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New Frontiers

New Frontiers: Law and Society in the Roman World

Edited by Paul J. du Plessis
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    New Frontiers
    Book Description:

    An interdisciplinary, edited collection on social science methodologies for approaching Roman legal sources. Roman law as a field of study is rapidly evolving to reflect new perspectives and approaches in research. Scholars who work on the subject are increasingly being asked to conduct research in an interdisciplinary manner whereby Roman law is not merely seen as a set of abstract concepts devoid of any background, but as a body of law which operated in a specific social, economic and cultural context. This “context-based” approach to the study of Roman law is an exciting new field which legal historians must address. Since the mid-1960s, a new academic movement has advocated a “law and society” approach to the study of Roman law instead of the prevailing dogmatic methodology employed in many Faculties of law.Key Features: This book aims to further the current debate on the interface between legal history and ancient history.It brings together a distinguished group of scholars who will provide different perspectives on this debate.It addresses particular themes within this debate such as law and legal practice, law and gender as well as law and economics.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-6818-2
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Paul J. du Plessis

    In the introduction to Law and Life of Rome (1967), John Crook described the aim of his book as follows:

    This is not quite a book about Roman law, on which there already exist any number of excellent treatises. Neither is it quite a book about Roman social and economic life; that subject, too, is already illuminated by massive works of scholarship. It is a book about Roman law in its social context, an attempt to strengthen the bridge between two spheres of discourse about ancient Rome by using the institutions of the law to enlarge understanding of the society...

  6. Part I Perspectives on Roman Legal Thought

    • Chapter 2 Why Read the Jurists? Aulus Gellius on Reading Across Disciplines
      (pp. 9-30)
      Joseph A. Howley

      Aulus Gellius, the Antonine chronicler of his own and others’ reading, knew a thing or two about the hazards of misjudging the contents of a book.¹ Among the books he describes reading in his Noctes Atticae are many works of Republican and early Imperial jurists, preserving fragments of them for modernity.² It is often assumed that his reading was connected to his occasional service as a judge, despite his lack of interest in reconciling his reading of older material with his own contemporary legal situation.³ If we consider the Noctes as simply the product of scholarly efforts, then we are...

    • Chapter 3 Artes Urbanae: Roman Law and Rhetoric
      (pp. 31-50)
      Olga Tellegen-Couperus and Jan Willem Tellegen

      Modern Romanists generally assume that Roman law was completely separate from rhetoric. Whereas Roman law was a science, rhetoric was not. Rhetoric was a skill developed by the Greeks that was used by advocates to pervert the truth. The Roman jurists did not need rhetorical arguments to support their case: stat pro ratione auctoritas. They never wanted to have anything to do with rhetoric.¹

      In the twentieth century, this view has been challenged several times. First Johannes Stroux and later Theodor Viehweg argued – be it in different ways – that Roman law was closely connected to rhetoric.² Their ideas triggered much...

    • Chapter 4 The Senatus Consultum Silanianum: Court Decisions and Judicial Severity in the Early Roman Empire
      (pp. 51-70)
      Jill Harries

      In status-conscious ancient Rome, while legal discourse aspired to fairness (aequitas),¹ the poor were more cruelly punished, when convicted of criminal conduct, than the rich,² and the slave’s legal protection was almost non-existent compared with that of the free man or woman.³ In some respects, Roman attitudes to slavery were benign: good slaves could be freed by will or in the master’s lifetime; freedmen were often close confidants of their masters, as Tiro was of Cicero; and the manumitted slave might live to see his descendants prosper as full Roman citizens. But master-slave relationships were not always so harmonious: a...

  7. Part II Interactions between Legal Theory and Legal Practice

    • Chapter 5 Laws’ Empire: Roman Universalism and Legal Practice
      (pp. 73-101)
      Caroline Humfress

      Sometime in the late third or possibly early fourth century, a rhetorician, writing in Greek, probably in the Roman provinces of the East, composed a treatise on epideictic rhetoric (the rhetoric of praise and blame). Transmitted under the name of Menander of Laodicea (a city in south-west Asia Minor), the treatise advises orators on how to praise gods, peoples and cities according to a long and technical tradition of encomiastic speech. There are explicit references to Isocrates’ Panathenaicus, various works by Plato, the ‘encomium on Sicily’ in Cicero, and orations by Aelius Aristides on both Rome and Athens. Amongst other...

