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4 Quod omnes tangit ab omnibus approbari debet: The Words and the Meaning

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Chapter Summary

This chapter illustrates the difficulties incumbent on the study of textual traditions with a specific example, which is taken from the history of the idea of popular sovereignty. It is the use made of the famous maxim that Quod omnes tangit ab omnibus approbari debet (QOT). On the one hand, QOT forms the subject of a particularly venerable tradition. On the other hand, the danger of confusing the stability of a text with that of its meaning is unusually great. The danger of misreading QOT as a Roman principle of democracy is nevertheless quite remote. The purposes for which it was used in Roman law are designed to prevent even unsuspecting readers from seeing more than is there. The meaning which QOT has in the context of Roman law can be defined still more precisely by focusing on a sentence of Paulus.

Keywords: popular sovereignty; QOT; Roman law



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