Talk:Officina Consulis Maioris MMDCCLIX

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Title of article

Really better to call it Officina Consulis Maioris.

Corde, you know better and you have shown a precedent. Make the move.

Officinae generally

I have to say I'm a little bothered about these officinae in general. I'm worried we're creating structures which will cause people unconsciously to think about government in a certain way. That's worrying both because it's never desirable to limit thinking and because the ways we're making them think are un-Roman.

Roman magistrates didn't have offices in the sense of places where they went to do their work. They worked at home, or in the forum, or in the senate, or wherever. When people wanted to see them they went to their houses or find them in the forum. An officina was a workshop, a place where a professional craftsman worked. Adapting that word, and that idea, for magistrates risks reinforcing people's modern-minded assumption that magistrates are specialist professionals who go to work in the morning and go home in the evening, rather than the Roman way: amateur, generalist, no clear distinction between public and private. Some magistrates think the traditional Roman conception is outdated and choose to run bureaucratic offices, and that's their prerogative, but we shouldn't be creating structures which portray that as the standard, let alone the only, way to do it.

Similarly the standard format of these officinae nudges people to think in a certain way. The consular officinae seem to come as standard with a section called "goals". Some of us may think that magistrates should have goals, and indeed many of them have; but there's no reason why a magistrate must necessarily have any at all. Most ancient magistrates ran for office on an unspoken manifesto of "I'll leave everything as it is and do basically nothing except respond to situations which arise", and that's a perfectly respectable plan for a Roman magistrate. Of course a modern magistrate who had such a plan could say so under his "goals" sub-heading, but the very fact that the sub-heading is there implies that there should be definite goals, and someone reading the page and seeing that the magistrate basically had no goals would be prompted by the structure of the page to think that that was not very satisfactory. Likewise when the officina aedilium plebis talks about "goal statements, project assignments, and reports", it creates the expectation that these are all things the aediles plebis somehow ought to have and thus makes it look like they're not doing their jobs if they haven't got them.

I haven't any alternative to suggest at the moment, and I'll ponder how else we could do it (perhaps simply let each magistrate set up his own whatever-it-is on his user page? That would at least resemble 'working from home'), but I just wanted to raise the worry before we get too comfortable with this set-up. Cordus 06:16, 17 June 2006 (CDT)

All fair enough, and it is good that we are thinking about these things. My notion was that individual magistrates would adapt the pages themselves. I was just trying to suggest things they MIGHT use the pages for. There are two things I find unsatisfactory. First, that some magistrates set up websites all over the place. Some of this properly should be State records. As it is, either the records are out of our control or we have to duplicate the content ourselves. Second, forcing webmaster staff to be record keepers isn't working out very well. There is a huge backlog and little progress is being made with that. If we have a page for each magistrate to use then we can freeze that page at the end of term and thereby we will have a record already done for us. Each magistrate could appoint a scriba just to keep things up to date. A final point. As I understand it, edicta are only valid while the magistrate stays in office. This system will reduce the proliferation of pages titled "Edictum..." If officina is a bad choice, how about the Latin for "notice board"? M. Lucretius Agricola 06:33, 17 June 2006 (CDT)
I agree that it's good to have this sort of information on the wiki, my only worry is about providing templates for such pages. You're quite right to say that magistrates can change them, but in reality many magistrates won't bother, they'll just fill in the blanks provided. That means that any template we provide is inevitably going to create or reinforce certain assumptions about how magistrates should work, how power is distributed, &c. We should try to do as little of that as possible. If magistrates were to use their own user pages for this, would it still be possible to preserve the content at the end of each year - if not by freezing the page, then by copying and pasting the content to some sort of archive article? The reason I'd be happier with magistrates using their own user pages is that in Roman constitutional thought no clear distinction is made between the officer and the office. It's not like in the U.S. or the U.K. where if you want to see the President or the Prime Minister you go to the White House or Number 10 and see whomever happens to be the occupant at the time; in Rome, if you want to see the consul you have to know who the consul is and then you go to his house. Could we make it work using user pages? Then there would be no need to provide any sort of template, it would just become an established custom for every magistrate to set up some sort of 'official business' thing on his own user page during his term. Cordus 08:39, 20 June 2006 (CDT)
Could we make it work? Quite possibly. There is nothing really to prevent it. What you suggest is the way that it would have to work: at the end of term someone has to copy the official bits to an archive. I'm sympathetic to the points you make regarding the historical practices, but I wonder if that is going to far? Should we not break with tradition on this point in order to make a system that is easier to use? After all, our citizens don't have the luxury of living shoulder-to-shoulder with other citizens from whom they can easily get all sorts of information. M. Lucretius Agricola 15:46, 20 June 2006 (CDT)
I'm not totally against departing from tradition, but is there really anything much to be gained in this case? It's not exactly difficult to find out who's consul: it says it on the main page under "current events", and presumably at some point the "magistrates" link on the main page will lead to a list of all current magistrates clearly identified (at the moment it just goes to an alphabetical list of all present and past magistrates). Once you know who's consul, it's very easy to find that person's user page. With the current set-up, on the other hand, it's true that one needn't know the consul's name but it's also true that one has to know that the name of the relevant page is "officina consulis maioris" or "officina consulis minoris", and one has to know the name of the current year in Roman numerals. So I don't really see that it's any easier for ordinary citizens to use than the system I'm suggesting. It may even be more difficult: I suspect that more people know who's consul than know this year's A.U.C. date in Roman numerals. Cordus 09:29, 21 June 2006 (CDT)
Well, we have links from "Magistracies" to the the specific magistracies. Each of those would have links to the offices. Also, the specific offices could be categorized into years. It is all a matter of linking. Whatever happens, we do need a way to get edicta stored in here somewhere, and since they (the edicta) expire at the end of tenure of the magistrates this seemed like a good way to make an orderly way of keeping them. Just an experiment though, please don't think I'm wedded to the idea. M. Lucretius Agricola 21:28, 21 June 2006 (CDT)
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