300px|Representation of a sitting of the Roman Senate: Catiline,_from_a_19th-century_fresco.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Catilina.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Cicero attacks [[Catilina">Catiline, from a 19th-century fresco">Catilina.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Cicero attacks [[Catilina">Catiline, from a 19th-century fresco ''Auctoritas'' is a [[Latin word which is the origin of English "[[authority". While historically its use in English was restricted to discussions of the political [[history of Rome, the beginning of [[Phenomenology (philosophy)|phenomenological philosophy in the 20th century expanded the use of the word. In ancient Rome, ''auctoritas'' referred to the general level of prestige a person had in Roman society, and, as a consequence, his clout, influence, and ability to rally support around his will. ''Auctoritas'' was not merely political, however; it had a numinous content and symbolized the mysterious "power of command" of heroic Roman figures. Noble women could also achieve a degree of auctoritas. For example, the wives, sisters, and mothers of the Julio-Claudians had immense influence on society, the masses, and the political apparatus. Their auctoritas was exercised less overtly than their male counterparts due to Roman societal norms, but they were powerful nonetheless.

Etymology and origin

According to French linguist Emile Benveniste, ''auctor'' (which also gives us English "author") is derived from Latin ''augeō'' ("to augment", "to enlarge", "to enrich"). The ''auctor'' is "''is qui auget''", the one who augments the act or the juridical situation of another. Arguably, Benveniste defended that Latin "auctoritas" was based on a divine conception of power and not on the individual that happened to the position of authority. ''Auctor'' in the sense of "author", comes from ''auctor'' as founder or, one might say, "planter-cultivator". Similarly, ''auctoritas'' refers to rightful ownership, based on one's having "produced" or homesteaded the article of property in question - more in the sense of "sponsored" or "acquired" than "manufactured". This ''auctoritas'' would, for example, persist through an ''usucapio'' of ill-gotten or abandoned property.

Political meaning in ancient Rome

Politically, the Roman Senate's authority (''auctoritas patrum'') was connected to ''auctoritas'', not to be confused with potestas or imperium, which were held by the magistrates or the people. In this context, ''auctoritas'' could be defined as the juridical power to authorize some other act. The 19th-century classicist Theodor Mommsen describes the "force" of ''auctoritas'' as "more than advice and less than command, an advice which one may not ignore." Cicero says of power and authority, ''"Cum potestas in populo auctoritas in senatu sit."'' ("While power resides in the people, authority rests with the Senate.") In the private domain, those under tutelage (guardianship), such as women and minors, were similarly obliged to seek the sanction of their ''tutors'' ("protectors") for certain actions. Thus, ''auctoritas'' characterizes the ''auctor'': The pater familias ''authorizes'' – that is, validates and legitimates – his son's wedding ''in prostate''. In this way, ''auctoritas'' might function as a kind of "passive counsel", much as, for example, a scholarly authority. Traditional imperial Roman exception to declare any legalistic concept and rule of law null and overrule prior decision making, in some military and political circumstances overrule fundamental body of law within a constitution, whether it is or isn't codified. Imperial prerogative is to protect the state from harm and its peoples. During the overruling of Roman Constitution body of fundamental laws and rule of law, a dictator may be chosen by the senate in Imperial Rome.

Auctoritas principis

After the fall of the Republic, during the days of the Roman Empire, the Emperor had the title of princeps ("first citizen" of Rome) and held the ''auctoritas principis'' – the supreme moral authority – in conjunction with the imperium and potestas – the military, judiciary and administrative powers. That is to say, there is a non-committal to a separation of powers, some civil rights, constitutionalism, codified constitutional state and legalist concept of law.

Middle Ages

The notion of auctoritas was often invoked by the papacy during the Middle Ages, in order to secure the temporal power of the Pope. Innocent III most famously invoked auctoritas in order to depose kings and emperors and to try to establish a papal theocracy.

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt considered ''auctoritas'' a reference to founding acts as the source of political authority in ancient Rome. She took foundation to include (as ''augeō'' suggests), the continuous conservation and increase of principles handed down from "the beginning" (see also pietas). According to Arendt, this source of authority was rediscovered in the course of the 18th-century American Revolution (see "United States of America" under Founding Fathers), as an alternative to an intervening Western tradition of absolutism, claiming absolute authority, as from God (see Divine Right of Kings), and later from Nature, Reason, History, and even, as in the French Revolution, Revolution itself (see La Terreur). Arendt views a crisis of authority as common to both the American and French Revolutions, and the response to that crisis a key factor in the relative success of the former and failure of the latter. Arendt further considered the sense of ''auctor'' and ''auctoritas'' in various Latin idioms, and the fact that ''auctor'' was used in contradistinction to – and (at least by Pliny) held in higher esteem than – ''artifices'', the artisans to whom it might fall to "merely" build up or implement the author-founder's vision and design.Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future, Chapter 3, Section IV. (1968)

See also

* * * * * * * * * * * * * Virtues in ancient Rome ** ** ** **

References and sources

;References ;Sources *Cicero, ''De Legibus'' (1st century BC) *Theodor Mommsen, ''Römisches Staatsrecht'', Volume III, Chapter 2. (1887) *William Smith, ''A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities''. (1875, 1890 editions) *Alvaro d'Ors, ''Derecho privado romano'' (10 ed. Eunsa, 2004) *Rafael Domingo Osle, ''Auctoritas'' (Ariel, 1999) {{Ancient Rome topics Category:Latin words and phrases Category:Latin legal terminology Category:Roman law Category:Philosophy of law Category:Ancient Roman virtues