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Cicero’nun De Re Publica’sında Krallık Dönemi Anlatısının Özeti (Fritz’den)

Cicero’nun De Re Publica’sında Krallık Dönemi Anlatısının Özeti

Kurt Von Fritz, The Theory of the Mixed Constititution in Antiquity: A Critical Analysis of Polybius’ Political Ideas (New York: Columbia University Press, 1954), 127-131.

It is then necessary to begin with a summary of those sections of Cicero’s work which are relevant to the history of the Roman constitution, and to interpret and discuss those passages the meaning of which is not clear at first sight. Through the union of the Latin settlers of Rome with the Sabines, Rome in the beginning had two kings, Romulus, its founder, and Titus Tatius, the Sabine king, who had become Romulus’ coruler. Together with Titus Tatius, Romulus selected a council consisting of the most outstanding citizens to serve as the kings’ advisers. This is the origin of the Roman Senate, whose members were called patres (fathers). The kings furthermore divided the people into three tribes and thirty curiae.

After the death of Titus Tatius all the power resorted to Romulus alone; he nevertheless made even greater use of the counsel and the authority of the Senate than before. In this respect Romulus showed equal insight with Lycurgus, who had been the first to see that a monarchy will function much better if the authority of the most outstanding citizens is joined with the domination of the king. Moreover, Romulus distributed the people of the lower classes among the outstanding citizens as their clients, a measure that proved extremely beneficial. He kept the people in bounds, not by cruel punishment, but as far as possible by the imposition of fines. After the death of Romulus the royal council –i.e. the Senate—attempted for some time to rule without a monarch, but the people did not cease to demand the restoration of the monarchy. When finally their demand had tobe met, the Romans, though a young and inexperienced people, showed an insight which had been lacking in Lycurgus. They realized that the choice of a king ought not to be determined by heredity, but by the worthiness of theperson to be selected for that exalted office. They therefore established an elective rather than a hereditary monarchy. The first successor of Romulus, then, was elected on the proposal of the Senate by the people in Comitia Curiata, i.e., in an assembly in which the vote was taken by curiae. It was not a Roman citizen but a Sabine from Cures, Numa Pompilius, who was elected in this fashion. Immediately after his election Numa asked the people to confirm by law his imperium, i.e. his command over the Roman army. The people acceded to his wishes and alex curiata was passed accordingly. After his accession Numa divided man by man among the citizens the land that had been conquered underhis warlike predecessor. He created many religious institutions and accustomed the minds of the Romans, who had become savage through continuous warfare, to the arts of peace.


After the death of Numa, Tullus Hostilius was elected king of Rome. As in the case of his predecessor, his imperium was confirmed by a lex curiata. He was the first to make an attempt to establish something like principles of international law by his creation of the ius fetiale. Most important was the introduction of the rule that no war was to be considered just that had not been duly announced and declared. Thus the important distinction between just and unjust wars was introduced for the first time. One more important innovation is attributed to Tullus Hostilius by Cicero, but since there is a lacuna in the text at the end of the section dealing with this king, the meaning of this innovation is not quite clear. The extant part of the text says that Tullus “did not dare to make use of his royal ‘insignia’ [or rather, of the external tokens of his royal power] without a special law passed by the people.” In this way he showed “how much the Roman kings at that time were aware that some power must be given to the people.” The last sentence of this section, of which only nine words have been preserved, seems to indicate that “the tokens of royal power” are the twelve lictors who preceded the king when he appeared in public. Since the lictors are not mentioned in the sections dealing with earlier kings, it has been conjectured that, according to Cicero, the institution of the lictors was first created by Tullus Hostilius, and that its introduction marked an increase in, and emphasis upon, the coercive powers of the king. This may very well have been the sense of the original tradition. But the introductory sentences in Cicero do not emphasize a possible increase in the power ofthe king but, on the contrary, the increased respect of the king for the right of the people to give or with hold privileges and power. The intention, therefore, seems rather to draw an analogy between Tullus and Numa: the latter had been the first to consider it necessary to ask the people specifically to confirm his military command; his successor, Tullus, goes a step farther and begs for a specific confirmation of his coercive powers in peace. Very little is said about the fourth king, Ancus Marcius. Cicero mentions that he was a grandson of Numa. This is probably meant to indicate that by now the principle of heredity had begun to play a certain role, though Cicero hastens to add that the king was duly elected by the people and that his imperium was confirmed by a lex


