The Romulans as "Space Romans"

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by The Overlord, May 15, 2013.

  1. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    The Romulans have been called "Space Romans" in the past, but how accurate is that? Roman Society lasted for a thousand years and went through many changes, Rome started as a republic and became a dictatorship, had something akin to Monarchy for a while, until the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. That's not mentioning the Holy Roman Empire and the period where the Roman Empire was split into two different empires, an Western and Eastern one.

    So what era of Roman Society are the Romulans based on? Is it a democracy or a dictatorship? Who holds the real power, the Senate or the Praetor? Is the Senate elected or appointed? How are Praetors selected?

    Also the Roman Empire was never really xenophobic, it made the people they conquered Roman citizens and even tried to improve their lives in some ways, usually by improving road systems and building aqueducts. The Romulan Empire doesn't seem similar to the Romans in that important respect.
     
  2. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Probably a bit of both.

    IIRC, Romulan senators are indeed elected.

    The Continuing Committee, I think. One of their duties is the confirmation of a new Praetor. Although we don't know what process candidates have to go through to get to that point.
     
  3. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Well the Roman Empire was kinda of a dictatorship after rule of Julius and then Augustus Caesar, where because the Emperor had absolute control of the military, they could bully the senate into doing what they wanted. Is that the relationship in the Romulan Empire?

    Also there seems to be a secret police, which seems to undermine the idea that the Romulan Empire is a democracy.

    It be interesting to see if there similarities in history between the Roman and Romulans Empire. Have they ever had a Nero or Caligula style ruler, someone who was pretty insane? It seems like Shinzon is the closet comparison, but he likely wasn't Praetor for more then a month.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  4. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    One probably shouldn't take the idea of the Romulans being "Space Romans" too literally
     
  5. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    It seems like too easy an explanation for their society and doesn't take into account the long and confusing history of Roman Society.
     
  6. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Whats confusing about Roman Society? Any society that last for centuries is going to evolve and change.

    While the creators of Star Trek borrowed from the Romans in naming the Romulans as a species and individuals, the actual source for Balance of Terror was a WWII submarine film. And the isolation of Romulans is more reminiscent of Japan and China at various points in history.
     
  7. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Its confusing because the Roman Empire existed for a thousand years and went through massive changes in that amount of time, so just calling them "Space Romans" as some people do, doesn't really tell you anything about them, really.

    It just seems like the Romulan Empire seems very under developed compared to other societies on the Star Trek TV shows.
     
  8. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    From TMOST:
    Exactly. The Romulans of TOS Trek were loosely based on a combination of ancient Rome and Sparta. They weren't meant to be a precise analog of any past Earth civilization.
     
  9. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In Balance of Terror they act like they're from the Kriegsmarine (or Kriegsraumschiff), what with their talk of "If we are the strong, isn't this the signal for war?" and all that, right out of The Enemy Below.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That sort of speech isn't really specific to any culture or era - but the idea of a Praetor pursuing "a private little war" with personally sponsored forces is right out of the Roman textbooks of how to advance one's political career.

    What's incompatible between secret police and democracy? As far as is known, all democracies today have a secret police, and all democracies of yesterday had one, too.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. xvicente

    xvicente Captain Captain

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    They are Romans.... IN SPACE!!!!
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Given Star Trek's Cold War roots, I always figured the Klingons were basically the Russians and the Romulans were the Red Chinese . . . .
     
  13. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You shouldn't forget the Romulan Empress. Exactly what her role is though has never been made clear though.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Since she was only name-dropped in a Q rant ("Q and the Grey"), she could be a character from the distant past (as in Diane Duane fiction), from the distant future, or from an alternate timeline...

    The same goes for the hundred-year Vulcan-Romulan war from the other Q-themed VOY episode ("Death Wish"): it may have taken place, it may yet take place, or it may require an all-new tense to be properly described.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    I am not sure I would consider MI5 or the FBI similar to KGB or the Gestapo, the President of the US and the Prime Minister of the UK is criticized all the time and I don't see those people who are critical just disappear the next day. But you couldn't criticize Hitler or Stalin in such a manner and expect nothing will happen to you.

    A CIA agent couldn't bully around members of the US military the way the Tal'Shiar bullied around members of the Romulan military in Face of the Enemy. So exactly who are these secret police organizations in all modern democracies?

    A democracy needs more then elections to be a democracy, it needs more just elections, it needs rights of citizens to be respected.
     
  16. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's not an explanation, it's a tag line. Who actually calls them that and expects it to convey technical accuracy?

    Anyway, "Space Romans" is about as accurate as anything can be if you're limited to two words or less. You could just as easily tag Klingons as "Space Barbarians", Kirk's crew as "Space Cowboys", or Neelix as a "Space Hedgehog". But those are summations, not explanations.
     
  17. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think what The Overlord is getting at is that the only things that are remotely Roman about the Romulans, are their names.

    As such tagging them as "Space Romans" makes no sense.
     
  18. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    For most people "Roman" means Imperial Rome at it height,as seen in the movies. They aren't thinking of The Eastern Empire, the Holy Roman Empire or Tony Roma's.

    Very few fans, if any, I've encountered refer to them as "Space Romans". That was just a starting point for developing the Romulans. By the Enterprise Incident, they didn't even use Roman sounding names anymore.
     
  19. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Fair enough. But as Nerys points out, maybe I should have left it at,
    "Who actually calls them that?"
     
  20. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Commander Red Shirt

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    The Romulans were influenced by Rome, but also by other cultures, perhaps including Imperial Japan.

    But what is most important in making a species believable, is making their culture rational and pragmatic. So, the Romulans are not a like-for-like model of the Roman Empire in space. Rather, we can perhaps infer, they have arrived at a similar culture through practical necessity.

    Rome's system arose because it's rulers desired conquest, but had no justification for calling Egypt or Greece a part of Rome - they were foreign lands, and everybody knew it - and there was no Eastern concept of 'universal empire' in which nations became irrelevent, because Rome was rational and not given to idealistic flights, so instead the new territories became provinces, overseen by the senate, with regions governed by Proconsuls, etc. Wars were justified in terms of defence, often, as is necessary in an imperial democracy. We can perhaps infer that when the early Romulans entered space, starting as little more than thugs, they needed an imperial system by which a senate that only governed Romulus could govern other species - so their system of an imperial military, and proconsuls, etc, arose.