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Title: A Painted Republic: the Constitutional Innovations of Cicero’s De legibus
Authors: Paulson, Lex
Keywords: CiceroDe legibusconstitutionalisminstitutional rebalancing
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Lex Paulson, "A Painted Republic: the Constitutional Innovations of Cicero’s De legibus", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, XVI (2014) 2, pp. 307-340
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
XVI (2014) 2
This article proposes three arguments concerning the constitutional innovations offered by Cicero in the De legibus. First, these innovations are much broader and deeper than commonly appreciated, none more so than the very attempt at a prescriptive written constitution for Rome. Second, Cicero’s amendments to traditional Roman practice follow a consistent set of four principles, principles encapsulated in his metaphor of the republic as a painting in need of fresh colors. Finally, the reframed institutions within the De legibus reveal Cicero to be neither the reflexive optimate his critics lament, nor the far-seeing political diagnostician he considered himself. The senate, for all its faults, remains the sole center of gravity in his constitutional system, and the legitimate grievances of Rome’s citizen majority remain unrecognized and unaddressed. Though a failure on its own terms, the De legibus represents antiquity’s last major attempt at original political thought, and an essential if unrecognized bridge to the modern idea of a constitution.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2014) XVI/2

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