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XIII

[13arg] That the early writers used liberi in the plural number even of a single son or daughter.


The early orators and writers of history or of poetry called even one son or daughter liberi, using the plural. And I have not only noticed this usage at various times in the works of several other of the older writers, but I just now ran across it in the fifth book of Sempronius Asellio's History. 1 This Asellio was military tribune under Publius Scipio Africanus at Numantia and wrote a detailed account of the events in whose action he himself took part.

His words about Tiberius Gracchus, tribune of the commons, at the time when he was killed on the Capitol, are as follows: “For whenever Gracchus left home, he was never accompanied by less than three or four thousand men.” And farther on he wrote thus of the same Gracchus: “He began to beg that they would at least defend him and his children (liberi); and then he ordered that the one male child which he had at that time should be brought out, and almost in tears commended him to the protection of the people.”

1 Fr. 6, Peter.

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