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The Roman Republic of Jean Jacques Rousseau

Arena, V; (2016) The Roman Republic of Jean Jacques Rousseau. History of Political Thought , 37 (1) pp. 8-31. Green open access

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Abstract

In his Social Contract Rousseau dedicates almost the entire last book to a description of the institutional workings of the Roman Republic. Contrary to the dominant reading that regards this section as out of place, the article argues it constituted an ideal model of Roman Republican institutions which Rousseau employed as a theoretical weapon in the constitutional debates of his time. By elaborating on the principles he found in ancient and early modern sources, Rousseau succeeded in presenting the Roman Republic as a form of government where sovereignty lay absolute and indivisible only with the people – while the government depended on the sovereign and each power was held in balance by the tribunes of the plebs. Rousseau’s description of the Roman political system in this particular way did not amount to an improbably antiquarian discussion; it was part and parcel of his contribution to the contemporary controversy over the mixed constitution and the separation of powers, which assumed central stage in 1748 with the publication of Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws.

Type: Article
Title: The Roman Republic of Jean Jacques Rousseau
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/search/article?optio...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1544141
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