A fundamental problem in jurisprudence—the justification of subjection to law, the legitimation of the demand to account for one's deeds—is antecedent to the science of law. In furnishing a solution to this problem philosophy shapes qualitatively the nature of the legal order of a society which it underlies. In what follows we shall focus our attention on two outstanding achievements of European civilization in antiquity—attempt to state Aristotle's solution of the problem and point to its counterparts in Roman jurisprudence.
It should be noted that Aristotle's views, including his theory of responsibility, underwent certain developments. We shall, however, discuss it in its mature shape in the Nicomachean Ethics. As for Roman law, from the Twelve Tables in the 5th century B.C. down to Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis in the 6th century A.D., and thereafter, it was never a static body of law. Yet the Corpus is its best known and most widely applied embodiment. It has exerted influence on later European legal thought long after the Roman Empire ceased to exist and inspired many systems of law throughout the world. We shall, therefore, discuss Roman law as it is reflected in that compilation.