What do the Twelve Tables laws reveal about the nature of Roman society?

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First, the laws themselves marked a milestone in the development of a strong legal tradtion that would outlast even the Empire itself. Second, they are a reflection of the growing political power of the plebs, who limited the power of the patrician consuls and protected their own traditional privileges through the tribunes. An examination of the content of the laws themselves reveals a major emphasis on property. Insolvent debtors and thieves, for example, could be punished by death. Other laws asserted the power of the father within a family, and the importance of retributive justice.

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