied, but as a living Heritage, handed down to us by our spiritual ancestors, placed in our care in the hopes it will be carried on.

These are not small things. They are our essence, the wellsprings of our vitality. They are accessible and available to anyone who visits us. We share them liberally with anyone who stops by long enough to ask for directions. And they are most of what attracts people to the Societas and keeps them there.

Bene, that's what the world at large gets from us. But what's in it for the members? If these things can be had even without joining, why join? The member benefits mentioned in the Website FAQ are all things the sodalis can do for the Societas. What does the Societas do for the sodalis that it does not also do for the visitor? Right now...not much.

Let's talk about recognition.

"Recognition" is the military (and maybe corporate) term for rewarding people who have performed some notable deed or just plain done a good job. It can take the form of anything from "Attaboys" to marble busts. In Nova Roma there were many forms of recognition, most of them political: being granted a special title ("Tribunus Militum", "Nomenclator"), getting to work for a Magistrate as his scriba, or being elected/appointed to higher office oneself. I was selected to be NR ListMod in the aftermath of their little "Crisis" in '99; I soon enough had plenty of reasons to wish Germanicus Dictator hadn't done this, but the fact of my having been honored and trusted with such a vital task remains.

The SVR's options were limited to begin with and are becoming more so. In a not-too-distant past, any sodalis who wanted it could run for office, and likely win due to being unopposed. A very active member of a Collegium could look forward to becoming its Rector for a year; a sodalis who had been with us a long time could be raised to Patrician rank or appointed to the Senate...but not now.

Now we have seven slots open for "Curators", and not all of those will be filled every year, and it's hard for a member to tell from the job description (What job description??) whether the Curatorship is something s/he might like or be good at. I suppose, once somebody became a Curator, s/he could appoint an assistant or two; those individuals could be said to have been honored. And any Boardmember who makes his 1000th post will certainly get some cheers from the sidelines.

Beyond this, however, the next thing even remotely resembling recognition is our penchant for humorous titles: "The Dionysian Empire"; "The Latin Inquisition"; and, of course, "our local Storyteller (or Resident Madman)". These are forms of recognition; they make the people who receive them a little happier, a little prouder to be in the Societas, and maybe a little more tightly-knit into the community.

But we have no real way to say "Thank you, Tergestus, for doing our Spanish translations", or "Thank you, Piscinus, for being Web Site Contributor Extraordinaire", or "Tiberius Draco is one Very Special Dude for staying on as Aedilis for two years after his term ran out." (Bene, I blessed him with a "Worship" smilie, but...you know.) Wouldn't it be nice to have some way of noticing member accomplishments besides hoping that a few dozen subscribers will say something nice?

What sorts of things could an SVR member be recognized for? --These come to my mind; you may think of others...

- Longevity: A monthly or quarterly post noting sodales who have reached their first, fifth, etc. anniversary with the SVR
- Activity: the aforementioned post-thresholds; this one pretty much takes care of itself via the Board ranks
- Deeds:
...Starting a really popular thread
...organizing a real-world gathering
...hosting a symposium or contest
...doing well in the Ludi
...doing liaison-work to other Roman organizations (Academia Thules for starters...but also other 'Net societies, SCA, reenactor groups, e-Lists)
...designing logos/banners/wallpapers for sodales' use
...doing something really original, like the Roman Trivial Pursuit thread
...serving on the Concilium or other special commission
...serving as Aedilis <g!>
...helping out with the Census
...and, of course, rescuing the Web site. ** blushes **

- Birthdays! Is there anyone here who still remembers Consula Helia Allegra's little notes? ...They were a small thing, but they showed people that they were being noticed as individuals. That's really what recognition of any sort is about.

Some of these triggers may in fact be too inconsequential to make a big fuss over. Some, like activity on the Board, are pretty much self-propelled, and don't really require our interference. Others may be better off delivered informally (say, kudos on the Board) than through the modern equivalent of a Senatusconsultum. On the magnum end of things, we have all thanked Gnaeus Draco, for all his hard work, ad Societatem condita...but in his case, a marble bust just might be called for!

But that still leaves us with those events we decide are worth brag-points. Who in the SVR, under what authority if authority is required, can make sure those points actually go to the sodales who've earned them?

We have two ideas, which feed into each other: Patron/Client and the Senate.

(I know: "!!!", especially on patron/client. But we will explain!) >({|:-)


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Re: Honores, anyone...?

Postby Q Valerius on Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:54 am

Mari,

I proposed several different ideas for legislation. Now it's up to all of us to make it workable. I'll lead, since it's my idea, but I don't want to exclude anyone. I like everyone's opinion - I don't want to create factions so early.

Clare Martialis, AFAIK every visitor and registrant can read almost everything on this Board, the Comitia included. What non-members cannot do is post to the Comitia. The Collegiae are fully-accessible to everyone. Is this what you were asking about, or something else...say, getting us registered with the search engines vel simile?

If you log off the board, then the Comitia disappears. Either we make the Comitia available to non-registered people, so that the search bots can pick it up, or at least move this thread to where non-registered people can see it.

And many thanks for your thoughts. I want to propose legislation, Mari, but I want opinions on it, just like what you gave us.
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Postby Q Valerius on Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:38 am

I was informed privately about some outrage against patron/client system. Apparently, Nova Roma did it wrong. Well, I'm not advocating Nova Roma. I never was a member there! That should say something to my loyalty to SVR. I don't want an NR, nor do I want patron/client system to be about privelege or faction. Au contraire! I want it to be about mentorship and guidance. It's certainly not about favoring or about buying votes. I know its a touchy issue, but I'm only rescuing the name and not the deed.
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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:37 pm

Clare Martialis, AFAIK every visitor and registrant can read almost everything on this Board, the Comitia included. What non-members cannot do is post to the Comitia. The Collegiae are fully-accessible to everyone. Is this what you were asking about, or something else...say, getting us registered with the search engines vel simile?


