1 history 300 Ancient Law & Society

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Ancient Law & Society

Spring, 2005

The Course:
The course is intended to be a series of explorations in the social origins, character, role, and operation of law in the cultures, of Egypt, the ancient Near East (Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite, Israelite), Greece, and Rome. Among the topics to be considered are: conceptions of law, sources of authority and law (divinity, custom/tradition, legislation, etc.); constitutions; legal collections and codes; law as a mirror and as a shaper of social norms and values; views and treatment of women, children, slaves and foreigners; the image of the lawgiver; lawyers and litigants; the law of foreign relations; and ideal legal systems. Methodological issues will also be considered, especially the nature of the evidence and how to go about evaluating/interpreting it.

The Reading:
No single textbook exists for a course such as this. The Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. “The Old Testament”) will be our source for Israelite law. For the rest, the four books listed below are essential.
R. VerSteeg, Law in Ancient Egypt (Carolina Academic Press pb.)
M. T. Roth, Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Anatolia (Scholars Press pb.)

D. M. MacDowell, The Law in Classical Athens (Cornell U. Press pb.)

A. Borkowski, Textbook on Roman Law (Blackstone Press pb.)

NOTE: Make sure that you have ready access to a copy of the Bible. We will refer to the so-called Old Testament extensively during the first part of the course. It does not matter too much which translation you use, although, as you will see, they all have some problems inherent in the use of translations. Do not use an abridged version or one that is so ‘modernized’ that Moses sounds like a TV anchor person.
If you want to do some general background reading on the ancient world, I recommend D. Brendan Nagle, The Ancient World. A Social and Cultural History. There is now a 4th ed., but the third would do as well. Also comprehensive and quite readable is T. W. Africa, The Ancient World.

The Format and Requirements:
This will be a lecture course mainly, but there will also be some discussion, especially of the documents. For such discussion to work well and for you to follow the lectures, it is essential that you come to class prepared and on a regular basis. You will be in some real difficulty if you are trying to read the documents in question while I am lecturing or the class is discussing the material. You are not obliged to accept any of the interpretations that emerge from the readings, lectures, or discussions, but you will be expected to know them all. Similar mastery of the reading is expected. There is a good deal of material that must be read carefully; it would be ill-advised not to keep up with it all during the semester. Even so, you will not be able to attain mastery of the material solely on the basis of the readings.
There will be three examinations. The first one will cover Egyptian, ancient Near Eastern, and Biblical law. The second will cover Greek law. On each of these two examinations, you will be expected to write one essay; you will be able to choose from a list of three or four questions. The final examination will be held during final exam week; you will write essays on two questions, again with a choice; this exam will deal exclusively with Roman law. You will receive a list of study topics one week before the examinations. Since the two grades on the final will not be averaged together, your grade in the course will be based on four exam grades.
History 300 is a 4-credit course.

Instructor: G. E. Kadish Office: LT 609; Phone: x2488; e-mail: kadishg@binghamton.edu

Office hours: M: 3:30-4:30; W: 1:10-2:10; Th: 9:00-10:00, and by appointment

. The following is an approximate guide to the sequence and pace of the course and readings. How closely we stick to the schedule will depend on several factors: discussion, introduction of primary sources not included in the readings, digressions, etc. A wise person will take careful notes on the reading and write down any questions that might come to mind. Please be sure to bring the appropriate book to class.
Jan. 24: Introduction to the Course
Jan. 26: Egypt: Justice and Jurisprudence

READ: VerSteeg, pp. 3-36.
Jan. 28: Egypt: Legal Organization and Procedure

READ: VerSteeg, pp. 37-95.

Jan. 31: Egypt: Property and Family

READ: VerSteeg, pp. 99-149.

Feb. 2: Egypt: Crime and Tort

READ: VerSteeg, pp. 151-86.
Feb. 4: Egypt: Commerce and Status

READ: Versteeg, pp. 187-217.
Feb. 7: Sumerian Law

READ: Roth, pp. 1-54.
Feb. 9, 11: Babylonian Law

READ: Roth, pp. 57-142.
Feb. 14, 16: Assyrian Law

READ: Roth, pp. 153-209.
Feb. 18: Hittite Law

READ: Roth, pp. 213-40.
Feb. 21, 23: Israelite Law

READ: Exodus: 20:1-23:19; Leviticus, 1-4, 11-12, 15, 18, 26; Deuteronomy:

5, 7-8, 14, 21:10-25:16, 27:15-28:24.

Feb 25: ******* 1st Examination *******
Feb. 28: Greece: Growth of a Legal System

READ: MacDowell, pp. 10-66.
Mar. 2: Greece: Personal Status

READ: MacDowell, pp. 67-83.
Mar. 4: Greek Family Law

READ: MacDowell, pp. 84-108.
Mar. 7: Greece: Homicide Law

READ: MacDowell, pp. 109-22.
Mar. 9: Greece: Assault and Abuse

READ: MacDowell, pp. 123-32.

Mar. 11: Property Law in Greece

READ: MacDowell, pp. 133-54.

Mar. 14: Treason in Greece

READ: MacDowell, pp. 175-91.
Mar. 16: Religious Law in Greece

READ: MacDowell, pp. 192-202.
Mar. 18: Legal Proceedings

READ: MacDowell, pp. 212-19, 235-59.
Mar. 30: ******* 2nd Examination *******
Apr. 1: Rome: An Historical Overview

READ: Borkowski, pp. 1-25.
Apr. 4: The Sources of Roman Law

READ: Borkowski, pp. 26-62.
Apr. 6: Roman Litigation

READ: Borkowski, pp. 63-83.
Apr. 8: Status, Slavery and Citizenship

READ: Borkowski, pp. 84-110.
Apr. 11,13: Law and the Roman Family

Borkoski, pp. 111-51.

Apr. 15, 18: Property and Inheritance

READ: Borkowski, pp. 152-254.
Apr. 20, 22: Roman Law of Obligation

READ: Borkowski, pp. 255-324.
Apr. 27-May 2: Delicts

READ: Borkowski, pp. 325-62.
May 4: Criminal Law

No assigned reading

May 6: The Durability of Roman Law

READ: Borkowski, pp. 363-87.

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