The culture of Rome is the oldest continuous culture in human history, existing longer than even Egyptian culture. For nearly 3000 years, it has grown from the assimilation of people and their cultures, borrowing expedient and desirable practices for itself. The modern culture which has resulted from this millennial process is a beautiful quilt of traditions and values built from disparate materials. Weaving these colors together is a purple fabric, symbolizing the common religious beliefs, language, and fundamental philosophy of the predominant Italian subculture.
Altogether, these diverse cultures constitute the superculture that is Roman society. Aspects of ancient Syria, Carthage, Persia, Gaul, Germany, Israel, Numidia, Hispania, and others are integrated into the agglomeration. Some - like Egyptian, Phoenician, Gallic or Hebrew culture - have defined themselves as prominent subcultures; comparable in influence to the predominant Italian one; in their own right. None is more noticeable, of course, than Hellenic culture. One might even say that Roman society is more defined by the culture of the ancient Greeks than the ancient Italians.
Outside the Empire, an armada of independent nations floats on this sea of Roman culture - falling under its massive sphere of influence. Roman goods are shipped to every market, Roman programming is played on telescreens everywhere, and Latin is understood by over half of humanity. Politics of the Imperium Romanum are keenly observed by politicians and regular folk across the globe; its events ultimately affecting the planet.
This Romanosphere is global in scale and ancient in age. However, it stems from, or perhaps has produced, a belief in the dominance of Mediterranean cultures. By consequence, only Greeks, Syrians, Numidians and the like are granted citizenship in the great Empire whereas foreigners, known disdainfully as the peregrini, are subject to the burdensome tributum to the Senate and left undefended by the Constitution.
Roman sociologists recognize three distinct concepts in the ordering of their society:
- Potestas (Power): A citizen's ability to do what they want despite resistance from others.
- Dignitas (Status): A citizen's prestige, popularity and honor or how highly society regards them.
- Ordo (Class): A citizen's legal and economic position in society based on birth and achievement.
A Caesar has the highest dignitas, potestas and is of the highest ordo in Roman society. If sociologists do not recognize any absolute standard for these ordinal measures than the Emperor is the relative standard to which the qualities of other residents in the Empire are compared.
Stratification by ordo starts at birth where the child is given his or her father's standing in society - patriciani, equites, plebes, indigeni or peregrini. Intermarriage is discouraged by costing the higher class family dishonor but does happen on occasion. Appeals can be made to praetores or the Emperor on the basis of wealth to advance but these are rewarded only in extraordinary circumstances and almost never to citizens who aspire to join the aristocratic order of patricians. Conversely, a member of the upper classes can move down by having him or her self adopted into a family of lower class. This is tremendously disgraceful.
After the Emperor, the peak of the pyramidis societas is the imperial family; currently represented by the Rulliania gens. When the Alexandrian dynasty willingly fell in 1885 , praetor Pakus Martinex Rullianus Juvenis was elected Caesar by the Senate and Curia Episcopates. His descendants form what is known as the Pontifican dynasty, after his imperial title, Caesar Pontifex. Altogether, the imperial family holds thirty offices of magistrate and a number of prestigious military and collegial posts. Next to Janus Antoninus Maximillianus, old Gaius Rullianus Carenus, owner of the Patronus International Collegium, has the most prestige and power.
Of course, the Rullianiae are technically only the most important clan of the larger ordo patricianus. Their prominence is unusual in Roman history as the Rullianiae are an offshoot of the ancient Fabiae and not one of the fifteen great families of Rome. Competitions for power between these ancient clans shaped the political landscape of Rome for the last two and a half thousand years - since its foundation on the seven hills. Marriage outside Greek or Italian families by members of these clans has consistently resulted in disinheritance.
Among the great Roman families are the Corneliae, Juniae, Juliae, Valeriae and Serviliae. The Lucretiae, falling in influence since the first world war, were finally ousted as the fifteenth great family by the Rullianiae when the change of dynasty took place.
While a mere 11,390 patricians belong to the fifteen great families and 177 to the greater imperial family, more than 6.3 million citizens (0.29%) count themselves among the aristocracy. Advantages to membership in the nobility, aside from natural dignitas, are invulnerability to sentences of execution (except under orders of the Emperor), resistance to imprisonment, ability to freely enter government facilities (unless prohibited), special placement at venues like the theater and market, and the right to follow the cursus honorum, a path through the entire political spectrum of the Roman Empire from minor offices to consul. Nevertheless, patricians obey the same laws, pay the same proportional rate of taxes and have the same vote as lower class citizens.
Next on the social ladder is the ordo equester. Attainable by accumulating over 100,000 Dn, equestrian rank is enjoyed by nearly 156.9 million citizens who make up most of the top 8% of earners in the Empire. Lacking the dignitas of the nobility, many equites are still wealthier than their higher class brothers. The equestrians are renowned for a work ethic that is the envy of other countries, bringing them wealth through their own hard work.
For this common trait, some of the largest collegia are owned by an equestrian rather than a patrician. The very richest of these corporate magnates is Marcus Hephaestus Asperus with a net worth of 10.4 billion Dn from his ownership of the Danubian Labor Collegium - largest corporation on the planet.
Below the upper classes is the ordo plebis - socially divided into the Upper-Plebeian order and the Lower-Plebeian order, also known as the proletarii. The former constitute a Roman middle-class, the 64.29% of the Empire's populace, and owners of modest wealth. They perform the jobs which are laborious but rewarding like teacher, artisan, actor, doctor, banker and those with some authority like shop or bar manager. Their economic distinctiveness from the proletariat is property ownership, since the proletariat merely live in rented housing.
Professions of the proletariat are those of farmer, miner, janitor, doormen, street cleaner, servant and the like, ones which few Romans consider respectful employment, despite the rigorous physical and mental fortitude required to perform many of these tasks. Many live on little more than minimum wage - 3 HS or $37.50 US - offering hardly any opportunities for socio-economic advancement.