curiata. No constitutional innovations are attributed to this king, but he is credited with the establishment of a settlement or colony of Roman citizens at the mouth of the Tiber, the first colonia civium Romanorum. L. Tarquinius, who was to become the fifth king of Rome, came first into prominence through his close association with Ancus Marcius, whose advisor he had been for a long time. His affability and benevolence as first counselor of the king had made him so popular that after the death of Ancus Marcius he was unanimously elected his successor. After having hadhis imperium confirmed by a lex curiata he doubled the number of the members of the Senate, but with the provision that those who had been Senators before his accession–and, one must assume, those descendants of old senatorial families who would replace them after their deaths–were to be called [patres] maiorum gentium, the newly appointed senators, and, one has probably to understand, their successors chosen from other than senatorial families, [patres] minorum gentium. He made it a custom always to ask the Senators of the former group first for their opinion when he consulted the Senate. He also doubled the number of the equites (knights) in each of the three centuriae of the Tities, Rhamnes, and Luceres, the intercession of a famous augur having prevented him from adding three new centuriae to the three original ones as he had intended todo. 25 The sixth king, Servius Tullius, ruled, or rather administered, the state first without having been elected by the people, but with their tacit consent. He had been chief counselor of L. Tarquinius, and when the king had died, he concealed the fact for some time, appearing in royal attire and acting assupreme judge, claiming that he did so on order of the king, who was ill. In this role he managed to win the favor of the populace by his great affability and by freeing, at his own expense, a great many citizens from the burden of their debts. Then, when the death of Tarquinius had finally been announced and the burial had taken place, Servius approached the people directly, offering himself as a candidate for the kingship, and was duly elected. Following this a lex curiata confirming his imperium was passed. There follows in the extant text of Cicero’s treatise, after a major lacuna, areport on the most important constitutional innovation attibuted


to Servius Tullius. He is said to have divided the whole citizenry into centuriae, which from then on became the voting units both in elections and in the legislative process, with the exception that the lex de imperio had still to be passed by the Comitia Curiata. According to the new order the number of centuriae of equites was increased to eighteen. Therest of the citizenry was divided into five classes according to property qualifications, and this in such a way that the first class, i.e., the most wealthy class apart from the knights, consisted of centuriae, while all the other four classes together comprised only centuriae. Cicero points out that it was the fortunate result of this new division that the poorer people, or the masses, did not have the majority of votes, the wealthy people having a greater voting power than the poor, but that nevertheless nobody could complain that he was excluded from the vote. Servius Tullius was the last of the series of real kings, for with his successor, Tarquinius Superbus, the monarchy deteriorated into tyranny. On the occasion of this important turning point Cicero inserts some general reflections and again draws a comparison between Sparta and Rome. Sparta, like Rome, Cicero says, had a constitution mixed of three elements, to be sure, but the mixture was more of the kind that existed in Rome at the time of the monarchy rather than later when the Republic had reached its highest perfection. For though the constitutions of Lycurgan Sparta, of Carthage, and of Rome at the time of the monarchy were all mixed–there being a Senate in early Rome, and the people also having certain definite political rights– these mixtures were not well tempered. They could not be well tempered because wherever there is a monarch withthe title of king, who rules for a lifetime, the royal power will always stand out above all else, and such a state must, therefore, be called a monarchy.Monarchy, however, he considers, is the most unstable of all forms of government because, through the vice of one man, the monarch, it can be converted with the greatest facility into the worst type of government (that is, tyranny). Apart from this, monarchy or kingship is not bad in itself; infact, it may be preferable to any other simple constitution as long as it remains what it should be, namely, a system under which the welfare of the citizens, the rule of law, and internal peace are guaranteed through the power, the justice, and the wisdom


of one man. Yet it must also be observed that even under the best monarcha people lacks many things; the most important lack is liberty, which does not consist in having a just master but in having no master at all. This last statement is again followed by a lacuna in the text so that we do not know whether the discussion of monarchy and the comparison of Rome with Sparta and Carthage was carried any further, nor is it absolutely certain whether these remarks were in the dialog attributed to Scipio, who is the main speaker, or whether they were remarks made by one of the other interlocutors. The story of the accession of the seventh and last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, is also lost in the lacuna, except that we learn he came to power through the assassination of his predecessor. From the context, however, as well as from the parallel account in Livy, it can be inferred with certainty that, according to Cicero’s account also, Tarquinius was not recommended by the Senate nor elected by the people,and that his imperium was not confirmed by a lex curiata. In other words, he was a usurper according to Roman laws, though he was a legitimate descendant of L. Tarquinius. We learn from the extant parts of Cicero’s treatise that Tarquinius Superbus was at first successful in foreign wars, but when he had reached the summit of his insolence he was deprived of his rulership by the people, who rose against him on the instigation of L. Brutus. By becoming the author and leader of this revolt, Cicero adds, Brutus showed that in Rome nobody could consider himself a private citizen (i.e., remain unconcerned and inactive) where the liberty of the people was at stake. As a result of the revolt Tarquinius and his whole family were exiled from Rome. This section on the rule and the overthrow of Tarquinius is followed by another discussion of a general nature, this time on the difference between a king and a tyrant. The tyrant is defined as a rex iniustus (an unjust king), and tyranny as an abuse of royal power. These observations are followed by another lacuna of two pages in the manuscript. In the short section following this lacuna. Cicero observes that the names of the gerousia in Sparta and of the senatus in Rome have the same meaning, but that the number of the members of the gerousia was too small. He adds that it is not enough to give the people a little power, as Lycurgus and Romulus had done, for


this will not quench the people’s thirst for liberty but make it stronger, since they get just a taste of it but not more, and that under such a regime there will always be fear that it may degenerate into tyranny. The example of Tarquinius Superbus shows that even where there has been a long succession of good monarchs such fears are always justified. Following these observations there is again a lacuna of very considerable length. But where the text begins again we find the interlocutors of thedialog still talking about kingship and tyranny, and the observation is made that after the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus the Romans hated the very name of king as much as they had longed for a monarch after the death of their first king, Romulus. The whole section on the advantages and dangers of monarchy, both limited and unlimited, must therefore have been of great length.


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