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Article updated to include a detailed discussion of the Twelve Table's tradition and historical context. Bibliography updated to incorporate recent scholarship.

Updated on 27 July 2017. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 14 December 2019

Twelve Tables

Summary and Keywords

According to the tradition, during the early Republic (451–450 bce), during the Struggle of the Orders, a commission was set up to make the laws for the Romans. After two years, the results of the commission’s work were published on twelve boards of wood, perhaps bronze. These were known as the “Twelve Tables.” Tradition says they became fundamental to Rome’s institutional frame. Unfortunately, this is not easy to prove, for the text was lost during the early Middle Ages. The reconstructed versions are due to the casual quotes of historians, jurists, and antiquarians from later times, who happened to call upon its authority while discussing other subjects. The Humanists (16th century ce) made several attempts to reconstruct it, and the versions now available are due to their efforts.

Scholarship has debated almost every aspect of the text, from its origin, to its scope, its contents, and its grammar. Only a few conclusions are widely held. Most scholars believe the document was written during the 5th century bce under the influence of Greek models. Its importance seems to lie in the fact that it managed to merge law and legislation in a way that put statutes at the centre of the Roman legal system.

Keywords: Twelve Tables, decemvirs, Archaic law, legal code, Early law

Tradition and Debate

The Twelve Tables are legal texts created during Rome’s early Republic. The name comes from the fact that they were engraved in twelve panels. Although they seem to have had a paramount importance for Roman legal and social development—to the point that Livy says they are the source of all public and private law (Livy 3.34.6)—the text was lost during the early Middle Ages, little is known about them. Some loose dispositions do exist, because a jurist, an orator, or antiquarian happened to quote it, sometimes even verbatim. This, of course, has not stopped legal scholars from attempting to reconstruct their text. The main sources about their promulgation are Livy (3.9–64), Dionysius (Ant. Rom., 10.1–11.50), Diodorus (12.24–6), and Pomponius (Digest, 1.2.4). They tell one of the great dramas of Roman traditional historiography. According to Livy and Dionysius, the story starts in 462 bce, when the tribune C. Terentilius Harsa proposed to name a commission of five members to write a law to limit consular power. His proposition was eventually retired, but the idea of legislating the old customary law remained. In 452, after some years of public debate, an embassy manned by three men was sent to Athens in order to study the laws of Solon. Some years later, in 450, when the embassy had returned, a commission of ten men—the decemvirs (see Decemvirates, First and Second)—was named in order to give laws to Rome. The commission was supposed to not only legislate but also to govern the city, probably holding the same power as the consuls—the imperium—without appeal. None of the other magistracies of the city were manned that year. During this first year, the tradition holds that the commissioners governed righteously and wrote the first ten tables of the law, which would have been approved by the comitia centuriata (see comitia). For the next year, a second board of decemvirs was elected, this time manned by six patricians and four plebeians, but they behaved like tyrants. They also wrote two more tables of the law, for a total of twelve. Appius Claudius, the leading decemvir, tried to rape a young plebeian woman—very appropriately named Verginia—using a legal subterfuge. Her father frustrated his attempt by providentially appearing in court and killing his own daughter to free her from the base desires of the decemvir. The plebs eventually started a revolution and retired to the Aventine hill in open rebellion (see secessio). A compromise was achieved with the senate through the mediation of L. Valerius Poplicola and M. Horatius Barbatus. The decemvirs were overthrown, the old institutions (including the consuls and tribunes) were reinstalled, and the last two tables of the law were promulgated.

