Pater Patriae

Pater Patriae

[pah-ter pah-tree-ahy; Eng. pey-ter pey-tree-ee, pat-er pa-tree-ee]

Pater Patriae (plural Patres Patriae), also seen as Parens Patriae, is a Latin honorific meaning "Father of the Country."

Roman history

Like all official titles of the Roman Republic and Principate, the honor of being called pater patriae was conferred by the Roman Senate.

It was first awarded to the great orator and senatorial statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero for his part in the suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy during his consulate in 63 BC.

It was next awarded to Julius Caesar, who as dictator for life became the de facto ruler of the Roman republic and its imperium.

The Senate voted the title to Caesar Augustus in 2 BC, but being neither important for the ruler's legitimacy nor for his legal powers, it did not become a regular part of the imperial honors, contrary to imperator, caesar, augustus, princeps senatus, pontifex maximus and tribunicia potestas. According to the historian Suetonius, Augustus' successor, Tiberius, was offered this title, but refused it.

The Senate eventually conferred the title on many Roman emperors, often only after many years of rule, or if the new emperor was particularly esteemed by the senators, as in the case of Nerva. As a result, many of the short-lived Emperors never received the title.

The honor was subject to the approval of the honoree, who could decline it. Suetonius notes in his work The Twelve Caesars that Nero did so when first offered the honor during the first year of his reign, on account of his youth. It was traditional for the honoree, in a proper sign of humility, to defer the honor for some time once conferred. Hadrian deferred for eleven years, for example.

Chronological list of Roman Patres Patriae

Note that with the exceptions of Cicero and Julius Caesar, the following are all considered Roman emperors.

Father of their Country

These men below are to this day considered the Father of their Country, or Father of the Nation.

Name Country Legacy
Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj Malaysia The first Prime Minister of then-Malaya is commonly known by his formal cognomen of "Bapa Kemerdekaan" (or Father of Independence) a title synonymous to that of Father of the Nation.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Mexico Recognized as Mexico independence father
Mustafa Kemal Turkey Was given Atatürk as a surname by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a recognition of his being the Father of the Nation..
José Gervasio Artigas Uruguay Recognized as the "Father of Uruguayan independence.
General Aung San Burma Considered the founding father of modern day Myanmar (or Burma), although he was assassinated six months before Burmese independence from Great Britain. His daughter Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winning democracy activist and icon for the Burmese people.
František Palacký Czech Republic Czech politician and historiographer, called Father of the Nation (Otec národa),
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi India Recognized as the Father of the Nation by the Indian government.
Jón Sigurðsson Iceland Leader of the calls for Icelandic home-rule from Denmark and independence, during the 19th century. His goal was later achieved, but not in his lifetime, with Icelandic independence becoming a reality in 1944. Widely recognised as the father of the independence movement ("Sjálfstæðisfaðirinn") and by extension the father of (modern) Iceland ("Landsfaðirinn"). His birthday, June 17, later became the Icelandic national day.
Michael Collins Ireland Considered by many in Ireland to be the father of Irish independence.
Einar Gerhardsen Norway The post–World War II prime minister of Norway, is often referred to as the Father of the Nation ("Landsfaderen").
Mohammad Ali Jinnah Pakistan officially Baba-e-Qaum literally meaning Father of the Nation as recognised by the Pakistan Government.
Peter I of Russia Russia Was granted the title of Father of the Fatherland (Отец Отечества) in 1721 by the Senate of Russian Empire, together with the title of emperor.
Nelson Mandela South Africa Is considered Father of the Nation in South Africa for his leadership of the the African National Congress and helping to unite all of South Africa under majoriy rule, before becoming President in 1994.
Mohammed Zahir Shah Afghanistan Is considered as the Father of the Nation in Afghanistan
Sun Yat-sen China Is officially the "Father of the Nation" (國父) in the Republic of China; in People's Republic of China he is officially referred to as "Father of Modern China", but also commonly "Father of the Nation".
Ante Starcevic Croatia Was considered by the Croatian people as the Father of the Nation (Otac domovine) in Croatia.
George Washington United States of America George Washington is commonly called through the United States Father of our Country.
William of Orange Netherlands William of Orange, or William the Silent, was the leader of the successful Dutch Revolt against Spain, which led to the Dutch Republic (the first independent Dutch state) and is still known as Vader des Vaderlands, which in English means Father of the Fatherland.
Gustaf Vasa Sweden Is considered as the Father of the Nation in Sweden.
Yasser Arafat Palestine Is considered as the Father of the Nation in Palestine.
Xanana Gusmão East Timor Is considered as the Father of the Nation in East Timor.
Ibrahim Rugova Kosovo Is considered as the Father of the Nation in Kosovo.
Lee Kuan Yew Singapore Led Singapore to independence and became the nation's first Prime Minister
Donald Dewar Scotland Led the successful 1997 'Yes' campaign in the referendum for Scottish Devolution and became the first First Minister of Scotland in over 300 years in May 1999 holding that position until his death in October 2000.

See also


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