Public officials are often in a position where they can do favours with their official powers without abrogating the responsibilities of their posts. Often an officer or magistrate is allowed discretion in appointing an assistant: he has the privilege of appointing whomever he wishes to work with. At other times the official will be making an appointment or letting a contract for the good of the state, but there will be more than one suitable applicant or tenderer. In such circumstances it is accepted by the Gehennese as proper for him to do or return favours for his friends within the bounds set by the interests of the state.

Public office and private circumstance which give him who enjoys them opportunities thus to act as patron to others are, therefore, highly prized. Weaker politicians often squander their opportunities by favouring relatives of no account, but the astute accumulate influence by patronising young men of talent and the protégés of powerful acquaintances, and do favours, direct or oblique, for men who will be able to make returns in kind.

Public affairs in Gehennum, especially in the Classical Period, are therefore enmeshed in a vast web of political favours, which are bartered, returned, invested, and exchanged, sometimes through intermediaries. This is neither a matter of secrecy nor a matter of explicit discussion: it is the water in which the political fish swim.

Not all patronage need be founded on the exercise of public authority. Craftsmen can exercise patronage in their choice of apprentices, important men in their choice of private secretaries, landowners in their letting of leases, and so forth. Patronage from different sources can be interchangeable, exchangeable. A landowner might repay a political favour with a lease. A craftsman might repay his son appointment as hypolokhagos/ with an apprenticeship for the benefactor’s nephew.

Patronage becomes in effect a sort of currency, and certain figures emerge as brokers of it: always worth doing favours for, always able to contrive some sort of opportunity. This is the definition of the influence.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.