Institutes of Roman Law (c. 160Gai of Roman Law by Gaius, with a Translation and Commentary by the late Edward Poste, M.A. Fourth edition, revised and enlarged by E.A. Whittuck, M.A. B.C.L., with an historical introduction by A.H.J. Greenidge, D.Litt. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1904).
Discovery of the Text
The death of the author of this Commentary and Translation has taken from us one who in the intervals allowed him by his official duties gave himself with single-minded devotion to the acquisition and furtherance of knowledge. ‘Omnium, quos cognovi, doctissimus’ were the words in which Mr. Poste’s great erudition was commemorated by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, the distinguished head of the distinguished College of which Mr. Poste was almost the senior Fellow; and certainly no one can read this Commentary without being impressed by the writer’s philosophic spirit and extensive learning. It is especially remarkable that a scholar, who was never engaged in the teaching or practice of law, should have produced a legal textbook, which perhaps more than any other makes intelligible to English students the teaching of the great German masters of Roman jurisprudence and at the same time never fails to be interesting by reason of its own force and individuality.
In re-editing this well-known work, at the request of Mr. Poste’s executors and of the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, my endeavour has been to preserve as far as possible the character which Mr. Poste himself gave it, while making such alterations as seemed to be required at the present time. As Mr. Poste never revised his Translation and Commentary with any completeness since they were first published, their revision for this edition has been a more considerable undertaking than would otherwise have been the case. It should be noticed that the part of the Commentary relating to analytic jurisprudence has been much curtailed in the present edition. This has been done by the advice of persons engaged in the teaching of Roman law at Oxford, who are of opinion that the insertion of so much matter bearing on the general theory of law has rendered the Commentary unnecessarily difficult to students and that the subject is one better left to independent treatises. The omission of the Preliminary Definitions on this account has made it possible to introduce into the book an Historical Introduction to Gaius, which has been written by Dr. Greenidge, who is well known for his writings on Roman constitutional history, and for his special Treatises on ‘Infamia’ and on ‘The Legal Procedure of Cicero’s Time.’
The text of Gaius adopted is that of the last edition of Krueger and Studemund, which its German proprietors have again most kindly allowed us to use. In this text the numerous lacunae are only filled up, where from passages in the Institutes or other sources the missing words may be inferred, at least with a very high degree of probability. Some other conjectural readings, more or less followed in the Translation, will be found in the Appendix. It is to be hoped that in some future edition of this book a Critical Apparatus may be supplied by a competent hand. In the meantime the student should more especially refer to the notes on the text appended to Krueger’s and Studemund’s Gaius. He may also consult with advantage the notes to the late Professor Muirhead’s edition of Gaius, though the valuable textual criticism to be found there requires revision in the light of more recent research.
In conclusion, I have to express my obligations to my old friend and pupil Mr. Ledlie, the translator of Sohm’s Institutes, for many helpful suggestions. Another old friend and pupil, Dr. Potts, has also rendered me valuable aid, especially in the preparation of the Index and of the Chronological Table. My friends Dr. Schuster and Dr. Greenidge have given me useful information on several points about which I have consulted them.
E. A. WHITTUCK.
October 17, 1904.
Inst. Institutes of Justinian.
Dig. Digest or Pandects of Justinian.
Cod. Code of Justinian.
Nov. Novellae Constitutiones or Novels of Justinian.
The meaning of the numbers that follow these abbreviations will be obvious to any one who opens a volume of the Corpus Juris.
Pr. stands for principio, meaning, in the first paragraph of a title of the Institutes, or of a fragment of a title of the Digest, or of a ‘lex’ of a title of the Code.
The Commentaries of Gaius are referred to by numbers indicating the book and the paragraph: e.g. 2 § 5, indicates the 5th paragraph of Book 2. When the reference is to another paragraph in the same book, the book is omitted.
When Ulpian or Paulus are quoted, the works referred to are the Ulpiani Fragmenta or Excerpta ex Ulpiani Libro singulari Regularum, and the Sententiae Receptae of Paulus.
Fragm. Vat. Fragmenta Juris Romani Vaticana.
(For the Jus antejustinianum see Huschke’s or Krueger’s Collections of ante-Justinian legal writings.)
When Savigny, Vangerow, Keller, Bethmann-Hollweg, Ihering, Kuntze, Windscheid, Dernburg, Lenel, Sohm, Muirhead, and Roby are simply cited, the references are to Savigny, System des heutigen römischen Rechts; Vangerow, Lehrbuch der Pandekten; Keller, Der römische Civilprocess und die Actionen; Bethmann-Hollweg, Der römische Civilprozess; Ihering, Geist des römischen Rechts auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung; Kuntze, Institutionen und Geschichte des römischen Rechts; Windscheid, Lehrbuch des Pandekten-Rechts; Dernburg, Pandekten; Lenel, Das Edictum Perpetuum, ein Versuch zu dessen Wiederherstellung; Sohm, The Institutes—A Text-book of the History and System of Roman Private Law (translated by J. C. Ledlie), 2nd ed.; Muirhead, Historical Introduction to the Private Law of Rome, 2nd ed.; Roby, Roman Private Law in the times of Cicero and of the Antonines.
|b. c 753||Traditional Date of Foundation of Rome.|
|578-535||Servius Tullius. Division into thirty Tribes. Military Organization of Centuries. Institution of Census.|
|509||Office of Consuls instituted.|
|494||First Secession of Plebs. Institution of Tribuni Plebis.|
|451-448||Law of the Twelve Tables.|
|449||Second Secession of Plebs—Leges Valeriae Horatiae.|
|445||Lex Canuleia, legalizing marriages between Patricians and Plebeians.|
|366||Office of Praetor established.|
|326||Lex Poetelia about this time.|
|304||Cnaeus Flavius publishes forms of actions and calendar of dies fasti and nefasti.|
|300||Lex Ogulnia, admitting Plebeians to College of Pontiffs.|
|287||Last Secession of Plebs—|
|280||Tiberius Coruncanius (subsequently first Plebeian Pontifex Maximus), Consul.|
|242||First appointment of a Praetor Peregrinus about this time.|
|198||Sextus Aelius Paetus (earliest commentator on the Twelve Tables), Consul.|
|170-150||Lex Aebutia probably enacted within this period.|
|105||P. Rutilius Rufus, Consul.|
|95||Q. Mucius Scaevola (pontifex), Consul.|
|89||End of Social War.|
|66||C. Aquilius Gallus, Praetor.|
|59||Julius Caesar, Consul.|
|51||Servius Sulpicius, Consul.|
|49||Accession of Julius Caesar to supreme power.|
|45||Lex Julia municipalis.|
|44||Assassination of Caesar.|
|27||Caesar Octavianus receives title of Augustus (first Constitution of the Principate).|
|23||Second and final Constitution of the Principate.|
|27-14||a d. Principate of Augustus.|
|M. Antistius Labeo.|
|C. Ateius Capito.|
|18||Lex Julia de adulteriis et de maritandis ordinibus.|
|4||Lex Aelia Sentia.|
|6||Lex Julia de vicesima hereditatium|
|9||Lex Papia Poppaea.|
|19||Date to which Lex Junia (Norbana) is generally ascribed.|
|30||C. Cassius Longinus, Consul.|
|S. C. Claudianum.|
|46||S. C. Vellaeanum or Velleianum.|
|S. C. Neronianum.|
|62||S. C. Trebellianum.|
|70||S. C. Pegasianum.|
|Edictum Perpetuum of Salvius Julianus.|
|138-161||Antoninus Pius, Emp.|
|First and part of second book of Gaius probably written at this time.|
|161-180||M. Aurelius Antoninus, Emp.|
|Institutes of Gaius probably completed under this Emperor.|
|178||S. C. Orfitianum.|
|193||Pertinax and Julianus successively Emperors.|
|193-211||Septimius Severus, Emp.|
|204||Papinian, praefectus praetorio.|
|211-217||Caracalla, Emp —|
|Edict of Caracalla—extending citizenship.|
|222-235||Severus Alexander, Emp.|
|222||Ulpian, praefectus praetorio.|
|238||Gordianus I and II, Emp.|
|238-244||Gordianus III, Emp.|
|251-253||Trebonianus Gallus, Emp.|
|253-260||Valerian and Gallienus, joint Emperors.|
|260-268||Gallienus, sole Emperor.|
|268-270||Claudius II, Emp.|
|283-284||Carinus and Numerianus, joint Emperors.|
|285||Carinus, sole Emperor.|
|285-286||Diocletian, sole Emperor.|
|286-305||Diocletian and Maximian, joint Emperors|
|305-306||Constantius I and Galerius, joint Emperors.|
|306||Constantius I, Galerius, and Constantine the Great, joint Emperors.|
|307-311||Galerius, Constantine the Great, and Licinius, joint Emperors.|
|311-323||Constantine the Great and Licinius, joint Emperors.|
|323-337||Constantine the Great, sole Emperor.|
|330||Constantinople, the seat of government.|
|337-340||Constantius II, Constantine II, and Constans I, joint Emperors.|
|340-350||Constantius II and Constans I, joint Emperors.|
|350-361||Constantius II, sole Emperor.|
|364||Valentinian I and Valens, joint Emperors. They divided the Empire into the Western and Eastern.|
|364-367||Valentinian I, Emp.|
|367-375||Valentinian I and Gratian, Emp.|
|375-383||Gratian and Valentinian II, Emp.|
|383-392||Valentinian II, sole Emperor.|
|392-395||Theodosius I, Emperor of East and West.|
|423-425||Theodosius II, Emperor of East and West.|
|425-455||Valentinian III, Emp.|
|426||Law of Citations.|
|455||Petronius Maximus, Emp.|
|Sack of Rome by the Vandals.|
|461-467||Government practically in hands of the barbarian Ricimer.|
|472-475||Julius Nepos, Emp.|
|475-476||Romulus Augustulus, Emp.|
|End of Western Empire.|
|500||Lex Romana Burgundionum.|
|506||Lex Romana Visigothorum, or Breviarium Alarici, containing Epitome of Gaius.|
|511-515||Edictum Theodorici (Lex Romana Ostrogothorum).|
|378-392||Theodosius I, Emp.|
|408-423||Theodosius II, Emp.|
|425-450||Theodosius II, Emp.|
|457-474||Leo I, Emp.|
|474||Leo II, Emp.|
|491-518||Anastasius I, Emp.|
|533||Digest and Institutes published.|
|534||Revised edition of Code published.|
In order to justify the character of this introductory essay it is necessary to say a few words about the intention with which it is written. The reader must regard it mainly in the light of an introduction to the Institutes of Gaius, not in the light of a disinterested sketch of the history of Roman Law. Had it been intended to have the latter character, both some of its omissions and some of its inclusions would be wholly unjustifiable. The most signal of the omissions is the neglect to give an adequate treatment to the stage of Roman Law which yields to no other in importance—the stage at which it passes from the religious to the secular sphere, from Fas to Jus. One of the chief questions which is, or should be, agitating students of Roman Law at the present day, is that of the period at which this transition was effected. For, if it is true that Roman Law retained its priestly character and its religious sanctions to a late period of the Republic1, then the traditional history of the Twelve Tables is an improbability, and the account given by Cicero and other writers of the legislation and procedure of the Monarchy and early Republic is an anachronism. The student of Gaius, however, is not very intimately concerned with this far-reaching historical question; and I have been content to state my general adherence to the traditional view without attempting to justify it by evidence.
Amongst subjects included in this sketch, which have little direct bearing on the history of Roman Law, I may mention the descriptions of the structure of the different Comitia at Rome and the account of the manner in which the powers of the Princeps were conferred. From the point of view of the general history of the civil and criminal law in a State it is not of much importance to determine the particular mode in which a legislative assembly is constituted, or the precise manner in which a sovereign (whether nominal or real) is invested with his authority. But these historical questions do to some extent underlie subjects which are treated by Gaius; and, as it was not found convenient to deal with them at any great length in the commentary, a place had to be found for them in this introduction.
The history of Roman Law begins for us with the traditions that have been preserved concerning the Roman Monarchy. The existence of a Monarchy such as that described for us by annalists like Livy and Dionysius, implies the existence of a consolidated State, with a central legislative and executive power and a tolerably uniform system of law. In the Monarchy, however, and even in the early Republic it seems that the system of law was not marked by perfect uniformity, since the two classes of Patricians and Plebeians, which made up the Roman State, appear to have been distinguished, not only by the possession of different political privileges, but also by the possession of different systems of customary law1. It is even possible that a further divergence of practice may have existed in the most primitive society, or societies, out of which the City and Monarchy of Rome developed—that a considerable amount of autonomy in legal relations may have existed in the Clans (Gentes) and Villages (Vici), out of which the earliest Rome was formed. The history of Roman law, from its beginning to its close, would thus be marked by a process of gradually increasing unification. First the customs of the Clans were merged in the customs of a State; but this State consisted of two classes, Patricians and Plebeians; and each of these classes seems to have had a customary law of its own. Then an attempt was made to create a uniform system; and this uniformity was probably secured by making patrician law approximate as closely as possible to plebeian—the law of the few to the law of the many. A further advance was made when Rome had become the mistress of Italy. Italian customs were made ultimately to conform to those of the leading State, and the free cities of Italy became the municipalities of Rome. Lastly, Rome had created an Empire. For a very long period she adopted the wise and cautious policy of recognizing, as far as possible, the local and tribal law of the cities and peoples under her control. The recognition of this local or tribal law was not, however, merely a symptom of the favourite Roman principle of non-interference. It was also a sign that the privileges of Romans and Italians were not possessed by provincials; for the conferment of Roman citizenship, or even of Latin rights, necessarily carried with it the use of the forms of Roman Private Law2. Hence, when a time came at which Rome was willing to raise States or individuals in the Provinces to a level with her own citizens, the law of Rome came to take the place of the territorial or tribal law of these political units. The process of a thorough imperial unification by means of a common system of Roman Private Law had begun.
The dates of the three epochs which we have touched on can only be vaguely indicated. We have no knowledge of the year, or even of the century, when the smaller political units, out of which Rome was formed, became so thoroughly marshalled under the rule of a common government that the customs of the Clans were made to conform to the principles laid down and enforced by a single superior authority. For the second epoch—the period, that is, at which an attempt was made to secure a uniform system of law which would be binding equally on Patricians and Plebeians—tradition does supply a date, one, however, that has more than once been doubted by modern writers on Roman History and Law1. This traditional date is comprised in the years 451-448 b.c., years which the Romans believed to mark the creation of the Decemviral Commission and the publication of the Law of the Twelve Tables. The third tendency—that of the unification of Rome with Italy,—although it had begun to be felt in isolated cases from a very early period of Roman History, may be said to have received its final impulse at the close of the great war for Italian freedom, generally known as the Social war, in 89 b. c. The last epoch—that of imperial unification—may be said to have been ushered in by the accession of Caesar to supreme power in 49 b. c. It had not been closed even by the time of Gaius, about the middle of the second century a. d.; for, even at that late period the Eastern part of the Empire still abode by Eastern forms of law2. It may even be questioned whether the Edict of Caracalla, which is believed to have extended Roman citizenship to all the free inhabitants of that portion of the world that was ruled by Rome, between the years 212 and 217 a d., really eliminated all the local varieties of customary law. Local customs tend to die hard, and it was never in the spirit of the Roman Empire to suppress them. The legal unity of the Empire was always more strongly marked in the matter of Procedure than in the matter of Substantive Law. The processes of the Courts were the same for every Province at a time when the greatest varieties of customary law were recognized by these courts.
We may now attempt to treat in greater detail the stages of Roman Legal History which we have outlined. The earliest stage—that marked by the independent or almost independent life of the Clan or Gens—is one for which, by the nature of the case, no definite historical evidence exists. The reality of such a life is merely an inference drawn from the characteristics of the Gens as it appears before us in the historical period. These characteristics seem to prove that the Gens is not a really primitive institution, but a late and advanced stage in the social development of the Latin races; but, on the other hand, they may show that it was in many respects a more primitive unit than the State; that is, that it exercised rights and duties which were ultimately exercised by the State. No political society worthy of the name can deal with Clans as the subjects of rights; it can deal only with Families or Individuals. Hence, if the Roman Gens ever lived a strong corporate life, the authority of the Roman State must in those days have been weak.
The organization of the Gens was based on the patriarchal idea in its extreme form: that is, on the conception that relationship is only binding when it can be traced through the male line. And this is the fact which seems to prove that the Gens marks a late and mature stage in the development of Latin societies; for the patriarchal idea is not one that is readily grasped by the mind of primitive man. Yet, late as the Gens is when considered in reference to the prehistoric development of the Latin race, it perhaps possessed, before the very dawn of history, a unity and power of its own, of which but pale reflections survive in the historical period. In historical times the only test of unity was the common name borne by the Gentiles1; the chief signs of corporate action were their guardianship of the insane and their reversionary right of guardianship over women and children2 — powers which the Gentiles must have exercised by delegating their authority to a personal representative. The further right which they possessed in later times, of succeeding to intestate inheritances in the last resort1, was perhaps a right possessed by individual members of the corporation rather than by the corporation itself. But a corporate activity far greater than this has been suspected for earlier times. There is indirect evidence that all Private Land (Ager Privatus) was at one time owned by the Gentes, not by families or individuals2, and the view that the primitive Roman Senate was in some way representative of the Gentes is in accordance with the belief of Roman antiquity3. The fact that the primitive Roman State was in many ways conditioned by its clan organization seems to be certain. As the State grew stronger, it substituted the Family for the Clan. Between the two there is only a difference of degree. The Family (Familia) is the aggregate of the members of a household under a common head, the Paterfamilias; whereas the Gens is the aggregate of all individuals who bear a common name and who, therefore, if their ancestry could be traced in the male line through all its stages, would be found to be the descendants of some ultimate common ancestor. But the Familia is a far smaller, and therefore a far less powerful, unit than the Gens. It cannot so effectively dominate the State or impede its activities4. Again, the heads of families are many in number; the heads of the Gentes (who must have existed at the time when the Gens was the important unit) were necessarily few. The State which deals with families deals with a multitude of individuals, not with an oligarchy representing the interests of a number of corporations. The conception of individual rights, in their modern sense, was, it is true, never fully recognized in Roman Private Law. It was impeded by the Patria Potestas—the life-long power of the father over the son. But much was ultimately done to lessen the rigour of this patriarchal rule; and the principles of Roman Law were finally extended to races which knew nothing of the Patria Potestas. This law ultimately gave the most perfect expression hitherto witnessed by the world of rights which were both universal and individual. The existence of the Empire gave Rome the power, possessed in as high a degree by no other State, of dealing with the individual on universal lines, because she was not hampered by the barriers between man and man thrown up by separate national institutions.
A process, which runs parallel with that which we have just described, is the process by which Roman Law came to be secularized; the process, that is, by which human were gradually substituted for divine sanctions. The customary law of a primitive society is either identical with, or developed from, some form of belief which implies the omnipresence of the gods and their detailed interest and activity in human affairs. In primitive Rome the pleading (actio) of the litigant in a civil suit is a religious chant, every word and cadence of which must be learnt from the priest; the wager (sacramentum), by which the process is stated, is a gift to a temple, and is probably conceived as an atonement for the involuntary perjury of the man who loses his case1; the penalties of the criminal law are means of expiating the anger of the gods, the severest form of atonement being the sacrifice of the sinner on the altar of the deity whom he has offended2. Rome in the historical period still preserves many traces of these beliefs of her infancy. They are found in the respect for the Auspices, in the conservatism which maintained the cumbrous forms of the old pleadings (actiones) and the custody of these forms by the Pontifical College; in the varied methods by which crime or sin is punished, some offences being reserved wholly for the secular courts, others being visited by the judgments of the Pontifical College, others again being subject to the milder chastisement of the Censor before he performs the religious rite of Purification (Lustratio). But the belief of the Romans themselves was that, in the very earliest stages of their recorded or imagined history, the primitive epoch of complete subservience to religious forms, if it ever existed, had been already passed, and that even in the time of the Kings something approaching a clear line could be drawn between the functions of Religious Law (Fas) and those of Secular Law (Jus). At the close of the history of the Republic there could be shown, in contradistinction to the great secular code of the Twelve Tables, a collection of religious ordinances, believed to be even more ancient than this code, and known as the Laws of the Kings (Leges Regiae)3. These laws are not represented as having formed a code, but merely a compilation. They were believed to be regal ordinances, issued by different Kings, which had been collected in the early days of the Republic by a Pontiff named Papirius1. It was held that they had been publicly exhibited in Rome, and were restored, like the Twelve Tables, after the burning of Rome by the Gauls (390 b. c)2. At the end of the Republic the compilation was edited, perhaps to some extent revised, by a scholar named Granius Flaccus, who is believed to have been a contemporary of Caesar3; but there is no reason for supposing that Flaccus introduced any essential alteration in the tenor of the ordinances. These ordinances, in the form in which they have been preserved to us, bear the strongest internal marks of their genuineness. Some of the provisions which they contain are quite prehistoric and could never have been valid at any period of the history of the Republic. Others deal with purely religious observances, which may belong to any date, but may be as early as the city of Rome itself. The Royal Laws, in fact, contain a series of ordinances, dealing with social, moral and religious life, such as may have been issued over a long period of time by the College of Pontiffs. It is not likely that all of these rules really go back to the epoch of the Kings; but many of them must do so, for they reflect an extremely primitive stage of culture and religious belief. In fact, one of the most surprising features of the Royal Laws is their lack of significance for the ordinary current of Roman life, as it was lived in the historical period. Where they are not a dead letter, they refer only to slight and exceptional contingencies, to the bare outline of the political life of the State and to the faintly defined structure of its hierarchical organization; whereas the Law of the Twelve Tables is a great living force, which pervades the whole of Roman business life. The Royal Laws reflect on the whole the rule of Fas; the Twelve Tables almost entirely the rule of Jus. A comparison of the former compilation with the latter code, in regard to their respective influences, exhibits more effectively than any other evidence could do the triumph of secular over religious law even in the early period of the Republic.
