This week -- after some brief Platonic mopping up -- we begin looking at Roman libertas in earnest, and in particular the role of libertas in a (mostly) political context (this will occupy us for the next couple of weeks). I'll begin this week by giving you a brief overview of Roman history (from monarchy to Republic to Principate), and then segue quickly into the rise of libertas under the Roman monarchy (753-509 BC) and its transition to the Republic (starting in 509 BC).
NB: This is the order in which we'll talk about the readings this week (this is why they're split up).
Cicero, Republic, Book 2.1-51 (pp. 35-51, founding of Rome down to expulsion of last king and end of monarchy)
A note about the text: Please note that there's a lot of useful stuff in your text that you should pay attention to: a) a Table of Dates on pp. xlii-xliii; b) a nice Appendix explaining the 'Roman Constitution' (pp. 170-74); and c) Explanatory Notes accompanying the actual text and beginning on p. 175.
Livy, History of Rome, Book 1.46-48 (Servius Tullius, Tarquinius Superbus), 57-60 (the story of Lucretia); Book 2.1 Click HERE for a pdf of this reading.
Chaim Wirszubski, Libertas as a Political Idea at Rome (Cambridge 1950), pp. 1-6. HERE IS A PDF OF THESE PAGES.
NB: This is a seminal study of the subject of this class (or at least of the political aspect of libertas). It is available electronically through Suzzallo Library, and since we'll be reading quite a bit of it, I encourage you to seek it out electronically (try clicking HERE ) -- you may read it online or download pdfs of its various parts.
Livy, History of Rome, Book 3. 44-55 (story of Verginia, and the second 'secession of the plebs' in 449 BC). This bit is in the same Livy pdf as above.
Cicero, Republic, Book 1 (pp. 3-34); Book 2.52-70 (pp. 51-59)
Starting probably Tuesday, we'll talk about the selections from Livy covering the king Servius Tullius (and his successor Tarquinius Superbus) and, most importantly, the story of Lucretia. (This story is also the focus of the week's paper, for those of you who choose to write one: see 'Papers' under 'Assignments' to the left for the specific topic.) It is, according to Livy, the 'foundation' myth for the Roman Republic (=Libertas). How plausible do you find it? Note that Cicero mentions this story as well (pp. 49-50). Are there any notable differences between Livy's telling and Cicero's?
With Livy and the story of Verginia, and Cicero Republic Book 1 and the latter half of Book 2, we transition into the early Roman Republic and the first challenges to (and refinement of) libertas. As with the Lucretia story, think about what Livy means to convey with the story of Verginia about this particular challenge to Roman libertas. What does Verginia have in common with Lucretia? and is her story really about 'freedom' -- or about something else (or something else besides)?
The readings in Cicero (which I'll start with on Monday) will provide a sort of historical overview of a part of Roman history. As you'll see, the text is fragmentary -- i.e., large chunks are lost. But as you read this, consider that it is intended to be Cicero's answer to Plato's Republic, though for a Roman audience. How does it differ from Plato? Note those places (in this and in later readings in this text) where freedom or libertas is explicitly mentioned, and try to deduce from that some sort of 'Ciceronian' theory of freedom. You will note, by the way, the influence of Cicero in the short selection from Wirszubski.
Eventually, we'll consider one important result of the Verginia story, the so-called 'second secession of the plebs' (don't worry: I'll explain what this is, and what the first one was!).
Although I've not assigned anything in Patterson for this week, for next week I'll have you read Chapter 12 on 'Freedom and Class Conflict in Republican Rome'. You might want to get a head start on that.