Culture of Caphiria
The imperial culture of Caphiria reflects the diversity of its population. Regarded as a melting pot of ethnicities by homogenous countries like Adamentium and Akimura, Caphiria is tolerant and respectful of the majority of cultures within its empire, encouraging some of their activities through socio-economic measures. No other country treats as large a number of groups with care and equality as does the empire. Even the bureaucracy and local elites reflect the regional distinctiveness of the population, allowing a degree of cultural independence that goes beyond mere appearances into religious and political recognition.
A principle which underlies Caphiria's cultural achievements is Libertas (Freedom). Freedom of movement within the country, freedom to share ideas and customs and freedom to seek wealth. The Senate hardly limits these liberties of the people with law, force or even propaganda.
Outside the Imperium, an armada of independent nations floats on this sea of Caprivian culture - falling under its massive sphere of influence. Caprivian goods are shipped to every market, Caprivian programming is played on telescreens everywhere, and Latin is understood by over half of humanity. Politics of the Elegans Imperium are keenly observed by politicians and regular folk across the globe; its events ultimately affecting the regions across the world.
The concept of stratification in Caphiria is incredibly complex and diverse, encompassing both legal and social status. Stratification is generally hierarchical, but there are multiple and overlapping social hierarchies, and an individual's relative position in one might be higher or lower than in another. There are three distinct concepts that go into establishing one's place in Caphirian society:
- Power (Potestas): A citizen's ability to do what they want despite resistance from others.
- Status (Dignitas): A citizen's prestige, popularity and honor or how highly society regards them.
- Class (Ordo): A citizen's legal and economic position in society.
At the peak of the social pyramid (pyramidis societas) is the Imperator. An Imperator has the highest dignitas, potestas, and is of the highest ordo in Caprivian society. If sociologists do not recognize any absolute standard for these ordinal measures than the Imperator is the relative standard to which the qualities of other residents in the empire are compared. Power and Status are generally perceived to be directly tied to a person's social standing, whereas Class is a person's legal status. After the Imperator, the peak of the pyramidis societas is the imperial family, which is currently the House of Panther. Altogether the imperial family tends to hold offices of power and a number of prestigious military and collegian posts, they are rarely handed out in the form of nepotism and are usually won based on merit.
The largest common cultural factor that glues Caprivian society together is the religio Christiana - a shared belief in a single God and in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Organized Christianity comes under the domain of the only recognized faith, that of Imperial Catholicism, Caphiria's de-facto state religion, making up 80% of the total religious demographics. Formally converting to Christianity on May 12, 1115 through the Edict of Brundisium, the Empire has grown from 14% Christian to almost totally Christian when considering only its citizens A modest 8% are Levantine Catholic, with 2% being minor Christian faiths including Eastern Orthodox, Waldensian's and Protestant communities.There is a small Jewish community of around a half million and an even smaller Muslim community with around a quarter million. A polytheistic movement that revolves around the traditional faith has emerged recently, figures are obscure still but it is speculated that roughly 300,000 citizens are members of the Aruuhin faith.
As a measure to protect religious freedom, the Imperial government devolves shares of income tax to recognized religious communities and taxpayers who do not wish to fund a religion contribute their share to the state welfare system. Despite Christianity's prevalence and unity with the state, freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution. In particular, the Jews are highly regarded in Caphirian society, possessing a significant portion of the banking and investment industries due to a historic monopoly on charging interest. In modern times, Caprivians take great pride in their religious faith, openly discussing it in casual conversation.
There is no stigma in professing one's belief or - in today's culture - non-belief at leisure. With regards to the irreligious, a mere 6.61 million, or approximately 0.5% of the population, does not profess a belief in a higher power. This atheist and agnostic - plus about two million strict anti-religious - groups of people thinly populate the Empire but converse through the Collegium Atheismum, the only organized atheist body in the world. The majority of the irreligious are wealthy intellectuals who have personal qualms with the Church or who became disillusioned with the rigidity of religious faith. Despite their intelligent base and success at organizing, atheists have failed to challenge the two thousand years of theological hypotheses put forward by the Church. As well, silence in the face of their occasional attacks against religious institutions has dominated ecclesiastical policy for centuries.
Christian theology has a rich history of development, evolving closely with the scientific community of its period. Connecting science and religion among Caprivians has always been the belief that knowledge of nature constitutes knowledge of a fraction of the divine, a means of approaching the idea of God. In fact, until the electrical industrial revolution, about half of natural philosophers were clerics. Research into cosmology over the last two centuries has brought science once again next to religion in the search for knowledge. Modern inflationary models of the cosmos and the concept - but not the mathematics - of research into an extra-dimensional cosmic fabric actually derive from questions and theories posited by theologians, not scientists, who until recently were uninvolved in such profound matters as the origins and holistic nature of the universe.