The counterpart to the rule of Fas is the rule of Jus. Jus seems originally to have meant ‘That which is fitting’4, and the word never necessarily conveys the implication, contained in the word Law, that the thing it describes is the result of enactment by a Sovereign. It conveys rather the idea of valid custom, to which any citizen can appeal, and which is recognized, and can be enforced by, a human authority. Jus is a nugatory thing, a vain abstraction, until it can be realized; it is a thing recognized only in practice; and so indissolubly were the ideas of Right and Satisfaction connected with one another in the minds of the Romans that they used the same word ‘Jus’ for Right and for Court1. This association of ideas gives us the clue to the fact that the only possible method of distinguishing between the different kinds of Jus is by appealing to Procedure. In early societies, where there is no science of Jurisprudence, the only way in which the distinctions between different kinds of law—public and private, civil and criminal—can be exhibited, is by pointing to the fact that different kinds of mechanism have been created for satisfying different kinds of claims. Thus the characteristics of private law are those of a civil suit. Here the action can be brought only by the injured party or his representative, the satisfaction recovered belongs to the injured party, the Court which gives the satisfaction is composed of some arbitrator or judge (arbiter or judex) chosen by the consent of the parties, but approved by the judicial magistrate who represents the State. Criminal Law may similarly be defined in terms of Criminal Procedure. Here the wrong done is regarded as inflicted, not merely on the individual injured, but through him on the State. The State, therefore, will not depend on the initiative of the injured individual to undertake the prosecution. It can either be taken up by any citizen, or is regarded as the peculiar duty of a magistrate. The magistrate is often both prosecutor and judge. The defendant has no voice in the selection of the Court. The Court consisted, in the earlier procedure at Rome which never became wholly extinct during the Republic, of a magistrate representing the State, or of the State itself in the form of the Sovereign Assembly of the People; at a later period, of a select body of Judices with a President (Quaesitor), both Judges and President being created by statute. The satisfaction recovered from the defendant in such a trial, if it takes the form of a fine, belongs not to the aggrieved individual but to the State; if it assumes the form of punishment which is not pecuniary, such punishment is inflicted by the State. The third class of occasions on which the State intervenes to correct a wrong or to chasten an individual, is that governed by the rules of Administrative Law2. The procedure springing from this Law has analogies both to civil and to criminal jurisdiction. Administrative jurisdiction has as its object either the enforcement of a personal service to the State on an individual, or the exaction of a debt which he owes to the State. The obligation to service is generally enforced by a fine imposed by the magistrate. But whether what is demanded by the State takes the form of personal service or a pecuniary debt, the characteristic of Administrative jurisdiction at an early period of Roman History is that the magistrate who represents the State has a double character. He is not only prosecutor or plaintiff but also judge. This principle, however, was eventually modified. If the fine imposed exceeded a certain limit, an appeal to the People was allowed1; and, later still, the penalty might be sought either by a magistrate or a common informer before a civil court1. When a debt to the State was the object of dispute, the custom may eventually have been established that the magistrate should not himself judge, but should appoint for this purpose a panel of those assessors of debts or damages who were known as Recuperatores2.
The question as to what particular cases shall fall under each of these three heads of Civil, Criminal and Administrative Law is one that is answered differently by different political societies; and Rome herself gave different replies to this question at various periods of her history. But we know of no period in the life of Rome when the distinction between these three types of Law and Procedure was not clearly grasped, and expressed by the higher judicial authorities, who were at Rome in a very real sense the makers of law.
The problem of the ultimate source and sanction of Jus was not one that troubled the Roman to any appreciable degree at any period of history. He was content to regard it as the product of Custom assisted by Interpretation. At a later period he supplemented it by acts of Legislation; but, even when he did so, he was much less concerned with the words of the enactment than with the manner in which these words were interpreted. Scarcely any people has had less of a gift, or natural inclination for, scientific legislation or the formation of a Code. The Roman’s dependence on authority and skilled interpretation was, therefore, great; and this authority and power of interpretation are believed to have been represented, in the earliest times, by the King and the College of Pontifices. Justice could only be obtained by a litigant who knew the formularies of action, precise verbal accuracy in which was necessary for the successful conduct of a suit1. But this knowledge could be obtained only from the King and his Pontiffs. The King, too, must have given the ruling in law which determined what form of action should be employed2. Even at this early period the private Judex or Arbiter may often have been used for the final settlement of a suit3; but the King must have assisted in his appointment; and his judgment must have been conditioned by the preceding form of action which the King and the Pontiffs had thought appropriate to the suit.
The change from Monarchy to Republic could have made little difference in the manner in which the law was revealed to the Roman litigant, except in so far as this change may have increased the power of the College of Pontiffs. The annual tenure of the consulship, and the fact that each occupant of this office was hampered by a colleague, prevented the new magistracy, which was supposed to give the forms of Jus, from exercising over its skilled advisers the authority which had been once wielded by the King; and the patrician aristocracy, each member of which might be a consul or a pontiff, must now have attained a solidarity which it had never known before. The tendency of this aristocracy was to close up its ranks and to assert a monopoly, not only of office, but of knowledge of the forms of law.
Had Rome been a homogeneous community, there would perhaps have been no agitation for the revelation of the principles of law which underlay the forms of procedure, and there would therefore have been no tendency towards an early codification. But Rome was composed of two communes, not of one. There was a Plebs within the Populus; and this Plebs possessed a solidarity which gave it the means of lifting up its voice in a demand, not for power, but for the protection of legal rights, and for the knowledge which was essential to that protection. The origin of the Plebs is wholly unknown. The favourite assertion of modern writers, that the Plebeians were a class which had emerged from a condition of clientship to the Patricians, does very little to solve the problem of the origin of the former class, except in so far as it suggests that some of the Plebeians were inhabitants of conquered cities that had been deported to Rome, and that others were voluntary sojourners from distant cities who were protected by the government and the patrician clans. But it seems impossible that causes such as these could have led to the creation of a mass of men that appears in early Roman history as forming the bulk of the community; and it is possible that further evidence (archaeological and ethnological) may show that the distinction between Patricians and Plebeians is one based on race, and that the existence of the Patricians as a governing class is the result of the conquest of a native race by bands of immigrant wanderers1. Throughout Roman law there is a curious persistence of dual forms for the attainment of the same end which may be a survival of two distinct systems of customary law possessed by different peoples, the conquerors and the conquered. Thus we have the Sponsio side by side with the Nexum, marriage by Confarreatio side by side with marriage by Usus or Coemptio, the testament in the Comitia Calata side by side with the testament ‘per aes et libram.’ The procedure ‘by the copper and the scales,’ in the manifold forms which it assumes, seems to be especially a characteristic of the popular law of the commons. The exclusion of the Plebeians from the magistracy and the priesthood, and the denial to them of the right of Conubium with Patricians, may also point in the direction of a fundamental racial distinction between the two classes. But the disabilities consequent on this racial distinction, if we suppose it to have existed, were by no means limited to the domain of public rights. They pervaded the whole of Roman life to such an extent that there is considerable justification for the view that the early condition of the Plebeian was very like that of the client. In the first place, the Patricians maintained that they alone formed Gentes, and the condition of being a member of a Gens, or Gentilis, was that the man who made the claim should be able to point to a perfectly free ancestry2. In this claim of the Patricians we therefore have the implication that the ancestors of the Plebeians were not free. In all respects but this, the Plebeians formed Clans just like the Patricians. A group of Plebeians who bore a common name formed a Stirps, but this Stirps was supposed to be a mere offshoot of some patrician Gens on which it was held to be dependent. It possessed no independent rights of its own. A group of Plebeians who could trace their ancestry back to a common head were called Agnati; but these Agnati had not the rights of inheritance, or perhaps the other family rights, possessed by the Gentiles. The rights of plebeian Agnati were recognized by the Twelve Tables; but this was perhaps the first recognition that they gained. In the second place, of the two rights which were subsequently considered as forming the minimum conditions of citizenship, the Jus Conubii was, we know, not possessed at all by Plebeians, and it is probable that they possessed the Jus Commercii in a very imperfect form. We cannot, it is true, point to a time when no Plebeian could conclude a contract, or bring an action, unless, like a client, he acted through a patron. But it is probable that in early times he had a very limited capacity for controlling land; that he held the ground, which he worked for himself, merely on sufferance (Precario), and not in virtue of his civic right (ex Jure Quiritium)1. This seems proved by the fact that he was not originally liable to service in the legions2: for there can be little doubt that such service was a burden imposed on landowners3. It seems that the one great condition which led to the rise of the Plebeians as a power in the State was the recognition of their rights as independent holders of land. This recognition was accorded because their services were required as soldiers in the legions and as tax-payers. They could now hold and dispose of Res Mancipi; that is, those kinds of property which were assessed at the Census (Res Censui Censendo)4 and which, as being liable to such assessment, required peculiar methods of transfer as evidence of ownership. This change must have preceded or accompanied the great epoch of reform which is associated with the name of Servius Tullius.
When the army was made the basis of the new Comitia Centuriata, the wealthier Plebeians who were members of the army gained a vote; and the Comitia Curiata, originally patrician, must soon have come to admit members of the Plebs. But this voting power did little good to the class as a whole. Its true strength lay in its military organization. The first secession was an incident in a campaign; and it is not surprising that the officers whom the Plebeians appointed to protect their persons against the patrician magistrates, bore the military name of Tribuni. The creation of the Tribunate gave the Plebs a political organization, and was the starting-point of that dualism which runs through the whole of the Roman constitution—a dualism expressed in the distinction between the Comitia of the People and the Concilium of the Plebs, between Lex and Plebiscitum, between Magistratus Populi and Magistratus Plebis, between the Imperium of the one and the Sacrosanctitas of the other. The tribunes, however, could offer only personal assistance to outraged individuals, and though they proved a potent channel for the petitions of the Plebs as a whole, they were a very ineffective means of protecting the private rights of individual members of this order. Effective protection was in any case impossible until a fuller light had been thrown on the question what the rights to be protected actually were. Hence the demand for the publication of the principles of the law on which the jurisdiction of the patrician magistrates was based.
The story of the creation of the Decemvirate and the formation of the Code of the Twelve Tables, which has come down to us in a highly picturesque and legendary shape, presents us with the picture, first of a prolonged agitation of ten years (462-452 b. c.) maintained by the tribunes of the Plebs, then of a commission sent to gain knowledge of Hellenic codes, next of the appointment of two successive boards of Decemvirs for the years 451, 450 b. c., and finally of the ratification of the Code by the Comitia Centuriata and of its publication, in its completed form, by the consuls of 448 b. c1 The Greek influence on the Code2, although slight, is undeniable, because it was unavoidable. It may not have been gathered, in the way affirmed by tradition, by the appointment of a commission to inspect the systems of law of different Hellenic states; but it was, at the least, an inevitable result of the prolonged influence of the civilization of Magna Graecia3, to which Rome had been subject from the days of her infancy—an influence which successively moulded her army, her coinage, her commerce and her literature. Again no State, however self-centred, could dream of undertaking such an enterprise as a written system of law without glancing at similar work which had already been accomplished by neighbouring cities. But, in spite of the fact that some of its outline and a few of its ideas may have been borrowed from Greek sources, the Law of the Twelve Tables is thoroughly Roman both in expression and in matter. The form of expression is, it is true, not that of later Roman legislation—complicated, technical, obscure. Had it been so, the Twelve Tables could scarcely have survived. It was the form that was current in the verbal juristic maxims of this and a later period—brief, gnomic, rhythmic and imperative1. As to the matter, that was conditioned by the task which the Decemvirs had to perform—a task which they accomplished with an astonishing degree of success. Their object was to make a common law for Roman society considered as a whole. It was no business of theirs to abolish patrician privileges or to remove the peculiarities of patrician ceremonial; but they had to find a system of Jus which would be equally valid for all Romans; and this they naturally found in the customary law of the mass of the people; that is, of the Plebs. They were forced to recognize a social disability of the Plebs, as exemplified in the absence of Conubium with Patricians2; for to remove it would have been an alteration of the Constitution as well as an infringement of patrician rights. But how completely they ignored the existence of the Plebs as a separate political community is shown by the fact that the tribunes do not seem to have been mentioned in the law at all. The assumption probably was that the publication of the Code should render the Tribunate unnecessary; and this it might have done, had the patrician government lived up to its promises.
The law of the Twelve Tables, as the ‘body of the whole of Roman law’ (‘corpus omnis Romani juris’) and the ‘fountain of all public and private law’ (‘fons omnis publici privatique juris’)—designations both of which are applied to it by Livy3—contained ordinances on all the three branches of Jus, civil. criminal and constitutional. In the matter of civil law, we find regulations as to marriage and family relations, inheritance, testamentary disposition, debt and usury. The marriage recognized was that known as the result of usus—a contract, that is, which was concluded by consent and strengthened by prescription4. It was ordained that the threefold sale of a son by his father should issue in the freedom of the son5: although whether the Twelve Tables made this form of emancipation the basis of adoption is uncertain. The manumission of slaves who had been left free by testament, on the condition of purchasing their freedom, was also facilitated6. Recognition was given to testamentary disposition as performed ‘per aes et libram’1; while, in the matters of intestate inheritance and guardianship, the rights of the Agnati, common to Plebeians and Patricians, were regarded as prior to those of the Gentiles2 The harsh law of debt, which was a result at once of freedom of contract and of the very severe view which ancient societies take of the defaulting debtor, was maintained; the Judicatus still became the bondsman of his creditor3, but now (perhaps for the first time), all the stages of the process of execution were published to the world, the rights of the creditor were defined, the chances of escape open to the debtor were accurately described. Loans on interest were permitted; but the maximum rate of interest was fixed at ‘unciarium foenus’4 (probably ten per cent.); and the usurer who exceeded this rate was punished more severely than the ordinary thief; he was compelled to restore fourfold5. With respect to Civil Procedure (the exclusive knowledge of which had been one of the greatest elements of strength in the patrician government) it is clear that the outlines of the process—such as the rules for the summons of parties and witnesses, and for the length of the trial6—were described. But it is very questionable whether the Tables went so far as to specify the Forms of Action; the actual words and gestures, that is, which had to be employed in any given case. We find a tradition that these forms were not revealed until nearly 150 years later, and that they were first given to the world in 304 b. c. by a certain Cnaeus Flavius7, a freedman’s son and the clerk of Appius Claudius, the censor of 312 b. c., who was apparently also pontiff. But the traditions connected with the publication at Rome, even of the simplest information about Procedure, are exceedingly obscure. On the one hand, we hear that this same Cnaeus Flavius published a Calendar which gave a record of Court Days (Dies Fasti)8; on the other hand, it was believed that a Calendar of some kind had been already published by the Decemvirs9. It is possible that the decemviral Calendar had become antiquated, or that it had not been restored or republished after the burning of Rome by the Gauls (390 b. c.)10; but it is clear that the Romans of Cicero’s time had much vaguer ideas about the epoch at which the forms of Procedure were made accessible to the public, than they had about the date at which the principles of Substantive Law were given to the world.
The criminal law of the Twelve Tables reflects a more primitive stage of thought than its civil ordinances. But this is not surprising; for, throughout the whole of Roman History, the criminal law lags far behind the civil. The Tables recognize the principles of self-help and retaliation. A limb is to be given for a limb; but for minor assaults pecuniary compensation is allowed1. We still find the idea of capital punishment taking the form of an expiation to an outraged deity; thus the man who destroyed standing corn by night was hanged as an offering to Ceres2. The belief in witchcraft still survives; for death is the penalty for incantations3. It is also the penalty on the judex who has taken bribes, and for treason (Perduellio) in the form of ‘rousing an enemy against the State or handing over a citizen to the enemy4.’
But it is where criminal law touches questions of personal liberty, and is connected with constitutional law, that the legislation of the Twelve Tables is most advanced. The principle of the Appeal to the People (Provocatio) against the sentence of the magistrate was maintained5; it was enacted that no law or sentence should be passed to the detriment of an individual (Privilegia ne inroganto)6; and it was laid down that no capital sentence could be issued except by ‘the greatest of the Comitia’ (nisi per maximum comitiatum)7; that is, by the Assembly of the Centuries, or Exercitus, gathered in the Campus Martius.
An important aspect of the Public Law of the Twelve Tables is the guarantee of the right of free association, provided that it have no illegal intent. While nocturnal gatherings (coetus nocturni) are prohibited8, the formation of gilds (collegia) is encouraged. Such gilds were to require no special permit for their existence, and the rules which they framed for their own government were to be valid, provided that these rules were no infringement of public law9.
Lastly, the most typical and important utterance of the Tables is to be found in the injunction that ‘the last command of the People should be final10.’ It is an utterance which shows how little the Decemvirs regarded their own work as final, how little they were affected by the Greek idea of the unalterability of a Code, of a Code forming a perpetual background of a Constitution—in fact, by the idea of a fixed or written Constitution at all. It is an utterance that expresses the belief that law is essentially a matter of growth, and prepares us for the fact that Rome saw no further scheme of successful codification until nearly a thousand years had passed.
For the future the progress of law was to depend on the two processes of legislation and interpretation. The legislative assemblies were those of the Populus and the Plebs. The Populus, which comprised the whole of the Roman people, Patricians as well as Plebeians, met, either by centuries, as the Comitia Centuriata, or by tribes, as the Comitia Tributa, under the presidency of a Consul or Praetor.
The Comitia Centuriata was an assembly that had grown out of the army-organization of the whole Roman people. It was the whole Host or Exercitus expressing its political will. It was for this reason that the military unit (the centuria) was the voting unit. And this was also the original reason why we find in this assembly the division into classes, or aggregates of citizens grouped together on the basis of a particular property qualification; for the different types of military service were originally determined by degrees of wealth. But the element of wealth in this assembly, which is exhibited by the division into classes, soon gained a political significance. The voting power of the classes differed considerably. That of the wealthy was greater than that of the middle-class, and that of the middle-class far in excess of that of the poor. Thus the Comitia Centuriata was always assumed to have something of an aristocratic character; and the change which its constitution underwent during the Republic was at least partly directed by an effort to modify this character. The scheme recognized five classes, the census of each being (in terms of the later assessment of the historical period) respectively 100,000, 75,000, 50,000, 25,000, and 11,000 (or 12,500) asses. The first class contained eighty centuries, the second, third, and fourth, twenty each; the fifth, thirty. Thus the centuries of the first-class were almost equal to those of the four other classes put together. The weight of aristocratic influence may be still more fully realized if we remember that the corps of Roman Knights (centuriae equitum equo publico) formed eighteen centuries in this assembly, and that the mass of citizens whose property fell below the minimum census were grouped in a single century. The collective vote of the first class and the knights was represented by ninety-eight centuries; the collective vote of the whole of the rest of the community (including four or five centuries of certain professional corporations connected with the army, such as the Fabri) was represented by ninety-five or ninety-six centuries1. Thus the upper classes in the community possessed more than half the votes in this assembly.
A modification in the structure of the Comitia Centuriata was subsequently effected, which had the result of giving a more equal distribution of votes. No precise date can be assigned for the change; but it has been thought not to be earlier than 241 b. c., the year in which the number of the tribes was raised to thirty-five2. The principle of the new arrangement was that the tribe was made the basis of the voting power of the classes. There is considerable divergence of opinion as to the method in which the centuries were distributed over the tribes; but, according to the more usually accepted view which has been held by scholars from the seventeenth century onwards3, the five classes were distributed over all the tribes in such a manner that there were two centuries of each class—one century of seniores and one of juniores—in a single tribe. Each class would thus have two votes in each tribe and seventy votes in all. The total number of centuries belonging to the five classes would be 350, of which the first class would possess but seventy votes; or, if we add the other centuries of knights (18), of corporate bodies such as the Fabri (4), and of Proletarii (1), we find that the first class and the knights commanded but eighty-eight votes out of a total of 3731. This system, which lessened the influence of the wealthier classes, was temporarily abolished by Sulla in 88 b. c.2; but it was soon restored, and there is every reason to suppose that it survived the Republic and formed the basis of the arrangement of the Comitia Centuriata under the Principate3. Although the Comitia was organized on this tribal basis for the distribution of voting power, the voting unit was still the century and not the tribe. The seventy centuries of each class voted in turn; the decision of each century was determined by the majority of the votes of its individual members; and the majority of the centuries determined the decision of the assembly.
The Comitia Centuriata, although of the utmost importance in the structure of the Roman Constitution as the body that elected the magistrates with Imperium and the censors, that exercised capital jurisdiction and declared war, ceased to be employed in the period of the developed Republic as an ordinary legislative assembly. It was difficult to summon and unwieldy in its structure, and its position as a legislative body came to be usurped by the two assemblies of the tribes. Yet, as we shall see4, it may have been held that legislative acts, which affected the fundamental principles of the Constitution, should be submitted to the centuries.
The Comitia Tributa Populi had probably been instituted in imitation of the Plebeian Assembly of the Tribes. It was found convenient that the Populus should meet in this way as well as the Plebs; and the Tribus—the voting unit which had already been employed for assemblies of the Plebs—was used for assemblies of the whole people. The Tribus was always a division of the territory of the Roman State in Italy, and the tribes grew in number as this territory increased until by the year 241 b. c. they had reached their final total of thirty-five. It is generally believed that originally only holders of land were registered as members of a tribe5; but there is no sufficient evidence for this view, and it seems safer to conclude that, while every holder of land was registered in the tribe in which his allotment lay, every landless man was registered in the tribe in which he had his domicile. At a later period registration became more arbitrary, and had little or nothing to do with the residence of the person registered. The censor enrolled individuals in tribes at his pleasure; usually he entered a man in the tribe to which his father had belonged; but he might, if he willed, transfer him from one tribe to another (tribu movere).
In an assembly organized by tribes (tributim) the vote of the majority of the members of a particular tribe determined the decision of that tribe, and the vote of a majority of the tribes the decision of the assembly. The Comitia Tributa Populi must have been instituted later than 471 b. c., which is the traditional date at which the Plebs began to meet by tribes1; and it may have been in existence some twenty years later, at the date of the formation of the Twelve Tables2. The first evidence for it as a legislative assembly belongs to the year 357 b. c.3. In the later Republican period it was probably quite the most active of the legislative assemblies of the whole people.
The Comitia Curiata, the oldest of all the Roman assemblies, whose structure was based on the ancient Curiae or Parishes of Rome, ceased in the historical period to be a true legislative assembly. It met only for the performance of certain formal acts, such as the lex curiata which ratified the Imperium of the higher and the Potestas of the lower magistrates4. For this purpose the thirty Curiae were in Cicero’s day often represented by but thirty lictors5. The assembly may have been as scantily attended when it performed the formal acts vested in it when it met as the Comitia Calata6. In this capacity it was gathered under the presidency of the Pontifex Maximus for the inauguration of the Rex Sacrorum and the Flamines, and for the Detestatio Sacrorum—the renunciation of preexisting religious obligations which was made by a man who passed from his Gens, either by an act of Adrogatio or by transition from the patrician to the plebeian order1.
The assembly of the Plebs2 excluded the patrician members of the community, and continued to be organized by tribes Its true designation was Concilium Plebis, Concilium differing from Comitia as a gathering of a part of the people differs from a gathering of the whole3. This assembly is often spoken of by ancient writers as the Comitia Tributa; but it differed from the Comitia Tributa Populi in two respects. It did not include Patricians, and it was presided over, not by a magistrate of the People, but by a magistrate of the Plebs. When it met for legislative purposes, it was presided over only by the Tribune of the Plebs. The legislative authority of the Concilium Plebis had developed steadily during the first two centuries of the Republic. At first this assembly could only pass ordinances binding on the members of the Plebs themselves. Then, by the Valerio-Horatian and Publilian laws (449 and 339 b. c.) it gained the right of considering and initiating proposals which affected the interests of the whole community; this right being probably acquired and exercised by the creation of increasing facilities for bringing resolutions of the Plebs as petitions to the assemblies of the people, to be confirmed or rejected by the latter4. Since the Plebs came gradually to constitute the majority of voters in the assemblies of the people, these petitions must as time went on have been almost invariably confirmed. The distinction between Plebiscita and Leges must have been growing more and more formal and unreal when the Lex Hortensia (287 b. c.) enacted that henceforth Plebiscita should have the force of Leges5. From this time onwards there was no difference between the Populus and the Plebs in matters of legislation, except that it may have been held by some thinkers that fundamental changes in the Constitution, such as those introduced by Sulla, ought to be ratified by the Comitia Centuriata1. But in nearly all the spheres subject to the commands of the people, the Populus and the Plebs were equally competent; a Lex could repeal a Plebiscitum and a Plebiscitum a Lex2. This dual sovereignty, which is one of the most curious of the theoretical features of the Roman Constitution, was rendered possible and harmless by the fact that the mass of the voters in all the different assemblies were composed of the same individuals, and by the central control exercised by the Senate over all magistrates, and therefore over all assemblies before which these magistrates introduced their proposals. The initiation of legislation was, in fact, during the days of Republican stability, in the hands of the Senate; but, apart from the exercise of this authority, which had long had a de facto recognition, but was not recognized by law until the time of Sulla (88 and 81 b. c.)3, the Senate did not pretend to exercise legislative power during the Republic. In its own right it could only exercise certain powers approximating to those of legislation. We find it, for instance, fixing the rate of interest4; but such an ordinance technically assumed the form merely of advice to the judicial magistrates as to the rates which they should recognize in their edicts. The Senate, however, exercised the power of dispensing individuals from the existing laws5; and we find it also warning the community that some enactment which had passed the people was, on technical grounds, invalid, and was therefore not binding either on the magistrates or on any member of the State6.
In few societies of the ancient world was the legislative power so unfettered as it was at Rome. The Romans drew no distinction between constitutional law and other laws; the Roman assemblies could create new assemblies, could alter their own structure, could modify or even suspend the Constitution by granting enormous powers to individuals. There was no sphere of human interest outside their control; their power of utterance was limited only by a respect for religious law7. We might, therefore, have expected that legislation would have been the chief path on which Roman law advanced to its maturity. But this expectation is disappointed, so far as the progress of the Jus Privatum is concerned. We do indeed find a certain number of statutes which deal with important matters of private law, such as the Lex Aquilia de Damno, the Lex Furia on testaments, the Lex Voconia on inheritances; and it is also true that certain important changes in civil procedure were sanctioned by the people, the most far-reaching of these changes being perhaps that effected by the Lex Aebutia, which helped to replace the Legis Actio by the Formula1. But the legislation referring to private law and civil procedure at Rome is in no way comparable in bulk to that which dealt with criminal and constitutional law. Even those Leges or Plebiscita that dealt with civil procedure, perhaps did little more than ratify a change that had been already accomplished in the courts, or carry this change a few steps further. And, as to the alterations in the material elements of private law, these alterations were determined to a far greater extent by interpretation than by legislation.
Interpretation at Rome assumed two forms. It was either the work of the magistrate or the work of the jurisconsult. The magistrate chiefly concerned with the interpretation of private law was the Praetor. The office of Praetor is said to have originated as a result of the Licinian laws of 367 b. c.2 This new magistrate was created for the purpose of performing most of the judicial business of the Consuls, who, on account of the increasing complexity of political life, were found incapable of conducting the whole of the home and foreign affairs of Rome. For more than 120 years this single magistrate administered civil justice to citizens and aliens. At the close of this period (242 b. c.) a second Praetor was appointed3 whose duty it was to decide cases between aliens (Peregrini) and between citizens and aliens. The former (Praetor qui inter cives jus dicit) was known by the colloquial name of Praetor Urbanus; the latter (Praetor qui inter peregrinos jus dicit) was known by the similarly abbreviated title of Praetor Peregrinus.
Every magistrate at Rome was in the habit of notifying to the public the manner in which he meant to exercise his authority, or any change which he comtemplated in existing regulations, by means of a public notice (Edictum). In the case of magistrates who were merely concerned with administrative work, such notices were often occasional (edicta repentina); in the case of magistrates concerned with judicial business, they were of necessity valid for the whole period during which the magistrates held their office, and capable of transmission to their successors (perpetua et tralaticia); for jurisdiction does not admit of occasional and isolated ordinances which have only a temporary validity. The edicts of the Praetors were necessarily of this latter type. Each new occupant of the office might admit rulings not recognized by his predecessors; these rulings were forced on him by the fact that new and unexpected combinations in legal relations had been presented to his notice, or that the existing rules did not answer to a growing sense of equity. New rulings cannot be introduced into a system of law without affecting old ones. The fact that there was an edict gave the Praetor a chance of smoothing out anomalies, instead of exhibiting inconsistencies, in the law. The edict admitted of change and development; but it was a change that was subtle and gradual, not violent and rapid. The process by which it was reached professed to be a process of interpretation. It was really creative work of a highly original kind.
The Edictum of the Praetor1, in the sense in which this word is commonly used, is really a colloquial expression for the Album, or great notice-board exhibited by the Praetor, which contained other elements besides the Edicta in their true and proper sense. It contained the Legis Actiones and the Formulae of the Civil Law (Jus Civile)2, probably preceded by certain explanatory headings, but by no edict; for the Praetor did not create the rulings on which these civil actions and formulae were based. But it contained as well the Formulae which were the creation of him and his predecessors—the Formulae which were the product of what was known as ‘Magistrate’s Law’ (Jus Honorarium); and each of these Formulae was no doubt preceded, at least eventually, by the Edictum or ruling in law, which might have grown out of the Formula, but finally served as its basis and justification. Thus the edictal part of the Album was really a series of separate Edicta, each edict being followed by its Formula; it was regarded as being a supplement to that portion which specified the Actions of Civil Law; and it really had this character of being a mere supplement in so far as ‘honorary’ actions were seldom granted where a ‘civil’ action would have sufficed. But its supplementary character was of a very far-reaching kind. Thus the edicts might take cognizance of cases not provided for by the civil law at all, they might replace the mechanism provided by the civil law for attaining a legal end, and they might alter the character of the end itself. All these functions are summed up by Papinian when he says that the work of the Jus Praetorium was ‘to assist, to supplement, to correct the civil law for the sake of public utility1.’ The edict of the Praetor Peregrinus was necessarily still more of a substitute for the civil law than that of the Praetor Urbanus. For, since the Legis Actiones could not (at least in many cases) be employed by Peregrini2, he was forced to invent equivalents for these forms of action.
The third Edictum Perpetuum which was valid in Rome was that of the Curule Aediles3. It was of no great content, since it was concerned exclusively with the jurisdiction over the market, and the control of public sites—a jurisdiction and control which were possessed by these magistrates. For an edict in any way comparable to those of the Praetors we must turn to the provinces. Here the governors (whether Proconsuls or Propraetors) issued notices of their intentions with respect to jurisdiction, similar to those of the Praetors at Rome as regards their permanent character and the possibility of their transmission, but peculiarly applicable to the particular governor’s special sphere of administration. A special edict was issued for each separate province (thus we read of an Edictum Siciliense)4; but this special character did not prevent certain inter-relations between the edicts of separate provinces. We know that the Provincial Edict might be prepared at Rome, before the governor went to his province5; and although the man who prepared it (of course, with the assistance of professional lawyers), tried to model his rules as closely as possible on those of his predecessor in the province to which he was going, yet he might borrow improvements which had been initiated by the late governor of some other province. Again, the same man might pass from one province to another, and, much as the circumstances of the separate spheres of government differed from one another, it is inconceivable that he should not have carried some of his favourite rules of procedure with him. A general conception of what a Provincial Edict should be like, must have grown up; the differences between the edicts being probably those of matter rather than of form—the matter being determined by the local customary law of the subject peoples, which Rome rigidly respected. Where there were striking differences of form, these must have been mainly due to the varieties of rights granted by the Charters of the different provinces (Leges Provinciarum). It is obvious that, where much was granted by Charter, little was left to the discretion of the governor. Where the Charter granted only a few elementary rights, he had a much freer hand.
One important point in which the governor of a province differed from a Praetor at Rome, was that he was an administrative as well as a judicial official. Hence the Provincial Edict had to contain a good many rules of administrative law which were not to be found in its counterpart at Rome. This portion of the edict spoke about the financial relations of the states of the province to the Roman government and to its agents, and stated the rules which regulated the relations of the tax-gatherers (Publicani) to the tax-payers. The rest of the edict which took a definite shape, covered the procedure which the governor promised to apply for the recovery of certain rights by individuals—rights such as those entailed in inheritance or the seizure of a debtor’s goods. These rules were based on those of Roman law; but they were mere outlines capable of adaptation to the local customs of the subject states. But there was, at least in certain provinces, a portion of the edict, still dealing with the rights of individuals, which assumed no definite shape. There were points on which the governor did not care to frame rules until he knew the emergencies which he would have to meet. He was content (at least Cicero was, when governor of Cilicia) with promising that, in issuing decrees on such points, he would conform to the principles of the urban edicts1.
If we ask what was the great motive power which lay behind this development of law through interpretation by the magistrate, we shall find it to consist, partly in contact with foreign peoples; partly (although probably in a less degree) in the new educational influences which were moulding the lives of the Roman nobles. The tendency to experiment and adaptation, to a disbelief in anything fixed and rigid, is thoroughly Roman; but external circumstances were veryx-large ly responsible for the particular lines on which this tendency was to move. The legal consequence of contact with foreign races is summed up in the phrase Jus Gentium. The word ‘Gentes’ in this collocation means ‘the world2’; and it is possible that, when the expression Jus Gentium was first formed, Rome regarded herself as rather outside this world whose customs she was contemplating, although even her earliest practice showed an inner conviction that she was a very integral part of it indeed. The moment that she began to trade with the foreigner, whether in Italy, Sicily, or Africa, she must have seen that her own Jus Civile was an impossible basis for trading relations. If the Roman had no liking to submit to the intricacies of the law of some other state, the foreign trader had equally little inclination to conform to the tedious formalities of Roman law. Some common ground had to be discovered as the basis for a common court, which might adjudicate on the claims of Private International Law. This common ground was found in the Jus Gentium; the common court was that of the Recuperatores of early times1. The history of the Praetorship leads us to think that the Jus Gentium must have begun to exercise a modifying influence on Roman law long before the middle of the third century b. c.; for we have seen that for more than 120 years a single Praetor administered justice both to Cives and Peregrini2. A single magistrate therefore published and dealt with two distinct systems of law. But it would seem to be impossible that he could have kept the two absolutely distinct, especially when the simplicity and universality of the Jus Gentium stood in marked contrast to the complexity and singularity of the Jus Civile. The rigidity of the forms of Roman law may have been shaken even at this early period. But when a second Praetor was appointed to frame a special edict for Peregrini, the Jus Gentium must have found a still more complete and systematic expression. The procedure by which the legal claims of aliens were asserted must have been more fully elaborated. This was the procedure by Formula, which was to furnish the prototype for the method adopted by the Praetor Urbanus, and to replace the older procedure by Legis Actio in most of the Roman courts of law. Nor can we ignore the influence of the Edictum Provinciale, although this came later and at a time when the typical elements in Roman procedure had been fixed. Rome gained some ideas from the Hellenised East, as in early days she had gained some from Magna Graecia. It was probably from contact with the East that she gained the knowledge of such simple forms of written agreement as Syngrapha and Chirographa, and that she acquired her theory of Mortgage (Hypotheca).
The Jus Gentium could not pass from being a mere fact to being an ideal without gaining some theoretical justification for its existence and acceptance. This justification was found in the idea that it was a product of the Law of Nature. It is not improbable that the superior ‘naturalness’ of the Jus Gentium to the Jus Civile had begun to appeal to the Romans long before they had begun to be affected by Greek philosophic thought; for we know the effect which was produced on the minds of the Greeks themselves by their early contact with foreign civilizations. They rapidly drew the conclusion that what was common to various countries existed by nature (ύσει), what was peculiar to a country existed by convention (νόμ); and the κοινς νόμος1 or τ υσικν δίκαιον2 of the Greeks is practically identical with the Jus Gentium of the Romans. Even to the primitive mind the universality of an institution implies its naturalness. But it is very probable that the Stoic conception of Nature did, to the Roman mind, complete the train of thought and give a scientific stability to a vague impression. It was not, indeed, possible to identify the Jus Gentium with the Lex Naturae; for a Jus cannot be the same as a Lex. But it might be regarded as the product of that Lex, as its concrete expression in human society. The immediate product, however, of the Lex Naturae is the Jus Naturale. The Jus Gentium tended, therefore, to be identified with the Jus Naturale; and the identification seems to be complete except in one important point. According to the view finally adopted by the jurists, the Jus Naturale implies personal freedom; for all men are born free in a state of nature3. But the Jus Gentium (the law of the civilized world) admits the institution of Slavery. In this point, therefore, the two are in conflict, and the Jus Naturale presents an even higher ideal of society than the Jus Gentium. The relation between the three types of Jus, known to the theory of Roman jurisprudence, may be expressed by saying that the Jus Civile is the Right of man as a member of a state, the Jus Gentium the Right of the free man, the Jus Naturale the Right of man4.
The appeal to Nature on behalf of the slave is an index of the part which he was to play in the development of Roman law. Roman slavery cannot be judged solely either by the dismal picture presented by the plantation system, or by the legal theory that the slave was a mere Thing (Res), a chattel, not a person. We must remember that the slave, often of an intelligence and culture superior to those of his master, and gifted with the practical genius and the capacity for detail characteristic of the Greek, was frequently an active man of business. We must remember too that the very fact that he was a chattel might be employed by the law as the basis for the theory that he was, for this very reason, an excellent Instrument of Acquisition. So essential was he to his master in his capacity of agent that the law was forced to recognize that he could be a party to an obligation. The obligation, it is true, could not be called legal; it was only natural (Naturalis obligatio)1; but still it was an obligation that could benefit the master, without making that master’s condition worse2. It was necessary, however, to protect other parties to these contracts; and the Praetor gradually created a series of quasi-liabilities for the master of the trading slave. Such liabilities are expressed in the actions Quod Jussu, Tributoria, De Peculio, De in Rem Verso3. They were created in the interest of the master as well as in that of the other party to the contract; for without these guarantees slave-agency would have become impossible. In the history of agency the slave plays a distinguished part; and the part that he plays is formally justified by the view that he is the possessor of Natural Rights.
All these new influences on Roman law, although they found their most marked expression in the edicts of the magistrates, were also absorbed by that Professional Jurisprudence which gives us the other aspect of the science of Interpretation. It may have been the more important aspect; for the teaching of the schools, and the advice of jurisconsults, no doubt did much to stimulate and guide the activity of the magistrates. We are told that the influence of skilled lawyers was for a very long time represented by the College of Pontifices. Even after the publication of the Twelve Tables and the revelation of the forms of Action (448, 304 b. c.), and during the period when secular was becoming more and more divorced from religious law, the knowledge of jurisprudence was, in virtue chiefly of the familiar fact that professions once associated are not easily separated, exhibited mainly in the person of the Pontifex Maximus; and the men who held this office still furnished for centuries the leading names to Roman jurisprudence. At first the science was imparted with an air of mystery; the advice was occasional and elicited only by special request. But finally the profession of law on the part of the Pontiffs became more open and more systematic. The first of these who taught the science publicly is said to have been Tiberius Coruncanius1 (circa 280 b. c.), who was also the first plebeian Pontifex Maximus. Lastly, the stage of written commentaries was reached. These commentaries were stimulated by the increasing difficulty of interpreting the language and meaning of the Twelve Tables. The earliest commentator on this code who is known to us, was Sextus Aelius Paetus, consul in 198 and censor in 193 b. c. He busied himself with the interpretation of the legal difficulties connected with the Tables, and published a work called Tripertita, which gave in three divisions the text of the Tables, an explanation of each ordinance, and the form of action applicable to the cases which these ordinances raised2. His later contemporary, Acilius, seems also to have been a legal commentator3. An explanation of the obsolete language of the Tables was, so far as we know, first attempted by the great philologist Lucius Aelius Stilo Praeconinus, who was born about 154 b. c.4 One of the results of the work of these commentators was that the text of the Tables, as it appeared in their editions, became the recognized, and in fact the only, text for all subsequent ages; for it seems quite clear that the later commentators, as for instance Gaius, had no knowledge of any antique copy of the Tables, engraved on metal and posted up in some public place5. But there was another reason why a knowledge of the Tables, in their original form, was becoming decadent even during the period of the later Republic. The Praetor’s Edict, as a living source of law, was superseding the ancient Code. Juristic investigation was grappling with present problems and did not care to concern itself with the antique The Tables had been explained; now they were to be expanded. But the expansion came with the edict, and with the creative jurisprudence which was a product of the new Greek culture and the extension of the Roman Empire. The founders of this scientific jurisprudence, whose labours were to be perpetuated by the lawyers of the Principate, were Marcus Junius Brutus, Marcus6 Manilius and Publius Mucius Scaevola, all of whom flourished about the middle of the second century b. c. They were followed by a long line of distinguished successors to the close of the Republic1. The study of law was becoming professional, but it was not confined to a body of men who made jurisprudence the sole business of their lives2. The knowledge and exposition of law was an incident in the career of some of the greatest statesmen of the day. It may have been their ruling, but it was by no means their sole interest; and sometimes the fruitful experience of a lifetime spent in an active forensic and political career was given to admiring students during the repose which marked the closing years of the statesman’s life3. The rewards of the profession were purely honorary; the only payment was repute, gratitude, or political support; and the practical utility of the jurists was as much valued as their theoretical knowledge. They pleaded or gave advice to pleaders; they gave a scientific precision to the formulae of legal business; and they returned replies (responsa) to the questions of litigants, magistrates, or judices on legal points which arose whether before or in the course of the hearing of a case4. It was through these replies, which were given sometimes in private, sometimes in the Forum5, that the jurisconsults became great oral and literary teachers. The replies were sometimes given in writing6; but, even when verbal, were often collected into books; and the audience which received them was by no means confined to those who were primarily interested in the answers. The young were admitted to the consultations7, and the consultation often closed with a disputation8. This practice led eventually to systematic teaching; disciples attached themselves to a particular exponent of law, who gave some a preliminary training and directed others in a course of study that was more advanced9. In no respect was this system of education regulated by the State. No teacher was more authentic than another. Controversy grew and flourished1. The only proof of the validity of an opinion was its acceptance by a court. But even this was but a slender proof; for different Praetors or Judices might be under the sway of different jurists. It required a single superior court and a single controlling authority (both of which were found in the Principate) to guide the stream of legal opinion into narrower and more certain channels.
Amidst this stream of interpretation we discern one attempt to give a fixity to at least a part of Roman law. Ofilius, a Roman knight of the period of Cicero and Caesar, was the first to reduce the Praetor’s Edict to some kind of system2. It is probable that a still greater work of revision was at one time projected for this jurist; for we are told that Caesar, amidst his ambitious schemes for the regeneration of the Roman world, conceived the idea of making a digest of the Roman law3. Had he lived to carry out this scheme, it is probable that Ofilius would have been entrusted with the work.
The progress effected during this period in the theory of law was accompanied by a great reform in procedure. From about 150 b. c. the process both of the civil and criminal courts began to assume a form which was final for the period of the Republic, and which was supplemented, but not altered, during the greater part of the period of the Principate4. In the domain of Civil Procedure, a Lex Aebutia gave some kind of formal sanction to the practice by which the Praetor tended to substitute the simpler Formula for the more complex Legis Actio5. The Formula had perhaps first been employed in the statement of cases for Peregrini. Its utility commended its use for cases in which Roman citizens alone were involved. The Praetor Urbanus employed it for his honorary jurisdiction; it was then transferred (doubtless by the Lex Aebutia) to the civil law as an alternative, in most cases, to the Legis Actio. We cannot say in what form the alternative was presented. We know that the law must have exempted certain kinds of jurisdiction from the Formula—the jurisdiction, for instance, of the Centumviral and Decemviral courts. But it may have allowed the Praetor to substitute the one procedure for the other in most spheres of civil jurisdiction; and, where the Praetor still permitted the Legis Actio and the Formula to stand side by side in his Album, it may have given the litigants a choice between the two. The two methods of procedure still exist side by side in Cicero’s time; but the formulary procedure is demonstrably the more general of the two.
About the time when this reform was being effected, an attempt was made to create a method of criminal procedure, simpler and more effective than that of a trial before the People. The type on which the new criminal courts were constituted was furnished in the main by Civil Procedure. Cases of extortion (Repetundarum), in which compensation was demanded for a delict, were first tried before a Praetor and Recuperatores. This was a mere provisional arrangement initiated by the Senate for the benefit of the provincials1. But the system, or one closely modelled on it, was perpetuated by the Lex Calpurnia Repetundarum of 149 b. c.2, and gradually these recuperatorial boards grew into great panels of Judices, the qualifications for the jurors being specified by judiciary laws (Leges Judiciariae). Finally, almost the whole sphere of the criminal law was embraced by a series of enactments which created standing courts (Quaestiones Perpetuae, or Judicia Publica), each for the trial of a special offence or a group of related crimes. All of these courts followed the same model. In each a President (Quaesitor), who was generally a Praetor, sat with a bench of Judices who pronounced a penalty fixed by the law which had constituted the court. From the judgment of these Judices there was no appeal to the People.
The change from the Republic to the Principate introduced no very sudden alterations in the sources of law or the methods of procedure. Both, as we shall see, were supplemented by new creations; but up to the time of Gaius it was possible to appeal to the Republican system as the one that underlay the legal life and the judicial organization of Rome3. All that was added by the Principate was in the nature of an excrescence—one that was probably healthy in its effects, in spite of the fact that it does seem to have limited to a certain extent the creative activities of juristic thought. The birth of the Principate was not conditioned by strictly legal necessities. There seems to have been little sense that a single controlling force was needed for the guidance of the law of Rome, Italy, and the provinces. The justification for the Principate was found in the fact that a single controlling power was necessary for the command of the army and the routine administration of the provinces. But it was impossible to create such a power without bringing it into some contact with every department of the State. The guidance of legislation and judicature by an individual will was a necessary outcome of the new order of things; and it is possible that this guidance was needed. There is a stage in the history of law where liberty of interpretation may lead to perplexing uncertainty, and there is a stage in the history of any national judicial organization where certain radical methods are necessary to adapt it to new needs. The Principate gave a definiteness to law, but a definiteness that was in no sense illiberal. On the contrary, it prevented law from being narrowly Roman as effectually as it checked it from recklessly absorbing foreign elements. It adapted law to provincial needs by expanding, but not impairing, its national character. At the same time it widened the scope of jurisdiction by methods which we shall soon describe—methods which seem to have increased the efficiency at least of the civil courts at Rome, and which brought the provincial world into closer judicial relations with the capital. The changes effected both in legislation and in jurisdiction were gradual and progressive; and, though they were from a formal point of view initiated by the will of individual monarchs, it is important to remember that, at Rome as elsewhere, monarchical power is the outcome of the concurrence of many individual wills. For the sake of convenience we are accustomed to treat the Princeps as the chief source of law and the chief influence on jurisdiction. Sometimes a purely personal power of this type may have been realized for a while, although when so realized it always had a flavour of tyranny1. But as a rule, when we think of the Princeps as a source of law and justice, we should be thinking of his judicial advisers and assessors. The trained jurist still plays a leading part in legal progress. His control of the Princeps, and the Princeps’ control of him, must both be taken into account, although the actual extent of the respective influences—of the administrator over the jurist and of the jurist over the administrator—can never be determined for any given act or for any given moment of time.
A division of power of this type is perhaps common to all monarchies. But in the Roman Principate, which was not technically a monarchy, we find it expressed in yet another way—a way which is of more importance theoretically, although perhaps of less practical import. It is expressed in the form that the Princeps is merely the ‘extraordinary magistrate’ of a Republican Constitution. By an ‘extraordinary magistracy’ is meant a magistracy formed by an accumulation of functions, each of which is usually exercised by a particular magistrate. The chief powers with which the Princeps was invested were the Proconsulare Imperium conferred by the Senate, and the Tribunicia Potestas conferred on a recommendation of the Senate in a formal meeting of the People. The Proconsulare Imperium was technically valid only outside the limits of Italy; but, as it was absolutely necessary that the Princeps should possess Imperium within Rome, he was specially exempted from losing his Imperium by his presence within the city. The effect of this exemption probably was to create for the Princeps a kind of consular Imperium in Rome and Italy. But even this device was not sufficient to secure for him the authority which he required as a moderator of the whole State. The Proconsulare Imperium and the Tribunicia Potestas required to be supplemented by a number of separate powers conferred by special grants. These grants must originally have been made by special laws and decrees of the Senate that were passed at various times; but the practice seems soon to have been adopted of embodying them in a single enactment, which was submitted to the formal assent of the People at the time when the Proconsulare Imperium and the Tribunicia Potestas were conferred. A fragment of such an enactment is the extant Lex or Senatusconsultum which enumerates powers conferred on the Emperor Vespasian at his accession1. The rights of the Princeps enumerated in this document are of a very heterogeneous kind—they include the powers of making treaties, extending the pomerium of the city, commending candidates for office, and issuing edicts as interpretations of law, human and divine; and, important as they are, they have no direct connexion with either the Proconsulare Imperium or the Tribunicia Potestas. Some of the most imposing powers of the Princeps were dependent on neither of these two sources, but were contained only in this general Lex; and as fresh prerogatives were added to the Principate, the Lex would grow in bulk and importance. Some development of this kind may account for the fact that Gaius and Ulpian both speak of the Princeps receiving his Imperium through a Lex1. Such an expression could not have been used of the early Principes; for the Proconsulare Imperium was received through a decree of the Senate; but it is possible that in the course of time the general Lex, as enumerating the majority of the prerogatives of the Princeps, came to overshadow the other sources of his authority.
Since the authority of the Princeps was built up in this gradual and unsystematic way, it is quite impossible for the modern inquirer to determine with precision the sources of the exercise of his different powers. But a rough estimate may be made of five distinct kinds of prerogative and of the activities flowing from each. (1) With the Imperium were connected the control of the army and the provinces, the right of declaring war and of making treaties, the power of conferring Roman citizenship or Latin rights, civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the general power of legal interpretation. (2) The Tribunician Power, besides making the Princeps sacrosanct, gave him the right, exercised during the earlier period of the Principate but afterwards neglected, of initiating measures in the Assembly of the Plebs, and also the right of transacting business with the Senate, although this second right was extended by special grants. The power of veto, inherent in the Tribunicia Potestas, gave the Princeps a control over all the other magistrates of the State, enabled him to exercise over the jurisdiction of the Senate a power akin to that of pardon, and probably formed the basis of much of his appellate jurisdiction. (3) Two of the Principes, Claudius and Vespasian, were invested with the temporary office of censor, and Domitian declared himself censor for life. His example was not followed by succeeding rulers; but the most important of the functions of the censors—the revision of the lists of Senators and Knights—continued to be a part of the admitted prerogatives of the Princeps. Akin to this right was that of creating Patricians, which had been conferred by law on Caesar and Augustus, had been exercised by Claudius and Vespasian as censors, and finally became a right inherent in the Principate itself. (4) The Princeps, besides being a member of all the great religious colleges, was, as Pontifex Maximus, the official head of the state-religion, and was invested by law with the power of executing ordinances which were to the interest of the religious life of the community1. (5) Supplementary powers, which cannot be described by a common name or connected with any definite office, were granted to the Princeps. Some of these were means by which his control over the magistrates and the Senate was increased. Such were the rights of securing the election of certain candidates for office by means of a recommendation (Commendatio), and of exercising powers in relation to the Senate superior to those possessed by the other magistrates.
An authority thus endowed could not fail to exercise a strong directing influence on the sources of law and the methods of procedure. The influence asserted itself from the first; yet for at least two centuries there was always a formal, and sometimes a real recognition of the theory on which the Principate was based—the theory of a dual control exercised by the Princeps on the one hand, by the usual organs of the Republic on the other. The chief organ by which the Republic was represented was now no longer the People, but the Senate; and the dual sovereignty—or ‘Dyarchy,’ as it has been called—can be illustrated chiefly by the division of authority between the Princeps and the Senate.
As regards the sources of law, even the utterances of the People were for some time elicited. Leges and Plebiscita—specimens of which are to be found in the Leges Juliae of Augustus, the Lex Aelia Sentia belonging to the reign of the same monarch, the Lex Junia Norbana of the reign of Tiberius, the Leges Claudiae of the Emperor Claudius — continued to be passed during the early Principate. The last trace of legislation belongs to the reign of Nerva (96-98 a. d.)2.
Even before legislative power had been surrendered by the Comitia, it had begun to pass to the Senate; and down to the third century a.d., such general ordinances as tended to alter the fundamental legal relations of Roman citizens to one another were generally expressed in the form of Senatusconsulta. The Senatusconsultum was a true source of the Jus Civile. Yet it did not attain the formal structure, or always adopt the imperative utterance, of a law. Its utterances are often couched in an advisory form3, as though the Senate of this period, like that of the Republic, were merely giving counsel to a magistrate. Gaius attributes to these decrees ‘the binding force of law’; and it does not seem that the early doubts as to whether the Senate could pass ordinances immediately binding on the community1 survived the beginning of the Principate.
The Praetor’s edict still continued to be issued; nor are we told that the edictal power was in any way infringed during the early Principate. But there are two considerations which would lead us to conclude that it was seriously weakened. The first is based on the fact that edictal power in the highest degree was conferred by law on the Princeps himself2; and the existence of two interpreters of the civil law possessing equal authority is almost inconceivable. The second consideration rests on the probability that the Praetor’s rulings in detail were subject to the veto of the Princeps. A new ruling was often the basis for a new formula and a new edict, and if the first of these was inhibited, its successive developments could not be realized. Progressive legislation was effected elsewhere, in decrees of the Senate and in the imperial constitutions; and the final sign that the creative work of the Praetors was a thing of the past was given when, in the reign of Hadrian (117-138 a.d.), and therefore probably in the lifetime of Gaius, the work which Ofilius had begun3 was perfected by the jurist Salvius Julianus. He reduced the edict to a fixed and definite system4; and from this time onward the Edictum Perpetuum was, in its essential features, unalterable. Absolute validity was given to the new redaction by a Senatusconsultum introduced by a speech from the Emperor Hadrian, who declared that any new point, not contemplated in the edict, should be decided by analogy with it5. It is probable that such new points were still mentioned in successive edicts; for it is certain that the edict still continued to be issued annually. The work of Julian could, therefore, never have been meant to be unalterable in a literal sense. Such invariability would indeed have been impossible; for, though changes in law were now beginning to be made chiefly by ordinances of the emperor, yet these very changes would necessitate corresponding changes in the details of the edict. The fixity of Julian’s edict was to be found both in its structure and in its leading principles; in the order in which the rules of law were marshalled and in the general significance of these rules. It has been supposed that Julian’s work was not confined to the edict of the Praetor Urbanus, but that he dealt also with the edicts of the Praetor Peregrinus and of the Curule Aediles1. He may have treated these edicts separately; but the three may have been combined in a single comprehensive work which was spoken of as ‘The Edict2.’
By the side of these sources of law which survived from the Republic stood the new authority, the Princeps. He was not regarded as, in the strict sense, a legislative authority; but he or his advisers exercised a profound influence on the growth and structure of law in virtue of his power of issuing Edicts, Decrees, Rescripts, and Mandates. The Edictum of the Princeps was, like that of the Praetor in the Republic, technically an interpretation of law, but, like the Praetor, the Princeps could supplement and alter under the guise of interpretation: and his creative power, as exercised by his edictal authority, was very great. An edict of an emperor did not necessarily bind his successors; but, if it had been accepted as valid by a series of emperors, it was considered to be a part of the law, and its subsequent abandonment had apparently to be specified by some definite act of repudiation3. The Decretum was a judgment of the Princeps as a court of justice; and, unless it was rescinded in a succeeding reign, its validity as a precedent seems to have been unquestioned. The Rescriptum was technically an answer to a letter by which the advice of the Princeps was sought; but the word soon came to be used for the Princeps’ letter (Epistola) itself. It contained instructions either on administrative or on judicial matters. In its first capacity, it was addressed to some public official subordinate to the emperor; in its second, it was addressed either to the judge or to the litigant. It was elicited either as an answer to the consultation (Consultatio) of an official or a judge who hesitated as to his course of procedure, or as a reply to a petition (Libellus, Supplicatio) of one of the parties to a suit. The Rescript which dealt with judicial matters might settle a doubtful point of law by showing, or extending, the application of an existing principle to a new case. The Rescript was the most powerful instrument of law-making wielded by the Princeps. The definiteness of its form gave the opinion an authority which, once accepted by a successor, could not easily be questioned; while the immense area over which these letters of advice were sent kept the Princeps in touch with the whole provincial world, and caused him to be regarded by the provincials as the greatest and most authentic interpreter of law. The Edicts, Decrees, and Rescripts came to be described by the collective name of ‘Imperial Constitutions’ (Constitutiones Principum), and by the time of Gaius they were held to possess, in a uniform degree, ‘the binding force of law1.’ On a lower level, with respect to legal validity, stood the Mandatum. This was a general instruction given to subordinate officials, for the most part to governors of provinces, and dealt usually with administrative matters, although sometimes it had reference to a point of law. Such mandates might be, and often were, withdrawn by the Princeps who had issued them, or by his successor. Hence it was impossible to attach perpetual validity to their terms. But, when a mandate dealt with a precise point of law, and was renewed by successive emperors, it must have acquired the force of a Rescript2.
The creation of the office of Princeps, and the extension of the authority of the Senate, exercised an influence on jurisdiction as well as on legislation. The two new features of the judicial system were the growth of extraordinary jurisdiction and the growth of Courts of Appeal. The name ‘extraordinary’ (extra ordinem) was given to all jurisdiction other than that of the ordinary civil and criminal courts (Judicia Ordinaria) which had survived the Republic. It often dealt with cases not fully provided for by these courts; and its chief characteristic was that the cognizance (Cognitio), both on the question of law and on the question of fact, was undertaken solely by the magistrate or by a delegate nominated by him (judex extra ordinem datus)3. In civil matters, the Princeps sat as such an extraordinary court, and either exercised, or delegated, jurisdiction in matters such as Trust or Guardianship. He might take other cases, if he willed; but his jurisdiction was always voluntary; and, if he declined to act, the case went before the Praetor. In criminal matters, two high courts of voluntary and extraordinary jurisdiction were created—that of the Princeps and that of the Senate. The Princeps might take any case, but often limited his intervention to crimes committed by imperial servants or by officers of the army. The jurisdiction of the Senate was especially concerned with offences committed by members of the upper ranks of society, or with crimes of a definitely political character.
The system of appeal introduced by the Principate was of a complicated character, and many of its features are imperfectly understood. It seems that, at Rome, the Princeps could in civil matters veto, and perhaps alter, the decision of a Praetor, but could not annul the verdict of a Judex, except by ordering a new trial1. He could of course vary the decisions of his own delegates in matters of extraordinary jurisdiction. In criminal matters the Princeps does not seem to have had the power of altering the decisions of the Quaestiones Perpetuae; but he could probably order a new trial2. There was technically no right of appeal from the Senate to the Princeps3; but the Princeps could exercise what was practically a power of pardon by vetoing the decisions of the Senate in virtue of his Tribunicia Potestas. In the provincial world, the right of appeal was at first regulated in accordance with the distinction between Caesar’s provinces and the provinces of the Roman people. From Caesar’s provinces the appeal lay to Caesar; from the other provinces it came to the Consuls and, at least if it was concerned with a criminal matter, was by them transmitted to the Senate. But we know that this system of dual jurisdiction was breaking down even in the first century of the Principate, and that the appellate jurisdiction of the Princeps was tending to encroach on that of the Consuls and Senate4. The extent to which it had broken down in the time of Gaius is unknown. But we know that, by the end of the second century a. d., the Princeps was the Court of Appeal for the whole provincial world. For this purpose he was usually represented by the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard.
The official organs which made Roman law were now, as under the Republic, assisted by the unofficial or semi-official activity of the jurisconsults. Some of these teachers were now given public recognition as authoritative sources of law. We are told that Augustus granted the right to certain jurisconsults to respond under imperial authority; and this practice was continued by his successors on the throne. Amongst the earlier of these patented jurisconsults was Masurius Sabinus, of the time of the Emperor Tiberius1. The granting of this privilege did not diminish the activity of the unpatented lawyers2, although it doubtless diminished their influence; but it gave the response of its possessor as authoritative a character as though it had proceeded from the emperor himself3. The response was usually elicited by a party to the suit and presented to the Judex4. He was bound by the decision5; but naturally only on the assumption that the facts as stated in the petition which elicited the Rescript were the facts as exhibited in the course of the trial6 It may have been understood that the opinion of only one patented counsellor was to be sought in any single case; for in the early Principate there seems to have been no provision determining the conduct of a Judex when the opinions of his advisers differed. Later it must have been possible to elicit the opinion of several patented jurists on a single issue; for the Emperor Hadrian framed the rule that, in the case of conflicting responses, a Judex should be entitled to use his own discretion7.
The literary activity in the domain of law, during the period which intervened between the accession of Augustus and the time of Gaius, was of the most varied character8. Religious law (Jus Pontificium) attracted the attention of Capito. Labeo wrote on the Twelve Tables. The Praetor’s Edict was the subject of studies by Labeo, Masurius Sabinus, Pedius and Pomponius. The Edict of the Curule Aediles was commented on by Caelius Sabinus. Salvius Julianus, besides his redaction of the Edicts1, produced a work known as Digesta, which perhaps assumed the form of detailed explanations of points of law systematically arranged. Comprehensive works on the Civil Law were furnished by Masurius Sabinus and Caius Cassius Longinus. Other jurists produced monographs on special branches of law, as the younger Nerva on Usucapion, Pedius on Stipulations, Pomponius on Fideicommissa. Some lawyers wrote commentaries on the works of their predecessors. It was thus that Aristo dealt with Labeo, and Pomponius with Sabinus. Other works took the form of Epistolae, which furnished opinions on special cases which had been submitted to their author, and collections of Problems (Quaestiones). Nor was history neglected. There must have been much of it in Labeo’s commentary on the Twelve Tables; and Pomponius wrote a Handbook (Enchiridion), which contained a sketch of the legal history of Rome from the earliest times.
The Institutes of Gaius are a product of this activity; for it is necessary that a great deal of detailed and special work shall be done in a science before a good handbook on the subject can be written for the use of students. The name of Gaius’s work does not appear in the manuscript; ‘but2 from the proem to Justinian’s Institutes appears to have been Institutiones, or to distinguish it from the systems of rhetoric which also bore this name, Institutiones Juris Civilis. From the way in which it is mentioned by Justinian, we may infer that for 350 years the élite of the youth of Rome were initiated in the mysteries of jurisprudence by the manual of Gaius, much as English law students have for many years commenced their labours under the auspices of Blackstone. It is probably in allusion to the familiarity of the Roman youth with the writings of Gaius that Justinian repeatedly calls him (e. g. Inst. proem. 6; Inst. 4, 18, 5; and in the Constitution prefixed to the Digest, and addressed ad Antecessores, § 1), “our friend Gaius” (Gaius noster). The shortness of the time that sufficed Tribonian and his colleagues for the composition of Justinian’s Institutes (apparently a few months towards the close of the three years devoted to the compilation of the Digest, Inst. proem) is less surprising when we see how closely Tribonian has followed the arrangement of Gaius, and howx-large ly, when no change of legislation prohibited, he has appropriated his very words.’
‘Certain internal evidences fix the date at which portions of the Institutions were composed. The Emperor Hadrian is spoken of as departed or deceased (Divius) except in 1. § 47 and 2. § 57. Antoninus Pius is sometimes (1. § 53, 1. § 102) named without this epithet, but in 2. § 195 has the style of Divus. Marcus Aurelius was probably named, 2. § 126, and the Institutions were probably published before his death, for 2. § 177 contains no notice of a constitution of his, recorded by Ulpian, that bears on the matter in question. Paragraphs 3. § 24, 25, would hardly have been penned after the Sc. Orphitianum, a. d. 178, or the Sc. Tertullianum, a. d. 158.’ It has, however, been held that Gaius when he wrote the Institutions was acquainted with the Sc. Tertullianum, and that a mention of it occupied a gap in the manuscript which is found in 3. 33. See the commentary on this passage.
The discovery of the text of the Institutions was made in 1816. In that year ‘Niebuhr noticed in the library of the Cathedral Chapter at Verona a manuscript in which certain compositions of Saint Jerome had been written over some prior writings, which in certain places had themselves been superposed on some still earlier inscription. In communication with Savigny, Niebuhr came to the conclusion that the lowest or earliest inscription was an elementary treatise on Roman Law by Gaius, a treatise hitherto only known, or principally known, to Roman lawyers by a barbarous epitome of its contents inserted in the Code of Alaric II, King of the Visigoths (§ 1, 22, Comm.). The palimpsest or rewritten manuscript originally contained 129 folios, three of which are now lost. One folio belonging to the Fourth Book (§ 136-§ 144), having been detached by some accident from its fellows, had been published by Maffei in his Historia Teologica, a.d. 1740, and republished by Haubold in the very year in which Niebuhr discovered the rest of the codex.’
‘Each page of the MS. generally contains twenty-four lines, each line thirty-nine letters; but sometimes as many as forty-five. On sixty pages, or about a fourth of the whole, the codex is doubly palimpsest, i.e. there are three inscriptions on the parchment. About a tenth of the whole is lost or completely illegible, but part of this may be restored from Justinian’s Institutes, or from other sources; accordingly, of the whole Institutions about one-thirteenth is wanting, one half of which belongs to the Fourth Book.’
‘From the style of the handwriting the MS. is judged to be older than Justinian or the sixth century after Christ; but probably did not precede that monarch by a long interval.’
