During the later republic and early empire, the Roman jurists developed law, particularly private law, on the basis of what they called the ‘art’ (ars) of law-finding: they subjected existing legal ...
During the later republic and early empire, the Roman jurists developed law, particularly private law, on the basis of what they called the ‘art’ (ars) of law-finding: they subjected existing legal rules and institutions to intense and sustained intellectual scrutiny, with the aim of isolating the basic principles that controlled the rules, and then applying these principles in the creation of new law. The activity of the Roman jurists opens a new chapter in the history of law. From a sociological standpoint, the central task is to evaluate how this new form of thinking contributed to Rome's broader social development.The jurists' legal authority rested primarily not on their official position, but on their accumulated knowledge of law and experience in manipulating it. In Max Weber's terminology, they were honoratiores: independent legal experts who monopolize the study of law, but are available for consultation by litigants and lay judges in particular. However, during the empire the small corps of jurists (probably never more than ten to twenty at any time) was gradually transformed into a legal élite presiding over a much larger legal profession. See