The story lacks coherence. Why would the plebs fight so hard to limit consular powers through law, when by all we know of the text of the Twelve Tables, it does not regulate consular imperium? For that matter, the Twelve Tables do not seem quite pro-plebeian. Their dispositions prescribe that the insolvent debtor is to be reduced to something similar to slavery (see nexum) and even contemplate the possibility of slaughtering the debtor (XIIT 3.6).1 And why would they leave the first commission to be manned only by patricians? Livy seems to declare that the commission’s purpose was not only to legislate but also to establish a new kind of magistracy that would replace the old ones. This seems implied in his ominous statement2 that the city’s government changed from consuls to decemvirs, as before it had changed from kings to consuls (Livy, Ab Urb Cond., 3.33). The second decemvirate was even more problematic. This time manned partially by plebeians, it became tyrannical and the plebs rioted against it. The story of Verginia seems to have been inspired by the corresponding myth about Lucretia and Tarquinius Superbus.3 An even more problematic fact is that part of the tradition seems to give a different account of the matter. Pomponius’s enchiridii (D.–4) seems to agree with some of the main facts but overlooks others (such as the legend of Verginia) and says that the Greek philosopher Hermodorus would have helped the commission (also Pliny, HN, 34.21; Strabo 14.1.25, p. 642c). Diodorus (12.24–26), on the other hand, repeats the story of Verginia but seems to believe that the tribunes were established after this conflict, while the consulate would be open to plebeians as a result of these events. Finally, according to him, the Twelve Tables would be finished not by the decemvirs, but by the consuls.

These inconsistencies led the hypercritical school to dismiss the traditional account in toto, and even proposed that the Twelve Tables were enforced only in the 3rd century bce.4 This extreme position is now relegated to the museum of intellectual curiosities rather than to serious discussion. There are enough elements in the text itself and in the tradition to accept the traditional date, including its language,5 style, and the tendency to legislate law in the Mediterranean area during the period that goes from the 7th to the 5th century bce. There are also some interesting textual details that would only fit the socioeconomic background of the 5th century. Firstly, the monetary system is bronze dependent, which would mean that the text must have been written before the 3rd century, when Rome started minting silver currency.6 Secondly, the disposition that allows the creditor to sell the debtor on the other side of the Tiber (trans tiberim pegere XIIT 3.5)—that is to say, on the Etruscan side of the river—fits only a framework of time before the capture of Veii, after which Rome would expand to that area. This happened in the early 4th century bce.

Everything around this ancient piece of legislation is debated in a discussion that has been developing for hundreds of years without reaching an amenable conclusion.

Historical Context and Greek Influence

The historical context of the Twelve Tables’ promulgation is related to the Struggle of the Orders7 (see plebs). According to tradition, a legislated body of law was a vindication the plebs brought forward in order to limit patrician abuse. The law was mainly customary and secret, for its interpretation was in the hands of the pontifices (see pontifex/pontifices).

Legislation as a result of social unrest seems to fit with the general storyline of social conflict in the Greek world.8 As Eder puts it, first there is social unrest (anomia). Then a legislator is brought forward as an arbitrator to bring reasonable social order (eunomia).9 The problem is that the laws itself do not seem, at first sight, to be the result of a plebeian victory.10 To the contrary, they seem to be a defeat,11 at least for the poorest sectors of society. The problem might relate to the emergence of a middling segment in Roman society.

Archeology suggests that during the 6th century bce, under later kings, Rome experienced an economic boom.12 New temples were regularly inaugurated, public constructions were massive, and long-distance commerce was a matter of daily life—even with powerful, though remote, places like Athens or Phoenicia. Economic activity sharply declined during the 5th century bce, which might mean that many of the former artisans and peddlers found themselves under duress. The deteriorating economic conditions could be connected with the social unrest at the base of the traditional account regarding the creation of the Twelve Tables.13 In fact, what would stand for middling sectors of society would have felt this crisis harshly. These same sectors would be the ones who formed the core of the hoplite army, the base of Rome’s military power. The emergence of the need to legislate, as well as the whole conflict of the orders, might be related to this phenomenon.14

Apparently, the plebeian pressure for legislation was triggered by the patrician monopoly of law.15 Most of the rules that framed Rome’s everyday activity were under the control of the pontifices (see pontifex/pontifices), a priestly association (collegium) that handled some of Rome’s most important religious functions. Although the sources claim that the law was secret (Val. Max. 2.5.2; Livy, Ab Urb Cond., 9.46), it is hardly likely that common Romans would have ignored the basic rules of succession, manumission, robbery, or divorce, as they are asserted in the Twelve Tables.16 Although most of the basic rules must have been common knowledge, it is likely that the procedures were a matter of specialised erudition, which would explain some of the features of the decemviral text, which usually treats procedural aspects of law.17

