"Liberty." The personification of liberty, was worshiped at Rome as a divinity. A temple was erected to her on the Aventine by Tib. Sempronius Gracchus, the expenses of which were defrayed by fines which had been exacted. Another was built by Clodius on the spot where Cicero's house had stood,1 which Cicero afterwards contemptuously called Templum Licentiae.2 After Caesar's victories in Spain, the senate decreed the erection of a temple to Libertas at the public expense;3 and after the murder of Sejanus, a statue of her was set up in the Forum.4
From these temples we must distinguish the Atrium Libertatis, which was in the north of the Forum, towards the Quirinal, probably on the elevated ground extending from the Quirinal to the Capitoline.5 This building, which had been restored as early as 195 BCE,6 and was newly built by Asinius Pollio,7 served as an office of the censors,8 and sometimes also criminal trials were held,9 and hostages were kept in it.10 It also contained tables with laws inscribed upon them, and seems, to some extent, to have been used as public archives.11 After its rebuilding by Asinius Pollio, it became the repository of the first public library at Rome.
Libertas is usually represented as a matron, with the pileus, the symbol of liberty, or a wreath of laurel. Sometimes she appears holding the Phrygian cap in her hand.12
- Livy. The History of Rome xxiv. 16; Paulus Diaconus, p. 121; Cassius Dio, xxxviii, 17; xxxix, 11.
- On his House, 51; De Legibus ii, 173. Cassius Dio, xliii, 44.
- Cassius Dio, lviii, 12.
- Cicero. Letters to Atticus iv, 16; Livy. The History of Rome xliii. 16.
- Livy. The History of Rome xxxiv, 44.
- Suetonius. Divus Augustus, 29.
- Livy. The History of Rome xliii, 16; xlv, 15.
- Cicero. For Milo, 22.
- Livy. The History of Rome xxv, 7.
- Livy. The History of Rome xliii, 16; Festus, p. 241 (ed. Miller).
- Cassius Dio, xlvii, 25; lxiii, 29; Suetonius. Nero, 57.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.