Regarding questions of the divine, no work is more seminal in the field than Nero of Hippo's City of God. It laid the groundwork for the next thousand years of theological practice. Difficult problems like the existence of evil and the ontology of God were only satisfactorily resolved until the 11th-century works of Gaius Rhonas. Overturning the predominant free will argument and ontological argument, Rhonas made arguments that seem to reflect phenomenology, a school of thought that would come three centuries later.
Attendance to mass is about 57-69% on a weekly basis and virtually all Catholics (88%) once a year. The most widely attended religious festival of the Christian calendar is Christomass or Saturnalia, a wonderful holiday over 24-26th December where, among countless activities, traditional social mores are reversed for one day. All children born the 25th in Caphiria are baptized by the Imperator, as Pontifex Maximus, himself.
On such holidays as Christomass and Pascha, Caprivians tend to gather at the home of their gens' patriarch for family celebrations. Some patrician clans even rent an entire odeon or amphitheater to host private shows for their relatives to enjoy. The day after a feast such as Christomass is a day for people to relax in their homes and rest from last nights celebrations. This makes December 26 a favorite day for people wishing to walk city streets at a time when virtually no one else will be outside.
A distinct Caprivian difference of the Orthodox Catholic Church is its separation into liturgiae - distinct ritualistic and linguistic divisions in the practice of the Christian mass and regular worship. What sets one liturgy apart from another are the language, prayers of importance, order of events during service, architecture of churches, art displayed in churches, feast days and other aspects of ritual. They are, however, united by canon law, catholic dogma and recognition of the Pontifex Maximus.
The Imperium Caphiria's de jure language is Imperial Latin; used in its parliament, on its stock market and for most of its arts. Stemming from classical Latin, of the early Republic, modern Latin took its present form toward the end of the Republic and early Principate period. Grammatical structures remain stagnant since those days but thousands of words have been added and thousands of spellings modified. Despite modest changes, Latin is the oldest language in terms of intelligibility with prior variants. There are one billion speakers of Latin within the Imperium, over 99% of the country. It is the primary tongue for every Caprivian school, in which most subjects are taught, and pervades the speech of the majority of telescreen broadcasts and radio shows. The federal government - including the ministries, Senate and Imperator - uses it as the common language of discussion. Moreover, this has allowed the Caprivian Empire to foster closer relationships with other Latin-speaking states.
Across the globe Latin has been learned as a second language by between 1-5 billion people, depending on how speaking proficiency is defined. It is certain, however, that anyone with a modicum of education understands and speaks this world language. Latin is the language of advantage, necessary for anyone with aspirations of an international, or even national, level of influence.
Semantics, syntax, phonetics and pragmatics of the lingua latina are administered by the Academia Lingua, founded around 1621 in Venceia. Creating this institution was the final step in Emperor Magnus III's reformation of Caphiria's academic foundations. Its purpose is to centralize organization of Latin grammar and vocabulary while acting as an authority in disputes about the nature of the language.
The imperial education system took its present form in the 16th century, at the culmination of Emperor Magnus' federal reforms. In its original manifestation, it was a reflection of classical pedagogy, employed for over 1300 years, and of Platonic thought. Along the latter lines, the Senate and Emperor recognized that the education of the young largely determined the state of adults. For the Imperium to possess healthy, sane and productive citizens, arete (excellence) needed to be cultivated early.
The concept of cursus honorum (path of office) is unique to Caprivian culture and is a tenet of its society. It is the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians. Historically, The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts but today it is purely political. To hold political office in the Imperium is considered a great honor and Caprivian political philosophy dictates that the essential members of government cannot be unskilled in solving moral or economic problems. A senator, consul or even Imperator must have the theoretical and practical knowledge to adjudicate, legislate and lead. To have held each office at the youngest possible age (suo anno, "in his own year") was considered a great political success
Every future Caprivian citizen starts his or her career with a physical and musical education in youth. The wealthiest families will have private caretakers for their children though the result is much the same. At the age of 11, most young patricians go into privately-owned schools. Their lessons must abide by the national standards of the imperial education system but their smaller class sizes allow greater attention from the teachers and their access to materials, like holographic orreries or virtual reality lessons, provides many rare opportunities for students.
