Also, for a Roman politician engaging himself in the res publica, a translation can often be the even more generic being occupied in "politics".
In some contexts the "state organisation system" meaning of res publica derives into something like "constitution", although "constitution", properly speaking, is a much more modern concept. Ancient Romans would use the expression "Twelve Tables" instead of res publica, when referring to their constitution at the time of the "republic", and the "inalterable laws installed by the divine Augustus", for their equivalent of a constitution in the era of the early Empire.
After the Roman Empire collapsed in the West, the idea of res publica disappeared, as foreign to the barbarians of the Migrations Period: whenever Gregory of Tours refers to res publica, it is the Eastern Empire of which he is speaking.
From these examples it also follows that probably there was also a gradual shift of meaning of the res publica concept throughout the Roman era: the "(Roman) Republic" connotation of res publica is something that rather occurs with retrospect to a closed period (so less appararent in Cicero's time, who never knew the era of the Emperors, and could only compare with the epoch of the Kings); on the other hand the translation of the Greek "politeia" concept appears to have nearly completely worn of in late antiquity.
When Cicero refers to the Greek authors (pointing at the "politeia" concept):
|(ch. 16) dein Tubero: 'nescio Africane cur ita memoriae proditum sit, Socratem omnem istam disputationem reiecisse, et tantum de vita et de moribus solitum esse quaerere. quem enim auctorem de illo locupletiorem Platone laudare possumus? cuius in libris multis locis ita loquitur Socrates, ut etiam cum de moribus de virtutibus denique de re publica disputet, numeros tamen et geometriam et harmoniam studeat Pythagorae more coniungere.'||But, then, my Africanus, replied Tubero, of what credit is the tradition which states that Socrates rejected all these physical investigations, and confined his whole attention to men and manners? For, with respect to him what better authority can we cite than Plato? in many passages of whose works Socrates speaks in such a manner that even when he is discussing morals, and virtues, and even public affairs and politics, he endeavors to interweave, after the fashion of Pythagoras, the doctrines of arithmetic, geometry, and harmonic proportions with them.||“But, my Africanus, (replied Tubero) of what credit is this tradition which states that Socrates rejected all these physical investigations, and confined his whole attention to men and manners? In this respect, what better authority can we cite than Plato’s? And in many passages of his works, Socrates speaks in a very different manner, and even in his discussions respecting morals, and virtues, and politics, he endeavours to interweave, after the fashion of Pythagoras, the doctrines of arithmetic, geometry, and harmonic proportions.”|
|(ch. 9) Iam illa, perfugia quae sumunt sibi ad excusationem quo facilius otio perfruantur, certe minime sunt audienda, cum ita dicunt accedere ad rem publicam plerumque homines nulla re bona dignos, cum quibus comparari sordidum, confligere autem multitudine praesertim incitata miserum et periculosum sit. quam ob rem neque sapientis esse accipere habenas cum insanos atque indomitos impetus volgi cohibere non possit, neque liberi cum inpuris atque inmanibus adversariis decertantem vel contumeliarum verbera subire, vel expectare sapienti non ferendas iniurias: proinde quasi bonis et fortibus et magno animo praeditis ulla sit ad rem publicam adeundi causa iustior, quam ne pareant inprobis, neve ab isdem lacerari rem publicam patiantur, cum ipsi auxilium ferre si cupiant non queant.||Those apologies, therefore, in which men take refuge as an excuse for their devoting themselves with more plausibility to mere inactivity do certainly not deserve to be listened to; when, for instance, they tell us that those who meddle with public affairs are generally good-for-nothing men, with whom it is discreditable to be compared, and miserable and dangerous to contend, especially when the multitude is in an excited state. On which account it is not the part of a wise man to take the reins, since he cannot restrain the insane and unregulated movements of the common people. Nor is it becoming to a man of liberal birth, say they, thus to contend with such vile and unrefined antagonists, or to subject one’s self to the lashings of contumely, or to put one’s self in the way of injuries which ought not to be borne by a wise man. As if to a virtuous, brave, and magnanimous man there could be a juster reason for seeking the government than this—to avoid being subjected to worthless men, and to prevent the Commonwealth from being torn to pieces by them; when, even if they were then desirous to save her, they would not have the power.