Ritual of the Praetorian Degree
Before opening the Council the Sublime Augustus should see that all officers are in their respective stations. All vacancies should be filled by appointment. The candidates should be invited into council-room and seated.
S.A.: Seignior Tribune, you will give notice that I am about to open ... Council, No. , The Praetorians, in the Praetorian Degree. See that the necessary preparations are taken.
S.T.: First and Second Centurions, you will see that all present have the secret words, giving authority to enter Rome. Sentinel, see that the doors are properly guarded.
S.A. gives three raps of the gavel which brings all members to their feet. The First Centurion will take up the semi-annual password, and the Second Centurion will follow and take up the permanent word, under the grip. All remain standing until seated by S.A. When either Centurion finds a person without the proper word, he must at once conduct him or her to near the center of the hall and leave them there until the passwords have been taken up. After this is done, the First Centurion will approach the altar and say.: Sublime Augustus and Praetorians, behold the Barbarians!
The Sublime Augustus will then ask if any Praetorian present can vouch for the Barbarian. Each one vouched for will approach the station of the Sublime Augustus and receive the passwords and then be seated. If any one is not vouched for he must be escorted to the anteroom and a committee of three appointed by the Sublime Augustus to examine him, to see if he can prove himself to be a Praetorian. If he can not qualify to the satisfaction of the Committee, he can not sit with the Council. The Council need not wait for a report of the Examining Committee, but may proceed with the opening ceremony as soon as the passwords have been taken up and all present are found to be Praetorians.
First Cent.: Seignior Tribune, all present have the semi-annual word, except the candidate.
Second Cent.: Seignior Tribune, all present have the permanent word, except the candidate.
Seignior Trib.: Sublime Augustus, all present are Praetorians, except the candidate. The Council Chamber is guarded from intrusion.
Sub. Aug.: Second Centurion, are you a Praetorian?
Sec. Cent.: I am a Modern Praetorian.
Sub. Aug.: Your station and duties in the Council Chamber?
Sec. Cent.: My station is on the right of the Seignior Tribune. My duties are to answer all alarms, report the cause, and assist the First Centurion.
Sub. Aug.: First Centurion, your station and duty?
First Cent.: My station is Oh the right of the Sublime Augustus. My duties are to maintain order, to have charge of the floor work and properties of this Council, to guard the inner gate against Lygians, to arrest intruders and conduct them before the proper officers.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian, your station and duty?
Lyg.: My station is on the left of the Seignior Tribune.: my duty is to take charge of the Lygians and conduct them on their journey.
Sub. Aug.: Soothsayer, your station and duty?
Soothsayer: My station is on the left of the Sublime Augustus. My duties are to ask the blessings of the Deity upon the officers and members and assist in conferring degrees.
Sub. Aug.: Attorney, your station and duty?
Attorney: Opposite the Junior Tribune. My duty is to learn the Laws and Constitution of the Order, and take the part of the stranger.
Sub. Aug.: Station of the Junior Tribune?
Attorney: In the south of the Council Chamber.
Sub. Aug.: Why in the south?
Attorney: As the Sun is in the south at its meridian, its beams sustaining day and lighting up the heart of man, so is the Junior Tribune in the south to represent the Strength of our Order.
Sub. Aug.: Junior Tribune, your duty there?
Jr. Trib.: To assist the Sublime Augustus and the Seignior Tribune in opening and closing the Council, and to conduct the preliminary examination of Lygians.
Sub. Aug.: Station of the Seignior Tribune.
Jr. Trib.: In the west.
Sub. Aug.: Why in the west?
Jr. Trib.: As the setting Sun descends the western sky and goes to rest, man leaves his labor for the repose and peace of Home, his palace of ease, his temple of liberty, so is the Seignior Tribune in the west, to remind us of our Homes; for the strength of a n8tion is measured by the number of its Homes.
Sub. Aug.: Seignior Tribune, your duty there?
