<p>Famed seat of the censors, archive, public library and art gallery, restored and expanded by Asinius Pollio <i>c</i>. 39 B.C. with funds from his Illyrian military campaign (Suet., <i>Aug</i>. 29.5: <i>ab Asinio Pollione atrium Libertatis</i> (cf. Dio Cass. 48.41.7; as seat of censors: Livy 34.44.5, 43.16.13, 45.15.5; archive: Festus 277; library: Pliny, <i>NH</i> 35.10; Ov., <i>Trist</i>. 3.1.69-72; on the display of art: Pliny, <i>NH</i> 36.23-25, 36.33-34). Traditionally, the Atrium has been placed on the saddle between the *Arx and the *Quirinal following textual sources and the evidence offered by the Severan Marble Plan (Castagnoli; recently advocating this position, Tortorici 76). Purcell and Amici have challenged this locale with competing identifications; Purcell identifies the Atrium Libertatis with the *Tabularium, while Amici associates the Atrium with remains of a monumental edifice N of the *Curia Iulia.</p> <p>The primary source for the Atrium Libertatis is Cicero (<i>Att</i>. 4.16.8), who bought land extending up to the Atrium Libertatis on behalf of Julius Caesar, presumably intended for the *Forum Iulium: <i>itaque Caesaris amici … in monumentum illud, quod tu tollere laudibus solebas, ut forum laxaremus et usque ad atrium Libertatis explicaremus</i>. The common interpretation of this passage places the Atrium just NW of the Forum Iulium, atop the saddle linking the Arx and Quirinal, within the Servian Wall (*Muri: Quirinalis). Corroborating this, Livy describes the censors walking uphill (<i>escenderunt</i>) as they returned to the Atrium Libertatis (43.16.13); thus the location of the <i>atrium</i> should be an elevated one.</p> <p>Frequently cited in support of this traditional location is fragment 29 of the Severan Marble Plan which depicts one hemicycle of the Forum of Trajan inscribed LIBERTATIS; Castagnoli proposed that Trajan erected a shrine to Libertas in the S hemicycle after destroying the Republican Atrium Libertatis during the construction of his forum (Castagnoli). However, Rodríguez Almeida has definitively placed this fragment on the N side of the Forum of Trajan (<i>Forma</i> 109-10), which complicates this theory. Recently, La Rocca has advocated a location beneath the Basilica Ulpia, between its N hemicycle and the Forum Iulium; in this scenario, Trajan’s Forum would have incorporated both the shrine to Libertas and the Greek and Latin libraries that originally were part of the Atrium Libertatis (La Rocca 233-35).</p> <p>Purcell challenges the traditional interpretation of Cic., <i>Att</i>. 4.16.8; he finds the verbs <i>laxare</i> and <i>explicare</i> (‘unfold’ and ‘loosen out’, respectively) poorly suited to reference the area of the Forum Iulium since that land was not contiguous with the *Forum Romanum. Instead, Purcell suggests that Caesar intended to construct his <i>monumentum</i> on the steep SE slope of the Capitoline, and identifies the Atrium Libertatis as the building commonly known as the Tabularium. Enough ambiguity surrounds the passage in Cicero to warrant caution, and when coupled with the difficulties reconciling the known building history of the Tabularium to that of the Atrium Libertatis (s.v. Tabularium), Purcell’s relocation of the Atrium Libertatis becomes unacceptable (La Rocca 234 has noted several additional difficulties with Purcell’s thesis).</p> <p>Amici has recently returned to a much earlier theory and identified the Atrium Libertatis with the monumental 2nd-c. B.C. walls of <i>opus quadratum</i> recovered NE of SS. Luca e Martina (Amici figs. 92, 93; demolished in the 1930s). While nothing firmly links these walls with the Atrium, several factors argue in favor of the identification: first, their location adjacent to the Forum Iulium and the Curia Iulia is slightly elevated, thus Livy’s reference to censors walking uphill makes good sense. Second, such a locale corresponds well with the numerous late-antique references that conflate the Atrium Libertatis with the Curia (Amici). However, we must await more persuasive and extended argumentation, especially addressing the vital passage in Cicero, before adopting this hypothesis.</p> <p>While the traditional placement of the Atrium Libertatis is far from secure, it seems — for the time being — to be the best location for the monument; thus the Atrium is cautiously indicated on our map between the Forum Iulium and the Servian Wall.</p>