Aequitas

Aequitas (genitive aequitatis) is the Latin concept of justice, equality, conformity, symmetry, or fairness. It is the origin of the English word "equity".[1] In ancient Rome, it could refer to either the legal concept of equity, or fairness between individuals.[2]

Aequitas on the reverse of this antoninianus struck under Claudius II. The goddess is holding her symbols, the balance and the cornucopia.

Cicero defined aequitas as "tripartite": the first, he said, pertained to the gods above (ad superos deos) and is equivalent to pietas, religious obligation; the second, to the Manes, the underworld spirits or spirits of the dead, and was sanctitas, that which is sacred; and the third pertaining to human beings (homines) was iustitia, "justice".[3]

During the Roman Empire, Aequitas as a divine personification was part of the religious propaganda of the emperor, under the name Aequitas Augusti, which also appeared on coins.[4] She is depicted on coins holding a cornucopia and a balance scale (libra), which was more often a symbol of "honest measure" to the Romans than of justice.[5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Equity | Origin and meaning of equity by Online Etymology Dictionary".
  2. ^ Quentin Skinner, Visions of Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 49 online. See also George Mousourakis, The Historical and Institutional Context of Roman Law (Ashgate, 2003), pp. 28, 32–35.
  3. ^ Cicero, Topica 90, as cited by Jerzy Linderski, "Q. Scipio Imperator," in Imperium sine fine: T. Robert S. Broughton and the Roman Republic (Franz Steiner, 1996), p. 175.
  4. ^ J. Rufus Fears, "The Cult of Virtues and Roman Imperial Ideology," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.17.2 (1981), pp. 897–898, 900, 903–904.
  5. ^ Linderski, "Q. Scipio Imperator," p. 175.