The timeline of Republica Aquincorum diverged from our timeline sometime near 180 AD. Emperor Pertinax successfully put down the Praetorian Guard rebellion and continued over the next ten years of his regime to dismantle parts of the military power within Rome, creating a more stable government. He was assassinated in 202, but the delay of the major power struggles had extensive effects. Several of the soldier emperors allied more closely with the Celts. As the Roman Empire declined, instead of breaking up in two it broke into a number of states across Europe, starting with the rebellion in northern Gaul in 213.
The Sassanian Empire absorbed the eastern provinces to Syria and Arabia Petraea. The empire grew into a great power, pushing back the ever more fragmented Romans to the Mediterranean from Asia. In 254 the emperor converted to Manicheism. The Manicheist reformation spread like a wildfire, absorbing other Gnostic or Christian cults and overthrowing many of the old Zoroastrian magi while replacing them with a synthesis that filled many with great zeal. The attack on Rome in 278 was to a large extent a crusade against the ancient enemy, fuelled by the preaching of radical Manicheists and the need of the emperor to get rid of some of the most zealous generals.
The Sassanids successfully invaded Italy, and sacked Rome. Emperor Marcus Ambrosius had to flee to the small northern city Aquincorum in Rhaetia, where he mounted a defense from the Sassanid forces. The Greek provinces severed the supply lines of the fleet, and in 281 at the battle of Aquileia they were scattered. Over the next ten years the imperial forces hunted the bands of Sassanians laying waste to the countryside across Italy, eventually restoring peace but leaving the region marginalized and the empire scattered. The emperor returned to Aquincorum, which was henceforth the imperial capital - but in practice the empire now consisted of independent governors. The Sassanian Empire remained the single unifying threat holding the squabbling nations together; many Romans began to define themselves more as "enemies of the east" rather than being Imperial citizens or of roman descent. In the provinces local cultures and roman culture mixed; the empire declined into a dark age as trade and travel was replaced by local wars.
In 950 the Türk people (originally from Altai, but since the 500's a growing steppes power) began to spread southwards from central Asia after being unified by a strong ruler. They overrun some of the northern Sassanid provinces, and in 1002 they swept across the Oxus River and began a wholesale conquest of the empire. After the sack of Ctesiphon in 1003 the imperial court began to lobby support from Macedonia, Dacia and Kazaria - who were also under threat from the western advance of the Türk. Their support was marginal, until one Türk force swept across the Black Sea, turning back first in Pannonia. This energized the emperor and the eastern roman states, and they began to mobilize as they saw how the formerly invincible Sassanids crumbled under the Türk onslaught.
In 1019 a historic meeting occurred in Ephesus between the two emperors, agreeing to fight side to side to stop the Türk menace. They met the Türks in a series of battles across Bithynia and Galatia 1020-1022, making the most of the mountainous terrain and the desperate need to stop the advancing forces. Another invasion in Dacia was met by the emperor himself and his praetorian guard at the Battle of Sarmizegetusa. This battle was the turning point both of the Türks and Aquincorum. The defeat in the north robbed the invaders their impetus, and the Sassanids began to rip their badly consolidated conquests apart while the Kazarians began a firm expansion north and east. The emperor had in a sense reaffirmed his position as the representative of Imperium, and while the roman nations did not submit to his rule they affirmed his imperial right and his claim as the embodiment of Sol Invictus, the highest representative of Mithras on Earth.
It also gave the praetorian guards a new fame, and they came to be regarded as the supreme symbol of roman might, Scutum Gladiusque Romanum. It became an important tradition for the Latinate countries (and later on other countries with sizeable Mithraism) to send troops to the praetorian guards, which were used to defend Aquincorum and the Latinate world against the barbarians. This practice in time also limited the political power of Aquincorum, since whenever the emperor attempted to use his army for personal or local gain, the other states would withdraw their troops.
