Roman Political Institutions: From City to State

Roman Political Institutions: From City to State

Roman Political Institutions: From City to State

Roman Political Institutions: From City to State

Excerpt

The first volumes of this series have enabled us to observe that prehistory and the earliest history, little as they tell us for certain about the wanderings of racial groups, the part played by individuals, the order of chiefs, and contingent things of all kinds, reveal a development of institutions--as of material and intellectual civilization--which, although doubtless not regular nor continuous, is at least certain. In laying stress upon these aspects of the past, and in particular upon public and private law, we do not misrepresent history, nor enlarge its scope unduly. It cannot be repeated too often that history has no limits but the activity of men gathered in societies, in its various forms. As a synthesis, therefore, it comprises all those special studies the progress of which involves its own progress, and which have a higher end in it. In respect of sociology, we say once again that, if it has been legitimate to constitute a comparative study of societies, taking the facts of history and the data of ethnology as a basis, the result of these labours must be claimed and assimilated by the science of history as a whole.

It is useful to define society, to determine the institutions which answer to its essential needs and enable it to work, and to distinguish the stages of its evolution; but in reality there are only societies. In order both to check sociology and to make history intelligible, we must weave our sociological generalizations back into the historical synthesis with the other elements which analysis has disentangled and which it is the task of historical theory to enumerate. Sociology, it may be said, emerges from history only to return into it.

Two previous volumes of our synthesis have been devoted to following, in history, the development of that primary function . . .

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