Il rimpianto di Roma. 'Res publica', libertà 'neoromane' e Benjamin Constant, agli inizi del terzo millennio, Firenze, Le Monnier, 2012 (with ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF INTRODUCTION, CONTENTS, CONCLUSIONS)

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  Luca Fezzi The regret of Rome   Res publica , neo - Roman freedoms  and Benjamin Constant, at the beginnings of the third millennium Contents Regretting the res publica  , returning to Rome. In this, at the end of the second millennium, scholarship in classics and in political theory seem to converge. If Fergus Millar highlights the d emocratic' elements of the late Republic, Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner point at a neo - Roman  freedom, an ideal that can be also applied nowadays. All this is, in many ways, in conflict with the break  between political antiquity and political modernity, that is often tied with Benjamin Constants famous speech on The liberty of the Ancients compared with that of the Moderns  (1819). With a closer look, however, we can discover that the Swiss parent of modern constitutional liberalism focuses primarily on Greece, divided between the nearly modern  Athens and the primitive Sparta. And Rome? That is what this volume investigates, also taking into account the most recent debates in scholarship in classics, law and political theory; the reference point is Constant s  very productive thought, on his turn object of changing interpretations.  INDEX   Introduction  p. VII Part I Res publica , the freedom of the Romans and Constant, in the new Millennium 1. Interpretations of the Roman res publica  and the crisis of political categories p. 3 . The neo - Roman critics of freedom  p. 9 3. Res publica   and the freedom  of the Romans in the Discours  p. 16 4. Really new distinctions? Criticisms of the   res publica   and the freedom of the Romans in political thought, before and after the Discours p. 26 5. The other Constant and his rediscovery  , in the later criticism p. 54 6. The Discours  , the ancient world scholarship and the res publica p. 59 Part II The genesis of the Discours  and later confirmations: the res publica  and the freedom of the Romans in Constant's political thought  1. The res publica   in the republican works  p. 79 2. The res publica   in unpublished works during Constants exile from politics  p. 94 3. The res publica  , Constants return to politics and the Discours p. 114 4. After the Discours p. 127 Conclusions p. 139  Introduction  There are things possible in a given time that are not in another. This truth seems obvious, yet is often unknown; but not without danger. (Benjamin Constant, The spirit of conquest ) This volume stems from the need to reflect, from necessarily complementary viewpoints, on my main historical investigation theme, namely the role of popular assemblies –  and thus of the citizen –  in the late Roman Republic. My necessity was accentuated by the debates that, following Fergus Millar s contributions, from the end of the second millennium are involving the political history of Rome, but not only. The res publica  had long been the subject of a rich harvest of reflections, from autonomous paths, in law scholarship and in political philosophy. All seem to have a common basis, more or less declared: it is the need of a growing detachment from liberal-democratic conceptions of State and to re-evaluate, more than institutions and procedures, the cultural and ethical aspects linked to the individual and to citizenship. Having taken note of this, deepening the thought of Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque de, author of the famous Speech  on The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the modern  (1819), was a natural need. The Swiss father of liberal constitutionalism, not first, maybe not better but no doubt with fortune, through the elusive subject of freedom managed to declare –   in controversy with revolutionary  classicism –  the gap between Greco-Roman models and modernity. He achieved this result when the Querelle   des anciens et des modernes  had given the victory to the seconds, and by using sociological awareness, emphasizing how the differences related to war, commerce and morality compelled the moderns to use a new political organization (representation), favoring the liberal  freedom of the individual to the  democratic  freedom  of the citizen. Constant s theme  of the two freedoms, attracting the attention of even very distant theorists –  such as Karl Marx –  and close heirs, including the well-known Isaiah Berlin, author of the definitions of positive freedom and negative freedom  , has become a classic of thought. It has also influenced, by different ways, the scholarship in ancient world, that through important contributions felt the need to deal, albeit with different outcomes, with its contents. An item seems, however, almost invariably overlooked. In the Discours  , an important speech but a synthetic one, the very ancients  are Egypt, Gaul and of course Sparta; democratic Athens, by contrast, is considered almost modern (i.e. bourgeois  , according to the definition of Nicole Loraux and Pierre Vidal-Naquet). And Rome? While finding place among the ancients, its position is not entirely clear; certainly not a small, envious Republic   , it gets indeed, throughout the whole production of the Swiss thinker, attention and respect. And it is on the fortune  of res publica  , in –  and through –  Constant, that this volume investigates. The problem does not seem secondary, from many points of view. At the end of the