The New Hellenism
Persia became embroiled in a hopeless struggle between the remaining Türks, the Sassanids and usurpers, many supported by militant Manicheists. To a large extent the chaos acted as a watershed, making people move. The Türk invasion and the aftermath caused a flood of refugees both westwards and eastwards. In both cases they caused a renaissance, but of fundamentally different nature. In the west a new Hellenism occurred as displaced Persians settled in the roman states. Ancient learning was combined with the practical bent of the Romans, and engineering schools began to form. Many patterned themselves after the Mithraism cults, becoming mystery schools initiating their members in construction techniques. Science was regarded as part of philosophy, and philosophy was regarded as a part of religion dealing with how the universe was made. This system of "engineering cults" stimulated practical work, guildmanship and incremental improvement, but also stifled true innovation. Still, the slow advances spread and led to a gradual progress across Europe and Asia Minor. When membership in multiple cults began to be accepted in the western states the rate of development increased, and resulted in such as wonders the Mithraeum of Massilia (1248) and the mills of Narbo (1300's). Pater Vagennius Infigor of the Caesaragusta mithraeum invented printing in 1302. The Mithraist interest in astrology led to a profusion of astrological and astronomical schools combining ancient Celtic and Babylonian knowledge, and in 1365-1370 Pater Sittius Synistor constructed the first telescope and revealed the existence of the moons of Jupiter.
The cultural and economic center moved from the East to southern Gaul and Hibernia, where it spread north and to the many African states. Meanwhile Aquincorum remained merely a figurehead, hemmed in on all sides by stronger nations but controlling parts of the Alps and northern Italy. To the far north the many small kingdoms in Scandinavia and the British Islands explored the sea. In 1155 Riordan Londoniensis discovered Iceland, and in 1221 Thormund Magnes reached Vineland (New Foundland). The discoveries were hover of marginal importance at the time.
In the east Persians moved into India, where they encountered to them strange local philosophies and customs causing a flourishing of "philosophies of culture". The different Indian kingdoms readily absorbed the new ideas, and local philosophers began to question the nature of culture, nationality and society. In some cases this led to heresies and subversive ideas that were fiercely attacked, but scholars often escaped to neighboring kingdoms with their ideas. One of the main innovations (due to the combination of Greek philosophy and Buddhism) was the invention of "social religion", the idea of religions based not on deities but on the needs and desires of societies, defining the virtues and institutions necessary to function properly.
After the breakdown of trade towards the west, trade began to move eastwards instead. Indian seafarers reached China, and over the period 1100-1300 the south East Asian region became more firmly integrated. The new philosophies where widely studied among the scholars, especially during the Wan Restoration in 1360 when the new emperor sought to cleanse the bureaucracy of the influences of the previous dynasty. The Wan Restoration initiated a period recalled as the "Era of Sages", as new religions and philosophies were developed, debated and codified. These new philosophies struggled with each other and with the old views of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, resulting in several conflicts between their proponents. In 1389 the emperor decreed, after having been influenced by the tolerant School of Ageless Harmony, a system of institutionalized tolerance where a number of different ethical, religious and philosophical views were granted validity as parts of the imperial harmony (and hence to be part of the imperial examinations), and other views were to be regarded as "acceptable, if not official". Although a number of purges of "unacceptable" schools occurred, the main result was that the five major philosophies became firmly entrenched thanks to their influence on the meritocracy, and eventually out-competed most others.
The Age of Travel
The climate changes of "the little ice age" drove many of the Viking and Britannian seafarers south to piracy, but also promoted the more Latinate roman nations to extend their fleets (often by hiring the northerners), first in defense but also for trade along the west coast of Africa. Here they discovered many Manicheist kingdoms south of the Sahara. While Mithraism had spread northwards and become the main religion of Europe, the Manicheist missionaries had gone south. General Bisinus Invictus set out in 1402 to conquer Africa, a mission that failed miserably but brought roman technology, Mithraism and a sizeable number of Romans to his colony Africa Nova on the Ivory Coast. Influences from the colony stimulated the consolidation of western Africa over the next 200 years into the kingdom of Mandik, which became a dominant regional power. The Mandiki Latinate traders also funded sea voyages across the African coast. In 1501 the famed race between Marmasa the Seamamsa and Veduc Nautor ended with them reaching the Caribbean using the north equatorial current and going back along the south equatorial current, opening the Americas (called Hesperia by the Latinate) to African colonization.
In 1432 the Chinese emperor died without heir, but his royal concubines, generals and highest mandarins hid the fact to protect their positions and prevent a civil war. They continued to rule in his name, and the practice continued decade after decade - the dead emperor became known as Ageless one, and stories about his favor with heaven and his miraculous longevity thanks to taoist alchemy spread widely. Over the years the system of regarding the emperor as ruling without embodiment became entrenched, and China became a meritocracy run by the leading mandarins and generals.
Although Aquincorians often tend to think it was the Latinate world that produced modern technology and the backwards east merely invented soft sciences like psychology and sociology, this is of course not true. Chinese alchemists discovered many fundamental chemical processes, and the Shanghai school of healers founded scientific medicine in the 1500's. The difference was that new technology was quickly adopted by the Mithraeums of the west and combined with other inventions, which were then commercialized.
