Sunday, April 23, 2006

Senatrix.

In my last post, I included the word "senatrix" as a descriptor of a Univ. of Wash. senate-type person of the female persuasion. One of my readers was kind enough to bring the following to my attention:

"First off, there is no such word as Senatrix. You don’t have to take my word for it, look it up in the OED. You won’t find it. "

Oh, boy!

Come with me, ladies and gentlemen, as we enter the Way Back Machine and take a brief gander at the wonderfully icky world of 10th Century Roman politics, a world which has gifted us with the term: pornocracy.

We've got Popes with concubines, Popes with illegitimate kiddies, back-stabbing, knee-biting, the odd bit of poison in Papal soup, a quiet strangulation or two, prostitutes, eyes getting put out, and the fatal applications of bed pillows -- oh my.

And at the center of all this wholesome political goodness, we have a family of women.

Well, since "senatrix" is the Latin feminine derivative of "senator", there'd bave to be women involved somewhere, wouldn't there?

Anyhoo, let us start with Theodora I. De facto ruler of Rome, Theodora the One was also the reputed concubine of Pope Sergius Three. This little dalliance got Sergy a daughter, Marozia I, and got Theo the title Senatrix of Rome. Using this title, she wound up installing a couple of Popes in the Holy See, one of which was John X.

Her darling daughter Marozia was a busy little thing. Just as soon as Mama put John X on his throne, Mama's Little Cupcake arranged for a husband or three to wind up snoozing with the fishies and jumped some Papal bones. Apparently, she was fairly talented, because the old boy was grateful enough to have her named Senatrix and Patricia of Rome.

This was before she had him locked up, blinded, and smothered with a pillow, of course.

Having learned well at Mama's knee, Marozia I flung that Senatrix mojo around, eventually arranging to crown her bastard son (John XI) as Pope. Her grandson (Pope John XII) and a couple of great-grandsons also wound up as Pope.

Unfortunately, the title Senatrix of Rome wasn't enough to keep one of her other sons from storming her castle, arresting her, and stuffing her into a very tall, very drafty tower cell before (allegedly) arranging to have her firmly escorted through the window.

Damned escape attempts.

Of course, some historians believe that the Senatrix's son actually kept her locked in her tower for some decades, before having the Catholic Church exorcise her demons as a precursor to firmly applying a headsmans axe where it would do the most good.

And you think your family has issues.

Before you get all weepy, Marozia wasn't Theodora's only Darling Daughter. There was also Theodora the Two who wound up warming a papal bed or three, thus earning the title Senatrix, and a daughter. Theodora 2, being a sentimental type, and wanting only the best for her new daughter, promptly named said daughter after her dear sister Marozia.

Marozia II also wound up getting named as Senatrix, but things are a little fuzzy as to the particulars. She may have actually earned the title without sleeping with a Pope, appointing a Pope, poisoning a Pope or doing all three at once -- something which would definently make her the black sheep of that rabid little family.

Voila! "Senatrix". It may not be in the OED, but in Tenth Century Rome several strong willed, homicidal little beauties took "senatrix" and wrote it loudly and proudly into the pages of the Catholic Church and into history itself.

LawDog

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

hehehehe nice LawDog... talk about owned!

Anonymous said...

Whaddya wanna bet the skanktrix that had her panties in a twist about a warrior being honored never shaves her pits and will probably end up alone, childless and owning many many cats.

AlanDP said...

Regardless, if most of the people reading the article understood what the word means, it doesn't matter if it's in the dictionary or not.

And the contents of dictionaries, even the OED, change to reflect usage.

Tam said...

"alone, childless and owning many many cats."



You say that like it's a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

The main problem I suppose is that people don't do for themselves anymore. They're either spoon-fed everything or have someone else do it, so they never learn what they are and are not capable of. This of course has a terrible impact on self-confidence, which inevitably manifests itself with snarky behavior in an effort to make themselves feel better about their perceived inabilities. "I know more than you! Haw haw!" Then they go back to their sad little world worrying about the great big unseen nastiness of self-reliance and self-determination that go along with freedom, and of course cruising the blogfarms looking to point out semantical, grammatical, and philosophical errors to give them that five second rush of smug, all be it false, superiority.

phlegmfatale said...

Well, I must say that if the skanktrix triggered such an entertaining post on your blog, her work on earth is finished. Thanks for the informative chuckles.

Jenna said...

First off... nice to see that I am not the only person out there nutty (in a good way) enough to track down the meanings of words and find out their VERY colored past. Thanks for being just the writer you are.

Secondly, there is something rather sad in the knowledge that someone will take the time to focus in on only one word in a sea of information and turn the whole thing into a tomato/tomahto debate - thus missing the entire point of your article.

The English laugage is evaporating at an alarming rate. On a college campus today I had to explain to fellow englsih MAJORS waht the words abrasive, antagonistic and vapid meant.

Oh... the pain. Keep up the great work lawdog. We need more people like you.

Momma said...

Brilliant wiritng style! Keep up the awesome blog! I'll check back often!

Tam said...

My newest favorite:


The word "gullible" isn't in the dictionary. You can go look it up!

Timmeeee said...

Nice reply Dog. Too bad it's wasted on the moonbats.

Anonymous said...

"alone, childless and owning many many cats."



"You say that like it's a bad thing. "


Well, I guess it keeps Birkenstock in business too....

Anonymous said...

how is "senatrix" pronounced? Have a pronunciation key?

Anonymous said...

re: pronunciation, in English, it would be pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, with the long 'a' of 'bay'. The same way "matrix" or "dominatrix" are pronounced. Though I hate to bring that word into the picture; the people who object to calling female senators "senatrices" generally either dislike it because it seems like it's an intentional allusion to dominatrices, or they just oppose the distinction of gender in a title as unnecessary and inherently sexist (a "separate is unequal" argument). And I can see a point in that second argument, I must say.

Anonymous said...

re: pronunciation, in English, it would be pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, with the long 'a' of 'bay'. The same way "matrix" or "dominatrix" are pronounced. Though I hate to bring that word into the picture; the people who object to calling female senators "senatrices" generally either dislike it because it seems like it's an intentional allusion to dominatrices, or they just oppose the distinction of gender in a title as unnecessary and inherently sexist (a "separate is unequal" argument). And I can see a point in that second argument, I must say.