Topic outline

  • General

  • Law in the News

  • Wed. Jan. 18: Introduction to the Course.

    Assignment:  READ:  Law:  A Very Short Introduction, by Raymond Wacks, Ch. 1, "Law's Root," pp. 1-35.  This is an ebook available through the Drew Library, through ebrary: use the link below (and see the note above about ebrary).     

  • Mon. Jan. 23: Justice in Ancient Egypt

    Assignment: TWO REQUIRED READINGS: READ (i) J.G. Manning, "The Representation of Justice in Ancient Egypt," Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, 24.1 (2013); this article is found below in a pdf file below; and (ii) 3 pages from the Book of the Dead (link below).

    Note two errors in Manning's article: on p. 111, read "tenet" instead of "tenant"; p. 117, read "precious stones" (obviously not "previous").
  • Wed. Jan. 25: Code of Hammurabi (Ancient Babylon)

    Assignment:  READ BEFORE CLASS the Law Code of Hammurabi.  choose one of the three copies online, linked below (they all have the same except they look a little different).  Answer the questions and submit the written ASSIGNMENT (just save the copy below and type into it) in class (hard copy please) --*Bring these two things to class to use in class:  (i) the text of the Code; (ii) your answers.

  • Mon. Jan 30: Ancient Israel in the Old Testament (Bible): READING AND SHORT WRITTEN HOMEWORK QUESTIONS (DUE IN CLASS)

    READ these two digital articles:
    (i) "Capital Punishment" in the Old Testament (pp. 11-28);
    (ii) "Law", short article in The Oxford Companion to the Bible (one-volume encyclopedia)
    SHORT WRITTEN HOMEWORK: Answer these short questions: (COMING SOON on SAT.)
  • Wed. Feb. 1: The first trial scene in Europe ("the West"), from Homer's Iliad, and other short passages

    Read the scene from Homer's Iliad (the first trial scene) and the other short passages from Homer and Hesiod.

  • Mon. Feb. 6: The trial of Orestes for matricide. Intro. to Early Greek laws; the polis (city-state).

    READ:  Aeschylus, Eumenides (c. 458 BCE):  The trial scene, set in Athens, begins at line 285 in the online translation.   


    Presentation:  the Greek polis and early laws.  (slides)

  • Wed. Feb. 8: Early Greek law: the Law Code of Gortyn


    READ The Law Code of GORTYN (a city on Crete)


  • Mon. Feb. 13: Introduction to Classical Athens: democracy & the jury-courts


  • Wed. Feb. 15: the first legal speeches ever: READING AND WRITING

    arguing both sides of a case: "You must examine impartially, for the truth is only discernible from what each side says." (says the speaker in this case).  READ:  Antiphon "Second Tetralogy," below.

    SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT #3:  How would you judge (decide) this case?  Give your decision and full reasons, addressing all the points that both sides make in the short speeches you read.  Address as many points as are raised by the litigants as possible.  Look at all angles.  Present informed reasons.  Show that you know the reading.


  • Mon. Feb. 20 AND Wed. Feb. 22: The Trial of Socrates. SHORT WRITING DUE BOTH MON. AND WED.

    FOR Mon. 2/20:  ASSIGNMENT DUE IN CLASS (NOT AFTER).  First, read "The Apology of Socrates" (by Plato).  This is his defense-speech at his trial in 399 BCE, later written down by Plato.   Note:  the formal charges against Socrates are given at 24b.  See what the two charges are.  (The so-called older charges, that is the earlier prejudices against him that he talks about first, are not the legal charges at this trial.)  Question:  What points does Socrates make to defend himself against each charge?  Use the whole speech and look for his arguments that relate to those issues.  Cite this work using the section numbers and letters in the margin, e.g. (20a) or (20a-b) or (24b-26c) -- NOT page numbers.  About 1 page. 

    Wed. 2/22:  Trial of SOCRATES in class.  Writing DUE IN CLASS (NOT AFTER):  You are an Athenian citizen at the time and in the jury.  How do you vote:  convict or acquit Socrates on these charges?  REQUIRED:  Use detailed facts and arguments from the reading.  Include "matters of fact," "matters of law," and social factors.   Be informed by the readings.  about 1 page, max. 2 pp.

  • Mon. Feb. 27: Trial: Adultery and Murder; women in Classical Athens

     READ the speech by Lysias (called Lysias 1) and submit the written homework.

  • Wed. March 1: A fight over a boy; Trial for wounding ... (and more-- see the work)

    Read the speech called Lysias 3 and submit the written homework.

