Finally, laws that can be seen, touched, and learnt by heart. And that’s exactly what illiterate people, as well as lawyers do all over Rome. They recite their brand-new laws, compiled in Twelve Tables by heart.
Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.
The Tale of Rome, Episode 18 – The Twelve Tables.
Last week we saw the installation of a new office in the Republic of Rome: the Plebeian Tribune.
I also mentioned of a Roman general, who — in my personal opinion, was a cowardly general, by the name of Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, and we will see what that man did in the year 491 BC.
But first we will see the general panorama of Rome, now that Rome defeated the Latins, and now that supposedly Rome wasn’t going to have problems, no more.
Well, if you think like that, you’re wrong. Rome’s troubles are about to begin!
As a very general picture, Rome was now surrounded by three enemies.
The Etruscans to the north, with the city of Veii as its main protagonist.
The terrible Volsci to the south, and the Aequi to the east, right where the hills begin.
In fact, everyone was learning those laws by heart.
Lawyers and magistrates, defendants and accusers, debtors and tax collectors, children and the elderly, all were busy memorizing pieces of Roman law.
The tables contained several laws, some very logical, and some somewhat strange to our day and age.
As an example, not appearing in front of a judge, or lying to a judge during a trial, deserved a death penalty.
Another law said that throwing a gun into a crowd, carried the conviction that the person who threw the gun had to pay a sheep to every injured person.
I’m going to list more laws in the next episode, but as for the historical account of these tables, here’s what Livy tells us:
◆ Tables I, II, and III contained civil procedural law.
◆ Tables IV, V were entitled to family and inheritance.
◆ Tables VI, VII were entitled to obligations, in other words, legal businesses of the time, and real estate rights.
◆ Tables VIII, IX dealt with the criminal law of the time.
◆ Table X contained the Sacred Law, a series of rules referring to the order of the inner life of the city.
◆ and finally, tables XI and XII, also called the Unfair Tables, dealt with several criminal and civil problems.