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Preface THIS BOOK is concerned with the genesis, purposes, and achievement of early imperial Roman jurisprudence: how the law "got there," what it accomplished. I have taken urban lease law as a specific illustrative theme. The choice of this theme requires explanation. In 197Σ­ Ι 97 3, I was (thanks to a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies) a guest in Boalt Hall, the California Law School in Berkeley. There I studied Roman law while auditing classes in Common Law. Perhaps due to this "con­ frontation," I became, in that year and after, increasingly uneasy about modern discussions concerning the relationship of Roman jurisprudence to its social and economic base; these discussions had, so I felt, confined themselves mainly to the superficial. Therefore, in the following years, I began to hunt for a topic which would allow me to examine at least a part of this broader subject. The topic had to fulfill certain conditions: (1) It had to be of self-evident social importance. Pref­ erably, it should concern an area of law with which most modern readers would have parallel experience. Further, its limits had to be both clear and not excessively broad; (2) The relevant juristic sources had to be well pre­ served and, if possible, free from the taint of excessive interpolation. Despite the recent decline of Interpolationskritik , this sort of criticism is still apt to hinder and distract even patient laymen; (3) The social problem had to be clearly attested in nonjuristic sources—if possible, through both literature and archaeology; such independent evidence would offer a basis for assessing the social character of the law; (4) The social problem should be one which remained xvii Preface by and large constant and uniform throughout the period of classical Roman law. More complex problems associated with social and economic change would introduce additional variables which would make study that much more difficult; (5) Finally, for rather more pragmatic reasons, the topic had to be comprehensible and interesting both to classicists and to legal historians; this was especially important as regards the United States, where knowledge of Roman law has probably reached its all-time nadir. In 1974, acting on a suggestion from my friend Charles Donahue of the Michigan Law School, I began to interest myself in urban tenancy. I soon realized that the topic was ideal. It centered on the city of Rome, whose housing was relatively well known not only from numerous references in ancient literature, but also from the excavations at Ostia; indeed, Ostian housing had recently been the subject of a full-length study by James Packer. The ancient sources gave little reason to believe that the broad contours of the market for rental housing had significantly altered from the first century B.C. to the third century A.D., although the quality of housing was somewhat affected by early imperial technological advance (particularly the "concrete revolution ") and the number of upper-class tenants also seems to have increased gradually.1 Furthermore, classical jurists had for the most part lived in or near Rome, vividly reflect its social life in their decisions, and usually seem to refer specifically to Rome's judicial system. Finally, the relations between landlord and tenant in a metropolis constitute a subject with which most modern readers can readily identify. There is, of course, already substantial scholarship on urban tenancy in Rome, although not from a specifically 1 However, Mario Torelli believes that this view may be oversimplified , and that close examination of the archaeological evidence might reveal a social change in urban life that had direct bearing on the changes in urban lease law. If he is correct, a possible line of future research has been opened. XVUl Preface legal viewpoint. My first task was to extract from this scholarship a workable "model" of Rome's rental market. This model is the subject of mv article (substantially completed by mid-1975) in the Journal of Roman Studies for 1977. My model brought out the point that legal sources on urban lease mainly concern a form of rental associated with the upper-class "tier" of the market. This hypothesis was the starting point for my consideration of Roman lease law. In order to facilitate my study, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded me a fellowship for study in Europe during the academic year 1976-1977, at the American Academy in Rome and at the Institut fur Romisches Recht, University of Salzburg. In Rome I had the opportunity...


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