The ideas in this book have been developing in my mind for more than a decade, but they first began to take shape as a comprehensive view of Greek law when Joseph Mélèze-Modrzejewski invited me to give a set of lectures at the Sorbonne in 2001. (See “Ecriture et oralité en droit grec,” Revue historique de droit français et étranger 79 (2001) 447–62.) I had earlier presented ideas about writing and law in lectures to audiences at the Centre Gernet in Paris, and in Copenhagen, Milan, Houston, and Columbia, MO; but during this month-long stay in Paris I first worked out a comprehensive thesis about the role of writing in Greek law and its very different role in other comparable societies. I am grateful to Jo for this opportunity, for his hospitality, and for the stimulating sessions of his seminar at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, to Pauline Schmidt for arranging for me to address a session of her Greek History seminar, and to Jean-Marie Bertrand for helping in so many ways make my time in Paris both fruitful and enjoyable. Since that visit I have presented different parts of my ideas to audiences in Glasgow, Chicago, Philadelphia, Knoxville, San Diego, Austin, Athens, Graz, Lexington KY, Caen, Marshall CA, Marburg, Manchester, Charlottesville VA, Salerno, Nicosia, Montreal, and Auckland; I am grateful for the criticisms and suggestions I have received on all these occasions.