• Michael Bertram Crowe


The influence upon Greco-Roman civilization of certain legal terms like those covering the notions of ‘justice,’ ‘injustice’ and ‘law’ has been enormous. Yet the systematic study of those terms is a comparatively late phenomenon. We find it in the later dialogues of Plato and in Aristotle and his school. Aristotle’s pupil and successor at the Lyceum, Theophrastus, was the author of a formal treatise De Legibus. In classical times generally there was a whole series of tracts peri nomou, mostly, however, lost to us.1 But if the systematic study of legal concepts had to wait until the fourth century b.c., the concepts had been there and were known and discussed by the Greeks long before.


Practical Wisdom Nicomachean Ethic Greek Philosophy Legal Philosophy Political Justice 
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  1. 1.
    Titles etc. in A. Boeckh, In Platonis qui vulgo fertur Minoen, pp. 73 ff., cited by W. Jaeger, “Die Anfänge der Rechtsphilosophie und die Griechen” in Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 3 (1948), pp. 321–328, 512-520.Google Scholar
  2. 26.
    W. Jaeger, “Die Anfänge der Rechtsphilosophie und die Griechen,” pp. 337-338; M. Tierney, “The Antigone of Sophocles — A Problem Reviewed” in Studies, 37 (1943), p. 330: “... The limitation of state-authority by the law of nature.”Google Scholar
  3. 46.
    See the useful corrective in M.S. Shellens, “der Gerechtigkeitsbegriff des Thrasymachus” in Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 8(1953), pp. 481–492.Google Scholar
  4. 76.
    H. Rommen, Natural Law, p. 16; E. Galan y Gutierrez, Jus Naturae, p. 42; M. Salamon, “Le droit naturel chez Aristote” in Archives de philosophie de droit et de sociologie juridique 7 (1937), p. 121: “Aristote... n’a formulé cette idée (du droit naturel) ni le premier ni avec la conviction la plus forte”; contrast R. Voggensperger, Der Begriff des ‘jus naturale’ im römischen Recht, p. 71: “Aristoteles, der erste Dogmatiker des Naturrechts....”Google Scholar
  5. 88.
    M. Salomon, “Le droit naturel chez Aristote” in Archives de Philosophie du droit et de sociologie juridique, 7 (1937), pp. 122–125.Google Scholar
  6. 89.
    Cf. H.D.P. Lees, “The Legal Background to two Passages in the Nicomachean Ethics” in Classical Quarterly, 41 (1937), pp. 129–140; E. Barker, The Politics of Aristotle, p. 149, note FF.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Bertram Crowe
    • 1
  1. 1.University CollegeDublinIreland

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