The Twelve Tables are the early codes of Roman law. The date that is most accepted is 450 B.C., when these laws were created.

These laws are also the earliest pieces of literature coming from the Romans. It was said that the laws were constructed because of the struggles between the plebeians and patricians. Ten laws was drafted atfirst, and then later, two more were added. These laws formed an important part of the foundation of all subsequent Western civil and criminal law.

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The laws were written on tablets, said to have been inscribed on bronze. They were probably destroyed when the Gauls attacked and burned Rome in the invasion of 387 B.C. On the twelve tablets that make up these laws, there are many different pieces of each individual law. Not all of the pieces are still know today, because they probably were lost when the tablets were destroyed. If someone was to talk or write about all twelve tables, it would be extremely long, so this is going to explain one or two of them.

On Table IV, it talks about the rights the father has in the family. The father had power over all his descendants, male and female. He was called the "pater familias", and all those under his control were said to be in "potestate".

He had the power of life and death over them. The fist law on the table says "A dreadfully deformed child shall be quickly killed". That is obviously not practiced today, but you can make a connection with acts that are done. When someone is very sick, and really doesn't live a life anymore, just lying in a hospital bed, a family member is allowed to make the decision to "pull the plugs" of the medical instruments if it is in the person's will. The person in some ways is "deformed", being how they can't move and participate in anything. People don't want to live in pain, so they quickly end it for them.

The child aspect of the law doesn't apply to…