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ii - The Romans

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 November 2020

David W. Carrithers
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Philip Stewart
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

Montesquieu assesses Roman politics, philosophy, and religion. He explains in his Dissertation on Roman Politics in Religion (1716) that the Roman republic was designed by Romulus and the early kings of Rome as a theocracy. The goal of Roman paganism was “to inspire fear of the gods in a people who feared nothing, and to make use of that fear to lead them in any way they wished.” In his Discourse on Cicero (1717) Montesquieu expresses unstinting admiration for Cicero both as a statesman and a philosopher, asserting that Cicero’s De Officiis teaches us “what is honorable and beneficial, what we owe to society, what we owe to ourselves, and what we should do as heads of families or as citizens.” In his Dialogue between Sulla and Eucrates (1724) he assesses the conduct of the Roman general and dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla, observing that he had shown how deadly heroism can be, even when based on sound principle, such as Sulla’s desire to restore the powers of the Roman senate. “For one man to be above humanity,” Montesquieu concludes, all the others pay too dear a price.” Sulla marked out a path toward tyranny that Caesar would surely follow.

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Chapter
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Montesquieu
Discourses, Dissertations, and Dialogues on Politics, Science, and Religion
, pp. 60 - 85
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • The Romans
  • Edited and translated by David W. Carrithers, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Philip Stewart, Duke University, North Carolina
  • Book: Montesquieu
  • Online publication: 02 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108882521.003
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  • The Romans
  • Edited and translated by David W. Carrithers, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Philip Stewart, Duke University, North Carolina
  • Book: Montesquieu
  • Online publication: 02 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108882521.003
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Romans
  • Edited and translated by David W. Carrithers, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Philip Stewart, Duke University, North Carolina
  • Book: Montesquieu
  • Online publication: 02 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108882521.003
Available formats
×