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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Law         '                          213
which co-existed in Egypt was merely increased. Only the few
Roman citizens who had come over from Italy were governed
by the Roman 'imperial law'. In addition to this the Romans
had developed a completely different legal system which was
applied only in the provinces and which was adapted to the
needs of each province, the 'Roman provincial law'. The third
legal system which was in force among the native population
was the 'national law', which was not, however, a uniform,
system, inasmuch as the Greeks lived under Greek law as before,
and the Egyptians under Egyptian law. The Roman provincial
law, which may be regarded as the most interesting of these legal
systems, was the one system which was best capable of further
This law, which ran parallel with the 'classical' Roman law
of the age of the great Roman jurists, was in its own way a
classical law too. It displays the great administrative and coloniz-
ing qualities of the Romans and their capacity for seizing on
essentials. The style of the documents of this period was terse
and clear, while in the post-classical period it became digressive
and pompous. The provincial law has a special value for legal
history inasmuch as it very often anticipated the development
of the imperial law. To give one example: in the city of Rome
at this time the classical law of civil procedure, which we know
from Gaius, was in force. The litigants went to a magistrate
who clearly summarized the legal issues in a formula, but who
could not himself pronounce judgement. That was done by a
private person who was chosen as 'judge5 by the parties. That
was a procedure which corresponded to the republican form
of government but which Augustus left untouched, out of his
respect for tradition. But he had no interest in introducing
republican institutions into Egypt which had always been under
a monarchic form of government. The law of procedure which
he introduced into Egypt was related rather to Roman practice
in other provinces. The governor was to be the supreme judge.