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Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor...

Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor Augustus in Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican, Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a history subject with a contemporary significance, because every one of us is living under a political system.

We can read in history books about official stages in Roman civilization: Monarchy, republic and empire. From these three stages, republic usually is seen as the best; a wonderful moment in world history. Even George Lucas, famous creator of Star Wars series, to set his story, was inspired in fall of Roman Republic and the rise of Empire. If you have ever seen the films, knows that republic is linked to light and goodness, while Empire is linked to dark and evil.

If we agree with this version, Emperor Augustus would have to be seen as an evil and dark emperor, and with help of some “Darth Vader” would have hunted republicans (Jedi?) of his time and established a reign of terror.  Under this perspective, contributions like Pax Romana (Roman peace), world citizenship or development of arts and literature in Roman world, must be considered evil.

Was Republic a government of light?

In fact was really far from it. Roman republic was not a democracy, was an aristocracy. Only a selected class was allowed to govern, which fiercely protect their privileges and attacked without mercy any kind of reformer, like Gracchi brothers, Gaius Marius or Julius Caesar. Roman Republic had a legal and political system which makes sense in a small state-city but not in a worldwide empire. What kind of privileges they protected? Usury, extortion and embezzlement were few. They were glad to be appointed governors to have the possibility to use Roman army to increase their own fortune.

So-called "Marius". Marble, Roman ar...

So-called “Marius”. Marble, Roman artwork of the 1st century BC, restored by Alexander Trippel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Republic fell because was already dead. Spirit was gone and corpse was only useful to feed grubs and worms. Any political system is good by itself, always depends on moral quality of those who belong it. Whether it monarchy, republic or empire; the system only works if king, president, prime minister or emperor, as well as entire political class have a high moral quality.

Only education based on values and experience of virtues as a long-term project could ensure successful governments.

Is this possible?