I need some brainstorming help to come up with a name for something.
I've been developing a quasi-Roman Empire political structure for a story, and in my research I ran across the concept of "lictors." (If you have a working knowledge of imperial Roman society, skip the rest of this paragraph). As I understand it, lictors were a kind of ceremonial honor guard/bodyguard for Roman Magistrates that also held some police powers, but they were not soldiers. The number of Lictors a given magistrate had was directly related to the imperium (power) of the office he held. The higher a magistrate's imperium, the more Lictors he had. The Lictors' job was to remain with their magistrate at all times. They stood on the platform with him when he spoke publicly, and preceded him as he moved, clearing the way ahead and making certain the people gave the magistrate proper respect. At the direction of the magistrate, they could arrest and punish people, I believe even to the point of carrying out an execution. As a badge of office, they carried bundles of wooden rods tied with ribbon, called fasces (from where we get the modern word fascism), wrapped around the handle of an axe (the axe symbolized the magistrate's power over life and death in his sphere of dominion). When the magistrate entered Rome proper (the pomerium), the axes were removed, since executions there could only be ordered by the Consuls, Dictator or Emperor.
Got all that? I decided to create a similar office to Lictors, although these will be more like bodyguards. They'll be clones, imprinted with near-identical minds (The reason they aren't perfectly identical is important in the story, but isn't relevant here) so they can think and act in concert to protect their assigned magistrate. Like the historical ones, they aren't soldiers, nor are they allowed to be.
Problem is, I really don't like the term "lictor". I've written a couple of scenes using the name, but it just doesn't fit very well. I would like to use either an historical term or a word dervied from one and I can't seem to think of any. I've ruled out "legions" and "centurions" since those are Roman military terms, and lictors were not soldiers. I've also ruled out various Oriental terms, unless someone can come up with a derivation that sounds fairly Roman/Latin or possibly Middle Eastern. I've anagrammed lictors into Clotris as the name of the planet/system of their origin.
The closest I've come so far is "Janissaries" or some derivative, but I'm still not happy.
Wow, sounds like a great story concept! I'm a fan of Roman history for the reason that I think it'll make great story fodder one of these days. Sounds like you've found a great angle to run with.
As for a name for these bodyguards, I like Fahrion Kryptov's suggestion of ligate, although it reminds me of chemistry or biology. (I don't think that anyone will think of chem or bio when reading your story though.) I'll think about it more and see if I can come up with anything.
Is the terminology of this Empire directly derived from the Latin? If so, then consider a modification to reflect the somewhat different nature of these officers.
If not, then you could try something closer to how you envisage them, like executor (a modern term that would probably be underused in your milieu...though it might be interesting to consider that these servants might also serve as a executors in the modern sense).
How about "bailif?" since your descripition seems to describe the function that bailiffs perform in the courtroom?
Or use something descriptive... We forget that the Roman's thought in Latin, so a Latin word would have a literal meaning to them. So, when your characters think of the office, the name of the office and it's function are the same in their mind... and since you are tranlating their words to English, you would be tranlating the office name/description of function as well? Something like "enforcer" or "van" (short for vanguard)?
If they have cloned minds then their minds must be a copy, however imperfect, of an original.
This original must have been considered the epitome of the class the powers-that-be intended to create. If not, they would not have chosen him as the pattern.
If this 'original' was the epitome of the class, then his name would probably be synonymous with the class.Therefore you could have the whole class named after the original.
Such a thing has a precedent in Rome. The name Caeser became synonymous with emperor and led to such variations in other lands as SHAH, TSAR, CZAR and KAISER -- all state offices named after our friend Gaius Julius in order to 'borrow' his prestige.
For instance, if the "original's" name was Marcus Flaggelatus the class of "lictors" may well be called something like The Marcusian Guard. Or the Flaggelati
IF you don't like that idea: You could go for a name that incorporates both the concept of a duplicate/double (as per the cloned mind) and someone with developed martial skills but who is not a soldier. The name POLLUX comes to mind.(From the Greek twins Castor and Pollux the former a skilled horseman, the latter a strongly built man who was a powerful boxer.)
Although Pollux is Greek, the Romans venerated him and had a temple dedicated to Castor and Pollux. They called Castor; Castore and Pollux they often called Polydeucus. In later Roman mythology, Pollux was considered to be the 'divine' or 'immortal' one of the pair.
So you COULD call them something like the POLLUXI or even Polydeuci. Depending on the way LATIN has morphed in your world you could use a variation, eg: PRUXII.
I like it, but then I'm not writing the story.
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited February 20, 2006).]
Just to clarify: I would prefer something Latin or Latin-sounding, but I'm not dead set on that. I would prefer something from the Eastern Mediterranean region (call it Latin, Greek, Turkish or any other Middle Eastern or northeast African languages). I'll most likely end up anglicizing the term a bit.
The whole plot of the story is loosely based upon the Biblical narrative of King Saul, David and Jonathan (yes, I do realize the Roman Empire showed up much, much later) so I'd like the terms used to come from that general area of the globe.
quote:How about "bailif?" since your descripition seems to describe the function that bailiffs perform in the courtroom?
These guys are probably closer to a cross between the clone troopers of Star Wars and members of the Secret Service presidential detail, with just a hint of the creepiness of the Bene Tleilax gholas from Dune thrown in, but thanks for your input.
quote:f this 'original' was the epitome of the class, then his name would probably be synonymous with the class.Therefore you could have the whole class named after the original.
For instance, if the "original's" name was Marcus Flaggelatus the class of "lictors" may well be called something like The Marcusian Guard. Or the Flaggelati.
Hmmm...there's a thought. I might ponder that further. "The Marcusian Guard" has a nice ring, but not quite the "punch" I'm after for these guys, though it might fit well elsewhere in the story.
quote:Are you aware of Cultores Solis invicti Mithræ in the Ancient world?
Er...no, at least not in depth. I've heard of Mithraism before, but never had occasion to look at it in any detail. I'll certainly take a peek at those links.
I may end up doing something like what Donaldson did in the Thomas Covenant series, with the Haruchai being the racial name for the people from whom the Bloodguard came.
I feel a little bit like Charlie Brown talking to Lucy at her Psychiatric stand. She keeps throwing out the names of various phobias, and then Charlie Brown suddenly yells, "THAT'S IT!" when she mentions pantophobia. One of these days, it'll hit me.