- Publisher: University of Georgia Press
- Format: Hardback | 168 pages
- Dimensions: 146mm x 224mm x 20mm | 381g
- Publication date: 31 January 1999
- Publication City/Country: Georgia
- ISBN 10: 0820320315
- ISBN 13: 9780820320311
In Ancient Law and Modern Understanding: At the Edges Alan Watson proposes that ancient law is relevant and important for understanding history, theology, sociology, and literature. From Homeric Greece to present-day Armenia, Watson examines law's influence. Without a sensitivity to technical legal language, scholars of literature or history miss much: the use of puns in Plautus, Sulla's claim that Julius Caesar was descended from a slave, the relationship between the Synoptic Gospels. Legal history is an essential tool for understanding social organization, Watson argues, but we must consider the movement of law from one society to the next, legal reliance on authority, juristic concern with apparent trivia, and the impact of purely legal thinking on legal growth when interpreting its lessons.
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Alan Watson, Distinguished Research Professor and Ernest P. Rogers Chair at the University of Georgia School of Law, is regarded as one of the world's foremost authorities on Roman law, comparative law, legal history, and law and religion.
"It is sometimes said that 'law is too important to be left to the lawyers.' That should not become an excuse for not mastering the law, although this book shows it has sometimes been used that way. Moreover, it shows how often legal rules have simply been borrowed, without giving any thought to their economic or social consequences. This fact makes it doubly necessary for scholars in other fields to know something about law and comparative legal history."--R. H. Helmholz, author of "The Spirit of Classical Canon Law"