||Those apologies, therefore, which undertake to furnish us with an easy excuse for living in selfish inactivity, are certainly not worth hearing. They tell us that to meddle with public affairs and popular demagogues, incapable of all goodness, with whom it is disgraceful to mix; and to struggle with the passions of the insensate multitude, is a most miserable and hazardous life. On which account, no wise man will take the reins, since he cannot restrain the insane and unregulated movements of the lower orders. Nor is it acting like a gentleman (say they) thus to contend with antagonists so unwashed and so unrefined (impuris atque immanibus adversariis) or subject yourself to the lashings of contumely, of which the wisest will always have most to bear. As if to virtuous, brave, and magnanimous men, there could be a juster reason for seeking the government than this, that we should not be subjected to scoundrels, nor suffer the commonwealth to be distracted by them, lest we should discover, too late, when we desire to save her, that we are without the power.|
|(I) triumphalis et censorius tu sexiesque consul ac tribuniciae potestatis particeps et, quod his nobilius fecisti, dum illud patri pariter et equestri ordini praestas, praefectus praetorii eius omniaque haec rei publicae es: nobis quidem qualis in castrensi contubernio, nec quicquam in te mutavit fortunae amplitudo, nisi ut prodesse tantundem posses et velles.||For albeit you have triumphed with him for your noble victories, ben Censor in your time, and Consull six times,7 executed the sacred authoritie of the Tribunes, patrones, and protectors of the Commons of Rome, together with him; albeit I say you have otherwise shewed your noble heart in honouring and gracing both the court of the Emperor your father, and also the whole state of Knights and Gentlemen of Rome, whiles you were captaine of the guard, and Grand master of his house and roiall pallace (in which places all, you carried your selfe respectively to the good of the Commonweale) yet to all your friends, and especially to my selfe, you have borne the same colours, and lodged together in one pavilion.||You, who have had the honour of a triumph, and of the censorship, have been six times consul, and have shared in the tribunate; and, what is still more honourable, whilst you held them in conjunction with your Father, you have presided over the Equestrian order, and been the Prefect of the Prætorians : all this you have done for the service of the Republic, and, at the same time, have regarded me as a fellow-soldier and a messmate.|
|(I.7) Nam Tiberius cuncta per consules incipiebat, tamquam vetere re publica et ambiguus imperandi: ne edictum quidem, quo patres in curiam vocabat, nisi tribuniciae potestatis praescriptione posuit sub Augusto acceptae.||For Tiberius would inaugurate everything with the consuls, as though the ancient constitution remained, and he hesitated about being emperor. Even the proclamation by which he summoned the senators to their chamber, he issued merely with the title of Tribune, which he had received under Augustus.|
|(I.3-4) quotus quisque reliquus qui rem publicam vidisset?|
Igitur verso civitatis statu nihil usquam prisci et integri moris: omnes exuta aequalitate iussa principis aspectare...
|How few were left who had seen the republic!|
Thus the State had been revolutionised, and there was not a vestige left of the old sound morality. Stript of equality, all looked up to the commands of a sovereign...
Nonetheless it can only be admired in Tacitus how, with some judicially chosen words, he most poignantly and to the point describes the transition from "(overdue) remnants of the republic" to "actual Imperial reign, already established in the minds of people".
Meaning "the (Roman) state" in general:
|(III,1) Verum ne nimis longum faciam, tacebo aliarum usquequaque gentium mala grauissima: quod ad Romam pertinet Romanumque imperium tantum loquar, id est ad ipsam proprie ciuitatem et quaecumque illi terrarum uel societate coniunctae uel condicione subiectae sunt, quae sint perpessae ante aduentum Christi, cum iam ad eius quasi corpus rei publicae pertinerent.||But that I may not be prolix, I will be silent regarding the heavy calamities that have been suffered by any other nations, and will speak only of what happened to Rome and the Roman empire, by which I mean Rome properly so called, and those lands which already, before the coming of Christ, had by alliance or conquest become, as it were, members of the body of the state.|
Meaning "the Roman Republic" as era with a distinct form of state organisation, from the same book:
|(III,7) Adhuc autem meliorum partium ciuilium Sulla dux fuit, adhuc armis rem publicam recuperare moliebatur; horum bonorum initiorum nondum malos euentus habuit.||Now, up to this time, Sylla's cause was the more worthy of the two; for till now he used arms to restore the republic, and as yet his good intentions had met with no reverses.|