[Concilium] SVR : Identity, Nature, Goals, and Principia

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[Concilium] SVR : Identity, Nature, Goals, and Principia

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:34 pm

Salvete omnes,

In the discussion about a 'better SVR', held in the Comitia, a few members voiced the opinion that besides the heavy - and failing - organizational structure of SVR, there has been a deeper reason for our current crisis, namely the fact that there is no clear agreement on what SVR is or should be (an opinion that, i.m.o., seems to be grounded if we look at the disagreements stated below).

As M. Horatius wrote : "Whatever the reasons, it appears that the organizational structure of SVR has now collapsed. IMHO that organizational structure was rather artificial to begin with. It never really defined what SVR is."

Gn. Dionysius Draco on the other hand, believes that "a central problem to SVR is not, what we have considered in the past so often, how we define ourselves but rather what we DO."

He appears somewhat sceptical about the possibilities of remedying SVR's current crisis through yet another organizational reform, when he writes "Each year we amend or rewrite the Regulae, but our problems (very slow influx of new members, not enough people that really do or organise things, people that leave or go inactive inexplicably) continue to be the same." I think this is a very weighty remark we need to deal with in our discussions.

Draco's focus on "working on projects together" (he has been criticised - largely undeserved - for his 'business-like' way of seeing S.V.R.) and his disappointment at the fact that attempts to start such projects mostly fail was then criticised by consul Coruncanius, who appears to cherish a somewhat different ideal of what SVR should be about :

"Certainly doing what many of us were doing - posting on subjects of interest to members like Roman history, religion, history in the news, philosophic speculation, and the list goes on - wasn't enough for some of you. First the issue has turned on the question of what SVR represents and stands for. Now, to hear you tell it, it is what SVR does. Again I think it goes back to the conception of purpose of SVR...When I found SVR on the internet, I was very excited. I liked the atmosphere, the discussions and the free environment to learn, post and discuss anything and everything about Roman histouy, religion, philosophy, and culture...
But I will say that when I had the time, I asked members publically and privately what they wanted out of SVR? What did they want to see SVR become? I got very few direct answers..."

For Marius too, the "accepting community" aspect, and the exchange of individual thoughts, information, experiences, creative writing etc. stands central to SVR's purpose. He also puts a stress on the 'latinitas' of S.V.R., a concern we need to treat as well.

The question for this topic can thus be summarized briefly as : "what should SVR be and do". Should we be a community of friends, an amateur research group, a forum for the exchange of information, an active circle of people working on projects together, or a combination of different elements and, if so, where should our focus lie ?

Despite the objections to discussing this subject again, I think it is vital to define what S.V.R. is and should be if we want to give it a new start, attract new members and keep our current members involved and interested.

For reference, I've copy-pasted below the section "Identity, Nature, Goals, and Principia" of our current regula. It may help to serve as a basis for our discussion here.

Valete,

Atticus


1. 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.

2. The Societas is aware of the role of the internet in the contemporary world and consciously bases its existence and functioning thereon which does not exclude traditional methods of national or local recognition. The Societas recognizes only its own enactments as morally binding upon itself or its members qua members, in view of its international and autonomous character.

3. The Societas recognizes Latin as its official language, and English as the second and communicative language. All other languages shall also be permitted, bearing in mind that there will be members who do not understand certain languages. In the construal of any formal document of the Societas the official Latin version shall govern, if extant, Latin being the default reference language. All members ignorant of Latin at joining shall be encouraged to begin study thereof, although this shall be purely voluntary.

4. The Societas recognizes the recreated and reformed Religio Romana as its official spiritual basis, but guarantees full freedom of religious belief, conscience and practice to its members in whatever tradition, philosophy or faith they follow.

5. The Societas recognizes the philosophical traditions of Graeco-Roman civilization to be a major intellectual treasure of the human race, and encourages the practical appropriation thereof by the individual and the application of philosophia individually and collectively for the betterment of the individual and the world, to which it is still highly relevant.

