Empires, Rituals and Ceremonial Pedagogy, Old and New

Anselmo R. Paolone

Abstract


In the Roman Empire, the function of creating part of the common culture needed for citizenship was carried out by institutions different from what we call today a “school system”.

It was the ancient society in its entirety, via its vast ritual apparatus, which provided an equivalent of what we call today "civic education".

In the universal Roman Empire all citizens were educated by the means of such “ceremonial pedagogy.” It was a form of collective education, based on symbols and actions that could “talk” a universal language to the varied ethnic identities of the citizens. Similarly the Roman Catholic Church (heir to the universality of the Roman Empire) also uses art, architecture, rituals and symbols to educate the universal crowd of the faithful.

There is one group of Roman rituals in particular (adventus, amburbium, lustrum), based on the stately procession, whose ties with the education of citizens are evident. The paper will explore such educational dimensions of the rituals, in what it is believed to be one of their surviving forms of today, the Roman Catholic procession of the patron saint, which was studied ethnographically in a village in central Italy.

In Castelfiocco, a village noted for its campanilismo (strong sentiment of local membership) a ritual system based on the cult of saints conveys to the population values which are survivors of an older political order in which the modern, comprehensive nation-state had not yet appeared. In this traditional system the dialectic is not between locality and nation-state, but between local membership and the universality of the Church.

The understanding of some aspects of such traditional dialectic, and especially the understanding of the way in which it is conveyed to the population by rituals used as ceremonial pedagogy, is of renewed interest in our age of globalisation.


Keywords


Comparative Education; Rituals of the Roman Empire; Roman Catholic Rituals; Ceremonial Pedagogy; Ethnography of Education; Informal education

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5944/reec.31.2018.21588

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