Twelve Tables

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Twelve Tables,

early code of Roman law. Most modern authorities accept the traditional date of 450 B.C., but several place the work later. The tables were supposedly written in response to the plebeians' protest that the patrician judges were able to discriminate against them with impunity because the principles governing legal disputes were known only orally. Two decemvirs [10-man commissions] were appointed to state the law in writing, and they first produced 10 tablets, probably wooden, with laws inscribed thereon; in the next year they produced two more. Exact quotations of the Twelve Tables are rare, but from references in later Latin writings their content has been approximately reconstructed. They appear to have been an exceedingly formalistic statement of the customary law. In later times the Twelve Tables were regarded with reverence as a prime legal source.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Twelve Tables


(Leges duodecim tabularum), a codex of laws of ancient Rome, compiled, according to tradition, by specially elected commissions called decemvirs in 451–450 B.C. These laws represented a written record of the common law of the Roman community. The name, the Twelve Tables, comes from the 12 tables on which the laws were written down and which were exhibited in the city square. The text of the laws was not preserved and has been reconstructed on the basis of references contained in the works of Roman writers and lawyers (Cicero, Gaius, and others).

The laws of the Twelve Tables contained regulations concerning judicial proceedings, criminal and civil law, and certain police regulations. The legal process in disputes over property was distinguished by formality; diversification of form, and the division of jurisdiction between the magistrate-praetor and the judge, who was a private individual appointed to make the final decision in a dispute. From the point of view of property relations, private ownership of property was characteristically widespread, including land-ownership as well as a wide range of contracts concluded on the basis of a free agreement between the parties (sale, exchange, lease, etc.). The norms of family law were based on the unconditional domination by the head of the family—the paterfamilias.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Since most of the common folk could not read the Twelve Tables, their formulation and publication would have been, more or less, inconsequential.
As was the case with Twelve Tables, laws in Pakistan are not some 'secretive document'.
It should have been made clear that Cicero's handling of provocatio is partly dictated by political parti pris and that he is likely to be more dependent on the annalists than the text indicates; and the one historically useful piece of information, that on the Twelve Tables, seems overstated.
Cornell, ibid., 400, accepts that the ius provocationis was enshrined in the Twelve Tables but admits that `the history of the institution of appeal ...
He wrote commentaries on the hymns of the Salii (minor priests who sang their Carmen Saliare at public meeting places at the beginning and end of the growing season); he probably wrote commentaries on the Twelve Tables, the earliest collected body of Roman law; and he produced a general work treating literary, historical, and antiquarian questions.
The Romans considered the Twelve Tables as the foundation of their civil law.
These are private restaurants, licensed to serve up to twelve tables. Inspectors try to enforce the regulations; nevertheless, we did get lobster, under the name "fruit de la mer." Most owners here own farmland and provide the meals from what they retain after taxation.
This technique offers description without analysis, typified by the inclusion of twelve tables with virtually no explication and numerous page-long quotes from secondary sources.
This was known as the Code of Twelve Tables and is often referred to in Roman literature.
Twelve tables and fourteen figures present such data as average fixed charges for undergraduates, sample undergraduate budgets, average student expenses by College Board region, tuition and fees by region and by institution type in constant and current dollars, and cost of attendance at public and private institutions as a percentage of family income.