Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Servius Sulpicius Topic of Roman Law Lecture

In a recent lecture, Cornell University Professor Okko Behrends "explored Servius Sulpicius's powerful influence on Roman law, and discussed the overshadowing of the great orator by his better-known counterpart Cicero. Behrends outlined the two law schools of their era: the humanistic law of Servius and the pre-classical natural law, illuminating how Servius's ideas represented a major break from the latter's imposing influence on legal thought.

Servius, Behrends said, believed that law was manmade. He understood that 'the rules are laid down by human understanding ... not part of natural reason which only needs detection.' Behrends likened this debate to the phenomenon of language: is language given to mankind, or does man create it himself?

'He no longer accepted floating legal principles; law, Servius believed, should be definite. Law is realized in civil equity or distinct moral qualities inherent in man's consciousness,' Behrends said."
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