Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 June 2021
This chapter focuses on the period of Roman history in which the empire emerged. The famous historical personalities of Caesar and Cicero are sketched to contrast two prevailing methods of acquiring social power in ancient Rome: charismatic leadership of soldiers, as exemplified by Caesar, and rhetorical persuasion in accordance with formalistic rules, as exemplified by Cicero. In one published speech by Cicero we see very close counterparts to intellectual property in ancient Rome: a situation in which a foreign-born poet has been granted Roman citizenship in order to reward his poetic services to the state, described metaphorically as property. We then see how this basic pattern of granting privileges in order to inventivize valued behaviors was systematically utilized by Roman emperors, as they sought to transform the institutional structures of the republic into an institutional structure over which they exercised more autocratic levels of control. Within the classical, imperial framework of Roman law, jurists recognized important forerunners to intellectual property. Many centuries later, these would become the foundation for modern intellectual property.