The political space and administrative apparatus of the Imperial government were legally stipulated and enclosed. Politics and administration had to follow the rules of the ius publicum. This was true for traditional magistrates and promagistrates as well as non-senatorial office holders, the praesidial and financial procurators of equestrian rank. The chapter surveys the potential means by which Augustus and his successors might settle problems of society or of general administration or address them for the future through new legal enactments. During the first century AD, lawmaking through one of the people’s assemblies became less frequent, while decisions of the senate became more prominent. In addition, other forms of Imperial decision, by passing legally constituted corporate bodies, achieved ever greater importance, including edicts, systematic rules and ad hoc letters to officials in the provinces, to cities or to individuals, and especially decreta, so-called constitutions, Imperial legal decisions to individuals.
Dennis P. Kehoe
This article examines the different features of law and social formation in the Roman Empire. It notes that the Roman Empire had diverse legal traditions, and that the most basic institution to Roman legal relationships was the patria potestas, which was the power that the father exercised over his male descendants. It then examines the legal definition of the status of the Romans, as well as maintaining social hierarchies based on class and honor. It describes the privileges enjoyed by Roman citizens and studies the two distinct groups of people in society, namely the honistiores and the humiliores. The article also discusses the access to legal institutions and the use of contracts and written documents as authoritative legal instruments.
This chapter examines the history of the Roman Empire as a republic, explaining the formation of the Roman republic, its durability and relative stability, and the military expansionism that allowed it to expand its territory. It also identifies the social, political, and military factors that led to the weakening of the republican system of government and its eventual replacement with the monarchy system.
Peter Fibiger Bang
This chapter examines the transformation of the Roman Empire from a republican to a monarchy system of government, explaining that the republican system was replaced because its political institutions were too small to manage the growing social power brought about by military expansionism. It discusses how the first emperor Augustus consolidated his monarchy by creating an institutional infrastructure that sought to regularize the retirement of the soldiery, and also considers the source of stability of the monarchy and the emergence of empire-wide aristocracy.
This article explains the presence of the Roman courtrooms in society. It reveals that the Roman courts are valuable sources of information on the social history of Rome. It then identifies the various individuals that compose the Roman legal system, such as the praetors and urban praetors. The next sections present a detailed discussion of the litigants, judges, audiences, and advocates of the Roman courtroom. It notes that the courts had a measure of social, political, cultural, and physical centrality, and that their predominantly public nature made them impossible to ignore.