Liberty (goddess)

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Depictions of Liberty
A crowned, robed woman holding aloft a torch
Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World), New York City, New York
A woman in a gown holding up three gold stars
Freedom Monument, Riga, Latvia
A defiant woman in a robe holding aloft a torch
Goddess of Democracy, University of British Columbia

Liberty is a loose term in English for the goddess or personification of the concept of liberty, and is represented by the Roman Goddess Libertas, by Marianne, the national symbol of France, and by many others.

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi is a well-known example in art, a gift from France to the United States.

Classical examples

Denarius (42 BCE) issued by Cassius Longinus and Lentulus Spinther, depicting the crowned head of Libertas, with a sacrificial jug and Lituus on the reverse

The ancient Roman goddess Libertas was honored during the second Punic War by a temple erected on the Aventine Hill in Rome by the father of Tiberius Gracchus. A statue in her honor also was raised by Clodius on the site of Marcus Tullius Cicero's house after it had been razed. The figure bears certain resemblances to Sol Invictus, the late Roman Republic sun deity and the crown often associated with that deity often appears in modern depictions of Liberty.

Neoclassical references

In 1793, during the French Revolution, the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral was turned into a "Temple of Reason" and, for a time, the Goddess of Liberty replaced the Virgin Mary on several altars.[1]

Depictions in the United States

A young Liberty, with winged cap, on the Obverse of the Mercury Dime - designed by Adolph Weinman and issued in the US between 1916-1945.

In the United States, "Liberty" often is depicted with five-pointed stars, as appear on the American flag, usually held in a raised hand. Another hand may hold a sword pointing downward. Depictions familiar to Americans include the following:

In the early decades of the 20th Century, Liberty mostly displaced Columbia, who was widely used as the National personification of the US during the 19th Century.

See also


  1. James A. Herrick, The Making of the New Spirituality, InterVarsity Press, 2004 ISBN 0-8308-3279-3, p. 75-76
  2. "Places We Call Home: Hackensack, N.J.". FDU Magazine. Fall 2001. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 

External links

Template:Liberty Template:National personifications