The mos maiorum
(lit. ways of the ancestors
) were the ancestral traditions
, an unwritten code
and conduct, of the ancient Romans
. It institutionalized cultural traditions, societal mores, and general policies, as distinct from specific laws.
The eight cornerstones of mos maiorum were:
- fides — fidelity, loyalty, faith
- pietas — piety, devotion, patriotism, duty
- religio — religious scruple, reverence for higher power(s), strictness of observance, conscientiousness precision of conduct
- disciplina — discipline, diligence
- constantia — firmness, steadiness
- gravitas — seriousness, dignity, authority
- parsimonia — frugality
- severitas — strictness in the moral sense
It was partially typified by a respect for fathers and husbands and acknowledgement of one's subservience to them. One of the best illustrations of this tradition is found in the writings of Cato the Elder.