V for Vendetta, R for Rebellion

So I was thinking about the word patronize and where it came from etymologically. At first I thought that perhaps it came from pater meaning father, but then I thought that it sounded closer to the word patron. The verb patronize is indeed said to have originated from the noun patron + -ize and is derived from a latin verb (Oxford English Dictionary). I wondered how I could link the etymology of the word, and the idea of the word patron to the context of rebellion in ancient Rome. I wondered if the presence of patronage could influence the environment a rebellion occurs in and perhaps even influence the rebellion itself. I thought of Propertius and how he used his words to express what he wanted to say, but he also did so in a way that the current powers did not know whether they were being insulted or complimented. (See Propertius 2.7) However, Propertius not only had a patron, he had Maecenas as his patron. Maecenas was in the court of Augustus, and he used his influence as a patron for political objectives. He did this with Virgil and Horace and tried to so do, albeit less successfully with Propertius (see link in Maecenas’ name). This makes things more interesting in this situation because Propertius was being supported by Maecenas and thus, there was a level of subservience to the relationship. How did Propertius keep his own opinions that were in opposition to Maecenas, and continue to produce artwork that was satisfactory to both of them?

When I researched the word patronage in LoC classics database, I found articles show up to my searches that talked about education and the funding of research, making this topic of patronage one that persists in different ways in our world today, even if we do not realize it. Who has paid for something to be published often determines what is in that work and what viewpoint it will use to make observations. A journal article I found published through Virginia Tech talks about how the patron-client relationship is not necessarily a master-servant relationship, but there are unspoken duties that must be respected on both the part of the donor and of the recipient. This relationship is one that could definitely influence the content of what someone was publishing, both in today’s world and in ancient Rome. I thought the author of the article explained the patron-client relationship well when he said that it is “an asymmetrical friendship of social superiors to talented inferiors”.

I think there is more influence in this patron-client relationship than is originally recognized and I believe there’s a chance that these relationships had a greater bearing on history than we may originally think. From ancient Rome to today, and from rebellion and war to making art, these relationships, like any other, are important and influential and I think they need more research to truly discover their significance.

I used the Oxford English Dictionary to research the words patronize and patron and to find and compare links between the two. I also used dogpile.com to double check the definitions that the sites gave to me. I linked to sites that I know to be reputable through their reputations as online educational institutions, for example the Oxford English Dictionary and  the Academic edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I tended to reject sites that seemed  less validated. For the academic content of this post I thought that the more straightforward and academically acclaimed sites would make the best references. However, when I research deeper into the subject, I will want to know opinions and ideas, so I hope to research in other ways to find other forms of reputable source that will better serve my purposes then. The source I found for a translation of Propertius 2.7, I wanted to use because I liked the translation and it followed the themes of how we translated the poem in class. Although the source may not be the most authoritative word on the translation because the translator did so as an undergraduate student, I thought it would still be useful to use as another way to see the poem, and through connecting to another translator and Classics blog that could provide new insights into the poem and this topic.

So I realized when I checked this the next day that I couldn’t get any of my hyperlinks to work? You guys can let me know if it’s working with your technology, but if you want to read any of the pages I linked to, I thought I could just put them down here, and that might be another way to get to them…



Propertius 2.7




Journal Article




and searched the words “patron” and “patronize” as well as “etymological dictionary”

By: Emilie O’Connor


6 thoughts on “V for Vendetta, R for Rebellion

  1. Steve Maiullo

    In many ways, the patron-client relationship was foundational to everyday life in Rome, and I think it may be worth fleshing out even more, Emilie. See if you can get a sense for what life may have been like for the client, not just the patron. What was the patron expected to do? And what did the client do in return for patronage?

  2. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    I love looking at the etymology of english words. Especially when a pastor does it in a sermon. So much more can be added to a sentence if a word’s origin and original meaning and use are known. “Patronize” is a perfect example.

    1. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

      Thanks, I enjoy etymology, too! I think it adds a depth to our language, and I love picking the PERFECT word for something when I am writing or saying something, and I think knowing the nuances and meanings is really helpful with that!

  3. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    Emille, this is a wonderful post! Propertious and Ovid were so clever. They pushed the envelope of what was acceptable, while maintaing a facade (perhaps slightly transparent at times) of loyalty to Augustus and their patron. Questioning one’s society’s definition of “normalcy” is healthy. Governments (the ultimate patrons) should allow their citizens to “rebel” in this manner. If civilizations and nations are not allowed to question and evolve over time, people become restless and may turn to more violent means of protesting and questioning the government (consider the Arab Spring…). The world could use more poets and citizens like Propertius and Ovid!


  4. Pingback: The Patron-Client Relationship, It’s Cooler Than You Think. | Explorations from Latin 372

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