The trade with the unknown western lands added to the power and mystery of Mandik. As they began to export gunpowder, weapons and steel to the Native Americans in exchange for gold, tobacco and slaves they set in motion a wave of epidemics and wars among the Indian cultures. Over the period 1500-1600 much of the new world became involved in a succession of fierce wars (some supported by Mandik and European states, which were now establishing trade holdings in the west) that decimated the population with more than 75%. Many of the desperate kingdoms and empires sold off vanquished enemies to the Mandiki who had great need for agricultural workers. In the Mandik Empire, land was parceled out to families according to their needs based on the number of labourers they could marshal, and slaves provided a convenient way of increasing production. In the end over 12 million Native Americans were forcibly transferred to sub-Saharan Africa, becoming an important ethnic minority. Second- or third-generation slaves were recognized as members of the household, no longer liable for sale but usually in the kinship-dominated social structure regarded as second class citizens. Many converted to Mithraism, often combining it with American religion into new syncretisms.
At 1600, the Kazarian Empire dominated most of central Asia, becoming the crossroad for trade between China and the west. It was run by a class of Kazarian-Türkish warrior-nobles, forcing the merchants to pay protection fees but otherwise not interfering. Changji and Anbei acted as capitals, becoming flourishing cities where eastern philosophical treatises were copied and exchanged for unusual technology from the Mediterranean.
Northern Europe consisted of minor kingdoms paying grudging respect to the emperor, with (to southerners) barbaric combinations of Mithraism with indigenous religions. The famines and floods during the "reign of Aquilo" caused many minor wars and incursions southwards. Only the threat of praetorian invasion kept them at bay.
In southern Europe the trading stations at Suez, where Indian and Mandiki traders arrived brought in great revenues for the Aegyptian merchants, helped Aegypt to grow to become the dominant financial power in the Mediterranean. An aggressive republic refusing to pay taxes and customs at ports of other nations, Aegypt finally defeated the amassed Massalian and Greek fleets with its steam-powered warships in 1608-1609, totally dominating the Mediterranean and forcing the emperor to adopt the Aegyptian dictator's son as his own. Aegyptian researchers also began exploring the use of electricity for more than electroplating of metals, coming up with the electric generator in 1620 and the first radio in 1634.
The philosophical ideas seeping in from the east began to affect the Latinate world. An increasing number of people questioned the tenets of emperorship and kingship, whether Mithras was to be regarded as a real person or as an ideal to strive towards, and what ideals should rule society. A new humanism developed at the mithraeums, where the eastern ideas of a society governed by ideals and rules for the benefit of humans rather than gods and kings were combined with the notions developed by astronomers about a changing, moving cosmos always evolving to new forms. This humanism led to frequent conflicts between the old nobility and powerful sodalities and the emerging humanist movements. In 1624 Pater Thormundus Aleator of Scania proposed a variant of the old republican roman government where citizens were randomly selected to act as representatives of their tribes and parties. Although Aleist demarchy was originally suggested as a compromise (Thormundus sought to retain a senate and executive branch run by the nobility or sodalities), many radicals began to strive for a totally citizen-selected government ("selected from the people, for the people").
In 1649 Epirus-Sicilia became aleist demarchies after a revolt against Aegypt. The revolt was crushed, which led to popular protests across Europe. When the Aegyptian-loyal emperor used the praetorians to disperse Aleist protestors in Aquincorum the Greek, Hibernian and Gallian nations withdrew their troops, and prepared to strike at the loyalists. In the "one year war" 1650 the praetorians and other armies fought in the Alps. While the emperor was dug in and impossible to defeat, all supply routes were cut and it was clear that his support was declining. Many Mithraists demanded that he would either commit suicide to retain the honor of Mithras, or that he would switch sides and join with the reformists. When the Aegyptian invasion into Italy failed, his position was hopeless. In a declaration on the Ides of December 1650 the emperor surrendered Aquincorum and then committed suicide. The reformists quickly instituted an aleist government and continued south, where an armistice with the Aegyptians was reached in Naples 1651.
Although the radical Aleists wanted to end the reign of emperors forever, the Mithraists sought to place a new emperor on the throne. They elected emperor Pius Rabirius Theodorus Germanicus, a leading Mithraist and a nephew to the last "true" emperor, who had strong support among the many military mithraic societies. Several conflicts erupted in Aquincorum and elsewhere in Europe 1651-1660, until after much negotiation from the Gallian Alliance (and a bloodless coup by the praetorians unseating the radical Aleist government) the Aquincorum constitution was amended to include the emperor again, this time only as a spiritual leader with no political power. Tradition had been restored, although the emperor remained a politically marginal figure.
