Aldo Moro, 61, killed by leftist terrorists, was premier of Ialy five times. The manner of his death contradicted his life, for he personified the style of post-World War II Italian democracy the cautious politics of consensus.

Moro was kidnaped March 16 by the Red Brigades, an urban guerrialla force, who said that by taking him they were striking at "the heart of the state." On April 15, the red Brigades announced that Moro had been condemned to death by a "people's court." Yesterday, his body was found in a car parked in downtown Rome with at least nine bullet wounds in the chest and head.

Thus ended the life of a man whose reputation was founded on compromise.

As head of the Christian Democratic Party that had dominated every Italian government since 1948, Moro was a key figure in the slow negotiations that have drawn the Italian Communist Party into increasingly close support of the government. On the day Moro was kidnaped, the Italian parliament voted overwhelmingly to give the Communists an "explicit and contracted" role in the government for the first time in 30 years.

The purpose of this arrangement was to broaden the base of the government to solve the country's economic and social problems. One result has been that there no longer is a mass party of opposition in Italy. Another has been the political isolation of the far left - the process has been under way for some years - and a resurgence of urban terroism.

The most spectacular example of such violence has been the seizing and eventual killing of Moro. Five guards and policemen were shot to death at the time Moro was abducted.

Moro's political style, like that of other Christian Deomcratic leaders, was a reaction to Mussolini and facism. Like his colleagues, Moro wore dark suits, lived a quiet life and gave long and involved speeches. Like his his colleagues, he deeply distrusted any appeal to public emotion - the stimulant on wich fascim thrived - or ary hint of nationalism.

The great achievements of Moro and his political generation was a system of parliamentary democracy that has proved to be durable and resilient despite three decades of buffeting.

But throughout the years, the system has come to depend increasingly on patronage to survive - and on quick fixes negotiated behind closed doors among leaders of parties and leaders of faction within parties.

Inhibited by history from forceful initiatives in the style of Mussolini, the long series of cabinets never has developed a social vision or a policy strong enough to cope with the consequences of Italy's extremely rapid industrialization and the rise of sudden national wealth.

Moro's gift was his ability to make use of virtually all the pieces on the chessboard of Italian politics whether he was in government or out. A case in point is the present agreement with bringing it about although he had not held a cabinet post since July 1976, when the last government in which he was premier was replaced.

Another was the historic "apertura a sinistra," or "opening to the left," or the early 1960s. At the time, Moro was secretary of the Christian Democratic Party. From this vantage point, rather than that of a government post, he persuaded the independent chieftians of his party ot accept the support of the Socialists in parliament. He also made it possible for the Socialists, who had long been allies of the Communists, to join the Christian Democrats.

The "opening to the left" ended 15 years of rule by Christian Democratic governments that had to rely on fagile alliances with rightist and centrist parties.

The "opening" ushered in a series of Christian Democratic regimes that depended on equally fragile alliances with the center and left. But the country's problem worsened.

Before his kidnaping and death, Moro was widely expected to succeed Giovanni Leoni as president of Italy next December. Had he achieved this honor, the power of which is more symbolic than real, it would have capped a career that reached back to the close of World War II.

Moro was one of the drafters of the constitution that established the Republic of Italy on Jan. 1, 1948. He headed several ministries during the 1950s, including those of justice and education. From December 1963, to May 1968, he was premier, heading three governments in that time. He served as his own foreign minister. From November 1974 to July 1976, he headed two other governments and served as a caretaker premier. He also was foreign minister for much of that time.

In all, he was premier for 2,074 days, second only to the 2,691 days in which the late Alcide de Gasperi was premier in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

He was the dominant political thinker in the Christian Democratic Party for the past 20 yeaars and its most effective tactician. He was known as "The Brain," the leading realist in a nation of realists. He knew what was possible in Italian politics. Knowing that, he could make offers that others could not refuse.

