Kevin O'Toole will be presenting a series of lectures at the University of Western Australia beginning May 6, 2013, on the subject of Ancient Legal Systems.
Parts One and Two of Four Illustrated Sessions
In these parts we shall deal with definitions, concepts, historical geography, chronology and sources. We shall seek to distinguish law and custom, consider definitions of law and legal systems, consider the role of religion in relation to ancient law, review the historical geography of ancient civilizations, and review the broad chronology of their socio-legal development to the degree able to be determined from archaeological and anthropological studies. For these purposes we shall refer to Egypt, Mesopotamia, Biblical Israel, Anatolia, Rome, Greece, Asia, and Middle and South America. We shall recall the history of the discovery and decipherment of the many great ancient codes such as those of Hammurabi, Drakon, Gortyn and the Roman Twelve Tables.
Parts Three and Four
In these parts we shall consider the detailed workings of the legal systems of those ancient civilizations that have left a significant record of their specific operations. We shall compare and contrast by reference to procedural rules, who judged and how judges were appointed, the use of advocates, forms of penalty, and so on. We shall be particularly concerned to consider how judicial authority was justified, and thus to consider the socio-political context of the exercise of judicial power. In the course of considering these things we shall recall some famous trials such as that of Socrates in Athens in 400/399 BCE and Cicero’s prosecutions in the first century BCE of the subversive Catiline and the allegedly corrupt provincial governor Verres.