A rapid rise in Roman society is a rare event and often the subject of cultural legend. These people are referred to as novi homines (s. novus homo) with great respect. They are celebrities deserving of their fame. Cicero, the great statesman and namesake of the current Caesar, is the poster boy of the New Men - he is after all perhaps the most famous non-Emperor in Rome's history with more records about him than Julius Caesar himself. Other famous New Men are Archaedavincus Acutula, the Empire's most prolific inventor; Aulus Lugius, the finest playwright of all time and Lucius Volta, a tremendously successful scientific entrepreneur. They are the legendary cases of plebeians who rose to become patricians. Such tales give hope to the Empire's billions of plebs.
Those who do not hold civitatem Romanum are generally called peregrini though the term is more specifically applied to non-citizens from a foreign land. Their reception in Rome has varied from time to time and today depends on dignitas. Although dignitas is a distinct Roman social concept, Romans have their own ways of judging a visitor's prestige and honor. Wealth is a major factor, as can be seen by the number of rich Maya who mingle with the Roman aristocracy but style is almost equally important. Romans love inviting interesting people to their dinner parties and social events. Therefore, a visitor from Japan will catch the interest of citizens if he or she appears to display unique aspects of Japanese culture - something which is still unique and exotic in Rome.
It is worth noting that since non-citizens are restricted from entering Italy, even the most insignificant dignitary from China or the UCC who is sent to Rome will be lavishly received by the deprived residents.
Beneath even the bottom rung of the social ladder are the indigeni (natives). Their treatment serves as an example of how the Romans, despite their defenses of human rights, have great potential for ethnic chauvinism. Most are kept from leaving their home provinces by exhorbitant transportation prices and are forced to pay about 20% of their income in the dreaded tributum (poll tax). Like peregrini, who are at least covered by their homeland, indigeni are not covered for education, healthcare or litigation.
Although the lives of African and Columbians under Roman rule is especially difficult - if far more tolerable than natives under other countries - Indians are treated decently by Roman society out of respect for the age of their culture. A beautiful monument, the Samsāriam, was even built in Hastinaporum to celebrate their five thousand years of existence and "opportunity to flourish under the Pax Romana".
Main Article: Christianity
The common cultural factor that glues Roman society together is the religio Christiana - a shared belief in a single God and in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Organized Christianity comes under the domain of the only recognized orthodox faith, that of the Ecclesia Catholica (Catholic Church), Rome's state religion.
Converting to Christianity on May 12, 330 CE through the Edict of Brundisium, the Empire has grown from 54% Christian to almost totally Christian when considering only its citizens. In modern times, Romans take great pride in their religious faith, openly discussing it in casual conversation. There is no stigma in professing one's belief or - in today's culture - non-belief at leisure.
However, in a country of 2.14 billion people, a mere 17.1 million do not profess a belief in a higher power. These atheist and agnostic - plus about two million strict anti-religious - people thinly populate the Empire but converse through the Collegium Atheismum, the only organized atheist body in the world. The majority of the irreligious are wealthy intellectuals who have personal qualms with the Catholic Church or who became disillusioned with the rigidity of religious faith. Despite their intelligent base and success at organizing, atheists have failed to challenge the two thousand years of theological hypotheses put forward by the Church. As well, silence in the face of their occasional attacks against religious institutions has dominated ecclesiastical policy for centuries.
Christian theology has a rich history of development, evolving closely with the scientific community of its period. Connecting science and religion among Romans has always been the belief that knowledge of nature constitutes knowledge of a fraction of the divine, a means of approaching the idea of God. In fact, until the electrical industrial revolution, about half of natural philosophers were clerics. Research into cosmology over the last two centuries has brought science once again next to religion in the search for knowledge. Modern inflationary models of the cosmos and the concept - but not the mathematics - of research into an extradimensional cosmic fabric actually derive from questions and theories posited by theologians not scientists, who until recently were uninvolved in such profound matters as the origins and holistic nature of the universe.
Regarding questions of the divine, no work is more seminal in the field than Augustine of Hippo's City of God. It laid the groundwork for the next thousand years of theological practice. Difficult problems like the existence of evil and the ontology of God were only satisfactorily resolved until the 11th century works of Gaius Rhonas. Overturning the predominant free will argument and ontological argument, Rhonas made arguments that seem to reflect phenomenology, a school of thought that would come three centuries later.
The candidness of Rhonas' profession of faith in his Tabula Theologica stifled the growing intellectual persecution of non-Christians by the Senate and inspired the Societas Apostolu Paulu, Christianity's first missionary group.
Attendance to mass is about 57-69% on a weekly basis and virtually all Catholics (88%) once a year. The most widely attended religious festival of the Christian calendar is Christomass or Saturnalia, a wonderful holiday over 24-26th December where, among countless activities, traditional social mores are reversed for one day. All children born the 25th in Rome are baptized by the Emperor, as Pontifex Maximus, himself. Secular celebration of this holiday has even spread to the Maya Conglomerate, whose people enjoy some of its festivities.
On such holidays as Christomass and Pascha, Romans tend to gather at the home of their gens' patriarch for family celebrations. Some patrician clans even rent an entire odeon or amphitheater to host private shows for their relatives to enjoy. The day after a feast such as Christomass is a day for people to relax in their homes and rest from last nights celebrations. This makes December 26 a favorite day for people wishing to walk city streets at a time when virtually no one else will be outside.
A facet of the Ecclesia Catholica is its separation into liturgiae - distinct ritualistic and linguistic divisions in the practice of the Christian mass and regular worship. These are the: Roman liturgy, Hellenic liturgy, Coptic liturgy, Punic liturgy, Hebrew liturgy, Indian liturgy and African liturgy.
What sets one liturgy apart from another are the language, prayers of importance, order of events during service, architecture of churches, art displayed in churches, feast days and other aspects of ritual. They are, however, united by canon law, catholic dogma and recognition of the Pontifex Maximus.
The Imperium Romanum's de jure language; used in its parliament, on its stock market and for most of its arts; is the Lingua Latina. Stemming from classical Latin, of the early Republic, modern Latin took its present form toward the end of the Republic and early Principate period. Grammatical structures remain stagnant since those days but thousands of words have been added and thousands of spellings modified. Despite modest changes, Latin is the oldest language in terms of intelligibility with prior variants. There are 2.12 billion speakers of Latin within the Empire, over 99% of the country. It is the primary tongue for every Roman school, in which most subjects are taught, and pervades the speech of the majority of telescreen broadcasts and radio shows. The federal government - including the ministries, Senate and Emperor - uses it as the common language of discussion. Altogether, this language is one of the most recognizable aspects of the Roman Empire, the one that has invaded other cultures to the greatest degree. The mere presence of Latin firmly indicates the extent of Rome's international reach and the presence of its sphere of influence.
Across the globe Latin has been learned as a second language by between 3-5 billion people, depending on how speaking proficiency is defined. It is certain, however, that anyone with a modicum of education understands and speaks this world language. Latin is the language of advantage, necessary for anyone with aspirations of an international, or even national, level of influence.
Semantics, syntax, phonetics and pragmatics of the lingua latina are administered by the Academia Lingua, founded around 1221 CE in Rome. Creating this institution was the final step in Caesar Magnus II's reformation of Rome's academic foundations. Its purpose is to centralize organization of Latin grammar and vocabulary while acting as an authority in disputes about the nature of the language.
The imperial education system took its present form in the 13th century, at the culmination of Caesar Magnus' federal reforms. In its original manifestation, it was a reflection of classical pedagogy, employed for over 1300 years, and of Platonic thought. Along the latter lines, the Senate and Caesar recognized that the education of the young largely determined the state of adults. For the Imperium to possess healthy, sane and productive citizens, arete (excellence) needed to be cultivated early.
After the first year of life, a human begins to walk. Once properly developed in a toddler, this key formative skill allows a child to maintain personal health by continued physical activity. Romans encourage youthful exercise by enrolling two-year olds into the first term of an eight year program. Its curriculum is a simple progression from games to athletic training, such as long-distance running and wrestling, and musical training. An educated and well-balanced Roman ten-year old is able to run 12 miles, lift 10 kg and play two instruments. These sorts of abilities are commonplace for Roman youth.
Despite this incredible result, children's classes are far from intensive. Roman children can expect no longer than six hours in school per day, much of which is spent in supervised playtime outside or in a youth gym. Exercise is encouraged with competitive games and a variety of play structures. Fighting between kids is tolerated since serious injury is almost impossible and the parents are responsible for the actions of their children so the school is immune from litigation for anything done by other children. During meals, nature and history videos are displayed to familiarize students with such things. Little lessons are given haphazardly but firmly throughout these nine years, covering the subjects of grammar, geometry, and ethics.
Every kid is enrolled in a class with other children born within the same one or two months. A rigid curriculum is imposed on instructors so that any Roman discatorium (children's school) follows a national format. Private schools for the age group of two to ten are nonexistent in the Empire. All discatoria are public although anyone is permitted private tutors.
After their 45th session, children graduate from the discatorium without pomp to a new method of instruction. Physical and musical lessons in youth have created a solid psychological and physiological basis for further education. The lax style of learning fades into compulsory classes and more academic material is introduced.
In addition to their trained excellences, the ten year olds beginning sessions in some Roman grammaticus (lower school) have received familiarity in a small range of topics. Virtually all such children can speak and write in Latin, usually with a vocabulary of around 15,000 well-understood words, while some (26%) have proficiency in a second language such as Greek or Coptic. Every Roman discatorial graduate has already spent years becoming familiar with two- and three-dimensional shapes and how to draw them using a ruler and compass. Furthermore, they can all count to 1000, understand how addition with natural numbers derives from counting, and use basic mathematical notation (for adding, subtracting, associating, and equating). Children are selected at their teachers' discretion over the last two years for one-on-one tests of these skills and knowledge. Those who do not pass their test are entered into specialty classes on free days before being retested toward the end of the eighth year.
In this way, everyone graduating from a Roman discatorium is proficient in the linguistic and mathematical skills necessary for further education. As another requirement, students of the discatoria have the notion and implications of equality drilled into their young minds. They are made to understand that everyone has wants like they do, that these wants have equal merit to their wants, and that some wants conflict with this equal merit.
Necessary courses for a Roman student to focus on each session are:
|Sess.||11 years old||12 years old||13 years old||14 years old|
Intro to Numbers
Addition (heavy focus)
Math Review (focus)
Large Number Math
Intro to Biology
Area and Volume
Right and Wrong
Dividing 2D Shapes
10's, 100's, 1000's, etc.
People as Ends
Intro to Motion (focus)
Motion - Maths
By 15, students: are well acquainted with arithmetic, understand basic geometry with some applications, have an intuition for the motion of objects in gravity (e.g. pendulums, rolling, bouncing, sliding), have rudimentary Latin writing skills for expressing ideas, can empathize with their fellow man, have a notion of duty to others, understand that other people are to be treated as ends not means, and are starting to familiarize themselves with variables. Romans recognize that these are skills that will be necessary for any functioning member of society - syntax, for expressing thoughts; mathematics, for managing money; and ethics, for cooperating with other citizens.
Athletic and musical training persist through these years, remaining an integral part of the education system until the age of 16, after which children have become citizens and may pursue health however they see fit. Opportunities to play music are ample in the final year of lower school since those students can freely mentor the younger kids.
The lessons at age 15 are somewhat more liberal than the preceding years. Mathematics shifts focus to algebra but students are not taught how to solve algebraic problems. The basic theory of solving for a numerical value of a variable is taught at first then students are given one or more problems to solve individually each lesson. The system is designed to foster independent problem solving skills and avoid rote memorization.
Moral lessons similarly shift to answering ethical problems. Students are presented with ethical dilemmas where they must evaluate what they should do. Like the algebraic problems, solutions are not given by teachers.
Science in Lower School
Exposure to how the natural world functions begins before the age of eight, with mechanical toys and demonstrations. Far from intending to teach anything about science, these are only meant to spark interests. In the 55th session, the demonstrations and games become more personal, with hours spent every week on them. After students learn about measuring units, actual scientific knowledge is introduced. Students are shown in the 60th session that objects fall at the same speed in a vacuum, that friction between objects brings them to a halt, and other basics that contribute to an intuition of moving objects. These lessons lead into explanations of what causes motion then, in the 65th session, students finally learn the mathematics of motion (kinematics).
