Libertas, the Goddess of Freedom

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Libertas was a deity of ancient Rome who personified Liberty.

In the Late Republic, she was politicized and appeared on coins supporting the Populares group and ultimately the killers of Julius Caesar. Nevertheless, she occasionally appears on coins from the imperial era, such as the “Freedom of the People” coins issued by Galba during his brief rule following Nero’s death. She typically appears with two accessories: the soft pileus, which she holds out rather than wearing, and the rod.

Related article: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome

Eleutheria, the personification of liberty, is the Greek equivalent of the goddess Libertas. Many post-classical representations of liberty as a person still feature aspects of the Roman goddess’ iconography.

The Great Seal of France, designed in 1848, also has a representation of the goddess Libertas. This is the illustration that eventually served as inspiration for French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s monument of Liberty Illuminating the World.

Numerous modern personifications, such as the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in the United States, have drawn their inspiration from Libertas and other Roman goddesses. The principal element of the monument that evokes Libertas, the emblem of Liberty from which the statue gets its name, according to the National Park Service, is the Roman robe.

Featured image: The statue’s head on exhibit at the Paris World’s Fair, 1878




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