The Foundation

in The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780226077598
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226077611 | DOI:
The Foundation

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Orators and jurists from Rome during the last two centuries of the Republic created the earliest recognizable legal profession. Laws and legal systems, of course, existed long before that in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean basin. One medieval jurist asserted that the first trial occurred in Paradise, when God found Adam and Eve guilty of disobeying his command not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Lawyers never secured a stable foothold in the societies of ancient Greece. The Stoic philosopher Zeno even advocated that the courts should be abolished altogether. Litigants in ancient Athens required permission from the jury to call in an orator to speak on their behalf, and although such requests were rarely refused, the advocate could not be paid for his services and was forbidden to appear in that capacity more than once.

Keywords: orators; jurists; Rome; legal profession; legal systems; Mediterranean; lawyers; Greece; Zeno; courts

Chapter.  15704 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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