  • Mon. March 13: Introduction to Ancient ROME; the Republic; history, society, gov't, law

    Welcome back from Spring Break.
  • Wed. March 15: ROME: THE EARLIEST LAWS; some interesting early cases; written HOMEWORK

    (i) READ The "Law of the 12 Tables" and ALSO be sure to read, or to finish reading, the pages (12 pages) on Sources of law in the Republic, from last time. (ii) Short written homework due (answer the questions found below)

  • Mon. March 20: Catiline and Cicero: crisis of the Roman Republic. MOCK TRIAL. SHORT HOMEWORK

    This is a mock trial. Cicero accused Catiline in the Roman Senate. We will dramatize the two sides to see what the issue was that divided Rome at this time, and we will see what happened. There's a short one-paragraph homework due, in order for you to make sure you do the reading and think about it.
  • Wed. March 22: Trial of Archias, Defended by Cicero. (i) Explusion of aliens from Rome. (ii) Defense of the Liberal Arts. SHORT WRITTEN HOMEWORK.


  • MON. March 27: Introduction to the Roman Empire and how law was made in the Roman Empire. SHORT READING AND HOMEWORK QUESTIONS.


  • Wed. March 29: Trial for treason and poisoning under emperor Tiberius

    CONCENTRATE ON THE TRIAL OF PISO: READ TACITUS' ACCOUNT AND THE DECREE OF THE SENATE (found in an inscription).  The other readings are useful for background; note Tacitus' irony towards the loss of freedom.  SHORT WRITTEN HOMEWORK USING THE READING that you may send me by email only.  (PS:  2 other treason-trials I will tell you about in class.  See Slides as well.)

  • MON. April 3: More Roman History. Introduce issues in the trial of Jesus. Rome and the provinces.

    READ: (i) the accounts in the 4 gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John). The procedure and the READING HAS 2 PARTS: (i) Jesus is brought before the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin; then (ii) Jesus is brought to the Roman prefect, Pilate. READ THE EXCERPTS FROM THE 4 GOSPELS. THERE ARE 2 SEPARATE WEB PAGES BELOW, READ BOTH (i) and (ii).

    WRITE: A good paragraph: Answer this: (i) Are there significant differences among the accounts of the 4 gospels on the issue of how the Jewish authorities "tried" Jesus (procedure, charge, and such legal issues)? AND -- 2nd part of the 2-part question -- (ii) Are there significant differences among the accounts of the 4 gospels on the issue of how Pilate "tried" Jesus (procedure, charge, and such legal issues)? YOU MUST READ AND TALK ABOUT BOTH PARTS (i) AND (ii) of the reading and the procedure. This short writing will be expanded on for a 1-page short essay for Wed., so look at these original sources closely, both parts (i) and (ii). USE ONLY THESE READINGS (the primary sources).
  • Wed. April 5: THE TRIAL OF JESUS

    READ these 3+ pages, Review the gospel accounts from Monday, the 3 pages on NT law, and WRITE a short essay.  See the slides.  HOMEWORK:  1-page short essay due. 

  • Mon. April 10: Why and how did Romans persecute Christians?

    READ: accounts in the New Testament; Pliny's letter to emperor Trajan and Trajan's reply. SHORT HOMEWORK: email me your response, 1 or 2 sentences, to the question below.
  • Wed. April 12: Magic and law: the TRIAL (in class) of Apuleius

    READING IN E-BOOK ON Moodle: We are doing the trial of APULEIUS for magic in the years 158-159 CE/AD. NOTE: EXCERPTS FROM HIS DEFENSE SPEECH (Apology) are found in two places; both are required reading:

    (i) READ PAGES 251-253 (= text #242 in this anthology), important for the trial;
    AND (ii) READ Chapter 14, PAGES 275-299, ESPECIALLY THE TWO TRIALS THERE -- OURS IS THE TRIAL OF APULEIUS (find it there!), and also look at ROMAN LAWS about magic (close to our period).
  • MON. April 17: The Roman jurists (introduction); rational science of law; Justinian's codification of law.

    READ: READ pp. 43-62 (pp. 43-50, about the Roman jurists, and 50-62, about the later Empire and Justinian) of "Sources of Roman Law" (a chapter from the standard textbook). No written homework. This is necessary background for the next two weeks.
  • Wed. April 19: Roman law of slavery; runaways. DO THE WRITTEN worksheet DUE IN CLASS TODAY

  • Mon. April 24: Roman laws about women

    General Note:  any readings from the DIGEST = excerpts from opinions of jurists (who may cite Emperor's decrees).  anything from the CODE = enactments by Emperors.


  • Wed. April 26: Roman laws about marriage and divorce

    READ the excerpts from the Digest and the Code. Remember: DIGEST = excerpts from jurists (who may cite Emperor's decrees). CODE = collection of enactments by Emperors.
    WRITE: Answer the short questions in the QUESTIONNAIRE (BELOW)
  • MONDAY, MAY 1: Roman laws about religion: Christians, pagans, Jews. Review for take-home final.

    READ sections 1-1, 1-9, AND 1-11 of the Code (online; link below).  Watch out for the section headings in this text.

    The Code consists of statements by Emperors (which have the force of law, as we know).

    Think about the relation of law and religion

    WRITE: Answer the short questions in the QUESTIONNAIRE (BELOW)

  • FINAL: Take-Home Final Due May 10 (or May 9 if you are graduating)