6. The Societas regards the literature of the classical world to be the foundation of the humanistic tradition, the interest of human being in human being, and the discovery of Western humanity, a vehicle bringing the living presences of the far past down to the present to fascinate, move and inspire.

7. Membership in the Societas Via Romana is not to be sought for itself, simply to belong passively. The Societas urges every member to find specific modes of active contribution for themselves in one or more of its institutions. Membership in the Societas is a quest of exploration, an instrument of self-improvement and an offer of service. We define activity as doing one or more of the following things at least once in six months: posting on one or more of our official avenues, voting or participating in elections, joining in scheduled chat sessions and/or real life meetings and writing contributions for the site.

(a) Should a member not meet the requirements for activity set in the above paragraph in the sixth month of his membership, he will be informed of his or her status by the Censores acting collegially, inquiring of said member is still interested in membership.

(aa) If the Censores receive a negative answer, the inactive member will be removed from the Societas Via Romana

(ab) If the Censores receive no answer within a term of three weeks, the Censores shall pass this name on to the Praetores, who shall remove this member from the Societas Via Romana by means of an Arbitrium. Said member shall be informed of his right of Provocatio therein. If this does not happen, the removal of this member will be considered illegal.

(b) Should a member not meet the requirements for activity set in the above paragraph for a third consecutive time, said member's case will be passed on to the Praetores immediately, who must then decide whether or not to use an Arbitrium to remove the member.
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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:12 pm

I actually like the wording in the current regula. The only thing that I would change would be to remove the reference in the first line to "and, as far as applicable, re-creation,..." As I have written before, I am opposed to any attempts to create a virtual or micronation, and more broadly I don't believe that SVR should be dedicated to any political or social cause in the tangible world.

The quixotic pursuit of a revival of Rome in the real world has led the OP to its pointless, distracting infighting. When weak personalities behold the chimeric prospect of being a consul in a new Rome, and thus gaining the attention that their impoverished psyches crave, they become obsessed with their goal to the extent that they forget friendships and wreck the organization.

So let's forget about "re-creating" our Roman heritage. It was never lost.

By doing so we will show ourselves as distinct from, and more serious than, the OP.

What is the purpose of SVR? What should it be? I would answer in three words: Education, Enjoyment, and Friendship. That's what we are and what we do.

In my humble opinion,

Tergestus

P.S. I would also eliminate paragraph seven. I see no need to make a formal distinction between active and inactive members and to toss the latter out. The active members will be obvious to anyone who cares, and kicking people out is a labor intensive exercise that can sometimes hurt feelings, such as when a member has been unable to post due to work, study, or personal considerations.
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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:33 pm

Primus Aurelius Tergestus wrote:P.S. I would also eliminate paragraph seven. I see no need to make a formal distinction between active and inactive members and to toss the latter out. The active members will be obvious to anyone who cares, and kicking people out is a labor intensive exercise that can sometimes hurt feelings, such as when a member has been unable to post due to work, study, or personal considerations.


This paragraph was introduced in the regula to deter unmotivated visitors from joining SVR upon impulse without ever visiting the forum or doing anything with their membership, thus giving the censores work in processing their application without SVR ever 'receiving' anything 'in return'. Another intention was to get a clear view of how many members SVR really has (people often vanish quickly in online organisations).

I was a supporter of this measure at the time it was voted, but now I realise that it might indeed give the impression of a witch-hunt. It is also more labour-intensive than we realised beforehand.

Perhaps, to keep the good aspects of it while doing away with the bad ones, we could simply hold a bi-annual census, with members simply confirming, within a certain period, that they wish to remain a member of the Societas. A mass mailing and an online form could do that work for the censores automatically.

Valete,

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SVR, to me

Postby Aldus Marius on Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:41 pm

Salvete omnes...

The Societas Viae Romanae has always been, in my mind, first and foremost an educational institution. Even in "A New Foundation", I mentioned discipleships, study halls, collaborative learning, certifications, and eventual degrees. I think, as things stand, one could come away from a good Board-browsing session with enough knowledge to earn a degree elsewhere. Double that if the person peruses the Web-site contributions.

