Lives behind the Laws

Lives behind the Laws

The World of the Codex Hermogenianus
Connolly, Serena
Distribution: World
Publication date: 02/05/2010
Format: Paperback 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-22147-6
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In this exploration of the administration of law and its role in the lives of ordinary people in the northern provinces of the Roman Empire, Serena Connolly draws upon a rich but little-known legal collection from the late 3rd century known as the Codex Hermogenianus. The codex is composed of imperial responses to petitions sent to Rome, written by a team of the emperor’s legal experts. These petitions and responses provide a wealth of information about provincial legal administration and the lives of the non-elite petitioners. The man who prostituted his wife, the mother whose malicious son undersold her farm, and the slaves who posed as free men to get a loan are just a few of the lives to encounter. Lives behind the Laws makes a valuable contribution to Roman social, political, and legal history.

Author Bio

Serena Connolly is Assistant Professor of Classics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick.


A very interesting contribution to our picture of the imperial system of petition and response. . . . Connolly gives us . . . a synoptic view of what was arguably the most important role of the Roman emperor during the Early Empire.

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Table of Contents

1. Seeking Justice in the Roman World
Petitioning in the Roman World
2. The Rescript System
The Codex Hermogenianus
The Rescript System in Motion
The Work of the scrinium libellorum
3. The Rescript System in Context
4. Using the System
"With the Law"
"Before the Law"
"Against the Law"
5. The Emperor and his Petitioners
Petitioners in Need: The New Understanding of Poverty
The Roles of the Emperor
Limits on the Emperor
The Nexus of Power: Emperor, Officials, Petitioners
Appendix 1
Appendix 2

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