TRAC 2007: Seventeenth Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference

Du Plessis, P. (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


'Language, Culture and the Exclusivity of Law': The main prerequisite for the creation of any legal system is the formation of a sense of cultural identity. Once this has been recognized and has become widely accepted among a certain group of people, political and legal structures reinforcing this sense of "otherness" will develop. This pattern is visible in the foundation of Roman law. Throughout the period of the Monarchy and until the mid-Republic, the language and content of Roman law emphasised the cultural exclusivity of the Roman people. The legal system developed around a central concept - citizenship - the holders of which had all the rights and privileges associated with being Roman. Similarly, those who did not have the benefit of citizenship, a scarce commodity cherished by the Romans, were at first almost completely ignored in Roman law. As Rome's territories expanded, however, the presence of foreigners could no longer be disregarded by Roman law. From the mid-third century BC, Roman law started to take account of the foreigner in Roman society in a variety of ways and, in time, an entirely new system of law developed. This paper will investigate the treatment of the foreigner in Roman law by examining both the content of the law and the language used to describe it.
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United Kingdom