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Title: The Leges Iuliae: Augustus, the Law, and the New Order
Authors: Master, Emily Laura
Advisors: Shaw, Brent D
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Augustus
Roman history
Roman law
Subjects: Ancient history
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the development of lawmaking over the course of the first Principate with a focus on the leges Iuliae. Although the rule of Octavian/Augustus is among the most heavily studied in Roman history, the legislation of the princeps has not been the subject of a comprehensive study. Furthermore, the abundance of work on the marriage and adultery laws has not been balanced by a detailed consideration of the princeps’ other leges and of the evolution of lawmaking under his rule. I situate the leges Iuliae in the Republican tradition of lawmaking and trace the chronology of the mechanisms Augustus relied on to effect legal change. I argue that Augustus’ modes of lawmaking provide an important lens through which to consider his position in the Roman state. In the first part of this dissertation, I analyze the Roman practice of lawmaking as it had developed by the late Republic. I begin by outlining the basic requirements of the Romans’ creation of public law and argue that lawmaking was an elite-driven process that demanded collaboration and consensus. The second and third chapters trace the ways that the opportunities to promulgate public law were consolidated by a sequence of programmatic lawmakers. Part two examines Augustus’ interaction with the programmatic legislation and legislators of the late Republic. Here I begin by arguing that Augustus conspicuously avoided opportunities to promulgate legislation in the first settlement of his power in order to present himself as a restorer of law. In the fifth and sixth chapters, I analyze the princeps’ programmatic legislation in 18-17 BC as a careful manipulation of the mode of lawmaking developed by C. Gracchus, Sulla, and Caesar. In the final chapter, I argue that in 2 BC Augustus shifted permanently to a model of consular, co-sponsored legislation for new statute laws. This shift was accompanied by the princeps’ increasing reliance on senatus consulta and interpretation to accomplish legal change. My major thesis is that the changing modes of lawmaking during the first Principate were not haphazard, but a purposeful expression of Augustus’ ideology and an important marker for the emergence of autocratic rule.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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