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Old December 24th, 2017, 02:59 AM   #1

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First Man in Rome, can I use it?


Everyone knows First Man in Rome was the title of a wonderful work of Colleen McCullough's. As a favor to a friend (I'm too old to move furniture anymore), I agreed to read a screenplay written by his son. Pretty good too. Mid Third Act I came across dialog featuring two minor characters. It stopped me. One used this very term. It flowed off his tongue but still it stopped me. Not because it was out of place, no, rather because it was perfectly placed.

I looked it up on the net but could not find other than Ms. McCullough's coin.

I wondered if, generally speaking, anyone now using this phrase, if, indeed, she coined it, might offend or compliment her. I'm sure it's legal, yet... what does she, what do you, as Historians or students of history feel about it?

I did come across the term 'Freedom of the City' (apparently in use back then but bestowed primarily, if not exclusively, upon military entities) which may have fit well enough in my friend's son's dialog but, either way, it's no way near as good.

It's such a perfect phrase, 'First Man in Rome.' If it weren't in use, she nailed it, it certainly should have been. It's perfect, like "sexual harassment" (Lin Farley claims this one).

So, is it the World's now?

Is it "lexiconic?"

Last edited by DeadCorn; December 24th, 2017 at 03:02 AM.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 03:31 AM   #2

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McCullough simply paraphrased the Latin, primus inter pares, for the title of her book.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primus_inter_pares

Last edited by Dan Howard; December 24th, 2017 at 04:44 AM.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 04:03 AM   #3
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Unless you were going to give your book the same title then no problem. If it bothers you, why not just use First Man of Rome, or simply First Man or First Father?
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Old December 24th, 2017, 06:38 AM   #4

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I would suggest changing it from "first man in Rome" to "first man of Rome". Close enough for some to recognize the McCullough title, but perhaps a more likely sort of phrase during the early Empire ... esp. Octavian.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 06:54 AM   #5

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Titles can not be copyrighted.
I once ordered Three Men on Third by H. Alan Smith from Amazon. I imagine the order picker was in a rush. What they sent me was Three Men on Third by Carl Sifakis. Both about oddities in baseball.

Another title with a baseball theme is Three Men on Third by Gene Olson. Havenīt read it but I believe it is about a wacky baseball team.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 10:10 PM   #6

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Thank you all.
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