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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptySat 10 Aug 2019, 22:07

Sparked by my research about the decline of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century BC, I was thinking about the alternation of Kingship- Republic-Kingship-Republic...
The connotation "Res publica", the public affairs  was after the Roman kingships extended to the Res publica romana. But if you want to see the "res publica" as the affairs of the public, then that Roman Res publica was not an affair of the public, but rather the affair of a selected oligarchy as later the European kingships dividing the might between a selected few families intermarrying among each other? I even rather suspect that the Greek Athenian kind of Res publica, was a bit the same, a small group of Greek citizens, which chose or selected some of their group to exercize power? Of course the small group could fire the selected ones,
But couldn't the oligarchy in the Roman Republic do the same in the elections? Perhaps a difference with the Greeks there were also "tribunes" from the "plebs" (the public?)?
Later starting with Caesar there was again a kingship or has one to say a dictatorship? Going further in Europe as again Kingships by the grace of God and without its grace?
Then quick forwards, the Enlightenment sparking again a Republic in the US, but was that a real republic? A republic as in the French revolution really an affair of the "plebs" the "people"?
Of course the nowadays kingships, at least in modern Europe, aren't real kingships anymore (as the Prime Minister...)..the remaining kingdoms Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden...oops and I forgot Britain...?
Nowadays China and Russia, dictatorships?
First thoughts...I will try to stuff up my thinking, but if in the meantime someone has any comments?...

Kind regards, Paul.
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptySat 10 Aug 2019, 22:29

Even at the time of most "democracy" in Rome the voting mechanism meant that the Patricians had the reins of power firmly in hand, whilst Greek systems depended (mostly) on a citizen elite with a disenfranchise dor enslaved lower class. I wonder if Orwell was drawing on his exposure to the classics  for his tripartite system in 1984.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptySun 11 Aug 2019, 22:05

GG,

thanks for the comments. In the beginning the Patricians had perhaps the upper hand, but gradually the Plebeians gained power. I have a more than vague rememberance about an enlightened explanation from nordmann (but not easely to retrace, while one can not seek on "words") and suddenly I think now on the thread: dictatorship and democracy...if I recall it well: the Roman structure more democratic than the Greek one?
https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-europe/patricians-and-plebeians-0011266
(and the about us says that the site is Irish...)
And from the Britannica the whole story of the Roman Republic
https://www.britannica.com/place/Roman-Republic

I found the thread I mentioned:
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t1135-i-prefer-democracy-above-dictatorship
Very erudite contributions from nordmann, but more about "dictatorship" in the Roman Republic..
It has to have been somewhere else that I learned from nordmann about the roman republic more democratic than the Athenian one?

Kind regards from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyMon 12 Aug 2019, 22:03

Paul, I think there are some common confusions and misinterpretations that have to be addressed here before the discussion runs a risk of being derailed before it starts.

First of all, "res publica" has (and had) nothing whatsoever to do with "democracy", even in the rather limited version of the latter that the classical world had engendered. It had arisen in Latin as a term pertaining to specific things judged to be commonly owned - the most notable items being some rather famous and maybe not so famous landmarks in the capital - the hippodrome, the circus maximus, the people's parks, some of the very old temples, the riverbank, and a few other less illustrious places such as the several public latrines, some baths, and other constructions which no one quite remembered who might have initially built them but which were deemed vital to civic life and which no one person had the authority or proof of ownership required to do away with them. More in hindsight than in contemporary terms the phrase therefore lent itself quite handily to describe the Roman version of the Greek "politieia" that some astute patricians, mindful of the success of such a system in Greek society, had imposed on the Roman city state with the abolition of the monarchy.

