CLST308

The Roman state developed one of the earliest complex legal systems. They excelled especially in creating a formal judicial system and a detailed framework for civil law. The resulting system of law that emerged forms the basis of most European and American law and influenced many aspects of English Common Law. Through the activities and involvement of these countries with other peoples and nations Roman law had a considerable impact on legal systems of non-Western countries as well.For example, in a South African court, reference is often made to the Digest of Justinian because their legal system is strongly based on Roman law that was brought to South Africa through the Dutch. In this way, therefore, as Brent Shaw says, “Roman politicians, magistrates, and jurists developed many of the fundamental legal principles that are basic to a majority of the formal legal systems in the world today.” This course, therefore, is shaped to provide exposure to the major areas of Roman law. We will begin with consideration of the constitutional law of Rome and how the legal system worked. We will then turn to consider the major categories of the law: the law of persons, the law of property and ownership, the law of succession, contracts and delicts. Our goal will be to understand how the law functioned and the means by which the law was applied in daily life.