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Pietro Costa

The idea of a government according to the law, of a power subjected to the law, draws strength from its opposite, from the idea of an arbitrary and ‘absolute’ sovereignty, exempt from rules because superior to them. The chapter deals with the remote roots of this basic contrast, from Antiquity to the revolutions of the late eighteenth century. Throughout this long period voluntas and ratio, power and law confront each other, but only gradually the main content of the law, or at least its principal function, tends to coincide with the allocation of absolute rights to individuals.