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

  • Date Published: July 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521068918

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Reintegrates the Roman law into the contemporary study of Roman social and cultural history
    • Argues for understanding obedience to the law in terms of extra-legal beliefs and social practices
    • Offers a challenge to earlier ideas about Romanization
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    Reviews & endorsements

    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 Israelica

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521068918
    • length: 372 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: Available
  • 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.

  • Author

    Elizabeth A. Meyer, University of Virginia
    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.

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