Literary sources are a reflection of the habits of social life and therefore of Roman law. The same goes for Greek literary sources, such as Senofonte’s Economist, who have had great influence on the Latin authors. This work of the Attic writer presents a fascinating description of the ideal bride, and the concept of mutual help between spouses is also highlighted, as a project of cooperation and full realization of both persons, equal in dignity but different in family and social roles, and therefore constitutes a cautious acknowledgment of the equal functional dignity of the spouses.
This paper analyses Antigone’s “law of the gods”, as Hegel shows up in his reading of Sophocles’ Tragedy in Phenomenology of Spirit. My purpose is to provide a new interpretation of the normativity status of Antigone’s claim. What Antigone ought to do, is a duty without law.
Twentieth Century history provides ample evidence of the fundamental role that law can (and did actually) play in the origins of crimes «that we can neither punish nor forgive» and, more generally, of forms of exclusion and «reification» aimed against groups or individuals labelled, under different political and social circumstances, as ‘alien’ and ‘undesirable’, because of ‘racial’ or ‘biological’ factors (as under the Nazi and Fascist regimes) or of ‘administrative’ features (such as illegal immigration, for instance). Our past reveals the great weight of ‘legal dehumanization’ as a pivotal element conducive to social and psychological as well as, eventually, physical dehumanization – and subsequent elimination – of millions of people. This fundamental role is not just related to law’s specific functioning, but, even more, to its strong symbolic significance. On the one hand, the law – and particularly criminal law – expresses in the most forceful way a society’s idea of what it should be (its ‘Sollen’), while, on the other, its fundamental formalistic and procedural traits allow its (even too easy) exploitation by illiberal and antidemocratic forces, often on grounds of a (real or alleged) popular will. Criminal law in particular, being intrinsically aimed at pursuing social defence, may end up seeking it even to the detriment of fundamental human rights, and often focusing on persons or groups who, because of their relative weakness within society, can easily be selected as ‘enemies’ or ‘parasites’. This essay tries and investigates whether a ‘law and literature’ – and, more specifically, a ‘justice and literature’ – approach could contribute to finding a new balance between legal formalism – particularly by taking advantage of its guarantee potential – and an ethical attitude to criminal law capable of escaping the snares and dangers of contingent social morals, as well as of the totalitarian ‘ethical State’, in order to attempt at developing a ‘reconciliation’ between ‘law’ and ‘justice’. More specifically, a ‘narrative approach’ to the understanding of the human being is explored, as a possible way of ‘injecting’ into criminal law a set of ideas and principles working as ‘antibodies’ to its recurring securitarian, segregationist, warmongering, and ultimately authoritarian tendencies.
Manzoni can be considered a legal historian like Dickens and so many other novelists. In fact, he has succeeded in humanizing stereotyped formulas of law in Renzo and Lucia’s novel. What he is concerned with is the machinery by which the law is enforced, the men who enforced it, the conditions in which these men lived and the actual effects of the rules of law, substantive and adjective, upon the men and the women of his day. Hence we get in “Promessi Sposi” that account of the human side of the rules of law and their working, which is essential to the legal historian and, in this case, to the ecclesiastical historian. Also the relations between Church and State in XVIth are painted with extraordinary powers observation.