Annual Benefactors Lecture

From Quintilian to Dred Scott: An Issue in the Jurisprudence of Slavery
Matthew Leigh, St. Anne's College, Oxford University, Benefactors Lecturer spring 2019

Quintilian, Minor Declamation 340 concerns the property rights of a master over a slave whom he has temporarily represented as a free man in order to avoid paying due taxes to the port authorities. It is a test case for what should be the proper status of one who has been 'in freedom by the will of the master', a category of slave covered under Roman law by the term 'Junian Latins'. American scholars have seen in this problem an ancient version of the Dred Scott case. This lecture will examine the basis for this comparison and will also engage with related judgements in English law in the case of Somerset vs. Stewart (1772) and in Danish law in that of Hans Jonathan (1802). 

Professor Matthew Leigh is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at St Anne's College, Oxford, and Professor of Classical Languages and Literature in Oxford University. He is the author of Lucan: Spectacle and Engagement (Oxford, 1997), Comedy and the Rise of Rome(Oxford, 2004), and From Polypragmon to Curiosus (Oxford, 2013) as well as various articles largely concerned with the borders between Latin literature and Roman history. He is currently working on the Controversiae of the Elder Seneca and has become interested in legal thinking in Roman rhetorical exercises.

Sponsored by the Classics Department