The Ius Gentium of the Roman Law

By: Anavitarte, E. J.*

The ius gentium or "law of nations", is the body of legal institutions that the Romans considered common to all human societies, and therefore applicable to any free person.

This legal body was opposed to the ius civile (-is), which was exclusive to Roman society, so during the preclassic period it would only apply to foreigners from the city of Rome, although during the classic period these divisions became more flexible, and could be applied to any free person. Its isolated nature of the ius civile meant that its main source was the ius honorarium praetorio.

The Romans─who understood the unusual nature of their law─considered as part of the ius gentium the norms applicable in all civilized societies, such as barter or sale, as opposed to those exclusive to apply to the Roman people.

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