Chemistry and biology are introduced in similar fashions, though later on than physics. By the time they graduate, students get how living things can be taxonomically categorized, have an intuition for the pH scale, grasp that everything is constantly chemically interacting with other things and know the animal body is a complex machine. Details are not given in the compulsory classes.
A wide variety of scientific information is available to most students in school libraries and by inquiring to science teachers to hear more. The understanding among lawmakers was that students do not learn well by compulsion and must be allowed to inquire out of interest. Having advanced knowledge, like that of calculus or organic chemistry, available but not forced onto students is seen by Romans as the best way to instruct the young. It is not until upper school, after the age of 17, that students learn the complexities of the sciences.
Entry into a universalis (university) often follows the grammatica (lower school) level of education - for students who do not want to enter an apprenticeship or are unable to join the academies. Here students can be instructed in courses that are within the classical branches of Roman philosophy. The result of 4-5 years in the university system - whose courses are homogeneous across the country - is a Universal Degree. A single degree declares all the fields of knowledge in which the receiver is fluent because of university education.
High intellectualism in the Roman Empire is monopolized by the Academiae. Leading the Academies of the empire are the Five Schools. First, the Academia Imperia Scientiae represents the scientific community; second, the Academia Augustana represents the legislators, lawyers and ethicists; third, the Academia Teslae represents the mathematicians and logicians; fourth, the Academia Lingua represents the linguists; and fifth, the Academia Galena represents practitioners of medicine. Since they are immersed in the work of educating people, the Academies have the power to decide national educational policy in their capacity as the Ministry of Upper Education. Praeministrum Eruditia is the highest intellectual position in the entire empire, the most respectable post to which academics can aspire outside pure politics.
The reward for an academic education is becoming certified as a Doctor (PhD) of a particular field. A doctorate is a requirement for careers in medicine, law, politics, teaching, research and commanding military office.These are the jobs that Romans believe need expertise to be properly performed.
To hold political office in the Roman Empire is considered a great honour. Roman political philosophy dictates that the essential members of government cannot be unskilled in solving moral or economic problems. A senator, consul or even emperor must have the theoretical and practical knowledge to adjudicate, legislate and lead.
Every future Roman citizen starts his or her career with a physical and musical education in youth. The richest families will have private caretakers for their children though the result is much the same. At the age of 11, most young patricians go into privately-owned schools. Their lessons must abide by the national standards of the imperial education system but their smaller class sizes allow greater attention from the teachers and their access to materials, like holographic orreries or virtual reality lessons, provides many rare opportunities for students.
Once they hit the age of 18, patricians seeking political offices must enter an academy to learn advanced ethics and economic theory. A minimum of five years must be spent there, except in the case of the most gifted people. With theoretical understanding in hand, aspiring politicians must go into the world to seek out experiences. For the next three to five years they are expected to get involved in local and national affairs; working with businesses, seeing the underprivileged populaces of Africa and Columbia, connecting with already established political players, and other such activities. There are no official standards for what must be done but a patrician's record during these years will go along way to impressing the Caesar when he asks for permission to enter national politics.
The next step is to return to the academies for about three years studying law. Attending a number of different academies around the empire is encouraged during this time. Finally, around the age of 30, a patrician can apply for membership in government. His record and knowledge will be severely tested during this time, and he is not by any means guaranteed acceptance by the Caesar. Those twelve years of preparing to enter politics were a way for the state to filter the inept and unworthy, allowing only the best and brightest to partake in Rome's sovereignty. This monumental test is the first stage in one's cursus honorum.
Romans are internationally famous for their sports, a legacy carried on from the Greeks. Hundreds of ball sports, stick sports, track sports and water sports originated from Rome and its dominions. None had more renown than the Ludi Olympiae (Olympic Games), largest of the Panhellenic games.
Opened sometime in the 8th century BCE, the Olympics reached their zenith in 6th and 5th century as Greece threw off the yoke of Persian oppression. Sadly, they declined under Roman domination until very few were being held by the 3rd century CE. The year 247 saw Caesar Marcus abolish the games to make room for the Magna Ludi Saeculares - a year-long event celebrating a millennium of Rome's existence.
That year marked the start of a new era of the Ludi Capitolani (Capitoline Games), Rome's regular sporting and artistic fair. The new Capitoline Games reinstated the old lustrum period of counting time, aligning some political actions to coincide with the games. The Emperor re-initiated the games not only to cover the end of the Pax Romana but to cause a flourish for the beginning of Rome's second millennium.
A majority of local nations participated in the first games of 247 - Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, Numidia, Carthage, Dacia, Armenia and Syria - for about eighteen separate events including the discus throw, pentathlon, boxing, stadion races and long jump. The Emperor had the honor of choosing where to hold the next Ludi. In the reign of Magnus II, the practice of deciding by popular assembly in the Host City began. Teams have been organized by province since 723 when emphasizing national distinctions had become less desirable.
Today, the Ludi are once again styled according to nations, through the Foederati administrative system - with a Maya and a Japanese team competing as well. This leads to a total of 20 capitoline teams: Italy, Germany, Gaul, Britain, Hispania, Carthage, Syria, Egypt, Judaea, Audenisonea, Caribbean, Transylvania, Oceania, Muscovy, Greece, Numidia, India, Arabia, Japan and Maiana. They compete in 360 summer events and 230 winter events testing individual and team strength, agility, coordination and finesse every five years. These Ludi, still known in Greece and India as the Olympics, receive a tremendous international fanfare, over 4.5 billion people watching them around the world and other countries begging for participation in the games.
Outside the Olympics, and on a more Roman level, the Bellatoria Championship plays every year from July to September. Described by commentators as a "purely Roman sport", Bellatoria is indeed a polarizing sport for the entire Romanosphere. 86 of the major cities participate in the championship, pitting their top teams against others across the country. Qualifiers are played year-round to determine which cities have the honor of participating, the previous year's winner automatically qualifying.
Bellatoria itself developed from a leisurely competition of soldiers during the conquest of Germania in the 400's. Its modern form pits two teams of 24 players (a duodecurion) whose 25th players serve as legati. The goal is to carry the opponent's legatus over the halfway line to score points, one for every fifteen seconds. This is a full contact sport with no equipment, only a light fabric armor to protect players from scratches and grass burns.
