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ERC

REDHIS Report Summary

Project ID: 341102
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Mid-Term Report Summary - REDHIS (Rediscovering the hidden structure. A new appreciation of Juristic texts and Patterns of thought in Late Antiquity.)

The principal aim of Project REDHIS is to chart and analyse the continued presence, circulation, and use of classical juristic texts and thought in Late Antiquity. While the scholarship has traditionally viewed this as an age of decline in legal learning, the project fundamentally reconceptualises our understanding of Late Antique legal culture. The project has been pursuing in-depth analyses and careful contextualisation of three distinct types of sources: (1) juristic texts and their annotations directly transmitted on papyri and parchments from Late Antiquity; (2) Late Antique texts that engage explicitly with classical juristic literature; and (3) Late Antique legislative texts, with a focus on Justinian. The research carried out so far has yielded important results in each of these three focus areas.
The first branch of the project studies the textual witnesses of classical jurisprudence from the first to the sixth centuries. These include Latin as well as bilingual Greek-Latin material. By combining traditional philology and bibliological approaches, we have been working on reliable editions conforming to the modern standards of textual criticism while also paying close attention to the fragments as evidence for the legal book in Antiquity. Thus we study in detail issues such as format, paratexts (e.g. titles and rubrics), and all traces left by ancient readers such as marginal annotations. While the edition work is still ongoing, it should be emphasised that this research been extraordinarily fruitful. The use of high-tech tools has allowed us to read the papyri much more accurately than ever before, resulting in a substantial number of new readings in many papyri already known. Moreover, our exploration of library collections across Europe and the US has led to the discovery of a spectacular number of previously unknown juristic papyri, increasing our initial corpus by more than half. These discoveries will afford us and other scholars to understand better and with more nuance legal culture in the Late Antique Mediterranean.
The second branch of REDHIS analyses the incorporation of and engagement with classical juristic texts in Late Antique writings. Our interest lies in charting how the classical works were read, used, recycled, and adapted in Late Antique practice, what we call the history and geography of ancient legal writing. The research so far has analysed how the juristic classics in were used and adapted for legal education and legal practice in the Late Antique West (Roman as well as post-Roman), as well as how they were appropriated and transformed in Syriac culture. All these studies are the foundation for a large, encyclopaedic volume on the reception and transformation of classical Roman law in Late Antiquity.
The project’s third branch aims to gauge in detail to what extent emperors (and their staff) took legal doctrine developed by classical jurists into account when drafting new legislation. On the basis of an extensive corpus of imperial constitutions carefully selected from the Late Antique Codes, the research so far bears out that the Late Antique legislator drew widely from classical jurisprudence. That is, even though their debts to the jurists generally go unacknowledged, Late emperors engaged actively with jurists’ views, and they made use of them in interpreting constitutions in case of controversies.

Reported by

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI PAVIA
Italy
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