Roman Law Interest Group

The Roman Law Interest Group discusses law and justice in ancient Rome and its influence on modern legal discourse. Legal writers of the first century B.C. presented the law of ancient Rome in hypotheticals much as law still is taught today in part. U.S. Supreme Court justices cite basic principles of law in their decisions that we adopted from ancient Roman law principles of justice. (See footnote 17 in San Remo Hotel v. County of San Francisco, 545 U.S. 323, 338 (2005)).

Although our focus is on Rome and its influence on foreign law, we also have discussed other historical legal systems from Moses to 19th century customary law. Librarians at our meetings have shared Roman law-related activities at their home libraries. These have included oral histories of teachers of Roman law, information retrieval through the dismantling of mummified crocodiles, the art of memory and teaching Roman law, and much more.

Our 2014 meeting in San Antonio was a departure from our usual format. We hosted a coffee table entitled Beyond Your Boundaries: What Ancient Legal Systems Can Tell Us About Working Globally.

If you are unable to attend the annual meeting or if you have any questions about this group, its mission, or how to join, you may also reach out to the interest group chair for additional information.

A few key law library websites related to our meetings

  • On the translation of Justinian by a Wyoming Supreme Court Justice, Fred H. Blume, the Annotated Justinian Code, edited by Timothy Kearley
  • The Eminent Scholars Archive, including oral histories of Professor Peter Stein, Professor J.A. Jolowicz (comparativist scholar, son of Herbert, with reminiscence of his father’s Roman Law lectures) and many more eminent professors and judges
  • The blog In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress, search for Roman Law or Arbor Consanguinitatis and find things like Roman Law in Ruins

A few key books that have been recommended to the group include

  • Roman Law, An Historical Introduction, by Hans Julius Wolff (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, c1951)
  • The series Key Themes in Ancient History published by Cambridge University Press, especially Roman Law in Context by David Johnston  (c1999) and Law and Crime in the Roman World by Jill Harries (c2007), both of which have been discussed by the group.

Other matters of interest