Behind the Twelve Tables lies an important idea, that of transforming customary law into statutory law or leges. During the time of the Twelve Tables, the idea of legislating was not new to the Roman mind.18 In fact, during the regal era, the kings seem to have effectively legislated (see law of the kings), and there are even examples of such statutes, as on the lapis niger, a slab of black marble with an inscription that appears to be a law of some kind from the 6th century bce.19 The idea behind the Twelve Tables seems to be much more ambitious, for many aspects of the law—which presumably would have been previously ruled by custom—would now fall under its statutory range, to the point that Livy claims that the Twelve Tables became the source of all public and private law (Livy, Ab Urb Cond.,3.34.6). Although this statement seems exaggerated,20 it does reflect the importance and character such laws had for the Roman spirit. The Twelve Tables seem to focus on what later tradition will call private law. Besides some occasional rules, like the one regarding the comitatus maximus (XIIT 9.1–2), there is hardly any rule that involves the organisation of the city itself, the magistracies, the senate, or the consulship. This is even more puzzling when considering that, according to Livy, the main objective of the plebs would have been to regulate the power of the consuls. According to tradition, many features of Roman public law already had a legislated character through the action of the kings, so this might be a reason for the Twelve Tables not to enter into such matters. But this seems unlikely, for many times the Twelve Tables simply repeat what was already enforced by regal legislation. Another reason might lie in the suppression of earlier magistracies. In Livy’s narrative, the appointment of decemvirs seems to be as ground shaking as the fall of the kings, and a new form of government is implied. All previous magistracies, including the plebeian tribunes and consuls, were suppressed, until their restoration through the lex Valeria Horatia after the fall of the second decemvirate (see Valerius Poplicola, Lucius and Horatius Barbatus, Marcus). Perhaps the Twelve Tables did not legislate on the earlier magistracies because the decemvirate was intended to become a permanent magistracy that would rule the city with unrivalled power.21 This would explain also the presence of four plebeians in the second decemvirate, although this is highly speculative.

What seems new and revolutionary in the Twelve Tables is the idea of creating a general legal text that would cover the most important, if not all, legal matters to be publicly displayed and easily learned. Until the Twelve Tables, statutory law seems to have been sporadic, as islands in a sea of custom. Although the Twelve Tables were not enough to wholly revert this situation, from their time onwards, the lex became the paradigm of law.

The idea does not seem to be properly Roman. The tradition suggests that it was imported from Greece, and there are good arguments for a Greek influence on the Twelve Tables. The debate on this particular topic has been going around for centuries, since Gianbattista Vico denied the veracity of tradition and his position became predominant during the first half of the 20th century.22 Nowadays, most scholars accept that there was a measure of Greek influence, although it is almost impossible to determine the reliability of the story of the embassy itself.23 Traces of Greek influence can be found in the import of the Greek word poena (XIIT 3.5; 6.2; 8.3–4 inter alia) in the text of the tables (e.g., in the provisions on burial of the tenth table24) and in the whole idea of legislating to answer the challenge presented by social unrest. Although the use of a Greek word in such an old text is indicative of influence, the contents of the tenth table are even more illustrating. This table seems to regulate funeral paraphernalia and limit lavish public displays during funerals. Although this seems to have counterparts in Greek statutes, including Solon’s, as Cicero himself noted (Cic., De Leg., 2.59), the practice of having luxurious inhumations seems to have stopped in Latium around 580 bce, that is to say, more than a hundred years before the Twelve Tables.25 While there was no social need to regulate funerals at this point, the text seems to have been a simple result of a legal transplant.

Although the Greek influence in the Twelve Tables is quite remarkable, the tradition contradicts itself on the specific matter of its origins. Hermodorus, whom some traditions place as present in Rome to influence the decemvirs, was contemporaneous to and a friend of Heraclitus, who died in 484 bce, some thirty tears before the events in question. This would make Hermodorus astonishingly old, if the story is to be believed. On the embassy, the main problem is that if it had really happened, there would probably also be information about it from the Athenian side, but there is not. This is rather suspicious. Yet going to Athens from Rome would probably not be as hard as it was once imagined. There is evidence of Attic and proto-Corinthian pottery in Rome during the 6th century,26 and although commerce had declined during the 5th century, it is unlikely that contact stopped altogether. Going to Athens might have been as easy as taking a passage in the port. It is impossible to determine if there was such an embassy, but this really is of no great importance compared to the clear presence of Greek ideas in the very origins of Roman law. This is not surprising, for the contacts between Greek civilisation and the Tyrrhenian area are old and influential. The hoplite strategy and the use of writing seem to be results of these contacts that date back to the founding of Ischia in the mid-8th century bce, if not earlier.

