In this exploration of the administration of law and its role in the lives of ordinary people in the northern provinces of the Roman Empire, Serena Connolly draws upon a rich but little-known legal collection from the late 3rd century known as the Codex Hermogenianus. The codex is composed of imperial responses to petitions sent to Rome, written by a team of the emperor's legal experts. These petitions and responses provide a wealth of information about provincial legal administration and the lives of the non-elite petitioners. The man who prostituted his wife, the mother whose malicious son undersold her farm, and the slaves who posed as free men to get a loan are just a few of the lives to encounter. Lives behind the Laws makes a valuable contribution to Roman social, political, and legal history.
Serena Connolly is Assistant Professor of Classics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick.