A republic (from Latin:res publica) is a sovereign state or country which is organised with a form of government in which power resides in elected individuals representing the citizen body and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law. In modern times, the definition of a republic is commonly limited to a government which excludes a monarch. Currently, 147 of the world's 206 sovereign states use the word "republic" as part of their official names; not all of these are republics in the sense of having elected governments, nor do all nations with elected governments use the word "republic" in their names.
Both modern and ancient republics vary widely in their ideology and composition. In the classical and medieval period of Europe, many states were fashioned on the Roman Republic, which referred to the governance of the city of Rome, between it having kings and emperors. The Italian medieval and Renaissance political tradition, today referred to as "civic humanism", is sometimes considered to derive directly from Roman republicans such as Sallust and Tacitus. However, Greek-influenced Roman authors, such as Polybius and Cicero, sometimes also used the term as a translation for the Greek politeia which could mean regime generally, but could also be applied to certain specific types of regime which did not exactly correspond to that of the Roman Republic. Republics were not equated with classical democracies such as Athens, but had a democratic aspect.
De re publica (On the Commonwealth; see below) is a dialogue on Roman politics by Cicero, written in six books between 54 and 51 BC. It is written in the format of a Socratic dialogue in which Scipio Africanus Minor (who had died a few decades before Cicero was born, several centuries after Socrates' death) takes the role of a wise old man — a typical feature of the genre. Cicero's treatise was politically controversial: by choosing the format of a philosophical dialogue he avoided naming his political adversaries directly. By employing various speakers to raise differing opinions, Cicero not only remained true to his favored skeptical method of setting opposing arguments against one another (see, e.g., Carneades), but also made it more difficult for his adversaries to take him to task on what he had written.
Setting and dramatis personæ
The dialogue is portrayed as taking place in Scipio's estate, during three consecutive days. Each day is described in two books, with an introduction by Cicero preceding the dialogue of each book. A large part of the last book (the sixth) is taken by Scipio telling a dream he had: this passage is known as Somnium Scipionis, or "Scipio's dream".
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