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Roman Law before the Twelve TablesAn Interdisciplinary Approach$
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Sinclair W. Bell and Paul J. du Plessis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474443968

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474443968.001.0001

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The Twelve Tables and the leges regiae: A Problem of Validity

The Twelve Tables and the leges regiae: A Problem of Validity

(p.57) Chapter 4 The Twelve Tables and the leges regiae: A Problem of Validity
Roman Law before the Twelve Tables

Carlos Felipe Amunátegui Perelló

Edinburgh University Press

Regal legislation is reported by tradition and attached to some very unlikely characters, as Romulus or Numa Pompilius. On the other hand, tradition makes the creators of the Twelve Tables a group of felons that also seems implausible. While royal legislation is attached to mythical or semi-mythical characters, in comparison, the decemvirs appear as quite mundane, while their leader, Appius Claudius, is simply vile, and his own evilness makes the second decemvirate stand as fictional. In fact, his attempt to rape Verginia seems to mirror the crimes of Tarquin the Proud’s relatives. The change in the status of the lawgivers is quite evident, when the eldest legislation is accounted as the work of a demigod, while the latter is the result of a criminal mind. The main focus of this paper will be to explain this difference and offer a hypothesis on the relation between statutes and legislators. Our main question is: why did the early Romans need to make their lawgivers divine characters, while during the early Republic they were not only men, but felons?

Keywords:   leges regiae, Twelve Tables, validity, tradition, decemvirs, Romulus, curia

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