"You and I are of a kind. In a different reality I could have called you friend."
Romulan Commander, TOS: Balance of Terror.
"These people are no one's enemy, Senator."
- Captain Jean-Luc Picard, TNG: Unification part 2.
"One world's butcher is another world's hero. Perhaps I am neither one."
- Admiral Alidar Jarok, TNG: The Defector.
"People blame the military for the wars that we are asked to fight, but I think it is your kind, Major, that will be the death of us all."
- Commander Toreth, TNG: Face of the Enemy.
"The Romulans are very moral, captain. They have an absolute certainty about what is right and what is wrong, who is a friend and who is an enemy, a strict moral compass which provides them with a clarity of purpose."
– DeSeve, TNG: "Face of the Enemy".
"Romulans. They're so predictably treacherous!"
– Weyoun, DS9: "Image in the Sand".
"Romulans love secrets. They think everyone's hiding something."
"Everyone is hiding something. Whether they know it or not."
- Soji Asha and Narek, PIC: The Impossible Box.
"Is everything Romulans do a secret?"
"Ooh, I'm not at liberty to divulge that."
"Is your name actually Narek?"
"One of them."
"So is there anything you can tell me about yourself?"
"Yes. I'm a very... private person."
- Soji Asha and Narek, PIC: Maps and Legends.
British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” The same can truly be said of the Romulan Star Empire and its peoples.
The Romulan people can be understood through their national game of "Alliances and Betrayal". The closest example on Earth is the game of "Go". It is a strategic gme with more than two players. A grandmaster can see hundreds or more moves ahead. Unlike Chess, there are no set directions and individual pieces. The variations are almost infinite. This game is their national game, it is also their way of seeing the universe and interacting in it. Always thousands of moves ahead. It is this mindset that gave the Romulan people concern when their souces on the old world of Vulcan alerted them to the approach of a new power in the Beta Quadrant: Earth. The Romulan people watched as the humans built up their territory with an ambition not seen since the Romulan people before them. The Romulans, through their allies on Vulcan, tried to hinder the development of the humans; the Romulans could see decades ahead and they could see the humans were coming. Their democracy and penchant for alliances meants that the humans would inevitably team up with their neighbours on Vulcan, Tellar and Andoria. Such an alliance would be dangerous to the Star Empire. The chance encounter of the NX-01 Enterprise and the cloaked minefield surrounding the frontier of the Romulan Star Empire in 2152 was the wake-up that the humans had arrived.
Star Trek has been guilty for decades of over-simplifying for television who the heroes and villains are. Clean-shaven Starfleet officers againt the dusky, bearded villain Klingons. The Romulan perspective is ideal for teaching IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) and tolerance for those whose ideas we don't share. For those who don't share our ideals and ideas either. True Star Trek. Seeing the Star Trek Universe through a different prism, building from TNG's best Romulan episode "Face of the Enemy". Even that episode title spoonfed the audience with the notion that the Romulans are our enemies. Theconcept of the Interim Years subseries of the "Six Pillars of Romulus" has the unique selling point of telling the World perspective as seen from Russia, China, Iran or North Korea etc. They don't share Western liberal democratic values; they have DIFFERENT values that we must RESPECT, even if we don't agree with them. The Prime Directive protects civilisations that haven't attained warp drive, I believe General Order Two ought to protect cultures from contamination from our beliefs and to develop freely. Star Trek: Insurrection seemed to imply that this was all under the Prime Directive (the original subtitle of the movie). The Six Pillars of Romulus will teach of the Federation value of respecting others. We don't fear those with other ideals and values; we respect them.
With this subseries I intend to do for the Romulans what the musical "Wicked" has done for the Witch of the West for the "Wizard of Oz" - turn everything on it's head. There's actual evidence for this: the Vulcans didn't mention that the Romulans were related for over 110 years from ENT: Minefield to TOS: Balance of Terror. Why? They had something to hide. The Romulans left Vulcan and stayed far away to build up a Star Empire and people worthy of the original values of Vulcan. Not Surakian logic. It is HUMAN expansionism that threatens the Romulans, just as it has the Klingons. All under the pretense of exploration and discovery. With no visible borders in space, you can't tell if you are invading the territory of another nation until you do. Slavery and classes in Romulan society are like castes in India; different, distasteful and unpalateable to us, but nevertheless THEIR ways and their values. The Federation doesn't condone regime-change. We take other people as they are; we don't force them to be like us. This is one of the many values that this series brings to the contemporary world. Unlike in Iraq, Afghanistan and the revolutions of the Arab Spring circa 2011 was the Western hopes that a Western-style democracy would emerge. Egypt, as an example, went through several leadership changes with the West wanting a government to emerge favourable to us. I want to show the Federation as culturally and socially enlightened; it embraces difference, it doesn't smother it and desire it to be like us. My touchstone is the Roman Empire. Having visited Rome in 2002 and again in 2019, Ostia and many villas, palaces and baths across the UK, this hopefully honours the original 1966 design that the Romulans are the Roman Empire that never fell.
The strategic minds of the Romulan Senate worked ahead that the Coalition, that was inevitable, was to be killed before it could be born. Either deal with this fledgling thought now or suffer the consequences in a century. In 100 years, such an alliance will grow to encompass dozens of species and worlds. Such a coalition of barbarians should be snuffed out. Discreetly. A prawn holoship was devised, using an Aenar subject to control it from a vast distance, to fool the potential allies into fighting each other. The fears and old treacheries of these people would destroy them. In the event, the plan failed and the Coalition of Planets was born. The Romulan Senate knew that the options were growing limited. War was inevitable as even the agents on Vulcan could no longer contain the humans. Four years of conflict later, the war was convincingly lost to the Coalition of Planets and the worst fears of the Romulan Senate were realised. The United Federation of Planets was born and the arrival of a strategic rival on the Western Front was confirmed. Interestingly, the Vulcans never revealed to the Humans who the Romulans are. Something that would be kept secret for over 110 years.
The Romulan people can be traced back to a diaspora of Vulcans who sought to stay true to their nature, as servants of Nature and rejecting the pacifism of Surakism; they wanted to use their superior technology and wisdom to conquer the stars. They walked under the banner of the Raptor and fought a nuclear war against Surak and his pacifists. The servants of Surak were too strong and the Romulans withdrew in disgust to the stars, a far distance to maintain the true ways of the Vulcan people. Untainted. Many ships set off away from Vulcan, ships of many Vulcan races and locations. Relics of the true ways of the Vulcan people were taken with them, serving the biological Darwinism that they knew to be the true way forward. Some of these refugees were lost along the way and became the Debrune. Eventually they found a new home: Romulus. This voyage of exile has shaped the Romulan people and culture in many ways. Those who started the journey were not the ones to finish it. Along the way, myth became legend, legend became the new history and this in turn determined the truth for these people. They didn't lose to the Vulcans, they chose to leave a nuclear polluted planet to find paradise in the stars, to live untainted by the philosophies of Surak.
The starting point for the Romulans are three points: 1. They are cousins of the Vulcans, an offshoot race that left around 1800 years ago from Surak and his followers to find their own world in the stars. 2. They are the Roman Empire that never fell. Just like the Romanitas novels by Sophia McDougall. 3. They are the Communist Chinese and North Korea. The insular and secretive society that is poorly understood by the West. The Romulans are all of these things and more. Getting a Romulan people and Star Empire that makes sense to all of these things is quite the challenge.
