Ancient Law and Modern Understanding: At the Edges
In Ancient Law and Modern Understanding Alan Watson proposes that ancient law is relevant and important for understanding history, theology, sociology, and literature. "Law, though technical," he writes, "is not remote from scholarship on other matters, and law is a central element in society."
From Homeric Greece to present-day Armenia, Watson examines law's influence. Without a sensitivity to technical legal language, scholars of literature or history miss much: the use of puns in Plautus, Sulla's claim that Julius Caesar was descended from a slave, the relationship between the Synoptic Gospels. Legal history is an essential tool for understanding society, Watson argues, but it must be applied with knowledge of how law moves from one society to the next, legal reliance on authority, juristic concern with apparent trivia, and the impact on legal growth.