[Constitutio and Constitution] The term ‘constitutio’, occurring for the first time in Cicero’s Republic in connection with political institutions, cannot be simply translated into ‘constitution’. Many scholars hold indeed that Rome was a “city without a constitution”. Nevertheless, magistrates, assemblies and the Senate were expected to operate on the basis of legal rules, produced by costumes, ‘constitutional conventions’ and legislation. Some of these rules were paramount principles and norms which were theoretically unchangeable. They may be considered as the real ‘constitutional Roman law’. But one has always to bear in mind that their interpretation was influenced by political contingency and depended on the ‘examples’ of the ancestors and of the major politicians of the past.
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