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State (polity) - Wikipedia
In the West, the ancient Greeks initially regarded the best form of government as rule by the best men.[10] Plato advocated a benevolent monarchy ruled by an idealized philosopher king, who was above the law.[10] Plato nevertheless hoped that the best men would be good at respecting established laws, explaining that "Where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own, the collapse of the state, in my view, is not far off; but if law is the master of the government and the government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise and men enjoy all the blessings that the gods shower on a state."[11] _More than Plato attempted to do, Aristotle flatly opposed letting the highest officials wield power beyond guarding and serving the laws._[10] In other words, Aristotle advocated the rule of law:

It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.[5]

The Roman statesman Cicero is often cited as saying, roughly: "We are all servants of the laws in order to be free."[12] During the Roman Republic, controversial magistrates might be put on trial when their terms of office expired. Under the Roman Empire, the sovereign was personally immune (legibus solutus), but those with grievances could sue the treasury.[7]

In China, members of the school of legalism during the 3rd century BC argued for using law as a tool of governance, but they promoted "rule by law" as opposed to "rule of law", meaning that they placed the aristocrats and emperor above the law.[13] In contrast, the Huang-Lao school of Daoism rejected legal positivism in favor of a natural law that even the ruler would be subject to.[14]
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