Talk:Tumultus L. Equitio Dec. Iunio cos. (Nova Roma)

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As M. Lucretius suggested on the wiki e-mail list, let's use this discussion page to think about what would be a better term than "civil war". Suggestions so far have been "magistrates' feud of 1998", "the recent unpleasantness", and "the constitutional crisis of 1998".

I think "feud" tends to suggest a long-running personal enmity rather than a particular crisis-type event. "The recent unpleasantness" is quite nice, but it does carry possibly unhelpful overtones of modern American history. "Constitutional crisis" - now my problem is that I can't remember exactly what happened so I don't know whether "constitutional" is an accurate description of the crucial issues. I'll go and have a look in the archives to remind myself.

Right, I've had a look back at what happened, and my understanding is roughly this:

  1. The elections of '98 (Fl. Vedio M. Cassio cos.) were not conducted by tribes and centuries because at that point the people had not been allocated to tribes and centuries.
  2. The lex constitutiva as it then was required elections to be conducted by tribes and centuries, and some people believed that the elections which had been held were legally invalid and thus the republic had no legitimate magistrates.
  3. Allocating the people to tribes and centuries was the responsibility of the censores.
  4. Some time in the first half of '99 (L. Equitio Dec. Junio cos.) there was, or was perceived to be, a move to have the censores called to account in some way (the word "impeached" was used, at least in later accounts).
  5. In response to that move, or to the perception of such a move, another group temporarily shut down the website and claimed to have dissolved the republic, or the non-profit corporation, or both.
  6. This resulted in the formation of one or more new groups which claimed to be continuations of the republic.
  7. After a few days the website &c. were restored and the alternative groups closed down, apparently by the agreement of all concerned.
  8. In due course the senate, or at least part of it, called on Vedius to become dictator and to sort the situation out one way or another, which, arguably, he did.

If that's an accurate summary, then it strikes me that there are several possible ways to describe it.

It involved constitution issues, so we could call it a "constitutional crisis" - the problem with that is that virtually every crisis Nova Roma has ever had was "constitutional" in some sense, so "the constitutional crisis of '99" isn't a very informative name.

With reference to its origins, it could be called an "electoral crisis"; but that could be misleading because, although it was the election which gave rise to the dispute, the crisis itself was not really much to do with electoral issues. Nonetheless it might be a useful name.

We could seek to refer to it in terms of the really crucial things which happened, rather than the causes of those events. To my mind those crucial things could be summarized as "two groups, each claiming to be the legitimate representatives of the republic, struggling over control of the website and other crucial resources". But it's hard to pin that down to a few words. In a sense it is very similar to what happened during the late republican civil wars, especially between Sulla and the Marians: two groups, each claiming to be the legitimate representatives of the republic, fighting for control of the city of Rome. The two differences here are that the struggle was for control of a different thing (not a very important difference since the website &c. were, and arguably still are, equivalent to the capital city) and that the struggle was not a military conflict (a very important difference indeed). The nearest historical non-military struggle I can think of is the rather more prolonged "struggle of the orders" ("discordia ordinum" (Livius 3.67)), which involved tribunes and other plebejan activists attempting over several decades to secure for the plebs equal access to public office.

Some word like "struggle" or "power-struggle" might be appropriate; alternatively, if we can't find an apposite English word, we could just as well use a Latin one. "Discordia", which Livius uses, is one option, though in some ways it's more suggestive of a continuing state of affairs than a particular crisis; later in the same passage there's another phrase "patrum ac plebis certamina": "certamen" is quite a broad word which covers any type of contest, struggle, or trial of strength, from a sporting competition to a major war. So "certamen" might do the trick.

But that doesn't get us much beyond just calling it "the crisis" - we still haven't got a way of stating briefly what the struggle / certamen / crisis was about. It's a tricky business. In some ways it's tempting to go into words like "coup", "usurpation", and so on, but those all involve making a judgement about the issues themselves.

In some ways the most accurate description would be something like "the struggle for the website". But again that has a problem: it suggests that it was control of the website which was the fundamental point of contention, whereas trying to control the website was really just a means by which the pre-existing struggle was carried on. Another phrase that suggests itself to me is "certamen intra senatum", "the struggle within the senate"; but that could describe any number of lively arguments, and in any case it wasn't so much within the senate as between the senate and (at least one of) the consules.

Well, I've run out of ideas for now. Perhaps some of that will trigger someone else to have an idea. Alternatively we could avoid having to make any decision for the time being by not having a separate article on the whatever-it-was and just including the relevant narrative in another article, either in the one on the dictatorship or on a general narrative of the events of that year.

Cordus 05:44, 3 April 2006 (CDT)

Crisis of MMDCCLII

I like "Crisis of MMDCCLII" or "Great Crisis of MMDCCLII"; these names describe the event somewhat accurately without taking sides.

Marcus Octavius Germanicus(t) 12:19, 3 April 2006 (CDT)

How about Events leading to the Dictatorship of MMDCCLII? -- Template:M. Lucretius Agricola
Bit long-winded. How about tumultus? It's a nice open-ended Latin word which covers everything from disorder and confusion to riots and civil war. Cordus 12:34, 9 July 2006 (CDT)
How about we use that word as the new name for the ML? Seriously, I would support any idea like this that allows us to introduce Latin vocabulary. M. Lucretius Agricola 17:07, 9 July 2006 (CDT)
I'm glad you went with tumultus; "civil war" and "crisis" always seemed to me (even at the time, and certainly at this distance) to border on the melodramatic. -- Marius Peregrinus 08:55, 17 August 2007 (CEST)

Those splinter-groups

From the article:

6. This resulted in the formation of one or more new groups which claimed to be continuations of the republic.(unverified)
7. After a few days the website &c. were restored and the alternative groups closed down, apparently by the agreement of all concerned.(unverified)

Some sense of these events may be pieced together from the Main List archives for 1 and 2 Quinctilis, 1999. There was the Main List itself,, which was shut down for the interregnum;, begun by the Cassii and supporters, and described as "the reconstituted Nova Roma list";, formed by Gangalius and Cincinnatus' supporters, who also set up an interim Nova Roma news site at (now extinct); and the RomanBackAlley, a preexisting "gossip list" which became many citizens' only means of communication until the dust settled. I received invitations to all of them. None of the splinter groups lasted longer than a few days.

Something called Roma Respublica or Respublica Romana is also mentioned, but it is unclear whether it was an e-list, a Web site, a proposed new organization, or all three.

The confusion was enhanced by the just-begun transformation of into, which in turn became Yahoo Groups. I'm not sure anymore which of these lists was on which domain, except for the two novaroma lists; but I remember roma_tertia had a different interface, so it might have been an eGroup. The original BackAlley list was a ONElist; I can't speak for RomanBackAlley, its successor. -- Marius Peregrinus 08:55, 17 August 2007 (CEST)

(Correction: roma_tertia was in fact a ONElist.) -- Marius Peregrinus 09:55, 17 August 2007 (CEST)

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