“Republic” has become something of a political catch-all in the modern era — of the 200 odd states on planet Earth, most are or at least claim to be some form of republic.
This was not the case for the vast majority of human history and it was completely unprecedented in 509 BC when Rome cast out its king. Monarchy or tyranny of some kind had been the rule for all of recorded history.
The system they constructed over the centuries was convoluted and sometimes contradictory, but a familiar idea was at its core — that power should never again be concentrated in the hands of one man, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
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They called it “Res publica”:
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