Libertas

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Libertas (Latin for Liberty) was the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty.

Contents

Temples and derived inspirations

In 238 BC, before the Second Punic War, having long been a Roman deity along with other personified virtues, Libertas assumed goddess status. Tiberius Gracchus ordered the construction of her first temple on Aventine Hill; census tables were stored inside the temple's atrium. A subsequent temple was built (58-57 B.C.) on Palatine Hill, another of the Seven hills of Rome, by Publius Clodius Pulcher. By building and consecrating the temple on the former house of then-exiled Cicero, Clodius ensured that the land was legally uninhabitable. Upon his return, Cicero successfully argued that the consecration was invalid and thus managed to reclaim the land and destroy the temple. In 46 B.C., the Roman Senate voted to build and dedicate a shrine to Libertas in recognition of Julius Caesar, but no temple was built; instead, a small statue of the goddess stood in the Roman Forum.[1]

Libertas, along with other Roman goddesses, has served as the inspiration for many modern-day symbols, including the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in the United States of America. According to the National Park Service, the Statue's Roman robe is the main feature that invokes Libertas and the symbol of Liberty from which the Statue derives its name.[2]

In addition, money throughout history has born the name or image of Libertas. Libertas was pictured on Galba's "Freedom of the People" coins during his short reign after the death of Nero.[3] The University of North Carolina records two instances of private banks in its state depicting Libertas on their banknotes;[4][5] Libertas is depicted on the 5, 10 and 20 Rappen denomination coins of Switzerland.

Symbols of Libertas

Libertas was associated with the pileus, commonly worn by the freed slave (emphasis added):[6]

Libertas was also recognized in ancient Rome by the rod (vindicta or festuca),[6] used ceremonially in the act of Manumissio vindicta, Latin for "Freedom by the Rod" (emphasis added):

Personifications

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