This week we move into the Republic proper and political freedom or libertas under the Republic (roughly 509-31 BC). Roughly speaking, we'll consider three events when libertas was contested or prominently involved: 1) the various 'secessions of the plebs' (and the accompanying so-called 'struggle of the orders') which occurred during the first three centuries of the Republic (your Livy reading last week covered only the second of them -- we will come back to the story of Verginia in connection with this, by the way); 2) the 'agrarian problem' and the Gracchan legislation (toward the end of the 2nd century BC); and 3) events leading up to the assassination of Caesar in 44 BC and the assassination itself.
Patterson, Chapter 12, 'Freedom and Class Conflict in Republican Rome', pp. 203-226.
NB: This is a very meaty chapter that covers both issues #1 and #2 above.
Ch. Wirszubski, Libertas as a Political Idea, Chapters 1-2 (pp. 7-65). Click HERE for a PDF of these chapters, and remember that you may get/read the entire book through the UW Libraries (try clicking HERE).
NB: These chapters cover (1) the fundamental principles of libertas in the Roman Republic and (2) roughly the same issues as Patterson in his Chapter 12. You will notice some overlap between the two (this is in fact the topic of Paper #2)...but be alert to differences.
Appian, The Civil Wars (trans. J. Carter), Book 1.1-33 (his account of the Gracchi), pp. 1-20 in the PDF, for which please click HERE.
NB: Appian is an important Roman historian writing in Greek in the 2nd century AD.
Ch. Wirszubski, Libertas as a Political Idea, Chap. 3 (pp. 66-96, included with the PDF above)
Appian, The Civil Wars (trans. J. Carter), Book 2.106-148 (assassination of Julius Caesar), pp. 125-150 in the same Appian pdf as above
I will provide additional historical background to what you read in Patterson and Wirszubski, but there are certain things that you might want to investigate a little bit on your own (dare I say it, but Wikipedia will provide adequate guidance). Specifically:
- secessio plebis
- The Hortensian Law (Lex Hortensia)
- agrarian laws
- The Punic Wars
- The Gracchi
Also, we'll talk a bit about the organization of the government in The Roman Republic. The Appendix in your Cicero text (pp. 170-74) will provide basic information.
It is possible if not likely that we will only get to the assassination of Caesar at the beginning of next week. But as you read about that event in Appian, try to tease out some of the reasons for the discontent with Caesar. What was it about Roman libertas that he threatened -- and most importantly, whom did he threaten?
An important, recent contribution to the scholarship on Roman libertas is V. Arena, Libertas and the Practice of Politics in the Late Roman Republic (Cambridge 2012). This is quite a technical book, aimed largely at those who have a fairly high-level grasp of Roman history and Republican politics. That said, her discussion of Roman libertas in Chapter 1 and 'citizens' political liberty' in Chapter 2 are excellent and in and of themselves, pretty accessible. The book is not available -- or not available free -- electronically, but you may find it in the library. And if you're interested, you can get a good summary of the book via this 2013 review.