Mohammad Al-Ubaydli’s blog

A few Roman terms

Posted in History, People / organisations, Politics by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on February 11, 2007

A charming aspect of the book “Imperium” is how the author teach Roman customs and words in the middle of an exciting narrative. A few of my favourites:

  • nomenclator, a person who walked closely behind a politician, telling him the name of the people they were meeting, so that the politician could greet them correctly.
  • pedarii, back bencher senators who we not allowed to speak, but instead spoke with their feet.
  • a whole team of players was involved in bribing voters to vote for particular politicians without getting caught
    • the interpretes were few and knew the identity of the buyer.
    • a sequester would hold the cash of the bribe and make it available for inspection.
    • a divisor would distribute the money after the election.

One more thing: the book is written with Tiro as the narrator. Tiro was Cicero’s most trusted slave, valuable because he invented shorthand. He also invented the ampersand. Because of his shorthand he was able to record all of Cicero’s speeches and these are available to us today. The real author of the book, Robert Harris, made heave use of the Harvard University Press Loeb Classical Library edition and an online version is also available.


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