Doing Violence to the Roman Idea of Liberty? Freedom as Bodily Integrity in Roman Political Thought

MICHELLE CLARKE
HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT 35.2 (2014): 211-233

Abstract: This paper challenges how Roman liberty has been conceived by neorepublican writers like Quentin Skinner, who have suggested that Romans were primarily concerned with the arbitrary use of power. It argues that Romans focused their attention more narrowly and concretely on arbitrary coercion, or immunity from the unpredictable and unjustified violence which they believed was endemic to life outside the shelter of the self-protecting Roman civitas. It concludes by suggesting that Roman views about liberty are closer to those of Judith Shklar, reflecting her indebtedness to genuinely ‘neo-Roman’ writers like Montaigne and Montesquieu.