Note from Cass: For more information on how many of these concepts relate to power dynamics and social structure, check out this blog post!


ab urbe condita: literally, “from the founding of the city”. How the Romans/Aventans measure years, in time since what we consider 753 BCE, the legendary founding of the city.

Aedile: a mid-level magistrate responsible for public buildings, the public games, and the supply of grain to the city. Elected by the Tribal Assembly. Men generally served this office between their quaestorship and praetorship, though it was not strictly necessary to be elected as praetor.

Campus Martius: The Field of Mars, a large open space used for military training and for elections.

Censor: a magistrate responsible for maintaining the census and electoral rolls, supervising public morality, and some aspects of government finances. A man had to have served as consul to be elected as censor. Elected by the Centuriate Assembly.

Centuriate Assembly: One of three voting assemblies designated by the Roman constitution, which gathered for legislative, electoral, and judicial purposes. Originally a military organization, but later expanded and ranked by wealth rather than military status. Only the Centuriate Assembly could declare war or elect the highest-ranking Roman magistrates: praetors, consuls, and censors.

Collegia: assemblies with legal purpose and some authority which could function as guilds, religious organizations, or social clubs. Most common were the crossroads colleges, which were neighborhood associations formed around shrines placed at intersections.

Consul: The highest and most prestigious political office in the Roman Republic. The Centuriate Assembly elected two consuls to serve together for a one-year term. Consuls held executive power. They convened and presided over the Senate, negotiated with foreign states, and served as commanders-in-chief of the legions.

Curia: the Senate House.

Cursus honorum: literally, the course of offices; the sequential order of public offices held by politicians in the Roman Republic.

Dictator: a magistrate entrusted by the Senate with full power and authority to act unilaterally. A temporary office intended to be held for no more than six months.

Dominus/Domina: Literally, “master/mistress”, but also translates as the equivalent of “Lord/Lady” when used in conjunction with a name.

Domus: house. In the city, generally referred to a free-standing building occupied by a single family.

Equestrian: one of the property classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the Senators but above the rest.

Five Classes: property classes including all those who held land but did not have enough wealth to qualify as Equestrians or Senators.

Forum: A large open-air market, often surrounded by a mixture of temples and shops. The largest forum in Aven, generally referred to as the Forum, was the center of political, mercantile, and spiritual life.

Head Count: the property-less class, with no land and little wealth.

Insula: apartment. Blocks of insulae could be five to seven stories, with the largest and most luxurious apartments on the bottom floor and the smallest and most miserable at the top.

Leges tabulae magicae: A section of Aventan law governing the behavior of mages, particularly with regard to interactions with non-magical citizens.

Lex cantatia Augiae: An Aventan law preventing the ascension of magically-gifted citizens to the ranks of praetor, consul, or censor.

Lictor: a civil servant who acted as a bodyguard to high-ranking public officials.

Macellum: A market, smaller and with fewer permanent structures than a forum or emporium.

Mos maiorum: the “proper way of things.” An informal code based on precedent and custom, elevated to dogmatic status by the Optimates.

Optimates: one of the two most prominent political factions in Aven, dedicated to conservatism, relative isolationism, and the preservation of power among the elite.

Patrons and Clients: The basic social unit of ancient Rome was the patronage system, by which the patron, a man of higher social status and clout, served as protector, sponsor, and benefactor of the client, who in turn provided support and assistance to his patron.

Popularists: one of the two most prominent political factions in Aven, favoring expansion of civic rights and economic opportunity.

Praetor: a magistrate ranking just below a consul. Praetors had municipal and judicial duties, but might also serve as commanders of legions or as local governors. Their specific duties fluctuated greatly at different points in Rome’s history.

Quaestor: The first rank of the cursus honorum, requisite for entry to the Senate, responsible for the state treasury and audits.

Quintilis: The month we know as July.

Senate: The Assembly consisting of the most experienced politicians. The Senate dictated foreign and military policy and directed domestic policy, but could not actually pass laws.

Senators: Both the highest-ranking and wealthiest social class and those men who served in the Senate.

Sextilis: The month we know as August.

Tribal Assembly: The largest of the three Assemblies, as it consisted of all Roman citizens, divided into their “tribes,” which largely referred to their family’s region of origin. This Assembly was most often responsible for the passage of laws.

Tribune: A title with several meanings. A tribune of the plebs acted as a check on the Senate and the Assemblies, able to exercise veto power over the actions of consuls and other magistrates. A military tribune commanded portions of the Roman army, subordinate to praetors and consuls; these were usually men in their early twenties, getting military experience before beginning the cursus honorum. Other mid-ranking officers were also styled tribune, generally those who were members of a commander’s staff.

Villa: A large home outside of a city. This might be a villa rustica, a country estate, or a villa maritima, a seaside home.