Authority is a position where one or many people have power over others. Authority is mainly used to refer to government, which rules over a country or institutions with political power. However, the highest authority is God, who is sovereign over all things and gives government its authority.
The word comes from the Latin auctoritas, meaning (commanding) authority. Auctoritas is moral and social impact, what we call a "commanding presence", which is more than mere celebrity. Involving more persuasion than good advice but slightly less compelling than official commands, decrees, laws or military orders, it represents a powerful moral, social, cultural, even spiritual influence that is consequential, and therefore difficult to dismiss or ignore. In ancient Rome, auctoritas referred to the general level of prestige a person had in Roman society, and, as a consequence, the power to influence others, especially because of one's commanding manner or recognized expertise and knowledge about something, with ability to rally support around one's will. It could be either benevolent or malevolent. Auctoritas was not merely political, but had a mysteriously awe-inspiring quality that could actually be felt, the "power of command" of heroic Roman figures. There were influential women in Roman society too who had auctoritas. For example, the wives, sisters, and mothers of the Julio-Claudians had immense influence on society, the masses, and the political machine.
See the following external links:
- Meaning of Auctoritas Encyclo-co uk English encyclopedia (encyclo.co.uk)
- Auctoritas - NovaRoma (novaroma.org)
- Patron Augustus—Client Rome Article by Sondra Steinbrenner (roman-empire.net) This well-researched article is an extensive, detailed description of the manipulation of pietas (piety) and the use of auctoritas (influence), two values revered in Roman society, citing examples from documented historical facts and events.