The Government as Fiduciary: A Practical Demonstration from the Reign of Trajan

Robert G. Natelson, University of Montana School of Law


This article addresses the potential objections to applying fiduciary standards to higher government functionaries by exploring a case that proved it feasible: the government of the Roman Emperor Trajan. The author asks, if fiduciary government was practicable in a narrowly based regime governing a multicultural empire -- where communication was slow and information expensive -- why is it not achievable in America today. The author concludes that the principles by which Trajan governed are a rebuke to our own, less exacting, standards of public law today and that holding government to fiduciary standards, even in a huge multicultural empire, is not merely a noble ideal--but an attainable one.