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Libertas and the Practice of Politics in the Late Roman Republic


  • Date Published: November 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108958301

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About the Authors
  • This is a comprehensive analysis of the idea of libertas and its conflicting uses in the political struggles of the late Roman Republic. By reconstructing Roman political thinking about liberty against the background of Classical and Hellenistic thought, it excavates two distinct intellectual traditions on the means allowing for the preservation and the loss of libertas. Considering the interplay of these traditions in the political debates of the first century BC, Dr Arena offers a significant reinterpretation of the political struggles of the time as well as a radical reappraisal of the role played by the idea of liberty in the practice of politics. She argues that, as a result of its uses in rhetorical debates, libertas underwent a form of conceptual change at the end of the Republic and came to legitimise a new course of politics, which led progressively to the transformation of the whole political system.

    • Shows how the role of ideas such as liberty matters in the study of Roman politics
    • Provides a detailed historical account of the idea of Roman libertas, which is often regarded in modern political thought as the foundation of Republicanism
    • Contains in-depth analysis of Roman political thinking against the background of Classical and Hellenistic Greek thought
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '[This] book makes an important contribution to the elucidation of a concept central to Roman political culture; it, and its political role in the period in question, are analysed comprehensively, learnedly and with a good theoretical underpinning (ancient and modern). This study is an impressive accomplishment and will from now on be an important point of reference in all discussions on Roman libertas.' Alexander Yakobson, The Journal of Roman Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108958301
    • length: 334 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.451kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Roman libertas
    2. The citizens' political liberty
    3. The liberty of the commonwealth
    4. The political struggle in the first century BC
    5. Political response and the need for legitimacy

  • Author

    Valentina Arena, University College London
    Valentina Arena is Lecturer in Roman History at University College London. Her work focuses mainly on two interlinked lines of investigation: the study of Roman oratory and rhetorical techniques and the analysis of Roman political thought and its relationship with the practice of politics. On both areas and the relationship with one another she has written a series of studies, culminating in this, her first book. She is currently working on the notion of popular sovereignty (as part of an AHRC-funded project) and is part of the Academic Board of the ERC-funded project to write a new, updated edition of the Fragmentary Orators of the Roman Republic (Malcovati's first edition). She is also a member of the editorial board of Tulliana and has advised the BBC and other broadcasters on television programmes and documentaries on ancient Rome.

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