lthough each region has its own cultural nuances, ideas have spread over time to all parts of Ilium. The following is the generalized culture of the Empire.
The chief forms of prejudice in Ilium come in the form of classism, ableism, genderism, xenophobia, and ageism. They appear in varying degrees; for example, classism is prominent everywhere but is particularly evident in Lucenna due to the wealth gap.
“Honor” is a concept to illustrate how trustworthy and moral someone is. To be honorable is to be dutiful, devout, respectful, honest, dependable, trustworthy, and loyal. Turncloaks and oathbreakers (i.e. traitors and promise-breakers) are seen as highly untrustworthy. Many nobles are touchy about their honor, which may sometimes result in duels and other dramatic displays.
House & Family
In Ilium, the concept of family is vital to survival. A person's house impacts their reputation, and vice versa: if a house member does something particularly scandalous, it can reflect badly on their family members.
Hygiene & Appearance
People in Ilium have high standards of hygiene, especially nobles. Most people take baths a few times a week or even daily. Bath houses, sewage, and running water are available in major cities. The water is safe to drink due to purification and filtration systems. First impressions are important, so many nobles go to great lengths to be stylish. They brush their teeth and chew herbs to avoid bad breath.
Gender is not used to subjugate; men and women are respected by the other and are seen as equally important. Physical and sexual assault is much less common as a result. However, gender roles are still very restrictive, and are harmful to both men and women. Fighting and knighthood is stressed for men while education and management is stressed for women. As a result, knights are usually male and scholars are usually female.
Becaise the Faith revolves around one god and goddess, many Ilians believe that there are only two genders, male and female. Nonbinary individuals, or those who do not agree with the male or female role they were assigned at birth, experience prejudice if they stray too far from conformity (though a transgender person may have less difficulties if they choose to be stereotypically male/female).
Nobles in Ilium highly value manners and propriety; though scandal is common, it's usually kept under wraps. Family is extremely important and even though relationships may be strained, families tend to support each other against outsiders. Many nobles attend court, which is an excellent way to meet people, earn (or lose) money, forge alliances, and participate in events.
Most long-distance communication is sent via bird, ship, horseback, or foot. In recent years, shadowhide was invented by scholars; it is parchment made from shadowcat skin. Anything written on a piece of shadowhide will appear on other pieces of parchment made from the same skin, regardless of distance. Shadowhide appears to be normal parchment but has a slight sheen and feels very smooth and velvety. It is both rare and expensive, and it is a restricted material that mostly highborns and very rich people use.
READING, WRITING, & LANGUAGE
There are various languages and languages all over Ilium, although most nobles learn Crownstongue or Ilian, the “common” and official language of the Empire, and usually multiple languages besides. Due to the introduction of the printing press, books are more widespread than they once were, but they are still fairly expensive and take a while to produce. The population is growing in literacy, but it’s still uncommon for non-nobles to read and write. Spelling and grammar is not entirely standardized, so written items will often contain words randomly capitalized or spelled in a creative manner.
Naming & Appellative Laws. Ilian nobles traditionally name children with the language of their birth house, which ties them to the land and cultural heritage of that family. Aside from the first name, however, most nobles have a habit of giving their children multiple middle names in multiple languages. Middle names are often used to acknowledge ancestors, family members, and close friends, and are also seen as a mark of class. Commoners rarely have middle names while royalty may have dozens, and the number of middle names a person of certain rank may have is limited by appellative laws.
As of the year 256 IA, it became illegal to give children a first name from languages that are not traditionally spoken in their place of origin. This was enacted first in Persad due to a high volume of Persadian children being given Lucenni names as a fad, causing House Rana to take concern with preserving cultural identity. It was later adopted across the empire. Thus, if a child is found to have a first name from a language foreign to their origin, the parents are fined and a new name is chosen. For this reason it is not uncommon for parents to take names used in other parts of the Empire and then adapt them to the conventions, spelling, and pronunciation of their own language as a way to circumvent the law.
Crownstongue. Crownstongue evolved from an ancient civilization which was present before Ilium, which originated in Nejemese territory and spread into Lucenna. At the time the empire was formed, it was well past its might; however, its influence remains to this day. This civilization and its language are comparable to ancient Greece. It has gradually evolved into what we consider medieval (Byzantine) Greek, and also incorporates linguistic characteristics from various parts of the Empire. For example, terms for sailing and shipbuilding are often taken from Persadian dialects.
RELIGION & SUPERSTITION
The most common religion is known as Stateraes, also nicknamed the Faith. Base superstitions are seen as foolish by the nobility, though are common elsewhere. The closer to court or more highborn a noble is, the more likely they are to scorn superstitious practices.
