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New FrontiersLaw and Society in the Roman World$
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Paul J. du Plessis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748668175

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748668175.001.0001

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Why Read the Jurists? Aulus Gellius on Reading Across Disciplines

Why Read the Jurists? Aulus Gellius on Reading Across Disciplines

(p.8) (p.9) Chapter 2 Why Read the Jurists? Aulus Gellius on Reading Across Disciplines
New Frontiers

Joseph A. Howley

Edinburgh University Press

One of the few known details of the life of Aulus Gellius is his sometime service as a judge; his Noctes Atticae is an important source for Republican and early Imperial jurists. Yet he does not relate the reading of jurists to the practice of law or the resolution of legal questions. This chapter situates Gellius’s accounts of the reading of jurists in the broader context of his antiquarian intellectual interests, sceptical attitude toward disciplinary expertise, and literary narratives of research. It demonstrates how Gellius identifies juristic writing with valuable grammatical and antiquarian methodologies while simultaneously emphasizing the importance of non-juristic writing and thought in actual legal work. Jurists, it becomes clear, are an important part of the larger program of learned reading to which Gellius exhorts his reader. The contemporary iuris peritus is no more reliable than the grammaticus, while the juristic miscellany may aid in exegesis where the grammatical commentary fails. Law is, for Gellius, as this chapter shows, a matter of Roman cultural heritage and critical thought; the value of its study is the careful understanding it necessitates of the relationship between past and present and the nature of language.

Keywords:   Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, Reading, Antiquarianism, Research, Narrative, Grammar, Experts, Past and present, Language

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