Once they hit the age of 18, patricians seeking political offices must enter an academy to learn advanced ethics and economic theory. A minimum of five years must be spent there, except in the case of the most gifted people. With theoretical understanding in hand, aspiring politicians must go into the world to seek out experiences. For the next three to five years they are expected to get involved in local and national affairs; working with businesses, seeing the underprivileged populaces of Punth and Audonia, connecting with already established political players, and other such activities. There are no official standards for what must be done but a patrician's record during these years will go a long way to impressing the Imperator when he asks for permission to enter national politics.
The next step is to return to the academies for about three years studying law. Attending a number of different academies around the empire is encouraged during this time. Finally, around the age of 30, a patrician can apply for membership in government. His record and knowledge will be severely tested during this time, and he is not by any means guaranteed acceptance by the Imperator. Those twelve years of preparing to enter politics were a way for the state to filter the inept and unworthy, allowing only the best and brightest to partake in Caphiria's sovereignty. This monumental test is the first stage in one's cursus honorum.
Food & Drugs
It is a Caprivian custom to combine the ravenous enjoyment of food with socializing. The mother of Caprivian meals and social events is the cena (dinner), a meal which has barely changed in the last 2,000 years though the dishes themselves have become more and more exotic to the average Caprivian taste buds. Even the plebeians enjoy dinner parties in modern times. These are nothing like an aristocratic cena.
A classic cena starts around 5pm; with great punctuality; and goes straight into the night. The meal is so long that smart guests will have only eaten breakfast that day and maybe worked up an appetite with light exercise. This monumental feast opens with a gustatio (appetizer), a non-filling course featuring delectable treats to get people's taste buds ready for the prima mensa (main course) which can last several servings depending on the ambition of the host. In the last few hours, out comes the secunda mensae (dessert). Treats offered at this point might include fruits like figs and pomegranates or sweetened pastries like cakes, rolls and fruit tarts. This part of dinner is usually very filling but many will not notice in their inebriety. When the party is ending, and the party has been a success, a guest will praise the host with one last comissatio (round of drinks) before guests return to their homes, often carried away by their servants.
Caprivians like to hold cenae in a triclinium (dining room) on couches (lecti) circling the tables. These are long recliners which let people lie down comfortably while conversing with other guests or the host. On average, a patrician in Caphiria will attend twenty dinner parties a year though some gourmets are known to attend upwards of a hundred. Given the sheer volume of food, some hosts will permit vomiting from their guests but this has come into disrepute for men and is considered unthinkable for a self-respecting Caprivian woman.
Dinner parties are an opportunity for the host to flaunt his wealth by providing expensive entertainment. Although most shows during the meal are background pieces like exotic dancers or music, some hosts will steer dinner conversation by having brutal fights between boxers or small animals while others pay performers to make great displays of skill like sword swallowing or gymnastics for the guests. Imperator Constantinus most recently had an amphitheater that can be rented for a night so that a host can provide grand spectacles like a play or gladiatorial combat.
At dawn, the middle and lower classes eat an ientaculum, sitting normally at a table with their family. This gets some energy into them before quickly leaving for work. Since wealthier citizens tend not to have such obligations, they enjoy a different meal around 10-11 am. This prandium's closest equivalent in other cultures is the less common brunch as it tends to get served with food from both the ientaculum and vesperna - Caphiria's equivalent of lunch. The latter meal is most often forgotten by Caprivians because it is completely informal, merely a means of regaining enough energy to make it through a long day.
Only the cena and prandium are served in public restaurants since no one would pay for the basic bread and vegetables that are staples of other meals which can easily be prepared for less in their own homes.
Both kinds of breakfast feature some kind of wheat bread dipped in olive oil or served with cheese and crackers. Prandium is interesting because it usually features meat of some kind, like pork or beef and animal products such as eggs. The most popular meat for this time of the day is lucanica, a short, smoked pork sausage.
As previously mentioned, appetizers are foods which maximize taste without filling the stomach. The variety of food that could be served is vast, however,making a comprehensive list almost impossible. Some favorites are: fava beans, lentils, peas, shrub leaves for seasoning, boletus, truffles, snails, clams, oysters, thrushes, dormice, sea urchins, and mulsum, a mixture of wine and honey. Honey tends to be generously added to servings.
A main course consists of rich, heavy meats like duck, chicken, turkey, beef or roasted pig stuffed with sausages and seasoning. Hares, laurices (rabbit fetuses), peacocks, swans and especially mullus (goatfish) are considered fine delicacies, even today. To add taste, the Caprivians put in a multitude of spices. Pepper and hundreds of Eastern spices are imported daily in vast quantities from Punth and Audonia to serve this demand.