second millennium, while the classics scholar Millar underlined the democratic aspects of Ciceros Rome, the political theorist Philip Pettit and the historian of thought Quentin Skinner added to the two freedoms outlined by Constant (and set out from Berlin) a third: the neo - Roman, an ancient one but applicable to current issues. The permanence,  in modernity, of republican languages and values, contrasts with some readings of the Discours  , which accelerated, in political theory, the disappearance of categories came from the antiquity to Machiavelli and by him, through the Discourses on Livy  , rendered modern . To be subject to reconsideration, not only among republicans,  is now the entire work of Constant. Even after the rediscovery  of the large srcinal production, many critics have indeed felt the need to resize, in his thoughts, the contrast between liberalism and democracy. In this composite and mobile panorama, particularly important seem the works of Giovanni Paoletti on the Swiss thinker and the ancients . At this point, it seems necessary to clarify further the fundamental question of this work. In what way the reception –  more or less ' correct ' –  of the Discours  changed the image of the Roman res publica  , and that of the freedom of the Romans, and under what terms it is changing? To answer, from the turning point  in the biennium 1997-1998, we will move on Discours  , investigating the elements of novity  and fortune  , both in political theory and in calssics scholarship. Taking into account the development of constantiana criticism since the S econd world war, we ll focus then on references to the Roman res publica  and the freedom of the Romans in the impressive work of Swiss thinker, by particular attention to his writings prior to the Speech  and to major later confirmations. We will consider, of course,  both the theoretical and historical context of the single works.  Conclusions  Constant criticism against the use of Ancient  models, in the Discours of 1819, was  born from various lines of inquiry, affecting different elements such as institutions, economy and morality. Stressing the difference between epochs and lifestyles, the Swiss thinker was able to hatch two  freedom s: the Ancients  , which was based on the exercise of political rights, and the Modern  , attentive to the protection of the personal sphere. So, relegatin g the entire antiquity  in a past now unrecoverable, made it more homogeneous, with the only exception of the commercial Athens. However, shifting attention to the image of the Roman res publica  in the entire production of Constant, we cannot fail to note that it was evaluated from time to time from different points of view. The first historical work, the short The Roman military discipline  , shows a decided and particular interest to the res publica  , distinct from the Empire. This is largely dictated by the admiration of the young author for that patriotism, whose perpetuation would have been rendered impossible by the advent of Christianity, as argued by, among others, Machiavelli and Rousseau. In Constants early political, republican writings  , the civic virtues, while posted to a now consumed rhetoric, seems to prevail over any other consideration. An explicit recognition, even instrumental, is in The effects of Terror . In controversy with Lézay-Marnesia, who considered the terror as inevitable product of Republic, justified by calling into question a Rome founded by brigands, Constant separated the res publica  from the previous monarchy, as well as from any temptation to compare it to a very troubling present: «the Roman Republic was founded by the most austere and most virtuous men; and surely, after the expulsion of the Tarquinii there was, I think, not one citizen in Rome dared besmirch the memory of Junius Brutus». At a later stage, the critical view insinuates itself, dictated by the influence of Mme de Staël, who had previously underlined some obvious and necessary differences between Ancients and Moderns. If the first could only be linked to the homeland, the latter must have at heart the peace guaranteed by the representative system. If the interest of the ancient republics, including Rome itself, enclosed that of the citizens, now they are trying to escape –  to some extent –  the power of the State. Also Mme de Staël, however, recognizes in the Roman res publica  a very particular moment in history in which individual courage was able to join the respect for others: while decidedly superior to that offered by Greece, this example could not however be applied to contemporaneity. If a republican   spirit  still emerges from the work of Godwin, that Constant, from 1798, began to translate, his detachment  from the Ancients took off even before the volunteer exile. The unpublished The present moment and the fate of the human species emphasize the progress of humanity in its entirety: if the res publica  enjoyed more freedom in comparison to the 12th century, it had nevertheless slaves and a material religion. Similar comments appear in the manuscripts On the perfectibility of the human species  , which show that today the ancients would not find in itself the forces to improve, while the first unpublished of the Looks on the march and the revolutions of philosophy in Rome  still stresses –  in the value of philosophy as a way of life –  the big difference between Republic and Empire. Towards similar directions move even the Fragments of an essay on literature in dealing with freedom : while noting how the political forms
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