Brainstorming the SVR:
A personal vision, by Aldus Marius Peregrinus

(Originally posted to the [Romanitas] e-List on 23 May 2001; intro for the SVR List added on 19 Dec 2001)

Avete iterum, amici...

The founding Members have seen this before; the newer folks might want to. Quite a bit of it was actually incorporated into the Regula and other aspects of the Society's structure. But this is the message that started it all...the thinking, hoping, envisioning and debate that became the Societas Via Romana. My thanks especially to Silvanius Florus, Scorpio Invictus, Pomponius Atticus, and Marcus Horatius for doing what I could not and making the idea a reality.

 -- Marius Peregrine wrote:

Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Marius Peregrine
Subject: A New Foundation...?

Avete amici...

As promised, here is the 'talking paper' I did up for a group of friends
who, like me, were disappointed in Nova Roma and wanted to see something
different.  Questions, comments, emoticons all welcome!

-- Mari Pere'

We are all united by a deeply-felt sense of Roman-ness--not a political posture, but a personal, even spiritual identity that defines and explains everything else about us. Some of us have only just discovered this core of our being; others have been walking the Via Romana for many years. One and all, though, we came to Nova Roma in the belief that we would find companionship on our journey, and an outlet of expression for the Roman within. One and all, we have been disappointed...and in a matter so crucial, the disappointment runs deep. But we are Romans; we endure. Now we will fashion our own place.

I've been in deep thought over this matter for several days. Not being the leadership type (I'm a darn good beta-wolf!), I can't call what I've come up with a 'proposal' exactly; it's nowhere near so complete. But it might not make a bad set of talking-points, a foundation if you will. Here it is...

< - - - - - - [ MEDITATIONS OF MARIUS PEREGRINE ] - - - - - - >

I. Nova Roma got it backwards: We need to build a community and a society first, and once that is firmly established, then (maybe) we can worry about a government. (Extremely optional until we get to a certain [large] size.)

A. Community first: We are all Romans. That single thing in common should always be kept foremost in our thinking, and should be enough to outweigh any number of differences in interpretation of what being a Roman means.

1. Acceptance: Romans are not so common in this world that we can afford to waste them by wearing them down, shutting them up, or frustrating them beyond their capacity to bear grief. Let us make up our minds to be as accepting, even welcoming, of different takes on Romanitas as we can, for the Roman with the oddball viewpoint just might have something to teach us.

2. Mentoring: None of us were raised as Romans. It was something we each discovered, something we all had to learn (and are learning still). Now that we've found each other, perhaps we can learn from each other...? Let us feel free to ask any member, anytime, about anything Roman-related. Let us feel free to advise each other (again, in a spirit of acceptance and wishing to improve the overall authenticity of the society). Let us feel free to either accept or reject that advice, modify it to suit us, or table it for further consideration, without that decision being regarded as a sign of personal animosity.

In the course of this ongoing dialogue, we will very soon sort out who is an expert at what. I think most of us know we can go to Ericius for Religio and Etruscan questions, to Piscinus for Religio and Plebeian history, to Formosanus for Latin, or to Mari Pere' [*blushes*] for cultural and military stuff. Perhaps, when we are a certain size, we may wish to have collegia (I hate the word 'sodalitas'), each headed by one knowledgeable in that particular aspect of Roman life. In the beginning these would be study colloquia; but eventually I'd like to see, say, the literature folks composing original works in Latin, the dyers-and-weavers guild producing Roman clothing, the gamers' guild putting on demos of Roman board and ball games at conventions and Faires. Newbies would be accepted into the collegium of their choice and taught what we know about the craft. Nothing would prevent an expert in one subject from joining a different collegium and learning another, either; there could be something like a 'certification program', or when we're really established, an actual series of degrees.

I see these collegia and their activities, teaching by text and example how to live the Roman Way, as the core of any new Roman society.

B. Government, if ever?: I think our needs for a new Roman society can be adequately (even superbly) met without ever raising the question of sovereignty. I am not, therefore, in favor of starting a new micronation. Such government as we may have, if and when we decide we need one, should only be that which is sufficient to run a largish educational non-profit. If we wish to make it more Roman, we can use the titles that would have been appropriate for a town in the Provinces; these had their city councilmen, a local Senate and so on. But that's a long way down the road.