Nowhere in the usage of the term was it ever meant to infer that somehow power had now been totally invested in the population en masse, and even within the highly selective and stratified portions of that population who ended up participating in representative politics upon its introduction there was a huge variety in actual input and power some individuals could wield as "voters" compared to others within the same class. Perhaps the most egalitarian class, for example, would have been the plebeians - the lowest class of citizenship that had any say in the political process - but one need look no further to see just how undemocratic the Roman republican system was than to note just how pitifully few public representatives ever actually emerged from that voting group and how rarely these representatives ever then managed to influence important political policy in any meaningful way (the Gracci brothers being the notable exception, of course, though their fate merely emphasising just how little power wielded from that source was sufficient to ensure that the rest of the "politeia" would step in and ruthlessly suppress it).

I also think you may have misunderstood my points earlier about "dictatorship" in a Roman sense, and how that sense differs fundamentally from the modern usage. If you think of a Roman dictator as someone who is allowed to wield absolute executive power for a period of several years (officially when addressing a national crisis) that would normally have been divided between two consuls who had to step down after a year then you can appreciate that the more correct modern version of such a dictator would be a "president", at least in those systems modelled on the French version of the term, most notably the USA.

So, a quick answer to your final question above is "no", the Roman republic was not "more democratic" than the Athenian "politieia". It was certainly weighted in ways that ensured a limited number of patrician families enjoyed the lion's share of power which they retained through hereditary means, whereas the Athenian model had never quite managed to produce such a plutocratic "closed shop" core to its "politeia". And while it contained some very impressive checks and balances that ensured no one could easily (or legally) emulate a monarch in its constitution, the result was also that executive power still rotated between members of a very distinct elite. In the Athenian system, especially in troubled times, military prowess and ability could trump all other considerations when electing "top men", and this also held true in Rome. However the Greeks seemed better equipped politically and constitutionally to re-impose more standard democratic processes once a crisis had passed than the Romans later managed, and this was in no small part down to the fact that middle and lower classes of the various electorates in the Athenian system were by no means as marginalised or neutered as their Roman counterparts. Neither system was "democratic" in a modern sense, but the Greek system at least could be rightly regarded as a genuine precursor to its modern successors in that the system, when not totally bypassed in really extreme circumstances, could reintroduce representative politics much quicker than the Romans ever managed afterwards.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyMon 12 Aug 2019, 22:13

nordmann,

thank you as ever for your excellent corrections, putting the thread on the rails again. I will try to reply tomorrow, but visiting the grandson for some days in Stockholm, see my reply in the tumbleweed café...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyTue 13 Aug 2019, 09:59

Wasn't the original "Dictator" a purely temporary appointment (from memory he and his Magister Equites were appointed for 6 months at a time)? One odd feature of the Roman system was the distinction between the "imperium" wielded by the elected Consuls, Praetors etc and the "auctoritas" vested in the senate. Formally the senate had little power - even the "ultimate decree" was more a matter of allowing the elected officials to use extralegal measures.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyTue 13 Aug 2019, 11:07

Yes indeed - one might think of "imperium" as the technical ability to perform certain functions (such as declare a law or even war on an enemy) whereas "auctoritas" was the personal prestige, or in the senate's case the accumulated prestige, required to debate, contradict or even suggest an action requiring imperium to put into action. Augustus brought the whole lot into focus when he established the position of emperor rather than style himself a dictator (which after Julius Caesar would almost certainly now have been presumed to be an intention to hold the office for life anyway).

Constitutionally he was establishing himself as the "great enabler", still serving the senate and people exactly as the consuls did (and these were retained under Augustus), but reserving for himself a new power of imperial majesty as "first among equals" to ensure that the senate's "auctoritas" could never again be undermined by occasional usurpery of their function by loosely defined unconstitutional entities like "triumvirates" again. Of course in real politik he had simply made everyone, including the senate, answerable to him, and once the experiment of having a "princeps" playing that role proved beneficial to prosperity, relative domestic peace, and everything else that had been non-guaranteeable in late republican Rome then it was a very hard model to contradict. In fact according to Tacitus's account of Augustus's successor, Tiberius did everything he could to play down his "imperium" as princeps and transfer everything back to the "auctoritas" of the senate but it was the senate itself that insisted (repeatedly) that he play the new game.

