by Liberty Miller (Müller), May 2007
eclectic content

Libertas , Libertus

[ Latin ]
[ lee' - behr - tahss , lee - behr' - tuhss ]

Libertas - Latin - the state or condition of being free or freed ; also Liber. [more...] Parallel to Civitas.

The Romans considered Libertas as the natural state or condition of men.
There were three things which determined a man's status, or condition:
- Libertas (whether a man was a freeman or not)
- Civitas (whether a man was a Citizen or not; i.e. the STATE or CONDITION of the citizenry (the condition enjoyed by cives*/ the civis)
- Familia (what property the man has)
Libertas was the first essential of the three. Without Libertas there could be no status, as servants or slaves could not be Citizens (could not be a Civis Romanus), could not own property (familia), and could not claim any rights of determination for a family (familia).

To be a citizen, a man must be a freeman ; but Libertas (the state of being free) did not necessarily imply Civitas (citizenship), for a man might be Liber (free) without being Civis (civic/cival). Familia implies both Libertas and Civitas, and he only who is Civis has Familia. Thus, Familia necessarily includes Civitas, but Civitas does not necessarily include Familia in one sense; for familia may be changed, while libertas and civitas remain : "cum et libertaa et civitas retinetur, familia tan turn mutatur mini- mam esse capitis diminutionem constat". But Civitas (citizenship) so strongly necessarily implied Familia (property), that no Civis Romanus (Roman Citizen) was permanently without Familia.

(Note that familia also implies the hereditary transmission of privileges, as well as property.)

Libertus - Latin (male) - A freedman (a freed man, a 'freman') ; one who was once a slave, but who has been freed from servitude. Plural: liberti

Liberta - Latin (female) - A freed woman. Plural: liberti

Libertini - The Roman writers divided all men into Liberi (free men) and Servi (slaves).
Those who were born free (liberi) were called Ingenui. Those who were formerly slaves (servi) but were later freed were called (the) Libertini. In other words, the libertini were those who became Liberi after being Servi.
One libertini = a libertus ; One servi = a servus.

Libertinus - The class (social class) that the libertini belonged to. Of the class of freedmen. Also used to refer to the son of a Libertus.

(quote) The Latin LIBERTUS or LIBERTINUS (plural: the liberti ; the libertini) means a slave who has been manumitted (given his freedom). He was then a freedman. If his master was a Roman citizen who manumitted him formally, and he was of age, he then became a citizen; otherwise, he did not. His master became his patron. Upon gaining his freedom, the slave, who formerly had only one slave name, gained the name of his master's family as praenomen (first name) and nomen (last name). The slave name remained as cognomen.

See Roman Nomenclature and the William Smith Dictionary entry on Libertus for more information on freedmen.

Liber - Free. A free person. "liber et ingenuus" = free and born free

* see the definition of CIVES in the entry for CIVITAS at

civitas (sing.), civitatis (plural) - Latin, feminine -
Abstract: citizenship;
Concrete: a union of citizens, state, commonwealth; the inhabitants of a city, townsfolk; (rarely) a city, town.


Gais Libertinus || libertyn - old English for "libertine" ||


Links / Sources:

• roman nomenclature (types of personal names)
• William Smith - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities

• Latin English Dictionary: words with the root "Liber"