Although its origin is controversial, amicitia was one of the most significant instruments of Roman foreign relations. Several scholars have supported the idea that amicitia was the outcome of a previous international treaty, which aimed at guaranteeing military neutrality. However, the sources do not provide a clear view of how friendship was categorised within the legal system of the Romans. The historical cases of friendship that Rome had with Rhodes, Attalus I and Antiochus III, show that, already in the mid-Republic amicitia was an independent instrument to regulate foreign relations. In order to exist, friendship did not need to be connected to a previous treaty. Nonetheless, amicitia was characterised by juridical instability. The legal stability of foreign relations was the reason why the Romans ratified friendship by means of a specific category of treaty, namely foedus amicitiae causa. As a consequence, when it was connected to a foedus, amicitia provided content to the inter-community agreement. Nevertheless, the fact that a previous amicitia could be the background of a following foedus did not exclude the chance that a foedus could be made to create amicitia as well.

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Classics and Ancient History seminars are followed by a wine-and-cheese reception ($2 coin donation per person). Enquiries about the seminars may be made to Associate Professor David Pritchard

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for 2019 can be found at


Michie Building