Republic - Origin of The Term

Origin of The Term

In Medieval Northern Italy, a number of city states had commune or signoria based governments. In the late Middle Ages, writers, such as Giovanni Villani, began thinking about the nature of these states and the differences from the more common monarchies. These early writers used terms such as libertas populi, a free people, to describe the states. The terminology changed in the 15th century as the renewed interest in the writings of Ancient Greece and Rome caused writers to prefer using classical terminology. To describe non-monarchial states writers, most importantly Leonardo Bruni, adopted the Latin word res publica.

While Bruni and Machiavelli used the term to describe the states of Northern Italy, which were not monarchies, the term res publica has a set of interrelated meanings in the original Latin. The term can quite literally be translated as "public matter". It was most often used by Roman writers to refer to the state and government, even during the period of the Roman Empire. The English word commonwealth is a calque (literal translation) of res publica, and its use in English is closer to how the Romans used the term res publica.

Today the term republic still most commonly means a system of government which derives its power from the people rather than from another basis, such as heredity or divine right. This remains the primary definition of republic in most contexts.

This bipartite division of government types differs from the classical sources, and also the earlier of Machiavelli's own works, which divided governments into three types: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. As Machiavelli wrote, the distinction between an aristocracy ruled by a select elite and a democracy ruled by a council appointed by the people became cumbersome. By the time Machiavelli began work on The Prince, he had decided to refer to both aristocracies and democracies as republics.

A further set of meanings for the term comes from the Greek word politeia. Cicero, among other Latin writers, translated politeia as res publica and it was in turn translated by Renaissance scholars as republic. The term politeia is today usually translated as form of government, polity, or regime. One continued use of this archaic translation is the title of Plato's major work on political science. In Greek it was titled Politeia and in English is thus known as The Republic. However, apart from the title, in modern translations of The Republic, alternative translations of politeia are also used.

In English the word first came to prominence during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. While commonwealth was the most common term to call the new monarchless state, republic was also in common use. '

Read more about this topic:  Republic

Other articles related to "origin of the term, the term, origin":

Cloud Clients - History - Origin of The Term
... The origin of the term cloud computing is unclear ... The term became popular after Amazon.com introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006 ...
Sweat Box - Origin of The Term
... The origin for the term "sweat box" is said to date back to when Walt Disney would view the scenes completed through rough animation with his animators and critique their work ...
Alphabet City, Manhattan - 20th Century - Origin of The Term
... The term's first appearance in the New York Times is in a 1984 editorial penned by then mayor Ed Koch, appealing to the federal government to aid in fighting crime on the neighborhood's ...

Famous quotes containing the words origin of, term and/or origin:

    The essence of morality is a questioning about morality; and the decisive move of human life is to use ceaselessly all light to look for the origin of the opposition between good and evil.
    Georges Bataille (1897–1962)

    The term preschooler signals another change in our expectations of children. While toddler refers to physical development, preschooler refers to a social and intellectual activity: going to school. That shift in emphasis is tremendously important, for it is at this age that we think of children as social creatures who can begin to solve problems.
    Lawrence Kutner (20th century)

    We have got rid of the fetish of the divine right of kings, and that slavery is of divine origin and authority. But the divine right of property has taken its place. The tendency plainly is towards ... “a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.”
    Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822–1893)