Campaign of the Month: June 2012
To understand the Empire one must first understand the structure and offices that make it up. Organization started with the Phthyan Republic, which was not the democratic form of the Ionian city-state nor precisely the republic of future states. Instead it was a mix of those combined with the concepts of class and caste from the Alabics and the Latins (now the Realm of the East in the Free Kingdoms). Phthyans in the modern day Empire are very conscious of class and the wealth that goes with it. The patricians are the ruling wealthy while the plebeians are common peasants and craftsmen. A third class, called clients, exists. Although technically plebs, clients owe their allegiance to a patricianís family and gain privilege by doing so. The clients fight battles, act as servants, work land and perform many of the tasks a pleb would but a client normally has first choice.
The magistrates outlined here have defined terms of office which may be extended in times of need. The most common of these is the Consulship that, with approval of the Senate, can extend the term for special circumstances (i.e. war). The magistrates, in the modern Empire, propose laws while the assemblies review them and approve or reject them depending on their merits.
Many of these offices are still in use in the modern Empire and have considerable powers. Some have been expanded to deal with greater responsibilities and challenges of a larger Empire and magic.
The Censors, two elected officials representing the entire Republic, are responsible for many different functions within the Republic and the Empire. The Censorsí primary responsibility is to oversee the census. Much like our modern understanding of the word, the census is the formal recording of each citizenís birth, death, wealth, ancestry and relatives within Phthya. This is used for tax purposes and to assess Phthya’s military strength. In addition, the Censors ensure moral propriety and have powers allowing them to dismiss Senators on grounds of not properly caring for their lands or slaves, or for public impropriety to the gods. They are also responsible for the inspection of public works, maintenance of temples, roads and waterways. The Censores also grant all state contracts.
The office of the Censores has also taken on the formidable task of maintaining the ethics of the use of magic. They actively root out those magi who would use their magic to harm the state or its citizens. This has become an important duty since the Saeculum Magorum, where the Censors were thought to have failed in their duty.
Due to the powers of the office it was eventually determined that only those who had proven themselves in the office of Consul could hold the office of Censor. When an ex-Consul is not available then they are elected from Senators. A Censor is elected every five years for a term of 1 1/2 years. Any decisions made stay in effect until the next Censor is elected. Censors are always of the patrician class.
The Phthyan Consuls are two elected officials who serve for one year and then are unable to be elected for a period of ten years. Originally plebeians were not allowed to be Consuls; this was changed in 2386 OE.
The primary duties of the Consuls are to prepare and propose new laws. Each Consuls has the power to veto each other’s laws. The Consuls were once responsible for the nomination
of Dictators but now are responsible for the nomination of Imperial candidates. In addition, they implement the decisions of the Senate with the help of the Emperor. A Proconsul is a Consul who has completed their term and may go on to rule a province or dioecesis.
Dictators were appointed for six months by the Senate and could serve no longer than that time. For that period they had the absolute powers of a king and were able to command all legions. The office of Dictator was used for emergencies and campaigns against enemies when a single leader of the military would best accomplish the goals of the Senate. The Dictator’s second in command was the Master of the Cavalry. The Emperor now fulfills this role in the modern state.
There were between 16 and 20 praetors in the Republic, and after 2416 OE they could be either plebeian or patrician. The Praetor Peregrinus judges cases where one or both parties are foreign while the Praetor Urbanis deals with civil or criminal cases. The praetors are the supreme civil judges, and when the Consuls are absent from Phthya they fulfill the duties of the Consuls. When they have completed their term they can then go on to rule a province as a Propraetor. The Praetorian Prefect oversees the operation of the Praetorian Guard in its current function as a state police.
There were four Aedile in the Republic; two required to be plebeians and the other two, called Curule Aedile, were of higher rank and could come from either patrician or plebeian classes. Their numbers have increased in the current day Empire to eight Aedile and two Curule Aedile. They are responsible for managing the grain supply, inspecting weights and measures, supervising games and public events and working with Censors to maintain public buildings, aqueducts and roads.
This is an elected office in charge of religion that started in the Republic and is continued in the Empire. The Pontifex Maximus is responsible for state ceremonies, choosing Vestal Virgins and priests for the priesthood and maintaining discipline amongst the priesthood.
Ten Tribunes are elected from amongst the plebeians each year to serve as guardians for the interests of the people. They have the power to veto the decision of any official and can punish a disobedient official unto death. A Tribune’s primary responsibility is to defend the interests of the plebeians.
There are six Military Tribunes for each standing legion. They serve as officers in the legions and usually command a Century. The Military Tribune is appointed by a Consul and must have served for ten years in the field.
