Narrow, Rigid and Literal Interpretation in the Later Roman Republic

Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis [Legal History Review], Vol. 37, No. 3 (1969), pp. 351-368


There is a widely held view that the jurists of the later Republic had a rather rigid approach to legal problems. the view appears in various forms. At its most extreme, as exemplified by Schulz, interpretation of statutes and private legal acts is condemned as inflexible and often miserably literal. A more moderate view contents itself with the assertion "that the 'veteres' were more dogmatical than the classical lawyers".

Elsewhere I have sought to show that the extreme view is one-sided and that there are many instances of very wide interpretation. The present study will be devoted to a consideration of the evidence for narrow, rigid and literal interpretation in the later Republic.