oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Recherches sur la notion de patientia dans la vie politique a rome (de cesar a hadrien) : article

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



This paper is an attempt to underline the importance of patientia in the political life of ancient Rome, especially during the late Republic and the first century BC. Although the Christian notion of patientia has been well studied, the political quality it could represent is still a new field. The main problem is first to decide what kind of quality it was : in the late Republic, it was the physical endurance a general would need, which explains why Catilina based his propaganda on patientia, but it could also be a moral virtue. Patientia was a plebeian virtue against the pride and cruelty of the Patricians : this contrast was reaffirmed in the Civil War, when Caesar applied it against the Optimates who were acting arrogantly. Under the Julio-Claudians, patientia was a virtue with very much the same meaning as constantia, but it never attained the same importance because it was sometimes connected with servility. Patientia, which was a positive notion in the late Republic, whether physical or moral, came to be employed in a negative context by Tacitus. This study does not pretend to be exhaustive - it would be necessary, for instance, to consider the Stoic influence - but is merely a first step towards a better understanding of patientia before the Christian era.

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