The twelve tables of law

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NAME: _________________________


Read the following primary source documents using the critical reading method that was taught during the introductory unit. As you read this source, remember to:  Circle words you do not understand.  Underline sections that are unclear.  Periodically make notations in the margin that summarizes what you have just read.
In 451 B.C.E., plebian pressure led to the creation of a special committee of ten men who were responsible for codifying Rome’s laws and making them public. In so doing, the plebeians hoped that they could restrict the arbitrary power of the patrician magistrates who alone had access to the laws. The Twelve Tables represent the first formal codification of Roman laws and customs. The laws dealt with litigation procedures, debt, family relations, property and other matters of public and sacred law. Considered a landmark in the development of Roman law, the Twelve Tables remained one of the fundamental texts memorized by Roman schoolboys until the time of Cicero. The code was inscribed in bronze plaques, which eventually were destroyed. These selections are taken from reconstructions of the code preserved in later writings.

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