A similar but less violent sport is played throughout Greece and Italy, achieving nowhere near the prestige of Bellatoria. This Harpastum is basically rugby in reverse. Teams score by keeping the ball in their goal for ten seconds. These matches are extremely fast paced - going only up to 100 points - and are lightly regulated. No equipment is official and teams of any number up to ten can play. Harpastum is a popular leisure sport for young, rich Romans, something which has given it a reputation as a gentleman's sport. Every other year in October a Greek city hosts the Athenian Championship where Greek and Italian cities compete to be first in the world. Europeans also enjoy the golf-like game of Paganica as a leisure activity and as a professional sport in the African and Caribbean Championships in December and January respectively.
Not all sports played in Rome are Roman. Ullapila, a high-impact ball sport, developed out of the Maya game of Ullamaliztli during the reign of Alexander XIV. Ullamaliztli was one of the Emperor's favorite sports and on diplomatic missions to the Conglomerate, the Maya would always put on a show for him. It came to his attention that North Columbian Romans were adapting their own version, with several teams of their own. This new version became known as Ullapila and in 1855, the Emperor opened the official Nike Championship for Roman teams.
Since the Roman game is played indoors, the national tournament runs through the winter months of December, January and February. The frequent champion of the games, Halorium, is the only major Roman city with its own Ullapila and Ullamaliztli teams, competing in both the Maya and Roman tournaments for the sports.
Food & Drugs
It is a Roman custom to combine the ravenous enjoyment of food with socializing. The mother of Roman meals and social events is the cena (dinner), a meal which has barely changed in the last 2,000 years though the dishes themselves have become more and more exotic to the average Roman taste buds. Even the plebeians enjoy dinner parties in modern times. These are nothing like an aristocratic cena.
A classic cena starts around 5pm; with great punctuality; and goes straight into the night. The meal is so long that smart guests will have only eaten breakfast that day and maybe worked up an appetite with light exercise. This monumental feast opens with a gustatio (appetizer), a non-filling course featuring delectable treats to get people's taste buds ready for the prima mensa (main course) which can last several servings depending on the ambition of the host. In the last few hours, out comes the secunda mensae (dessert). Treats offered at this point might include fruits like figs and pomegranates or sweetened pastries like cakes, rolls and fruit tarts. This part of dinner is usually very filling but many will not notice in their inebriety. When the party is ending, and the party has been a success, a guest will praise the host with one last comissatio (round of drinks) before guests return to their homes, often carried away by their servants.
Romans like the hold cenae in a triclinium (dining room) on couches (lecti) circling the tables. These are long recliners which let people lie down comfortably while conversing with other guests or the host. On average, a patrician in Rome will attend twenty dinner parties a year though some gourmets are known to attend upwards of a hundred. Given the sheer volume of food, some hosts will permit vomiting from their guests but this has come into disrepute for men and is considered unthinkable for a self-respecting Roman woman.
Dinner parties are an opportunity for the host to flaunt his wealth by providing expensive entertainment. Although most shows during the meal are background pieces like exotic dancers or music, some hosts will steer dinner conversation by having brutal fights between boxers or small animals while others pay performers to make great displays of skill like sword swallowing or gymnastics for the guests. Memphis famously has an amphitheater that can be rented for a night so that a host can provide grand spectacles like a play or gladiatorial combat.
At dawn, the middle and lower classes eat an ientaculum, sitting normally at a table with their family. This gets some energy into them before quickly leaving for work. Since wealthier citizens tend not to have such obligations, they enjoy a different meal around 10-11 am. This prandium's closest equivalent in other cultures is the less common ''brunch as it tends to get served with food from both the ientaculum and vesperna - Rome's equivalent of lunch. The latter meal is most often forgotten by Romans because it is completely informal, merely a means of regaining enough energy to make it through a long day.
Only the cena and prandium are served in public restaurants since no one would pay for the basic bread and vegetables that are staples of other meals which can easily be prepared for less in their own homes.
Both kinds of breakfast feature some kind of wheat bread dipped in olive oil or served with cheese and crackers. Prandium is interesting because it usually features meat of some kind, like pork or beef and animal products such as eggs. The most popular meat for this time of the day is lucanica, a short, smoked pork sausage.
As previously mentioned, appetizers are foods which maximize taste without filling the stomach. The variety of food that could be served is vast, however,making a comprehensive list almost impossible. Some favorites are: fava beans, lentils, peas, shrub leaves for seasoning, boletus, truffles, snails, clams, oysters, thrushes, dormice, sea urchins and mulsum, a mixture of wine and honey. Honey tends to be generously added to servings.
A main course consists of rich, heavy meats like duck, chicken, turkey, beef or roasted pig stuffed with sausages and seasoning. Hares, laurices (rabbit foetuses), peacocks, swans and especially mullus (goatfish) are considered fine delicacies, even today. To add taste, the Romans put in a multitude of spices. Pepper and hundreds of Eastern spices are imported daily in vast quantities from India and Indonesia to serve this demand.
One of the most common seasonings, however, is and has always been garum, a sauce made by exposing salted fish intestines to elevated levels of heat over the course of a month or two. The result is a very strong smelling fish sauce that is the most popular food condiment next to salt. In the Roman culinary arts, a dish is considered most successful if even the most experienced gourmet cannot recognize its ingredients because the food is so heavily disguised by mixing it and adding spices.
Roman wine is famous for the volume produced on a national scale and the quality on an individual basis. The Empire's most famous wineries, of course, are in Gaul, Hispania and Italy. These regions alone produce over 40 billion L annually, alongside the 80 billion L supplied by the rest of the Empire. Rome's level of production barely satisfies its 112 billion L - 52 L per capita - demand for wine, leaving little room for export even when imports are considered. The average Italian, Greek or Phoenician in particular drinks 87 L a year.
Other levels of wine production are: eight billion L by the Inca; six billion L by the Mongols and five billion L by the Maya. As some of their consumption is imported, Rome is able to annually export 11 billion L.
The other prominent alcoholic beverages are beer and vodka. The latter's name in the Nord and Slavic regions where people drink it is vorka, from an old word for "to burn". It gained popularity in Muscovy during the 10th and 11th centuries when it started to be produced from grain. In modern Scandinavia, an astounding 8 L are drunk on an individual basis over a year.
