Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The word republic is derived from the Latin res publica , meaning “the common thing” or “the public good.” Cicero, among other Latin writers, translated the Greek politeia into res publica, and, in 55 BCE, he wrote his famous political treatise De Re Publica . Although the term republic has been used in a variety of ways and historical contexts, we can distinguish two main meanings, “substantive” and “formal.” In the substantive sense, “republic” refers to a government in which the supreme power resides not in a monarch or a king but in a body of citizens entitled to vote. Thus, in a republic, power is exercised by elected officers and representatives governing according to law and accountable to the people. In this sense, Cicero refers to res publica as res populi , a thing or good that belongs to the people, or the public. Referring in turn to the ...