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Bill Thayer

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p704 Liber

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p704 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

LIBER, LIBERTAS. The Roman writers divide all men into Liberi and Servi [Servus]; and men were either born Liberi, in which case they were called by the Romans Ingenui [Ingenui], or they became Liberi after being Servi, in which case they were called Libertini [Libertus]. Libertus is defined in the Institutes of Justinian (1 tit. 1), to be "the natural faculty to do that which a man pleases, except he be in any thing hindered by force or law." According to the Romans considered Libertas as the natural state or condition of men [Servus]. A man might either be born a slave, or he might become a slave by loss of freedom. Libertas was the first essential of the three which determined status or condition; the other two were Civitas and Familia. Without Libertas there could be no status. Civitas implied Libertas; but Libertas did not necessarily imply Civitas, for a man might be Liber without being Civis. [Civis.] Familia implies both Libertas and Civitas, and he only who is Civis has Familia [Familia]. Thus, Familia necessarily includes Civitas, but Civitas does not necessarily include Familia in one sense; for familia may be changed, while libertas and civitas remain (cum et libertas et civitas retinetur, familia tantum mutatur minimam esse capitis diminutionem constat: Dig. 4 tit. 5 s11). But Civitas so far necessarily implied Familia, that no Civis Romanus was permanently without Familia.

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