The new order ushered in a renaissance. Old traditions were questioned, a through but peaceful reformation of the Mithraist cults occurred where an Aristotelian humanism replaced the conservative stoicism that had been dominant until then. The sodality system, which had previously been a serious limitation turned out to be just the right combination of flexibility and social safety to balance Aleism (as Thormundus had predicted), and in the new climate business, science and technology bounded exponentially forward. Electricity, radio and full-scale industrialization spread across the west.
Over the next 50 years Aleism or similar democratic paradigms spread across Europe and some of the Middle East republics. Aegypt persisted in traditional republicanism until 1749. The spread of Aleism was accelerated by the spread of radio and electricity worldwide. As a reaction, the Chinese government began a push towards expanding the "nimbus of social balance" (abbreviated UJKH in Kazarian, which was the name the Latinates came to know it by) in Asia. Over the period 1670-1730 this deliberate policy of sending out diplomats, teachers, monks, engineers and military advisors to less developed countries gave them an unprecedented influence in the poor Americas, Indonesia and parts of Africa. Although the counter-Aleist movement did not prevent some vital states (including the now divided Kazarian empire and the Aihole kingdom in southern India) from becoming Aleist, it extended the economic and political reach of China enormously. As a new age of international commerce and transportation dawned, the eastern hemisphere (east Asia, the Pacific and North America) came to be dominated by China and its allies as UJKH, and the western hemisphere (Europe and Africa) by the Latinate world. The main independent power was the Mandik Empire, dominating Africa and the Caribbean but suffering from many internal divisions and demands for radical political changes.
The Accelerating World
In 1750 the situation had grown into a cold war. Latin Europe had gradually become a single economic community, dominated by a firm Aleist belief in the power of the individual, market and the desirability of evolution and change. The Mediterranean and Middle East were rapidly developing a post-industrial economy, using genetic engineering to green Sahara and to improve plants, livestock and human children. Radical computer science experiments strove towards artificial intelligence and self-replicating technology to colonize the universe. Although lagging behind in many respects, the UJKH was similarly reaching high levels of prosperity and security. However, to the UJKH philosophies the race of technology had now reached its end: the technology to feed, clothe and house all humans in a sustainable way was within reach, and any further development would be at best unnecessary, at worst disastrous. The idea of a technological singularity, where mankind would make a technological transition to a posthuman state, had been proposed by UJKH prognosticators already in 1640 and been rejected as an undesirable possibility. Now it was clear that the west was racing towards it, and if they even got close the world would be forced to change beyond recognition. UJKH governments began to increasingly question further technological advances, and attempted to negotiate international treaties limiting development of dangerous or disruptive technologies. Although partially successful when dealing with nuclear weapons and computer viruses, the refusal to stop development of nanotechnology was forcing UJKH into an arms race they did not want to pursue. Many member nations were quietly making plans to deal with the frightening threat against their way of life.
As a counter to the rapidly growing might of the UJKH, a wave of pan-Latinism spread across the west. Old ideals from the wars against the Sassanids were unearthed, and the emperor was again becoming a potent symbol of freedom and civilization. Many groups supported a mobilization, but the efforts were uncoordinated and hampered by the generally optimist view that the advanced technology of the west would be enough to deal with any threat. The praetorian army was rebuilt, and equipped with the latest technology and placed under the control of the Aquincorum Republic.
The Final War
In 1753 things came to a head after the fall of the Mandiki Realm. After several decades of insurrection, rebels managed to oust the neutral ruling republic and instate a firmly pro-UJKH government. Latinate interests began to support counterinsurgent, which gave UJKH forces an excuse to move in. The Latinates began to respond, but with amazing speed UJKH attacked. The first strikes struck at key positions across Europe and the Middle East, disrupting communications networks with viruses, EMP weaponry and sabotage aerosols. This was followed by intercontinental missiles with hostage retroviruses. It soon became clear that the Aquincorum strategists had misjudged the UJKH; instead of a traditional military attempt to force the republic to accept terms the goal was to guarantee that the threat of runaway technology was ended.