Beer, on the other hand, is a popular drink worldwide. With a global consumption of 420 billion L it is the third most consumed beverage by volume behind water and milk whose quantities are off the charts. Romans alone drink about 160 billion of those liters while the Mongols take 145 billion. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Romans are the most excessive imbibers of alcohol in the world.
Recreational drugs are nowhere near as popular in Rome as they are in other parts of the world due to the social conservatism of the average citizen. One drug that came into use for a time was opium, brought in by trade with the Caliphates in the 1100's, in its natural capacity as an anesthetic. The potential to provide swift bliss and comfort has been taken advantage of since the late 13th century. By the 1500's, the majority of opium was used for recreational purposes as a more potent form of the compound (morphine) could be purchased from the Maya, who had stolen opium from Roman colonies during the two hundred years war and invented a better alternative.
Another psychotropic, cannabis, was introduced to Romans trading around India in the 8th century. No medical functions were noted by traveling doctors so the Senate never supported a cannabis trade. Nevertheless, Greek and Egyptian guilds/crime families noted the possibility of marketing it for recreational use, buying the plant in large quantities during the 900's. When colonization of the New World opened, plantations were moved there to take advantage of the government subsidy on colonial slaves. Today, cannabis, like any other drug, is not illegal in the Roman Empire - some restaurants will even offer it before meals. As medicinal uses started to be noticed, it began to be sold in pharmacies. It is, however, discouraged among the patrician order who generally view recreational drug use, outside fine wine, with disdain.
Overall, recreational drug use is low in Rome relative to countries like the Caliphate, Conglomerate or Mongolia. Measures have been made to ban imports of foreign drugs, such as one potent hallucinogen sold by the Maya since the 1800's, to reduce Roman dependence on foreigners but there has never been a legal attack on drugs.
There is a long history of studying ethics in the Empire, which Romans feel they rightly inherited from the Greeks. However, where ancient morals are prominent in other cultures, like Confucianism in the Orient and Hananism in the Four Provinces, Roman ethics comes from the academic system of philosopher Octavius Regulus outlined in his magnum opus published in 1259.
Body LanguageAs with all societies, body language is of immense importance when conveying ideas during social interactions in the Roman Empire. Understanding these signals is vital to gaining a proper understanding of Roman culture and the intricacies that it entails. Although this is not a complete analysis, it hopefully serves to further immerse oneself in the Roman lifestyle.
To start off, the most famous action in Roman public speaking is known as the adlocutio, often performed by caesars, generals and guildmasters when addressing inferiors. One does the adlocutio by pointing the arm upwards and towards the person being addressed then pointing one finger subtly ahead of the speaker. More than anything it conveys power and usually garners respect for a speaker from the audience.
The most powerful signal in Roman customs is however the genuflectio, something which is performed almost exclusively by the Emperor or the very arrogant. The action is a sign to the receiver that the person making it is well above them in importance, and that they should kneel before them. It is done by pointing the arm forward and down, at a slight angle, with the palm facing downward. For anyone to otherwise perform the genuflectio is a great insult to a person's honor, and in the 16th to 18th centuries could result in getting shot.
Another insulting gesture to the Romans is the flipping of the digitus impudicus at a person. One of the simpler signals, giving someone the finger simply entails showing them one's middle finger with the palm facing away from them. The connotation here being "up yours". Also, doing the same thing, only with the little and index fingers out is a sign known as the cornutus and implies to the receiver that they have an unfaithful wife. Lastly, forming a circle with the thumb and index with the other fingers radiating outwards is an indication that you think someone performs lewd sexual acts, and like the others does a dishonor to the receiver. Such gestures are hugely insulting in upper-class Roman society.
An arm crossing over the body is a universal gesture to all human beings that indicates either uneasiness or displeasure at what one is hearing. The Romans have a unique variant of this for themselves, one which is more subtle than the standard crossed arms and actually helps the user to portray dominance even while in this defensive position. One of the arms is crossed over as normal but the arm which it touches is raised vertically with the thumb touching the other fingers in a "beak" shape. This beak gesture is also used frequently by Romans in a conversation to emphasize a point while speaking, with the implication being that it is a threat for if you don't accept their argument (though it is usually not as serious as this).
A standard greeting in the Roman Empire is a handshake wherein each participant grabs the other around the wrist rather than the palm. This came from the practice of checking for concealed weapons when greeting a political or business opponent. Though its formal variant is usually done by having each person stand still directly opposite each other, a friendlier and more commonly used version has the participants use their left hand to gently touch the other's elbow. Relatives or long-time friends will often follow this sort of thing up with a hug, an action which is in general only done when two people are personally close to each other. Unfamiliar members of the opposite-sex will usually greet each other with a kiss on each cheek whilst kisses on the lips are reserved for either the sealing of a deal or the bedroom. Unlike most cultures, a peck on the lips between two men is viewed purely in this business context, distinguishing itself from its intimate counterpart by being quick and uninvolved. The wedding ceremony is the one place where these two meanings merge as one.
The Romans especially distinguish themselves from OTL modern Italians in that touching another person during a conversation is considered rude, as are exacerbated hand gestures involving the waving around of one's arms. In many of their attitudes the Romans show similarities to the OTL British. Unnecessary smiling is considered undignified for the upper-classes and even poor Romans have their chin pointed upwards in pride when they look at foreigners. The hands together behind-the-back is another stance taken by most Romans in foreign, even simply non-Italian locales. It establishes that they are in control and puts them in a position to be more easily able to bring their hands to bear on some other tasks in one swift motion. To the Romans, the appearance of power is an indispensable way for them to project power.
The primary imperial culture is the one which evolved from the ancient Latin people and has persisted for the entire existence of the city of Rome. It is the culture most seen by foreigners and most followed by the Empire's citizens. Although it has assimilated traits from countless other cultures, it is the way in which these traits are combined that makes the culture truly Roman. It is this aspect that has distinguished it and made it more than just the sum of its parts.
