Fides– A Roman Virtue with no ADF Correlate

I recently did a short essay on Fides over on my Roman blog. Though it’s translated in Christian times as “faith”, it had a richer and different meaning in pagan times. In Roman times, if you had fides, you were a person who was honorable in mutually respectful relationships.

Honor has always been a very important virtue for me; it’s a virtue I was raised with. To be a person who keeps her word, who tries to remain in right relationship with others, to defend those in need of defending, to help those in need. This is honor to me. It’s not quite the medieval concept of honor, and it’s not quite Fides either. I think it’s closer to Fides than Honor. Either way, neither fides nor honor is an ADF virtue.  I suspect it’s meant to be covered by integrity.

The straight up definition of integrity, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” shows a quite different virtue. It’s self-contained and for the most part, self-serving. This isn’t a bad thing, we do need to be true ourselves before we can be true to anyone else.  We usually trust people with good integrity, but if you think about it, a person with integrity might decide to act in ways that are not at all beneficial to another person or society, in service to what they consider to be some higher principle.

Fides is interesting because it functions first and foremost as social glue. In our highly individualistic society, the idea of fides seems hopelessly archaic. I think if there were more fides, and more people who thought fides valuable, modern life would function a great deal better.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ursus
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 16:53:05

    So, in the sum of things, how good of a fit is ADF for your Romano-Celtic interests?

    It is something I think about from time to time, as I have my doubts about the viability of the Roman reconstructionist community. I’m not totally supportive of the ADF worldview, but on the other hand they have a functioning community, and I think I could learn to fit in if I took a Romano-Celtic view of things.

    I’d appreciate a few thoughts on your experiences if you have the time. And you can e-mail them to me if you don’t want to go public.


  2. tlryder
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 18:46:17

    The Roman kin on ADF aren’t particularly active at the moment, though they do have a body of material to get started with in the member’s area. The Celtic people are very dominant, which I think is only to be expected. They have thoughtful and lively discussions on their lists from time to time but I feel more community with Piscinus and company. Perhaps I am simply odd.

    I hope to make some live festivals. I think being able to celebrate in person with folks would be the ultimate make it or break it for me with ADF. Alas, they are all very far from me, so it’s going to take a lot of saving and planning to get to a live ADF event.

    The thing I’m struggling with is that the ADF is very married to the neo-pagan Wheel of the Year. It’s what they use for their public, official rituals. I’m very over Wheel of the Year at this point and I hate the whole Wiccan plug-n-play format of inserting the deities of your choice into the ritual structure for the holiday of the moment. ADF does the plug-n-play to a certain extent too, though they’re more thoughtful about it. I think they hit a pretty good balance between scholarly and practical.

    Back last August when I joined ADF, I thought I would resolve my Wheel of the Year difficulties (such as Romans don’t celebrate Samhain) by doing Celtic rituals on the Wheel of the Year holidays that don’t lend themselves to Roman holidays. And then I ran into Eostara, which properly speaking isn’t a Roman holiday *or* a Celtic one, it’s a neo-pagan holiday of Celtic-ish flavor. I knew this before I started, but I’ve been ignoring it or something.

    I’ve no idea whether all that rambling is at all helpful, but there’s where I am at the moment with ADF, the Roman kin and etc.


  3. Ursus
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 06:51:39

    About 2 years ago I joined ADF (on paper) as a Greco-Roman pagan. But I had the same problem you’re having now: the neopagan wheel of the year is not a good fit for Mediterranean festivals. And so, after a few weeks at ADF, I decided to give up.

    I was wondering if a Romano-Celtic approach (as opposed to a Greco-Roman approach) would fit into ADF better. From what you’re telling me, it seems only partially more successful. And this gives me pause on any plans to rejoin ADF as a Romano-Celtic pagan.

    Thanks for taking the time to compose your thoughts. I appreciate it! 🙂


  4. tlryder
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 18:46:31

    I think that my calendar issues with the attested Celtic holidays versus the neo-pagan 8-fold Wheel of the Year are probably partially self-imposed. Though there’s no strong evidence that the Celtics celebrated the quarters, only the cross-quarters, OTOH, it sort of makes sense that if they celebrated the cross-quarters they probably celebrated the quarters as well, so why not?

    For me the issue is that the Celtic style rituals and myths associated with the quarters seem forced and muddled, with little of the power of Beltane or Samhain. It frustrates me, and really I should get over it. All that we do in one way or another is “neo” pagan anyhow.

    The ADF people I think manage to strike a pretty good balance between scholarship and practical practice.


  5. Ursus
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 13:55:14

    Despite what I said above, I am considering joining ADF as a Romano-Celtic pagan. I intend to attend an ADF rite this summer. If I like it, I’ll join.


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