‘In a year after Niebuhr’s discovery the whole text of Gaius had been copied out by Goeschen and Hollweg, who had been sent to Verona for that purpose by the Prussian Royal Academy of Sciences, and in 1820 the first edition was published. In 1874 Studemund published an apograph or facsimile volume, the fruits of a new examination of the Veronese MS.; and in 1877 Studemund, with the assistance of Krueger, published a revised text of Gaius founded on the apograph.’
‘In the text of Gaius, the words or portions of words which are purely conjectural are denoted by italics. The orthography of the Veronese MS. is extremely inconstant. Some of these inconstancies it will be seen are retained: e.g. the spelling oscillates between the forms praegnas and praegnans, nanctus and nactus, erciscere and herciscere, prendere and prehendere, diminuere and deminuere, parentum and parentium, vulgo and volgo, apud and aput, sed and set, proxumus and proximus, affectus and adfectus, inponere and imponere &c. Some irregularities likely to embarrass the reader, e. g. the substitution of v for b in debitor and probare, the substitution of b for v in servus and vitium, have been tacitly corrected. The numeration of the paragraphs was introduced by Goeschen in his first edition of Gaius, and for convenience of reference has been retained by all subsequent editors. The rubrics or titles marking thex-large r divisions of the subject, with the exception of a few at the beginning, are not found in the Veronese MS. Those that are found are supposed not to be the work of Gaius, but of a transcriber. The remainder are partly taken from the corresponding sections of Justinian’s Institutes, partly invented or adopted from other editors.’
Of the life of Gaius we know little. Even his full name has been lost; for, if ‘Gaius’ is the familiar Roman praenomen1, he must have had a family or gentile name as well. It is probable that he was a foreigner by birth—a Greek or a Hellenised Asiatic; but it is also probable that he was a Roman citizen, and possible that he taught at Rome. It is not likely that he belonged to the class of patented jurisconsults; for his opinions are not quoted by the subsequent jurists whose fragments are preserved in the Digest; it has even been inferred that he was not a practising lawyer; for amidst his voluminous writings there is no trace of any work on Quaestiones. His treatises may all have been of a professorial kind. They included, beside the Institutions, Commentaries on the Provincial Edict and the Urban Edict; a work on the Lex Julia et Papia Poppaea; a Commentary on the Twelve Tables; a book called Aurea or Res Quotidianae, treating of legal doctrines of general application and utility in every-day life; a book on Cases (apparently of a hypothetical character); one on Rules of Law (Regulae); and special treatises on Verbal Obligations, Manumissions, Fideicommissa, Dowries, and Hypotheca. He also wrote on the Tertullian and Orphitian Senatusconsults. Gaius’s Commentary on the Provincial Edict is the only work of the kind known to us. It is not necessary to believe that this Provincial Edict was the edict of the particular province (perhaps Asia) of which he was a native. It may have been a redaction of the elements common to all Provincial Edicts1.
The value attached to Gaius’s powers of theoretical exposition, and to the admirable clearness and method which made his Institutions the basis of all future teaching in Roman law, must have been great; for, in spite of the fact that he was not a patented jurisconsult, he appears by the side of Papinian, Paulus, Ulpian, and Modestinus, in the ‘Law of Citations’ issued by Theodosius II and Valentinian III in 426 a. d. The beginning of this enactment runs2: ‘We accord our approval to all the writings of Papinian, Paulus, Gaius, Ulpian, and Modestinus, granting to Gaius the same authority that is enjoyed by Paulus, Ulpian and the others, and sanctioning the citation of all his works.’
Although so little is known of Gaius, yet his date can be approximately determined from the internal evidence of his works. ‘We know that he flourished under the Emperors Hadrian (117-138 a. d.), Antoninus Pius (138-161 a. d.) and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (161-180 a. d.). Gaius himself mentions that he was a contemporary of Hadrian, Dig. 34, 5, 7 pr. He apparently wrote the First Book of his Institutions under Antoninus Pius, whom he mentions, § 53, § 74, § 102, without the epithet Divus (of divine or venerable memory), a term only applied to emperors after their decease, but in the Second Book, § 195, with this epithet. The Antoninus mentioned, § 126, is either Pius or Marcus Aurelius Philosophus. Respecting the rules of Cretio, 2. § 177 Gaius appears not to be cognizant of a Constitution of Marcus Aurelius mentioned by Ulpian, 22, 34. That he survived to the time of Commodus appears from his having written a treatise on the Sc. Orphitianum (178 a. d.), an enactment passed under that emperor’ during his joint rule with his father Marcus Aurelius (177-180 a. d.). This is the latest date which is traceable in the life of Gaius.
Gaius was thus an elder contemporary of Papinian, who had already entered active life in the reign of Marcus Aurelius; and he stands at the threshold of that brilliant period of the close of Roman Jurisprudence which contains the names of Scaevola, Papinian, Ulpian and Paulus, and extends from the reign of Marcus Aurelius to that of Severus Alexander (180-235 a. d.).
[1 ] This thesis has been vigorously maintained by Lambert in his work La fonction du droit civil comparé (1903).
[1 ] See p. xix.
[2 ] The Latins possessed commercium and some of them conubium. Full citizenship would also be possessed by a considerable class in Latin towns, i. e. by all who, through holding a magistracy, had become Roman citizens.
[1 ] Pais, in his Storia di Roma, has stated the view that the Decemviral Legislation has been antedated by about a century and a half. He brings it down to the close of the fourth century b c He believes that Appius Claudius, the Decemvir, is a duplicate of Appius Claudius, the censor of 312 b c., and that the story of a publication by the Decemvirs is a duplicate of the story of the revelation of the forms of Law by Cn. Flavius in 304 b. c. Lambert has gone still further in a view expressed in three works (La question de l’authenticite des XII Tables et les Annales Maximi; La fonction du droit civil compare; L’histoire traditionnelle des XII Tables). He thinks that the Twelve Tables, as a code, originated with Sextus Aelius Paetus, consul in 198 b. c., whom tradition regards as their earliest commentator, although he admits that there may have been successive partial compilations before this date.
[2 ] Mitteis, Reichsrecht und Volksrecht.
[1 ] Cic. Top. 6. 29 ‘Gentiles sunt inter se, qui eodem nomine sunt.’
[2 ] [Cic.] ad Her. i. 13. 23; Cic. pro Domo, 13 35; Gaius, i. 157, ii. 47.
[1 ] Ulpian in Collatio, 16. 4 2; cf Gaius, iii. 17.
[2 ] Mommsen, Staatsr. iii, p 23 foll
[3 ] Cic. de Rep ii. 20. 35; Liv. i. 35.
[4 ] See Daily News, Sept 5, 1901 (‘The Genius of Rome’).
[1 ] See Danz, ‘Das Sacramentum und die lex Papiria,’ in Zeitschr. f. R. G. vi (1867), p. 339 foll.; Der sacrale Schutz, p. 151 foll.
[2 ] This must have been the original meaning of the consecratio capitis, the penalty of the leges sacratae. See Liv. iii. 55; Festus, p. 318; Bouché-Leclercq, Les pontifes de l’ancienne Rome, p. 196.
[3 ] The extant Leges Regiae are to be found in Bruns, Fontes juris Romani antiqui, I. 1.
[1 ] Dionys. iii. 36; Pompon. in Dig. 1. 2. 2 36.
[2 ] Liv. vi. 1.
[3 ] Paulus in Dig. 50. 16 144; Censorinus, De Die Nat. iii 2.
[4 ] Clark, Practical Jurisprudence, p. 17 Nettleship (Contributions to Latin Lexicography, p. 497) enumerates the following senses of jus in Latin literature:—(1) a law court (e. g. in the phrases ‘In jus ducere,’ ‘Res est in jure’), (2) a bond or tie (e g in the phrases ‘Jus amicitiae,’ ‘Jura necessitudinis’), (3) power, authority, (4) right to do a thing, (5) law, or a system of law, (6) what is right and fair, (7) the plural jura means either (a) rights or (b) rules of law, ordinances, decisions, and so authority.
[1 ] See note 4, p. xv.
[2 ] On this branch of Public Law see Mommsen, Staatsr. i, p. 172.
[1 ] This procedure is illustrated by the Lex Bantina (Bruns, Fontes, iii. 9). It is there ordained ‘Eam pequniam quei volet magistratus exsigito. Sei postulabit quei petet, pi (aetor) recuperatores . . dato . . . facitoque joudicetur.’
[1 ] This procedure is illustrated by the Lex Bantina (Bruns, Fontes, iii. 9). It is there ordained ‘Eam pequniam quei volet magistratus exsigito. Sei postulabit quei petet, pi (aetor) recuperatores . . dato . . . facitoque joudicetur.’
[2 ] Compare the procedure ordained by the Lex agraria of 111 b. c. (Bruns, Fontes, iii. 11), ll. 36-39.
[1 ] Gaius, iv 11.
[2 ] Cic. de Rep. v. 2, 3.
[3 ] Savigny, System des röm. Rechts, vi. p. 287; Bernhöft, Staat und Recht dei Konigszeit, p. 230.
[1 ] Compare Ridgeway, The early age of Greece, p. 257. ‘We may conclude that the two main elements in the population of early Rome were the aboriginal Ligurians, who formed the Plebs, and the Umbrian Sabines, who formed the aristocracy’ The evidence is perhaps not sufficient to warrant so definite a conclusion; but the more that I have dwelt on the lack of homogeneity in early Roman life, the more definite has become my conviction that we have to deal with racial, not merely with social, differences.
[2 ] ‘Gentiles sunt . . . quorum majorum nemo servitutem servivit’ (Cic Top. 6. 29).
[1 ] Cf Savigny, Recht des Besitzes (seventh edition), p. 202
[2 ] If we believe that the Servian census was intended to create liability to service for Plebeians. Cf. p. xxv.
[3 ] This seems shown by the continuance of the use of the word assidui for the members of the Servian Classes.
[4 ] Cic. pro Flacco, 32. 80.
[1 ] Liv. iii. 57.
[2 ] See Pais, Storia di Roma, i. 1, p 584 He describes the law of the Tables as the result of a fusion of the rude national law with the more civilized dispositions of Greek culture.
[3 ] Cf Voigt, XII Tafeln, 1, p. 14.
[1 ] Cf. Diod. xii. 26 δὲ γραεσα νομοθεσία, βραχέως κα περίττως συγκειμένη, διέμεινε θαυμαζομένη μέχρι τν καθ’ μς καιρν.
[2 ] Cic. de Rep 11. 37, 63.
[3 ] Liv. iii. 34.
[4 ] Gaius, i. 111.
[5 ] Gaius, i. 132.
[6 ] Ulpian, Reg. ii 4.
[1 ] Cic. de Inv ii. 50 148; [Cic.] ad Her. i. 13 23; Gaius, ii 224.
[2 ] Ulpian in Collatio, 16. 4. 2.
[3 ] Gell. xv. 13 11; xx. 1 45.
[4 ] Tac Ann. vi. 16.
[5 ] Cato, de Re Rust. praef.
[6 ] Bruns, Fontes, i. 2, Tab. i.
[7 ] Cic. de Or. i. 41 185; ad Att vi. 1 8; Liv. ix 46 5
[8 ] Cic ad Att. l. c; pro Mur. 11. 25; Liv. l. c.; Plin. H. N xxxiii 1. 17.
[9 ] Macrob. i. 13. 21.
[10 ] Liv. vi. 1, Cic. ad Att. l. c.
[1 ] Gell xx. 1. 12-14
[2 ] Plin H. N. xviii. 3 12.
[3 ] Cic. de Rep. iv. 10. 12.
[4 ] Marcian in Dig 48. 4 3.
[5 ] Cic. de Rep. ii 31. 54.
[6 ] Cic de Leg. iii 4. 11.
[7 ] Cic de Leg l. c
[8 ] Decl in Catil 19
[9 ] Gaius in Dig 47. 22. 4.
[10 ] ‘Ut quodcumque postremum populus jussisset, id jus ratumque esset’ (Liv. vii. 17).
] The scheme was as follows:—
18 centuries, chosen from the richer classes (Dionys. iv. 18), but probably with no fixed property qualification.
|1st classis—||100,000 asses (Liv i. 43, Dionys. iv. 16, Polyb. vi. 23); 120,000 asses (Plin. H N. xxxiii 3, Festus, p. 113).|
|Seniores, 40 centuries||} 80|
|Juniores, 40 centuries||} 80|
|2nd classis—||75,000 asses (Livy and Dionysius).|
|Seniores, 10 centuries||} 20|
|Juniores, 10 centuries||} 20|
|3rd classis—||50,000 asses (Livy and Dionysius).|
|Seniores, 10 centuries||} 20|
|Juniores, 10 centuries||} 20|
|4th classis—||25,000 asses (Livy and Dionysius).|
|Seniores, 10 centuries||} 20|
|Juniores, 10 centuries||} 20|
|5th classis—||11,000 asses (Livy); 12,500 (12½ minae, Dionysius).|
|Seniores, 15 centuries||} 30|
|Juniores, 15 centuries||} 30|
|Fabri—2||centuries (voting with the 1st class, Livy; with the 2nd class, Dionysius).||} 5 centuries (Livy).|
|Accensi, cornicines, tibicines, 3 centuries, Livy; 2 centuries, Dionysius (voting with the 4th class, Dionysius)||} 4 centuries (Dionysius).|
|Capite censi or Proletarii, 1 century (Livy). 1 century.|
|Total 193 or 194 centuries.|
[2 ] Cf. Liv. i. 43. He describes the new organization as existing ‘post expletas quinque et triginta tribus.’ Yet he does not say that it began its existence at that date. Mommsen (Staatsrecht, iii, p. 270) conjecturally assigns the change to the censorship of C Flaminius (220 b. c).
[3 ] This system was first suggested by Pantagathus, who died in 1657.
[1 ] Mommsen’s system (Staatsr. iii, p 275) is different, and is based on the view that the description given by Cicero (de Rep. ii. 22, 39, 40) refers, not to the older arrangement, but to the reformed Comitia. Mommsen allows the 70 votes for the 70 centuries of the first class, but thinks that the 280 centuries of the other classes were combined so as to form only 100 votes. The total votes in the Comitia would thus be 70 + 100 + 5 (Fabri, &c) + 18 (Knights); i. e. 193 in all, as in the earlier arrangement.
[2 ] App. Bell. Civ. i. 59.
[3 ] This Comitia seems still to have met for formal business as late as the third century a d. At least Dio Cassius (Consul 219 or 220 a. d) describes the flying of the flag from the Janiculum as a custom still surviving in his day (xxxvii. 28).
[4 ] P. xxix.
[5 ] This was the view taken by Mommsen (Staatsr. iii, pp. 182, 184) He held (ii, p. 403) that Appius Claudius, the censor of 312 b. c, first included the landless citizens in the tribes (cf. Girard, Manuel. p. 31); but our authorities (Diod. xx 46, Liv ix 46) only represent Appius Claudius as allowing citizens to be registered where they pleased, and as spreading the lower classes (humiles) over all the tribes. The definition which we possess of the Comitia Tributa (Laelius Felix ap. Gell xv. 27) speaks of it only as an assembly at which the votes are given ‘ex regionibus et locis.’
[1 ] Liv ii. 56. Previously it had probably met by Curiae. Hence the tradition that the early tribunes were elected in the Comitia Curiata (Liv. l. c., Cic. ap. Ascon. in Cornelian. p. 76).
[2 ] When the Tables enacted ‘De capite civis nisi per maximum comitiatum . . . ne ferunto’ (Cic de Leg iii 4 11), this mention of the ‘greatest Comitia’ (i. e. the Comitia Centuriata) seems to imply the existence of a lesser Comitia with judicial powers; and the latter could scarcely have been the Comitia Curiata of the period.
[3 ] Liv vii. 16
[4 ] For the application of the lex curiata to the minor magistracies, as well as to those with Imperium, see Messala ap. Gell. xiii. 15 4 ‘Minoribus creatis magistratibus tributis comitiis magistratus, sed justus curiata datur lege.’
[5 ] Cic. de Leg. Ag[Editor: illegible]. ii. 12. 31
[6 ] Gaius, ii. 101; Gell. xv. 27.
[1 ] Gell. l. c
[2 ] P. xxi.
[3 ] Laelius Felix ap. Gell. xv. 27 ‘Is qui non [ut] universum populum, sed partem aliquam adesse jubet, non “comitia,” sed “concilium” edicere debet.’ See Mommsen, Staatsr. iii, p 149.
[4 ] Strachan-Davidson, starting from the view that Plebiscita were originally sent as petitions to the consuls and senate (cf. Dionys. x. 31), suggests that the Valerio Horatian law may have ‘laid down that the consul must so consult the senate, or it may even have forbidden him arbitrarily to disregard a recommendation of the senate (should such be obtained) that he should put the question to the populus’; and that the Publilian law ‘may have struck out the intervening consultation of the senate, and may have required the consul to bring the petition of the plebs at once before the populus’ (Smith, Dict. of Antiq. ii, p. 439).
[5 ] Gaius, i. 3; Pompon. in Dig. 1. 2. 2. 8.
[1 ] We know, at least, that some of Sulla’s legislation was effected through the Comitia Centuriata (Cic pro Dom. 30 79).
[2 ] Thus, Cicero was exiled by a Plebiscitum, but restored by a Lex Centuriata.
[3 ] App. Bell. Civ. i. 59.
[4 ] Cic. ad Att. v. 21. 13.
[5 ] Ascon in Cornelian. p. 58.
[6 ] Cic. pro Domo, 16. 41; Ascon. in Cornelian. p. 68.
[7 ] Hence the saving clause in enactments, ‘Si quid sacri sancti est quod non jure sit rogatum, ejus hac lege nihil rogatur’ (Probus). Cf. Cic. pro Caec. 33. 95.
[1 ] P. xl.
[2 ] Liv. vi. 42.
[3 ] Liv. Ep. 19. The date is not quite certain. Lydus (de Mag. i. 38) places the event in 247 b. c. See Mommsen, Staatsr. ii, p. 196.
[1 ] See Wlassak, Edict und Klageform.
[2 ] P. xl.
[1 ] ‘Adjuvandi vel supplendi vel corrigendi juris civilis gratia propter utilitatem publicam’ (Papin. in Dig. 1. 1 7. 1).
[2 ] It has sometimes been thought that Peregrini were wholly excluded from the use of the Legis Actio. See Girard, Manuel, p. 110.
[3 ] Dig. 21. 1; Cic. de Off. iii. 17. 71; Gell. iv. 2.
[4 ] Cic. in Verr. i. 45. 117.
[5 ] Cic. ad Fam. iii. 8. 4.
[1 ] Cicero thus sketches the contents of the whole edict which he published as governor of Cilicia (ad Att. vi. 1. 15):—‘Unum (genus) est provinciale, in quo est de rationibus civitatum, de aere alieno, de usura, de syngraphis; in eodem omnia de publicanis. Alterum, quod sine edicto satis commode transigi non potest, de hereditatum possessionibus, de bonis possidendis vendendis, magistris faciendis: quae ex edicto et postulari et fieri solent Tertium, de reliquo jure dicundo γραον reliqui. Dixi me de eo genere mea decreta ad edicta urbana accommodaturum.’
[2 ] Clark, Practical Jurisprudence, p. 354. On the content of the Jus Gentium see Nettleship, Contributions to Latin Lexicography, p. 503; Mommsen, Staatsr. iii, p. 604.
[1 ] Festus, p. 274: ‘Reciperatio est, ut ait Gallus Aelius, cum inter populum et reges nationesque et civitates peregrinas lex convenit quomodo per reciperatores reddantur res reciperenturque, resque privatas inter se persequantur.’
[2 ] P. xxxi.
[1 ] Arist Rhet. i. 13.
[2 ] Arist. Eth. v. 7.
[3 ] ‘Cum jure naturali omnes liberi nascerentur’ (Ulpian in Dig. 1. 1 4).
[4 ] See Muirhead, Historical Introduction to the Private Law of Rome, p. 281. ‘While the jus civile studied the interests only of citizens, and the jus gentium those of freemen irrespective of nationality, the law of nature had theoretically a wider range and took all mankind within its purview.’ Compare Carlyle, Mediaeval Political Theory in the West, ch. 3 (‘The Theory of the Law of Nature’).
[1 ] Ulpian in Dig. 44. 7. 14: ‘Servi . . . ex contractibus . . . civiliter . . . non obligantur; sed naturaliter et obligantur et obligant.’
[2 ] ‘Melior condicio nostra per servos fieri potest, deterior fieri non potest’ (Gaius in Dig. 50. 17. 133).
[3 ] Gaius, iv. 69-74; Justin. Inst. iv. 7.
[1 ] Pompon. in Dig. 1. 2. 2. 38.
[2 ] Pompon. l c.; cf Cic. de Leg. ii. 23. 59; de Or. i. 56. 240; Brut. 20. 78; de Rep. i. 18. 30.
[3 ] Cic. de Leg. ii. 23 59; de Amic. 2. 6. He is called Atilius by Pomponius (l. c.). See Schöll, Legis duodecim tabularum reliquiae, p. 25.
[4 ] Teuffel-Schwabe, Geschichte der romischen Litteratur, § 125; Schöll, op. cit. p. 26.
[5 ] Schöll, op. cit. pp. 11, 15.
[6 ] Sometimes written ‘Manius.’
[1 ] See Roby, Introduction to the Study of Justinian’s Digest, pp. 95-124
[2 ] On the characteristics of the study of law during this period see Kruger, Geschichte der Quellen und Litteratur des römischen Rechts, pp. 48 foll.
[3 ] Cic. de Or. i. 45 199-200, ‘Quid est enim praeclarius, quam honoribus et rei publicae muneribus perfunctum senem posse suo jure dicere idem, quod apud Ennium dicat ille Pythius Apollo, se esse eum, unde sibi si non populi et reges, at omnes sui cives consilium expetant . . . Est enim sine dubio domus jurisconsulti totius oraculum civitatis.’