On the legislative method, there are also some interesting features. Firstly, t the statute is divided into twelve units, as is the Codex Gortinae (see Gortyn, Gortyn Law Code). According to the tradition, after the decemvirs brought up ten tables, there was a feeling that these were incomplete, so two more were added. This also seems suspicious, for the number twelve had some magic connotations all around the Mediterranean basin. The story is quite similar to the myth about Romulus’s calendar, which would have established a year of ten months, that was later reformed when Numa added two more months (Plut., Numa, 19).

The prescriptions of the Twelve Tables are stated in a conditional manner, using the modus ponendo ponens, that is to say, adding a consequence to a conditional antecedent (If X, then Y). There are no definitions or general statements but only particular regulations for specific matters. They start from a central case (for instance, furtum [robbery]) and then regulate different situations where the result is harsher or softer (if the thief is caught immediately, if he is a slave, etc.). Gaps might appear, for the mandates lack generality. This legal technique is actually quite common in Archaic legislation of the East Mediterranean basin, and it is reflected not only in the Laws of Gortyn but in the Leviticus, the Deuteronomius, and even the Mesopotamian legal texts that date back to the late third millennium bce.27 Furthermore, some dispositions of these ancient legal texts—most notoriously, those on personal injury28—find parallels in the Twelve Tables, which contain similar provisions on breaking a bone and striking another,29 including the reference to talion in the former and monetary compensation in the latter. During the early 20th century, this brought some scholars to believe that there was an original text from which all of these laws came.30 This idea was quickly rejected.31 Recently, Yaron and Westbrook have defended a variant of the theory, deriving the Twelve Tables not from a legislative model of the Middle East but from its legal science. This also met swift rejection without much debate.32 Although the decemvirs certainly did not read cuneiform script, and were likely unaware of its existence, this does not necessarily mean that Rome did not receive some indirect influence from Mesopotamian culture. A much clearer example might be written language: the Tyrrhenian area received alphabetical script from the Greeks, who learnt it and adapted it from a Middle Eastern model. Legislation was in use in the Middle East during the 8th and 7th centuries bce, when colonisation and trade increased the exchange between both cultures. Just as Greek culture took the art of writing from a developing near eastern technique, the Helens might have been influenced by Midlle Eastern legislative models when they developed statutes as an answer to social struggles. This technique, when adapted by Rome in the mid-5th century bce, would have retained traces of its Middle Eastern model, in the same way that the Latin letter A is related to the Phoenician aleph. This would explain the parallels between Middle Eastern legislation and the Twelve Tables, although evidence is admittedly shaky and only hints of the process seem to have survived.

Reconstruction and Importance of the Text

Although tradition states that the Twelve Tables were written during the mid-5th century bce, the language of the preserved fragments seems far too modern for that time. Although they are full of archaisms and manifest other signs of its ancientness, like subject rotation, they are still nearer to classical Latin than to other early 5th-century inscriptions, which are almost unreadable. This made the hypercritical school suspicious of the 5th-century date, and was one of the arguments they used to support a later date—mid-3rd century bce—for the Tables’ composition. There has since emerged a different explanation for the matter. Although the Twelve Tables were composed in the mid-5th century bce, their language was modernised at some point during the 3rd or 2nd century.33 This is process is called intra-translation. It refers to a text that is no longer understandable in a culture, but has renewed significance if re-written in a modernised form. According to tradition, the Twelve Tables were publicly displayed after enactment, but these original tables seem to have been lost early in Roman history. Tradition was not able to agree if they were originally cast in bronze, wood, or even ivory, according to some versions of the story.34 A candidate for its loss is the Gallic Sack in 390 bce, although Livy seems to imply that the Tables did survive the sack, or at least were reconstructed immediately after it (Livy, Ab Urb Cond., 6.1.10). Anyhow, the most likely candidate for intra-translation is the jurist Sex. Aelius Paetus (cos. 198 bce) (see Aelius Paetus, Sextus), who wrote a pioneering work on jurisprudence called Tripertita, in which he included a version of the Twelve Tables, their interpretation, and the legal formulas to use them in trial (Pomponius libro singulari enchiridii, D.