There are forty Quaestors and they are elected for one year. They act as the accountants of the government and handle the receipt and distribution of state funds, act as aides to the consuls, oversee state contract deals, and are quartermasters and paymasters to generals in the field. The Quaestor is the lowest ranking official in the government and the first step on the ladder of honor to the rank of Consul. This office is filled most often by the plebeians.
The Assemblies of Phthya are groups of men who represented the citizens. In some cases these citizens are wealthy but in others they are grouped by profession or even tribal affiliation. The assemblies were the heart of the Republic and later, the heart of knowledge and experience of the Empire. The Assemblies do not propose laws but they have grown to have the power to veto laws proposed by the magistrates. This means that although a Senator may wish to have a law banning the sale of spices from the Kushari Empire (since they compete with this supply), he must first get a magistrate to propose it.
The Senate was initially made up of three hundred members, although it has grown to approximately six hundred magistrates or ex-magistrates who serve for life or until expelled by the Censors. The Senators elect the Consuls, pass legislation proposed by the Consuls, and appoint certain magistrates. They cannot, however, propose new laws. Since the Senate is made up of ex-magistrates they often have a great deal of power over the financial and diplomatic destiny of the state due to their knowledge and contacts in the lower ranks of the government.
In the time of the Empire the Senate approves the Emperorís choice of successor after the Consuls have reviewed it. Although challenged, their decision has seldom been overturned. Some restrictions come with the duties of a Senator, including a ban from carrying on any mercantile businesses. This ban is frequently violated and throughout its existence, Senators have found ways around the law.
This is an assembly made up of the 35 tribes of Phthya as defined by King Servius Tullius, and expanded on in later times. The tribes were originally determined geographically but later passed on by heredity. The Comitia Tributa consists of patricians and elects all the lower magistrates (Curule Aedile and Quaestor). This assembly also votes on new laws.
A sub-assembly of the Comitia Tributa, the Concilium Plebis is open to all plebeians and elects the plebeian only magistrates (tribunes and plebeian Aediles). The Concilium Plebis has gained the power to pass laws binding on the entire state.
This assembly was originally based on the tribes of Phthya but was turned over to districts within the city before the formation of the Republic. In essence, the Comitia Curiata is a forum where the common people can voice opinions. They confirm magistrates and can act as a court of appeals for a death sentence if the Quaestors approve. They are most commonly a voice of the people.
This assembly represents the military and its soldiery. The Comitia Centuriata elects the higher magistrates (Consuls, Praetors and Censores) although it is the Senate that nominates the candidates. They also make official declarations of war and peace and act as the highest court of appeals for sentences of exile and death. Towards the end of the Republic this Comitia lost power in favor of the Comitia Plebis and Tributa. In the modern Empire it has little power.
The Comitia Magi was formed by Constantine in 3071 OE. This assembly of spell casters deals with the Censores by approving any laws proposed that deal with magic. They are also responsible for appointing the Praefectus Magi of the Scholae Magi.
The Phthyans continue to be highly class conscious. They love to publicly display their rank and crave public recognition. This is often accomplished by showing the specific rank via the clothing a man or women wears. Other times, more direct methods must be taken like the public sponsoring of a collegia (guild), temple, or cult of a city. This often takes the form of a large monetary donation, the donation of a building to the cause, or the sponsoring of games in their honor. All of this is done for the political enrichment of the patrician class.
|Social Ranks in the Phthyan Empire|
|Senatores||Many of the ancient families of Phthianopolis are in the Senate and anyone elevated to Senator must prove assets in excess of 1 million sesterces (equal to 20,000 Free Crowns (gp)). A family with at least one ancestors who served as a Consul is called Nobiles. Members of the Senate are prohibited from participating in any non-agricultural business venture. As a sign of their rank a Senator wears a tunic with broad stripes (laticlavi).|
|Senatores Provincialis||Much as the Senatores of the Senatus Romanus but for the Provincialis. They are allowed to hold their position if they can prove 800,000 sesterces in assets (equal to 16,000 Free Crowns (gp)). They are not always afforded the respect their station warrants. They are allowed to wear the laticlavi on their tunic, but their tunic must have a black border.|
|Equites||The “horse” class, these patricians need only prove 400,000 sesterces in assets (equal to 8,000 Free Crowns (gp)) and are the basis of the magistrates, administrators, mercator and craftsmen classes. They occasionally move up to Senatorial rank through being elected to one of the magistracies. They wear narrow stripes on their tunics called the augusti clavi.|
|Equites Provincialis||This class, still of patricians, is the backbone of the provincial economy. The Empire runs on the efforts of these mercator, craftsmen and estate owners. They must prove 100,000 sesterces of assets (equal to 2,000 Free Crowns (gp)) and are allowed to wear the augusti clavi with the black stripe.|
|Magi||The magi are part of a middle class which is rapidly forming in the modern Empire. They are from many different backgrounds which makes it difficult for the Phthyans to place them firmly in the patrician or plebeian ranks. To be of this class one must prove they have the ability to cast two Realms. They are designated by the green trim on their tunic.|