It would take Caligula to be the first "emperor" to openly insist on "imperium" trumping "auctoritas" at every turn and who made the position of "emperor" therefore even more powerful than even the most despotic dictator in republical Rome had ever been. However the senate, and its "auctoritas", throughout several ups and downs under several emperors, still had to be regarded as at least participants in imperial dispensation of authority (often admittedly as glorified rubber-stamps), right up to Diocletian almost three centuries later who, in strictly constitutional terms, should therefore be regarded as the first actual "emperor" as presented to us in Hollywood films and the like.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyTue 13 Aug 2019, 22:37

nordmann,

"First of all, "res publica" has (and had) nothing whatsoever to do with "democracy", even in the rather limited version of the latter that the classical world had engendered. It had arisen in Latin as a term pertaining to specific things judged to be commonly owned - the most notable items being some rather famous and maybe not so famous landmarks in the capital - the hippodrome, the circus maximus, the people's parks, some of the very old temples, the riverbank, and a few other less illustrious places such as the several public latrines, some baths, and other constructions which no one quite remembered who might have initially built them but which were deemed vital to civic life and which no one person had the authority or proof of ownership required to do away with them. More in hindsight than in contemporary terms the phrase therefore lent itself quite handily to describe the Roman version of the Greek "politieia" that some astute patricians, mindful of the success of such a system in Greek society, had imposed on the Roman city state with the abolition of the monarchy. "

As I see it now, the term "res publica" is rather a concept, which has many interpretations, if one can believe wiki
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Res_publica
Public property[edit]Res publica usually is something held in common by many people. For instance a park or garden in the city of Rome could either be 'private property' (res privata), or managed by the state, in which case it would be part of the res publica.[2]
The state or commonwealth[edit]Taking everything together that is of public interest leads to the connotation that the 'res publica' in general equals 'the state'. For Romans this equalled the Roman Empire and all its interests, so Res Publica could as well refer to the Roman Empire as a whole, regardless of whether it was governed as a republic or under imperial reign. In this context scholars[who?] suggest commonwealth as a more accurate and neutral translation of the term, while neither implying republican nor imperial connotations, just a reference to the state as a whole. But even translating res publica as 'republic' when it clearly refers to the Roman Empire under Imperial reign occurs (see quotes below).
The Roman Republic[edit]Roman authors would also use the phrase res publica in the sense of the era when Rome was governed as a republic, that is the era between the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Empire. So in this case res publica does distinctly not refer to the Roman Empire, but to what is generally described as the Roman Republic.[citation needed]
Public affairs or institutions[edit]Res publica could also be used in a generic meaning, referring to "public affairs" and/or the general system of government of a state. In this usage res publica translated the Greek concept politeia (which originally meant the state organisation of a city-state). Also, for a Roman politician engaging himself in the res publica, a translation can often be the even more generic "being occupied in politics".Other uses[edit]Even when limited to its "political" connotations, the meanings of the term res publica in ancient Rome are diverse and multi-layered, and differing from the Greek politeia in many ways (that is: from the several interwoven meanings the word politeia had). However, it is also the customary Latin translation of politeia; the modern name of Plato's The Republic comes from this usage.


nordmann, had I then better used "Roman Republic"? Do you mean with your sentence:
"More in hindsight than in contemporary terms the phrase therefore lent itself quite handily to describe the Roman version of the Greek "politieia" that some astute patricians, mindful of the success of such a system in Greek society, had imposed on the Roman city state with the abolition of the monarchy. "
Did you mean then with "the phrase": the "Res Publica"?


nordmann, first comments...I see you again in some days after the visit to Stockholm...
And thank you both for the interesting exchange between you and GG about dictatorship and auctoritas.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyWed 14 Aug 2019, 07:06

The Wikipedia article lists how the term "res publica" has been used in literature associated with everything from pre-medieval church law (itself based on Roman law) to more recent euphemism employed by historians discussing ancient Roman society. However I thought we were concentrating on its original coinage in Roman times and what it would have meant to contemporary commentators at the time.

That said, the important point I had tried to address above though was that the term itself has practically nothing to do with the concepts of "democracy" or "dictatorship", even in the strict sense of how each might have been interpreted by contemporary Romans, let alone what they might mean nowadays. It did however most definitely evolve into a euphemism for the state itself, and history shows that it survived in that sense even as the polity oscillated wildly between what might be called limited democracy and outright despotism as time progressed, retaining a remarkably consistent constitutional interpretation and role throughout all these times.

If we are to have a meaningful discussion about "res publica" as a term coined and used by Romans in the classical age then we should be examining Roman concepts of property and ownership rather than politics. It is only when one understands the crucial differences between how title, deed and claims related to ownership were legally addressed in Roman times versus how they are now treated in modern law that we can really understand how the term did indeed make a semantic transition into the area of the common polity and how Romans of the day, from early republican times (when the analogy with property initially made political sense) right up to Diocletian's reforms, which finally removed all legal pretence to the public having a stake as owners in the polity administered through an "imperium" whose ownership now rested solely in one office (though under the same reforms there was no obstacle to that office being divided geopolitically between several emperors of equal standing).

Cicero regarded the concept of "res publica" as a bulwark against retreat into absolute monarchy, but lamented the fact that it remained a political aspiration despite its increasing use in documentation, law, and on coins etc, as a euphemism for a body politic the ownership of which ultimately rested with the citizens. Which sounds all very democratic of Cicero, until you read also his lamentations regarding how even in his time the concept of citizenship was unfortunately extending way beyond the geopolitical boundaries that he had grown up with and which he regarded as "sensible" (basically restricted to Italianate people of whose number he was one, and with severe restrictions on slaves acquiring citizenship through manumission - the relaxation of these criteria being in Cicero's view a recipe for disaster). In his later political diatribes, for which he paid with his life, he actually argued for a more precise and legally enforcible definition of the "republic" which would preclude ascent to power of more demagogues (such as Antony) and which would finally and unambiguously define to what extent the polity was indeed a "public thing", ie. owned by that public and not just a vague concept that included mention of the public with no legal safeguards against it being hijacked by powerful individuals. Brutus and the other assassins of Caesar seemed to have a similar agenda, as did Seneca and Cato, so it was through these people's writings and public statements that the historical concept of "the Roman Republic" eventually crystallised, long after a polity had been initailly devised as a defence against monarchy and which had traditionally adopted a term more correctly associated with physical property and real estate as a vague description of the state's political nature. Its final crystallisation semantically as a form of political "republic" with which we also would concur, ironically enough, was through Augustus himself, who very blatantly elevated the public to equal status as the senate in all official logos, oaths and laws, thereby belatedly establishing a "republic" in the modern sense at least as a constitutionally legal principle defining the state even as he assumed, with no apparent sense of irony, the role of "first among equals" to ensure its continuity. All other emperors up to Diocletian followed this model, and even Diocletian phrased his reforms as a defence of true republican principle.

It is this constant evolution of and adherence to "res publica" as a potentially fundamental definition of the state that allowed it subsequently to be used analogously to illustrate anything related to power or ownership invested in the "general public" by contemporaries and everyone else who followed through the centuries, even long after Rome itself had fallen, as the Wikipedia article illustrates (but in true Wiki style fails to acknowledge).
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyThu 22 Aug 2019, 22:49

nordmann,

I read now through your whole message and think to understand, what you wanted to explain from the beginning. And as I see it now my thread, was more a wrong using of that context, for indeed again a reiterating the old thread: democracy versus dictatorship...
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t1135-i-prefer-democracy-above-dictatorship
I have now received at home (thanks to the granddaugther) for only 30 Euro secondhand...
The Merovingian Kingdoms 450-751 from Ian Wood
and
The World of Late Antiquity From Marcus Aurelius to Muhammmad from Peter Brown
I will read them in the context of a discussion on Passion Histoire of the evergreen: the detoriation of the Western Roman Empire
And even in that I can use your interesting comments.
I started already reading in the Ian Wood book, and I have to say that your style is the same as these books. I said it already once, one would have the impression from your style that you were once a professor at a university...