Furthermore, Italian or Roman culture continues to actively influence those other cultures that make up the Empire. Its defining traits are efficiency in its practices and splendor in the art which it creates. Romans are characteristically arrogant about their position in the world, to the point that they view other nationalities as being inferior to themselves. Though this appears to fall deep into the territory of racism, it is actually a belief in the superiority of Roman culture, not the Roman race itself. In fact, Romans are quite happy to bring other races into their Empire, so long as they accept Roman culture.
Roman art forms have been in existence nearly as long as the Empire itself, but constant changes in virtually all areas over the years has made most modern Roman art indistinguishable from its originals. Interestingly, several of the Roman art forms, in particular the visual arts, has supplanted regional styles of art in many parts of the Empire. Much like the Lingua Latina, Roman art is one of the most popular in the world, and the city of Parisium, Rome's scientific hub, is widely viewed as a center for the arts and culture in general, taking on a role similar to its OTL counterpart.
Visual ArtsWhile mosaic art was once the dominant form of Roman artistic expression in the visual arts, its significance gradually died down during the VIIth Century, particularly during the reign of Comptus I. The sleeping giant that is painting then took its hold. Historians usually attribute this shift to the development of perspective techniques by painters of that time period, a technique similar to OTL Renaissance artists like Michelangelo. By the XIth Century, Veritamilis or Realism style of painting became the most popular style in the Empire. It sought to imitate as perfectly as possible the real world, essentially creating an image that looks almost like a photo. This made artistry a highly exclusive business as incredible skill was required just to make it anywhere.
Later, Emperor Optime created the Academia Artificis (Academy of Artists) in Parisium to promote the creation of even greater works of art, and preserve the artistic status quo from attempts to shift things in a different direction, a similar goal as the very same Emperor's linguistics academy had. In any case, this organization has fully succeeded in its goal, and even in modern times, any artist with the least bit of respect will only paint in the realist style. Still, this hardly limits the imagination of the artists. Realism stipulates that the art be life-like, not copied from life. Throughout the centuries entirely fictional and fantastical scenes have been depicted, displaying images that would be impossible to see in the real world. Amongst these works of fiction were those of a more biblical kind. In the late-1400's, early-1700's and 1900 to now, art based off of the holy book were the most fashionable to make. Furthermore, since the reign of Sapiens, art depicting scenes of Roman, or Roman influenced, history has been next or most common. Even today, scenes of famous events such as the Battle of Kor'na Yasse or the Assassination of Lucius have been depicted in paint, at the side of depictions in other media.
In talking about Roman art, a passing mention must be made of sculptures. The art of sculpting has followed a very similar path as that of painting, even in having its own version of the Veritamilis style. Whatever the style that was in use, sculptures have almost always been tools of both the government and the church. From the colossal statue of Christ at the sea gates across the Bosporus Straits, to the Colossi that have been erected by virtually every Emperor, examples of this style of art are the easiest to come by. Unlike OTL however, old pieces have been continuously upgraded over the years, receiving new coats of paint once one started to fade or go out of style, and even having replicas replace the old ones in public areas just so that they may continue to look nice. In all forms of visual art, aesthetics has always been the primary Roman goal.
Performing ArtsIn the realms of music and theater, the Romans can be said to have lagged a little behind the East for most of history. Taking all that they knew about music from the Greeks, the Romans made very simple music often using single melodies at one time, completely foregoing the idea of harmonies. Not even exposure to the Middle East could change this, as the only effect it had was to increase the scale of notation that the Romans used, making it slightly more similar to Western OTL music sheets. The early Christian period, between 300 and 1050 AD featured a great variety in singing, often characterized by the repetition of verses from the Latin Bible. Though there were some examples of singing harmony with instrumentation, it was usually just one or two instruments and the harmonies made were rather simple.
Theater as well was very basic throughout the early centuries. It followed the Greek form wherein actors wearing extravagant costumes and masks overacted in order to be certain that everyone watching understood the scene. While this was effective in displaying a play that was generally understood by all, it placed severe limitations on the creativity of both the playwrights, and the actors.
Following the education revolution of the XIIIth Century, there was period known in musical history as Renascie, or the "rebirth" of music and theater. A noted musician, playwright and composer named Aulus Motias Lugius wrote a play called Surgum Augusti (The Rise of Augustus) in 1289, beginning the Renascie movement. The piece was the first to have an elaborate musical score playing in the background throughout, with the music changing to emphasis the mood of the scene. Furthermore, he pioneered the idea that instead of masks and elaborate costumes, characters would each carry or wear one identifying "thing" throughout the entire play, regardless of the situation. Both of these ideas opened up countless avenues for theatrical and musical expression. Due to the success of the play (it was said in 1299 that you could not find an able-bodied Roman who had not seen it) the ideas of Motias quickly caught on among other artists. Nevertheless, it was Motias who did it best, and the works he made throughout his career basically set the standard for which nearly all Roman theater, and even music, would follow for centuries to come.
The music in Motias' plays was unlike any that had ever been composed in the Empire, as it was the first to feature more than 30, even 10, instruments playing together in harmony. This was achieved by replacing the Greek Chorus, a group in front of the stage who explained the scene, with Motias' Orchestrum. In order to increase his repertoire of music during his plays, Motias experimented with different instruments to achieve just the right sound that he wanted. Trying on a whim to play one lute with another, he found a very distinct sound was produced. With this as a starting point, he isolated the concept behind what had happened, a string that is used on a set of strings to produce a sound. He dubbed his invention the Vitula, as he believed it was the pinnacle of stringed instruments. Working with different sizes and string arrays, he perfected several distinctive classes of Vitulae. By the mid-1300's, Vitulae were by far the most popular instrument in the entire Roman Empire, with the idea having spread not only to all its smaller cultures, but even abroad to the Middle East and Asia, where similar instruments were also being designed.
Given the importance placed on the Latin language, Roman literature had almost continuously been the most exemplary form of writing on the planet. It is therefore that Roman literature itself is classified as any piece of writing that is written in the Lingua Latina. This includes medical textbooks, scientific notebooks, historical texts, poetry and of course, written works of fiction.
