Tuesday, 29 September 2009

S. P.Q. R.

SPQR, an abbreviation chiselled onto Roman monuments from North Africa to Scotland. The letters stand for Senatus Populusque Romanus, which translates as The Senate and the People of Rome, and the two went hand in hand, the Senator with his immense agricultural estates and the lowest citizen on the corn dole, the one could not exist without the other.
The first principle of the Senate was leadership, especially in times of war. When the Senate declared war in the name of the Roman people, the members were obliged to play their part in the ensuing conflict. Unlike our present enlightened times, in war the Senators served with the troops, and not in the back row or behind the lines either. Command of an army, and the commanders were always Senators, meant standing in the front line of battle facing the enemy, when the Senate chose one of their number to lead a campaign, the job was no sinecure. Many of the Senatorial class, up to and including and including Consuls, lost their lives in battle, particularly in the Punic Wars.
Contrast the above with the antics of our tawdry political class, who blithely send British troops into conflicts not of our making to shed their blood in the furtherance of American commerce. Would our television studio warriors do this if their lives were put at risk by such actions? Of course not, which is just as well when you contemplate the mess they would make of things if given a military command.
The Romans arranged their political structures much better than we have managed. To put one’s Roman foot on the initial rung of the Cursus Honorum, the road to high office, it was first necessary to serve for eight years in the army. This was the sine qua non to political advancement. The Roman public official had experience of life, which is more than can be said of our modern tribunes, who seem to be chosen for office according to their closeness to puberty rather than for any experience they may have garnered in their short lives.
The Roman Senate did not pass laws, they merely proposed laws, to come into effect, those edicts had to be voted on by various committees, who in turn were voted into office by the citizenry, each of whom had the right to vote.
In twenty first century Britain, every subject of the Crown has the right to vote, but once in Parliament, our representatives are under no obligation to pay any heed to they who sent them there. So different from the system pertaining in ancient Rome, and they call this progress, no wonder history is no longer taught in schools any more.

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