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Orthodoxy and the Courts in Late Antiquity$
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Caroline Humfress

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208419

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208419.001.0001

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(p.269) 10 Conclusion
Orthodoxy and the Courts in Late Antiquity

Caroline Humfress (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter presents a synthesis of discussions in the preceding chapters. In late antiquity, practitioners of forensic rhetoric were trained in how to handle general legal principles and imperial constitutions. In other words, late Roman rhetorical schools, in both the East and the West, taught their pupils how to handle imperial legislation pragmatically, as a resource for influencing the outcome of disputes, rather than a canon for deciding them. The duty of the late Roman advocate, and indeed the iurisperitus employed in private cases, lay in exploiting the dialectic between any relevant ‘normative’ rule and its concrete application, in favour of their client's case. Thus, within the technical branch of ancient rhetoric, ‘laws’ were already held to exist within a domain of rhetorical argumentation. What emerges from this perspective is not the ‘intellectual inferiority’ of late Roman law, but the creativity and ingenuity of late Roman forensic practitioners.

Keywords:   late Roman law, Christian, ecclesiastics, heresy, theology, lawcourts, forensic practitioners

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