Roman fiction was usually characterized as offering merely an example of an entertaining instance of a particular type of situation. For example, the novel Deipnosophistae by Athenaeus (231), is about a series of dinner parties at the house of a single patron, Ulpian, where theories on literature, history and ancient traditions and art are discussed in length. Something high-class Romans, even up to the present day, find highly amusing. Other early works of fiction include Parricidhospes (356), about a hilariously inept, yet lucky, murderer; Asineus Aureus (670), a Christian rewrite of the old classic Metamorphoses; Ecce Domine! (694), a heretical retelling of the story of Christ (for which the author was executed) and the classic series of 27 books by Algierus Itineris (1071), about the fantastical journeys of a mid/high-class Roman through places such as Hell, Heaven, an "inescapable" island of tiny people, and other incredible places.
The latter novel is one of the first in a new wave of literary practice, the Ordinis, or book series. Algierus pioneered the idea that instead of creating characters and forgetting about them once the book was done, authors could actually develop an entire world of their own through the creation of several books. Although Itineris is the first and one of the best of its kind, the 1712 classic series Casus is the real apex of the style. It acts like a series of history journals or textbooks that describe a world where after the assassination of Julius Caesar, Cassius manages to kill Marc Anthony and Augustus and take the position of Dictator. This leads to the Fall of the Roman Empire (one of the books) and the emergence of thousands of little barbarian kingdoms. The world created by the author is incredibly detailed, spanning more than 140 novels and 25 supplementary texts and featuring more than 122,000 named characters. It is truly a masterpiece of literature.
Well over 200 million books have been published in one of the three primary Roman languages (i.e. Latin, Greek, and Phoenician). A further 100 million texts have been translated from their original language into Latin, including: the Book of the Dead, the I-Ching, Art of War, Tao Te Ching, the Vedas, and Qur'an. Millions of these books are the collections of massive public libraries spread throughout the Roman world. The preservation of culture is a major goal of the Romans
As the primary culture of the state, the symbols that represent Roman Culture also apply to the Empire itself. Although there are nearly one hundred different things or people which alone could represent the Empire, there is one symbol which practically IS the Roman Empire. This symbol is SPQR. Like YHWH to God, SPQR is the literal description of the Roman Empire, one which has persisted for millennia. It is written on virtually every Roman government document and engraved on every piece of government property and every building in Rome. The phrase has even entered into Roman Law as a formula, a constant in all legal matters. Since the 1100's, people had already begun to refer to it as the "Roman Tetragrammaton", and nowadays it is an almost ubiquitous phrase.
Nevertheless, there are other symbols that are used to represent Rome. For instance, there is the cross and Chi-Rho; both symbols of the Papal office and Christianity. Rome's representative animal, the Eagle, is often shown as a statue or figure atop staffs and flags. In particular, the three-headed eagle represents the power of the Empire that are vested in its three capitals: Constantinopolis, Rome and Carthage. Meanwhile, the two-headed eagle signifies the power of the Emperor in his office as both the heavenly and earthly leader of Rome. The Empire's state flower is of course the Rose. It represents Christianity, the Virgin Mary and patriotism, and implies the giving of ones life for the country. These traits have made the Rose a common symbol for military parades, Christian festivals and any situation where a flower might be involved in a government activity. An example of this is the offering of 3 tons of live roses by the Emperor to the Khmer in the XVth century to honor their new alliance.
Several other symbols of Rome are: the Lingua Latina; the novel Itineris, for its representation of Roman importance; a male profile view made of stone, particularly as it relates to the Emperors; a deep color of Red, known by most as Roman Red; thermae, or the idea of public bathing in general; and the Gladius, which still serves several symbolic functions in the Roman military up to the modern day. An exhaustive list of all the other symbols that are valued by the Romans would be impossible as their number is far too great. All that needs to be said is that representations of the Roman Empire are the most universally recognizable symbols in the world. If something or someone is Roman, you'll know quickly enough.
Hellenic or Greek culture is considered to be the secondary culture of the Roman Empire. The wide area over which Alexander's Macedonian Empire was spread became what was once known as the Hellenic World. Though the Hellenization of those lands made their conquest by Rome that much easier, it has also ensured that a certain modicum of their non-Roman customs has remained. The Greeks were and are greatly respected by the Romans, and many scholars, anthropologists and bureaucrats have put in a great deal of effort into preserving their ways among the Empire's Provinces. Colonization brought Greek culture to the farthest corners of the Earth, from South-East Africa to Australis, spurring the formation of Greek enclaves in surprisingly remote parts of the world. Nevertheless, Hellenic culture is just as much influenced by the Romans as other imperial cultures are; certainly showing signs of this in its similar musical, theatrical and literary trends.
The central aspect of all things Greek is of course the Greek language itself (Lingua Graeca). Its use is what makes a particular piece of music, theater, film, literature or other media Greek. It is also the means by which nearly all aspects of Greek culture are spread. Even so, the language became integrated into the haute couture of Imperial popular culture. The ability to speak it is an indicator of civility in non-Greek locales; bringing respect to the speaker. Therefore, nearly 40% of imperial residents at least partially grasp the language, while only a small portion of those are fluent speakers of Greek.
Much like the Latin Language Academy founded by Emperor Magnus II, the Academia Lingua Graeciarum (Linguistic Academy of the Greeks) was created by decree of the Greek Consul in 1374 at the insistence of the Emperor Alexander I (who was half-Greek). The Academia went on to manage the development of the Greek language in order to bring it up to date with the modern lexicon. This necessitated the addition of words for things like a "battery" or a "generator". It also worked in concert with the central Latin Academy to handle the increasing use of Graecina; a combination of Latin and Greek used by upper-class youth.
Location with especially high densities of Greek speakers are: the Greek and Anatolian provinces, the Tegesta Peninsula, the east coast of India, Western Australia and the southern Caribbean islands. Despite the high number of speakers of their language, merely 6% of the Empire's inhabitants have a purely Greek background, and come from a mostly Greek family. An additional 4% of people classify themselves as partly Greek. Amazingly, 11% of Romans have learned Greek as their first language, meaning they learned Greek growing up in their household rather than Latin. With all of this in mind it is not difficult to see why Greek is considered to be a secondary language to Latin, especially in the eyes of foreigners. As one Maya comedian said, "It's all Greek to me".