[4 ] These three functions are summed up by Cicero in the words agere, cavere, respondere See Cic. de Or. i. 48 212: ‘Sin autem quaereretur, quisnam jurisconsultus vere nominaretur, eum dicerem, qui legum et consuetudinis ejus, qua privati in civitate uterentur, et ad respondendum et ad agendum et ad cavendum peritus esset.’ Cf Kruger, op. cit. p. 49.
[5 ] Cic. de Or. iii. 33. 133.
[6 ] Cic. pro Mur. 9 19. Cicero here describes the ‘urbanam militiam respondendi, scribendi, cavendi’ The interpretation that I have given to scribere is that of Kruger, op. cit. p. 50. Cf. Cic. Top. i. 1. 4.
[7 ] Cic. Orator, 41. 142, 42. 143.
[8 ] Cic. Top. 14. 56.
[9 ] Kruger, op. cit. p. 51.
[1 ] Cic. de Or. i. 38. 173; 57. 241, 242; pro Mur. 12 27; 13 28.
[2 ] Pompon in Dig. 1. 2. 2. 44: ‘De jurisdictione idem (Ofilius) edictum praetoris primus diligenter composuit.’
[3 ] Suet. Jul. 44. Ofilius’ intimacy with Caesar is noticed by Pomponius (Dig l. c).
[4 ] The civil procedure of the judicia ordinaria survived the Principate. When the criminal procedure of the quaestiones perpetuae disappeared is unknown. Their disappearance has been placed as early as the close of the first century a. d. (Geib, Criminalprocess, pp. 392-397). But it has been thought that Dio Cassius (lii 20, 21) implies their existence in his own time, at the beginning of the third century a. d.
[5 ] Gaius, iv. 30; Gell. xvi. 10. 8. The date of the law is unknown, but is not likely to be earlier than 150 b. c. Girard (Manuel, p. 987) finds indications for placing it between 149 and 126 b. c.
[1 ] Liv. xliii. 2.
[2 ] Cic. Brut. 27. 106; de Off. ii. 21. 75.
[3 ] Yet it is to be observed that Gaius, in his statement of the sources of law (i. 2), puts those which were antiquated in his time (Lex and Plebiscitum) on the same level as those which were living. The statement is juristically correct, in so far as the body of Roman law in his time had sprung from all these sources; but the method of statement is likely to convey a false historical implication. Cf pp. xlv-xlviii
[1 ] We may instance the view of Caligula on the jus respondendi of the jurisconsults. Suetonius says (Calig. 34) ‘De juris quoque consultis, quasi scientiae eorum omnem usum aboliturus, saepe jactavit “se mehercule effecturum ne quid respondere possint praeter eum.” ’ This was a desire that found no fulfilment during the Principate.
[1 ] The document is to be found in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vi. n. 930, and in Bruns, Fontes Juris Romani Antiqui, v. 19. It describes itself as a law (l. 34 ‘Si quis hujusce legis ergo,’ &c.), and is generally known as the Lex de imperio Vespasiani. But its wording bears more analogy to that of a Senatusconsultum. It seems to be a decree of the Senate which is intended to be submitted to the People for their formal assent. See Mommsen, Staatsr. ii, p. 878.
[1 ] Gaius, i. 5; Ulpian in Dig. 1. 4. 1: ‘Quod principi placuit, legis habet vigorem; utpote cum lege regia, quae de imperio ejus lata est, populus ei et in eum omne suum imperium et potestatem conferat.’ It has been questioned whether the expression lex regia was in vogue even in the time of Ulpian, and it may be an interpolation. The expression is found in Justinian (Cod. 1. 17. 1. 7). See Mommsen, Staatsr. ii, pp. 876, 877.
[1 ] Lex de Imp. Vesp. l. 17.
[2 ] Dig. 47 21. 3. 1.
[3 ] Thus the S. C. Velleianum beings: ‘Quod Marcus Silanus et Velleus Tutor consules verba fecerunt . . . quid de ea re fieri oportet, de ea re ita censuere.’ See Kruger, op. cit. p. 82.
[1 ] Gaius, i. 4. Cf. Ulpian in Dig. 1. 3 9 ‘Non ambigitur senatum jus facere posse’ Papinian (Dig 1 1. 7) recognizes senatusconsulta as a source of jus.
[2 ] Lex de Imp. Vesp l. 17 ‘Utique quaecunque ex usu rei publicae [Editor:illegible] censebit, ei agere facere jus potestasque sit.’
[3 ] P. xl.
[4 ] Victor, Caes. 19 ‘Primus edictum quod varie inconditeque a praetoribus promebatur in ordinem composuit.’ Eutrop. viii. 17 ‘Perpetuum conposuit edictum’
[5 ] Cod. 1. 17. 2. 18; Constitution Δέδωκεν (prefixed to Digest), 18
[1 ] We hear of the Edictum Aedilium in the Constitutions ‘Omnem’ (4) and Δέδωκεν (5) prefixed to the Digest.
[2 ] It is possible that the common elements in the provincial edicts were reduced to a system at this time. Cf. p xxxiii.
[3 ] Paulus (Dig. 28. 2. 26) uses the expression ‘Jam sublato edicto divi Augusti,’ a phrase which suggests something more than mere neglect.
[1 ] Gaius, i. 5 Cf Ulpian in Dig. 1. 4 1 1 ‘Quodcumque . . . imperator per epistulam et subscriptionem statuit vel cognoscens decrevit . . . vel edicto praecepit, legem esse constat. Haec sunt quas vulgo constitutiones appellamus.’
[2 ] Thus the soldier’s testament was created by a series of mandates (Dig. 29. 1. 1).
[3 ] Such a delegate might be given by the consuls when exercising extraordinary jurisdiction (Gell. xii 13. 1 ‘Cum Romae a consulibus judex extra ordinem datus pronuntiare . . . jussus essem’). Such a judex represented the magistrate more fully than the judex of ordinary jurisdiction. He was not tied down within the limits of a formula.
[1 ] This was done by the fiction of In integrum restitutio. Cf. Suet. Claud. 14 ‘(Claudius) iis, qui apud privatos judices plus petendo formula excidissent, restituit actiones.’
[2 ] The Emperor Gordian is spoken of as παλινδικίαν διδος τος δίκως κατακριθεσι (Herodian, vii. 6. 4).
[3 ] Ulpian in Dig. 49. 2 1. 2 ‘Sciendum est appellari a senatu non posse principem, idque oratione divi Hadriani effectum.’ There can be little doubt that the principle was confirmed, not created, by Hadrian.
[4 ] Nero at the beginning of his reign in 54 a. d professed a desire to restore the original principle (Tac. Ann. xiii. 4 ‘Teneret antiqua munia senatus, consulum tribunalibus Italia et publicae provinciae adsisterent’).
[1 ] Pomponius in the Digest (1. 2. 48-50) says ‘Massurius Sabinus (of the time of Tiberius) in equestri ordine fuit et publice primus respondit’; but he also adds: ‘Primus divus Augustus, ut major juris auctoritas haberetur, constituit, ut ex auctoritate ejus responderent’ To make the statements square with one another, Mommsen would strike out the words ‘fuit et’ in the first paragraph, as being the addition of an interpolator. The statement would then be that Sabinus was the first patented jurisconsult of equestrian rank.
[2 ] This seems shown by the story told by Pomponius in Dig. 1 2. 2. 49.
[3 ] Yet the response was not regarded as a delegation of the power of the Princeps to issue Rescripts It may, however, have formed the model for the judicial Rescript. See Krüger, op. cit. p. 110, note 5
[4 ] Not merely to the Judex privatus, but to the Judex extra ordinem datus, and even to the magistrate who was judging
[5 ] Justin. Inst. i. 2. 8.
[6 ] Krüger, op. cit. p. 110.
[7 ] Gaius, i. 7.
[8 ] For a detailed description of this literature see Roby, Introduction to the Study of Justinian’s Digest, pp. 124-174.
[1 ] P. xlvii.
[2 ] These passages in inverted commas are taken from Mr Poste’s preface to the third edition of his work.
[1 ] It is a curious fact that Gaios (Γάιος) is found as the name of an Asiatic (Gaios, son of Hermaeus, one of the σύντροοι of Mithridates Eupator, King of Pontus. See Delian inscription in Th. Reinach, Mithridate Eupator, roi du Pont, p. 52, and Plut. Pomp. 42). Yet, if Gaius the jurist was a Roman citizen, we should have expected him to bear a Roman, or Romanised, name.
[1 ] Cf p. xxxiii and p. xlvii, note 2.
[2 ] Cod. Theod. 1. 4. 8.
§ 4. A senatusconsult is a command and ordinance of the senate, and has the force of a statute, a point which was formerly controverted.
§ 5. A constitution is law established by the emperor either by decree, edict, or letter; and was always recognized as having the force of a statute, since it is by a statute that the emperor himself acquires supreme executive power.
§ 1.Jurisprudence treats exclusively of positive law: the exclusive origin of positive law is some positive enactment; the term positive enactment including both the express or direct enactments of the political sovereign, and the implied, indirect, circuitous enactments imported by the sovereign’s acquiescence in the ruling of subordinate authorities. (See Holland’s Jurisprudence, chs. 2-5.)
The rules and principles denoted by the terms praetor-made law, jurist-made law, judge-made law, are only law because they are impliedly adopted, confirmed, and ratified by the silent acquiescence of the sovereign.
The organ by which the jus gentium of the Romans was promulgated, which made it by indirect enactment a portion of Roman Positive law, was principally the Edict of the Praetor. The relations of Roman citizens with aliens (peregrini), that is, with the members of foreign states formerly subjugated by Rome and now living under the protection of Roman law, as well as of aliens in their intercourse with one another, became, about 242 b. c., so frequent as to be made subject to the jurisdiction of a special minister of justice called Praetor peregrinus, who, like the Praetor urbanus, published an annual edict announcing the principles on which justice would be administered. These principles composed jus gentium as opposed to jus civium. Jus gentium, that is to say, was not really, as Roman jurists imagined or represented, a collection of the principles common to the legislation of all nations, but a body of rules which the Roman praetor thought worthy to govern the intercourse of Roman citizens with the members of all, originally independent, but now subject, foreign nations.
Gradually the rules originating in this way were extended to the intercourse of citizens with citizens, in cases where the rigorous conditions of jus civile were not exactly satisfied, and so precepts of jus gentium were transferred from the edict of praetor peregrinus to the edict of praetor urbanus.
The portion of the edict most fertile in principles of jus gentium would be the clauses in which the praetor announced, as he did in some cases, that he would instruct the judex, whom he appointed to hear and determine a controversy, to govern himself by a consideration of what was aequum et bonum, i. e. by his views of equity and expediency: and if any of the oral formularies of the earliest system of procedure (legis actiones) contained these or equivalent terms, such formularies may be regarded as a source of jus gentium. It may be observed that Gaius does not, like some other Roman jurists and notably Ulpian (cf. Dig. 1, 1, 1, 3; Inst. 1, 2 pr.), make any distinction between jus gentium and jus naturale. There is nothing in his writings, as they have come down to us, to draw attention to the fact that the teaching of nature may not be in accordance with the practice of nations, as the institution of slavery showed.
Another organ of quasi publication, whereby the rules of jus gentium were transformed from ideal law to positive law—from laws of Utopia to laws of Rome—were the writings of the jurists, who, at first with the tacit, afterwards with the express permission of the legislature, engaged, nominally in interpreting, really in extending the law, about the time of Cicero (De Legibus, § 1, 5), transferred to the edict of the praetor the activity which they had formerly displayed in developing the law of the Twelve Tables and the statutes of the Comitia. By these means, supplemented and confirmed by statute law and custom, the jus gentium gradually increased in importance, and gave the Roman empire its universal law.
Jus civile, i. e. jus civium or law peculiar to citizens, was the law of the Twelve Tables, augmented by subsequent legislation, by juristic interpretation, and by consuetudinary law. The institutions of jus civile may be exemplified by such titles to property as Mancipatio and In Jure Cessio, contracts by the form of Nexum and Sponsio, title to intestate succession by Agnatio or civil relationship; while corresponding institutions of jus gentium were the acquisition of property by Tradition, contract by Stipulation without the solemn term Spondeo, title to intestate succession by Cognatio or natural relationship. Other departments of life were not subject to parallel institutes of jus civile and jus gentium, but the mutual relations of citizens with citizens as well as of citizens with aliens were exclusively controlled by jus gentium: e. g. the informal contracts called Consensual, such as buying and selling, letting and hiring, partnership; and the informal contracts called Real, such as the contract of loan for use or loan for consumption.
Titles to ownership (jus in rem), according to jus gentium, which ultimately superseded civil titles, are explained at x-large in Book II.
In respect of Obligation (jus in personam), jus gentium may be divided into two classes, according to the degree in which it was recognized by Civil law:—
A. A portion of jus gentium was recognized as a ground of Action. To this class belong (1) the simple or Formless contracts to which we have alluded, (2) obligations to indemnify grounded on delict, (3) rights quasi ex contractu to recover property when it has been lost by one side and gained by the other without any right to retain it. Dig. 12, 6, 14 and Dig. 25, 2, 25. Actions founded on this obligation to restore (condictiones), although it was a species of naturalis obligatio, Dig. 12, 6, 15 pr., were as rigorous (stricti juris) as any in the Civil code. In these cases the obligatio, though naturalis as founded in jus gentium, yet, as actionable, was said to be civilis obligatio, not naturalis, Dig. 19, 5, 5, 1.
The two eminently Civil spheres of the law of obligation were (1) specialty or Formal contracts, and (2) penal suits. Yet even into these provinces jus gentium forced a partial entrance. We shall see that aliens could be parties to a Stipulatio or Verbal contract, though not by the Civil formulary, Spondeo 3 § 93; and to Transcriptio, at least of one kind, 3 § 133, which was a form of Literal contract; and could be made plaintiffs or defendants in penal suits by means of the employment of certain Fictions, 4 § 37. This, however, was rather the extension of jus civile to aliens than the intrusion of jus gentium into a Civil province.
B. Other rights and obligations of jus gentium were not admitted as direct grounds for maintaining an action, yet were otherwise noticed by the institutes of civil jurisprudence and indirectly enforced. Thus a merely naturalis obligatio, though not actionable, might (1) furnish a ground of an equitable defence (exceptio): for instance, on payment of a merely natural debt the receiver has a right of retention, and can bar the suit to recover it back as a payment made in error (condictio indebiti soluti) by pleading the naturalis obligatio, Dig. 12, 6, 64; or the defendant can meet a claim by Compensatio, 4 § 61, cross demand or set-off, of a debt that rests on merely naturalis obligatio, Dig. 40, 7, 20, 2: or a merely naturalis obligatio might (2) form the basis of an accessory obligation, such as Suretyship (fidejussio) 3 § 119 a, or Guaranty (constitutum) Dig. 13, 5, 1, 7, or Mortgage (pignus) Dig. 20, 1, 5 pr., or Novation, 3 § 176, Dig. 46, 2, 1, 1, all institutions, which are themselves direct grounds of action. Though these rights and obligations of natural law are imperfect (obligatio tantum naturalis) as not furnishing immediate grounds of action, yet, as being partially and indirectly enforced by Roman tribunals, they clearly compose a portion of Positive law. Cf. 3 §§ 88, 89 comm.
Edicts were legislative ordinances issued by the emperor in virtue of the jurisdiction appertaining to him as highest magistrate, and were analogous to the edicts of the praetors and aediles. In the time of Gaius they had only binding force during the life of the emperor who issued them, requiring the confirmation of his successor for their continuing validity; but from the reign of Diocletian, when the empire assumed an autocratic form, their duration ceased to be thus limited.
Decreta were judicial decisions made by the emperor as the highest appellate tribunal: or in virtue of his magisterial jurisdiction, and analogous to the extraordinaria cognitio of the praetor.
Epistolae or rescripta were answers to inquiries addressed to the emperor by private parties or by judges. They may be regarded as interpretations of law by the emperor as the most authoritative juris peritus. Cf. § 94 comm.
Some examples of direct legal changes made by early emperors are recorded, as the right conferred by the edict of Claudius mentioned in § 32 c of this book.
The words of Gaius explaining why constitutions had the force of law seem to be imperfect, and may be supplemented from Justinian, who openly asserts for himself absolute authority: Sed et quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem: cum lege regia, quae de imperio ejus lata est, populus ei et in eum omne suum imperium et potestatem concessit, Inst. 1, 2, 6. The lex imperii, Cod. 6, 23, 6, was called in this and in the corresponding passage of the Digest (1, 4, 1) attributed to Ulpian, lex regia, in memory of the lex curiata, whereby the kings were invested with regal power. According to Cicero the king was proposed by the senate and elected by the Comitia Curiata, and the election was ratified in a second assembly presided over by the king: e. g. Numam Pompilium regem, patribus auctoribus, sibi ipse populus adscivit, qui ut huc venit, quanquam populus curiatis eum comitiis regem esse jusserat, tamen ipse de suo imperio curiatam legem tulit, De Republ. 2, 13. According to Mommsen and other modern writers, however, the later Roman idea, that the king was elected by the Comitia, is wrong, the lex curiata having been passed, not to elect a king, but merely to ratify a previous election or nomination. A lex curiata was also passed to confer on a Roman magistratus his imperium, and similarly the Roman emperor derived some of his powers from leges, but it seems a mistake to suppose that in the time of the principate a single lex gave him his entire authority. A fragment of a bronze tablet, on which was inscribed the lex investing Vespasian with sovereign powers, was discovered at Rome in the fourteenth century, and is still preserved in the Capitol.
All the higher magistrates of Rome were accustomed to issue edicts or proclamations. Thus the consuls convoked the comitia, the army, the senate, by edict: the censors proclaimed the approaching census by edict: the aediles issued regulations for the market by edict: and magistrates with jurisdiction published edicts announcing the rules they would observe in the administration of justice, the Edicts of the Praetor urbanus, Praetor peregrinus, Aediles curules being called Edicta urbana, while the Edicts of the governors of provinces were called Edicta provincialia. These edicts, besides being orally proclaimed, were written on white tablets (in albo) and suspended in the forum: apud forum palam ubi de plano legi possit, Probus, ‘in the forum in an open space where persons standing on the ground may read.’ Such an edict was always published on entering on office (est enim tibi jam, cum magistratum inieris et in concionem adscenderis, edicendum quae sis observaturus in jure dicendo, Cic. De Fin. 2, 22), and was then called Edictum perpetuum, as opposed to occasional proclamations, Edictum repentinum. A clause (pars, caput, clausula, edictum) retained from a former edict was called Edictum tralaticium, Gellius, 3, 18; and though doubtless the edicts gradually changed according to changing emergencies, each succeeding praetor with very slight modifications substantially reproduced the edict of his predecessor. In the reign of Hadrian the jurist Salvius Julianus, called by Justinian Praetoriani edicti ordinator, reduced the edict to its definite form, and if the yearly publication was not discontinued (cf. § 6, jus edicendi habent), at all events Julian’s co-ordination of Praetorian law was embodied in all subsequent publications. Such was the origin of jus honorarium (praetorium, aedilicium), as opposed to jus civile: and from what has preceded, it need hardly be stated that the antithesis, jus civile, jus honorarium, is to a great extent coincident with the antithesis, jus civile, jus gentium.
It may be observed that Gaius does not attribute to edicts the force of a statute: and this theoretical inferiority of jus honorarium had a vast influence in modelling the forms and proceedings of Roman jurisprudence. The remedy or redress administered to a plaintiff who based his claim on jus civile differed from that administered on an appeal to jus honorarium, as we shall see when we come to treat of Bonitary ownership, Bonorum possessio, Actio utilis, in factum, ficticia. This difference of remedy preserved jus civile pure and uncontaminated, or at least distinguishable from jus honorarium; but this perpetuation of the memory of the various origins of the law, like the analogous distinction of Equity and Common law in English jurisprudence, was purchased by sacrificing simplicity of rule and uniformity of process.
The legislative power of the popular assembly and the absence of legislative power in the senate and praetor were marked by a difference of style in the lex and plebiscite, edict, and decree of the senate: while the lex and plebiscite employed the imperative (damnas esto, jus potestasque esto, &c.), the resolutions of the senate scrupulously avoid the imperative and are clothed in the forms placere, censere, arbitrari, &c., as if they were rather recommendations than commands: and the edicts and the interdicts of the praetor are couched in the subjunctive (Exhibeas, Restituas, &c.), a milder form of imperative. Or to show that their force and operation is limited to his own tenure of office, they are expressed in the first person (actionem dabo, ratum habebo, vim fieri veto). Where he has authority to command he shows it by using the imperative, as in addressing the litigants (mittite ambo hominem, inite viam, redite, 4 § 13 comm.) or the judge (judex esto, condemnato, absolvito). Ihering, § 47.
In the first period of the empire, that is, in the first three centuries of our era, it was the policy of the emperors to maintain a certain show of republican institutions, and the administration of the empire was nominally divided between the princeps or emperor and the people as represented by the senate. Thus, at Rome there were two sets of magistrates, the old republican magistrates with little real power, consuls, praetors, tribunes, quaestors, in outward form elected by the people; and the imperial nominees with much greater real authority, under the name of praefecti, the praefectus urbi, praefectus praetorio, praefectus vigilum, praefectus annonae, praefectus aerario; for though nominally the people and princeps had their separate treasuries under the name of aerarium and fiscus, yet the treasury of the people was not managed by quaestors as in the time of the republic, but by an official appointed by the emperor. Similarly the provinces were divided between the people and the prince, the people administering those which were peaceful and unwarlike, the prince those which required the presence of an army. The governor of a province, whether of the people or the emperor, was called Praeses Provinciae. The Praeses of a popular province was a Proconsul, and the chief subordinate functionaries were Legati, to whom was delegated the civil jurisdiction, and quaestors, who exercised a jurisdiction corresponding to that of the aediles in Rome. The emperor himself was in theory the Proconsul of an imperial province; but the actual governor, co-ordinate with the Proconsul of a senatorial province, was the Legatus Caesaris, while the financial administration and fiscal jurisdiction were committed to a functionary called Procurator Caesaris, instead of the republican Quaestor. Sometimes the same person united the office of Procurator and Legatus, as, for instance, Pontius Pilate.
