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A New Kind of Model: Cicero's Roman Constitution in "De republica"

Elizabeth Asmis
The American Journal of Philology
Vol. 126, No. 3 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 377-416
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3804937
Page Count: 40
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A New Kind of Model: Cicero's Roman Constitution in "De republica"
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Abstract

This article attempts to answer the question: What makes the Roman constitution "by far the best," as Cicero claims in "De republica"? Following Polybius, Cicero analyses the Roman constitution as a mixed constitution, which both regard as the best type of constitution. Cicero, however, does not merely impute the best type of constitution to the Romans. He elevates the Roman constitution above all other mixed constitutions as the single best constitution. In rivalry with Plato, he constructs a model of the Roman constitution as an exemplum that can unite the Romans in a common purpose. The constitution is distinguished by two main features: a fair system of cooperation among the whole citizen body and wise guidance by individual leaders. The moral unity of this constitution sets it apart from all other mixed constitutions.

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