Human Rights in Ancient Rome

By Richard A. Bauman | Go to book overview

2

HUMAN RIGHTS: THE GREEK EXPERIENCE

Preamble: the meaning ofphilanthropia

The word philanthropia supports a number of different meanings. EST lists a range running from 'love of men, humanitas' to 'the laws of friendship and hospitality'. LSJ define it as 'humanity, benevolence, kind-heartedness, humane feeling or, in a weaker sense, kindliness, courtesy'. 1 In antiquity Diogenes Laertius defined three kinds of philanthropia: the kind based on names, as when one greets someone with a name and a handshake; the kind based on giving help to every unfortunate; and the kind based on convivial encounters with boon companions. 2 EST notes another important aspect: 'Philanthropia is not only the goodwill of superiors towards inferiors, such as a god's towards us, a king's towards his subjects, or a magistrate's towards his subordinates, but also anyone's friendship or affection for another.' There is a hierarchy, at the upper levels of which it is not so much a question of friendship and affection as of an obligation to treat inferiors properly. The hierarchy was visible to Plato. 3

The basic category of 'kindliness, courtesy' can also be expressed as 'fellow-feeling, civility'. It is an attitude, one that needs to be deliberately inculcated, and the mechanism for doing that is paideia, 'training, education'. 4 Educated civility is largely presented as a stereotype devoid of detail, 5 but more specific connotations branch out from it. Diplomacy is a particularly fertile field, so much so that the adjectival form, philanthropos, assumes the force of a noun, ta philanthropa. It comes to mean treaty-generated privileges, then treaty-generated obligations, and ultimately all relations between ruler and subject. 6 When the Aetolians reminded the Romans of ta progegonota philanthropa (Pol. 20.9.7-8) they did not mean 'their former kindnesses'. 7 They meant their

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Human Rights in Ancient Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface x
  • Abbreviations xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Human Rights: the Greek Experience 10
  • 3 - Humanitas Romana 20
  • 4 - Human Rights Prior to Humanitas Romana 28
  • 5 - Human Rights in the Late Republic: Cicero 36
  • 6 - Human Rights in the Late Republic: Curbs on Ill-Treatment 51
  • 7 - The New Image of Humanitas: Part One 67
  • 8 - The New Image of Humanitas: Part Two 87
  • 9 - Man's Inhumanity to Man 112
  • 10 - Conclusion 126
  • Notes 130
  • Select Bibliography 168
  • Index to Sources 179
  • General Index 187
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