Friday, August 17, 2012

Schiavone, The Invention of Law in the West

The Invention of Law in the West (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), by Aldo Schiavone (Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane), is reviewed this week in the The Law & Politics Book Review (here).

Here's the Press's summary of the book:
Law is a specific form of social regulation distinct from religion, ethics, and even politics, and endowed with a strong and autonomous rationality. Its invention, a crucial aspect of Western history, took place in ancient Rome. Aldo Schiavone, a world-renowned classicist, reconstructs this development with clear-eyed passion, following its course over the centuries, setting out from the earliest origins and moving up to the threshold of Late Antiquity.

The invention of Western law occurred against the backdrop of the Roman Empire’s gradual consolidation—an age of unprecedented accumulation of power which transformed an archaic predisposition to ritual into an unrivaled technology for the control of human dealings. Schiavone offers us a closely reasoned interpretation that returns us to the primal origins of Western legal machinery and the discourse that was constructed around it—formalism, the pretense of neutrality, the relationship with political power. This is a landmark work of scholarship whose influence will be felt by classicists, historians, and legal scholars for decades.
And here's a link to the LPBR review. Reviewer Walter J. Kendall III (the John Marshall Law School) warns that the author's "line of thought" is "difficult for a non-specialist to follow" but is "confident [that] it will evoke important and interesting reviews from experts in Roman law and history."

The TOC is available here.