Sex is seen as a natural part of life. It is common for nobles in arranged marriages to have extramarital affairs, which are seen as dishonorable but oftentimes ignored based on the circumstances. Affairs are seen as worse in marriages made for love. It is, however, unacceptable to pass off a bastard as an heir.
Age of Consent. The age of majority is 18, though the unofficial age of consent is 15 or 16. It is not uncommon for younger people to have sex with each other, but large age gaps are heavily judged.
Virginity. Although someone who has not yet had sex might endure teasing, Ilians do not believe that having sex is impure, or that "losing" your virginity will change anything about a person. However, sex can be seen as an indication of experience and maturity; most people have sex before marriage. Ilians believe that someone has not truly had sex until they experience orgasm.
Contraception. Moon tea can be taken by women once a month to control the menstrual cycle and prevent or terminate pregnancy; in recent years it has become safer to use for long periods of time. Sun tea, the men’s equivalent, must be taken weekly. Condoms made from animal intestines may be used, but are less reliable. Termination of pregnancy is not seen as wrong unless the fetus is very developed, and rarely occurs after the womb has quickened (the mother feels movement).
Sexual orientation. Diverse sexualities are normal and not frowned upon in Ilium and a marriage may take place between people of any genders. However, regardless of sexuality, some nobles are expected to marry someone who will allow them to produce legitimate heirs. In such situations it is common to have affairs. Same-sex affairs are more socially accepted because they cannot produce bastards, although the participants might still be judged for unfaithfulness.
Nudity. The naked body is seen as natural and is not inherently scandalous or dirty, but appearing without clothes is a sign of lower rank. In any situation where it's acceptable for men to be shirtless, women may be shirtless as well without attracting unwanted attention (though they may use breastbands for comfort in physical activities). However, different body parts regardless of gender are seen as more erotic than others, depending on the region, and should not be exposed in polite company.
Sexual assault. Rape is not only illegal in the Empire, but it is seen as sacrilege within the Faith. The punishment is highly severe and usually consists of branding and castration (or loss of some other body part).
Knowledge of the human body is accurate, though limited. Ilians associate cleanliness and pleasant fragrance with health – accurate in many cases, but sometimes harmful. Healers are widespread, and educated doctors, full-fledged medical scholars who have attend university, are known as physicians. While many diseases have no cure, broken bones and other serious injuries can be fully healed with proper care by a medical professional. Antibiotic equivalents, harvested from mythical creatures, are uncommon but possible to acquire.
MAGIC & WITCHCRAFT
Magic is viewed as a sign of power and connection to the divine. Some people may fear it, but nobody is burned at the stake for being a witch. It is not uncommon to find people who claim to have minor magical abilities, such as healers, fortune tellers, con artists, etc. Please read the magic page for more information.
Drinking is very, very common among all classes, but only the rich can afford the best. Beer, ale, cider, wine, and other types of alcoholic drinks are all consumed on a daily basis by most people. However, most of these drinks have a low alcohol content, and it may take a while to become truly drunk. Drinking itself is not frowned upon and has no minimum age, although addicts and drunkards are scorned.
The guest right is an ancient tradition of both commoners and nobles, invoked when a guest first eats or drinks food offered by a host. It is meant to forge trust and prevent harm. It may be symbolically broken by giving a guest parting gifts, and a bared weapon is considered a refusal of the right. To break the guest right is considered a serious breach of honor which is offensive to even the gods.
CURRENCY & COMMERCE
The base unit of currency is called a bronze round. Broken coins, called halfmoons, are worth half the value of the original. Bartering and bribery are also common.
Base unit. A fresh loaf of bread may be worth 5, and a night at an inn 15
A court gown may be worth 5 or more. 1 S = 100 R
A set of plate armor is 2, a noble’s riding horse is 5, and a trained war horse is 20. 1 C = 20 S = 2000 R
Ilium does not have a standing army. Able-bodied men are expected to have some martial ability and/or be willing to fight when called to do so. When troops are required, such as defending the empire's borders, they may be levied from different parts of the empire and trained if necessary. Some nobles keep small fighting forces on hand if they are often under threat of attack.
While incest within the immediate family is taboo, branches of family trees marrying each other is not unusual. First cousins often end up marrying whether for romantic or political reasons, particularly among the nobility.
DEATH & LEGACY
See the page on religion for more details about about death and the afterlife as they relate to religion. Most funerary practices involve cremation; burial is uncommon because Ilians believe that a heart left in a decomposing body will trap the soul. Across Ilium, white is worn as the mourning color, which symbolizes piety and humility since it is less expensive than darker fabrics. Being remembered after death and leaving a legacy is an enormous value in Ilian culture; thus, it is important that both ancestors and the recently deceased be paid homage. The methods of doing so vary widely by region but usually incorporate shrines, historical records, prayers, and/or offerings.