Cicero’s Adaptation of Legal Latin in the <i>De legibus</i>

J. G. F. Powell

in Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263327
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734168 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Cicero’s Adaptation of Legal Latin in the De legibus

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This chapter argues that some apparent archaisms in the laws composed by Cicero in the De legibus should not be regarded as archaisms in a legal context. It also demonstrates that Cicero does indeed scatter about features of archaic laws for particular effects. The chapter then mentions that it is ‘typical of Cicero’s processes of literary composition that he should sometimes archaize vigorously when the context inspires him to do so, and at other times use archaic features more sparingly’. In addition, it describes the cases of ‘false archaism’, where an archaic word, form, or construction is used in a way that is different from its use in older material for archaisms which are in fact innovations in Latin poetry. Moreover, the chapter reports the Twelve Tables as Cicero’s model for his law code. The contemporary legal style in the law code and the ciceronianisms are addressed. The chapter then presents a more detailed consideration of the question of archaism and the problem of the transmission of the text.

Keywords: Cicero; archaisms; De legibus; legal Latin; Twelve Tables; law code; ciceronianisms

Chapter.  17768 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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