Once on Romulus, the Romulans turned to taming and colonising the planet. Unhindered by the pon farr and ways of the Vulcans, they could reproduce annually for a reproductive life of a century or more. The population was allowed to explode and spread over the planet. The population fell into a class system of nobles and peasants; those who ruled the world and those who did the work. The Romulans soon discovered the Remans on their sister planet and mined that world for the minerals to build new starships to further their new Star Empire. World after world fell to the Romulans as they spread across space, until 2152 when they encountered the NX-01 Enterprise in a minefield they'd lain to protect a new planet that they'd annexed. Through spies left on Vulcan, they had followed the progress of the humans and knew they'd be a problem in the future. That future came much faster than expected. The humans spread up to the borders of the Star Empire and invade Romulan space. The Romulans defended themselves in a bitter war fought over 4 years. Despite Earth forming an alliance with the Vulcans, Tellarites, Andorians and Rigelians, the Romulans were able to fight them to a stalemate.
The Romulan Praetor, through his generals, was able to dictate to the new United Federation of Planets that they didn't want the Romulan culture contaminated by the Federation. They wanted to preserve their ways from the delusions and genetic pollution of these barbarians spinward of the Star Empire. This also bought time for the Romulans to enhance their technoogy, their cloaking devices, warp drives and plasma weapons, ready to face the inevitable clash of civilisations that the Federation presented. Like the Nazi party in 1930s Germany, the Romulan people are about genetic purity and the superiority of the Romulan mind, body and culture. By the 2290s, the Romulans had re-engaged and had diplomatic ties and trading lanes with the Federation. These were strictly controlled with the trade going via Nimbus III and swapped onto Romulan freighter to pass through the single route allowed into Romulan space. Romulan patrol ships and the Tal Shiar strictly controlled who and what could pass through into Romulan territory.
The Romulans returned back to prominence in the 2260s and by the 2290s had established an Embassy on Earth and a diplomatic presence on Nimbus III. Romulans are all for the long game and waiting for a moment of weakness in which to strike. The perceived breakdown of relations with the Klingons by 2270 overlooked the fact that some Klingon houses still traded with the Romulans for their superior technology and other gains (most notably the House of Duras).
Romulans always seek to improve their military advantage; their cloaking technology is the best in the known universe. (ST:Countdown showed they had reverse-engineered Borg technology). The Ministry of Science existed to improve Romulan technology. Transition from matter/anti-matter power to forced quantum singularities allowed the Romulans to consider warships far more powerful and capable than either the Klingons or Federation. Cloaking and use of weapons whilst cloaked was impossible for the Klingons, but now possible for the Romulans. With cloaking shields far more sophisticated and capable. The Romulans came to prominence in the Tabula Rasa incident, indeed the subspace Shiva device detonated by the Melak created the whole campaign. The Romulans were only too happy to exploit the new star systems and their Taubat inhabitants. Once the Metar themselves appeared, the Romulans soon realised it would require a temporary alliance with the Klingons and Federation to resolve the issue. Modernisation of the Romulan Imperial Navy was driven by this distatasteful alliance of necessity. Like the PLAAF Chinese airforce in 2000s and 2010, the Romulans looked to modernise their entire fleet, disposing of all obsolete technology.
The Romulans left the situation in 2291 with technological and biological samples from both the Taubat and the Metar. This technology would be pored over and reverse-engineered at the secretive Vault facility, deep in Romulan space. Shortly afterwards, the House of G’Iogh approached the Romulan Star Empire in an attempt to ascend to become Emperor of the Klingon Empire. In the event, the ambitions of this House were overthrown by their over-extension. The surviving members of House G’Iogh fled to the Romulan border, only to be assassinated by forces loyal to Gorkon.
The Romulans attempted to manipulate the Federation and Klingon Empires into fighting following the assassination of Gorkon in 2293. This attempt failed with Ambassador Nanclus being recalled in disgrace; he was publicly disintergrated for his crimes. The next attempt was in 2300 and the Kriosian seperatists known as The Thorn were aided in an attempt to disrupt the Empire. Nanclus, actually a Tal Shiar agent, was finally killed along with all the Tal Shiar section chiefs.
Aventeer Vokar was one of the biggest threats to peace along the Federation border. Outwitted by the USS Hunley and Dakota, Vokar was demoted to sub-lieutenant and only escaped execution from strong senate connections. He would later rebuild his career and achieve flag rank by the early 24th century. It was known from his earlier disgrace that Vokar had a personal grudge against John Harriman. Gell Kamemor from the empire world of Glintara was the Romulan representative to Earth at this time. She had a friendship since 2296 with Captain John Harriman. This friendship would later be exploited in order to set up the Tomed Incident and remove the Romulan threat.
Romulan starship technology was advancing fast with the advent of the Melak A-type Warbird. The prototype vessel was lost whilst using the Shiva Device. A Klingon K’T'inga class battlecruiser had tailed the prototype vessel and provided the first information on the design. Early intelligence suggests the Romulans have abandoned matter/anti-matter energy generation in favour of a forced quantum singularity.
Starfleet Intelligence, concerned at the Romulan advantage could cause a first-strike from that nation, sent undercover operatives into Romulan space in a desperate measure to gain information. Lieutenant Commander Ilani, a Deltan national, was placed as a Tal Shiar captain for a long-duration intelligence-gathering mission. Ilani was placed into the role of a dead Tal Shiar officer with an assigned protection asset, Leena Tamkivi, to watch over and extract her should her cover be blown. Ilani uncovered Tal Shiar atrocities including the systematic annihilation of the population and culture of Tablis’el. Along with the abuse of prisoners whose identities had been erased. Once Ilani had been compromised, her shadow Tamkivi took her on a circuitous route back to the Federation, via Orion and other freighters. Despite taking this information to the Federation President, the information could not be acted upon for fear of exposing the illegal operation within another sovereign nation.
Star Trek: Balance of Terror
Star Trek: The Enterprise Incident
ST: TNG: Neutral Zone
ST: TNG: Contagion
ST: TNG: The Enemy
ST: TNG: The Defector
ST: TNG: Tin Man
ST: TNG: Data's Day
ST: TNG: The Mind's Eye
ST: TNG: Redemption 1 & 2
ST: TNG: The Next Phase
ST: TNG: Face of the Enemy
ST: TNG: Gambit
ST: TNG: The Pegasus
ST: DS9: The Search
ST: DS9: In the Pale Moonlight
ST: DS9: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
ST: DS9: Visionary
ST: DS9: Improbable Case
ST: DS9: The Die is Cast
ST: DS9: Image in the Sand
ST: DS9: Shadows & Symbols
ST: DS9: In Purgatory's Shadow
ST: DS9: By Inferno's Light
ST: VOY: Message in a Bottle
ST: ENT: Minefield
ST: ENT: The Aenar
ST: ENT: Kir'Shara
ST: ENT: Babel One
ST: ENT: United
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Star Trek: Nemesis (2004)
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek: New Worlds (2000)
Star Trek: Klingon Academy (story by D C Fontana)
Star Trek: Countdown
Star Trek: Nero
Pompeii by Mary Beard
Roman Britain by Guy De La Bedoyere
Chronicles of the Emperors by Chris Scarre
Chronicles of the Roman Republic by Philip Matyszak
The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy
Roman Bath discovered by Barry Canliffe
Roman Towns in Britain by Guy De La Bedoyere
Mosaics of Roman Britain by Patricia Witts
Life in Roman Britain by Joan Alcock
Hadrian's Empire by Danny Danziger & Nicolas Purcell
Penguin Atlas of the Roman Empire by Chris Scarre
Discovering Roman Britain by David E Johnston
Roman Baths in Britain by Tony Rook
Villages in Roman Britain by Robin Hanley
Roman Vilas by David E. Johnston
Pompeii: The Living City Alex Butterworth & Ray Lawrence
Osprey: Rome at War AD293 - 696
Osprey: Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan
Osprey: Roman Army from Hadrian to Constantine
Osprey: Hadrian's Wall AD122 - 410
Osprey: Rome's Northern Frontier AD70 - 235
China's Economy by Arthur Kroeber
The Tree the Bleeds by Nick Holdstock
China's Forgotten People by Nick Holdstock
The New Emperors by Kerry Brown
Dealing With China by Hank Paulsen
Xi Jinping on the Global Stage by Robert Blackwill & Kurt Campbell
Out of China by Robert Bickers
Collapse of Rome by Gareth Sampson
History of the Decline and Fall of Rome by Edward Gibbon
Roman Empire & Silk Routes by Raoul McLaughlin
Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Fort by Robin Birla
Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws & Slaves by Robert C. Knapp
The Empire Stops Here by Philip Parker
Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Jung
The Romanitas trilogy by Sophia McDougall
Praetorian: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Imperial Bodyguard by Guy De La Bedoyere
China's Great Wall of Debt by Dinny McMahon
China's Great Train: Beijing's Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet by Abrahm Lustgarten.
