In Ancient Law, the Roman legal code emerges as the linchpin to the development of progressive societies in the West—an accomplishment of great significance, given the paucity of such societies in a world where inertia has tended to govern. Ancient Law, the most famous work of the nineteenth-century legal historian Henry Sumner Maine, is known as a history of progress, and its reputation as such is perhaps an obstacle to its appreciation by today's readers. For those with a background in the social sciences, but who never have read Ancient Law, Maine's famous phrase "from status to contract" may still sound a familiar note about the progress of society. The gradual incorporation of natural-law jurisprudence into the framework of Roman law was another example of the eccentric steps which progress takes, and of the odd crosscurrents which propel progress within a nation's code of laws.