The concept of law under Greek and Roman law

The rule of law is a political principle that establishes that all citizens are subject to the same set of legal rules, influencing various societies worldwide. Moreover, the rules can only be decided through a constitutional figure and cannot be nullified by a single individual (Miller, 2010). First established in ancient Greece, the theory of the rule of law originated from Aristotle’s philosophy on whether it was better to be ruled by the best laws or the best man. Aristotle recognised that law is supreme over all other forms of authority and that legal principles should be just towards the people without putting the rich above the poor. He claimed that there might be many forms of government, but the worst would be the governments that rule without the rule of law. Another principle he established was that if individuals ruled without a set law to follow, such leaders would bend the government to their interests and benefits (Waldron, 2020). Greek law established the need for positive and natural laws to exist in harmony without contradicting each other. However, natural law established equality for all, whereas positive law in ancient greek allowed slavery. Moreover, the concept of the rule of law can be found in ancient Greek theories of law such as Nomos, which discussed political power issues such as miss-using power and how that affected the citizens’ rights. The main principles of Greek law are accountability, just law and complete justice. Today, the rule of law established under Greek law is still followed, providing modern societies with a stable system enabling resolutions to all conflicts between citizens. In many nations, including the United States, no one is above the law, including the president, and everyone must follow the rules.


-Rule of law under Roman law

The concept of the rule of law under Roman law was established in ancient Rome, introducing many legal rules from the twelve tables, roman private law and the Justinian code. The rule of law dealt with many issues, such as property, persons, family, crime and punishment. Roman law prioritizes natural law over positive law. The main principles of roman law were strictly only applied to the citizens introducing a significant disadvantage to the foreigners in Rome. Foreigners in Rome were treated horribly as they were unprotected against violent acts towards them, as even their property could be taken away from them in a heartbeat (Stein, 2022). However, Rome had several treaties protecting foreigners with many different foreign states, and the magistrate’s courts applied the system of law of nations (jus gentium) to grant them justice. A law in roman times allowed slavery, as enslaved people were treated as property and were not granted legal authority. Unlike the roman citizens, they would be subject to torture, execution, and sexual exploitation. They would be bought and sold and were unable to get into contracts or legally marry (Shumway, 1901). Civil law (jus civile) was first developed exclusively in roman law, mostly under Justinian compilation. The Justinian law displaced all the existing legislation, eliminating conflicts which left a lasting legal imprint on the Roman Empire. One of the Justinian rules discussed the punishment for robbery, as the penalty for a robber is three times the value of the stolen property. Another guideline addressed is that the amount of money granted to the victim of an attack is determined by the victim’s character and class. Roman legal rules significantly affected the law’s development in many western and eastern civilizations and are still applied today.


-Significance of the Rule of Law

The Rule of Law introduced important principles that affected our lives and civilisations. One of the principles of rule of law is equality before the law, which protects many people from injustice by absurd rules and rulers throughout the years as both the government and the citizens become subject to laws. Without the rule of law many people would not be able to take free consultation in legal matters, as the rule of law implied certain qualifications of laws before they are imposed on society. These qualifications of laws are that the law should be clear, general and accessible to all, the law should be consistent and stable and any changes must be announced. Such characteristics of laws enhance the resolution of legal disputes in jurisdictions. As the absence of accessibility to laws will result in imbalance of powers between parties. Another principle of the rule of law, is that courts must be free from any internal or external influence and judges should be unbiased towards any party either personally or politically. Such a principle ensures that the law is implied fairly.




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