Osprey: Praetorian Guard Elite Series 50 by Dr Boris Rankov and Richard Hook.
Roman Forum, Palatine and Colosseum guide by Electa (2018 reprint)
Archeological Guide to Rome by Adriano La Ragina (2018 reprint)
Ostia revised by M. Floriani Squarciapino (2008)
Ancient Ostia: A Port for Rome with reconstructions (2019)
Romulans are the cousins to the Vulcans. They left Vulcan around 2000 years ago and found a new home world deep in the Beta Quadrant that they christened Romulus. The small number of refugees meant that there was a small starting genepool. The different ships had different Romulans from around Vulcan, each with their own racial traits. The militant philosophy of the Romulans, forged in part from their long voyage, found full expression on this new planet. In a natural harbour near the edge of swampy woodlands the Romulans built their capital city.
Romulans in the North of Romulus have a more developed ridged forehead; Southern Romulans have a smooth forehead tha is indistinguishable from Vulcans. Northerners are stereotyped by other Romulans as stubborn. Author's Note: Established in canon by Laris in Star Trek: Picard "The End is the Beginning". Romulans practice the Zhal Makh, a traditional form of meditation considered taboo to non-Romulans.
The Romulan Star Empire is more advanced than the Klingon Empire and perhaps even the Federation. With Vulcanoid brains and an ethical outlook favourable to technical progress at any cost. Romulans favour modernist minimalism in both their technology and aesthetics. They aren't sentimental for ancient structures or heritage, more for the progression of the Star Empire to it's place in the universe. he Romulans settled far away from their Vulcan cousins in order to grow their Star Empire without interruption.
The Romulan Star Empire has six pillars of power: the Praetor, the Senate, the Continuing Committee (ie the Romulan governing Party), the Tal Shiar, the Military and the Praetorian Guard. Each of the pillars keeps the other in check. The Praetor Domitius (2280s - 2311), cleverly uses the Tal Shiar and Praetorian Guard to intimidate the Senate, Continuing Committee and military into doing his bidding. They view the world like their national game of Alliances and Betrayal. They look at the universe as the Long Game. In terms of decades and centuries, not months or years. The minefield, prawn holoship and war with the Coalition of Planets 2156 - 2160 was an attempt to prevent the Earth Starfleet forming an alliance with the Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites and Rigelians; the Romulans foresaw this all and tried to prevent it. They knew their Vulcan cousins were a threat and that this would lead to a Federation of over 100 worlds within a century.
Plot holes, big wide and plentiful.
First issue: Romulans, up to 'Balance of Terror' are not supposed to have warp drive. Truth is it would take HUNDREDS of years at sublight to get from Vulcan to Romulus. Then in the Coalition of Planets-Romulan War (2156 - 2160) the Coalition ships had warp drive (warp 5 for Earth and warp SEVEN or Vulcan ships, which would make the Romulan ships look static and stupid. 1966 knowledge gave us the Romulans (before we'd set foot on the Moon or sent space probes to the other planets in the Seventies onwards. With 2017 knowledge, I'd argue the Romulans must have had COMPARABLE warp technology to the Vulcans and MUST have had warp drive to get to Romulus (landing after hundreds of years just to turn around and spend hundreds more rushing to start a war against the Coalition of Planets on your distant border, is just plain silly).
So the Romulans had and have warp drive. The next point is these exiles from Vulcan needed ships to get to Romulus. Where did these warp-powered colony ships come from and how many would fit on these ships? Thousands, possibly a few million seems a sensible figure, with some lost on the way from going different paths or being lost to Space Perils © (TM)... So a few million Romulans start off their planet colony a few months or years of exploration after exile by Surak. That gives time to grow your Star Empire and have ships ready to fight the Coalition of Planets in 2155 (and sneak Romulan operatives to Vulcan some years before this). Romulan ships armed with nuclear missiles? Again, a 1966 idea which seems silly given NX-01 Enterprise had proto-photon torpedoes and phasers by 2154.
It's these six pillars of power that I wish to explore with the Romulan perspective entry in my Interim Years universe Star Trek model. The careful dance between the Praetor, Senate, Continuing Committee (ie the Romulan political party), Tal Shiar, Military and Praetorian Guard. Each of them balancing the others. In theory. It covers the Interim Years period 2280s through to 2310s. The Praetor Domitius with a darker-Magneto-type Sir Ian McKellen in the role, a Ciaran Hinds-as-General Julius Caesar as a veteran general character whose career dates back to around the first Coalition of Planets war. An Anthony Hopkins-as-Dorctor Ford from Westworld-type character as the chief researcher in the Vault. His power lies with the alien technology (including abandoned El Aurian refuee ships) that he's reverse-engineering and cutting edge developments he has access to. A Ray Stevenson-as-Titus Pullo-from-Rome as Omex. Veteran warrior, spy, assassin whose retirement on Nimbus III just isn't working out.
Over the following millennia or so the Romulans forged their culture and attained their unique look. The small genepool meant that recessive genes found expression, such as the forehead ridge found in ancient proto-Vulcan species. As the Romulans left Vulcan before the philosophies of Surak became the culture, they never realised their psionic abilities. (Author note: although the backstory for Nero shows he did achieve this through drugs and imprisonment. So Romulans DO have the potential).
The Romulans do not have the emotional restraint that the Vulcans have, very much in the spirit of the ancient warring Vulcans of 2000 years ago. The Romulans do, however, have great mental control. They are able to prevent others reading their mind. This focus allows Romulans to concentrate on tasks far better than most; this helped grow their new homeworlds and Star Empire. The Romulans needed to increase their population rapidly, given only a few thousand refugees arrived, to populate their planet. The Romulans discovered the native Reman race on their twin planet of Remus, soon enslaved to mine dilithium to fuel the construction of their Empire.
Author Notes: The population would have to increase rapidly to create the Romulan Star Empire. The Remans would be enslaved first. Two thousand years to reach Romulus, populate the planet to 5 billion or so and expand to other worlds. To include black, Asian and other ethnicities, the different refugee ships had different Romulans from around Vulcan. Why attack the Federation? A massive plot hole really...
Romulan Psychology and Sociology:
The Romulans developed a class or caste system that depended on background, political connections and genetic purity. The wealthy Romulans soon had vast villas in prime locations across the planet, whilst the lower classes stayed in the small domiciles in the cities. The Romulans had expansionist plans and militant ambitions which created the Imperial Romulan Navy and warships capable of both defending their worlds and defeating new ones to add to their empire.
The Romulan Star Empire is a two-sided coin with the Ruling Class and the Plebes. The ruling class has the power, the influence and the seats on the Senate and the Continuing Committee. These are the officers on the Imperial Romulan Navy with the arrogance, self-assurance and racial superiority attitude. They have private schooling and are kept to the highest standards. The ruling class treat life and their careers like a strategic game in the vein of chess or Go, making moves and countermoves and plotting to further their careers, whilst removing obstacles. Everything is the long game, a step in the strategic game that is life. The ruling class descend from the privileged from the diaspora. Scandal and crimes against the Star Empire can destroy a member of the Senate and their family. Plots are commonplace By comparison, the plebes are the underclass majority who live in fear of the Tal Shiar, the secret police and intelligence agency. Where the ruling class have silken robes and impressive uniforms, the plebes have plain grey clothes that match their grey hearts, shuffling quietly to avoid attention. They are the enemies of no one, just fearful pawns manoeuvred into place by the ruling class. Obeying the declarations of the Senate, living in ignorance of the Continuing Committee's real power, enjoying the arena, sports and theatre whilst trying to avoid arrest, interrogation, re-education and gulags.
Romulans are indoctrinated from before birth. This is achieved through eugenic selection for purity, and euthanasia to remove racial inperfections and disabilities. Education is by the Star Empire, about the Star Empire and for the furtherment of imperial ambition. History and reality are controlled by controlling the media and written word, determining the truth and spin doctoring the angle that articles and historical events take. For example the Romulans did not lost the war against Earth, they won. They placed the Neutral Zone up to keep out the barbarian Federation and their mongrel species. Like "Strength through Joy" by Nazi Germany in the 1930s, such as the Prora holiday camp, the Romulan way is furthered by education even during leisure time. Theatre, sports, arenas etc. further the Senate message (actually the Continuing Committee message) and propaganda.
Romulans are Vulcanoid, cousins and not brothers to the Vulcans. This suggests a relationship with Vulcans more akin to Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens or racial differences like black or asian or abouriginal. Copper-based blood like the Vulcans, grey heart, large brain with acute hearing etc. as with Vulcans. They also have the same 200+ year lifespan. Romulans are said to not possess the mental abilities of Vulcans, however there is evidence to suggest the telepathic and ESP abilities are said to be latent in Romulans with all of the same brain regions and features that Vulcan brains have. Only dormant.
Psychology. The superiority complex comes from upbringing and indoctrination. Paranoia is a way of life from the oversight of the Tal Shiar and informants, constantly verifying the loyalty of all citizans of the Star Empire. Betrayal means re-education or death. Romulans are very controlling of their thoughts to both keep out spies and the enemy, also to maintain the external aura of loyalty. Romulans don't have the leash on their emptions that Vulcans have, they embrace them. Extremes of love, hate, rage etc. The diaspora from Vulcan informs much of their attitudes, especially towards racial growth and hatred of Vulcans.
Star Trek (2009) established that there are three forms of the Romulan language: Diane Duane's Rihannsu, canon Romulan from ST: Enterprise and the occasional Romulan words from ST: TNG/ The written form of Romulan language is like Chinese and runs in columns, top to bottom. The official language grew massively with Star Trek: Picard season 1 in 2020. Linguist Trent Pehrson was brought onboard to create the official Romulan language. He used the snippets of language that had been used before, as well as Vulcan that was useful in a historical linguistic sense.
This is one of my big bugbears from my own education in psychology, specifically linguistics. The 1966 episode that introduced the Romulans, 'Balance of Terror', made a big feature about the crew of the Enterprise being shocked to discover that the Romulans are related to the Vulcans. Apparently the bodies found in space were unidentifiable and they only communicated verbally. This all is very convenient for the needs of the episode, but doesn't make scientific sense. Firstly, the body remains would be freeze-dried and therefore easily recognisable features like pointed ears and eyebrows would be there, along with frozen copper-based blood and DNA. The DNA would tell, even over 2000 years. They'd be almost identical.
The second point is the language. Even if the Rumulans only communicate verbally, there will still be the language. Hoshi Sato may have been new to Romulans, however the Universal Translator will look at linguistic similarity to species in its database. It's unknown whether Starfleet knew about the vulcanoid Debrune species, Ancient Vulcan is most certainly on the database. Now 2000 years in lingustc terms is like from latin language of the Roman Empire to modern English. Debrune (a vulcanoid species between Vulcans and Romulans) will have a relationship of 0.91 with Romulan; Ancient Vulcan will still have a relationship of 0.85 or so. Unless the Romulans deliberately created a new language after their flight from Vulcan (a time-consuming and questionable decision), this relationship will still be plain to the Universal Translator. In short, we'd know the Romulans were related to the Vulcans. Whether the Vulcan High Command decided to eventually confirm in 2266 or not, we'd have known way back in 2152 that the Romulans were related. War body part DNA would have confirmed it. An impossible secret.
Sectors in the Romulan Star Empire:
Tarod Sector - Romulus and Remus
Romulans have a great variation of look. The Star Trek original series featured Romulans as being identical to their Vulcan cousins. By TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT, the make-up was changed by Michael Westmore to feature a V-ridge on the forehead, like a permanent scowl. JJ Abram's Star Trek (2009) had an intermediate make-up by Neville Page. There is therefore a range of Romulan looks. The Mintaken proto-Vulcans also had this look so maybe this is a recessive gene that has found expression in the Romulan phenotype from the small starting genepool of Romulan refugees.
The differences between the Vulcans and Romulans is 'explained' by 2000 years since the Romulans left Vulcan. Just how much does a couple of millenia explain things? Human civilisation has existed for about 6000 years and certainly things like the forehead ridge cannot be explained. Neanderthal and Homo sapiens co-existing with facial diferences could be used as an explanation. I personally do for racial differences brought out by recessive genes, hence the Vulcans do not have any ridges. With regards the language side of things, they will have a common starting point with Ancient Vulcan.
Romulan language will have evolved differently for 2000 years, moving away from the original language like Latin to Modern English. However they will still be recognisable from the original linguistic roots - unless a conscious effort is made from the Romulans to mask the original source of their language (why bother?). So how Starfleet didn't know who the Romualans were over the war (from DNA and linguistic similarities) is a double-decker bus-sized plot hole that has to be ignored or acknowledged later. Truth is, any competant DNA or linguistic analysis will show similarities.
The Romulans were developed as cousins to the Vulcans and as the Roman Empire that never fell. Their first appearance in TOS: 'Balance of Terror' emphasised this Roman nature. Over TNG and DS9 the Romulans became the devious strategic thinkers that mirrored Communist China more in their ways. This is reflected in my Romulan pages that retain the Roman heritage whilst adopting Chinese elements - although why have both a Senate and a Continuing Committee?
The Senate and the Continuing Committee
The Romulan senate is the central building in the capital city of Ki Baratan. This is the core of the Star Empire and the public driving force for decision making and politics. There are regular public viewings of the senate at work, displaying the Star Empire at work, working for the common Romulan to raise them and their Star Empire above all others. Forty-four senators represent the people of the Romulan Star Empire. The Senate is like theatre, with appearance and the wording of speeches being vitally important to the career and progression of a senator. The robes of a senator reflecting their wealth and opulance, newer members with their more simple robes as opposed the veterans with rich robes from the best tailors. Good family connections can mean a new senator can have wealthy robes from the beginning. Given the lifespan of a senator can be well over a century, ones in power at the time of Cadet Hawkins dated back to the Earth-Romulan War.
Praetor Domitius ruled over the powerful senate for decades. Wisely knowing to keep the Senate, Tal Shiar and Praetorian Guard close, he ruled with an iron fist. With veteran General Prexal (Richard Harris appearance) as a close friend, Domitius had powerful allies in the military. Veteran senator Clodus (Derek Jacobi appearance) was a pain in the side of Domitius. An expert in strategy and equally sharp of wit and word, Clodus often was the one to say the right thing at the right time to foil some of the more tyrannical and autocratic actions of Domitius. Veteran General M'chel (Russell Crowe appearance) was one more allied to senator Clodus than Domitius. The extended campaigns that General M'chel was ordered to lead - a punishment for his insolence no doubt - served only to increase the military experience and successes of M'chel. The campaigns of the III and V Legions are legendary in the history of the expansion of the Romulan Star Empire. His attentions are now focussed on the border with the Klingon Empire.
The Romulan Star Empire is the Roman Empire that never fell. The Romulan Senate is the most obvious parallel to this model. I visited the Roman Forum in Rome in June 2019. With the shrine to Caesar and the various temples, the forum is the heart of the Roman Empire. Here the Emperor presides over the Senate. Each Senator bringing their motions to the Emperor; the Emperor having the final say and also having a platform for his own proclamations.
Praetor Domitius ran the Continuing Committee since 2280s...
Domitius wanted a policy of engaging both the Klingons and Federation, making use of the technical advantage that the Romulan Star Empire possessed. The temporary alliance at Tabula Rasa was seen as a strategic move to gain the advantage – and technical information – before a later prepared treachery. In the event there were enough prisoners and technical relics obtained to keep the Empire ahead for the next decade and a half.
Domitius made extensive use of the Tal Shiar to cement his position at the top, ensuring any voices of dissent were made to disappear during the night. This would prove to be a double-edged sword as the Tal Shiar head, General Neval, would become king-maker at the perfect time. Domitius had a villa on the outskirts of the First City of Ki Baratan/Dartha, with a vineyard that produced some of the finest ale in the Empire. His family connections within the senate went back for centuries and his lineage went back as far as the original settlers on Romulus . He firmly believed in expansionism, pressing the borders outwards and was frustrated by the neutral zone. His predecessor had attempted to put the former alliance with the Klingon Empire behind them. Domitius knew better than this and planned to use the D-7 battlecruisers they had acquired to good use. Given the right signatures and external decoration, he knew they could fool – even for a moment – the Klingon Border defences and lead a fleet to victory by surprise.
The Praetor had his own dedicated Praetorian Guard. The Praetorian Guard operated on the explicit orders of the Praetor himself. They are his bodyguards and the personal assassins for the Praetor. They were the only persons allowed to be armed within the Senate building and are there to pratect the Praetor against all enemies, not foreign and domestic. As Domitius was to discover, their loyalty actually ran to the Star Empire and they were known to be kingmakers when the circumstances demanded it.
Domitius had a good working relationship with Admiral Aventeer Vokar, developing strategies to face off against the Federation with a hope that could buy time for a decisive strike against the Klingon Empire. The wounds of battle of klach d'kel brakt still ran deep after forty years. With the Admiral disgraced after the Tomed Incident, Domitius found his policy of engaging the Federation and Klingon Empire had back fired with signs of them forging an alliance. All of this was too much for the senate and the Tal Shiar leader Neval. The Praetor was assassinated in a ‘night of the long knives’-style rebalancing of the Senate. Strong rumours are that the head of the Praetorian Guard themself who stabbed the man they were ironically sworn to protect.
Praetor Domitius is the "Darker Magneto" performance of Sir Ian McKellar. He knows how to use the Praetorian Guard, Tal Shiar, Continuing Committee and Military to get his way when the Senate won't listen. Determined to get the Klingons and Federation to fight themselves and then mop up the stragglers. Intimidating, intelligent and eloquent; he is everything the dictator, emperor and politician.
Proconsul Caecilius emerged as the new Praetor after a short reshuffle. The new Praetor aimed to reassert the borders of the Empire in a Hadrian-esque move to keep the barbarians from the gates. Caecilius realised that a long-term strategy was required and as part of the treaty of Algeron, they would withdraw behind their neutral zone. Caecilius addressed the Continuing Committee to list that his predecessor had mistakenly concentrated on two enemies at the same time. He knew that the misguided Federation would sue for peace and respect their neutral zone, allowing them time to deal with the immediate threat in the Klingon Empire. Caecilius would talk at length with the Chairman of the Tal Shiar, plotting revenge on the Federation for their recent humiliation; meanwhile they would address the Klingon Empire with the use of force as soon as a weakness presented itself.
Ciaran Hinds as General Caesar, from the HBO series 'Rome' is the role-model for Caecilius. A veteran general who's been in the military for over a century and seen it all. Lots of war campaigns including as a fledgling officer against the Coalition of Planets in the Great War. He is cynical of the Senate, Continuing Committee and Tal Shiar, having seen the universe first hand.
Late middle-aged former soldier with nebulous backstory aged circa 170 retired to Nimbus III. A veteran of plenty of wars and campaigns, he has seen it all, done it, heard it and been promised it. In appearance he’s grey haired and leathery wrinkled vulcanoid with scars and chips out of his pointed ears from innumerate combat. He wants to retire. He’s shed enough blood, but you get the feeling the past just won’t go away from him. The Star Empire is not the one he joined up to protect all those decades before. He’s done terrible things under orders; all for a better Star Empire and so that he can enjoy a retirement in privilege and relaxation. It just hasn’t happened. Here he is on Nimbus III in the Romulan Sector. The grey man hiding in the shadows and anonymity, wanting to enjoy what years he has left and staying out of the limelight. Avoiding the Tal Shiar perhaps? He was good at his job. Really good. No, better than that. It’s very possible he served on the Praetorian Guard as one of the elite Romulan soldiers protecting his Praetor. That was years ago. Decades. Regimes change. Often. His regime might be out of favour now, fatally out favour. Why is he on Nimbus III? Is it all of the remoteness? A planet to shape for himself in retirement? A hiding place? Or is he there on unfinished business? Maybe he knows Caithlin Dar or her father and is out there as a favour. He is a man of the world and knows how the universe works. He doesn’t fight for the Star Empire anymore. He’s only working for himself. He’s cynical of politics and promises as he’s seen it all. And they dropped him like a hot stone when they didn’t need him anymore. He’s connected. Friends and colleagues across the Star Empire. Maybe even on the Senate. The one constant in Romulan society is betrayal. Whether you go Roman or Communist, people back stab others. Maybe he’s run out of people he can trust and Nimbus III is an easy hop away out of the Star Empire.
The new Pro-Consul is Priscus, a friend to Caithlin Dar and her connection to the new senate and Continuing Committee. After her assignment to Nimbus III to escape from the scandal of loving a lower status Romulan, this could be her route back to political prominence after her successes on Nimbus.
Chairman Neval is the leader of the Tal Shiar, who achieved the top table job after the unfortunate early death of his predecessor. Neval is known in whispers to be the kingmaker and has survived numerous plots. He is a grand master at the Romulan national game of “Alliances and Betrayals”, a curious cross of Risk with Poker, involving three or more players. Neval’s skill has even included achieving single-player wins, a rarity in the game. Neval, like all Tal Shiar members, is immediately noticeable in Continuing Committee meetings due to his wearing of plain dark uniform with black gloves rather than the ornate robes of state worn by the senators.
Think of Neval as a Romulan answer to Varis in Game of Thrones. This is the keeper of secrets of the Star Empire. He knows everything about everyone; all the dirty laundry. Spies in every home and embassy. He keeps the Praetor and Continuing Committee updated, whilst using his dirt and spies to intimidate the Senate, Continuing Committee and others, to his own ends...
Senate and Continuing Committee differences.
The Senate is the public face of the government. Decisions about running the Empire and making treatise/war or public declarations for show are all done here. The senate is run with formal language and robes displaying the high statuses of the senators. The Senate is very much run like a power game with alliances and betrayals all a part of the government system – much like the popular game. The Senate runs the Empire, approving budgets and internal matters. Diplomatic matters are also discussed here as are non-sensitive military matters. For more covert affairs and external policies, the Continuing Committee is employed. The Senate has 44 members. The matters of the people are discussed here and the affairs of the various homeland and provinces are discussed; the regular affairs of state-running.
The Continuing Committee by contrast is held behind closed doors. Whereas the Senate has 44 members, there are only a dozen on the Continuing Committee. This is a display of the elite of Romulan Society and includes the Chairman of the Tal Shiar as one of the permanent seats. The Continuing Committee works on matters of Romulan policy and external affairs. Matters too sensitive for public dissection are discussed such as placement of agents, future targets for expansion and war plans. There are no showy robes like in the Senate; this is more the forum for plain positions of power. Praetors are selected here and the direction of the Romulan Star Empire and its policies are decided here.
Members of the Continuing Committee:
Praetor, Emperor of the Romulan Star Empire, Chairman of the Central Military Commission
Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the Romulan Star Empire
Party secretary of the Standing Committee of the Romulan People's Congress
Party secretary of the National Committee of the Romulan People's Political Consultative Conference
Chairman of the Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization. President of the CPC Central Party School.
Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
Deputy Party secretary of the State Council of the Romulan Star Empire
Chairman of the Tal Shiar
Author Notes: The movie Nemesis showed the Romulan senate as being like a Roman forum, with nobles dressed in fine robes. This contrasts with DS9 episode Inter Arma… showed the Continuing Committee as being a small venue with all dark grey/black robed officials rather more in keeping with the Chinese communist Party Politburo Standing Committee.
The Senate deals with the public face of politics and running the Star Empire. The Continuing Committee is the equivalent of the British Cabinet or the Executive Office of the US President.
Chinese Standing Committee
Ki Baratan, formerly called Dartha, is the first city of Romulus . It is located by the Apnex Sea and contains the Hall of State where the Senate is held. The upper echelons of Romulan society tend to live in large villas on on the outskirts of the city, distancing themselves from the somewhat cramped, smaller dwellings in the centre of the city itself. The city still has the walls that were erected when the colony was first founded. The senate and central buildings stand in the marshy core of the city and the outer regions have the more technologically sophisticated properties.
Amongst the smaller shared dwellings in the city itself, there are larger town houses owned by the higher classes, offering better proximity to both the senate and the large restaurants where they can dine in luxury. There are also exclusive tailors, theatres and baths that are exploited by the senators and higher class citizens. The social life of the higher classes is as important as the power that they wield within the senate.
Baths, theatres, tea houses, restaurants – these are amongst the social gathering places that make up much of the centre of Ki Baratan, providing a place for the wealthy and powerful to be seen and to see their friends and fellow power-mongers. An unofficial policy of social-cleansing maintains the upper social atmosphere of the centre. Other buildings of importance include the High Court where the law of the land is shown to be all-powerful and never wrong. The Tal Shiar has a presence in the capital, although this may not actually be the head office as to have all the eggs in one basket would be too tempting a target. The Romulan Science Council also has a base in the capital; a visible display of the advancement of Romulan Society when compared to the inferior civilizations outside of the Star Empire.
Ancient Romulan rulings dictate that the Romulan Military must remain outside of the capital; a law created to reduce the risk of a military coup. Senior military members may be requested to face either the Senate or the Continuing Committee, but are generally not regular standing members of either forum.
The Vault is the base run by the Romulan Military designed to be the last refuge for the Romulan Senate should the planet be overrun or destroyed. All of the best military technology is kept at this cloaked facility, including captured Federation, Klingon, Tholian, Gorn, Kinshaya, Metar and Taubat technology. Amongst the cutting edge designs include forced singularity powerplants, advanced cloaking technology including phasing cloak, organic and plasma technology. The best designs get prototyped and then the design is built in production at one of the closed colonies run by the Star Empire. These closed colonies, much like the old closed cities of the Soviet Union on Earth, are closed to outsiders and work on a single purpose, such as building type A Warbird warships.
Author’s Note: the Vault was depicted in the ST: Countdown graphic novel, used by Nero after the destruction of Romulus. It requires a code known only to the Praetor and his entourage to access the facility.
The senior scientist at the Vault is like Anthony Hopkins' character Dr Ford in HBO's brilliant Westworld. This is the top secret Romulan facility with technology from the Klingons, Federation, Gorn, Tholians, Breen, Tzenkethi, Taubat and even the Metar. The chief scientist has no ethical constraints in testing the technology on live subjects. Think of the work of Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele. The Vault is required to study, understand and reverse-engineer the captured technology of others. It is this captured technology that has kept the Romulans one step ahead of the Federation and others.
Romulans are educated from a young age to understand their position in society and their superiority over other races and nations. Romulans learn about loyalty and debating skills, especially for those in higher political echelons. Strategic games are also played to prepare them for ascension into Romulan society.
Roman social classes
Social classes are an important indicator in Romulan society. Highest rank is the Senatorial class, comprising of Senators and members of the Continuing Committee. This class is dominated by Nobles whose ancestry contains one Consul. The first Romulan qualifying to this position is referred informally as a new man/new woman. Senatorial class are banned from non-agricultural business, trade or public contracts.
Equestrian class membership is based on accumulated wealth and power. Should they reach a senate seat they become Senatorial class. They primarily engage in the businesses banned to senatorial. Ascension to equestrian class is possible through prestige and wealth of power; senatorial class is very much the elite families and those with influence over the Continuing Committee having the connections to achieve the leap to senatorial position.
Common class are freeborn Romulans that make up the majority. Freed people were former slaves, with foreigners and slaves with them at the bottom of the class structure.
The exodus from Vulcan is covered in education, with the viewpoint that Surak was misguided and that the Romulan way was the one true way. Romulans have the intellect of a Vulcan but the psionic abilities are latent and untrained. Mental discipline is part of a Romulan training in the military and Tal Shiar and, as such, they can resist Vulcan mind-melds.
Food and the state of the accommodation can also identify the social rank of a Romulan individual. Villas are made to be physical symbols of power and wealth, with many rooms, extra wings and grand gardens to allow the noble Romulan time to walk and admire the beauty of their garden, whilst planning the next move in their ascension. It is a popular misconception that Romulans know nothing but paranoia, they have feelings like a Vulcan but unrestrained. Emotions such as anger, love and betrayal are felt more strongly in a Romulan, without the emotional control.