In the first week, most of Europe fell to the onslaught. The emperor and Aquincorum administration had to flee from the Alps as a concentrated attack devastated the region. Trying to regroup, the Aquincorum forces spread out across the Middle East and Northern Africa, doing infowar attacks against the UJKH. The situation was desperate, but many held high hopes to unproven super weapons or diplomatic intervention from the less convinced members of the UJKH.
One such superweapon was phasing. A recently discovered maverick effect, it seemed to suggest the possibility of escape from the war and a way to get enough time to win it. Its true nature was somewhat little understood, but as the UJKH forces advanced on the bunker complex near Alexandria where the emperor and senate was holed up they decided to take the risk and escape. It was believed (due to a later disproved theory) that it would move things to a parallel universe. After their escape, several other command complexes and a space station followed suit.
The UJKH examined the ruins, and while they would have preferred to think that the Emperor had committed a ceremonial suicide together with his troops they knew it was unlikely. Gradually they pieced together evidence, interviewed witnesses, tracked down research and recreated the secret technology. A heavily armed exploration mission was sent after the escaping republic. When nothing happened, the issue was down-prioritized.
The World Without History
After consolidating their victory, the problems of having a world-girdling empire quickly manifested. The Latinates proved hard to govern, the aftereffects of the war hurt far more than Europe and unrest and uncertainty among the allies compounded the inherent problems of reconciling UJKH ideology with what had been done.
A few years after the war the true nature of phasing was discovered. The use of phasing to rectify past mistakes became more and more common. While the UJKH command kept the secret to itself and was very successful in tracking down independent researchers in the field to stop them, the use gradually went out of hand. Not only did they send back future information to prevent problems or stabilize society, they began to send back technology to truly perfect history and their grip of it. The more future parts of the UJKH timeline tended become obsessive about fixing every disaster, every mistake by sending back somebody to do it - and as the first transfer merely fixed the next timeline they later sent back more people to correct the situation even earlier. The result was a large number of timelines were serious disasters occurred amplified by the introduction of future technology - nanotechnological epidemics, politic and economic upheaval, sometimes nuclear or subnuclear war. At the same time new timelines were created by travelers sent with great authority to "fix" the issues long before they ever appeared. A rather large number of travelers from these UJKH timelines arrived in Ex Tempore.
Eventually a carefully planned mission to guarantee a flawless formation of the UJKH in the 1700's led to its opposite - the dedicated time adjusters found themselves stranded in a timeline where the UJKH never formed, and their further attempts to bring it back completely failed. Eventually they gave up and settled in a relatively peaceful and civilized era.
The arrival of the Republica at Ex was a grand event (to humans; the mainliners were used to it). Over 9 major city-ships arrived in orbit, together with innumerable smaller craft. At the same time a huge number of UJKH craft appeared, some from remote points in the timeline or from the ever wilder adjusted timelines. Everything was set for a devastating orbital battle had not the mainliners intervened. A quick demonstration of power from the Koon convinced both sides that hostilities would not be in their interest. While the UJKH debated about what to do and the proper chain of command - several of the more authoritarian versions all claimed supreme authority - the Republica managed to get into contact with some of the human-linked mainliners and human cultures. A few deals were made, and the Republica came under the direct protection of the Xantipha as well as the briefly united Tauiatta - in exchange for an unprecedented number of mindstates they acquired a home, military allies and access to advanced technology. Meanwhile the UJKH did not take well to the information that their timeline by now was entirely changed. One fraction dominated by the later versions decided to return, while another decided to stay - and a third attempted an attack on the Republica. They were utterly destroyed by the Koon and Xantipha.
The returning UJKH never arrived at their destination and strangely left no detectable trace in the timestream. An investigation discovered that femtotech infiltration devices sent by an untraceable source had sabotaged their phasing equipment, and they only re-appeared as disorganized plasma somewhere outside Jupiter. The consensus debate was extensive over whether this was acceptable handling of the situation, but the evidence of excessive temporal tampering convinced most cultures that it was better to keep the UJKH out of the game.
The Republic first settled in the then empty Arx Tarautas. The reason is somewhat clouded, but seems to have been partially the wish to anchor the capital city ship and use it as a core base, a fairly direct answer from Xantipha about where they should settle and partially caution about settling among the strange inhabitants of Namaqua. At year zero in the new calendar (currently it is ab urbe condita 154) Arx Tarautas became the capital of the Republic: enormous diamond beams anchored the capital city-ship, and their Tauiatta allies constructed the first framework on which the city was built.
A somewhat embarrassing issue was the existence of two Emperors, the same person from somewhat divergent timelines. Eventually flipping a coin solved the issue, and the extra emperor became princeps senatus ("leading man of the senate"), up to then merely a honorific of the emperor but from then on a title.
Exploring and learning about Ex proved to be a major challenge. A whole generation of explorer-engineers studied the Labyrinth, the virtualities and the beings found within. The republic saw the many disparate human societies and how fragmented they were. To unify them was a natural move, and the Nova Roma Concordia was launched. Other cultures were not quite that eager to join, but soon found Aquincorian diplomats, merchants and agents at their doorsteps. The NRC project slowly advanced despite counter-alliances among the Lamplandae and resistance from the later arriving Shoukakegawans.
The unification conflict 31-33 was in many ways a release of tensions that had built up over several years. Shoukakegawans, Lamplandae and other groups saw the chance to strike at the ambitious republic. Militarily it was very small scale and high-tech, using infiltration teams and subversion devices rather than full-scale warfare. Relatively few people died but much infrastructure was poisoned or corrupted, and trade and communication (the lifeblood of Aquincorian society) seriously hurt. Although the NRC claimed victory after the council chambers had been re-taken, it was seriously weakened for decades onwards.
A sizeable fraction of the Aquincorians wanted to return to the timestream. While Ex Tempore was a wondrous world, they found themselves longing for the Earth and disliked how many of their compatriots became addicted to alien technology, virtuality or began to enmesh themselves in bizarre Lamplandae politics. In the chaos after the conflict they gained much following and the "utopian project" of re-colonization progressed. In 87 they went ahead and migrated into the timestream. They agreed not to disrupt early history and instead settled the Earth in the year ~200.000, long after the inhabitants of the then-current timeline had destroyed themselves in a genetic war. The utopians developed into a vital civilization that eventually colonized much of the galaxy; their end remains somewhat uncertain. They kept phasing under fairly tight control in order not to cause a burst, but did send occasional expeditions and emissaries to Ex Tempore. The gifts from these descendants also helped the NRC recover swiftly. A number of utopian descendants remained in Ex, forming a well-integrated minority among the Aquincorians.
Ex Aquincorian society has been described as "a society of lawyers and gossips".
Aquincorian society is based on the sodalities. Sodalities have many names: confraternities, collegia, communes, guilds, associations and assemblies. They are essentially social networks with some formal structure. Some are little more than fraternal orders, others are professional associations with union functions and still others political groupings. Everybody belongs to at least some sodality, if only the neighborhood sodality.
Belonging to a sodality carries both privileges and duties. Members are expected to support each other, follow the internal rules and often invest in sodality businesses. Many of the older or more traditional sodalities have elaborate systems of rank and privilege, while others are far more informal (or even parody the ranking system).
Much effort spent on smoothing interactions between different sodalities. Gifts, lavish introductions and extensive inter-sodality treaties are common. The old system of patrons and clients have long since vanished, to be replaced with the more freewheeling and complex system of sodality duties and debts. Humans are free, until they promise to do something. At that point they have a duty to deliver - "pacta sunt servanda" is one of the highest ideals.
Promises and contracts are handled by making oaths, just as formal and legally binding as signatures in our culture. Aquincorian oaths have elements of the celtic geasa tradition - they are not to be taken lightly. Usually oaths are recorded on special tamper-proof oath recorders which are then deposited at trusted parties and/or made official. For more important oaths a professional witness - a testis or arbiter - is summoned to witness and record the event. Someone who simply can't meet a promise is viewed as suffering from great misfortune and may be worth clemency, but the dominant idea is that you never promise anything you don't think you can keep. Some Aquincorians tend to speak in diffuse or equivocal terms so that they never get caught not delivering on their promises, but this is also viewed with scorn. Someone promising much - even beyond his capacity - and delivering it anyway is regarded as an hero or ideal.
One way of handling the importance of not breaking promises is elaborate contracts, with penalty clauses in the case of a breach - this way somebody who cannot deliver can still save himself by paying the penalty. Contracts are so common that most people have special legal software in their wearables to quickly formulate and negotiate contracts with people they meet.
The sodalities help make the system of duties and debts workable. Usually promises are made for help from the sodality rather than the person making the promise, increasing the ease of fulfilling the deal. At the same time the person making the promise is staking the honor of the sodality on the issue, and hence his own standing within the sodality.
Citizenship is somewhat floating in Ex. To join the Republic one simply has to contact one of its legal representatives and sign a citizenship contract. In a sense the Republic is a single huge sodality, a metasodality of all citizens.
Slavery declined after the fall of the Roman empire, partly for economic reasons and partly from social influences from the manicheists and Bona Dea cults that fiercely opposed such degradation. Instead various levels of serfdom and bonded labor emerged, which were re-defined as time went on. Today slavery as such does not exist in Republica Aquincorum. It is possible for a person to sell their services according to a contract to an extent bordering on slavery, but this is rare. Criminals are often punished by various forms of bonded labor. One reason slavery is seen as crude is purely cultural: slavery has become associated with the "barbarous" Mandiki, who had legal slavery up to the fall of their realm. It was also recognized that slavery was contrary to economic efficiency: slaves will not work as hard as free people being paid for their effort.
The current emperor is Marcus Africanus, the "Emperor in second exile". A healthy 210 year old, he spends most time presiding over Aquincorian committees and receiving Nova Roma Consensus diplomats. His timeline "clone" who became princeps senatus has retired, leaving the job to the media-savvy Cadeyrn Tertius.
The language of the Republica is called Linkua Latene, a descendant of Latin with many Celtic and Greek elements. It is written in a Roman-derived alphabet, with the addition of the letters 'J' and 'th' as well as the suffix letters of Thormundus. Thormundus suggested the inclusion of a number of extra letters to denote the suffixes of the latene language. He based them on a combination of the runic letters and the roman letters. Although the idea was not new (many shortened forms of Latene had been suggested before) the spread of his aleist ideas also furthered the spread of his suffixes, and after the reformation of the Republic the imperial grammarians officially accepted the new letters.
Culture of Mind
Dignity is important. While showing emotions is quite acceptable, they should be refined and proper emotions - looking silly or out of control is highly embarrassing not just for the person, but for all his associates. This is also why dance and other "wild" pursuits are only done at home or in small groups of close friends.
Aquincorians have no major taboos against sex (including public sex and nakedness); it is just another way of getting pleasure. They see no firm link between love and sex. The first is an important social emotion keeping the family together, the other is a pleasurable drive that can be shared with others. While showing love and affectation in public is acceptable (and often proper), it should only be within the family. Courting and seduction are private matters.
The view on women is largely developed from liberal Celtic views. Men and women are regarded as having fundamentally different natures, but these natures vary a great deal and a person should do whatever fits his or her true nature. This means that there is no stigma attached to women working in stereotypically male professions (or vice versa), it is seen as part of their individual nature. Compared to western homeline views, men and women may choose to live equal lives or not, and most seem content with it.
Although the Mithraic mysteries were originally closed to women and men outside the army, patrician families and other special groups there was a large amount of popular religion at the same time. Women and many men celebrated the goddess Bona Dea, both through minor rituals at home and formal temples. As the religion evolved it became a counterpart of Mithraism, with its own sodalities open for women and others. Many of these "lesser mysteries" would in time become significant powers, and in some cases were officially converted into Mithraeums. In more modern times the cult of Bona Dea was instrumental in female liberation by defining the above ideas of "different natures, free to choose". In Ex most women belong to a sorority of Mater Matuta, Fortuna Primigenia and Bona Dea as a form or religious-political network.
Aquincorians might appear cynic to a visitor from the homeline. This is largely due to major differences in culture. Instead of the Christian idea of compassion as a central virtue they instead view clemency as important - an expression of rationality and justice rather than emotion. The same goes for many other virtues and behaviors: they are openly driven by self-interest. An Aquincorian will not be ashamed to admit that he befriends somebody because they are powerful and might help rather than for any personal qualities. At the same time Aquincorians still hold ideals regarded as somewhat old-fashioned in homeline in high regard, as strength of character, dignity and loyalty.
Many Aquincorian games are tripartite: there are not two players or teams but three, creating a far more complex game where diplomacy and alliance are important. One of the most common boardgames is Transenna, a go- or chess-like game played on a triangular board with black, white and red markers. Today the red player is traditionally an artificial intelligence. The "Aquincorian national sport" is Laurach, a game not unlike soccer but allowing people to carry the ball, with somewhat more violence and often large teams on very large fields. Another popular game (the Aquincorian version of tennis or cricket) is trigon, where three players throw a ball (or two) between each other and try to make each other miss or hit each other. Scorekeeping is somewhat complex, but usually the first to reach 21 points win.
In Ex the dominant dress style is based on the uniforms of the engineers used during the war, suitably adapted and changed. Outdoors clothing is a combination of coverall and poncho, equipped with numerous pockets (in business versions only decorative pockets). Indoors people dress in light, colorful tunics. Practically everybody uses wearable computing in the clothing, providing communications, sensory hints and information. Much clothing has programmable colors and texture, as well as various functions such as scent, air conditioning and repair.
Sodality membership is usually shown by symbols worn on the collar, torc or necklaces. A lawyer might for example carry the symbol of his legal society, his membership in a scholarly mithraeum, his neighborhood sodality and a political society. This often makes it fairly clear not just who somebody is but who they are allied to. Wearing false membership symbols is (when discovered) an instant way to infamy, and usually leads to being expelled from most sodalities. However there is no rule against not revealing all sodality allegiances, and often diplomatic or cautious people leave out their most controversial memberships. Of course, a conspicuous lack of a symbol can in itself give rise to speculation.
The two main religions are Manicheism and Mithraism. There are smaller ophilatrists and new cults, inspired by other cultures such as the strigae, the UJKH or Lamplandae.
Manicheism is in practice identical to homeline Manicheism, a combination of Zoroastrian dualism, Buddhism, Babylonian folklore, Gnosticism, Judaism and Christianity. It teaches the existence of absolute good and evil, and that the material world is evil. The goal is to become a Perfect, a preacher-monk purifying himself so that his spirit can escape matter. The Perfect live lives of high degrees of ascetism, tended by their congregations. They are helped by a priesthood/psychologistshood of auditors living less pure lives helping others to change their ways. The believers listen to their preaching, perform regular prayers and purifications, and observe certain holy days.
In the Aquincorian form of Manicheism each congregation have their own Perfect, who is believed to purify the congregation by his presence. According to the doctrines of Carataus Thaius, an influential reformer, this is done through the multiple reincarnation through the Perfect: when a congregation member dies, his or her soul will be drawn into the Perfect and purified through his lifestyle. Ex Manicheists sometimes suggest that this may involve time travel: reincarnation does not have to occur in temporal order, and Perfects may actually be born with their congregation's souls already present. There are relatively few manicheists in Ex; the religion was not very widespread in the technical-military classes that got to Ex Tempore.
Most modern Aquincorians are Mithraist humanists, a secular form of Mithraism. Humanists often practice some Mithraist ceremonies, but they are seen as symbolic or psychological messages rather than spiritual exercises. According to Mithraist humanism the goal is personal growth by passing through challenges throughout life, a combination of ideas not unlike the Aristotelian idea of personal excellence and homeline's Ericsonnian psychology. There are certain challenges given to each person by destiny that he (or she) has to overcome in order to reach higher stages. Failure is not the worst thing that can happen; the true disaster is to give up.
Traditional Mithraism is descended from the Mithraeums and the cults of the Celtic druids, mixed with a stoic philosophy. Members are initiated in closed ceremonies, where they are taught the myths of Mithras. Each level gives deeper insights into his nature, unifying both traditional mythologies with ideas of how Mithras was sent into the universe by the greater stellar powers on the outside to defeat evil, create the world and teach men how to live well.
Most members concentrate on the ceremonies, yearly feasts (corresponding to the celtic festivals, given an astronomical interpretation) and seeking higher initiations as a way of advancing in Mithraist sodalities. More mystically inclined Mithraists spend much time in philosophical meditations, various forms of military training or the study of physical law, three activities believed to help teach "the order of the skies", the fundamental moral-metaphysical order of the universe. Mithraist mystics are very interested in the cosmological speculations and experiments performed by mainliner cultures.
The Emperor is traditionally seen as the highest ranking member of Mithraism, the embodiment of Mithras himself.
A notable minority from the Mandiki Empire was the Ophilaters, an ethnic-religious minority partially descended from American slaves and worshipping the great snake god Dangbi. The cult combined African elements of a snake-god of wisdom and earthly bliss with American ideas about the saviour-god Quetzcoatl. The Ophilaters quickly ended up in opposition with the dominant Manicheist sects, which turned the cult into an underdog religion for the oppressed. Over the years Dangbi became the secret liberator god who would succour the oppressed and support the just fighters of freedom with wisdom and luck. It could be killed again and again, only to re-appear when least expected. The Ophilaters were instrumental in overthrowing the Mandiki government, and largely allied with UJKH. A few arrived in Ex together with the UJKH contingent. Since arrival Ophilatrism has slowly increased in popularity among discontents in Namaqua, especially disparates living in the Labyrinth.
Glossarium Philosophicum: some modern terms in latin.
Nova Roma: the study and restoration of ancient Rome, a good source of
ideas for the roots of Aquincorian society: