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A crisis of jurisprudence? The end of legal writing in the classical tradition

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Chapter Summary

In traditional historiography, the 'classical' period of Roman law, when it is judged to have lived its finest hour, is placed between circa 50 B.C. and A.D. 250 at the latest. What brought about the end of the classical period? Indeed, one might also raise the question of what caused its beginning. The civil wars and the end of the Roman Republic can hardly be considered to offer an ideal and quiet background for legal reflection. Yet, already before Augustus we find great names such as Q. Mucius Scaevola and Ser. Sulpicius Rufus, to name but two. But it is to the end of the classical period that the author pays attention, and to the understandable inclination to connect the end of legal writing in the classical tradition with the idea of a crisis: a crisis of Roman society, a crisis of jurisprudence, or a crisis of both.

Keywords: Augustus; civil wars; classical tradition; crisis; jurisprudence; legal writing; Roman law; Roman society



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