Adonis Diaries

Wet-Nurse city of laws: Beirut of Lebanon (Beryte during Roman Empire). Part 2

Posted on: August 4, 2010

Wet-Nurse city of laws: Beirut of Lebanon (Beryte during Roman Empire). Part 2

Between 150 and 551 AC, the city of Beirut (Beryte) was the official Roman State law center and this recognition extended to the Byzantium Empire.

Beirut had the preferred law school for law students and professors flocking from the four corners of the Empire.  Beirut was called “Mother of laws” and “The most magnificent city” during the Roman Empire.

Emperor Justinian I (527-566) attributed to Beirut the title of “wet-nurse of laws”. In the 5th century, Beirut law school started teaching law in both Latin and Greek languages.  Paradoxically, the main language of the common people was the written language Syriac (Aramaic,  the language spoken by Jesus).

Another demonstration that written languages are the domain of the elite classes used as coded language for administrations and government of people.  Common people had to suffer the consequences of not knowing the language of their dominating Masters; in this case either Latin or Greek.

In the second and third century, Beirut produced the 5 most famous and illustrious classical Jurists who had written the “Digeste”, “Institutes”, Rules, Sentences, and Constitutions.

They are:  Gaius (110-180), Papinian (142-212) and assassinated for his stands, Paulus, Ulpian (170-228) and assassinated for his positions, and Herrenius Modestinus.  They were called the “Oracles of Roman laws” because judges had to decide cases based on the opinions of these  five justices.  If there is equality in opposing opinions then it was the opinion of Papinian to be the definitive resolution.

The third century generated the State professors Gregorius, Hermogenius, Marcian, Scaevola, and Tryphoninus.

The fourth century produced the professors Domninus, Scylacius, and Sebastianus.

The fifth century, called the most brilliant for the law school of Beirut, generated the state professors Euxon, Sabinus, Cyril the elder, Patricius, Demostenes, Domninus, Eudoxius, Amblichus, and Leontius.  Most of the illustrious law professors were born in Lebanon and Syria and reached the highest positions in the Roman and Byzantium Empires.

In the sixth century, Beirut school of law had the professors Dorotheus, Anatolius, Julien, Thalelee, Isidore, Stephane, and Thereupon.

Rome fell in 476 and Western Europe had to wait until the Crusader’s campaigns (1096-1291) for the Justinian civil code of laws the “Digeste” to be found and rediscovered and then applied in Europe starting in the 12th century.

In 551, an earthquake demolished the city of Beirut.  The law school was temporarily moved to Sidon.

In 560, as the professors returned to Beirut then a huge fire burned the city again.  Beirut was still in ruin by 600.

As Islam Arab conquered the Near East region in 635, Beirut recaptured its previous status as a law center, but without the brilliance of previous periods.

Beirut was compiling Islamic laws according to “Charia”.  During the last 7 Omayyad caliphs and the first two Abbassid caliphs (690 to 770) the Lebanese theologians (ulema) and judges (fakihs and cadis) were the cornerstones for the nascent Islamic jurisprudence.

Imam El Uzahi (707-774) from Baalbek and who studied in Beirut and lived was the most brilliant and most sought after fakih in his life.  His doctrine was applied in Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria for 200 years.

Then, the doctrines of Hanafi (Syria), the Chafii (Egypt), the Maliki (Andalusia and Northern Africa)  took the ascendancy.

In 1877 was founded the first modern law school in Beirut bu Bishop Youssef el Debs.  The law school of the Wisdom (La Sagesse) had the professors Nicolas Naccache and Boulos Effendi Zein wo compiled the ottoman civil law (Medjellet) in 16 books of 1851 law articles grouped in six subjects.  Current Beirut has the law schools of the french Jesuits founded in 1913 by Paul Huvelin; the State Lebanese school established in 1959; the Arab University under the patronage of the University of Alexandria and instituted in 1960; the Byblos law school linked to the Maronite Order of Kaslik Holy Spirit University; and the Islamic Chiaa faculty instituted in 1994 by Imam Chamseddine.

Beirut and Lebanon were ruined by mankind during the civil war that started in 1975 and lasted 15 years.  Beirut is being rebuilt with modern highrises that lack its original spirit

Note 1:  The American University of Beirut has not yet opened a law faculty.  If we know that most of the members in the Lebanese Parliament are lawyers and barely anyone of them master the English language then, whatever deal the US government had with France for the monopoly of jurisprudence philosophy and procedure must be outdated.

Note 2:  Topic taken from the book “Beryte School of law” by Joy Tabet (67 pages)

2 Responses to "Wet-Nurse city of laws: Beirut of Lebanon (Beryte during Roman Empire). Part 2"

[…] Part 2. Wet-Nurse city of laws: Beirut of Lebanon during Roman Empire […]

[…] Part 2. Wet-Nurse city of laws: Beirut of Lebanon during Roman Empire […]

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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