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Skinner, Pettit And Livy: The Conflict Of The Orders And The Ambiguity Of Republican Liberty

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I argue that an ambiguity exists between Philip Pettit's largely normative and Quentin Skinner's largely historical accounts of republican liberty. Historical republican liberty, as seen in Livy's narrative of the period following the expulsion of the Roman kings to the passage of the Licinian-Sextian laws, was largely defensive, in the form of the tribunate. Though republican liberty protected the plebeians from wanton patrician abuse, removing them from a formal dependence analogous to that of slave or child in Roman law, it left them under the tutelage and guidance of a paternalistic order. Thus, while historical republican liberty was anti-patriarchal, it was normatively compatible with paternalism. Yet paternalism is probably undesirable for both normatively- and historically-minded advocates of republicanism
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Keywords: Conflict of the Orders; Livy; Republican; Roman historiography; Roman liberty; Roman political history; Roman political thought; early Roman republic; paternalism; tribunate

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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