As to the mode of collecting the opinions of the juris auctores no precise information has come down to us, but § 6 shows that the duty of the judex, in the not uncommon event of the authorities differing in their opinions on a case, was open to doubt, till Hadrian’s rescript allowed him under these circumstances to adopt the opinion he preferred. It may be gathered from the words ‘quorum omnium’ that all authorized jurists had to be consulted. The jus respondendi, as thus explained, may have continued in existence till the end of the third century, by which time the originative force of Roman jurisprudence had ceased. Instead of giving independent opinions jurists had become officials of the emperor, advising him in drawing rescripts and other affairs of imperial government. Legal authority rested in the writings of deceased juris auctores. (For a discussion of the causes of the decline of Roman Jurisprudence see Grueber’s Art. in Law Quarterly Review, vii. 70.) In the course of centuries the accumulation of juristic writings of co-ordinate authority was a serious embarrassment to the tribunals. To remedy this evil, a. d. 426, Valentinian III enacted what is called the law of citations, Cod. Theodosianus, 1, 4, 3, limiting legal authority to the opinions of five jurists, Gaius, Papinian, Ulpian, Paulus, Modestinus, and of any other jurists whom these writers quoted, provided that such quotations should be verified by reference to the original writings of these jurists (codicum collatione firmentur—on the question of the way of interpreting these words cf. Sohm, p. 122, n. 1, § 21). In case of a divergence of opinion, the authorities were to be counted, and the majority was to prevail. In case of an equal division of authorities, the voice of Papinian was to prevail. a. d. 533, Justinian published his Digest or Pandects, a compilation of extracts from the writings of the jurists, to which, subject to such modifications as his commissioners had made in them, he gives legislative authority. Every extract, accordingly, is called a lex, and the remainder of the writings of the jurists is pronounced to be absolutely void of authority. To prevent the recurrence of the evil which his codification was intended to remove, and confident in the lucidity and adequacy of his Digest and Code, which latter is a compilation of imperial statute law after the model of the Theodosian code, Justinian prohibits for the future the composition of any juristic treatise or commentary on the laws. If any one should disregard the prohibition, the books are to be destroyed and the author punished as guilty of forgery (falsitas), Cod. 1, 17, 2, 21. The constitutions enacted by Justinian subsequent to the publication of his code are called Novellae, Constitutiones or Novels.
We shall find frequent allusions, as we proceed in this treatise, to the existence of rival schools among the Roman juris auctores. This divergence of the schools dates from the first elevation of the jurist to a species of public functionary, namely, from the reign of Augustus, in whose time, as we have seen, certain jurists began to be invested by imperial diploma with a public authority. In his reign the rival oracles were M. Antistius Labeo and C. Ateius Capito: Hi duo primum veluti diversas sectas fecerunt, Dig. 1, 2, 47. ‘The first founders of the two opposing sects.’ From Labeo’s works there are 61 extracts in the Digest, and Labeo is cited as an authority in the extracts from other jurists oftener than any one else except Salvius Julianus. From Sempronius Proculus, a disciple of Labeo, and of whom 37 fragments are preserved in the Digest, the school derived its name of Proculiani. Other noted jurists of this school were Pegasus, in the time of Vespasian; Celsus, in the time of Domitian, who gave rise to the proverb, responsio Celsina, a discourteous answer, and of whom 141 fragments are preserved; and Neratius, of whom 63 fragments are preserved. To the other school belonged Masurius Sabinus, who flourished under Tiberius and Nero, and from whom the sect were called Sabiniani. To the same school belonged Caius Cassius Longinus, who flourished under Nero and Vespasian, and from whom the sect are sometimes called Cassiani: Javolenus Priscus, of whom 206 fragments are preserved: Salvius Julianus, the famous Julian, above mentioned, of whom 456 fragments are preserved: Pomponius, of whom 578 fragments are preserved: Sextus Caecilius Africanus, celebrated for his obscurity, so that Africani lex in the language of lawyers meant lex difficilis, of whom 131 fragments are preserved: and, lastly, our author, Gaius, who flourished under Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, and from whose writings 535 extracts are to be found in the Digest.
If we now inquire whether this divergence of schools was based on any difference of principle, the answer is, No: on none, at least, that modern commentators have succeeded in discovering: it was merely a difference on a multitude of isolated points of detail. We are told indeed that the founders were men of dissimilar characters and intellectual dispositions: that Labeo was characterized by boldness of logic and a spirit of innovation; while Capito rested on tradition and authority, and inclined to conservatism, Dig. 1, 2, 47; but it is altogether impossible to trace their opposing tendencies in the writings of their successors: and we must suppose that the intellectual impulse given by Labeo was communicated to the followers of both schools of jurisprudence. But though, as we have stated, no difference of principle was involved, each school was accustomed to follow its leaders or teachers (praeceptores) with much servility; and it is quite an exception to find, on a certain question, Cassius, a member of the Sabinian school, following the opinion of Labeo; while Proculus, who gave his name to Labeo’s school, preferred the opinion of Ofilius, the teacher of Capito, 3 § 140; Gaius too, who was a Sabinian, sometimes inclines to the opinion of the rival school; cf. 3, § 98. Controversies between the two schools are referred to by Gaius in the following passages of his Institutes: 1, 196; 2, 15, 37, 79, 123, 195, 200, 216-222, 231, 244; 3, 87, 98, 103, 141, 167-8, 177-8; 4, 78-9, 114, 170.
As long as these schools of law, which may have derived their constitution from the Greek schools of philosophy, existed, the office of President appears to have devolved by succession from one jurist to another. (For an account of this subject and references to the chief modern writers who have discussed it see Sohm, pp. 98, &c.)
We may briefly mention some of the most illustrious jurists who flourished somewhat later than Gaius. Aemilius Papinianus, who was probably a Syrian, lived in the time of Septimius Severus, and was murdered by the order of Caracalla: 601 extracts from his writings are contained in the Digest. It was perhaps to some extent due to the transcendent genius, or at least to the extraordinary reputation, of Papinian, which made him seem too great to be reckoned any man’s follower, that we cease about his time to hear of opposing schools of jurisprudence. Papinian appears to have accompanied Severus to York, fulfilling the important function of praefectus praetorio, so that England may claim some slight connexion with the brightest luminary of Roman law.
A disciple and colleague of Papinian, of Syrian origin, who likewise became praefectus praetorio, was Domitius Ulpianus, murdered by the praetorian soldiery, whose domination he resisted, in the presence of the Emperor Alexander Severus: 2464 fragments, composing about a third of the whole Digest, are taken from his writings. An epitome of his Liber Singularis Regularum is still extant in a manuscript of the Vatican Library, and is the work referred to when, without mentioning the Digest, we cite the authority of Ulpian.
Another disciple and colleague of Papinian was Julius Paulus, of whose writings 2081 fragments are preserved in the Digest, forming about a sixth of its mass. An epitome of his treatise called Sententiae Receptae is found, with the Epitome of Gaius, in the code of Alaric II, king of the Visigoths; and it is to this book that we refer when we simply cite the authority of Paulus.
A disciple of Ulpian’s was Herennius Modestinus, of whom 344 extracts are contained in the Digest. After Modestinus the lustre of Roman jurisprudence began to decline. (For a detailed account of the Roman jurists, see Roby’s Introduction to the Digest, chs. vi-xvi.)
Besides the sources of law enumerated by Gaius, the Institutes of Justinian (1, 2, 9 and 10) mention Custom or Usage, the source of consuetudinary or customary law (jus non scriptum, consensu receptum, moribus introductum). To this branch of law are referred, with other rules, the invalidity of donations between husband and wife, Dig. 24, 1, 1, the power of a paterfamilias to make a will for his filiusfamilias who dies before the age of puberty (pupillaris substitutio), Dig. 28, 6, 2 pr., and universal succession in Coemption and Adrogation, 3 § 82. See also 4 §§ 26, 27. We may suppose that Customary law, like Roman law in general, would fall into two divisions, jus civile and jus gentium, the former embracing what Roman writers sometimes speak of as mores majorum. Before the time of Gaius, however, most of Customary law must have been incorporated by statute, as in early times by the law of the Twelve Tables, or taken up into the edict of the praetor or the writings of the jurists, Cic. De Invent. 2, 22, 67; i.e. unwritten law must have changed its character and have been transformed into written law.
§ 8. What are the leading divisions of law—what are the main masses into which legislation naturally breaks itself—what are the joints and articulations which separate the whole code into various subordinate codes, like the different limbs and members of an organic whole—what is the import of the Gaian division, adopted perhaps from previous writers, into jus personarum, jus rerum, jus actionum, or rather, to adhere to the classical phrases, jus ad personas pertinens, jus ad res pertinens, jus ad actiones pertinens?
By jus ad actiones pertinens, to begin with the easier part of the problem, there is no doubt that the inventor of the division intended to designate the law of PROCEDURE as opposed to the law of rights; the adjective code, to use Bentham’s phraseology, as opposed to the substantive code. There is as little doubt that in the Institutions of Gaius this design is not executed with precision, and that, instead of the law of procedure, the last portion of his treatise contains also to some extent the law of sanctioning rights, as opposed to the law of primary rights. (For the meaning of this distinction see Austin’s Jurisprudence, bk. 1.) Or perhaps we should say that the legislative provisions respecting Procedure have a double aspect: a purely formal aspect, so far as they give regularity and method to the enforcement of sanctioning rights; and a material aspect, so far as certain stages of procedure (e.g. litis contestatio and res judicata) operate like Dispositions or any other Titles to modify the substantive rights of the contending parties. Procedure, then, is treated of in these Institutions partly indeed in its formal character, but still more in its material character, i.e. so far as its incidents can be regarded as belonging to the substantive code.
It is more difficult to determine the principle of the other division, the relation of the law of Persons to the law of Things. They both deal with the rights and duties of persons in the ordinary modern acceptation of the word; why then, we may inquire, are certain rights and duties of persons separated from the rest and dealt with under the distinguishing category of jura personarum? It is not enough to say with Austin that the law of Things is the universal or general portion of the law, the law of Persons a particular and exceptional branch; that it is treated separately on account of no essential or characteristic difference, but merely because it is commodious to treat separately what is special and exceptional from what is general and universal. This answer furnishes no positive character of the law of Persons, but only the negative character of anomaly, i.e. of unlikeness to thex-large r portion of the law; but it would be difficult to show that the law of Persons is more exceptional, anomalous, eccentric, than the Civil dispositions as opposed to the Natural dispositions of the law of Things.
We must look to the details of the law of Persons, and observe whether its dispositions have any common character as contrasted with the dispositions of the law of Things. The law of Persons, in other words, the law of Status, classifies men as slaves and free, as citizens (privileged) and aliens (unprivileged), as paterfamilias (superior) and filiusfamilias (dependent). The law of Things looks at men as playing the parts of contractors or of neighbouring proprietors; in other words, the law of Persons considers men as UNEQUALS, the law of Things considers them as EQUALS: the one may be defined as the law of relations of inequality, the other as the law of relations of equality.
It may induce us to believe that the law of unequal relations and the law of equal relations is a fundamental division of the general code, if we consider how essential are the ideas of equality and inequality to the fundamental conception of law. If we ventured on a Platonic myth, we might say that Zeus, wishing to confer the greatest possible gift on the human race, took the most opposite and uncombinable things in the universe, Equality and Inequality, and, welding them together indissolubly, called the product by the name of political society or positive law.
The assumption will hardly be controverted, that in the relations of subject to subject, Positive law, like Ethical law, recognizes, as an ideal at least, the identity of the just (lawful) with the equal. Inequality, however, is no less essentially involved in positive law. We have seen that there is no right and no duty by positive law without a legislator and sovereign to whom the person owing the duty is in subjection. On the one side weakness, on the other irresistible power. Positive rights and duties, then, imply both the relation of subject to subject and the relation of subject to sovereign or wielder of the sanction, in other words, both the relation of equal to equal and the relation of unequal to unequal. It is the more surprising that Austin should apparently have failed to seize with precision this conception of the law of Persons, as he makes the remark, in which the whole truth seems implicitly contained, that the bulk of the law of Persons composes the Public, Political, or Constitutional code (jus publicum). Political society or government essentially implies subordination. It implies, on the one hand, sovereign power reposing in various legislative bodies, distributed, delegated, and vested in various corporations, magistrates, judges, and other functionaries; on the other hand, private persons or subjects subordinate to the sovereign power and to its delegates and ministers. The different forms of government are so many forms of subordination, so many relations of superior and inferior, that is, so many relations of unequals. Public law, then, is a law of Status, and the law of Persons or law of Status in the private code is the intrusion of a portion of the public code into the private code; or, in barbarous and semi-civilized legislations, the disfigurement of private law by the introduction of relations that properly belong to public law. For instance, the most salient institution of the ancient Roman law of Persons, the power of life and death over wife and child that vested in the father of the household, was the concession to a subject of an attribute that properly belongs to the sovereign or a public functionary. Another institution, slavery, placed one subject over another in the position of despotic sovereign. The relation of civis to peregrinus may be conjectured to have originally been that of patronus to cliens, that is to say, of political superior to political inferior.
Government or positive law has usually commenced in the invasion by the stronger of the (moral) rights of the weaker; but so necessary is inequality to equality, or subordination to co-ordination, that the (moral) crimes of ancient conquerors are regarded with less aversion by philosophic historians, as being the indispensable antecedents of subsequent civilization. The beginnings, then, of positive law have been universally the less legitimate form of inequality, inequality between subject and subject, leaving its traces in dispositions of the civil code: but the advance of civilization is the gradual elimination of inequality from the law, until little remains but that between magistrate and private person, or sovereign and subject. Modern society has advanced so far on the path of equalization, in the recognition of all men as equal before the law, that the distinctions of status, as they existed in the Roman law of persons, are almost obliterated from the private code. Slavery has vanished; parental and marital power are of the mildest form; civilized countries accord the same rights to cives and peregrini; guardians (tutores) in modern jurisprudence, as in the later period of Roman law, are considered as discharging a public function, and accordingly the relation of guardian and ward may be regarded as a portion of the public code.
Before we terminate our general remarks on the nature of status, it is necessary to distinguish from the law of Persons a department of law with which, in consequence of a verbal ambiguity, it is sometimes confounded. Blackstone deserves credit for having recognized Public law as part of the law of Persons; but he also included under the law of Persons that department of primary rights to which belong the right of free locomotion, the right of using the bodily organs, the right to health, the right to reputation, and other rights which perhaps more commonly emerge in the redress meted out for their violation, that is, in the corresponding sanctioning rights, the right of redress for bodily violence, for false imprisonment, for bodily injury, for defamation, and the like. These, however, are not the special and exceptional rights of certain eminently privileged classes, but the ordinary rights of all the community, at least of all who live under the protection of the law; they belong to filiusfamilias as well as to paterfamilias, to peregrinus and latinus as well as to civis. The rights in question, that is to say, do not belong to the law of unequal rights, or the law of Persons, but to the law of equal rights, or the law of Things.
The anomalous institution of slavery, however, furnishes a ground for controverting this arrangement; for, as by this legalized iniquity of ancient law, the slave, living as he did, not so much under the protection as under the oppression of the law, was denuded of all legal rights, including those of which we speak, we cannot say that these rights belong to servus as well as to liber. The same, however, may be said of contract rights and rights of ownership, for the slave had neither part nor lot in these on his own account any more than in the right of a man to the use of his own limbs. In defining, therefore, jura rerum to be the equal rights of all, we must be understood to mean, of all who have any rights. Perhaps, indeed, instead of saying that jura rerum are the rights of men regarded as equal, it would be more exact to say, that while jus personarum regards exclusively the unequal capacities, that is, the unequal rights of persons, jus rerum treats of rights irrespectively both of the equality and the inequality of the persons in whom they are vested, leaving their equal or unequal distribution to be determined by jus personarum.
In order to mark the natural position of these rights in the civil code, I have avoided designating them, with Blackstone, by the name of Personal rights, a term which I am precluded from using by yet another reason. I have employed the terms Personal right and Real right to mark the antithesis of rights against a single debtor and rights against the universe. Now the rights in question are rights that imply a negative obligation incumbent on all the world, that is to say, in our sense of the words they are not Personal, but Real.
As contrasted with Acquired rights (Erworbene Rechte, jus quaesitum) they are called Birthrights or PRIMORDIAL rights (Urrechte), names which are open to objection, as they may seem to imply a superior dignity of these rights, or an independence, in contrast with other rights, of positive legislation, characters which the name is not intended to connote. For purposes of classification this branch of primary rights is of minor importance. Unlike Status, Dominion, Obligation, Primordial rights are not the ground of any primary division of the code. The actions founded on the infraction of Primordial rights partly belong to the civil code of obligation arising from Tort (e.g. actio injuriarum), partly and principally to the criminal code. (On the different interpretations which have been put on this threefold division of Private Law cf. Moyle’s Introduction to the Inst. Just.)
§ 12. As Gaius has not marked very strongly the divisions of the present book, it may be worth while to consider what are the leading branches of the doctrine of Status. Status falls under three heads—liberty (libertas), citizenship (civitas), and domestic position (familia).
Under the first head, men are divided into free (liberi) and slaves (servi): the free, again, are either free by birth (ingenui) or by manumission (libertini). We have here, then, three classes to consider: ingenui, libertini, servi.
Under the second head men were originally divided into citizens (cives) and aliens (peregrini). The rights of citizens fall into two branches, political and civil, the former being electoral and legislative power (jus suffragii) and capacity for office (jus honorum); the latter relating to property (commercium) or to marriage (connubium). Aliens were of course devoid of the political portion of these rights (suffragium and honores); they were also devoid of proprietary and family rights as limited and protected by the jus civile (commercium and connubium), though they enjoyed corresponding rights under the jus gentium. At a subsequent period a third class were intercalated between cives and peregrini, namely, Latini, devoid of the political portion of the rights of citizenship, and enjoying only a portion of the private rights of citizenship, commercium without connubium. Here also, then, we have three classes, cives, Latini, peregrini.
The powers of the head of a family came to be distinguished by the terms potestas, manus, mancipium: potestas, however, was either potestas dominica, power over his slaves, or potestas patria, power over his children, which, at the period when Roman law is known to us, were different in kind; so that the rights of paterfamilias were really fourfold. Manus or marital power placed the wife on the footing of filiafamilias, which was the same as that of filiusfamilias. Paterfamilias had a legal power of selling (mancipare) his children into bondage; and mancipium, which is also a word used to denote a slave, designated the status of a filiusfamilias who had been sold by his parent as a bondsman to another paterfamilias. In respect of his purchaser, such a bondsman was assimilated to a slave: in respect of the rest of the world, he was free and a citizen, though probably his political capacities were suspended as long as his bondage (mancipii causa) lasted, § 116*. As slaves are treated of under the head of libertas, and the status of the wife (manus) was not legally distinguishable from that of the son, we may say, that in respect of domestic dependence or independence (familia), as well as in respect of libertas and civitas, men are divided into three classes,—paterfamilias, filiusfamilias, and Qui in mancipio est; paterfamilias alone being independent (sui juris), the other two being dependent (alieni juris) in unequal degrees.
These different classes are not examined by Gaius with equal minuteness. Under the first head he principally examines the libertini: the classes under the second head, cives, Latini, peregrini, are only noticed indirectly, i. e. so far as they present a type for the classification of libertini; and the bulk of the first book of the Institutions is devoted to domestic relations.
In modern jurisprudence, Status having disappeared, the law of domestic relations—the relation of husband to wife, parent to child, guardian to ward—constitutes the whole of that of which formerly it was only a part, the law of Persons. It differs from the rest of the civil code in that, while the relations of Property and Obligation are artificial and accidental, the relations governed by the code of the Family are natural, and essential to the existence of the human race: so much so that the principal relations of the family extend to the rest of the animal world, and the portion of the code relating to them is called by Ulpian pre-eminently jus Naturale, Dig. 1, 1, 3, Inst. 1, 2 pr. Secondly, whereas every feature of Property and Obligation is the creation of political law, Domestic life is only partially governed by political law, which leaves the greater portion of its rights and duties to be ruled by the less tangible dictates of the moral law.
The pure law of the Family, that is, when we exclude all consideration of Property and Obligation relating to property, is of very moderate compass: but with the pure code of the family it is convenient to aggregate what we may call with Savigny, Syst. § 57, the applied code of the Family, i.e. such of the laws of Property and Obligation as concern members of the family group—husband and wife, parent and child, guardian and ward. The main divisions then of the substantive code are Family law Pure and Applied; the law of Ownership; and the law of Obligation. If, in view of its importance, we separate from the law of Ownership the law of Rerum Universitates, confining the law of Ownership to the province of Res singulae, we may add to the three we have enumerated a fourth division, the law of Successions per universitatem. Sohm, § 29.
§ 14. Peregrini dediticii. Cf. Livy 1, 38; Theoph. 1, 5, 3.
In manumission by Vindicta the State was represented by the praetor. The vindicta or festuca was a rod or staff, representing a lance, the symbol of dominion, with which the parties in a real action (vindicatio) touched the subject of litigation as they solemnly pronounced their claim, 4 § 16. Accordingly it was used in a suit respecting freedom (liberalis causa), for this, as status is a real right (jus in rem), was a form of real action, and was sometimes prosecuted by way of genuine litigation, sometimes was merely a solemn grant of liberty, that is, a species of alienation by surrender in the presence of the magistrate (in jure cessio). In a liberalis causa the slave to be manumitted, being the subject of the fictitious litigation, could not himself be a party, but was advocated by a vindex or adsertor libertatis, who in later times was usually represented by the praetor’s lictor. The adsertor grasping the slave with one of his hands, and touching him with the vindicta, asserted his freedom. The proprietor quitting his grasp of the slave (manu mittens) and confessing by silence or express declaration the justice of the claim, the magistrate pronounced the slave to be free. This procedure, which came to be much curtailed, belonging to the praetor’s voluntary, not his contentious, jurisdiction, did not require the praetor to be seated on his elevated platform in the comitium (pro tribunali), but might be transacted by him on the level ground (de plano); and as the mere presence of the praetor constituted a court (jus), he was usually seized upon for the purpose of manumissions as he was preparing to take a drive (gestatio), or to bathe, or to go to the theatre, § 20 (for the different accounts given of this mode of manumission see Roby, Private Law, 1, p. 26, n. 1).
