Petitions, Litigation, and Social Control in Roman Egypt

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Oxford University Press, Oct 13, 2011 - History - 427 pages
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This book examines the contribution that petitioning and litigation made to the maintenance of the social order in Roman Egypt between 30 BC and AD 284. Through the analysis of the many hundreds of documents surviving on papyrus, especially petitions, reports of court proceedings, and letters, Kelly focuses on how the legal system achieved its formal goals (that is, the resolution of disputes through judgments), and discusses in detail the contribution made by the litigation process to informal methods of social control. With particular emphasis on the roles that this process played in the transmission of political ideologies, in the maintenance of family solidarity, and in the fostering of 'private' mechanisms of dispute resolution, the book argues that although the legal system was less than successful when judged by its formal aims, it did have a real social impact by contributing indirectly to some of the informal mechanisms that ensured order in this province of the Roman Empire. However, arguing that, on occasion, one can also see petitioning and litigation being abused for the pursuit of feud and vengeance, Kelly also recognizes that the social impacts of petitioning and litigation were multifaceted, and in some senses even contradictory.
  

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 Petitions and Social History
38
3 Legal Control in Roman Egypt
75
4 Who Used the Justice System?
123
5 Political Ideologies in the Legal Realm
168
6 Hierarchy and Group Solidarity
210
7 Private Dispute Resolution and the Shadow of the Law
244
8 Vexatious and Vexing Litigation
287
9 Conclusions
327
Petitions Involving Disputes
334
Petitions without Disputes
365
Reports of Proceedings
368
Bibliography
381
Index Locorum
405
General Index
421
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About the author (2011)


Benjamin Kelly is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at York University, Toronto. He was previously a lecturer in the History Program of the Australian National University.

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