Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/37

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27
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

in the Merovingian period, the mayors of the palace were known, viz.: major domús regiæ, senior domús, princeps domús, and in other instances præpositus, prœfectus, rector, gubernator, moderator, dux, custos, subregulus. In which list (noting as we pass how our own title "mayor," said to be derived from the French maire, is originally derived from the Latin major, meaning either greater or elder) we are shown how further names of honor carry us back to words implying age as their originals; and how in place of these descriptive words the alternative words used are descriptive of functions.

 

Perhaps better in the case of titles than in any other case is illustrated the diffusion of ceremonial forms that are used to propitiate first the most powerful, then the less powerful, and, finally, all others.

Uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples, civilized peoples of past times, and existing civilized peoples, all furnish examples. Among Samoans "it is usual, in the courtesies of common conversation, for all to call each other chiefs. If you listen to the talk of little boys even, you will hear them addressing each other as chief this, that, and the other thing." In Siam, a man's children by any of his inferior wives address their father as "my lord, the king;" and the word Náï, which is the name for chief among the Siamese, "has become a term of civility which the Siamese give to one another." A kindred result has occurred in China, where sons speak of their father as "family's majesty," "prince of the family;" and China supplies a further instance, which is the more noteworthy because it is special. Here, where the supremacy of ancient teachers became so great, and where the titles 'tze or futze, signifying "great teacher," added to their names, were subsequently added to the names of distinguished writers, and where class distinctions based on intellectual eminence characterize the social organization, it has resulted that this name of honor, signifying teacher, has become an ordinary complimentary title. Ancient Rome furnishes other evidences. The spirit which led to the diffusion of titles is well exhibited by Mommsen in describing the corrupt giving of public triumphs that were originally accorded only to a "supreme magistrate who augmented the power of the state in open battle."

"In order to put an end to peaceful triumphators, . . . the granting of a triumph was made to depend on the producing proof of a pitched battle which had cost the lives of at least five thousand of the enemy; but this proof was frequently evaded by false bulletins. . . . Formerly the thanks of the community once for all had sufficed for service rendered to the state; now every meritorious act seemed to demand a permanent distinction. . . . A custom came into vogue, by which the victor and his descendants derived a permanent surname from the victories they had won. . . . The example set by the higher was followed by the humbler classes."

And under the influence thus illustrated, dominus and rex eventually became titles used to ordinary persons. Nor do modern European na-