Be as it may, the Twelve Tables remained at the very base of Roman culture, and they were learnt by heart in Roman schools at least until the later Republic (Cic., de Leg, 2.9 and 2.59). Even at this time, there may have been more than one version of the Twelve Tables in circulation,36 for sometimes writers who seem to make verbatim quotations maintain small differences in the wording. Anyhow, during the Early Empire they lost their centrality and their knowledge became “the province of the antiquarians”.37 This may be related to changes in educational programs,38 but we cannot be sure. Be as it may, during the 5th and 6th century ce their knowledge was probably a matter of elites.39

During the early Middle Ages, the knowledge of the Twelve Tables was lost, although there is no certitude on when this happened. The texts might have been preserved as late as the 9th or even the 10th century,40 but when the Corpus Iuris was rediscovered and studied in the Later Middle Ages, the text of the Twelve Tables was already lost. The attempts to reconstruct the text begun in the 16th century, when the Humanists turned their attention to the matter.41 The first attempt was made in 1515 by Aymar du Rivail in his Libri de Historia Juris Civilis et Pontificii, following the order in which the dispositions were exposed in Cicero’s De Legibus. This was quickly followed by several attempts by different scholars who tried different perspectives to solve the matter. Finally, after a hundred years of scholarship, the bases for the modern reconstruction appeared in 1616, when Jacques Godefroy published his version of the Twelve Tables. His reconstruction is based on the order of a work of Gaius (see Gaius (2), Roman jurist) Ad legem XII tabularum (On the Law of the Twelve Tables) compiled in the digest, from where many of the dispositions of the Twelve Tables came to us. His assumption is that this work follows the original order of the Twelve Tables. Since it is divided into six books, he assumed that each book covered two tables, each table focusing on a certain matter. This assumption was accepted with a few modifications until the 19th century, when modern reconstructions took place. The first modern reconstruction was the work of the German scholar Heinrich Eduard Dirksen, who, in 1824 published his famous “Uebersicht der bisherigen Versuche zur Kritik und Hestellung des Textes der Zwölf-Tafel-Fragmente”. His work, based on the principles and discoveries of Godefroy, is one of the most authoritative reconstructions of the Twelve Tables. Although there were early critics in the first half of the 19th century, already in 1866 Rudolph Schoell’s reconstruction follows this very same model,42 as do all later ones.43

Essentially, the order in which the Twelve Tables are nowadays presented follows the ideas and assumptions of Godefroy. Each table is given a specific subject. Therefore, the first table would be dedicated to procedure; the second would continue with trials; the third would account for debts; the fourth would treat the paterfamilias and family relations; the fifth would include legal guardianship and inheritance; the sixth, the acquisition of possession; the seventh, land rights; the eighth, torts and delicts; the ninth, public law; and the tenth, sacred law. The last two tables would not address a specific matter but would supplement the previous ten.

The problem is that division into genders and subjects is somehow alien to the early Roman mind. It would be surprising, for instance, that the Romans of the 5th century would dedicate a single table to torts and delicts, when the whole concept of criminal law was foreign to them until the late empire. The same can be said about public law, or sacred law, which only became independent categories in the early empire. In truth, scholars only know with certainty the location of a handful of dispositions44; the rest simply rely on assumptions about Gaius’s work. This is even more disturbing since most archaic laws seem not to be strictly divided into subjects but are written as a continuum, where the space available in each table or column is used completely and a disposition which started in one can freely continue into the next.45 If the Twelve Tables were, in fact, divided into subjects, they would be the first historical legal texts to do this, and it would be rather puzzling why the Romans forgot such categories until the early empire. This suggests an appearance more like the Laws of Gortyn than to the reconstructions that are found in most textbooks.

