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.
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.
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; Epilogue.