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The Roman Foundations of the Law of NationsAlberico Gentili and the Justice of Empire$
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Benedict Kingsbury and Benjamin Straumann

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199599875

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599875.001.0001

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Empire and the Laws of War: A Roman Archaeology

Empire and the Laws of War: A Roman Archaeology

(p.30) 3 Empire and the Laws of War: A Roman Archaeology
The Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations

Clifford Ando

Oxford University Press

This chapter follows Gentili's lead in asking what we might learn, indeed, what questions we might be provoked to ask if we refuse to accept at face value Roman histories of that ritual — the ritual of the fetial priests, the object of so-called fetial law — and instead subject those histories to scrutiny. It again follows Gentili's lead in assigning hermeneutic if not historical priority to the civil law. If, as seems highly probable, the Romans invented for themselves and retrojected into the past a legal-religious ritual for declaring just wars on analogy with a well-attested civil law action, it behoves us to ask what light that action might shed upon the justice of Roman wars and relations of law and empire in the Roman world.

Keywords:   Alberico Gentili, Roman history, fetial priests, fetial law, civil law, Roman wars

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