BMCR 2001.02.25

Response: Saint-Hilaire on Orlin on Bruun

Response to 2001.01.15

Response by

With reference to Eric Orlin’s review of Christer Bruun (ed.), The Roman Middle Republic: Politics, Religion and Historiography c. 400-133 BC :

In an account of my communication on “Citoyenneté et droit de vote: àpropos du procès des Scipions” (pp. 177-194) E. Orlin asserts that my analysis of what the “libertini” were is “vitiated by an excessive dependence on the factional model for Roman politics at that time”.

This is a mistaken interpretation.

1. Through the length of my exposé, I clearly reject the idea of any attempt to explain it by the “factional model”.

2. My own research work actually rests on fairly precisely ascertained pieces of information concerning “public opinion” : what kind of arguments may have convinced the people’s assembly (comitia tributa), thus allowing as prominent and prestigious personages as the “Scipios” to be indicted?

In the decades following the second “Punic War”, most ideological confrontations in public life are indeed overshadowed by the issue of Roman citizenship: should it be opened or restrained to foreigners (those qualified as “peregrini”, noui ciues, libertini)? Those debates relate more particularly to the room that will be left to the “libertini” in public assemblies (comitia tributa) and political life.

3. I have therefore applied myself to a lexical study of the texts where “libertini” are alluded to: as a conclusion to this analysis—which is the core of my communication—, it appears that the word “libertini” applies to all new citizens—whatever their previous status, i.e., slaves or “peregrini”.