Legitimacy and Law in the Roman World

Legitimacy and Law in the Roman World : Tabulae in Roman Belief and Practice

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Greeks wrote mostly on papyrus, but the Romans wrote solemn religious, public and legal documents on wooden tablets often coated with wax. This book investigates the historical significance of this resonant form of writing; its power to order the human realm and cosmos and to make documents efficacious; its role in court; the uneven spread - an aspect of Romanization - of this Roman form outside Italy, as provincials made different guesses as to what would please their Roman overlords; and its influence on the evolution of Roman law. An historical epoch of Roman legal transactions without writing is revealed as a juristic myth of origins. Roman legal documents on tablets are the ancestors of today's dispositive legal documents - the document as the act itself. In a world where knowledge of the Roman law was scarce - and enforcers scarcer - the Roman law drew its authority from a wider world of belief.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 372 pages
  • 160 x 228 x 28mm | 739.37g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New.
  • 9 figures
  • 0521497019
  • 9780521497015

Review quote

Review of the hardback: 'The subject itself, as well as the perspective from which the author approaches it, is fascinating, complex and unorthodox ... one of the virtues of this book is its clarity ...' Sehepunkte Review of the hardback: 'Despite such minor quibbles, there is no doubt that this erudite and original study has taken us a long step towards a better understanding of tabulae as artefacts and symbols, and also shown how the 'hands-on' approach to Roman law provides not only new insights, but exciting new questions.' Scripta Classica Israelicashow more

Table of contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction; Part I. The World of Belief: 1. The use and value of Greek legal documents; 2. Roman perceptions of Roman tablets: aspects and associations; 3. The Roman tablet: style and language; 4. Recitation from tablets; 5. Tablets and efficacy; Part II. The Evolution of Practice: 6. Roman tablets in Italy (AD 15-79); 7. Roman tablets and related forms in the Roman provinces (30 BC-AD 260); 8. Tablets and other documents in court to AD 400; 9. Documents, jurists, the emperor, and the law (AD 200-AD 535); Conclusion; References; Index.show more

About Elizabeth A. Meyer

Elizabeth A. Meyer is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia and has published articles on Roman history and epigraphy in several major journals.show more