Creating Worlds of Law:
The Witness in Ancient Greece and Beyond
This project combines ancient Greek legal practice with legal theory to argue for the pivotal role played by the witness, rather than the judge or the state, in producing the structures necessary for the emergence of law.
The figure of the witness, I claim, does so because it instantiates the possibility of appeal to an entity who stands outside the dyad of juridical conflict and unites the notions of knowledge, judgment, and memory. The project, in three parts, illustrates this theoretical claim historically: first by charting the figure of the witness as a figure who knows, second by mapping the historical coincidence of the witness and the judge, and third, by tracing the central function of the witness in remembering, and thus making possible the execution of, contractual engagements and juridical claims.
Legal theory and classical antiquity are enmeshed in this project. My research objects are the elementary structures that make up the law. But, I argue, the unexpected figure producing these structures, the witness, emerges with clarity only when we turn to the ancient material.