Ancient Roman Laws
Although the history of Rome’s regal period is based in large part on legend, and was so in antiquity, tradition was strong, and many of Rome’s laws and customs, committed to writing much later, have their roots in the distant past. Ancient Rome had many different types of law in government. Out of all of the ancient Roman laws, the Julian Marriage laws, the laws of the kings, and the Justinian Codes, are some of them.
The Julian Marriage laws were very specific and determined. Emperor Augustus notice social problems at Rome, and he detected that extravagance and adultery were very common in the Roman Government. In the upper classes, marriages varied; and when people did marry, they didnt create children. After this issue was found, Augustus brought both the morals and the numbers of the upper classes in Rome together by increasing the population of native Italians in Italy. He did this by creating laws to encourage marriage and having children, and started laws to make the act of adultery a crime. Some of the laws created by Augustus included that men must marry. This law was to help the Roman Government gain a bigger population from the children of all the married couples. To enforce this law, he gave what was called prizes for having children and marrying. Although they were based on marriage, the major role in this law was adultery. These prizes were mainly tax reductions and awards. Since more males existed than females among the nobility, he allowed anyone that had wanted to marry freedwomen, and said that births of children in these marriages would be legal and rightful. He made new laws and changed some of the old ones, for example, the sumptuary law. Laws like the sumptuary law were on a basis of adultery. There were many consequences of adultery in the Roman Empire. These consequences were mainly involved with killings. One of the laws stated that a husband who finds his wife in adultery could only kill the adulterer when he catches him in his own house. Another law concluded that a husband couldn’t kill anyone in adultery except persons who are
well known and prostitutes, including slaves. His wife, however, is liable and he is forbidden to kill her. Adultery also restricted killings for adultery, for example; if a son under his fathers’ power should surprise his daughter in the act of adultery, the law says that he cannot kill her; yet, he ought to be permitted to do so.
Although the history of Rome’s royal period is mostly a legend, tradition was strong, and many of Rome’s laws and customs, have their roots in the distant past. The kings of Rome and the Twelve Tables enforced the laws. These laws were started by Romulus. Romulus forced the citizens to harsh every male child and the first-born of the females, and he forbade them to put any child to death under three years of age, unless it was a cripple or a monster from birth. He also made other laws, like one that which does not let a wife divorce her husband, but gives him power to divorce her for the use of drugs or magic on and for her children. He also made another law, which was more severe, and said that if a daughter-in-law strikes her father-in-law; she shall be given as a sacrifice to his ancestor’s god/s. Numa Pompilius made other laws to add on to the Roman government too. One of the laws he created included a royal law, which forbade the burial of a pregnant woman before the child is taken out of from the mother’s womb. On the Vestal Virgins he gave high honors, which gave them the right to make a will while their father/s lived and of doing all other righteous acts without a guardian. He also made another law, which said that a concubine shall not touch the altar of Juno. If she touches it, she shall sacrifice a lamb to Juno with her hair open and spread out. The twelve tables were very important. These covered: I – A man may bring another man to court, and may have witnesses, II – If someone needs evidence, they can ask the door way of witness on every third day, III – If a debtor doesn’t pay all his debts, then the creditor may take the debtor to court, and the debtor will have a given time to make up the money under custody. If the debt is not paid, then the debtor will be executed or sold as a slave, IV – An extremely deformed child shall be killed, IV – If a father give customers his son for sale three times, the son shall be free, V. 1 – Females, by reason of cheerfulness of her nature, shall remain in guardianship, even when they have attained their majority, V. 7 – An obsessive customer is forbidden to exercise administration over his own goods, V. 8 – The inheritance of a Roman citizen-freedman is made over to his patron, if the freedman has died and has no natural successor, VI.1 – When a party shall make bond or a transport, what he has named by word-of-mouth that shall hold good, VIII. – If any person has made or sung a song insulting someone, they shall be hit with a bat till death. IX – The penalty shall be capital punishment for a judge who has been found guilty of receiving a bribe for giving a decision, X. – Women must not tear cheeks or hold chorus of ‘Alas!’ on account of a funeral, XI – Marriage shall not take place between a patrician and a plebeian. XII – Whatever the People have last meant shall be held as binding by law.
The Justinian Codes were another big part of law in government. The emperor of Byzantium himself, and Justinian set them up. These laws were made in the sixth century, and were basically early Roman law that was edited and cancelled. They called a major portion of these laws the Corpus Juris Civilis. These laws in the CJC ( Corpus Jurius Civilis) were separated into four different books of laws. The four books were named the Institutione, the Pandectae, the Codex, and the Digest. The Institutione was a book that was mainly copied from the institutes of Gaius. It was considered beginner’s textbook and a book of statutes. Most of the rules in this textbook/book of statutes became laws in many countries. The Pandectae was a collection of fragments from academic papers. All of its legal opinions were given legal force, just like the Institutione had given the legal force. The Codex and the Digest wasn’t as complicated as the Institutione and the Pandectae but was the most important out of the four. The Codex was just mainly a collection of imperial statutes, and the Digest was basically a casebook covering many trials and decisions.
In conclusion, many Ancient Roman laws have been the origin of the laws we find in our society. Other laws in the Ancient Rome period have been the origin of other countries too. All of these laws have helped create our laws in America by looking at mistakes and great ideas of the Ancient Roman government. The Roman Laws are thought as legend, but some still think of it as realistic. One could compare the Justinian Codes greatly to our three branches of government, when there were four books, but all the powers split up.
Ancient Roman Laws