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Review: Roman Law before the Twelve Tables

Sinclair W. Bell, Paul J. Plessis

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman Law before the Twelve Tables

The book “Roman Law before the Twelve Tables”, edited by Sinclair W. Bell and Paul J. Plessis, is a scientific work in which individual authors focus on the issue of Roman law, before the establishment of the Twelve Tables. The book was published by “Edinburgh University Press”.

The book includes ten articles by researchers and specialists in ancient and legal subjects. For the reader’s convenience, they have been included in three topics:

  1. The latest discoveries – including we can learn about new epigraphic discoveries before Latin.
  2. Early Sources of Law – Briefly depicting leges regiae and the law of the twelve tables.
  3. Thought-provoking issues – incl. an analysis of the achievements and thoughts of German lawyers from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries who influenced the scientific knowledge of early Roman law (Bachofen or Niebuhr).

In the introduction, the reader receives basic information about Roman law, the sources of our knowledge about it, royal law or the law of XII tables, and a brief presentation of the issues raised in the following articles.

The actual content of the book is approximately 190 pages. Each article has numerous footnotes and a bibliography. At the end of the book you will also find an index of characters, words and phrases.

To sum up, the book has been published for true enthusiasts of legal topics in ancient Rome, especially those who are interested in its earliest form, the royal period. Many articles overlap by subject and use similar sources. Naturally, the book is academic in nature and will not be interesting for everyone. However, if you are interested in Roman law, this could be a source of interesting information about Roman law that you were unfamiliar with.

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