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The Roman section only of an article on pp705‑706 of

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

 p705  LI′BERTUS, (ἀπελεύθερος), a freedman.

[. . .]

2. Roman. Freemen (liberi) were either Ingenui [Ingenui] or Libertini. Libertini were those persons who had been released from legal servitude (qui ex justa servitute manumissi sunt, Gaius, I.11). A manumitted slave was Libertus (that is, liberatus) with reference to his master; with reference to the class to which he belonged after manumission, he was Libertinus. According to Suetonius, libertinus was the son of a libertus in the time of the censor Appius Claudius, and for some time after (Claud. c24); but this is not the meaning of the word in the extant Roman writers.

There were three modes of Legitima manumissio, the vindicta, the census, and the testamentum: if the manumitted slave was above thirty years of age, if he was the Quiritarian property of his master, and if he was manumitted in proper form (legitime, justa et legitima manumissione) he became a Civis Romanus: if any of these conditions were wanting, he became a Latinus; and in some cases only a Dediticius. [Manumissio.] Thus there were, as Ulpian observes, three kinds of Liberti: Cives Romani, Latini Juniani, and Dediticii.

The status of a Civis Romanus and that of a Dediticius, have been already described. [Civitas; Dediticii.] As to the political condition of Libertini under the republic, who were Cives Romani, see Manumissio.

Originally slaves who were so manumitted as not to become Cives Romani, were still slaves; but the Praetor took them under his protection, and maintained their freedom, though he could not make them Cives Romani. The Lex Junia gave them a certain status, which was expressed by the phrase Latini Juniani: they were called Latini, says Gaius I.22, III.56), because they were put on the same footing as the Latini Coloniarii, and Juniani because the Junia Lex gave them freedom, whereas before they were by strict law (ex jure Quiritium) slaves. Gaius (III.56) says that the Lex Junia declared such manumitted persons to be as free as if they had been Roman citizens by birth (cives Romani ingenui), who had gone out from Rome to join a Latin colony, and thereby had become Latini Coloniarii: this passage, which is not free from difficulty, is remarked on by Savigny (Zeitschrift, IX. p320).

Latinus could attain the Civitas in several ways (Gaius, I.28, &c.; Ulp. Frag. tit. 3; Latinitas.) As the patria potestas was a Jus peculiar to Roman citizens, it followed that a Latinus had not the (Roman) patria potestas over his children. If, however, he had married either a Latina and had begotten a child, who would of course be a Latinus, or had married a Roman civis, which, by a senatusconsultum of Hadrian, would be a Romanus Civis, he might, by complying with the provisions of the Lex Aelia Sentia, in the former case obtain the civitas for himself, his wife, and child, and in both cases acquire the patria potestas over his child just as if the child had been born in justae nuptiae (Gaius, I.30, 66).

The law which concerns the property (bona) of Libertini may be considered under Patronus; see also Ingenui and Lex Junia.


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Page updated: 26 Jan 20