It is safe to say that the Twelve Tables are one of the most influential pieces of legislation in the whole history of law. Law and legislation became close and statutes became a primary source of legal knowledge. In fact, the old actions of Roman law were known as leges actiones, for the fact that they seem to come from the Twelve Tables themselves (Gai., Inst., 4.11). From the point of view of the plebs, although the prescriptions of the Twelve Tables were not particularly amenable to plebeian interests, they still kept an equality among patricians and plebeians, where the dispositions were mandatory regardless of the subject’s social position. This is a first approach to the principle of equality before law, which has a deep social importance and has inspired not only Roman but also modern legislation. Although the procedures of law kept their secret nature, and the laws themselves were still interpreted by the pontifices, the enshrinement of equality before law is important enough to render the Twelve Tables one of the most relevant assets in Western legal history.


Crawford, Michael H. Roman Statutes. Vol. 2. London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1996.Find this resource:

Humbert, Michel, ed. Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti. Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Schiavone, Aldo. The Invention of Law in the West. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.Find this resource:


(1.) See Geoffrey MacCormack, “Partes secanto,” Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgescheidenis 36 (1968): 509–518; and Harry Dondorp, “Partes secanto Aulus Gellius and the Glossators,” RIDA 57 (2010): 131–144.

(2.) Francesco De Martino, Storia della costituzione romana, vol. 1 (Naples: Jovene, 1972), 309.

(3.) See Paul Frédéric Girard and Félix Senn, Les lois des Romains (Naples: Jovene, 1977), 25; Andrew Drummond, “Rome in the Fifth Century II: The Citizen Community,” in The Cambridge Ancient History: The Rise of Rome to 220 B.C., vol. 7-2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 230; and Cornell, Tim J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c.1000–264 BC) (London and New York, Routledge, 1995), 273.

(4.) See Ettore Pais, Storia di Roma t.1, vol. 1 (Turin: Carlo Glausen, 1898), 558ff.; and J. M. Nap, Die römische Republik um das J.225 v.Chr. Ihre Damalige Politik, Gesetze und Legenden (Leiden: Sijthoff, 1935).

(5.) Crawford, Michael H., Roman Statutes, vol. 2 (London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1996), 557.

(6.) The information comes from Pliny the Elder (N.H. 33.44). See Kenneth W. Harl, Coinage in the Roman Economy, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700 (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1996), 21–37.

(7.) Antonio Guarino, La rivoluzione della plebe (Naples: Liguori Editore, 1975), 206; Mark Toher, “The Tenth Table and the Conflict of the Orders,” in Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Prespectives on the Conflict of the Orders, ed. Kurt A. Raaflaub (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 268; Michel Humbert, ed., “La codificazione decemvirale: tentativo d’interpretazione,” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 6; Emilio Gabba, “Proposta per un quadro storico di Roma nel V sec. a.C. in Humbert, Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 117; and Luigi Capogrossi Colognesi, Diritto e potere nella storia di Roma (Naples: Jovene, 2007), 90.

(8.) Fritz Gschnitzer, Sozialgeschichte von der mykenischen bis zum Ausgang der klassischen Zeit (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1981), 75.

(9.) Walter Eder, “The Political Significance of the Codification of Law in Archaic Societies: An Unconventional Hypothesis,” in Social Struggles in Archaic Rome” New Prespectives on the Conflict of the Orders, ed. Kurt A. Raaflaub (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 241.

(10.) Raymond Westbrook, “The Nature and Origins of the Twelve Tables,” in Ex oriente lex: Near Eastern influences on Ancient Greek & Roman Law (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2015), 72.

(11.) See Alan Watson, “From Legal Transplants to Legal Formants,” American Journal of Comparative Law 43.3 (1995): 469–476; and Eder, “The Political Significance of the Codification of Law in Archaic Societies,” 239–267.

(12.) See Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome, 81–86; R. Ross Holloway, The Archeology of Early Rome and Latium (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), 51–67; and Christopher John Smith, Early Rome and Latium: Economy and Society c.1000 to 500 B.C. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 186.

(13.) Ben Stoop, “The Sins of Their Fathers: si pater filium ter venum duit,” RIDA 42 (1995): 345–348.

(14.) Michel Humbert, ed., “La codificazione decemvirale: tentativo d’interpretazione,” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 6–11; and Gabba Emilio, “Proposta per un quadro storico di Roma nel V sec. a.C.,” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti, ed. Michel Humbert (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 117–124.

(15.) Aldo Schiavone, The Invention of Law in the West (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 106.

