Peter Birks never adopted for himself the label or identity of a comparative lawyer. At the same time, his scholarly interests, abilities and extroversions were always directed towards the deep understanding of a range of legal systems. His mastery of Roman law and several European languages meant that he had a profound understanding of the differences and commonalities between and among many modern civilian systems. This paper will contend that Peter Birks' passion for the civilian tradition grew in part out of his conviction that the civilian (and particularly the Justinianic) system for organizing the law was superior in every way to the common law's untidy muddle. The disorderly approach of English law, he thought, put it in danger of being subordinated to the civilian tradition as the process of European integration continued to unfold. He loved the substance, but despised the lack of structure, of the common law. More substantially, Peter Birks' approach to comparative law, and indeed to the law in general, was informed by an abiding conviction that there are right answers to every problem. His passion for understanding multiple legal traditions seems best understood as part of a universalist project to seek the best answer for every one of the difficulties faced by modern private law. This conviction led him, towards the end of his life, to take a number of controversial positions and, in some instances, to make intellectual conversions which were profoundly difficult for him.