„From the times of the Tarquins down to those of the Gracchi the cry of the party of progress in Rome was not for limitation of the power of the state, but for limitation of the power of the magistrates: nor amidst that cry was the truth ever forgotten, that the people ought not to govern, but to be governed.“

Vol. 1. Translated by W.P.Dickson
Introductory Paragraph to the second part of Volume 1. On the Abolition of the monarchy and the formation of the Republic. The first magistrates of the republic and the conceptualization of the relationship between the magistrates and the body of citizens.
The History of Rome - Volume 1
Contesto: The strict conception of the unity and omnipotence of the state in all matters pertaining to it, which was the central principle of the Italian constitutions, placed in the hands of the single president nominated for life a formidable power, which was felt doubtless by the enemies of the land, but was not less heavily felt by its citizens. Abuse and oppression could not fail to ensue, and, as a necessary consequence, efforts were made to lessen that power. It was, however, the grand distinction of the endeavours after reform and the revolutions in Rome, that there was no attempt either to impose limitations on the community as such or even to deprive it of corresponding organs of expression—that there never was any endeavour to assert the so-called natural rights of the individual in contradistinction to the community—that, on the contrary, the attack was wholly directed against the form in which the community was represented. From the times of the Tarquins down to those of the Gracchi the cry of the party of progress in Rome was not for limitation of the power of the state, but for limitation of the power of the magistrates: nor amidst that cry was the truth ever forgotten, that the people ought not to govern, but to be governed.

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Theodor Mommsen2
storico, numismatico e giurista tedesco 1817 - 1903

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