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Classical Home School Lesson: Roman Values

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Munia – Duties, Functions

Women collect fresh water from well in Rome. Picture displaying Roman Community, Roman Society in an article about Roman Values and life.

This week’s word of the week is Munia. Munia is neuter, O- declension Plural, nominative. It means Duties, Function specifically in the public sense. This is where we get the English word Municipal. It comes from the Latin prefix root mon – meaning common.

Roman Community Values

Last week’s word Historia gave us insight into how Romans recorded history. Indeed, they paid close attention to their past and applied that knowledge to their present. They believed that the values of the ancestors were theirs to pass down. This resulted in social norms for Roman culture and created the core concept of Roman Traditionalism. This idea is called Pietas or devotion (we get the word piety). Romans used the word Pietas to describe acceptance of duty or obligation placed on them by fate, the gods, family, and community. They had about seven values that made up the mos maiorum (ancestral custom).

  • One value was Virtus (coming from Vir – meaning Man) means Manliness is where we get the word virtue. A Roman poet named Lucilius wrote “ it is virtus to know what right and useful and honorable…and moreover to consider the interest of one’s country first; Then those of parents; and finally to put our own interests in the third and last place. ”
  • Next was Fides – which ranged from meaning trustworthiness, to good faith, and reliability, and credibility.
  • Religio stood for a bond between the gods and mortals. Religious practice was held in esteem.
  • Disciplina meaning self-control was a military characteristic and Gravitas was dignified self-control or seriousness is denotes moral rigor and a sense of responsibility
  • Speaking of Gravitas, there was also Dignitas which was the end result of displaying these values and serving the state. It was a reputation of worth and honor.

Roman Municipium

Munia means duties and functions and Communis is shared, joint, obliging, belonging to everyone.

Likewise, Municipium, where we get the word Municipal, meant a self-governing community inside of Italy that had been granted Roman citizen rights (sound familiar?). This was essentially a social contract among “municipes” or “duty-holders”. The duties (to Rome) were carried out by the citizens of that town in exchange for their Roman citizenship and protection. At the beginning of the Republic, there was a big difference between a Municipium and a colonia, but as time went on the difference between the two dwindled. This led to the word municipality to mean the lowest level of local government.


Immunis meant to be exempted from duties (taxes). Unsurprisingly this was a highly sought after privilege.

Speaking of privilege, a Roman privilegium was not a good thing. It was a law regarding and against a single individual. For example, if a man were to invade the space of another person or cause ruckus of some sort, they would pass a privilegium against him that would not allow him to do it again (or risk exile or punishment)

English Derivatives

  • Community – Noun. Meaning: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
  • Communion – Noun. Meaning: the act of receiving the Eucharistic elements.
  • Communicate – Verb. Meaning: to impart knowledge of; make known (make common)
  • Immunity- Noun. Meaning: exemption from obligation, service, duty, or liability to taxation, jurisdiction, etc.; the condition that permits either natural or acquired resistance to disease.
  • Municipal – Adjective. Meaning: of or relating to a town or city or its local government:
  • Communism/Communist – Noun. Meaning: a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

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1 thought on “Classical Home School Lesson: Roman Values

  1. […] past Latin Word of the Week editions, I have talked about Roman Values, one was Virtus – Bravery. Virtus is specific to male bravery and military […]

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