Republic of letters
Republic Re*pub"lic (r?-p?b"l?k), n. [F. r['e]publique, L. respublica commonwealth; res a thing, an affair + publicus, publica, public. See {Real}, a., and {Public}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Common weal. [Obs.] --B. Jonson. [1913 Webster]

2. A state in which the sovereign power resides in the whole body of the people, and is exercised by representatives elected by them; a commonwealth. Cf. {Democracy}, 2. [1913 Webster]

Note: In some ancient states called republics the sovereign power was exercised by an hereditary aristocracy or a privileged few, constituting a government now distinctively called an aristocracy. In some there was a division of authority between an aristocracy and the whole body of the people except slaves. No existing republic recognizes an exclusive privilege of any class to govern, or tolerates the institution of slavery. [1913 Webster]

{Republic of letters}, The collective body of literary or learned men. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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