"The word 'pope' comes from the Latin papa, which of course, means 'father.' To understand the cultural world of Romanitas, which deeply undergirds papal theory and assumptions about reality, we must understand about father is the concept of paterfamilias...
"One of the most important things to understand here is the concept of 'power,' or potestas. 'Power,' like the related concept of imperium which we will cover in a future post, signified for the Ancient Romans 'force, strength, and ability to rule.' In the Ancient world, power to rule was wielded most often by males, and so, profoundly alive to legal and practical realities, the Romans described the paterfamilias--the father, the head of the house--as possessing patria potestas, or, "fatherly power."
Tim continues his excellent study by delineating the scope of "nearly absolute power" Roman fathers exercised over their households.
Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather films have always struck me as a portrayal of ancient family practice clashing with the realities of modern social life. Certainly, Coppola and author Mario Puzo intended to show the destructive psychological and social costs of the old ways. It's almost as they are saying that the full attempt to exercise fatherhood--classically understood--necessarily leads to criminality.
We would do well to remember this when we observe legislators systematically and incrementally framing laws to outlaw corporal punishment in the home. It seems to be the natural tendency and goal of the modern state to utterly abolish patria potestas. For, Leviathan will brook no competitors to its bid for absolute power.