According to tradition, during its first two and a half centuries of existence, seven kings governed Rome. Each of these promulgated regulations, which were known as the “laws of the kings” (leges regiae “royal laws”). Reports of these laws are to be found in many traditional accounts about the early history of Rome (most importantly, Dion. Hal. 2.7-29; Plut. Rom. 9.3; Cic. De rep. 2.8.14; Liv. A.U.C. 1.8), in a chapter of Justinian’s Digest dedicated to the origins of law extracted from a work of the jurist Pomponius (D.1.2.2, Pomponius, libro singulari enchiridii), and some casual statements made by antiquarians, including Varro and Gellius.
The fact that many—but not all—of the laws were attributed to Romulus and Numa Pompilius, the two most unlikely of the seven kings the tradition offers, led scholars generally to discard them as simple myths, historical anticipations (for some of the laws’ contents were repeated in the Twelve Tables), or even as fabrications of Dionysius in a political pamphlet.Less
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