Montesquieu and the Spirit of Rome argues that the eighteenth-century French author Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755) developed a novel, comprehensive account of Roman history that framed his new political science and grounded his political teachings. Rome’s legacy in early-modern thought turns on the work of Montesquieu, and through Rome Montesquieu articulated the strengths and weaknesses of the modern state—the moderation that can distinguish it and sources of extremism that must haunt it.
This book is the first to unify Montesquieu’s Roman thoughts; it is the first to reconstruct the Rome that was one of his most powerful legacies in the 18th and 19th centuries. Montesquieu and the Spirit of Rome restores Rome to its proper place at the peak of Montesquieu’s thought and Montesquieu’s thought to its proper place in the history of classical study. It treats Montesquieu as what he claimed to be—a jurist, a poet, a historian, and a political writer of the first rank, and it revives his hard-nosed defence of moderation.