(16.) Westbrook, “The Nature and Origins of the Twelve Tables,” 72–73.

(17.) Michel Humbert, ed., “La codificazione decemvirale: tentativo d’interpretazione,” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 1–50.

(18.) Schiavone, The Invention of Law in the West, 90–91.

(19.) See Paolo Lepore, Introduzione allo studio dell’epigrafia giuridica latina (Milan: Giuffré, 2010), 55–62.

(20.) Eder, “The Political Significance of the Codification of Law in Archaic Societies,” 245.

(21.) Jefferson Elmore, “The Purpose of the Decemviral Legislation,” Classical Philology 17.2 (1922): 128–140; and Gaetano De Sanctis, Storia dei romani, vol. 2 (Milan and Turin: Bocca, 1907), 49.

(22.) Although in the 18th century, the credibility of the story was rather high, Gianbattista Vico was the first to doubt the traditional account. During the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, the majority of Roman law scholars denyed the influence of Greek ideas in the Twelve Tables. See Barthold Georg Niehbur, Römische Geschichte, vol. 2 (Berlin: Realschulbuchhandlung, 1812), 102ff; Gheorghe Ciulei, “Die XII Tafeln und die römische Gesandtschaft nach Griechenland,” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Romanistische Abteilung 64 (1944): 350–354; Pietro De Francisci, Arcana imperii, vol. 3–1 (Milan: Giuffrè, 1948), 79; Carlo Gioffredi, “Ius, lex, praetor,” SDHI 13–14 (1947–1948), 7–140; and Leopold Wenger, Die Quellen des romischen Rechts (Vienna: Holzhausen, 1953), 364.

(23.) Franz Wieacker, “Solon und die XII Tafeln,” in Studi in onore di Edoardo Volterra, vol. 3 (Milan: Giuffrè, 1971), 757–784; Franz Wieacker, “Zwolftafelprobleme,” RIDA 3 (1956): 456–491; Endre Ferenczy, “La legge delle XII Tavole e le codificazioni greche,” in Sodalitas: Scritti in onore di Antonio Guarino, vol. 4 (Naples: Jovene, 1984), 2001–2012; Michael Steinberg, “The Twelve Tables and Their Origins: An Eighteenth-Century Debate,” Journal of the History of Ideas 43.3 (1982): 379–396; Mark Toher, “The Tenth Table and the Conflict of the Orders,” in Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Prespectives on the Conflict of the Orders, ed. Kurt Raaflaub (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 268–292; Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome, 274; Gary Forsythe, A Critical History of Rome (Berkeley: California University Press, 2006), 210; and Richard A. Bauman, “The Interface of Greek and Roman Law,” RIDA 43 (1996): 39–62.

(24.) Crawford, Roman Statutes, 563.

(25.) Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome, 105; Toher, “The Tenth Table and the Conflict of the Orders,” 279.

(26.) Drummond, “Rome in the Fifth Century,” 128; Holloway, The Archeology of Early Rome and Latium, 22; and Jean Macintosh Turfa, “International Contacts: Commerce, Trade, and Foreign Affairs,” in Etruscan Life and Afterlife, ed. Larissa Bonfante (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986), 79.

(27.) On the specific point of furtum and its relationship to Middle Eastern early law codes, see Boudewijn Sirks, “Furtum and manus /potestas,” Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 81 (2013): 465–506.

(28.) Carvajal Ramírez and Patricio-Ignacio, “Apuntes sobre la Injuria en las XII Tablas y su Transmisión Textual,” Revista Chilena de Derecho 40.2 (2013): 727–742.

(29.) See Reuven Yaron, “Semitic Influence in Early Rome,” in Daube Noster: Essays in Legal history for David Daube, ed. Allan Watson (Edinburgh and London: Scottish Academic Press, 1974), 343–357; Westbrook, “The Nature and Origins of the Twelve Tables,” 69–113; and Marc Van der Mieroop, Philosophy Before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 153.

(30.) David Heinrich Müller, Die Gesetze Hammurabis und ihr Verhältnis zur mosaichen Gesetzgebung sowie zu den XII Tafeln (Vienna: A. Hölder, 1903).

(31.) Most importantly, Edorado Volterra, Diritto romano e diritti orientali (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1937), 86.

