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Romney is “Javelin,” Santorum is “Rock”

Romney is “Javelin,” Santorum is “Rock”

“Javelin” is the Secret Service code name that Mitt Romney has chosen for himself. Rick Santorum has selected “Petrus” which is the Latin version of the Greek Πέτρος, which means “rock.” Petrus is also a Latin version of the name Peter, as in Saint Peter — the first Pope — to whom Jesus said “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18).

Since GQ first reported the code names, there has been some speculation as to their choices. As Marc Ambinder writes on GQ, “the only real rule the Service has is that the word chosen be comprehensible over the radio and not be similar to someone’s else’s,” hence the preference for code names with two or three distinct syllables (President Obama is “Renegade”; Michelle Obama, “Renassiance”; Karenna Gore, “Smurfette”).

Santorum says (according to Fox News) that he chose “Petrus” because his Italian grandfather’s name was Pietro and because of, well, what Jesus said to Peter. This would suggest that Santorum is comparing/equating/somewhat seeing himself as in the same position as Peter which does seem a bit presumptive on his part. But perhaps, when it comes to names, such references are unavoidable given that Santorum’s last name is derived from sanctus, the Latin word for “saint” and “sacred”; “Santorum” is specifically from sanctorum, the masculine genitive plural of sanctus (sorry, I am a Greek and Latin teacher) and therefore “possibly connected to someone acting as a saint, or who has connection with religious things (a sacristan),” according to one site on Italian geneology.

The popular media seems more nonplussed about Romney as “Javelin.” GQ suggests that the word could be a “reference to the ’60s muscle car made by American Motors Corporation, the company once run by George Romney.” The New Yorker, though, wonders “why would [Romney] symbolically portray himself as an object that goes wherever others throw it, with no motoring mind of its own and a tendency to shift direction in a strong wind?” and suggests that he may be seeking to invoke the spirit of JFK (code name: “Lancer”).

Feeling myself quite unable to enter into the thinking processes of other Republican contender, I have (perhaps a bit influenced by the classical/early Christian references in Santorum’s “Petrus”) been wondering if “Javelin” might have appealed to Romney for its connections to ancient culture and, specifically, ancient Roman weaponry. A javelin was part of the gear of a Roman legionary. Pilum is one Latin word for javelin (another is iaculum); the University of Nevada-Las Vegas notes that a pilum was “seven feet long and very light, as it was thrown before just prior to engaging the enemy in melee, to disarm as much as wound them,” with the weapon’s top three feet being made of “iron with a hardened point.” A Roman soldier sometimes had two of these amid the 66 to 100 pounds of equipment he carried. As the pilum “bends on impact“ it was “hard to pull out of a wound or shield and impossible to reuse by the enemy.”

In other words, if your enemy — opponent — gets, ah, impaled by your javelin, you’ve got him (though you are minus a javelin).

Moreover, javelin throwing has been an athletic event since the time of the ancient Olympics in Greece.

No idea if Romney had any of this in mind in choosing his code name, of course. Though when it comes to weaponry, a seven-foot-long spear topped with an iron point does seem to be a bit more to contend with than … a rock.

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Photo of an ancient Roman javelin by Wolfgang Sauber via Wikimedia Commons

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14 comments

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8:32PM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Romney is the penis and Santorum is the anus and then they switch

2:35PM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Does this mean that Gingrich was given a code name, too---but he's too embarrassed to be called "Philanderer"?

1:32PM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Poor is the man who's pleasures depend on the permission of another. Thanks Miss "M" and hope you are somewhere behind the scenes.

1:10PM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

I disagree, rocks are way more intelligent than Santorum.

9:39AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

As long as we're engaged in fanciful imaginings, I picture Kristina Chew engaged in a cat fight with Pieklo and Marty over codename, Alinsky. To her credit, I don't see Kristina winning. Alinsky, of course, would have chosen, Lucifer.

9:35AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

"...a seven-foot-long spear topped with an iron point does seem to be a bit more to contend with than … a rock."

Except, Kristina, if you believe the story of little David
with his slingshot against Goliath.

9:25AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Compared to inanimate objects; interesting.

9:23AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Are you sure Santorum's last name equates to "saint" or "sacred", or could it be sanctimonious or sanitarium?

7:59AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

"Rock".........as in upon this rock I will found my church? It's not my intent to offend Catholics but IMO the "beast" spoken of in the book of Revelations is the Pope. While most Protestants claim to cling to the bible...are they actually wandering after the beast? According to the Bible God's law won't change one jot or tittle. What is this "mark of the beast?" What "is this MARK of his power?" IMO it is the Papacy. My claim is is backed by the admission of the power itself. What do Roman Catholics say is the is the mark of their ecclesiastical authority with regard to religious matters? They say "Sunday is OUR MARK OF AUTHORITY...the Church is ABOVE the Bible, and this transference of observance of Sabbath observance is PROOF OF THAT FACT. ("Catholic Record", London, Ontario, Sept.1, 1923. Again, in "The Catholic Church Mirror," September, Sept. 23, 1893, 1.29: "The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the evidence of a protestant...CHANGED THE DAY FROM SATURDAY TO SUNDAY...the Christian Sabbath (Sunday) is therefore to this day the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic church...without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world. " While I understand why Catholics believe as they do...why do so many Protestants make excuses and blindly follow?

6:47AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

I would suggest that "Javelin" has more to do with...um...whatever long, hard object a man can hold in his hand that you can think of.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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