One of the most common seasonings, however, is and has always been garum, a sauce made by exposing salted fish intestines to elevated levels of heat over the course of a month or two. The result is a very strong smelling fish sauce that is the most popular food condiment next to salt. In the Caprivian culinary arts, a dish is considered most successful if even the most experienced gourmet cannot recognize its ingredients because the food is so heavily disguised by mixing it and adding spices.
Caprivian wine is famous for the volume produced on a national scale and the quality on an individual basis. The Empire's most famous wineries, of course, are in the Venet District in cities such as Coriovallum and the Castra Vetera hillside. These regions alone produce over 40 billion L annually, alongside the 80 billion L supplied by the rest of the Empire. Caphiria's level of production barely satisfies its 112 billion L - 52 L per capita - demand for wine, leaving little room for export even when imports are considered. The other prominent alcoholic beverages are beer and vodka. It gained popularity in Samarobriva Ambianorum during the 10th and 11th centuries when it started to be produced from grain.
Beer, on the other hand, is a popular drink worldwide. With a global consumption of 420 billion litres it is the third most consumed beverage by volume behind water and milk whose quantities are off the charts. Caprivians alone drink about 160 billion of those liters and it shouldn't come as a surprise that Caprivians are among the most excessive imbibers of alcohol in the world.
Recreational drugs are extremely popular in Caphiria due to the lack of social conservatism of the average citizen. One drug that came into use for a time was opium, brought in by trade with the Caliphates in the 1100's, in its natural capacity as an anesthetic. The potential to provide swift bliss and comfort has been taken advantage of since the late 13th century. By the 1500's, the majority of opium was used for recreational purposes as a more potent form of the compound (morphine) could be purchased.
Another psychotropic, cannabis, was introduced to Caphiria through travelers in the 8th century/ No medical functions were noted by traveling doctors so the Senate never supported a cannabis trade. Nevertheless, various guilds/crime families noted the possibility of marketing it for recreational use, buying the plant in large quantities during the 900's. When colonization of the New World opened, plantations were moved there to take advantage of the government subsidy on colonial slaves. Today, cannabis, like any other drug, is not illegal in the Caprivian - some restaurants will even offer it before meals. As medicinal uses started to be noticed, it began to be sold in pharmacies. It is, however, discouraged among the patrician order who generally view recreational drug use, outside fine wine, with disdain.
As with all societies, body language is of immense importance when conveying ideas during social interactions in the Caphiria. Understanding these signals is vital to gaining a proper understanding of Caprivian culture and the intricacies that it entails. Although this is not a complete analysis, it hopefully serves to further immerse oneself in the Caprivian lifestyle.
To start off, the most famous action in Caprivian public speaking is known as the adlocutio, often performed by Imperators, generals and guildmasters when addressing inferiors. One does the adlocutio by pointing the arm upwards and towards the person being addressed then pointing one finger subtly ahead of the speaker. More than anything it conveys power and usually garners respect for a speaker from the audience.
Another insulting gesture to the Caprivian is the flipping of the digitus impudicus at a person. One of the simpler signals, giving someone the finger simply entails showing them one's middle finger with the palm facing away from them. The connotation here being "up yours". Also, doing the same thing, only with the little and index fingers out is a sign known as the cornutus and implies to the receiver that they have an unfaithful wife. Lastly, forming a circle with the thumb and index with the other fingers radiating outwards is an indication that you think someone performs lewd sexual acts, and like the others does a dishonor to the receiver. Such gestures are hugely insulting in upper-class Caprivian society.
An arm crossing over the body is a universal gesture to all human beings that indicates either uneasiness or displeasure at what one is hearing. The Caprivians have a unique variant of this for themselves, one which is more subtle than the standard crossed arms and actually helps the user to portray dominance even while in this defensive position. One of the arms is crossed over as normal but the arm which it touches is raised vertically with the thumb touching the other fingers in a "beak" shape. This beak gesture is also used frequently by Caprivians in a conversation to emphasize a point while speaking, with the implication being that it is a threat for if you don't accept their argument (though it is usually not as serious as this).
A standard greeting in the Imperium is a handshake wherein each participant grabs the other around the wrist rather than the palm. This came from the practice of checking for concealed weapons when greeting a political or business opponent. Though its formal variant is usually done by having each person stand still directly opposite each other, a friendlier and more commonly used version has the participants use their left hand to gently touch the other's elbow. Relatives or long-time friends will often follow this sort of thing up with a hug, an action which is in general only done when two people are personally close to each other. Unfamiliar members of the opposite-sex will usually greet each other with a kiss on each cheek whilst kisses on the lips are reserved for either the sealing of a deal or the bedroom. Unlike most cultures, a peck on the lips between two men is viewed purely in this business context, distinguishing itself from its intimate counterpart by being quick and uninvolved. The wedding ceremony is the one place where these two meanings merge as one.