    • Chapter 6 The Concept of Conubium in the Roman Republic
      (pp. 102-122)
      Saskia T. Roselaar

      During their conquest of Italy, the Romans devised various legal instruments to regulate their relations with people who did not possess Roman citizenship. One of the issues that needed regulation was marriage: laws had to be formulated to enable marriage between people from different political entities, and to lay down rules for the regulation of inheritance in such unions.

      It is often assumed that the main instrument devised by the Romans to regulate marriage with peregrini – a term which included Latin and Italian allies, as well as other non-citizens – was conubium or ius conubii, which might be translated as a...

    • Chapter 7 Financial Transactions by Women in Puteoli
      (pp. 123-150)
      Éva Jakab

      Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus¹ – in formulating these famous lines, the focus of Virgil’s contemplation was human feelings and their changeable nature, but his wise observation can equally be applied to history: time marches on and new historical periods replace the old ones. Each period has its own typical social values which include ideas about legal policy or the proper view of certain legal institutions. Historians and lawyers are necessarily children of their own age – their reasoning is in various ways influenced by their social, cultural and economic environment. It is very likely that topics such as ‘women and...

    • Chapter 8 Tapia’s Banquet Hall and Eulogios’ Cell: Transfer of Ownership as a Security in Some Late Byzantine Papyri
      (pp. 151-174)
      Jakub Urbanik

      Modern scholarship has devoted much attention to pignus and hypotheca as forms of real security in classical Roman law.¹ The same could be said about the research on the practical application of these forms, or vice versa, the apparent practical origins of the later dogmatic forms: there has been an extensive study on real securities in Greek and Hellenistic traditions. Much attention has been also devoted to the documents constituting, revoking, and accepting a real security in the Demotic and Graeco-Roman legal traditions in Egypt. Thanks above all to the classical studies of Andreas Bertalan Schwartz, we understand much better...

  8. Part III Economic Realities and Law

    • Chapter 9 Law, Agency and Growth in the Roman Economy
      (pp. 177-191)
      Dennis P. Kehoe

      In recent years, scholars have increasingly recognised the significant role that law and legal institutions could play in the Roman economy. Although population and technology, as in all pre-industrial economies, posed basic constraints on the possibilities for growth, law and legal institutions could play a decisive role in the organisation of economic activity and the distribution of wealth across society.¹ In several recent studies, I have sought to analyse how Roman law and legal policies affected the Roman Empire’s rural economy.² I argued that, in formulating policies affecting various aspects of land tenure, the Roman legal authorities, including the classical...

    • Chapter 10 Dumtaxat de peculio: What’s in a Peculium, or Establishing the Extent of the Principal’s Liability
      (pp. 192-206)
      Jean-Jacques Aubert

      In contrast with modern slave systems, the Graeco-Roman world used slaves in all kinds of ways and functions. Besides what we consider liberal trades, such as medicine or banking, there is plenty of evidence for slaves being involved in business activities, producing and distributing goods and services, or in public administration at all levels of government. Roman law regards slaves as things (res), which implies that they could avail themselves of no legal rights, no juristic personality and no patrimonial capacity. Their condition was, however, no obstacle to their participating in management, as shown by the case of one Midas...

    • Chapter 11 Pipes and Property in the Sale of Real Estate (D.
      (pp. 207-224)
      Cynthia J. Bannon

      Ancient Romans, like their modern counterparts, considered several factors when buying property. Amenities, productivity and, of course, location affected the decision.¹ Cato urged potential buyers to visit the land more than once, inspecting it carefully, to determine whether its cultivation would repay the investment (On Agriculture, 1). Charm also mattered. Cicero, for example, exclaimed more over the elegant porticos than the meadows on Quintus’ recently purchased estate (Q.Fr. 3.1.3).² Both agricultural productivity and enjoyment of amenities, however, depended on the property’s having appropriate equipment or accessories. How could the landowner enjoy a garden fountain if there were no pipes bringing...

  9. Part IV Concluding Thoughts

    • Chapter 12 The Standpoint Determines the View: Jacques Barzun’s Theory of Aspect
      (pp. 227-244)
      Philip Thomas

      In E. M. Forster’s novel A Room with a View,¹ the management of Pensione Bertolini does not provide the rooms with the promised views on the river to Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone Charlotte Bartlett. Mr Emerson, another guest, interrupts the altercation, saying ‘I have a view, I have a view . . . This is my son . . . He has a view, too’. It can be argued that the text has a double meaning and that the novel deals with the philosophical view of life of the Emersons.² Projected onto Roman law, the metaphor of the ivory...

  10. Index
    (pp. 245-246)