Clientela: žodžio ir reiškinio evoliucija.
Veličkienė, Aleksandra Teresė
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Quite a few Latin words – modern legal and political terms – in ancient Rome did not use to mean what they mean at present. Throughout many centuries their meanings changed and new niches of their usage emerged. Cliens and patronus (client and patron) happen to be among the most interesting words from this point of view. In the early Republic of Rome they used to be the concepts which embodied noble, almost sacred family relations. Those relations were legally, though not universally, regulated and provided the grounds for social, political and private mutual assistance. Yet, at the end the Republic and during the early Empire, especially in towns and Rome itself, cliens frequently used to become a miserable, humiliated and ridiculed person but personally a free man. Naturally, at that time clients and patrons were bound by certain obligations, but the Roman poet Martialis who used to be a client himself noticed that a new generation of clients frequently used to be merely a crowd of sycophants which would clap their hands for their patron in a forum, patiently listen to the readings of his worthless verses or wait for his presents and sportula (a handout of food or a little money). Such a phenomenon could have appeared due to the fact that during that period (the first and second centuries) in Rome considerable wealth was accumulated in the hands of the few, the morals deteriorated, numerous slaves were acquired during wars. The slaves used to do all the dirty jobs while the free citizens found it disgraceful to be engaged in trade, to work in small workshops of goldsmiths or launderers as well as to clean the streets of the town. These spheres were resolutely and willingly occupied by former slaves – libertines, who frequently used to make a career and become rich while the free citizens, frequently former high officials, having become impoverished for certain reasons, used to listen humbly to the offences of insolent patrons and to hurry through the rain and mud of an early morning to greet their “lord”. The objective of this paper is to draw attention of those who are interested in law and politics to the fact that a considerable number of the words-terms of those spheres which are of Latin origin throughout centuries began to mean not the same they used to mean in ancient Rome when Latin used to be the colloquial language of the Roman people. This information could deepen the knowledge of the sciences mentioned above, to define the exact boundaries of the usage of those terms or to encourage the need for linguistic-sociological research.
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