New exercise on Law and Narrativity

Dear students,

prof. Conte suggested a couple of challanging exercises. Some of you could try to apply the idea of narrative NOT to national identity or similar things, but to single legal institutions, using the following texts, avalable in our library, which are also translated in Italian:

Foegen, M.-T., Roemische Rechtsgeschichten: ueber Ursprung und Evolution eines sozialen Systems, Goettingen 2003 [It. translation “Storie di diritto romano”, a cura di A. Mazzacane]

Also a link between narrative and private law can be found in “Der Kampf um’s Recht” [“La lotta per il diritto”/”The Struggle for the Right”] a real “classic” by R. Jhering, with reference to Kleist’s Novel “Michael Kohlhaas”.

Let’s try!

6 thoughts on “New exercise on Law and Narrativity

  1. Andrea Zoppo says:

    Dear Professors,
    The book Roemische Rechtsgeschichten: ueber Ursprung und Evolution eines sozialen Systems, Goettingen 2003 [It. translation “Storie di diritto romano”, a cura di A. Mazzacane] was unfindable in the library. The secretary told me that they don’t where is it, even if the database says that the book is available.


  2. Diana Martellini says:

    M.T. Foegen in her book analyzes how was it possible that roman law, such a technically refined law, was born in that time and in that place, wondering how romans felt e thought about it. she find an answer to that question through the stories of dionigi di alicanrnasso, livio, diodoro, cicerone and such. these ancient authors knew wery well how narrative works and how to use it, so basically their works use narrative to write something we might dare to compare to what we nowdays call “manuali”, handbooks : tools useful to students or simply inquiring people to study, understand, learn and interiorise in a deeper level such knowledge.
    an intresting thing about this book, the author and her point of wiew is that she care to keep separete the history of roman law from every other kind of civil law inspired and born from it.

    the book opens with an emblematic title: “l’antichità non ci conosce”, the ancient times have no knowledge of us, meaning that inquiring this sources we must keep in mind that the writers had no idea of how we think, of what we think, of we know and we don’t know. from this starting point m t foegen compares the work of the archaeologist to what has to be done with this ancient texts, in order to separate true and false fact and make sense of all the information we get, so we can come to figure what allegedly must have been the reality behind the fiction.
    figuring out how things must have worked back in the romans days, is basically narrative: we describe the history of law as the story of its evolution, but doing that we descibe the evolution of the law as social system.
    the author’s hypothesis of work is that romans descibed the birth and evolution of their law system in stories full of surprises and fictional elements, thesis questioned by fritz schultz but self-revealed to anyone who approaches this texts.


  3. lawadminhumanities says:

    Dear Andrea, other students told me the same thing: the book is not available. You could try to find it in other libraries in Rome (we have so many interesting libraries here!) but anyway don’t worry and try instead to analyze Jhering’s work. By the way Diana: where did you find the book? SG


  4. Federica Rossi says:

    In M.T. Foegen’s book the reader is allowed to consider the roots of Roman history and institutions from a different perspective; not just the historical one, which tends to minimize the sociological approach furthermore separating the source materials between reliable and fictitious information, but also considering the ancient narrative sources, in order to explain those “historical leaps”, which are too often ignored and attributed to a continuous evolution by traditional historiography.
    As an example of this method, in the second chapter the author reports the foundation myth of the Roman Republic, as told by Dionigi di Alicarnasso e Livio. The rape of the patrician Lucrezia committed by the king’s son, Sesto Tarquinio, led to the expulsion of the Tarquinian family.
    Lucrezia stands for the violated Roman state and her suicide is necessary for the unstained foundation of the so-called “res publica”.
    Only with this violation and the following purification, allegorically embodied in Lucrezia’s character, it’s possible to build a new, clean political system.


  5. Antonio Belviso says:

    It is very interesting, in today lesson, the explanation about lessical and legal communication: every kind of human communication is formulated to arrive at a particular type of audience: this is the target. Editorial staff of a newspaper, in creating a journal, must predetermine, before all, the kind of his audience and choose, in relation to it, the literary register to use: For example economic magazine is addressed to economic operators or investors, so we expect to find financial editorials and related advertising; fashion or cooking magazine are directed expecially to women, while sport ones, are directed to men; etc. In Italy, for example, the largest publication target is the Disney comics one: from 0 to 99 years. Law is necessarily directed to all, because the laws are almost always general, “erga omnes”. Even if a subject does not have the ability to act, he have legal capacity: he is part of a culture, of a society so he must have a supreme right: be able to understand the laws and his rights. In this, Bible is exemplary: the law is the law of the father and a father must have lovingly “suasivo” and firmly “iussivo”. The target of law must be universal, in the same way of the fables of Aesop or Mickey Mouse daily strips: so a clear narration, simply but never banal, deep but not farraginous. Because the equivalence between “intelligent” and “obscure” must become a thing of the past only: law have to be as much as possible exoteric, never esoteric: remember Tiberius Coruncanius! To remain in theme of the lesson, Manzoni not only claims dutifulness of law literature in Azzeccagarbugli episode, to guarantee protection for the weak people, but also in fiction literature tout court: “suadere” and “iubere” become “delectare”, “docere”, “movere”. If a novel, a drama, a painting, an opera don’t delight, don’t give emotions, so if they are boring and obscure, they aren’t good and they will be soon forgotten, without having taught nothing. In the same way law: son will respect his father only if he wants to be understood by him


  6. Anthony J. Cacciotti says:

    R. Jhering in his most known work, entitled «Der Kampf um’s Recht», shows his innovative method to analyze the Law, way different from contemporary authors, who were following the German Historical School of Law’s approach, based on a careful reading of roman legal sources. In fact, Jhering said that the most important historical-legal discoveries are the principles and the thoughts you can only find out going beyond the basic meaning of sources. Jurists have to analyze the law individually, separating it from the social and political contest in which it was born and trying to identify his own language. Behind «the History of the Right» there is another, hidden, part of it -the best part- made of abstarct principles, the essence of law that has to be discovered.
    With this approach, Jhering starts to talk about the «Kampt», the fight, the struggle for the Right. He’s inspired by Kant, who said that men can’t let anyone trample their rights; in fact, law can be represented as a God, who’s holding in one hand a scale, and in the other a sword. Jurists have to find out if those principles they have (re)discovered, are still current, are still able to be applied in contemporary times or if they have changed. Several institutes such as the «infamy» and the slave trade became obsolete, others have been converted: for example, the punishment of thieves has been changed during the years: in the ancient times men could punish them by themselves, with a sort of private justice, while in modern era you can only sue criminals, leaving the job to a judge, the only one who can condemn them. The author adds other examples like a farmer who has suffered a damage to his property, a merchant to his credit or an officer to his honor. Private and criminal law now realize themselves with lawsuits, not with personal revenge. This is the evolution of the Law, the “struggle”, “der kampft” Jhering’s talking about. The Right is a duty toward yourself, and a duty toward the community.


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