Montesquieu e la décadence. Alcune annotazioni intorno ai Romains

Lucia Dileo


Here I examine the issue of décadence in Montesquieu’s political philosophy, as it raises especially from Considérations sur les Romains, as well as from some significant parts of L’Esprit des lois devoted to ancient Romans. The Roman case is important as it may offer an account of the author’s view of philosophy of history and of his conception of “general causes” that determine the progress, the preservation or the decline of societies and political institutions. It is also important as it involves Montesquieu’s theory of “good government”, that is both the ethical principles which the life of nations and institutions should be founded on, and the political argument of “mixed government”, a government in which political liberty is granted by a system of balance of powers that ensures the participation of each social and political force. The ancient Roman republic is an example of this kind of political system, and Roman imperialism was one of the main causes of its corruption. Even if the fate of the Roman empire cannot be easily explained – due to the role played by a complexity of different causes – following Montesquieu, we might say that its history especially tells us something extremely important about the necessity (and difficulty) of equity in governing and, consequently, about the infinite dialectic of liberty and oppression.


Montesquieu; Romains; Decline; Corruption; Liberty; Mixed Government; Imperialism

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-4124/5159


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