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Lively investigation of the role of legal institutions in shaping notions of fact from classical Greece and Roman, and beyond


The Discovery of the Fact draws on expertise from lawyers, historians of philosophy, and scholars of classical studies and ancient history, to take a very modern perspective on an underexplored but essential domain of ancient legal history. Everyone is familiar with courts as adjudicators of facts. But legal institutions also played an essential role in the emergence of the notion of the fact, and contributed in a vital way to commonplace understandings of what is knowable and what is not. These issues have a particular importance in ancient Greece and Rome, the first western societies in which state law and state institutions of dispute resolution visibly play a decisive role in ordinary social and economic relations. The Discovery of the Fact investigates, historically and comparatively, the relationships among the law, legal institutions, and the boundaries of knowledge in classical Greece and Rome. Societies wanted citizens to conform to the law, but how could this be insured? On what foundation did ancient courts and institutions base their decisions, and how did they represent the reasoning behind their decisions when announcing them? Slaves were owned like things, and yet they had minds that ancients conceded were essentially unknowable. What was to be done? And where  has the boundary been drawn between questions of law and questions of fact when designing processes of dispute resolution?

Clifford Ando is David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Humanities and Professor of Classics, History, Law at University of Chicago.
William P. Sullivan is Drinan Research Fellow at Boston College Law School.

"...the articles assembled herein collectively make two substantial claims: that ancient legal history stands as a legitimate domain for the study of the history of knowledge, and, recursively, that questions of historical epistemology are relevant to ancient legal history." - New Testament Abstracts

- New Testament Abstracts

"... these books reveal much about how law was dispensed in ancient times, and both are highly recommended as excellent scholarly efforts to get to the facts of the case." - Sun News

- Sun News

"The volume is valuable on the one hand for the high quality of the individual contributions and on the other hand for the urgency of the very general question at its heart." 
-Bryn Mawr Classical Review 

- Andrew Riggsby

"This collection should find interested readers in both the academic and lay worlds, as it deals with important questions and the history of one of the West’s most vital institutions. Highly recommended."

- M. Harding