This week we transition to a consideration of personal freedom in Ancient Rome. We'll devote about 3 weeks to this, the last two of which will focus mostly on the very large topic of Roman slavery. This week, however, we'll deal with a few key issues in Roman law as they pertain to personal freedom, specifically, laws that bear on the Roman family, marriage, and personal relationships.
→First (on Tuesday), a mopping up operation from last week, the reading in Pliny's Panegyricus. So here's a repeat of the assignment for that from last week:
Pliny's Panegyricus, ONLY Sections 55-78, pp. 447-509 of THIS pdf (which, you should note, contains the entire text of the speech).
NB: You do NOT have to read this entire speech (you are welcome to, if you wish), merely the portion assigned to give you a taste of what it's like. This long, ponderous speech was delivered by Pliny the Younger (whom you'll encounter later at the end of the quarter) before the emperor Trajan in AD 100 to celebrate his accession as emperor. It is, surprisingly, pretty much the only surviving speech from the imperial period. A central theme is libertas, and the restoration of libertas, under Trajan.
→Second (second part of Tuesday's class and through Thursday), we'll focus on issues of Roman law and aspects of the Roman family and personal relationships, which we'll get at through the following readings:
●Cicero, The Laws, Book 3 (you have this text)
Please just skim this. Much of it will seem like a review of sorts (it covers the political institutions of the Republic), but it also provides an overview of Roman thinking about law in general and how law impinges (or doesn't) on personal freedom. Thus a useful introduction to our consideration of specific laws.
●Alison Jeppesen-Wigelsworth, 'The Roman Household', Chap. 5 (pp. 94-116) in Themes in Roman Society and Culture. An Introduction to Ancient Rome, Gibbs, Nikolic, and Ripat, edd. (Oxford 2014). This chapter is contained in THIS PDF (CLICK HERE): this pdf also includes Chapter 4, on Roman slavery, which you'll read NEXT week.
NB: This provides an introductory overview of familial relations, including patria potestas ('a father's authority').
●Texts (or summaries) of actual laws pertaining to patria potestas ('the authority of the father') and related issues. Here you'll read some of the actual laws that survive about this power (and related powers). The laws themselves -- more properly, short summaries of or remarks on laws --are quite short, so this does not involve a lot of reading. The first set of these is available online -- but please take a minute to read my explanation about how to use this resource:
Gaius Institutes of Roman Law, 1.55, on 'patria potestas'. Click HERE
So, don't panic at the sight of the Latin. What you're going to read in English is Chapter 55 (it's just 5 lines): you'll see first the Latin text, followed by the English translation. THEN you'll get the editor's comment on the law. In this instance, that comment begins with the words 'The most peculiar portion...'.. You do NOT need to read the comments...though you might want do (it explains in some detail various aspects of the law).
Gaius, Institutes of Roman Law, 1.124-136: On 'how one is freed from the right of potestas or power/authority'. Click HERE
Same deal: Scroll down over the Latin, down to where the English translation begins at §124, and read sections 124-131. Skip -- or read, if you want -- the commentary (this begins with the words 'Relegation was a milder form...'), and scroll down to the English and read the translation of sections 132-136.
Justinian, The Digest of Roman Law. Click HERE FOR A PDF OF THE RELEVANT TEXT.
Here, you need to read ONLY Sections 6 and 7 of Book 1 ('Those who are 'sui iuris' [in their own power] and 'alieni iuris' [in someone else's power]' and 'Adoptions and Emancipations and other forms of release from power') -- this is pp. 17-24 in this pdf.
These are both late compilations of Roman law -- I'll give a little bit of background to them in class.
●Augustus's 'marriage' or social legislation':
Augustus, the first emperor, passed a series of laws aimed at controlling marriage and other personal relationships. You may read the texts (drawn mostly from the same sources as above) HERE in this pdf. Please read passages D15 and D23-D29.
The key issue in this week's readings is what Patterson would term 'personal freedom' (as opposed to the 'civic freedom' and, to some extent 'sovereignal freedom' we've considered the first couple of week) and how it became institutionalized through a combination of law and tradition (the formal Latin term for this is mos maiorum or 'the ways of our ancestors'). And more specifically, what we'll focus on is the control one family member or person could impose on another...and then, more dramatically, how that control came to shift under the Principate to the state.
As you read, simply think about what the laws aim to control -- and what they appear not to control. Do these laws seem reasonable and in any way consistent with (your sense of) modern values? or do they strike you as primitive and completely anachronistic? And see Paper #4 if you feel the urge to write something about this!