(32.) Against the influence of Mesopotamian legal texts in the Twelve Tables see Mario Talamanca, “Pubblicazioni pervenute alla Direzione,” BIDR 92–93 (1989–1990): 858; Oliviero Diliberto, “La palingenesi della legge delle XII Tavole e le codificazioni a domino,” in Dallo Stirone al Tigri, dal Tevere all’Eufrate. Studi in onore Claudio Saporetti, ed. Paola Negri Scafa and Salvatore Viaggio (Rome: Aracne, 2009), 119–148; and Crawford, Roman statutes, 561.

(33.) Drummond, “Rome in the Fifth Century I: The Social and Economic Framework,” 115; and Forsythe, A Critical History of Rome, 227.

(34.) See Giorgia Maragno, “Pomponio, le xii tavole eburnee e la tradizione bizantina,” in Coniectanea Iuris. Studi sul diritto in transizione, ed. Silvia Schiavo and Enrico Maestri (Bologna: Giraldi, 2012), 227–251; and Elisa Romano, “Effiges antiquitatis. Per una storia della persistenza delle Dodici Tavole nella cultura romana,” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti, ed. Michel Humbert (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 254.

(35.) Jill Harries, “Roman Law Codes and the Roman Legal Tradition,” in Beyond Dogmatics. Law and Society in the Roman World, eds. John W. Cairns and Paul du Plessis (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Studies in Law, 2007), 88.

(36.) Oliviero Diliberto, “Una palingenesi ‘aperta,’” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti, ed. Michel Humbert (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 219.

(37.) Crawford, Roman Statutes, 569.

(38.) Romano, “Effiges antiquitatis,” 477.

(39.) Oliviero Diliberto, “Conoscenza e diffusione delle XII Tavole nell’età del Baso Impero. Primo contributo,” in Nozione formazione e interpretazione del diritto dall’età romana alla esperienza moderna. Ricerche dedicate al prof. F. Gallo (Naples: Jovene, 1997), 205–227.

(40.) Oliviero Diliberto, “La palingenesi decemvirale: dal manoscritto alla stampa,” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti, ed. Michel Humbert (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 484–485.

(41.) See Oliviero Diliberto, “Umanesimo giuridico-antiquario e palingenesi delle XII Tavole,” in Annali del Dipartimento di Storia del Diritto della Università degli Studi di Palermo 50 (2005): 1–23; Diliberto, “La palingenesi decemvirale,” 481–501; Pierfranceso Arces, “Apuntti per una storia dei tentativi di palingenesi della legge delle XII Tavole,” Rivista di Diritto Romano 8 (2008): 1–15; and Jean-Lois Ferrary, “Saggio di storia della palingenesi delle Dodici Tavole,” in Le dodici tavole. Dai decemviri agli umanisti, ed. Michel Humbert (Pavia: Iuss Press, 2005), 503–556.

(42.) See Diliberto, “Una palingenesi ‘aperta,’” 217–238; Ferrary, “Saggio di storia della palingenesi delle Dodici Tavole,” 503–556; and Arces, “Apuntti per una storia dei tentativi di palingenesi della legge delle XII Tavole,” 13–14.

(43.) Carl Georg Burns, in his Fontes iuris Romani antiqui, substantialy follows Schoell, as also Paul Frédéric Girard and Salvatore Riccobono. The only major variations on the original model can be found in Michael Crawford’s reconstruction (Roman Statutes), and although some of them are very brave and groundbreaking, even his version of the Twelve Tables is still close to the earlier ones.

(44.) We know that the first Table started with the in ius vocatio (Cic., De Leg., 2.4.9); that on the second table we could find the disposition on dies diffisus (Fest. sv. Reus); that the fourth table contained the disposition on selling a son: si pater ter venum filium duit (Dion. 2.27); that the tenth table treated funerals (Cic., De Leg., 2.25.64); that somewhere in the last two tables the prohibition of marriage between patricians and plebeians was included (Cic., rep. 2.37). See Luigi Amirante, “Per una palingenesi delle XII Tavole,” in Studi di storia costituzionale romana (Naples: Jovene, 1991), 132.

(45.) Diliberto, “Una palingenesi ‘aperta,’” 217–238; and Forsythe, A Critical History of Rome, 225.

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