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At that point even the simplest Romans presumably realized that the Republic had gone the way of all flesh and that Rome now had a fundamentally different constitution, a fact that Tacitus already had strongly suspected. 5 During the Middle Ages "democracy" had a bad connotation among intellectuals who alone knew its meaning. It existed, however, in small private societies as, for instance, in the high villages of the Alps and the Pyrenees, in Iceland and Norway, and in Slavic villages in the form of the vyetche.

We have to ask, however, whether Roman Caesarism was ever genuine monarchy or only, as Metternich argued, 4 a form of "Bonapartism" -military dictatorship. Until the days of Diocletian the Romans were hardly aware of the fact that their Res Publica no longer existed, since it still bore that label. ) With Diocletian the situation at long last became clear: He had himself crowned with a golden crown and demanded proskynesis in the best oriental fashion; the Senate lost all its importance. At that point even the simplest Romans presumably realized that the Republic had gone the way of all flesh and that Rome now had a fundamentally different constitution, a fact that Tacitus already had strongly suspected.

1 This seemingly stands to reason, but the history of the last 150 years teaches us that it is by no means necessarily the case. -that secessions ended in monarchical instaurations. When the Belgians broke away from the Dutch they called in a Lutheran prince of the Saxe-Coburg family (and this in spite of the fact that secession had been largely motivated by denominational animosities).

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The New York Times Book Review (24 April 2016)


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