Seignior Trib.: To assist the Sublime Augustus in opening and closing the Council, and to examine candidates, and to perform the duties of the Sublime Augustus in his absence.
Sub. Aug.: Station of the Sublime Augustus?
Seignior Trib.: In the East.
Sub. Aug.: Why in the East?
Seignior Trib.: As the Sun rises in the East with beams of beauty in the dawning of the day, so is the Sublime Augustus in the East, to exemplify the beauty of fraternity, the majesty of love, and the fruit of protection.
Sub. Aug.: His duty in the Council?
Seignior Trib.: To preside over its deliberations and administer justice tempered with mercy to unfortunate Lygians.
Sub. Aug.: Praetorians! You will advance and face the altar in Praetorian form.
Sub. Aug.: Seignior Tribune, why do Praetorians in opening ceremony advance and face the altar?
Seignior Trib.: The stronghold of the ancient Praetorians was ancient Rome; the stronghold of Modern Praetorians is the modern Home.
Ancient Praetorians taught valor, the laying down of life, if need be, in the defense of Home. Modern Praetorians teach virtue and the shielding of the Home at any sacrifice.
In ancient day the Praetorian Camp was pitched outside the walls of Rome. When the morning, like a queen, put on her robes of light, and the Sun had lighted up Rome's marble hills, and tinged her homes with sunshine, the soldiery faced to the East, sang their morning hymn, saluted and retired.
In modern days, Praetorians advance and face the altar, sing their hymn of joy, salute and retire.
Their altar is the Home, supported on the shoulder; of their brotherhood, protected by the sword of their fraternity against the silent hand of Death that cometh as a thief by night.
Sub. Aug.: 'Tis well! So may our members live; so may our Order grow.
We will join in singing the Opening Ode:
Praetorian Guards we stand,
United heart and hand;
We ne'er can fall;
"Non Nobis Solum" now
Shall be our motto-vow;
We at our altar bow;
On God we call.
Our homes protection need,
And call us with good speed;
For them provide.
Thus we will year by year
Plan for those we hold dear,
For death is ever near
to long divide.
Sub. Aug.: We will attend opening prayer by the Soothsayer.
While prayer is said, very low music should be played. Suggestive.
Holy and Merciful God, Source of All Wisdom, bless, we beseech Thee, our humble labors in the promotion of truth and love, unity and peace. Grant that we may dwell here in harmony and that our acts may be full of the spirit of kindness and forbearance, one toward another.
Bless the Order as an institution; this Council, its officers and members, and may they all be permitted with loving hearts to assemble here again for Thine honor, for our instruction and for the benefit of our fellowman. And when one by one we shall depart in death, may the parting be temporary and the meeting eternal. Amen.
Sub. Aug.: Praetorians, salute! The Praetorian Salute, unwritten, is given. The members will now be seated. I now declare ... Council No. ... duly opened for the dispatch of such business as may come regularly before it.
All candidates must retire to anteroom.
The Praetorian Degree
Officers after putting on their Robes, go direct to their Stations and begin the work at once, unless the Council wishes to use any special floor work they may choose.
Sub. Aug.: First Centurion, you will ascertain if there are any candidates in waiting.
First Centurion retires to ante-room, gets names of all the candidates and returns to the Altar, and addressing the Sublime Augustus, says:
First Cent.: Sublime Augustus I find in waiting candidates who are ready to proceed with the Praetorian Degree, having deposited the usual Denarius.
First Centurion returns to his station. Where more than one candidate presents himself for initiation the Sublime Augustus says:
Sub. Aug.: First Centurion, you will escort all candidates into the Council Chamber except one, where they will be seated and allowed to witness the conferring of the degree.
If only one candidate, above is omitted.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian, you will proceed with the work.
