A Mission Statement

The people, conflicts, and daily life of the Roman army.

Moderator: Aldus Marius

A Mission Statement

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat May 15, 2004 11:07 pm

Avete commilitones...

It's been kind of quiet around here. Of course, the Time of Examined Finality is upon many of us, and others have family obligations or vacation plans. But I wonder if maybe we're also kind of running out of ideas?

So I thought I'd re-post a little something from the old Topica List, back when this Collegium was new and I, Marius, was its first Rector. I was not a very effective Rector as far as getting anything done...but I had ideas all right! This was my original brainstorm sheet; I'm thinking we might have a lot of members who've never seen it. Perhaps it'll get some gears turning...? (If not, it should at least be good for a chuckle.) >({|:-)

[SVR_Militarium] Mar 05, 2002

Salvete, commilitones (Hail, fellow-soldiers)!

First, let me extend my apologies for being one of the latest to post anything significant to this List, rather than one of the first. I have been Rector of the Collegium for over a month now, and this is the first you've heard from me. In my defense, let me state that my health is rather shaky in a couple of places, and this often robs me of the energy and attention-span to participate as fully as I would like. However, there is nothing wrong with my imagination or my willingness to share, and you shall have as much of both as I can spare!

I had initially conceived of a ColMil as a place (of course) where those of us who are interested in (or fascinated by) Roman military history, science, and culture could gather and "share the wealth" of our collective readings, writings, and possibly other activities.

You will note that already my definition of the field goes a bit beyond what has become usual for such clubs. I speak specifically of the inclusion of 'culture'. So many of these things become strictly-research propositions, with all the feeling bled out of them. At the other end of the spectrum, one sees the strictly-reenactor groups...and while they, like the military scholars, have their place, their emphasis keeps ending up back at the research desks, where they quibble with each other endlessly over which cheek-plate bosses went with what helmets.

My aim for this Collegium is to provide a place where anyone who wants to can attempt to get under the skin and into the mind of the Roman soldier. What were his feelings, his thoughts, and the daily or wartime routines that prompted them? What marching-songs did he sing? What did he eat, what did he wear off-duty, and how did he get along with the provincials all around him? The Roman soldier has been called the single greatest Romanizing influence of the Empire--far more than the provincial governor, the tax-gatherer, or the temples to Roman gods. How did he do it, and was he conscious of the process?

In this context, reenactment can be a valuable thing. Certainly anyone who hoists a 'Marius' Mule' (marching-kit) onto his shoulder will grunt the same grunt the Legionaries did, and like them will hate his load by the time he gets it where it's going. By personal experience, I know why the buddy system is preferable for getting your Lorica on (it's kinder to the buckles and straps...I've had to replace a few). But more, a reenactor gig will often put you in a situation where you can "mainline the ancestor-spirits", transcending the centuries and really being, for those moments, the Roman you portray. I live for those moments. I'd like my fellow Romani to be able to experience them, too. Perhaps several of us, like-minded, could one day form a Legion...as technically correct as any of the others, but more willing to do Roman things not for an audience, but for their own Roman ( = spiritual) growth.

By highlighting the culture of the military, we can become a much more broad-based Collegium than our name might suggest. Someone has to cook those camp meals, nonne?, and while the troops are waiting they will want to play dice or various board-games... So many things in the soldier's environment are just waiting to be revived. I'm sure we will all have plenty to do for the forseeable future.

Role-playing is also a good way to step into our predecessors' caligae (sandals), and we may do some RP here on the List if anyone is interested.

-- Ed. note: Of course, we now have an RP thread right here on the Board, in the Collegium Artium.

I think we could also well serve the Societas as a whole by pointing newcomers to any Roman (especially Roman-military) organizations that might be helpful or be in their area (including reenactor Legions). With that in mind, I have an idea for our first joint project:

For several years I have kept a contact listing of Roman living-history groups. (The last update may be downloaded at my Web site, [url]<http://romanoutpost.org/index.htm>[/url] .) The last update, in 1998, took several weeks and yielded 23KB (text) of information... That's when I quit e-mailing the thing to people and put it on the site. It is pitifully out-of-date now, but still one of the most popular items at the Roman Outpost.

I was wondering if we could, together, scare up every Roman group now out there, compile the info, and then post the first updated listing in four years? To make this work, we'd almost have to have the file-sharing and database capabilities of a Yahoo Group. Fortunately I've got one ready-made: it, like my site, is called [RomanOutpost]. Nothing's been happening there for several months. I could re-open it to subscribers, and then we could "have ourselves a happy" adding images, links, database entries and so forth.

Let me know if this sounds of interest to the Collegium. I make no edicts; we're all brainstormers here, and if someone has something he'd rather we do instead, by all means say so. If we go forward with the Legion-list update, I'll have to change some settings of the Outpost before we begin. Whatever we do, I can make the Outpost's filespace available to you as a way of overcoming the limits of Topica.

-- Ed. note: Now that we're no longer on Topica, I wonder if there is now a way to do this in-house? --If not, the Outpost offer still stands!

In summary (I know I ramble sometimes)...

What could our Collegium be? Potential roles include:

-- institute for Roman military studies

-- info center/liaison for persons wanting to get into Roman
historical reenactment

-- HQ for an actual Legion of our own, to differ in focus by being
comprised of Romans-in-Spirit who wish to pursue living history
as another way to connect with the Heritage.

Under this last heading I might comment that traditional reenactors are less likely candidates for recruitment than the much-scorned role-playing contingent, the former being generally more into replicating equipment than getting a 'feel' for what it was to actually be a Roman soldier. This last I regard as our central reason for being.

Any other concepts and suggestions are also welcome, indeed eagerly anticipated!!


Yours under the Eagles,

Marius Peregrine, Storyteller and Citizen of Rome
Aldus Marius Peregrinus.
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