Caprivians have engaged in philosophical inquiry ever since the Republic assimilated Empyreian philosophy in the 3rd century BCE. Adopted institutions included the Peripatetic, Eleatic, Stoic, Cynic, Academic and Skeptic schools. The early imperial period saw marked growth of Stoicism, peaking with the publication of an emperor's Meditations. After a period of high Stoic support in the 6th century, Aristotelian science and philosophy took the dominant position in Caprivian academia. Its sudden blossom is attributed to the extensive use of Aristotelian texts by Archaedavincus in his formulations of engineering principles. While much of Aristotle's physics was ultimately rejected, the Philosopher's ethical, political and metaphysical writings flourished.
Modern Caprivian philosophy is a strict academic field, the overarching discipline within which the various sciences are practiced. Children are taught Ethica, Vitalogia, Physica or Epistemelogia at the grammaticus (high school) level as part of their philosophical education. Professional philosophers include natural scientists, metaphysicians, ethicists, logicians and mathematicians. Metaphysics is a difficult field due to the density of the subject-matter. Many in the field of ethics are looked to as leaders in the political arena, and, in fact, some of the greatest magistrates in history were prominent in ethics. The nationally recognized structure of philosophy is:
Those who study philosophy work in the field of Logika. Their subject matter is relevant to every domain of Caprivian philosophy. Academics who restrict themselves to studying the material of the sciences insofar as a science is either theoretical or practical work in Metaphysica. Depending on their specificity, they may work in either Metaphysica Naturalis or Metaphysica Moralis. Typically, scientists of a specific department within one of these domains of philosophy will have some understanding of fundamental metaphysical theses.
The science of Logic is the heart of Caprivian philosophy. The ancient Aristotelian Logika Syllogistica (Propositional Logic) went out of use after the publication of De Logika in 1218, a book which established the dominance of Logika Attributia (Predicate Logic). Since the invention of symbolic logic by Archaedavincus, the application of logical systems has had the appearance of a sort of verbal mathematics. The symbols and form of Archadavincus' system came from his development of set theory in the 740's.
Caprivian philosophers view logic as a description of the necessary form of thinking, not simply axiomatic rules for inference and judgment. For this reason, logic is the foundation of Caprivian philosophy.
Caprivian metaphysics splits philosophical inquiry into two domains: nature and morals. This division has its roots in Empyreian philosophy. The present framework for all metaphysics was created by Octavius Priscus Regulus and is followed by the majority of philosophers. However, it requires what its few opponents call a 'monstrous leap' in reason and therefore has failed to supercede regional philosophical traditions on an international scale.
Regulus' starting point is that the laws of nature forbid prescriptive truth; the world cannot be other than what it is, therefore, there are no thoughts. Even the actions of intelligent beings are causally determined by natural laws. This was called the theoretical truth of the human will. However, Regulus reasoned, people are self-determining as regards their actions in a practical sense - we can only act under the Idea of freedom.
For humans to be free and not free at the same time is a contradiction, unless each is in a different way. The 'monstrous leap' Regulus made to resolve this contradiction was to postulate a separation of the empirical and the non-empirical. Empirical things are comprised of all objects of the senses. The manner in which things are perceived is how things are as appearances (Phenoemena). Objects independent of a perceiver are things as they are in themselves (Eimana) and as perceiver we consider them as they are thought to be in themselves (Noumena). Regulus' Trinity of Existence underlies much of Caprivian philosophy.
Physics and Ontology respectively study dynamic and static being. Thus ontology examines the nature of space, time, and causation. Meanwhile, physics is distinctly subdivided into:
The physical sciences exhibit a progression from basic Kinematics to Geohistory at the far end. The richest area is certainly mechanics which comprises kinematics, electrodynamics, optics, cymatics and even relativity.
Caprivian morality is grounded in the principle that all human beings are rational organisms and, by consequence, equal. The fact of universal human equality warrants the prescriptions of Caprivian ethics - the way they derive an ought statement from a statement of fact. Its most fundamental prescription is the categorical imperative that "Every human should be treated as an end not a means." On this bedrock, all other Caprivian morals are built.
Duty, to one's fellow man, and intention are essential aspects of moral action. The consequences of actions are not important to Caprivians but the intention behind actions - as well as the consequences reasonably expected by the agent performing the action - are primary. The consequences of actions, say the Caprivians, are subject to mere luck in practice and, if taken as a standard of morality, would condemn the morally innocent such as children and the mentally challenged whose intentions are not bad but are unwillfully ignorant of their actions' consequences.