So I'm fine with Rectores (Deans), one or two overall Administrator-types, and a "student Senate" (which could be the Comitia, if the Rectores end up being the actual Senate). I view the Provinciae as satellite campuses. And of course we'd need as many good Webmasters as we could grab at one time, since without the 'Net presence, we cease to exist for most of the world, including my corner. All of these, plus collegiae and special-activity clubs, may be found at a University.

We'd only lose the Praetores and the Quaestores--in essence, the law-enforcement structure; why would a community college need these, in a format where date-rape and dorm-room theft are not really likely?

I'm not sure about the continued role of the Rogatores; elections should be far less frequent, and the Rectores and Aediles in particular should be appointed (not elected), and allowed to serve just as long as they are effective and can stand the work. There would, of course, be recall procedures for any of the appointive offices, and the elections we do have would set the terms of the rest.

We could ditch some of the obscurities like the Nomenclator <g> and the Magister Morum. The Censores could go on doing what they're doing, hiring help as they need it and basically serving as the Admissions Office (and keeping the rolls up-to-date).

In this way we could keep much of what we have, just with a different feel to it. The parts would interconnect a bit differently; the emphasis would shift. Depending on how formal we want to get (I wouldn't recommend getting too formal), we might eventually look a little like the Academia Thules.

But we'd still be the Roman community we all know and love; that is very important to me as to most of the members I've talked to. It's what brought me here, at a time when I was not much inclined to join a Roman anything. It's what's kept me here, and encouraged me to share everything from my VA Legion project to my stories to my very lamest jokes.

I don't think we can legislate that sense of community. It's just something that happens when a group of mature, agreeable Romans-in-Spirit meets to share their enjoyment of a common interest, in all its facets. But we can certainly give that community a structure that matches its mission, is easy to understand, supports when support is needed...and otherwise gets out of the way and leaves the Sodales to their explorations. I've suggested a few ways to do this; there are others, maybe some that I might end up preferring to my own.

OK, who's next...?
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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Tue Aug 16, 2005 4:00 pm

Perhaps, to keep the good aspects of it while doing away with the bad ones, we could simply hold a bi-annual census, with members simply confirming, within a certain period, that they wish to remain a member of the Societas. A mass mailing and an online form could do that work for the censores automatically.


I like the idea of a census as a compromise. But bi-annual is too often (six months passes rapidly). What about an annual or biennial exercise?

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Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:02 pm

Primus Aurelius Tergestus wrote:What is the purpose of SVR? What should it be? I would answer in three words: Education, Enjoyment, and Friendship.


I think Tergestus really made the point. I agree that we shouldn't recreate anything but that this is so far a virtual organization where people could share their passion for Rome, learn from each other by posting question on the forum and receiving answers. If friendships built up through this it's great and even greater if people get the chance to meet in real life.

I think the wording of the seven paragraphs is OK except that the word "re-creation" should be left out in paragraph 1 and that paragraph 7 should be revised. Members should be removed only if they are insulting, misusing the SVR for anything else, are spammers etcs. And for the latter we definitely need the webmaster(s) who could handle things like that quickly without even calling on the censores if the case is obvious. If a member is inactive for a long time the censores should check first, why this is the case. It could be even something like an illness or working somewhere else where access to the internet is not easy.
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Re-Creation?

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:51 pm

Salvete omnes...

As a self-confessed Roman Historical Re-Creationist, I have to wonder whether we're all talking about the same thing?

So far 're-creation' is being discussed as if it meant forming a micronation or otherwise trying to bring Ancient Rome back into being. But when I coined the term, I wasn't thinking about that at all.

'Re-creation' for me is learning how the Ancestors did things. It's a lot more about reviving lost arts than resurrecting lost Empires. Re-creation happens whenever someone weaves a tunic, replaces a lost hobnail in a caliga, concocts a fish sauce, or uses a peg sundial to tell the time of day. You could try running on a Roman calendar for a few years, with every eighth day a nundina; think of all the opportunities to tell your boss that you should really be off today! <g> Or go on a hike for five hours plus rest-stops and see if you make the Legionary's twenty miles. And then there were my activities in armor; I never felt right calling myself a reenactor because (a) I was by myself, and (b) I wasn't 'reenacting' anything, and (c) I was having too much fun! So--"Historical Re-Creationist".

It's pretty clear that the Concilium is not talking about what I do at all. So can we maybe find another term for the micronation thing, besides the one I created specifically for my and similar doings?

'Names for things' again. All my stoves are slippers. (Arf.)

In fide,
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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:07 pm

Salve mi Mari,

The present context of the term "re-creation" in the Regula seems to imply more than the activities that you enjoy (and some of us would like to enjoy). If the term meant only re-learning Roman crafts and testing Roman daily life, why the phrase, "as far as applicable"?

Anyway, are we agreeing that we should have some language specifically excluding any attempt to refound Rome (or any other sweeping objective in the tangible world)? Perhaps we could specifically limit our "foreign policy" (relations with the world outside the Societas) to the goal of diffusing interest in and knowledge about Romanitas?

I'm very interested in everyone's reaction.

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'As applicable'

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:53 am

Salve, mi Tergeste, et salvete omnes...

Census: I think we should have one at least once a year. Turnover on the 'Net is much too high to let the rolls age any more than that. I would prefer to see them done every six months, like we've been doing; however, I know the effort is enormously labor-intensive, so unless we also streamline the procedures for doing them, I won't insist.

'As applicable':
1. 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...

I do not see a permit for nation-building in this extract. Writing up a 'foreign policy' would mark us as an entity that thought it needed one, and make us more, not less, like the micronations. Perhaps we should instead define the three terms 'remembrance', 'reenactment', and 're-creation' more clearly. Or perhaps we could replace the "...as far as applicable...' with something like "...to the extent possible in the modern era...".

The '...as applicable...', to me, means that we are not going to be reviving (among other things) slavery, gladiator fights, and animal sacrifices. (Umm...we already muffed it on the second one; but nobody gets RL hurt, so I don't think anyone'll call us on it. >({|;-) Those are just the obvious examples, but they're the ones people worry about when you say 'Roman revival movement'.

We all know, here, that not everything from ancient times can or should be resurrected. Fortunately, as the kind of society we are, we have no mandate to do so. We do not try to be Rome-on-Earth. We know where we are: right here in the 21st Century. This means Marius mustn't go chucking javelins at oncoming traffic, even if he *is* simulating his response to a cavalry charge.

What we do wish to re-create and cultivate is the Rome within each Sodalis. In the SVR we seek to emulate the more enlightened of Rome's attitudes; to establish a core "user base" of Latinity; to share enthusiasm and a hefty knowledge base; and to revive such of Rome's humbler arts and sciences as we may piece together from the evidence. What we don't find in the Societas, we research or create ourselves and bring it to share. Some members come with offerings; some lend encouragement; some are seekers, come to discover what this is that has been stirring inside them. Some stick their heads in here just for the fresh air, the relief from an otherwise 'droid-like existence. Not all of them post. But all, hopefully, are fed by having encountered Rome here.

None of this is threatened in any way by a few random words in the Preamble. All who have come here have understood. We've had Spammers and 'Researchers' and flakes and trolls; but no one has tried to flog us for not overthrowing any governments.

But if a minor tweak will help keep an important idea from being mistaken for something else, I'm all for it.

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Re: 'As applicable'

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Wed Aug 17, 2005 9:29 am

Marius Peregrine wrote:[color=darkblue]Salve, mi Tergeste, et salvete omnes...

Census: I think we should have one at least once a year. Turnover on the 'Net is much too high to let the rolls age any more than that. I would prefer to see them done every six months, like we've been doing; however, I know the effort is enormously labor-intensive, so unless we also streamline the procedures for doing them, I won't insist.


Once a year would be even better, you're right. I don't think this needs to be enormously labor-intensive if it is well organised. My suggestion :

The censor sends an e-mail to all members, using the forum's 'mass-mailing' option for that, stating that, if they wish to remain a member of the SVR, they should simply go to http://www.etc., fill in their membership number (assigned to each member for easy data-processing when we 're-start' SVR) and submit the form. (Estimated workload : 5 minutes :))

When the period in which they can do this (say, 2-3 months) has passed, the censor notes all submitted numbers, puts them in counting order and deletes membership numbers not submitted. (Estimated workload : 30 min.)

If we accept this system, I propose a first 'lustral census' to be held after our curent reform, when the new censor has been elected / appointed.

Valete,

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Postby Q Valerius on Wed Aug 17, 2005 10:55 pm

I'm for the annual census.

Also, why don't we just eliminate the phrase "as far as applicable"? As I see it, it's entirely applicable to get the fish sauce as the Romans do it. What's the problem here, really? Otherwise, it looks good to me.

Also, I think we should emphasize the phraternal (to include males and females) organization that we are, a key point in hospitality, and furthermore delve into the academic institution that we strive to be.
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Postby Curio Agelastus on Thu Aug 18, 2005 9:40 am

Salvete omnes,

The census is certainly a good plan, although I suspect once per year might be more feasible than twice.

The rest of our discussion thus far, while relevant, does seem to focus on minor tweaks. I think we need to discuss bigger changes than this, otherwise nothing will change in SVR's slowly declining activity.

What were the reasons for the events that stimulated this crisis? What can we do to prevent them from occurring again? How can we help SVR find its way? In truth, amici, this seems more important than discussions over individual phrases of the Regula. Admittedly it's a core phrase, so I'm not trying to diminish these discussions, but I do think we need to concentrate on how to pick SVR up again. My own thoughts on this will come when I haven't just stumbled out of bed...

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Thu Aug 18, 2005 11:11 am

Curio Agelastus wrote:Salvete omnes,

The census is certainly a good plan, although I suspect once per year might be more feasible than twice.

The rest of our discussion thus far, while relevant, does seem to focus on minor tweaks. I think we need to discuss bigger changes than this, otherwise nothing will change in SVR's slowly declining activity.

What were the reasons for the events that stimulated this crisis? What can we do to prevent them from occurring again? How can we help SVR find its way? In truth, amici, this seems more important than discussions over individual phrases of the Regula. Admittedly it's a core phrase, so I'm not trying to diminish these discussions, but I do think we need to concentrate on how to pick SVR up again. My own thoughts on this will come when I haven't just stumbled out of bed...

Bene valete,
Curio.


Salvete Curio aliique,

Later today, I will open topics on the "bigger issues" that certainly need to be discussed a.s.a.p.

Looking for reasons behind declining activity is certainly a thing to be discussed as well. I will open a topic on that question as well.

Valete,

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Thu Aug 18, 2005 12:06 pm

Salvete,

I am not against a census, but mailing through the forum won't work: I think at least 1/3 forum members are not members of SVR. Added to that, there are still problems with the application form, and we might want to revise the webmail situation the officers of SVR are in (who checks their SVR webmail?).

For new Regulae (as Lupus once noted that is the correct term), I think it would be better to write a new one altogether and then discuss it in detail, rather than doing it in bits and pieces. Now as to the 'legal' core of our being and intention statement, I think everything of that works well. More important are internal regulations about the clockwork of SVR. The Regulae do not expressely mention any concrete goals or way of achieving these goals, and I think that's good.

Valete,
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Aug 20, 2005 4:20 am

Salvete omnes

As some of you know, the OP is currently running their biennial census. Someone there got the bright idea to put me as head of the Officina Census - nice since I now have access to all their member files.

