2011, same as… 21BC!

Some of you might be wondering ‘Hey tthurts, what’s with all the archaic writing on your site?  Why don’t you get down with the kids with all that LOL, ROFL, ‘you fail’ business dude?’  Well, the reason I don’t attempt to engage (or adopt) language much to the current times we are living in is because, in my opinion, we haven’t moved on much.  Technology has developed beyond comprehension.  Our lives have become complex webs of technology dependence.  Our standard of living is higher than it has ever been.  Behind all this, in the core of our morals and human society, have we moved on in comparable parallel with these other developments?

Education plays a big part in whether or not we become a more civilised society.

I would like to refer back to the second Caesar, Augustus, who after taking the reins from Julius, carried on the spirit of the consul and senate in some incentivised social engineering in order to mold Rome into the power that was desired.

Augustus encouraged marriage amongst the senatorial and equestrian orders by reforming the marriage laws.  He at first attached penalties for those suitable to marry in not doing so, but found a revolt on his doorstep made him reconsider.  He then revised and amended the penalties to prevent public revolt and increased the rewards in order to fully achieve his aim.

Some time into the reform, Augustus discovered that many bachelors claiming the rewards had been getting betrothed to little girls in order to financially gain and not have the actual burden of family and fatherhood for sometime to come.  Other married men were divorcing and remarrying at alarming rate.  Augustus dealt with this by shortening the permissible period between betrothal and marriage and by limiting the number of lawful divorces.

This highlights two things. 1) the nature of politics and law 2) the nature of society to take advantage of the incentive and avoid the penalties that politics and law tries to enforce.

I’m tempted to make parallels between MP’s expenses/benefits claimants/bankers bonuses and many other aspects of Roman society!

Bearing in mind this was over 2,000 years ago….  Some alarming parallels, wouldn’t you say?  Have we moved on?

Some other political/social legislature which Augustus employed during this time:

  • Creation of the Council of the Senate – with member chosen from a lot every six months – their duty being to study the draft of bills which would be presented to the house
  • Augustus altered the nature of speakers starting from the most senior to the most junior and instead called upon speakers individually in order to avoid the inevitable ‘I agree the with previous speaker…’
  • A fixed mule-and-tent allowance to provincial governors instead of governors contracting these services and then charging this to the public treasury
  • The creating of new government buildings and departments responsible for the upkeep of public buildings, roads and aqueducts
  • Promoting and strengthening the military, including the revival the long forgotten custom of knights riding in procession.
  • Those knights and senators who had been involved in corruption or conduct which was scandalous of unfit for public office were publicly humiliated through publication of these deeds ad departure from office.  Augustus was famous for his leniency – and would not resort to the sort of punishment that other Caesars earned the Romans their grim reputation.
  • Knights that borrowed money at a low rate of inflation – only to invest it at a higher rate of inflation – earned Augustus’ particular displeasure.
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About tthurts

Rattling the cage...
This entry was posted in History, Law, Politics, Social Engineering, Society. Bookmark the permalink.

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