Roman jurists

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The Roman jurists (Latin iurisconsulti ) were the representatives of ancient Roman jurisprudence .

Roman jurisprudence gained importance during the period from the 4th century BC. It reached its climax during the classical period, especially in the 2nd century AD.Particularly the works of the classics have only been passed on to us directly in a few cases, for the most part they are acquired through the monumental collection of the late antique emperor Justinian , who in the 6th century AD had classical law compiled in what was later known as the Corpus iuris civilis .

Research has long divided Roman jurisprudence into a “classical” and a “post-classical” phase. The post-classical period was often referred to as vulgar law or classical , based on the fact that classical law alone produced outstanding legal work, the so-called legal law. These views are being put into perspective today by more modern research, in particular the analyzes of important legal historians such as Fritz Schulz , Franz Wieacker and Detlef Liebs should be mentioned in this context . To take stock of late antique jurisprudence, they exchanged the terms mentioned and replaced them with “bureaucratic” or “epiclassical”. They made it clear that the legal activities in the codification commissions were regularly carried out on behalf of the authorities. The emperors of this time pursued a sole publication claim for legal texts, so that the large number of active lawyers (a significantly higher number is assumed than during the classical period) did not officially appear. Functionally, it was emperors, prefects , comites , vicars and governors who brought laws, ordinances, notices and decrees in motion. The legal works were implemented by palace quaestors or imperial dragonfly chancelleries .

Legal law ( lex ), customary law ( mos ) and legal law ( sententiae et opiniones ) were recognized as sources of legal origin . Non- legal authors like Cicero included other legal acts such as agreements based on legal transactions ( pacta ), judgments ( iudicata ), justice and loyalty ( aequitas , fides ) or natural law . For Cicero, nature was the ultimate cause of all right. Unlike the rhetoricians, the lawyers left the latter factors out of consideration because they wanted them to be separated from the legal sources.

The lawyers can traditionally be assigned to the following epochs:

Pre-Classical / Republican Lawyers

Early classical lawyers (Augustus to Domitian)

High-class lawyers (Nerva to Commodus)

Late classical lawyers (Severer)

Post-classical lawyers (up to Diocletian)

Late antique lawyers (age of Christianization)


  • Wolfgang Kunkel : The Roman lawyers. Origin and social position , 2nd edition 1967; Reprint Böhlau, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-412-15000-2
  • Detlef Liebs : Court lawyers from the Roman emperors to Justinian , Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Philosophical-Historical Class, Munich 2010, CH Beck, ISBN 978-3-7696-1654-5
  • Detlef Liebs: Jurisprudence in late antique Italy (260–640 AD) (= Freiburg legal-historical treatises. New series, volume 8). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, pp. 76-129.

Individual evidence

  1. Max Kaser : Roman legal sources and applied legal method. in: Research on Roman Law Volume 36. Verlag Böhlau, Vienna, Cologne, Graz, 1986. ISBN 3-205-05001-0 . Pp. 33-37.
  2. ^ Fritz Schulz : History of Roman Legal Science , Oxford 1946; German: History of Roman Law , Weimar 1961. pp. 335–420.
  3. Franz Wieacker in: Revue historique de droit français et étranger (RHD) 49 (1971) 201-223.
  4. Detlef Liebs : The jurisprudence in late antique Italy (260–640 AD) (= Freiburg legal-historical treatises, new series, vol. 8). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-428-06157-8 . Pp. 283-287.
  5. Max Kaser: Roman legal sources and applied legal method. in: Research on Roman Law Volume 36. Verlag Böhlau, Vienna, Cologne, Graz, 1986. ISBN 3-205-05001-0 . P. 39.