Romulan women are the subject of much speculation. Unlike Vulcans, who had the emotional controls that have evolved into Ponn Farr, Romulan women embrace their passions and have a regular love life. Certain anatomical differences have been suggested with Romulan women, but the evidence suggests they are no different than Vulcan woman. Romulan women have no issues in rising to all levels of the military and political ladders. Indeed, Romulans have had empresses before in their history. It is commonplace for Romulan commanders and senators to be female.
Alliance and Betrayals is the game of choice for Romulans. The game is a curious mix of Risk and Poker, with three or more players moving tactical pieces over a board with different territory on. All players send secret messages to the other players offering to assist, or to threaten, the other players. The game is won, generally, by two players forging a secret alliance to destroy the third player in an act of betrayal. Masters of the game can also be found to betray their ally in victory as well.
Secrecy and conspiracy are at the (grey) heart of Romulan culture. Even a Romulan's name is secret. A Romulan has three: One for strangers, one for family and one for their true love. Every interaction with another person is like a sparring session of trying to gain as much as possible, without giving anything away. Every conversation is analysed by a Romulan for the angle that the other participants are attempting. Since every grain of truth can be help against you, then as little information as possible is given out and certainly none voluntarily. Romulans assume others are hiding secrets or lying, because they project onto others the way that they themselves think.
Loyalty to the Star Empire is bred into Romulans from childhood. They understand that the Tal Shiar monitor the people as protectors, and conversations overheard by neighbours could be reported back to the secret police. The door knock in the middle of the night is still feared by Romulans. Citizenship is valued by Romulans as a status of their standing. Slavery is part of society as social level zero, with menial tasks performed by slaves and servants. The loss of social status is seen as one of the harshest punishments in Romulan society, beaten only by the loss of citizenship. As far as is known, no non-Romulan has ever been made a citizen.
Family is important to Romulans, with children being seen as the legacy to the family, heirs to the power and status. Upon the death of a family member, Romulans mark or score their faces and bodies to imprint their grief onto their visage, as the tattoos and marks fade so does their grief. Counter to this is the Romulan ideal for perfection in both looks and abilities. Children born with disabilities are euthanized This keeps the family image of a perfect front for status reasons and ensures there is no sign of weakness that can be exploited. Equally by tradition a Romulan unable to reproduce and continue on the family was banned from a political career. To that end castration was seen as worse than death for someone in the Senate; servants and conquered individuals were often castrated to curtail any political aspirations.
Social relationships are careful in Romulan society. Scandals are particularly damaging and can result in the loss of social status. Scheming is a way of life for Romulans, with plans in place as to how to achieve the social rank or position the individual wants. It is only a case of what alliances are to be made or what conspiracies or personal obstacles are to be removed to achieve this. Sexual encounters with the lower classes exists in Romulan society but is scorned on becoming anything more than a casual encounter for the sexual act itself. Pregnancy from such an encounter brings shame and scandal; marriage to a lower class is stopped by the family, such a scandal being unthinkable. Whilst sexual encounters are allowed between multiple people, being promiscuous is seen as a character flaw and a weakness, so such encounters were carried out secretly. Encounters with a non-Romulan are scandalous in the extreme as being seen as tainting the Romulan genome. This is different to sex being used as a weapon to humiliate the receiver.
Roman culture link.
Expansion of the Empire
The Romulan Star Empire is in a constant state of growth, cloaked scout ships explore beyond the borders of Romulan space to discover new worlds with minerals and colonising aspects. The Tal Shiar helps to ‘socially-cleanse’ any nation found to be working in conflict against the Romulan order of things. New races are subjugated as slaves to the Empire with the Tal Shiar being willing to use extreme methods to remove dissenters for world colonising or resources. This extends to genocide.
The Federation neutral zone keeps the Romulan Star Empire in check in the Spinward direction, however expansion Rimward is unhindered. The Klingon Border is officially logged as a war zone, with clashes between warships a not uncommon occurrence.
One recurring question is with the technical prowess of the Romulan Star Empire and the efficiency of their Tal Shiar, why have they not expanded with great efficiency against the Federation and Klingon Empires? The answer comprises partially that the Romulan psyche errs on the side of caution when dealing with an enemy that they cannot confirm the abilities of. Having worked with the Federation against the Metar and Interstellar Concordium, they got a firsthand view of the technical and scientific abilities of the Federation up close.
Romulan military and intelligence agencies have been directed against the Klingon Empire, not least of which because the Klingons have chosen to act upon their dislike of the Romulans. The interference in succession of power in 2292 was sufficient to have a blood feud declared against the Romulan people. Skirmishes along the border have been commonplace since the declaration. Superior Romulan cloaking and cloaking detection systems have prevented any significant encroachment into Romulan territory.
Notes by Star Trek: Picard season one showrunner, Michael Chabon, on the Romulans:
Condensed from various SI (Starfleet Intelligence) analyses, accuracy unknown.
Two Romulans, goes an old Romulan proverb, three conspiracies. As Vulcan culture is rooted in logic, and Klingon in honor, the foundation of Romulan society is secrecy.
Their culture is an endless series of variations on themes of concealment, the covert, the hidden: masks, pseudonyms, conspiracies, layers of deception, cover stories.
Traditional Romulan compounds — Romulans live in kinship units — are built at the center of a kind of hedge maze whose outer perimeter is often contrived to look like a “natural” grove of trees, as if, within, there were no houses at all. Once you reach the house itself, you find a false “front entrance”; all Romulan houses are entered from the back. Even in big cities, modern housing megastructures have false front entrances, and are surrounded by some kind of token or symbolic maze, often a pattern in the paving stones. No visitor to a Romulan compound must ever arrive uninvited — it’s unheard of — and all visitors are asked to don a ceremonial blindfold (often of the ?nest materials) and are guided by their hosts into the compound, after being turned around the ritual three times. It is the height of rudeness to ask a Romulan for his address. It’s rude to ask a Romulan almost anything remotely personal.
A Romulan’s sense of privacy and secrecy is so powerful that a routine (to us) polite inquiry such as What have you been up to today? or How are you? is an indication of long acquaintance, deep connection. Even then, the answer is often a variation on None of your business. The customary Romulan greeting translates as I see nothing [improper] to which the customary reply is Nothing to see.
Romulan government is conducted and organized like a vast espionage network; broken into countless independent cells, none of which is ever fully aware of the other’s exact role or duties, each suspicious of all the others; only at the very highest levels is there anything like a sense of the complete picture, the overall plan. And the highest levels are notoriously subject to intrigue, plotting, coups and rivalries.
The highest Romulan art form is classical Romulan drama, a kind of elaborate theater of impersonation, in which actors wear intricately constructed layered masks; in the course of the dramas — which almost always deal with legendary acts of deception, treachery and conspiracy—the performers remove the layers, one by one, altering their voices and body movements accordingly. The mask worn by the tragic hero or heroine always has more layers than anyone else’s, and the play ends with the “last unmasking,” revealing the “true nature” of the character in its naked pathos?—?but of course that layer is just another mask.
Legend holds that the basis of Romulans’ fixation on deception and the hiding of secrets is the unusually high proportion of mimetic (camouflage-using) native animals and plants that the first settlers of Romulus found on arrival, snakes that look like lowering vines, flowers like lizards, mammals that alter their coloration according to patterns in light falling on them. Best known of these to outsiders, of course, is the so-called “warbird” after which Romulans have long patterned their military starships. The plumage of this raptor has unique optical properties that mimic the wavelength of ambient light, causing the birds to “disappear” against a clear blue sky, a phenomenon that is said to have inspired the most celebrated, and most Romulan, of all Romulan technologies: the cloaking device.
