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Varro, the Name-Givers, and the Lawgivers: The Case of the Consuls

Arena, V; (2021) Varro, the Name-Givers, and the Lawgivers: The Case of the Consuls. Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought , 38 (3) pp. 588-609. 10.1163/20512996-12340352. Green open access

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Abstract

This essay aims at identifying a tradition of lawgivers in the political culture of the late Republic. It focuses on the antiquarian tradition of the second half of the first century BC, which, it argues, should be considered part of the wider quest for legal normativism that takes place towards the end of the Republic. By reconstructing the intellectual debates on the nature of the consulship, which at the time was carried out through the means of etymological research, this essay shows that, when set within its proper philosophical framework, ancient etymological studies acted as a search for philosophical truth and, in the case of Varro, identify the early kings as the first Roman lawgivers. In turn, the language of political institutions and its etymologies, conceived along philosophical lines, could become a weapon in the constitutional battles of the late Republic.

Type: Article
Title: Varro, the Name-Givers, and the Lawgivers: The Case of the Consuls
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1163/20512996-12340352
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1163/20512996-12340352
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: consul; etymology; kings; Cincius; Varro
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131477
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