Recently, due to marketing reasons, the Clusterf!@k Coalition changed its name to the suitably impressive moniker of The Imperium. There was nothing really wrong with the name Clusterf!@k Coalition, although the only accurate part of that name was Coalition. No directorate has ever worked so hard at organizing pilots in EVE. Trust me; I was a director for two whole weeks. Until Sion fired me.
The Imperium is much more marketable for mass media. For the EVE Online book deals and the inevitable movie deals that follow, not having to say f!@k every other scene guarantees a wonderful PG-13 rating, at least in America. I do not know how the rest of the world rates their movies, and in True American Fashion, I don’t care. It also means that Google won’t automatically s#$tcan the first paragraph for being too vulgar.
The Imperium is a strong name, evoking the might and splendor of ancient Rome. When I hear The Imperium, my mind immediately thinks of gladiators fighting in the Flavian Amphitheatre, Julius Caesar getting stabbed, Space Marines killing orks, Caligula’s orgies (more on that later), Spartacus, the aqueduct, and Latin. Latin is a very cool language, and it’s fun to use Latin phrases every so often in English. Exempli gratia, using per se instead of in itself immediately makes the author seem about ten IQ points smarter.
Unfortunately, the word imperium, the darkest of grim and the grimmest of dark science fiction universes notwithstanding, doesn’t mean empire. Which, those of us who enjoy the history of the world’s greatest civilization, or read Wikipedia at two in the morning after a combination of insomnia and binge-watching HBO’s Rome, find irritating. It seems that calling it an ‘Empire’ is just too bland for the likes of thousands of nerds, so they borrowed from Warhammer 40K. Note to Games Workshop lawyers: we did not borrow from Warhammer 40K. The Imperium is an original creation based upon imperfect knowledge of Latin and Rome and going with ‘what sounds cool.’
Imperium actually means power backed up by force. It is the power to command. It is a quality possessed by someone. A dictator, a consul, or an imperator has imperium, or had actually, since Rome is gone and there are no more dictators, consuls, imperators, or praetors and the like. (Correction: I am being told that Rome is still there; it’s just the Empire that is gone. I learn something new every day!)
With imperium came lictors carrying fasces. The higher one’s imperium, the more lictors they got. Depending on what level of imperium the person had and, much more importantly, where they were, the fasces would have axes on them. Inside the pomerium, only a dictator’s lictors would have axes on their fasces, since only a dictator would have the power to enact capital punishment inside of Rome. The Mittani’s lictors always carry fasces with axes.
Imperium should not be confused with auctoritas. The former is power backed by force; the latter is also power, but backed by prestige. Auctoritas is influence. Auctoritas is the sort of power that The Mittani uses when he suggests to a particularly attractive female at one of his yacht parties that he would like to try nyotaimori. It’s the sweet silk of his voice that makes me wants to kneel do—is it hot in here, or is it just me?
The Romans, the ancient ones at least—who knows what the modern ones are like—hated the idea of a king, at least in the Republican times, which came after the Roman Kingdom. As an American, I can sympathize. After kicking out King George the something, I don’t want a king either. However, they also recognized that in times of crisis, having a bunch of squabbling senators was the not the best thing in the world. Crises demanded action! So, the senate would appoint someone dictator and tell him to go deal with this mess while they had orgies with the cutest slave girls in all of the Republic. So you see, our yacht parties are true to theme.
This dictator would have imperium maius, or the ultimate power, to go deal with whatever mess needed to be dealt with. There were other reasons to appoint a dictator, but that’s not important right now. I think that I will make the necessary word count without having to describe them. So, the dictator would go deal with the mess, come back, give up his position and imperium and return to a life of farming, like Cincinnatus. As an American, I can very much sympathize with the Romans when I look at our Congress.
When the Republic switched over to the Empire, they attempted to keep the illusion that the Republic was still there, much like President Obama with the U.S. Constitution. There was never any real one person named ‘Emperor’, per se, but someone that was the princeps, which roughly equates to the first among equals. Augustus definitely read “Animal Farm.”
The princeps was someone invested with a lot of powers from several different offices, exempli gratia, dictator, Tribune of the Plebs, and imperator. An imperator is a military commander, but not just any military commander. The legionaries would have to acclaim their general an imperator, which was a big deal in ancient Rome. They would get imperium, go back to Rome, and get a triumph. Triumphs were giant parades and festivals that proclaimed how amazing and great this particular general was. The imperator would ride down the streets in their chariot to the adoring crowds, but a slave would also whisper in their ear memento mori, or remember you are mortal. There is no one brave enough to say this to The Mittani in The Imperium; Sion has fired anyone that was.
It is from the word imperator that we get emperor. Imperator was the most important title to the princeps, as it is much, much cooler to have people think of you as a great military leader five times over, rather than the People’s Tribune. Seriously, I am already at a thousand words, so just go look it up yourself. Being acclaimed and hailed as imperator increased the auctoritas of the princeps, so it was something they went out of their way to get, even if it meant bribing the troops. This is why on Goonswarm’s ship replacement page, there is a little box to tick ‘Acclaim The Mittani as Imperator.’ It is a required tick mark to get reimbursed.
In the end, renaming to The Imperium is not a bad thing. It does sound cool and gives the line members a wonderful theme to rally behind. There’s the black ships—wait, that’s not actually a Roman thing. Well, there’s The Mittani as Emperor Dominus (he would chafe at the idea of being equal with anyone, even if Jupiter Optimus Maximus himself came down from Olympus), and he’s a nice combination of Augustus ‘Getting Things Done’ Caesar and Caligula ‘Psychopath with Amazing Orgies’ Caesar. (Caligula was also known to make eye contact.) Deklein has not burned yet, and I don’t even think the Mittani knows how to play the violin anyways.
The Imperium is kind of a throwback to the early days of EVE, where themes and roleplay were much more common than they are now. Goons have even started to roleplay, too. The Mittani declared his support for Max Singularity and invaded Providence for a nice little roleplay war. With our themes and role play, The Imperium has changed into something awesome, and I half expect to see Star Faction as one of our new coalition members. Hey, if Xenuria is in Goonswarm, anything is possible!
There’s nothing really wrong with the name The Imperium; it just irks me. Those of us that know history are doomed to watch those that don’t mangle it horribly for marketing reasons.
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