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date: 08 February 2023

status, legal and social, Romanlocked

status, legal and social, Romanlocked

  • Paul Cartledge


In Roman law, status describes the ‘legal position’ of an individual with respect to both that person's household (familia) and the broader civic community of Rome. The concept of status is linked to caput or persona, an individual's legal ‘personality’. Personality roughly defines the limits of what an individual is legally able to do: marry, make contracts, commit crimes or delicts, bring lawsuits, and so on. In modern law, such issues are treated as aspects of legal capacity; but the Roman jurists lack this more sophisticated concept.The most systematic exposition of status comes in Roman sources discussing change of status, what *Cicero (Top. 18, 29) and the jurists (esp. Gai., Inst. 1. 158–63; Dig. 4. 5) call capitis deminutio. Three issues are paramount, and they are arranged hierarchically: freedom, citizenship, and membership in a household. The most fundamental division is between free persons and slaves (Gai., 1. 9; see slavery, Roman); then, among free persons, between Roman citizens and others; and finally, especially among Roman citizens, between those who head households (the sui iuris) and those subject to the power of a head (the alieni iuris).


  • Greek Law

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