91379 - ROMAN LAW

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Fabiana Mattioli (Modulo 1) Alvise Schiavon (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Legal Studies (cod. 9062)

    Also valid for Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Legal Studies (cod. 9062)

Course contents

The course will be divided into two parts: the first part offers a historical perspective and the second a dogmatic one. The first part will take into consideration the principle stages of Roman legal history from the Law of the Twelve Tablets to the epoch of Justinian. In this context, while not neglecting some considerations on the constitutional changes, it will be analysed the evolution of the concept of law and its classifications (ius naturale, ius civile, ius gentium); the history of the pontifical and secular jurisprudence and its role on the law development; the relation between ius civile and ius honorarium; the legislative enactments of the emperors in various forms; the vulgar law and post-classical sources; the codes in late antiquity. Special attention will be given to the Justinian age and to the compilation of the Corpus Iuris Civilis, which represents an experience of extraordinary importance for the world legal history. In detail: the figure of Justinian and his main collaborators; the first and the second Code; the Digest and the theories about his compilation; the Institutes; the Novels and their collections; the relation between Justinian law and classical law; the attention of the emperor to the theological problems and religious policy; the reform of the state between reconquest and routine. The second part will take into consideration the fundamental institutions of Roman private law. The analysis of the law of persons will focus on the legal regulation of slavery in its historical evolution, the emergence of concepts of legal capacity and capacity to act, the problems related to the birth and death of an individual, the features and privileges of Roman citizenship and the effects of his grant to all the inhabitants of the empire. Special attention will be given to the singularity of Roman family centred on the figure of the pater familias; the marriage, the divorce and de facto unions; the legal status of children and the legitimation; the gradual emergence of a patrimonial autonomy of the descendents and the connected institutions; adoption and arrogation; guardianship and care. The part which regards the real rights will take into consideration the characteristics of the quiritarian ownership and the other types of ownership known in Roman law; the problems concerning the modes of original and derivative acquisition; the subordinate real rights and the possession. The law of obligations will begin from the concept of obligation and its sources. It will be analysed various types of obligations, the performance, the non-performance and its consequences. It will be analysed the origin of the concept of contract and the single figures of typical contracts in their division into four parts (real, verbal, literal, consensual). As regards the successions, it will be presented the basic concepts: the general notions, to the various kinds of the succession and their relations, the testament, the legacies. Also it will be traced the evolution of the Roman civil procedure in its principal forms: the legis actiones, the formulary system and the cognitio extra ordinem. In this context more attention will be dedicated to the relation between substantive law and trial, the various kinds of actions and the role of praetor.

First part

  1. Historical development of Roman private law. Periodization;
  2. Sources of law;
  3. The Gaius’ catalogue: leges and mores;
  4. Plebiscita;
  5. Senatus consulta and constitutiones principum;
  6. Responsa prudentium;
  7. Edicts issued by magistrates;
  8. The postclassical age: leges and iura;
  9. The Law of citations;
  10. The Theodosian Code;
  11. The age of Justinian;
  12. Justinian’s Compilation. The codes;
  13. The Digest and the Institutes;
  14. The Justinian’s Novels;
  15. The summa divisio de iure personarum;
  16. The slavery. Forms of manumissiones;
  17. The marriage and de facto unions;
  18. The patria potestas;
  19. The adoptio and the adrogatio;
  20. The guardianships and care.

Second part

  1. Things (concept, partitions, relevant typologies);
  2. The ownership. Quiritarian ownership: characters and limits;
  3. The in bonis habere. The provincial ownership;
  4. Ownership in postclassical and justinian’s period;
  5. The defense of ownership;
  6. The modes of derivative acquisition of ownership;
  7. The real rights: servitudes;
  8. The usufruct and related figures;
  9. The possession;
  10. The concept of obligatio;
  11. The performance;
  12. Various types of obligations;
  13. The non performance and the mora;
  14. Sources of obligations;
  15. The contract;
  16. The real contracts;
  17. The verbal contracts;
  18. The consensual contracts: contract of sale;
  19. The locatio conductio;
  20. The societas;
  21. The mandatum;
  22. Unnamed contracts;
  23. The pacta;
  24. The delicta. General notions;
  25. Theft;
  26. Robbery;
  27. Damage;
  28. Injury;
  29. Death and succession: delatio hereditatis;
  30. The acceptance of the inheritance (requirements, forms, effects, defense);
  31. The bonorum possessio;
  32. The succession ab intestato;
  33. The testament and its forms;
  34. The institution of the heir and the substitutions;
  35. Successio contra tabulas;
  36. The codicilli;
  37. The legacies;
  38. The fideicommissa;
  39. The donatio.


The examination will be related to the topics treated during the lessons. For the exam preparation, the notes taken during classes will be sufficient.

In order to track class presence, the modality will be communicated directly during the lesson session.

The following preparatory reading for the course is recommended: 

Students without a legal background: 



Students with a legal background: 




Teaching methods

Lessons will be held through the explanation of the Roman institutions and his society, examination and discussion in the classroom of the Roman legal sources and subsequent testimonies of the Roman tradition.

Please note that lessons will be held in the first semester.

During the first semester, lessons will be held in the way described at the following address:



There are no preparatory courses for this course.

Assessment methods

The final exam will consist of a verbal examination on the entire program of the course.

The interview aims to evaluate the achievement of the following educational objectives:

- understanding the fundamental institutions in Roman law;

- understanding the methods of elaboration and trasmission of Roman juridical thought and the impact on the in modern private law.

The evaluation of the examination will be carried out taking into consideration:

- the knowledge of institutional profiles;

- the ability to analyze the decisions of the courts and the opinions of academic commentators;

- the ability to make connections among the different parts of the program;

- the ability to develop critical arguments;

- the articulation of the exposure;

- the accuracy of the exposure.

The aim of the oral test is to verify the student's ability to apply his or her knowledge and to make the necessary logical-deductive connections.

The following criteria will be used to assign the final mark:

  • Knowledge of a very limited number of topics, extensive support by the interviewer to address and answer the questions, basic yet appropriate language à 18;
  • Knowledge of a limited number of topics, ability to autonomously address basic legal problems, use of appropriate language → 19-23;
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the programme, ability to autonomously and critically analyse legal problems, use of specific terminology → 24-29;
  • Extensive knowledge of the programme, ability to reason autonomously and critically analyse legal problems, make connections between the topics, ability to master the specific terminology and ability to present legal arguments. → 30-30L.

Teaching tools

The teaching materials will be made available through "Virtuale" (https://virtuale.unibo.it).


Students which need compensatory tools for reasons of disability or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) will communicate to the teacher their needs so as to be directed to the dedicated person and arrange on the adoption of the most appropriate measures.

Office hours

See the website of Fabiana Mattioli

See the website of Alvise Schiavon


Quality education Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.