ERIC Number: ED148672
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Classical Influences in the Development of American Legal Culture.
Hoffman, Richard J.
The author examines the influences of classical Greek and Roman literature and law upon court decisions in the United States during the first decade following the adoption of the Constitution. References to Greek and Roman literature, history, and mythology by Virginia's High Court Chancellor George Wythe and by several Justices of the Supreme Court are given as examples. The classical allusions and expressions served three functions: as expressions of a particular sentiment based on the literary context of the quote, as similies, and as legal precedents. Examples illustrating these usages are given. The explanation presented in the document for the classical presence in American legal opinions goes beyond the educational background in classics which most jurists had at that time. The break which the colonies had made from England during the Revolution created an atmosphere in which American jurists had to define new relationships between states and a federal government. Classical precedents were favored over British law at this time. Most frequently quoted from the classics were Justinian, Cicero, Virgil, Aeschylus, and Demosthenes. (AV)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Anthropological Association (San Diego, California, April, 1977)