Montesquieu

Such was the dis­tri­bu­tion of the three powers in the city. But it was far from the same in the pro­vin­ces. Freedom was in the cen­ter, and tyranny in the extre­mi­ties.

While Rome domi­na­ted only in Italy, the peo­ples were gover­ned as confe­de­ra­tes. The laws of each repu­blic were fol­lo­wed. But when she conque­red far­ther afield, when the senate could not imme­dia­tely keep an eye on the pro­vin­ces, and the magis­tra­tes who were in Rome could no lon­ger govern the empire, præ­tors and pro­consuls had to be sent out. At that point that har­mony of the three powers was over. Those who were sent had an autho­rity that com­bi­ned those of all the Roman magis­tra­cies, nay, even that of the senate, even that of the peo­ple.1 They were des­po­tic magis­tra­tes who were quite appro­priate for the dis­tance of the pla­ces to which they were sent. They exer­ci­sed the three powers ; they were, if I may use this term, the pashas of the repu­blic.

We have said elsew­here that the same magis­trate in the repu­blic must hold both civil and mili­tary exe­cu­tive autho­rity. For that rea­son, a repu­blic that conquers can hardly com­mu­ni­cate its govern­ment and rule the conque­red state in accor­dance with the form of its cons­ti­tu­tion. Indeed the magis­trate it sends to govern, hol­ding both civil and mili­tary exe­cu­tive autho­rity, must have the legis­la­tive autho­rity as well, for who could make laws without him ? He must also have the judi­cial autho­rity, for who would judge inde­pen­dently of him ? Therefore the gover­nor the repu­blic sends must have the three autho­ri­ties, as was the case in the Roman pro­vin­ces.

A monar­chy can more easily com­mu­ni­cate its govern­ment, because of the offi­cers it sends, some have the civil exe­cu­tive autho­rity and others the mili­tary exe­cu­tive autho­rity : which does not bring des­po­tism with it.

It was a pri­vi­lege of great conse­quence for a Roman citi­zen to be able to be jud­ged only by the peo­ple. Otherwise he would have been sub­jec­ted in the pro­vin­ces to the arbi­trary power of a pro­consul or a pro­præ­tor. The city did not feel the tyranny that was exer­ci­sed only over subor­di­na­ted nations.

Thus, in the Roman world, as in Lacedæmon, those who were free were free in the extreme, and those who were ensla­ved were ensla­ved in the extreme.

While the citi­zens were paying tri­bu­tes, they were levied with very great equity. They fol­lo­wed the sys­tem of Servius Tullius, who had dis­tri­bu­ted all the citi­zens in six clas­ses in the order of their wealth, and fixed the share of taxes in pro­por­tion to the share which each had in the govern­ment. The result was that they bore the magni­tude of the tri­bute because of the magni­tude of their influence, and were conso­led for their modest influence by the modesty of their tri­bute.

There was ano­ther admi­ra­ble thing, which is that the Servius Tullius’s divi­sion by clas­ses being, so to speak, the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­pal of the cons­ti­tu­tion, it hap­pe­ned that equity in the levy of tri­bu­tes was of a piece with the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of the govern­ment, and could not be taken away unless it was too.

But while the city was paying tri­bu­tes with no dif­fi­culty, or was paying none at all,2 the pro­vin­ces were being rava­ged by the knights who were the repu­blic’s tax far­mers. We have spo­ken of their harass­ments, and all of his­tory is full of them.

“All of Asia awaits me as its libe­ra­tor,” said Mithridates,3 so great was the hatred pro­vo­ked against the Romans by the rapine of the pro­consuls,4 the extor­tions of the finan­ciers, and the calum­nies of the judg­ments.”5

That is why the strength of the pro­vin­ces added nothing to the strength of the repu­blic, and on the contrary only wea­ke­ned it. That is why the pro­vin­ces regar­ded the loss of Rome’s free­dom as the era when their own was foun­ded.

They made their edicts as they entered the provinces.

After the conquest of Macedonia, the tributes to Rome ceased.

Oration drawn from Trogus Pompeius and related by Justinus, book XXXVIII.

See the Orations against Verres.

It is known what the tribunal of Varus was like that made the Germans rebel.