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Philosophy and Power in the Graeco-Roman WorldEssays in Honour of Miriam Griffin$
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Gillian Clark and Tessa Rajak

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198299905

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299905.001.0001

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Cicero and the Defining of the Ius Civile

Cicero and the Defining of the Ius Civile

(p.51) Cicero and the Defining of the Ius Civile
Philosophy and Power in the Graeco-Roman World

Jill Harries

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that one of the less noticed conflicts of the late Roman Republic centred on who controlled ultimate legal authority, as exercised through its application in the courts. Such a conflict was possible because the written law was under pressure on two fronts. One was the contribution made by philosophical concepts, notably, but not exclusively, that of the (unwritten) ius naturae, based on Stoic ideas, along with new techniques of definition and the systematic arrangement of material that had a wide impact ranging from the structuring of forensic argument to the notional composition of law-codes. The other source of pressure was the exploitation of unwritten law by advocates in the lawcourts. While it is not at all clear how, or if, court judgments actually affected the content of the ius civile, Cicero maintained that iudices could make judgments on points of law, with wider implications.

Keywords:   Cicero, legal authority, courts, ius naturae, ius civile

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