Friday, November 13, 2015

What the Roman Empire Can Teach Us

From The Imaginative Conservative:
 As the renowned historian Edward Gibbon described, in the Roman Empire, the outward forms of the ancient republican constitution were largely preserved. But these forms were a mere façade—camouflage for the largely unconstrained power of the emperors. Thus, what Romans enjoyed under the empire was not actually democratic liberty but rather, as Gibbon delicately put it, the “image of liberty.”

Although he effusively praised the middle period of the empire as a “golden age,” Gibbon was candid about the Romans’ loss of self-governance, and he recounted how this loss had occurred. After the banishment of the kings in the sixth century BC, the Romans had carefully and jealously guarded their rights of self-rule through a government composed of various assemblies, including the senate, and of officials elected by the citizens for one-year terms. Of these officials, the most important were the two consuls and the ten tribunes, who represented the common citizens. This system of governance had evolved and functioned over a period of centuries. (Read more.)

From Smithsonian:
 Mary Beard, a professor of classics at the University of Cambridge, is known for her frank and provocative reading of history. More than a dozen books and frequent newspaper articles, book reviews, TV documentaries and a prolific Twitter account have made her one of England’s best-known public intellectuals. She has a new book, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, out this month. We spoke to her by email about Rome’s most interesting characters, best slogans and surprising legacies, including its cutting-edge lavatory design. (Read more.)


No comments: