A virtual state

I am lucky to have some extraordinarily well-educated friends. With one of them, I have recently been looking at the question of whether the Roman gods might be offended by being worshipped in a virtual state (“micronation”). Our discussion has gone far beyond what I am prepared to post here, tonight, but here is some information he sent from SVR:

Under Roman law all imperium was held by the Roman people at all times, which could be exercised through the Roman state, as under the Republic when temporary imperium was bestowed by the Roman people on a magistrate. Land that was dedicated to the gods could only be sacrum when (1) it was part of the traditional Roman lands as determined by the augurs, and (2) the land had been made solemn by the augurs pronouncing its borders, dedication of the land had been made by the Roman people either through a comitia or the Senate, and the land had then been consecrated by special rite of the pontifices.”

And, “The first consideration in distinguishing between sacred space and religious space is a matter of location. Varro wrote:

“Our public augurs set out in their discussions that there are five kinds of lands: Roman lands, Gabine lands, also those that are foreign, lands that are hostile, and uncertain lands. Roman lands they say are from where lies the city of Rome, founded by Romulus, and Gabine lands from the town of Gabii. The peregrinus are those foreign lands that are peaceful and friendly, that are external to Rome and Gabii, who favor the same method of taking auspices. Peregrinus they say comes from “to proceed,” that is “to go out from,” as when the Romans traveled outside of their own lands. For which reason Gabine lands might also be considered peregrinus, except that with Rome they share a singular method of taking auspices, from however else they may be distinguished. The hosticus they say are the lands of the enemy, while incertus are those lands extending to the four quarters of the earth of which we are ignorant (De Lingua Latina 5.53).”

The traditional lands of the Romans are noted as those where “we observe in the litany of the augurs the names of the rivers Tiber, Spino, Anemo, Nodinus and other rivers close to Rome (Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3, 20.52).”

My friend raises, as an academic matter, the question whether the only place sacred to the Gods of Rome might be the traditional lands defined by the augurs around Rome. If so, then perhaps Nova Roma has given offense to the Gods by its location in the incertus rather than in the traditional lands of the Romans. By extension, if a Roman revival must be located in the traditional lands, then the sacra publica cannot yet be restored, and certainly cannot be restored in a virtual state.

I have an answer, which I posted to him tonight: I think that the answer lies in making a distinction between the traditional lands of the Roman people and the lands now occupied by the remnants of that people. With luck, I will find time tomorrow night to edit and post my answer here.

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