Lygian retires to the ante-room, gets the candidate and marches him just inside the Council Chamber door. A tripod with pot, under which a camp-fire is burning, has been placed in the semicircle formed by the guards, all other lights having been turned of. Slow music. Addressing him says:
First Lygian: In ancient times the Lygians, a tribe of barbarians, lived in the mountains to the north of Rome, and made raids upon the Roman provinces for plunder. In this degree you are a Lygian, as shown by your garb, an enemy of Rome. With you I also take the part of a Lygian. From the earliest dawn of history good and brave men have imperiled their lives that they might save the weak, so do I now promise to share with you the perils of the journey we must take. Are you willing to proceed?
Second Lygian: I am.
First Lygian: We are now on the banks of the river Tibre; we will pursue an easterly course. Hold! Look! We are approaching a Praetorian camp. As the gates seem to be ajar, let us enter.
First Cent.: Guards, attention ! An enemy is approaching.
Guards having formed in fours, faces candidates and awaits orders.
First Cent. to candidates: Halt who dares thus enter the Praetorian Camp of the Eternal City? Advance and speak the secret word that gives authority to enter Rome.
First Lygian: We have none.
First Cent.: Guards, shackle these Lygians. They must be taken before the Junior Tribune.
Here Guards rush forward and shackle Lygians. If music is used time should be changed to a fast march after which they are rushed to the Junior Tribune Station where the First Centurion says:
First Cent.: Junior Tribune, I have taken captive two Lygians who dared to enter the Eternal City, they could not speak the secret words, when challenged by the guard.
Junior Trib.: Tis well. Did they offer any explanation?
First Cent.: They did not.
Junior Trib.: You will hold them as spies. Addressing Candidate: Lygians, know you not the fate of spies that enter Rome? Before you can proceed further you must take upon yourselves an oath to keep forever safe the secrets of the Eternal City. This oath will in no way conflict with your religious or political opinions. First Centurion, conduct the Lygians to the altar for the obligation.
They are marched directly to Altar. Sublime Augustus gives three raps of gavel, which call officers and members to their feet.
Sub. Aug.: You will kneel upon both knees rest your hands upon the Holy Bible and repeat after me this oath of secrecy:
Oath of Secrecy
I, , giving name in full, of my own free will, in the presence of God and these witnesses, do solemnly promise upon my honor as a man (or woman) never to reveal any of the secrets of The Praetorians; that I will keep inviolate the transactions of this or any other Council coming to my knowledge; especially will I keep the passwords, grips and signs of this fraternity and not reveal or attempt to reveal them. I furthermore promise to abide by and support the Constitution and Laws of this Order, to cooperate in building up and keeping pure her Councils, to encourage and assist in the establishment of fraternity, the purification, perpetual love and sacred honor of the Home. And should I violate this my solemn oath, I will submit to having my hands bound to my sides, and my body placed in a dungeon underneath the walls of Rome. God keep me true and constant.
Sub. Aug.: Lygians, arise. First Centurion, take the Lygians to the Seignior Tribune.
First Centurion marches Lygians to the station of the Seignior Tribune and says:
First Cent.: Seignior Tribune, I have taken captive two Lygians who dared to enter the Eternal City.
Sr. Trib.: You have done well to report this promptly; a deep dark plot may here be exposed. Conduct your Lygians to the Sublime Augustus Let them advance a few steps, then continue, Hold! None may face the Sublime Augustus and live who can not speak the secret word that gives authority to enter Rome. This word I will give you.
If you be spies you must be punished, and your secrets perish, with you. Lygians, remember this word, it may some day save you.
Here Seignior Tribune gives the Lygians the semi-annual password, in a whisper, and then says:
First Centurion, you may now take your prisoners to the Sublime Augustus.
First Centurion now marches prisoners direct to station of Sublime Augustus.
First Cent.: Sublime Augustus, I have before you two captive Lygians, sent you by the Seignior Tribune.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian captives, are you aware that you are enemies of Rome, and have entered the Eternal City? Stragglers from an enemy's camp are not allowed to enter―how have you to explain your conduct and your presence here?
Lygian: Sublime Augustus, we are of Lygian blood, but we are not enemies of Rome. We are not spies. We know the fame of the Eternal City. We know your hate for our people. But before you pass judgment, allow us to ten of the tragic events which brought us here.
Sub. Aug.: Proceed; I will hear you.
First Lygian: You know how our people have made raids into your domain. On a recent raid we encountered a band of Praetorians and were beaten but on retiring we captured one of them. When well up in the Mountains our people sought revenge upon the helpless captive. We did not approve of this and protested against such cruelty. This caused a fight, a Lygian was killed, and we had to flee for our lives. With our own people against us, we turned toward Rome. We knew not what awaited us. We could not know. We only knew that if we lived, we would rather live with Romans, and if we died, we would rather die at Rome.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian, your story thrills me! Would that it were true! But well we know how spies invent tales to save their lives when caught. How shall we know your story is true?
First Lygian: Sublime Augustus, see our garb and hear our speech; are we not Lygians? Note these bruises and scars; they tell of our fight.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian, this may be true or false, but justice you shall have in Rome. One of you may go to your mountain home and bring some proof of your story. 'The Seignior Tribune will see that a royal letter which will insure safe passage, is given you. If within four days you return and prove your story true, all of you shall have life and liberty. If you return not in four days your comrades are doomed; meanwhile they shall be held as spies awaiting your return. Heed well and go.
Lygian is given a letter and then returns to ante-room. The Prisoner is seated to one side.
First Lygian: I will go and bring proof of my story.
Sub. Aug.: First Centurion, seat the Lygian and hood wink him!
Here First Centurion hoodwinks candidate and seats him after which he says:
First Cent.: Sublime Augustus your order has been obeyed.
Sub. Aug.: See that the Lygian is specially guarded until the four days are past.
Wait at least one minute. Let a death-like quiet prevail.
A gong, or piece of metal which gives the sound of a large clock striking the hours, having been provided for in the anteroom shall give six strokes. This can be done by the Lygian who has just left the Council Chamber.
Junior Trib., slow: The day is done.
First Cent.: One day is past. The Lygian is speeding onward.
Sooth.: Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be ye instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Wait thirty seconds. Six strokes of gong.
Junior Trib., slow: The day is done.
First Cent.: Two days are past. The Lygian is nearing home.
Sooth.: Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you again.
Everybody quiet for twenty seconds. Six strokes of the gong.
Junior Trib., slow: The day is done.
First Cent., impressively: Three days are past. The Lygians should be returning.
Sub. Aug.: It is needful that spies shall suffer death.
Sooth.: Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Quiet 20 seconds.
While the Soothsayer is talking, the Attorney, who here takes the part of the Stranger, retires quietly to the anteroom, where he gives three loud knocks on the door, just as the Soothsayer has finished.
Three knocks are heard at the door.
First Cent.: Sublime Augustus, there is an alarm at the inner gate.
Sub. Aug.: You will ascertain the cause.
First Cent. retires and reports: Sublime Augustus, a stranger claiming to be a foreign Praetorian asks that the Council be allowed to stand at ease for a few minutes, as he is without the password and his mission is urgent.
Sub. Aug.: The Council will stand at ease.
Let the stranger enter.
Stranger: All hail, Sublime Augustus! All hail, Praetorians! Before a Lygian may be sentenced as a spy a Praetorian from an other Council must come to test the officers to see if their possession of the law be accurate and their judgment just, and the captive really a Lygian spy, and not a remote subject of the empire. When I have put my questions I will retire.
Sub. Aug.: Your questions?
Stranger.: Seignior Tribune, are you a Praetorian?
Seig. Trib.: I am a Modern Praetorian.
Stranger: What is the motto of this society ?
Seig. Trib.: Non Nobis Solum.
Stranger: What is the meaning of Non Nobis Solum?
Seig. Trib.: Not for ourselves alone.
Stranger: What is justice?
Seig. Trib.: It is the supreme attribute of the Roman Empire, and is exemplified in our Sublime Augustus.
Stranger: Why is mercy greater than all qualities?
Seig. Trib.: It is twice blessed; it blesses him that gives and him that receives.
Stranger: Sublime Augustus, have you examined the Lygian and found him a spy undoubtedly.
Sub. Aug., resentfully: The judgment of a Caesar never errs.
Stranger: All Roman subjects, even from far distant provinces, possess the secret words of safety. Sublime Augustus, may I try this Lygian?
Sub. Aug.: I grant you this privilege.
Stranger., approaching the Lygian: Lygian, do you know some secret word to prove yourself a Roman subject ? If so, you will arise and communicate it to me in a whisper.
Stranger now returns to Attorney's station.
First Cent., grasping the Lygian: Sublime Augustus, this Lygian was attempting to reveal to a stranger the sacred pass word of our order.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian, is it possible that you attempted to reveal a sacred pass word and to a stranger whom you have not so much as even seen? Well known it is that spies do not regard even an oath.
Seig. Trib.: Sublime Augustus, I move that he be punished at once.
Junior Trib.: I second the motion!
Here the Attorney, having previously ascertained as much personal knowledge of candidate as possible, shall make strong prosecution for his failure to keep an oath, or the Attorney's speech as printed may be used, or a general discussion not over three minutes may be had. The Soothsayer then follows: It has only been a short time ago while on bended knees with his hands upon the Holy Bible this Lygian took a solemn oath not to reveal or attempt to reveal any of the secrets of the Praetorians. The test given him was designed to call forth the ability of a member to keep forever sacred his oath of secrecy and not yield to temptation.
On the first occasion he has fallen. Sublime Augustus, your position in this order demands that a traitor of this caliber be promptly refunded his initiation fees and told in words becoming the dignity of your office that he is not wanted.
Sooth.: Man's inhumanity to man has made countless millions mourn! Oh, frail and little man addressing Attorney: who art thou, to sit thyself up as a judge? Why shouldst thou ask the Sublime Augustus to expel one who, when temptation assails, yields to one professing to be his friend? In its beginning the Praetorians knew the frailty of man; and to protect the weak, feed the poor, uplift the fallen and "care for the dying" this noble Order was founded. I beg of you to forgive him; throw around him the mantel of charity, thus making the error of tonight the stepping-stone to greater things.
Seig. Trib.: It seems there is a difference of opinion as to what should be done. I think a crime of this kind should be punished so severely that it will not occur again. I move as a substitute for the motion of the Junior Tribune that the Sublime Augustus pronounce sentence upon this Lygian spy.
Sub. Aug.: You have heard the substitute motion as made by the Seignior Tribune; are you ready for the question?
All Members in concert: Question! Question!!
Sub. Aug.: All in favor of the substitute motion make it known by saying "I". Those not in favor of it make it known by saying "No."
A great many should vote "I" and a few should vote "No."
Sub. Aug.: The motion is carried.
This captive is a Lygian spy and a straggler from our enemy's camp. He is a member of that vile Lygian band that has constantly harassed our borders, and has now penetrated even into the Eternal City, and has, no doubt, learned many of our secrets. He has even attempted to divulge our sacred password. He shall be punished after the fourth day if the Lygian does not return.
At this point the First Centurion retires to ante-room and returns with the paraphernalia, which he places near the Lygian and awaits orders.
Silence in the hall. Six strokes of the gong.
Junior Trib., slow: The day is done.
First Cent.: Four days are past and the Lygian has not returned.
All Praetorians, in concert: The Lygian has not returned.
Seig. Trib.: Sublime Augustus, the last day has passed and the Lygian has not returned.
All Praetorians, in concert: The Lygian has not returned.
Sooth.: Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law.
All Praetorians interrupting in concert: The Lygian has not returned.
Sooth.: Let him, who is without offense among you cast the first stone.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian spies, your comrade has not returned.
All Praetorians: The Lygian has not returned.
First Cent.: Hold, Sublime Augustus, there is an alarm at the outer gate.
Sub. Aug.: Ascertain the cause.
First Centurion opens door, lets Lygian and Second Centurion enter and advance to altar. Everything should wake up, all members should shuffle their feet and much life should now be shown, the balance of the ritual should be carried out quietly and with snap.
First Lygian: Sublime Augustus, behold your Praetorian Guard, living proof of my story; question him!
Sub. Aug.: Lygian, you are late, but no matter, now you are here! Well-timed is your return!
Praetorian, were you taken captive by the Lygian band?
Praet. G.: I was, my Lord.
Sub. Aug.: Were you cruelly treated?
Praet. G.: I was.
Sub. Aug.: Did these Lygians defend you?
Praet. G.: They did; even within danger of their lives! More eagerly: Sublime Augustus, Praetorians themselves could not have risked more than did these men for me!
Sub. Aug.: How came you here?
Praet. G.: One of them at great danger to himself stole in and delivered me from the night guard.
Sub. Aug.: First Centurion, release the captive and bring him before me.
First Centurion releases captive and escorts him to Sublime Augustus' station. Lygian says:
First Lygian: Sublime Augustus, the blood of a noble tribe of warriors flows in our veins. We would like to be numbered with the Praetorian Guard.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian, Praetorians are Romans! In their ranks no barbarian ever bore a part.
First Lygian: Did barbarian ever deserve as much before?
Sub. Aug.: No, Lygian. No! And in recognition of the principles which prompted your acts I deem you worthy of the high honors of the Order. Here all candidates are brought before the Sublime Augustus.
Sub. Aug.: Lygian! You are now Praetorians, I congratulate you upon this honor. You are now defenders of the Palace of Pleasure called Home. You are to shield, defend and protect it. In your heart love it; with your tongue defend it, and by your thoughts seek to accomplish its highest good, both now and through the future.
Live worthily, serve faithfully and die honorably. By your dependence upon our Lygian you have been taught the dependence of man. Out of the instructions given you by this Council you have gained permanent good; but we who taught you have gained more. You have as yet gathered from Praetorianism a portion only of what there is in store for you. You will get more, not by seeking more, but by endeavoring to give more of what you are and what you possess. "So live that when thy summons comes to join the innumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious realm where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death, thou go not like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams."
Sub. Aug.: You will now be instructed in the secret work. On entering a Council, you make any kind of an alarm at the outer door, in response the Sentinel will admit you to the ante-room, where you give him the semi-annual pass word, which is . Passing to the inner door you give three raps. The Second Centurion will receive from you the permanent password, which is given under the grip, while standing. The word is and the grip is ....
This word is never given except while standing and in a whisper, and under the grip. It can only be imparted by an officer of the Council, a duly authorized deputy.
Distress Sign and Answer.
Distress Word and Answer.
Recognition Sign and Answer.
Recognition Words and Answer.
One rap of the gavel calls to order or seats the members. Two raps call officers to their feet. Three raps call members and officers to their feet.
Sent.: You will now approach the Recorder's desk for instructions in his department.
Recorder: This Council meets every ... night, and you should attend the Council meetings as often as possible. Your dues are payable to me on or before the 1st day of each month, but 12 days of grace will be allowed on the payment of all dues.
Sub. Aug.: The Council will now stand at ease while the right hand of fellowship will be extended our new members. After which all the members will be seated.
Sub. Aug.: Junior Tribune, you will give notice that I am about to close Council No. , in the Praetorian Degree.
Junior Trib.: Praetorians, take notice that this Council is about to be closed in the Praetorian Degree. First Centurion, take charge of the properties after the Council is closed.
Sub. Aug.: Attention, Praetorians! Three raps. You will join in singing the Closing Ode.:
Blest be Praetorian bands,
That now our he arts unite;
May God preserve, defend and guide
Out' Order in the right.
When we asunder part
Our motto still shall stand,
"Non Nobis Solum" in our heart
Shall ever guide our hand.
Sub. Aug.: I now declare this Council of Praetorians duly closed until our next regular meeting, unless sooner convened.