I will also reread the democracy/dictatorship thread again, and if I ever(?) will be able to make a synthesis of all this I will try to make a new thread.
In my latest reading, but I will check where, I read in the late Roman period that  there was still a feeling of "Romanitas" among the remaining former citizens, but that they rapidly had to adapt to the new "civilisation" of the new intruded rulers...at the end losing that belonging to the former Roman community? the former "Res Publica"?...

Kind regards from Paul and with esteem for all what I read from you the last times on this board.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptySat 24 Aug 2019, 14:26

@PaulRyckier wrote:
Then quick forwards, the Enlightenment sparking again a Republic in the US, but was that a real republic?

In terms of electoral representation it's often overlooked that none of the 13 colonies which signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 had universal manhood suffrage (even among freemen) and neither did they when the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1790. To be fair, though, Massachusetts did come close.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptySat 24 Aug 2019, 23:07

@Vizzer wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:
Then quick forwards, the Enlightenment sparking again a Republic in the US, but was that a real republic?

In terms of electoral representation it's often overlooked that none of the 13 colonies which signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 had universal manhood suffrage (even among freemen) and neither did they when the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1790. To be fair, though, Massachusetts did come close.
 Vizzer,

I see now, and nordmann warned from the beginning, that I rather reiterated my thread of "Dictatorship versus Democracy" and in that "democracy": a kind of a "republic" where voters freely elected a body representative to act on behalf of these voters...
The US had already in the "Thirteen Colonies" I remember a kind of more or less democratic governements, not the same I guess as in Britain...
I remember from the BBC time (have to check) that Pennsylvania was the most open and democratic society, but as you say even there, or perhaps as you say in Massachusetts, but yet not universal suffrage.
https://en.wig/wiki/Pennsylvania_Conskipedia.ortitution_of_1776
pory.org/gov/2a.www.ushistas

Then I was thinking perhaps about the First French Republic:
https://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/1793-french-republic-constitution-of-1793
Seems pretty democratic when you all read it...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Constitution_of_1793
From 21 years on, but still only males (we had to wait overhere in Belgium, for female vote till 1948 (already in my! lifetime))
And it lasted not that long, again a kind of dictatorship and the guillotine
And two years later a watered version...
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Constitution-of-1795

Yes, those unruly French always the first, even in the separation of Church and State in 1905...or existed that already in the US?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptySun 25 Aug 2019, 12:41

I think you also need to decide between whether you want this discussion to focus on the ever-changing historical and modern interpretations of republican political structure or the term's historic roots in an expression that originally held little political meaning at all (as the thread title you chose suggests).

Personally I am more fascinated by the early adoption of the term as it came to mean "the state" and describe a particular form of government not dependent on a monarch or similar figure holding absolute power. It seems a simple distinction to make, but when one bears in mind that it was an adoption made by people living nevertheless under an emperor (a development that had accentuated rather than negated the need for "Res Publica" to have a very precise political definition), or that Diodorus, writing in the first century BCE, could use the phrase even earlier to describe lands conquered by Alexander the Great in modern day Pakistan, then the distinction blurs tremendously. Diodorus could employ the term with full trust in his audience understanding it while describing what we now refer to historically as the region's "gana sanghas". These were states run on what even Diodorus could interpret as republican principles but still with a monarch or similar "ruling" them. And all of this came many years after Plato had presented the term as a hypothetical progression from the society in which he himself lived, essentially a non-monarchic city state run on rudimentary democratic principles but which, by implication, was still not quite yet a "republic" (and in Plato's version Socratic principle, when applied to the hypothesis, brings the state ultimately to becoming an almost dictatorially fascistic political monarchy nevertheless in order to become a true "republic").

