Republic, Classical republics

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Summary

A republic is a form of government in which power resides in the people, and the government is ruled by elected leaders run according to law (from ), rather than inherited or appointed (such as through inheritance or divine mandate). In modern times the definition of a republic is also commonly limited to a government which excludes a monarch. Currently, 135 of the world's 206 sovereign states use the word "republic" as part of their official names.

Details

The modern type of "republic" itself is different from any type of state found in the classical world. Nevertheless, there are a number of states of the classical era that are today still called republics. This includes the Roman Republic. While the structure and governance of these states was very different from that of any modern republic, there is debate about the extent to which classical, medieval, and modern republics form a historical continuum. J. G. A. Pocock has argued that a distinct republican tradition stretches from the classical world to the present.Pocock, J.G.A. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (1975; new ed. 2003) Other scholars disagree. Paul Rahe, for instance, argues that the classical republics had a form of government with few links to those in any modern country.Paul A. Rahe, Republics, Ancient and Modern, three volumes, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1994.

The political philosophy of the classical republics have in any case had an influence on republican thought throughout the subsequent centuries. Philosophers and politicians advocating for republics, such as Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Adams, and Madison, relied heavily on classical Greek and Roman sources which described various types of regimes.

Aristotle's Politics discusses various forms of government. One form Aristotle named politeia, which consisted of a mixture of the other forms. He argued that this was one of the ideal forms of government. Polybius expanded on many of these ideas, again focusing on the idea of mixed government. The most important Roman work in this tradition is Cicero's De re publica.

Over time, the classical republics were either conquered by empires or became ones themselves. Most of the Greek republics were annexed to the Macedonian Empire of Alexander. The Roman Republic expanded dramatically conquering the other states of the Mediterranean that could be considered republics, such as Carthage. The Roman Republic itself then became the Roman Empire.

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