Monday, November 10, 2008

Metzger on the 'new' Roman civil procedure

Lawsuits in Context is a new essay by Ernest Metzger, University of Glasgow School of Law. It appears in BEYOND DOGMATICS. LAW AND SOCIETY IN THE ROMAN WORLD, J. W. Cairns, P. du Plessis, eds., (Edinburgh, 2007). Here's the abstract:

The study of Roman procedure has benefited enormously from the discovery of wooden tablets near Pompeii. They are variously referred to as 'the Murecine tablets' (after the Agro Murecine, their place of discovery), 'the Pompeian tablets' (after the ancient site near their place of discovery), 'the Puteoli tablets' (after the ancient site from which they were removed in antiquity), or 'the archive of the Sulpicii' (after the presumed owner of the archive in antiquity).

Unfortunately, the tablets are sometimes misinterpreted, for the simple reason that the procedures they describe do not always match the procedures which more familiar sources have (wrongly) led us to believe existed. The tablets, in fact, give us the rare opportunity to revise our understanding of procedure, particularly when taken together with another remarkable find, the lex Irnitana.

This article gives a sketch of the 'new' Roman civil procedure now available to us as a result of these exciting finds.