So you are being very selective indeed if you concentrate on one more modern interpretation of "republic" and on that basis declare France, for example, as being "first". It is true that any country, once it selectively defines the term to suit the political structure it adopts, can then of course claim to have been "first" in that respect. The USA, despite the obvious democratic flaws in its composition pointed out by Vizzer above that even now it pretends to ignore, has an equally valid historical claim. But the truth of the matter is that so too historically had the ancient "gana sanghas" societies across Pakistan and North West India, or Iceland for that matter over a thousand years later, and many other instances still long before the USA or France.

What all of these had in common was a notion, expressed differently in each circumstance but still underlying the basic political ethos in every case, that some element of society as a whole was "owned" by society as a whole, with all the responsibilities and liabilities that such ownership conferred on the people. How this responsibility was expressed through deferment and assumption of power varied hugely (and still varies remarkably between instances), be it headed up by an absolute monarch or an elected president, or indeed anyone or anything else, including assemblies of all form and methods of appointment.

I would suggest we all avoid falling into lazy traps of confusing "republic" with "democracy", or even assuming "republic" implies any particular political configuration at all, by deciding if this discussion still intends to examine the roots of the term or if, as seems likely from your own posts here, that you would prefer simply to take one more modern adoption of the term politically (such as the French one) and then have a political discussion regarding the merits or otherwise of comparing this interpretation to others that have followed. But the more we go down that road then the less relevance the term "republic" will come to have at all, and in fact is simply completely misleading as a thread title.

Your call - you decided the title. Now decide what it is that you actually want to discuss.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptySun 25 Aug 2019, 17:55

nordmann,

yes, i want to discuss further, as you say it: "Personally I am more fascinated by the early adoption of the term as it came to mean "the state"..."
And as you made already nearly an essay about it, I need some time, to find more background and try to comment your interesting article.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyMon 26 Aug 2019, 08:37

Well, it came to mean "the state" as a sort of nebulous "catch-all" phrase the more it became obvious that the public's alleged "ownership" of certain communal real estate, civic organisations and political processes no longer really existed (if it ever really had). Once emperors assumed executive authority over almost everything then it was difficult for any regular non-slave Roman to truly believe that they had any material investment in the state any longer either as individuals or collectively as citizens, this once having been the whole and sole purpose behind identifying any "thing of the people" at all.

However it was still crucial for the polity's survival that the concept persisted, and it was a vital function of the emperor, indeed of the empire, to stress at every opportunity its political validation as a continuation of republican principle, not its replacement. Hence the literature, insignia, mottos and inscriptions of the period started citing the term at every opportunity, even when it wasn't really appropriate. For example, the tradition that every new law had to start with variations of "bonum enim est in rem publicam" ( ... for the benefit of the republic) meant that Diocletian, in his edict which officially dissolved the republic as a statutory entity, began the tract with this phrase too.

On the other hand it was important that emperors not allow this perpetuation of an archaic constitutional abstract to foster any ideas of civic independence and autonomy of citizens from their own absolute authority, so when it came to oaths (a very important part of Roman civic and military life) the "republic" was expressed as the "Senate and People of Rome" (no mention of the emperor unless absolutely required). This was a compromise that had arisen in earlier republican times during periods of outright civil war with various factions often competing to best convince the people of their right to represent and uphold the republic. All of them couldn't be right - so for purely pragmatic reasons it was better that legal oaths, pledges of allegiance, official declarations, etc should be made using the two most constant and enduring elements of the republic, without which a state of any recognisable sort could never exist in Roman eyes.