Ah. A little while ago, when I first joined, the Collegia were not accessible to non-members. I am glad to see that this has changed.
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Postby Q Valerius on Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:39 pm

P. Scribonius Martialis wrote:Ah. A little while ago, when I first joined, the Collegia were not accessible to non-members. I am glad to see that this has changed.


No, it hasn't. I'll be moving it now then.
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Err...?

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Sep 27, 2006 5:01 am

Avete...?

Are you talking about moving the Collegia or the Comitia to a more visible spot? Or just this discussion, as I see you have?

The Collegia are, as noted, already accessible to everyone who visits us.

The Comitia is visible to registrants (anyone with a Board account who is logged on), but only Members (Sodales) can post there or vote in polls. As we no longer have anyone to set up a cista, issue voter-codes, etc., these polls are our elections, and they need to be Members-only. Do you really want "chpviagrq" posting and voting there? ...Me neither.

This topic: I see no reason why it shouldn't be generally available; neither do I see any reason why it should. We're brainstorming the Societas. Would non-members find that interesting...? Hei, I don't know; maybe some of them will, and from either wisdom or experience they might have something important to say. I'll take my Romanitas wherever I can get it. But it's not the most obvious place for what many will consider an organizational matter.

Your thoughts, Restitutor...?
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Postby Q Valerius on Wed Sep 27, 2006 5:04 am

I'll leave it open for discussion so that anyone I "recruit" can come here and post as well. This is about bringing new people, right?
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Oh! ...Okay.

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Sep 27, 2006 5:09 am

Salve amice...

Oh! ...Okay. I wondered if'n it might be something like that. >({(:-)

...Is good!

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Salve, Magistri

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:59 am

Salvete, amici Romani...

A few notes about the magistrates.


> Crucial in identifying ourselves with Rome would be to adopt the old names...

One problem early on was that there were never enough people to fill all the offices provided for in the Regula. Another was that the offices we did have were not well-defined. Perhaps, by correcting the second area, we can also address the first. Let us identify the functions first, and then assign them the Roman titles that most nearly describe them.

I think Q Pomponius Atticus did a pretty good job of it when he said (in the Comitia-->Towards a Better SVR topic) that there were essentially three or four types of work to be done:

-- Someone handles outreach/PR.
-- Someone handles memberships/customer service.
-- Someone schedules events and keeps the insides of the organization running smoothly (organizing and directing).
-- In an Internet society, of course, someone runs the Web site.

It was pretty generally understood that the Censores did the applications, name-checks and membership questions, while Aediles ran the Web site and Rogatores counted the votes. The Consul, near as I can figure, did whatever was left over. But we never did figure out what the Praetor's job was; we had no judicial system, no law per se, and nobody was complaining about unfair treatment or appealing Magistrates' decisions or anything of that ilk. The SVR has never claimed any kind of authority over its members, so abuse of same never really entered the picture until last year, with the dissolution of the SVR's entire administration by Ti Coruncanius. I think I needed a Praetor in the middle of all that Avitus mess; but in five years of the Societas, I am probably the first sodalis on record who could have been served by that office.

My message, if I can be said to have one, is that we don't need a boatload of officials (and the possibility of their empty chairs) to get the necessary jobs done. What we do need are offices that are clearly defined by function, and for all the core functions to be covered. If we can find work for a Praetor, even if that's by totally changing the concept of what a Praetor does, I'd be happy to see us have Praetores again. But anyone considering running for any of our elective positions needs to know what the job entails, what basic function he or she would be expected to serve. Whatever magistracies we create need to have job descriptions, else we'll be in for more of what we've experienced for the last six months: "Officers" unsure of themselves and their duties, because the constitution was left intentionally vague: "You figure it out!!" Well, we haven't. That's why the whole Societas seems to be sitting on its thumb and rotating.

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Postby P. Scribonius Martialis on Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:42 pm

The Collegia are, as noted, already accessible to everyone who visits us.


Jolly good. I was sure that when I first joined, some of the Collegia were off limits to non-members.
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Re: Salve, Magistri

Postby Q Valerius on Wed Sep 27, 2006 11:42 pm

Atticus had some good suggestions, too. Here were mine:

Tribuni - In charge of problems and complaints.
Praetores - Individual forum moderators
Consules - Global moderators (not limited to (a) collegium, -a)
Quaestores - Treasurers
Censores - Takes care of applications
Legati - Acts as diplomats
Aediles - Website upkeeping

"But onw drawback of this, amici, is that is it for the website only. What about the real life Societas? My second suggestion would be then to make the praetores as moderators, and consuls as something distinct from the forum. They would be in charge of leading SVR, both on and offline.

And of course, we have the Senate.

The consul would be the head of the organization, and as such they would be responsible, at least initially, for leading us and organizing events and the like.

Everyone except the Legati and Aediles would be voted upon. Instead, those two jobs would be appointed by the Senate. Thinking pragmatically, at least at first, we should be able to run for the same position more than once in a row. The only thing that really won't be needed right away would probably be the tribunus. However, the Avitus debacle some months ago would have, under my plan, been resolved by a tribunus. I guess the tribunus would have been akin to the "arbiter" or "iudex".

I'm thinking beyond the forum. I'm thinking about a real Societas. I am not satisfied by a mere forum. What happened to real life? What happened to living Romanitas?
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