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Law in the Roman Provinces$
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Kimberley Czajkowski, Benedikt Eckhardt, and Meret Strothmann

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198844082

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198844082.001.0001

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The Integration and Perception of the Rule of Law in Roman Crete

The Integration and Perception of the Rule of Law in Roman Crete

From the Roman Conquest to the End of the Principate (67 BCE–235 CE)*

(p.243) 13 The Integration and Perception of the Rule of Law in Roman Crete
Law in the Roman Provinces

Ioannis E. Tzamtzis

Oxford University Press

The contrast between Rome’s difficult and bloody conquest of Crete on the one hand and the absence of any conflicts after the island’s integration into the Roman imperium on the other has not escaped the notice of modern scholars. It has often led to the suspicion that the conquerors had, from the start, disempowered the institutional idiosyncrasies of the conquered. However, careful scrutiny of the literary and epigraphic sources allows for the development of a more complex picture. That picture depends partly on the density of political, military, and institutional events that befell Crete in the last third of the first century BCE, and partly on the interaction between Roman legal culture and a Dorian mentality profoundly rooted in the island’s population. From the artificial creation of a provincia Creta-Cyrenaica (following a twofold military campaign and a conflict between Q. Metellus and Cn. Pompeius) to the experience of the confederative Creta libera, led by a Kretarchas, under the triumvirate; from the conservation of the ‘Gortyn code’ at the turn of the first century CE to the syssitia of Lyttos at the end of the second; from the introduction of the Campanian factor on the territory of Cnossos by Octavian to the persistent memory of a semi-proprietary system for the agricultural exploitation of the Messara plain: the composition of the Cretan legal landscape in the time of the Late Republic and the Principate is reminiscent of a Mediterranean fresco. This composition will be outlined in this chapter in order to give a more nuanced picture of Crete’s legal culture.

Keywords:   Crete, Gortyn code, epigraphy, Greece under Rome, Romanization

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