SPQR therefore persisted and survived right to the bitter end, whereas the appropriateness of "republic" as a description of the state receded and finally disappeared altogether. It would take a Renaissance resurgence of interest in all things ancient Roman and Greek, and quite a bit of reinterpretation of the concept and how it should be applied, before modern versions began to emerge in Europe citing a "Roman" legacy, Venice being a good example of just such usurpation of the term (a city run by a wealthy group of merchants almost as a private company who projected a political legitimacy through adoption of these rediscovered nebulous concepts and terms, including "republic"). There is a good argument to be made that this is in fact what every republic since then has also done in reality - one result of which is that we all accept without question that "republic" infers a certain type of "state", but also have to acknowledge that in reality no such commonality of structure, ideology or intent on the part of those who run these states actually exists.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyMon 26 Aug 2019, 23:38

nordmann, saw it already early in the evening...

But on Historum explaining with maps and all that, that Belgium already existed from the time of the 80 years war and was legally bound with the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 (or was it Nijmegen?)...and something on this board about "gannets"...
Tomorrow early up. Thanks for again a splendid explanation. I will try to comment tomorrow.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyTue 27 Aug 2019, 22:56

nordmann,

I read your excellent message this evening "slowly" to try to catch all what you tried to mention.

Am I right, when I understand : "the state" "a thing of the people"?

And is in China then "the mandate from heaven" a cosmic approval of the guiding of "that thing of the people" by everyone responsable for the ruling of that "thing"? And felt as such by that ruled "people"?

Is the big change in the Late Roman Western Empire, not the loss of that "Roman" principle of the state/the thing of the people to a conquering Germanic monarch, who consider it as his private property by the right of conquest? And hence dividing it among his sons as Germanic rules existed? And fighting not for states but for the suzeranity above other monarchs, or the sons, as in even 21 century families, fighting for a bigger part of the heritage? The families marrying among each other to increase the family property?
The invention or trick by the couple monarch/church by the adding by the onction of the Pope of the rule by divine right, the blessing by the God, the Church was the proponent of? It started already in Western Europe with the Merovingians.

Preliminary thoughts nordmann...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyWed 28 Aug 2019, 20:00

Paul wrote:
Am I right, when I understand : "the state" "a thing of the people"?

No,read back over what I actually said.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyWed 28 Aug 2019, 22:15

nordmann,

"Well, it came to mean "the state" as a sort of nebulous "catch-all" phrase the more it became obvious that the public's alleged "ownership" of certain communal real estate, civic organisations and political processes no longer really existed (if it ever really had). Once emperors assumed executive authority over almost everything then it was difficult for any regular non-slave Roman to truly believe that they had any material investment in the state any longer either as individuals or collectively as citizens, this once having been the whole and sole purpose bWell, it came to mean "the state" as a sort of nebulous "catch-all" phrase the more it became obvious that the public's alleged "ownership" of certain communal real estate, civic organisations and political processes no longer really existed (if it ever really had). Once emperors assumed executive authority over almost everything then it was difficult for any regular non-slave Roman to truly believe that they had any material investment in the state any longer either as individuals or collectively as citizens, this once having been the whole and sole purpose  identifying any purpose bWell, it came to mean "the state" as a sort of nebulous "catch-all" phrase the more it became obvious that the public's alleged "ownership" of certain communal real estate, civic organisations and political processes no longer really existed (if it ever really had). Once emperors assumed executive authority over almost everything then it was difficult for any regular non-slave Roman to truly believe that they had any material investment in the state any longer either as individuals or collectively as citizens, this once having been the whole and sole purpose behind identifying any "thing of the people" at all.

nordmann, I think I am not after all those years yet fully accustomed with the English language.
I read it now as follow?
The more Res Publica came to mean "the state" as a sort of nebulous "catch-all" phrase, the more it....? 
And then?
the having of material investment in the state either as individuals or collectively as citizens, had been once the whole and sole purpose behind identifying any "thing of the people"?
"the state" as a sort of nebelous "catch-all" phrase was thus never an identifying of any "thing of the people"?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyFri 30 Aug 2019, 09:42

There are really only two contexts in which "republic" and "state" can justifiably be presented as almost synonymous terms. One is the modern context, or at least "modern" in the sense of post-Renaissance geopilitical terminology. The second, more historical, context however is not as simple or as obvious as the modern usage might infer, and this is where mistakes are frequently made when looking at its usage in ancient times.

