chapter  7
Pages 13

In the preceding chapters, two factors have repeatedly emerged as of primary importance both for the original determination of the peculiar features of the legal powers of the individual Roman, and for their persistence through the subsequent development of Roman society from a small , compact, essentially agrarian community to an empire spread over the greater part of the world known to the peoples living around the Mediterranean. One is the special position of the head of household, the pater. The other is the insistence on direct personal presence and participation (usually involving the performance of specified speech acts) for the accomplishment of any action with legal consequences for the persons or property both of the individuals concerned and of others. Both are aspects of the same principle, namely the autonomy of the individual familia; an autonomy breached by the state, so far as the conduct of the internal affairs of the familia is concerned, only where this may be felt to endanger the stability of other parts of society.