The legal term ultra virēs literally means "beyond their powers"; it refers to, say, a government official trying to make a law they don't have the authority to make (making that law is "beyond their powers").

I recently saw it used in conversation to mean "without permission" in a more casual sense, like saying students can't submit assignments late without permission. I can see the connection—permission to submit an assignment late is an authorization to do something, which could fall under virēs. But it does strike me as a somewhat odd use of the phrase.

Is this a valid use of ultra virēs, as in, one that would be idiomatic at some stage of the language? If not, what would be a better way to refer to the less formal permission a student gets from a professor? I'm vaguely recalling some idiom involving numen, or some other word for "nod", but not with enough specificity to look it up.

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    As a result of this, I'm also curious whether virēs makes a good translation for "permissions" in the technical sense, like an account having the right permissions to make files, or a StackExchange user having access to close votes. But that's a separate question.
    – Draconis
    May 31, 2023 at 1:39
  • What about "absque permissu"? Absque can be used like a juridic formula to express "without.
    – user11898
    May 31, 2023 at 1:49
  • @ManuelCauãRebouças It's post-classical, but you do get that exact phrase a couple times, once in Justinian's Code and once in Bede. Sine permissu is much better attested, even if still rather late (middle 2nd century CE in Gaius' Institutiones).
    – cmw
    May 31, 2023 at 2:36
  • @Draconis: There is a linkage between "beyond one's powers" & "without permission". He who lacks the power/ authority, to do this-or-that, may also lack the permission from his bosses/ his electorate. I've seen translations in which the translator has pushed the barriers of credulity to breaking point. At least this one has a logical sequence to it.
    – tony
    May 31, 2023 at 8:25
  • @tony Yeah, I definitely see the logic to it; I'm just not sure if it's the proper idiom for this, or if the Romans (or post-Classical authors) would have used some other term for, say, a son doing something without his paterfamilias's permission.
    – Draconis
    May 31, 2023 at 15:24


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