Anyway, the way they are running it is a pain in the butt, and if we did it their way I would say not to do it more frequently than once every three years. It is a lot of needless work. Atticus' idea will work, except you will miss anyone who changes their addies without telling us. No great loss because it just means they aren't interested in staying. NR has a whole thing about how they HAVE to grow into an enormous web population, so they want to count as many people as possible, and they pad their list of members with duplicate memberships. Claim 2600 members where so far I count only 508 members. The other thing is when to conduct the census. NEVER do it during summer months. Run it for three months and send out your email once each month. Let the computers do the sorting

I don't think we have to do it every year. Really, how often depends on the purpose. Ancient Worlds never has a census, list over 10,000 members, almost all are ghosts, as they have maybe 30 people who are active. AW just doesnt care how many members they have. OP is obsessed by it. So what is the idea here? To be honest about how many sodales we have? Then I agree an annual registration - dont call it a census please - would be alright and would fit into the idea of us being an educational community. But if we are just a community of friends then what difference does it make, why do we have to count the number of sodales, and what is so bad with having inactive ghosts lying around?

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Sun Aug 21, 2005 2:04 am

Salvete,

But if we are just a community of friends then what difference does it make, why do we have to count the number of sodales, and what is so bad with having inactive ghosts lying around?


I agree. It's nice to know how many (active) members we have, but it's not really necessary. It would only matter if we would hold a vote and say "two thirds of the membership is required", but that's not going to be the case anyway, since we always say "two thirds of all voters".

It comes into play with the provinciae as well, as our current regulae state that a provincia must have at least five members in that area, but how serious do we want to be about those provinciae in the future ?

Other than that, I can't really think of a reason to count our members, other than to satisfy our curiosity.

As for what the SVR should be and do, I agree with what Tergestus and Aelia said, education, enjoyment and friendship. The wording in our current regulae actually still looks good to me. Draco suggested we start all over with new regulae, anyone else in favour of that ? Or do we revise the current one ?

Valete bene
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sun Aug 21, 2005 5:35 am

Salvete

I am for starting all over with new Regulae. I would like to see us get down to a single typed page if that is possible.

I don't think we need such a lengthy statement of our "Identity, Nature and Goals." Couldn't we just say that we are a community or sodalitas of Roman enthusiasts meeting together in friendship to share, enjoy, and learn from one another on topics of common interest related to Roma antica and other ancient cultures? Is it really necessary to go into everything else? We "recognize Latin to be our official language" but do we really use it very much in SVR? We "recognize the religio Romana as its official spiritual basis," meaning what? Section 1, paragraph 1 might be reworded a little differently, but beyond that we do not need the rest of lengthy section to be written into the Regulae.

Valete

BTW, with Identity, didn't someone point out that "Societas Via Romana" is not proper Latin? Are we going to correct that?
M Horatius Piscinus

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'Society of the Roman Way'

Postby Aldus Marius on Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:27 am

Salve, mi Horati, et salvete omnes...

I'm the guilty party. >({|:-)

My Latin is better some weeks than others. On one of the good weeks a few years ago, I mentioned to Draco that the name ought properly to be Societas Viae Romanae--the 'Society of the Roman Way'. I've nudged various Elders about it since. All agreed that it really should be corrected at the earliest convenience.

Well, guess what. Here we are.

But it won't be completely simple. We can change the names of things just about everywhere on the Web site and the Board (I believe there may even be 'macros' to achieve that effect without requiring a search for each individual instance). But what about our domain name?? www.societasvia... oh dear. Might have to leave that one the way it is?

Post Scriptum: I've been putting a line about the SVR on my business cards, with the URL. These get handed out at solo gigs, RenFaires and SCA events that I attend, as well as to people seeking my computer skills. Does anyone else do this, and do you think it's helpful for recruiting?

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sun Aug 21, 2005 8:37 am

Horatius Piscinus wrote:Salvete

I am for starting all over with new Regulae. I would like to see us get down to a single typed page if that is possible.


A good idea ! I'm looking forward to a new draft we could start working on.

Vale,

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Postby Q Valerius on Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:39 am

Marie, I too noticed it should be Societas Viae Romanae when I first started, but it's far too late now to correct that.
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