Monarchy has a divine origin.
Beings of innate or acquired superiority over the human condition embody the presence of a power from above within the temporal world and by that fact characterize traditional civilization. The pontifex is one of these beings, in its original sense as a builder of bridges (i.e. bridging the gap between heaven and earth).
The Latin word pontifex denotes a type of head priest. Moreover, this figure was traditionally also invested with temporal power as king or chief.
The authority and right of rulers were founded on their transcended and nonhuman quality, i.e., on the fact that they participated in a higher plane by virtue of their blood or office. Authority was not based on strength, violence, intelligence, wisdom, courage, etc., but was metaphysical in character (although these factors did play a role).
The notion that the legitimacy of power is only based on the consent of the governed and even granted by them, is foreign to any traditional civilization. That the ruler should derive his power from below (a basic tenet of democracy) is an inversion of tradition. All legitimate authority is based on spiritual authority and derives from above.
“According to an Indo-European view, the ruler is nog “a mere mortal,” but rather “a great deity standing in the form of man.” The Egyptian pharaoh was believed to the manifestation of Ra or of Horus. The kings of Alba and Rome were supposed to be the incarnation of Zeus; the Assyrian kings, of Baal; the Persian shahs, of the god of light. The Nordic-Germanic princes were believed to derive from the race of Tiuz, of Odin, and of the Aesir; and the Greek kings of the Doric-Achaean cycle were called διοτρεψέες or δίογενέες in reference to their divine origin.” 1Evola, Revolt against the Modern World, – p. 8
The monarch was the center and apex of society; he was the earthly manifestation of heavenly authority. In order to conform temporal society to the celestial hierarchy, royal rulership was a necessity. In this way, the hierarchical pyramid of society is a symbol of, and participates in, the hierarchical pyramid of the cosmos. Thus this divine rulership is the supreme form of government and is the natural order of things.
In a spiritually aligned society, this type of divine royalty needs no violence or material strength to assert itself, but derives all legitimacy from above, cf. the divine right of kings, mandate of heaven, etc.
Monarchy is intimately connected with solar symbolism. As symbols of superior nature, the sun and light show the same glory and victory as the king (i.e. overcoming darkness). Moreover, the monarch embodies these metaphysical realities in a real way. As the personification of the Divine in the kingdom, the king stands in the center and society revolves around him. He is an image of the axis of being around which the world of becoming rotates.
“In general, the fact that the king’s or chief’s primary and essential function consisted in performing those ritual and sacrificial actions that constituted the center of gravity of life is a recurrent idea in a vast cycle of traditional civilizations, from pre-Columbian Peru to the Far East, and including Greek and Roman cities. This idea confirms the inseparability of royal office from priestly or pontifical office.” 2Evola, ibid. – p. 11-12
Even though there were separate castes of priests and warriors, the king effectively functioned as both and was the head of both castes.
Notwithstanding the royal divinity, or perhaps because of it, an inauspicious event or misfortune could be understood as a sign that the royal divine power and right was lessened or was no longer in operation due to something the monarch had done in his capacity as a mortal (thus blocking the divine force in some way).
The monarch was requierd to retain the symbolic and solar dignity of Invictus (sol Invictus, ἥλιος ανίκητος), as well as the state of inner equilibrium that corresponded to the Chinese notion of “immutability of the middle”; otherwise the force and its prerogatives would be transferred to another person who could prove worthy of it.3Evola, ibid. – p. 13
Especially in China, calamities and misfortunes in the realm were seen as sure signs the Emperor (Son of Heaven – 天子) had lost the Mandate of Heaven (天命).
Victory as proof of royalty
Evola mentions the saga of the Rex Nemorensis, an ancient priestly function near Lake Nemi (near Rome) associated with the worship of Diana. According to the tradition, the priest-king of the sacred grove could hold his office only for as long as he could defeat all challengers. If a challenger was victorious and managed to slay the previous occupant, he became the new holder of the royal and priestly office. Thus here as well, victory is proof of the legitimacy of office. This is obviously an ancient tradition, as even Roman authors regarded it as quaint in their time. The tale is usually associated with the work of James George Frazer, who built his theory around it.
Two interesting facts illustrate the symbolic character of this tradition. The first is that the challenger could only be a fugitive slave, and the second is that he was only allowed to be armed with a branch torn off a sacred oak. A fugitive slave symbolizes a being broken free of his lower bonds, and the branch broken off the symbolic World Tree, associated with “primordial life-force and the power of victory.”4Evola, ibid. – p. 13
There is a traditional symbolic connection between trees and goddesses, cf. the myths of the Hesperides, Idun, and Magh-Mell. The goddess Diana was seen as the ‘bride’ of the Rex Nemorensis, i.e. King of the Woods.5Latin nemus, Gaulish nemeton, for ‘sacred grove’
Concerning the Rex Nemorensis, we can recognize in the symbols employed that the notion of kingship derives from having married or possessed the mystical force of “life,” of transcendent wisdom and immortality that is personified both by the goddess and by the tree. Nemi’s saga, therefore, incorporates the general symbol, which is found in many other myths and traditional legends, of a winner or of a hero who possesses a woman or goddess. The goddess appears in other traditions either as a guardian of the fruits of immortality (see the female figures in relation to the symbolical tree in the myths of Heracles, Jason, Gilgamesh, and so on), or as a personification of the occult force of the world, of life and of nonhuman knowledge, or as the embodiment of the principle of sovereignty (the knight or the unknown here of the legend, who becomes king after taking as his bride a mysterious princess).6Evola, ibid. – p. 14
This is the meaning of many ancient traditions about a female source of royal power, but which are usually twisted by modern feminists and academics to support matriarchy or gynaecocracy. In reality, the goddess signifies in this context the supernatural nature or force, that the king possesses through his victory or virtue and which is “inseperably connected with the traditional idea of real and legitimate kingship.”
- 1Evola, Revolt against the Modern World, – p. 8
- 2Evola, ibid. – p. 11-12
- 3Evola, ibid. – p. 13
- 4Evola, ibid. – p. 13
- 5Latin nemus, Gaulish nemeton, for ‘sacred grove’
- 6Evola, ibid. – p. 14