On the regional and sub-regional level, however, we might have to do something fairly early on. You see, we will have our online community, yes...but at the same time, I hope to see a host of little Roman 'cell movements' spring up in the places where our Cives spend their daily lives. Romanitas is catching, and it may be within a year or two each of us will have our 'circle' of other Romans-in-spirit whom we meet with during the week, on weekends, or for events. There should be some means of recognizing these 'circles' and granting them a kind of status within our society. These will also be the welcoming-point for new Citizens (if we call them that). I'm thinking SCA here.

II. We should remain open to anyone, Nova Roman or not, who demonstrates the signal characteristic of deep inner Romanitas. These people are not being adequately served by Nova Roma.

A. Intake: If we ever put out an application form, for my money it could consist of one essay question: "When and how did you first discover that you were a Roman?" This should separate the actual Romans from the simply Roman enthusiasts. There are plenty of venues for the latter. Perhaps we could also ask "What does Romanitas mean to you?", to weed out power-crazed Caesar wannabees and anybody who can't write except with a can of spray paint. (We Romans are a literate people.)

B. Latinitas: I do not understand a man like Sulla [a ranking member of Nova Roma] who can boast to a Listful of Romans that he still has no Latin after three years. Nor do I understand any Listful of 'Romans' that would let him get away with it. I would expect anyone who really feels himself to be a Roman at heart would want to learn Latin as soon as practicable, and then teach it to his friends so he'd have someone to rap with. Indeed, these Latin seminars could be the catalyst for the creation of new 'circles' (whatever we end up calling them). One doesn't have to run out and get a master's degree post-haste; I probably know only about two semesters' worth of Latin, but I share it liberally with the neighbors! Being self-taught is also a wonderful way to demonstrate the disciplina that was such an integral part of the Roman character. I would venture to suggest that a Citizen be strongly encouraged (required?) to be at least phrase-book proficient in Latin by the beginning of his second year with us (of course, we'll be helping!). Failure to have at least made a beginning here would seem to indicate a lack of seriousness (or, alternately, a year when one's life has gone to hell; I know this thing).

III. We will be attempting to recreate the best of Ancient Rome. Sound familiar? But we mean it: Republic and Empire, Rome and the Provinces, all Rome's peoples, Her languages, Her cultures, and each culture's unique contributions to and adaptations of Romanitas. I care not where or when in Rome's 1200 years an idea comes from, if it is a good idea we will adopt it until a better one comes along! No more of this treating the Imperial era like a red-headed stepchild, something to hold at arms' length and be ashamed of. And we will not subscribe to the delusion that the politics in the capital are the sum of all Roman character, activity and achievement.

IV. I was, once upon a time, going to try to found something like this...its ultimate form would have been a Roman living-history community, open year-round for anyone who wanted to discover Roman life by living it for a semester or two. There would have been a library and museum, a theater for putting on classical plays, a reconstructed Legionary fortress, a restaurant serving real Roman food...but most of all, an on-site, permanent Roman community going about their daily lives. I'd even found the land for it: seven hills near a bend in the Red River...and I was going to call it Septimontium.

I do not know if the current project ever will or will ever want to end up like that. But I thought I would offer up the name, at least, since we seem to be looking for one: Shall we call it Septimontium...?

< - - - - - - - [ END OF PEREGRINE'S PROPOSAL ] - - - - - - - >

Please, amici, don't just stare at it and go 'Wow!' Questions, comments, and constructive criticism are all welcome. >({|:-)

In amicitia et fide,

Marius Peregrine, Storyteller and   |\=/|  Citizen of Rome
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -      ( ~ 6 )~~~----...,,__
"...when are you going to realize   `\*/, `` }`^~`,,, \  \
that being normal is not a virtue;    ``=.\  (__==\_  /\  }
rather it denotes a lack of courage."   | |  /     )\ \| /
                                       _|_| /    _/_| /`(
       -- Frances Owens               /./..='   /./..'

RE: A New Foundation...? Marcus Horatius Dec 20, 2001 03:53 PST

Salvete mi amici et amicae

Gratias, Mario

Marius the Wanderer wrote:

...the message that started it all...the thinking, hoping, envisioning
and debate that became the Societas Via Romana.

Every member of SVR, and every curious visitor who may be considering joining, should take a look at how we began. We do not need reminding of what we left behind, but we do need to reflect on what we hoped to achieve and continually look towards building a place we can all share in.

Valete et habete bonam fortunam

M. Horatius