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By Alessandro Passerin d'Entrèves
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This statement of Gratian is still further reinforced by his commentator : 'it must be considered null and void because the Lord has said I am the Truth, not I am Custom or Constitution'. These are strong and sweeping phrases. They make us aware that we have entered a very different world from that of the Roman lawyers. And yet it is not altogether impossible to trace the process by which the cautious and often ambiguous phrases of the Roman lawyers about natural law came to be modified and extended to provide a platform for the startling assertions of the medieval writers.
Rationalism indeed is here the very synonym of anti-historicism. The evidence of history cannot shake the absolute validity of natural law. Its only interest is to provide an object for further generalisations, or illustrations of the 'ignorance' and 'darkness' which has long befallen humanity and which reason must dispel.
C A R LY L E , A History of Medieval Political Theory in the West, vol. I, 1 903 , 1 and 2. The Legacy of Rome, Oxford, 1923 : 'The Conception of the Empire', by Sm E. B A R K E R ; 'The Science of Law', by F. D E Z U L U E T A . " C . H. M c l L W A I N, Th e Growth of Political Thought in the West, 1 932, ch. iv. H. F. J O L O W I C Z, Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law, 1 932. F. S C H U LZ, Principles of Roman Law, 1 93 6 ; and History of Roman Legal Science, 1 946. Sia P. V I N O G R A D O F F, Roman Law in Medieval Europe, 2nd ed.