Article

Law and Social Formation in the Roman Empire

Dennis P. Kehoe

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations in the Roman World

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780195188004
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195188004.013.0007

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Law and Social Formation in the Roman Empire

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This article examines the different features of law and social formation in the Roman Empire. It notes that the Roman Empire had diverse legal traditions, and that the most basic institution to Roman legal relationships was the patria potestas, which was the power that the father exercised over his male descendants. It then examines the legal definition of the status of the Romans, as well as maintaining social hierarchies based on class and honor. It describes the privileges enjoyed by Roman citizens and studies the two distinct groups of people in society, namely the honistiores and the humiliores. The article also discusses the access to legal institutions and the use of contracts and written documents as authoritative legal instruments.

Keywords: law; social formation; legal traditions; patria potestas; social hierarchies; citizenship; legal institutions; legal instruments; honistiores; humiliores

Article.  10248 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Law ; Ancient Roman History

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