|Artificis||The crafters of magical devices are also in the same growing middle class. They are qualified by the Artificerís Guild (Collegia Artificia) and their standing with that organization. They are designated by the blue trim on their tunics.|
|Plebs, plebeians||These are Phthyan citizens of low birth and deeds. They may move up the ranks via the Tribunal offices and the Aedile offices. They live in the city of Phthyanopolis and have the opportunity to become Equites through public office and wealth.|
|Phthils (Phthilii)||The tribe of the Phthilii who were given special rank. They are now free members of the Empire living near or in Phthyanopolis.|
|Provincialis||Any plebeian from the Provinces outside of Phthya.|
|Peregrini (Foreigners)||Technically, Provincialis were once of this class but now it is used to designate those from outside the Empire or people who come from subjugated tributary kingdoms.|
|Liberti (Freed People)||Liberti are freed slaves. They are the clients of their former masters, cannot hold public office and are heavily discriminated against. They are allowed to own land, join the Legions and enjoy most of the other rights of a Phthyan citizen.|
|Servi (Slaves)||Slaves are property, though they may maintain savings and buy their freedom. They also might hope to be freed by their master on his death or for an exceptional act. They have limited rights, implemented in the past 400 years, which protect them from death, being sold into gladiatorial slavery without proof of wrong-doing, and protection from torture. Still, the lot of a slave is not a happy one.|
The patrician class will often keep clients (cliens). These are plebeians who receive the patronage of a patrician and, in return, provide such services as physical protection, political support, accompanying their patron to the Forum, dedicating statues in their patronís honor and supplying public displays of support. Clients are often used to maintain a popular base for political action. If a Senator has enough plebeians supporting him, other members of the Senate may think twice about acting against him.
The patron-client system is founded on an understanding and acceptance of the sharp division between the patrician and plebeian classes. The clients expect support in their endeavors, whether business, monetary or political in exchange for the support of their patron whether in public displays of support, services and goods or political backing. The cliens are the most trusted servants of a patrician.
Much more so than in the past, a person is judged by their deeds rather than their lineage. This does not mean that those with the right family do not have a leg up in moving higher but those at the bottom have a hope of moving upward as well. Movements in social rank work both ways, though, and what your father did can have a great effect on what doors are open for you. In the end, if someone distinguishes themselves by acquiring great wealth or through an exceptional political or military career, they will rise in rank.
Essentially, climbing the social ladder requires the approval of those of the class above. Having money is important and the type of power that would allow one to ruin another helps as well. In addition the friendship of those in that class will help. Finally, the family that one comes from will influence people both positively and negatively. A person seeking to be a Senator does not have to come from the aristocratic families (nobiles) but they will garner more support.
In the modern Empire, the lot of the plebeians has improved and they have the ability to raise through the ranks. The patricians of Phthyanopolis, for the most part, do not appreciate this much but have had to concede many of these rights to the masses. The most straightforward method of advancement is through magistral and military service. One can advance all the way from plebeian to Emperor but that is highly unusual. Most commonly a freed person advances to the class of plebeian or even as high as equites. This can be accomplished by acquiring wealth, clients
and allies amongst the existing equites class. If the Emperor or the Senate wish to elevate someone for whatever reason, then the entire process may be bypassed.
A plebeian who wishes to join the equites class must first serve as a magistrate. This means either the Queastores, plebeian Aediles or the Tribunes. After serving in one of these offices they will almost assuredly need to serve as a Tribune in the Legions for two to four years. Upon returning to Phthyanopolis, they would need to become involved in the Imperial court, political life and then look for sponsors amongst the elite of the great city. It is far better to be elected to the Equites or the Senate rather than to win an appointment due to the social ties one must develop to win election to these positions.
It is far easier to win appointments to provincial magistrate offices then those of Phthyanopolis. In the past only Phthyans held these offices but over the life of the Empire the provincials have gained more and more say, power and positions within their own dioeceses and provinces. Often this proves an good stepping off point to a Phthyan political career.
Phthyan citizenship is based on four rights. Of these rights, only the right of Commercium, the right to hold property and conduct trade, was originally granted to the plebeian class. In time the right of Suffragium (right to vote), the Connubium (right to inter-marry) and the Honores (the right to hold office) was granted as well. Today the plebeian class and the patrician class have virtually the same rights, although differing social rank.
These rights now extend across the Empire to the provinces and even to areas that once were bitter enemies of the Empire. This does not sit well with some Phthyans and an active movement to recall the rights of citizenship to the inhabitants of Phthya is in motion. This is a considerable point of political stress.