Of course, that could just be a classic Romulan “cover story.” Romulans are addicted to cover stories.
Another widely known, and widely feared, Romulan institution is the Tal Shiar, often referred to as the Romulan “secret police.” But there is no complete picture of who the Tal Shiar are, or what their function in society really is. First of all, when you’re talking about Romulans, the “secret” part is redundant. All Romulan police are “secret police.” Informing, among Romulans, is considered not merely a virtue but an art form—it takes great skill to gather any kind of useful information about a Romulan, because they are so secretive, and anyone who can do it well enough to share it with police is considered particularly astute. And any police force that did not attempt to closely monitor the activities of citizens would be unworthy of respect among Romulans, who know exactly how much deviousness lurks in their own hearts. But there is ample evidence that the Tal Shiar are something more akin to an elite warrior corps, like the Green Berets or Death’s Head SS, than an instrument of state terror and control. They may be both; they may be something more, besides. It’s entirely possible, given the structure of Romulan government, that not even the Tal Shiar are completely aware of the full extent of their mission or purpose.
At birth, every Romulan is given four names: a name known only within the family; a “common” name employed in the Children’s Houses, for religious rituals, and for certain other traditional institutions; an “imperial name” with which the individual is identified by the state; and an “open name”, the name that the Romulan gives to outsiders. Romulans change their open names at will, often making use of three, four or five at a time, in different social contexts. Then there is the “true name,” used only at moments of deep intimacy.
In this culture of deceit and concealment, trust is the ultimate bond, the equivalent to love in human culture. Romulan intimacy and erotics are centered around exchanges of truths, revealing of secrets, and the ultimate commitment of revealing your “inmost name” to the other. The term for the Romulan wedding ceremony roughly translates as “A Terror and a Name,” a profoundly secretive ceremony (no guests are invited), in which each of the three (yes) partners reveals their inmost name and deepest fear to the other two. Romulan “marriages” (the word translates as “trust bond”) are always threesomes (in any con?guration of genders) because at every moment each partner in the marriage serves as Verificator to the other two (in Romulan the verb “to verify” is related to verbs meaning. “to police” and “to monitor”), verifying the trust bond of the two others, who are known by a Romulan word that literally translates as “conspirators.” In practice the threesome may or may not cohabit/reproduce—there is great variability here. (One interesting feature of Romulan culture is that a society so stratifed, hierarchical, and rule-oriented—there are reports that there may be as many as 114 castes—permits individual Romulans a considerable amount of flexibility and liberty in many social matters, such as sexual orientation, gender fluidity, etc.) There is no concept of adultery—Romulans may have many sexual partners outside of the “trust bond”; the great sin, in higher castes punishable by death, is the betrayal of a partner’s inmost name and/or secret Terror. Marrying outside your caste is also forbidden by custom and even marrying outside of your kinship network is frowned upon and socially unacceptable.
Each threesome forms part of a kinship network (of adults, Romulan children being raised communally by professionals in the Children’s Houses, where their parentage is kept secret from them until the “unclouding” ceremony at age 13). The kinship networks are known by a word that translates roughly as “a trust penumbra”—the shadow of trust cast by the bonded partners onto their nearest kin. In principle these interlinked penumbras may include as many as two hundred related individuals, but the Romulan penchant for plotting, subterfuge and deception, even in a family context, often leads to formal schisms that reduce the size of the unit?—?usually legally, sometimes fatally. Essentially, families may legally divorce each other.
It is this fundamental mistrust of outsiders—originally, anyone outside the trust penumbra — that has led to the Romulans’ depiction as “isolationist,” and to the long periods of silence and withdrawal from interstellar contact that have marked recent Romulan history.
Romulan religion was once a pantheistic form of spirit-and-nature worship, but the original belief system has long since been superseded and incorporated into the cult of the Imperial Family, each of whose seven members (Father-Emperor, Mother-Empress, Grandmother, Grandfather, Son, Daughter, and Demon Child) has a ritualistic seven names. The Imperial Family always has seven ritual members, regardless of how many actual biological members it may contain; there is frequent competition (and, of course, plotting and conspiring) within Imperial families to acquire the ritual roles. Each of the Seven is believed to embody and watch over a different aspect of society, and they are worshipped as gods. Some claim, however, that this “emperor worship” religion is yet another Romulan cover story, intended to conceal the true Romulan religion. Or they say that it conceals the fact that Romulans have no religious beliefs at all, or that each Romulan is expected to find their own beliefs — or doubts — on their own.
Then, utterly apart from the Romulan mainstream, but every bit as traditional and ancient as the maze-enclosed compounds, complicated kinship networks, and Verificator-Conspirator marriage structure, there is the Order of Qowat Milat. As far as we know, this all-female order of warrior initiates dates from a period early in the history of Romulus. It may even predate the arrival on Romulus; some have argued that it grew out of the ancient monastic orders of Vulcan that predate Surak and the rise of his teachings on that planet.
The central tenet of Qowat Milat teaching is a kind of radical inversion of mainstream Romulan belief. Among Romulans, the true, innermost self, with its secret name, is something to be concealed behind masks, hedges, deceits and barriers. Revealing that private self is the ultimate intimacy, and an ecstatic act. Among the sisterhood of the Qowat Milat, however, that “innermost self” is held to be an illusion, or a delusion, the ultimate deception: there is no innermost self. There is always, as in the classical drama, one more mask under the mask. The Qowat Milat adept is taught to meditate on that infinity of masks, to contemplate the void at the heart of the so-called “self”, and to realize that, ultimately, there is nothing to hide. Qowat Milat nuns speak bluntly, declare their intentions openly, advertise their feelings. They do not suffer fools, never hold their tongues; they have, deliberately, no later. They scorn guile, repudiate deception and avoid all alliances, even ones that might serve their needs (or save their lives), lest they fall inadvertently into conspiracy. They discard all names but a single open name that they choose by throwing of divinatory “name dice.” Their delity to any sworn oath is legendary.
Naturally this radical, even heretical behavior puts them very much at odds with the rest of Romulan society. They endured centuries of persecution, which is what led them, in time, to become such fearsome fighters. Scorning defense as a form of concealment, a Qowat Milat always prefers to attack—but never by ambush or sneak attack; they always declare their hostile intentions openly. Their skill, knowledge of weapons, immense physical strength, durability, and ferocity when not in contemplative mode are so considerable that they have gained great power and influence in Romulan society; power and influence which mainstream Romulans, of course, keep secret, deny, and minimize. It is whispered, however, that no one becomes Romulan praetor without the approval of the Qowat Milat, and furthermore that the Romulan Empress is always drawn from, or trained by, the Qowat Milat sisters. Fierce, brash, forthright, they wear their hearts on their sleeves, hold nothing back, and always call a spade a spade. In short, there could be no stronger ally than a Qowat Milat sister: unless, of course, your mission actually requires you to engage in subterfuge and deception.
And unless, of course—as some insist—the entire structure of Qowat Milat doctrine, belief and behavior is itself a giant act of deceit, concealing some deeper teaching, some hidden purpose known only to its adherents who may be, in the end, the most Romulan of all Romulans.
The Six Pillars of Romulus
1.01 - The Glory of Romulus - Pilot episode that deals with Romulus at its height in the 2290s, prior to the destruction by the explosion of Hobus.