Basic historical textbooks which cite "the Roman Republic" as a shorthand term for the state's polity prior to empire compound this mistake, I feel. While it is true that Brutus, Cassius, Cato and others at a precise moment of political crisis employed the term almost exactly as above, it is also true that the same people - as Cicero pointed out at the time - found it hard to agree upon or explain just what this "republic" constituted with regard to preferred structure, chains of authority, and ownership of power at any level. So, even though they may have inferred "republic" and "state" as almost synonymous terms (and "republic" a concept even worth dying for), it is really only later - after the empire itself was in full swing in fact - that this became in hindsight an acceptably sufficient description of the state as it had existed prior to the Julio-Claudian family "coup" that placed all executive power essentially within one office and removed any lingering doubts regarding how much power had ever been "a thing of the people" at all.

Pleutarch, Tacitus, Cassius Dio and others writing in this period of empire certainly employed the term in this way when looking back through their own society's history, and it is thanks mainly to their writing having survived that we today also tend to adopt the very same shorthand terminology when describing the same society in the same era. But we shouldn't deduce from this that any Roman living in that pre-empire period actually understood or even felt that they lived in just such a "republic" at all - they lived in a state with some elements of the political and social structure nominally invested in communal "ownership", but never all those things which today we would use as minimum criteria when identifying any state as a "republic", per se. Moreover this nominal investment of power and assets in some form of ordinary person's control fluctuated wildly in definition and scope throughout the period from the monarchy up to empire, and an agreed assessment of what it should mean and who it applied to, even in an ideal state such as that which Brutus evidently believed could one day be achieved, was never satisfactorily ascertained at any point.

Prior to empire therefore it is better to say that Rome existed as many successively varying polities, some resembling our common understanding of a "republic" only fleetingly and partially and some not at all (or at least only in so far as a modern dictator might maintain the term "republic" to lend his autocratic regime a semblance of validity), the tensions that shaped this long and turbulent succession (often extremely violent in expression) being fuelled by an inability to ever fully ascertain exactly which remnants of the old monarchy, once the kings had been constitutionally abolished, were in fact or ever could be "res publica" at all. The notion that some of these remnants, by definition, must somehow be communally owned and administered persisted, but what these "things" actually were or what "of the public" actually ever meant was something never satisfactorily agreed upon at any point. Beyond one's requirement to expend labour, one's duty regarding military service, and one's legal duty to pay taxes, it was difficult for the vast majority of Roman individuals to see any tangible evidence of such investment at all. For most people membership of a general public inferred a relationship with the state which was heavy on responsibility and duty, but light indeed in ensuring any method whereby such responsibilities could be amended or developed through public consensus. Any benefit arising from being a member of that state was practically indistinguishable therefore from that accruing to anyone living within most other societies of the period.

So this is why one is left with a nebulous concept, even today. Rome became a "Republic" largely in retrospect within histories written during empire, their authors implying a stability of polity and ideology that even their own accounts of that history flatly contradicted. In modern times however it was largely their rather imaginatively constructed version of "republic" that was seized upon as an adequate definition for states who, at least superficially, emulated something of the governmental structures that had pertained at the time, even though Roman history throughout the so-called "republic" period could not have provided a more stark and irrefutable example of how any polity (including democracy) depends on far more than structure to succeed, or at least be consistent enough to merit a one word descriptor such as "republic".
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PostSubject: Re: Res Publica   Res Publica EmptyFri 30 Aug 2019, 20:39

nordmann,

I thank you for your insightful comments. And the longer you explain and fine tune your thoughts the better at the end I understand, what you were finally up to. Great post.

Kind regards from Paul.
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