Cicero on Factions, Statesmen, and the Mixed Regime
Political Science Reviewer, Volume 42.2
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mixed regime

How to Cite

Cicero on Factions, Statesmen, and the Mixed Regime. (2020). The Political Science Reviewer, 44(2), 387-418.


Cicero’s De Republica advocates a mixed regime dominated by the aristocracy, yet the dialogue emphasizes the danger that elites pose to a republic.  This paradox has led some to argue that Cicero’s preference is simply ideological, while others emphasize the irrationality of the people.  In this paper, I show that the aristocratic element is charged with providing the deliberation [consilium] necessary for republics to flourish and so must take precedence in a mixed regime.  Although the De Republica does insist that the nature of politics often overcomes reason, I argue it emphasizes the irrational behavior of elites.  Cicero proposes two ways of coping with the paradox: Politically, he defends popular checks on elite power, but he also attempts to shape the character of those who hold power by revealing to them the transience of earthly goods and pointing them toward a higher form of glory compatible with the common good.

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