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''Auctoritas'' is a
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
word which is the origin of English "
authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empiric ...

authority
". While historically its use in English was restricted to discussions of the political
history of Rome The history of Rome includes the history of the city of Rome as well as the civilisation of ancient Rome. Roman history has been influential on the modern world, especially in the history of the Catholic Church, and Roman law has influenced ma ...
, the beginning of phenomenological philosophy in the 20th century expanded the use of the word. In
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
, ''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 Numinous () is a term derived from the Latin '' numen'', meaning "arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring."Collins English Dictionary -7th ed. - 2005 The term was given its present sense by the German theologian and ph ...
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 Emil or Emile may refer to: Literature *''Emile, or On Education'' (1762), a treatise on education by Jean-Jacques Rousseau *Émile (novel), ''Émile'' (novel) (1827), an autobiographical novel based on Émile de Girardin's early life *"Emil", ni ...
, ''auctor'' (which also gives us English "
author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" an ...

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 {{Short pages monitor
Hannah Arendt Hannah Arendt (, also , ; 14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-born American political theorist. Her many books and articles have had a lasting influence on political theory and philosophy. Arendt is widely considered one of ...
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 ''Pietas'' (), translated variously as "duty", "religiosity" or "religious behavior", "loyalty", "devotion", or "filial piety In Confucian ethics, Confucian, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhist and Taoism, Taoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xi ...
). According to Arendt, this source of authority was rediscovered in the course of the 18th-century
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
(see "United States of America" under
Founding Fathers The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing their nation. National founders are typically those who played an influential role in setting up the systems of governance, ...
), as an alternative to an intervening Western tradition of absolutism, claiming absolute authority, as from
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
(see
Divine Right of Kings In European Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the M ...
), and later from
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
,
Reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...

Reason
,
History History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
, and even, as in the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
,
Revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, suc ...

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
idiom An idiom is a phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words which act together as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase which contains the adjective phra ...
s, and the fact that ''auctor'' was used in contradistinction to – and (at least by
Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the Younger (died 113), ancient Roman statesman, ...

Pliny
) held in higher esteem than – ''artifices'', the
artisan Wood carver in Bali An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by hand. These objects may be functional or strictly decorative, for example fur ...

artisan
s 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 The ''De Legibus'' (''On the Laws'') is a dialogue written by Marcus Tullius Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 – 7 December 43 BC) was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic Skeptic, who tri ...
'' (1st century BC) *Theodor Mommsen, ''Römisches Staatsrecht'', Volume III, Chapter 2. (1887) * William Smith, ''
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities ''A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities'' is an English language encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the se ...
''. (1875, 1890 editions) * Alvaro d'Ors, ''Derecho privado romano'' (10 ed. Eunsa, 2004) *
Rafael Domingo Osle Rafael Domingo Oslé (born 1963 in Logroño, La Rioja (Spain), La Rioja) is a Spanish jurist, legal historian and professor of law who is specialized in ancient Roman law, Comparative law, law and religion, and Global law. Domingo is the Spruill F ...
, ''Auctoritas'' (Ariel, 1999) {{Ancient Rome topics Latin words and phrases Latin legal terminology
Roman law {{CatAutoTOC, numerals=no Law in ancient history Ancient Rome, Law Indo-European law, Roman Law by former country ...
Philosophy of law Ancient Roman virtues