The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with
that of the Moderns
-Thinks there are two types of Liberty
Define Libertythe state of being free within society from oppressive
restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political
- I think in this article we are looking at liberty as only in the
context as the state being free within society
- The investigation of this to Constant is important because:
-It brought up many issues within the French revolution
- There wouldn’t be freedom and peace today without the representative
government it brought, yet it is unknown to the ancient society
Define a representative government: It is a governing style that has fewer people
involved, usually defined by geographic boundaries, represented by one person, it
lets all the ideas and opinions be voted on without the burden of polling every single
Define monastic aristocracy: Religious classes of power.
Define magistrates : a civil officer; administers law.
- Sparta was not a representative government; rather it was controlled by five
magistrates, the king had limited power and their intentions were as much religious
as they were political.
- the magistrates took part in administration in the executive powers, which instead
of them being there to control tyranny, became tyrant themselves.
Who are the Gauls? A region which used to have france in it which were celtic
peoples, gaulish language, they had france during the iron age, but were taken over
by rome in 1 or 2 B.C. - The Gaul’s had a very theocratic (where priests rule in power) and warlike, the
priests held unlimited power, and the military class-the nobility- had very
oppressive and arrogant privileges, the people had no safe guard or rights.
- The tribunes in Rome were of resemblance of a representative government, they
were elected by the plebeians (means the commoners) who were being oppressed
by the oligarchy (small institutions of people who controlled country) when they
over threw the king.
- the difference was that the people practiced they laws directly, they still
meet to judge nobles and vote laws. So there is a difference.
- Argues rep. gov. is a modern discovery and the peoples of antiquity (ancient; past)
could not appreciate it because of their social organization.
What does liberty mean to a English man, French man, America:
- the right to be only subject to the law, not to be subject to inhuman treatment
based on a individual
- the right to express opinion, profession, personal property
- the right to come and go
- the right to socialize
- the right to have influence on the government
Now compared to the ancients(which were done collectively but directly in public
- Discuss and make decisions about war
- Forming alliances
- Voting laws
- Pronounce judgments
- Examine acts and accounts of stewardship of the magistrates
- Call magistrates to appear in front of assembly
- Accuse magistrates and condemn or acquit them
The ancients didn’t see this as a subjection of the individual to the group but as a
Jouissance in this article is meant to express benefits and anything that brings
satisfaction to the individual.
- No room was allowed for individual opinion, choice of work or choice of religion,
which is one of the most sacred right now.
- To all matters that seem important to the moderns, the authority of the ancients
would obstruct the wills of the individuals
Define moeur: customs, habits, way of life.
- In the ancients the individual is always the ultimate in public affairs but a slave in
his private relations. - as a citizen he has all the decision in war, but feels the impacts and
movments of it directly
- as a part of the whole he can pass judgement on his superiours, but the
whole may turn against him and do the same to him.
- In the moderns the individual is free only only in his private life, his freedom is
restricted and always full of obsticles.
Who is Condorcet? A French philosopher, mathematician and political scientist.
Advocated a liberal economy.
- Condorcet stated that the ancients had no notion of individual freedoms, they were
just machines working for the law.
- All ancient states were small, none of them were anywhere equal to the size of a
- small size made them aggressive, they were always fighting, and through
fear of this aggression a peaceful neighbor had to be ready to fight in fear of
- War was the price of their independence, security, and existence, thus
always being its occupation.
- Manuel labor and even business sometimes was for slaves
- Modern world are people of all same basic nature, nothing to fear from barbaric
- They find war a burden and have a uniform tendency for peace.
- Commerce – the concept of trading – is what we’ve learned from war, it is a mild
way of getting people to agree with our interests.
- Constant believes we have reached a time where commerce is replacing war.
- Commerce in the ancients was very complicated and rare, nothing like commerce
today, where it is the goal and way of life
- In the ancients war constituted as a way of obtaining slaves, and a nations goods,
and land, in the moderns a war would cost more then it is worth.
- The bigger the country is the smaller part a individual has on th