In 1964, The New Republic magazine described him as an "egghead" who was possessed with "a kind of polite, exhausting, oriental calm with which he appeases the most fuming passions and which he uses to soften the hardest blows between political antagonists."

Moro's most striking physical charateristic was a streak of white in his dark hair. His expression often was pained and he went through periods of uncertain health. He was regarded as incorruptible. Whereas many of his colleagues were involved in scandal, there never was a suggestion that Moro used his power for personal gain.

Persons who knew him have said that no one could tell what he was thinking at a given time. When he did reveal his plans, he was apt to do so at stunning length (some of his speeches lasted for as long as five hours).He had a flair for words that sometimes conveyed different meanings to different people. But this was to his advantage: he often gained the support of people who held widely divergent views.

Sometimes his pronouncements were contradictory on their face. For example, he described the center-left coalitions that followed the "opening to the left" as "converging parallels."

A story is told about a luncheon he had with former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger. Shortly after the meal began, Kissinger, apparently thinking that Moro looked tired, asked him if he would like some coffee. Moro pointedly replied that this suggestion showed that the German-born Kissinger was no true European, it being inconceivable that a cultured European would drink coffee before the end of the meal. But a few moments later, so the story goes, Moro fell asleep.

The problems that beset Itlay in Moro's time include a rate of inflation running at 17 percent a year (down from 22 percent a year ago), the highest rate of unemployment in Europe, inadequate health services, an unresponsive and unrealistic education policy, poor housing and an inefficient and top-heavy bureaucracy,

The difficulties have been made worse by massive migrations of the poor from the south of Italy to the industrial north. This shift has been accompanied by an equally massive move of people from the countryside to the cities.

Neither the policy nor the structure of the government has changed to meet these challenges.Apart from realigning the parties at home, Moro, like other politicians, relied on Italy's membership in the European Common Market as a solution to the country's economic problems. Italy is largely dependent on exports for its prosperity.

Moro based Itlay's foreign policy on its membership in NATO and a particularly close relationship with the United States.

But Italy remains a country where regional loyalties are stronger than national ones. Interests are particular rather than general and the fortunes of a local soccer team have been known to spark a political crisis.

Elena Croce, the daughter of Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce, has said, "For any other European country, it is possible to cite a more or less established national image . . . But there is no generally acceptable Italian image of Italy."

And so Moro, like other Italian leaders, operated from a regional power base. It is the city of Bari on the "heel" of the Italian "boot." He was born in the town of Magile near Bari on Sept. 23, 1916.

His father was a school inspector.

Young Moro studied law at the University of Bari and graduated with distinction. After receivin a doctorate in 1940, he taught at the University. Later, he was on the faculty of the University of Rome. He never practiced law.

In 1939, he was elected president of Catholic University Federation. In 1942, he gained the presidency of the Catholic Graduates Movemnet. It is said that he was a member of the Fascist Party at one time early in his career.

After World War II, he joined the Christian Democratic Party. He made his debut in national politics in 1946, when he was the youngest member of the constitutent assmebly elected to draw up a new constitution. He was elected to parliament in April 1948.

This was the famous election known as "the miracle of 1948" when the Christian Democrats defeated what appeared to be a major threat from the Communists. The Communists had been part of the coalition governments that had run the country from the end of the war until the new constitution went into effect and the April elections occured.

Although they have long run numerous regional and municipal governments, the Communists took no faomal part in the national government until the recent arrangement in which Moro played such a prominent role.

Moro's first government post was as undersecretary of state for foreign affairs under Premier de Gasperi in 1948. He was appointed minister of justice, his first cabinet post, in 1955.

He undertook wide reforms of the prison system, including the abolition of corporal punishment, and the improvement of food and services.

He was named minister of education in 1957, and March 1959, was elected political secretary of the Christian Democratic Party. It was from this post that Moro organized the "opening to the left." In 1976, he was elected president of the Christian Democratic Party.

Moro and his wife. Eleanora, who survives him in a modest apartment in Rome.They had a son and three daughters, who also survive.