In manumission by the Census the interests of the State were represented by the censor. Censu manumittebantur olim qui lustrali censu Romae jussu dominorum inter cives Romanos censum profitebantur, Ulpian, 1, 8. ‘Registry by the censor was an ancient mode of manumission by the quinquennial census at Rome when a slave at his master’s order declared his right to make his return of property (professio) on the register of Roman citizens.’ Ex jure civili potest esse contentio, quum quaeritur, is qui domini voluntate census sit, continuone an ubi lustrum conditum liber sit, Cic. De Orat. 1, 40. ‘It is a question of civil law, when a slave is registered with his owner’s sanction, whether his freedom dates from the actual inscription on the register or from the close of the censorial period.’ The census was a republican institution, which had been long obsolete when Gaius wrote. Ulpian, l. c., speaks of it as a thing of the past. Since the Christian era only three had been held, the last under Vespasian, a. d. 74.
Wills were originally executed at the Comitia calata, 2 § 101, where the dispositions of the testator, including his donations of freedom, received legislative sanction, being converted into a private law by the ratification of the sovereign assembly. When a new form of will was introduced, 2 § 102, testators retained their power of manumission, although the people here at the utmost were only symbolically represented by the witnesses of a mancipation. Bequests of liberty were either direct or indirect. A direct bequest of liberty (directo data libertas) made the manumitted slave a freedman of the testator (libertus orcinus, Inst. 2, 24, 2): an indirect bequest, that is, a request to the heir to manumit the slave (fideicommissaria libertas), made the slave on manumission a freedman of the heir, 2 § 266.
Recuperators are judges not taken from the panel (album judicum); see Greenidge’s Legal Procedure of Cicero’s Time, p. 266.
When manumission was a purely private act, it could not confer Roman citizenship; it could only make a dediticius or a latinus.
The codex Alaricianus or Breviarium Alaricianum, a code promulgated a. d. 506 by Alaric II, king of the Visigoths of Spain and Gaul, contained, besides extracts from the codex Theodosianus (promulgated a. d. 438), a selection from the Sententiae of Paulus and an epitome of these Institutes of Gaius. From this epitome it appears that in the paragraphs now obliterated Gaius proceeded to explain the modes of private manumission by which a slave became Latinus Junianus, and instanced writing (per epistolam), attestation of witnesses (inter amicos), invitation of the slave to sit with other guests at the table of his master (convivii adhibitione).
In virtue of commercium, the Latinus Junianus was capable of Quiritary ownership, of civil acquisition and alienation (usucapio, mancipatio, in jure cessio), contract (obligatio), and action (vindicatio, condictio), like a Roman citizen; but in respect of testamentary succession his rights were very limited. He was said to have testamentary capacity (testamenti factio), Ulpian, 20, 8; but this only meant that he could perform the part of witness, or familiae emptor, or libripens (2 § 104), i. e. could assist another person to make a valid will; not that he could take under a will either as heir or as legatee, or could dispose of his own property by will, Ulpian, 20, 14. At his death all his property belonged to his patron, as if it were the peculium of a slave, 3 § 56. In fact, as Justinian says: Licet ut liberi vitam suam peragebant, attamen ipso ultimo spiritu simul animam atque libertatem amittebant, Inst. 3, 7, 4. ‘Though free in their lifetime, the same moment that deprived them of life reduced them to the condition of slaves.’
Although in the person of libertus himself, Latinitas retained many traces of its servile origin, yet it was not so for his posterity; these disabilities only attached to the original freedman, not to his issue. The son of the dediticius or Latinus Junianus, though reduced to absolute penury by the confiscation of the parental property to the patron, began, and continued, the world with the ordinary capacities, respectively, of peregrinus and Latinus coloniarius, and was under no legal obligations to the patron of his father.
Long before the time of Gaius, Latinitas or Latium had only a juristic, not an ethnographic signification. Cf. § 79. Soon after the Social War (b. c. 91) all Italy received the civitas Romana. Originally Gallia Cispadana (Southern Lombardy) had civitas Romana, while Gallia Transpadana (Northern Lombardy) had only Latinitas, but Gallia Transpadana afterwards obtained civitas. Latinitas was a definite juristic conception, and Latin status was conferred as a boon on many provincial towns and districts that had no connexion with Latium or its races. Vitellius is carped at by Tacitus for his lavish grants of Latinity (Latium vulgo dilargiri, Hist. 3, 55). Hadrian made many similar grants (Latium multis civitatibus dedit, Spartian, Had. 21), and Vespasian conferred Latin rights on the whole of Spain, Pliny, Hist. Nat. 3, 4. See § 131 Comm.
§ 29. This enactment is stated by Ulpian to belong to the lex Junia (Ulp. 3, 3), cf. § 18, comm.
Pronuntiaverit. The decision (sententia) of the judex in a judicium ordinarium was either condemnatio or absolutio of the defendant. In actions in which the case was left to the arbitrium of a judex this was apparently preceded by pronuntiatio, a declaration of the rights of the parties. This appears from the following, among other passages: Sed et si fundum vindicem meum esse, tuque confessus sis, perinde teneberis atque si dominii mei fundum esse pronuntiatum esset, Dig. 42, 2, 6, 2. Si quum de hereditate inter me et te controversia esset, juravero hereditatem meam esse, id consequi debeo quod haberem si secundum me de hereditate pronuntiatum esset, Dig. 12, 2, 10, 3. When the pronuntiatio was for the plaintiff, if the defendant obeyed the arbitrium or provisional order of the judex by making restitution, there was no subsequent condemnatio. Cf. 4 § 49. In the form of real action, called a praejudicium, that is, a preliminary issue of fact, the pronuntiatio formed the whole result of the trial, and was not followed by sententia. Similarly, when a Latinus laid his claim of Roman citizenship before the praetor under this enactment of the lex Aelia Sentia, the result of the extraordinaria cognitio of the praetor was merely a pronuntiatio without any subsequent decretum.
1. By erroris causae probatio, i.e. if Latinus marry Peregrina, believing her to be Latina or Civis, § 70; or Latina marry Peregrinus, believing him to be Latinus, § 69; or if Civis, believing himself to be Latinus or Peregrinus, marry Latina, § 71; or if Civis marry Peregrinus, believing him to be Civis or Latinus; or if Civis marry Latina or Peregrina, believing her to be Civis Romana, § 67; on birth of a child and on proof of this mistake, the Latinus or Latina and their offspring acquire the citizenship.
2. By magistracy in a Latin colony Latinus becomes Civis Romanus, §§ 95, 96.
3. By re-manumission (iteratio), i.e. on slaves under thirty when manumitted acquiring Latinity by one of the private modes of manumission, a subsequent manumission by one of the public modes, vindicta, censu, or testamento, converted them from Latini into Cives, § 35, and Ulp. 3, 4.
4. Under the lex Visellia above mentioned by six years’ service in the Roman guards (si inter vigiles Romae sex annos militaverit, Ulp. 3, 5). A decree of the senate made three years’ service a sufficient title, § 32 b. Compare the provision of 13 Geo. II, c. 3, whereby every foreign seaman who in time of war serves two years on board an English ship, and all foreign protestants serving two years in a military capacity in the American colonies, are naturalized.
5. Under a constitution of Nero by building a house in Rome (aedificio, Ulp. 3, 1), § 33.
6. Under an edict of Claudius by building a ship of 10,000 modii and importing corn to Rome for six years, § 32 c, Sueton. Claud., Ulp. 3, 6. Compare the English law by which all foreign protestants employed three years in the whale fishery are naturalized, except as to capacity for public office.
7. Under a constitution of Trajan by building a mill and bakehouse for the supply of Rome (pistrino, Ulp. 3, 1), § 34.
8. By bearing three children, Ulp. 3, 1.
9. By imperial grant (beneficio principali, Ulp. 3, 2). This and the previous mode of acquiring citizenship were perhaps mentioned by Gaius at the beginning of § 35.
Civitas Romana and Jus Quiritium are synonymous, but the former term was always used when citizenship was conferred on a Peregrinus, the latter generally when it was conferred on Latinus Junianus: e. g. Quare rogo, des ei civitatem, est enim peregrinae conditionis, manumissus a peregrina. . . . Idem rogo, des ius Quiritium libertis Antoniae Maximillae . . . quod a te, petente patrona, peto, Pliny to Trajan, 10, 4. Ago gratias, domine, quod et ius Quiritium libertis necessariae mihi feminae et civitatem Romanam Harpocrati, iatraliptae meo, sine mora indulsisti, ibid. 10, 5. Civitas Romana, however, was sometimes used in speaking of the enfranchisement of Latinus, as we see from § 28.
§ 41. Justinian, having first reduced the age from 20 to 17, or the beginning of the eighteenth year (Inst. 1, 6, 7), finally permitted minors to enfranchise by will as soon as they could make a valid will, i. e. at the age of 14 (Novella, 119, 2). He mentions that the lowest class of freedmen (dediticia libertas) had long been obsolete, and formally abolished the second class (latina libertas), converting informal modes of making Latinus, such as per epistolam, inter amicos, into modes of making Civis Romanus, and declaring the rest inoperative, Cod. 7, 6. Cf. Moyle, Comm. Inst. 1, 5.
§ 47. The lex Fufia Caninia, passed under Augustus (Sueton. Aug. 40), to prevent the degradation of citizenship by testators abusing their testamentary right of manumission, was generally called the lex Furia Caninia before the manuscript of Gaius was re-examined by Studemund; it was abrogated by Justinian. See Inst. 1, 7. The clause of the lex Aelia Sentia referred to in the text was retained by Justinian. Inst. 1, 6 pr.
§§ 52, 53. The condition of the slave was at its worst in the golden period of Roman history. As soon as Rome found her power irresistible she proceeded to conquer the world, and each stage of conquest was the reduction of a vast portion of mankind to slavery. 30,000 Tarentines were sent as slaves to Rome by Fabius Cunctator, the captor of Tarentum; 150,000 Epirots by Paulus Aemilius, the subjugator of Epirus. Julius Caesar retrieved his shattered fortunes by enormous operations in the slave market during his campaign in Gaul. Thus, unfortunately for the slave, the slave market was continually glutted and slave life was cheap. The condition of the slave gradually but slowly improved under the emperors. The killing of the slave of another was not an offence under the lex Cornelia de sicariis itself, but by the interpretation of later times it was brought under this law. A lex Petronia of uncertain date, but which must have been passed before the destruction of Pompeii, a. d. 79, being mentioned in an inscription found there, required a slave-owner to obtain the permission of a magistrate before exposing a slave to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, and only allowed such permission to be granted for some offence committed by the slave, Dig. 48, 8, 11, 2. Claudius prohibited a master killing his own slaves who fell sick, and enacted that the exposure of a slave to perish in his sickness should operate as a manumission, conferring Latinitas, Sueton. Claud. 25, Cod. 7, 6, 3. Hadrian is said to have deprived proprietors of the power of putting slaves to death without a judicial sentence, Spartian, Had. 18 (but see on this Mommsen, Strafr., p. 617, n. 2). Antoninus Pius declared a master who killed his own slave to be responsible in the same way as if he had killed the slave of another, cf. § 53, 3 § 213, i. e. guilty of murder, and subject to the penalty of the lex Cornelia de sicariis. We read in Justinian’s Digest: Qui hominem occiderit punitur non habita differentia cujus conditionis hominem interemit, Dig. 48, 8, 2. The punishment was generally capital, Dig. 48, 8, 3, 5. It is to be remembered, however, that none of these laws deprive the master of the right of punishing his slaves himself for domestic offences. Hadrian prohibited the castration of a slave, consenting or not consenting, under penalty of death, Dig. 48, 8, 4, 2. Antoninus Pius also protected slaves against cruelty and personal violation, Dig. 1, 6, 2, obliging the master, as we see by the text, to manumit them on account of his maltreatment. The Digest, 1, 6, 1, quoting § 53, after sine causa, interpolates, legibus cognita, thus placing slaves under the protection of the law, and almost recognizing in slaves some of the primordial rights of humanity, except that, as already observed, obligation does not necessarily imply a correlative right. Roman law to the end, unlike other legislations which have recognized forms of slavery, refused to admit any rights in the slave. Florentinus, however, not long after the time of Gaius, admitted that slavery, though an institution of jus gentium, was a violation of the law of nature. Servitus est constitutio juris gentium qua quis domino alieno contra naturam subicitur, Dig. 1, 5, 4. Ulpian says the same: Quod attinet ad jus civile, servi pro nullis habentur, non tamen et jure naturali; quia quod ad jus naturale attinet, omnes homines aequales sunt, Dig. 50, 17, 32. ‘Before the Civil law a slave is nothing, but not before the Natural law; for in the eye of Natural law all men are equal.’ The belief in a Natural law, more venerable than any Civil law, was very prevalent in the ancient world, and one of the principal contributions of Philosophy to civilization.
The absolute privation of all rights was sometimes expressed by saying that a slave has no persona, caput, or status: e. g. Servos quasi nec personam habentes, Nov. Theod. 17. Servus manumissus capite non minuitur quia nullum caput habet, Inst. 1, 16, 4. Cum servus manumittitur, quia servile caput nullum jus habet, ideo nec minui potest, eo die enim incipit statum habere, Dig. 4, 5, 4. The word ‘persona,’ however, is sometimes applied to slaves; e. g. in personam servilem nulla cadit obligatio, Dig. 50, 17, 22. So is caput in the last but one of the above-quoted passages.
But though a Roman slave was incapable of being invested with rights for himself, yet he often filled positions of considerable importance both in public and private life and was allowed by his owner to hold a considerable peculium. It was because slaves were ordinarily employed as procuratores in commercial transactions, that Roman law failed to develop the principle of contractual agency, as it is understood in modern systems of jurisprudence.
§ 55. The most peculiar portion of the Roman law of status is that which refers to patria potestas, or the relation of paterfamilias to filiusfamilias. Patria potestas was founded on consuetudinary law (cum jus potestatis moribus sit receptum, Dig. 1, 6, 8), and may be considered under two heads, (1) as regarding the person of the son, (2) as regarding proprietary rights acquirable by the son.
1. Over the person of the child the father had originally a power of life and death. Patribus jus vitae in liberos necisque potestas olim erat permissa, Cod. 8, 47, 10. So the lex Pompeia de parricidiis, enumerating the persons who could be guilty of parricide, or the murder of a blood relation, omits the father, Dig. 48, 9. Compare also the formula of Adrogatio, §§ 97-107, commentary. But in later times this power was withdrawn. Hadrian condemned to deportation a father who in the hunting-field killed his son who had committed adultery with his stepmother, Dig. 48, 9, 5. Constantine, a. d. 319, included killing by a father under the crime of parricide, Cod. 9, 17. Fathers retained the power of moderate chastisement, but severe punishment could only be inflicted by the magistrate, Cod. 8, 46, 3. Si atrocitas facti jus domesticae emendationis excedat, placet enormis delicti reos dedi judicum notioni, Cod. 9, 15. Trajan compelled a father to emancipate a son whom he treated with inhumanity, Dig. 37, 12, 5. It was originally at the option of the parent whether he would rear an infant or expose it to perish, but in later times such exposure was unlawful, as was declared by Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian, a. d. 374, Cod. 8, 51, 2.
Originally also parents had the power of selling (mancipandi) their children into bondage, thus producing a capitis minutio, or degradation of status. The patriarchs of the Roman race may perhaps have been slave-dealers who, like some savage tribes in Africa and elsewhere, trafficked in the bodies of their own children, but we must note that the bondage into which a Roman father sold his children was, at least at the time at which this institution is known to us, a limited degree of subjection: the mancipation, which if made three times released a son from his father’s power according to a provision of the Twelve Tables, could only be made to another Roman citizen, and the bondsman continued to be liber and civis. And this power also was withdrawn in more civilized times. A law of Diocletian and Maximian, a. d. 294, declares the sale, donation, pledging of children to be unlawful, Cod. 4, 43, 1. A rescript of one of the Antonines commences in the following terms, Cod. 7, 16, 1: ‘You are guilty, by your own admission, of an unlawful and disgraceful act, as you state that you sold your freeborn children.’ Justinian increased the penalties of the law against creditors who took possession of the freeborn child of a debtor as a security for a debt. He enacted that the creditor should forfeit the debt, should pay an equal sum to the child or parent, and in addition should undergo corporal punishment, Novella, 134, 7. In the time of Gaius, the only genuine sale of a child into bondage was in the case of noxal surrender, i. e. when a father sued for the delict of a child, in lieu of damages, surrendered his delinquent son or daughter as a bondsman (mancipium) to the plaintiff, § 140. The sale of the child in adoption and emancipation was merely fictitious; even noxal surrender was practically obsolete in the time of Justinian, by whom it was formally abolished, Inst. 4, 8, 7. Constantine, however, a. d. 329, in cases of extreme poverty permitted parents to sell their children immediately after birth (sanguinolentos), and this constitution was retained in the code of Justinian, Cod. 4, 43, 2.
2. In respect of property, filiusfamilias was capable of obligation but not of right; he could be debtor but not creditor; in any transaction where an independent person (sui juris) would have been creditor, filiusfamilias was merely a conduit-pipe through which a right vested in his father as creditor or proprietor. Even in domestic relations filiusfamilias could only figure as inferior, not as superior; he owed obedience, but could not exercise command (jus, in the special sense which it has in the phrases, sui juris, alieni juris); he could only be an instrument by which his father acquired a right of command. Thus, filiusfamilias had commercium, and could take by mancipatio, but the property he thus took vested in his father; he could make a valid contract, but the contractual right vested in his father; he had testamentifactio, that is, he could be witness, libripens, familiae emptor, but he could not make a will, for he had no property to leave; and if he took under a will as legatee or heir, the legacy or succession vested in his father: cf. 2 § 87, 3 § 163, comm. He had the other element of civitas, connubium; that is, he could contract a civil marriage and beget civil children; but the patria potestas over these children vested not in the father but in the grandfather, and if the marriage was accompanied with power of hand (manus), marital power over the wife, this vested not in the husband but in the husband’s father. Any property which the son was allowed by his father to manage was called his peculium, i. e. was held on the same terms as property which a slave administered by permission of his proprietor. In respect of debts which he incurred, the son did not act as conduit-pipe, but (except for a loan of money, which the Sc. Macedonianum made irrecoverable) was liable in his own person, Dig. 44, 7, 39. ‘A son under power incurs obligation by the same titles, and may be sued on the same grounds of action as an independent person.’ The same rule applied to the son as to the slave: Melior conditio nostra per servos fieri potest, deterior fieri non potest, Dig. 50, 17, 133. ‘The melioration of his proprietor’s condition is in the power of a slave, but not the deterioration.’
In his public functions, filiusfamilias was entirely beyond the sphere of patria potestas. Quod ad jus publicum attinet non sequitur jus potestatis, Dig. 36, 1, 14. Thus, a son could act as praetor or as judex in a suit to which his father was a party. He could even preside as magistrate over his own adoption or emancipation: Si consul vel praeses filiusfamilias sit, posse eum apud semetipsum vel emancipari vel in adoptionem dari constat, Dig. 1, 7, 3 (which makes it doubtful how far political functions were suspended even by the state of mancipium or bondage). He could also be appointed guardian (tutor), for guardianship (tutela) was held to be a public function, Dig. 1, 6, 9. ‘A filiusfamilias in his public relations is deemed independent, for instance, as magistrate or as guardian.’
The above-stated incapacities of filiusfamilias were subject, however, to certain exceptions and modifications, which may now be briefly considered.
a. In certain cases filiusfamilias had an anomalous right of suing in his own name (suo nomine), i. e. not merely as procurator or attorney of his father, and even in opposition to his father’s wishes, Dig. 44, 7, 9. ‘A filiusfamilias can only, according to Julian, sue in his own name for outrage, by interdict for violent or clandestine disturbance, for a deposit, and for a thing he has lent for use.’ These suits, which, in spite of the statement in the text, were not the only, though perhaps the oldest, actions maintainable by a person under power, deserve a brief explanation. Without the right to Honour, one of the primordial rights of humanity, a man is scarcely a freeman, and, accordingly, this right vests definitively in filiusfamilias, and does not again pass out of him to vest in his father. Any dishonouring outrage, therefore, gave filiusfamilias a right of bringing a civil action, called actio injuriarum, in his own name, though the paterfamilias as a rule maintained the action both on his own account and that of his son; if, however, he was unable to do so, or his character was dubious, the son could proceed by himself (cf. 3 § 221, and Dig. 47, 10, 17, 10, &c.), although any pecuniary damages that he thereby recovered, being in the nature of property, were recovered for his father. The son under power was recognized, then, as invested with a vindictive right, though not with a proprietary right. The actio injuriarum was one in bonum et aequum concepta (compare Dig. 47, 10, 11, 1, and Dig. 44, 7, 34 pr.), that is, the terms of the formula (conceptio) directed the judex to assess the damages not on any strict principle of law, but by his own sense of natural equity (aequum et bonum), and this form may have helped to make the action maintainable by one who was generally incompetent to sue. The interdict quod vi aut clam was maintainable by filiusfamilias on the same principle as the actio injuriarum, being a means of vindicating a dishonouring outrage inflicted on filiusfamilias by some violent disturbance of real immovable property in defiance of his prohibitio or summons to stay operations and let the matter ahide the result of a judicial trial. Cf. 4 §§ 138-170, comm. On the same principle a filiusfamilias disinherited or passed over in the will of his mother or maternal grandfather, as such disinheritance or pretermission was an implied imputation of turpitude or unworthiness and therefore dishonouring, might without the consent of his father (Dig. 5, 2, 22 pr.) vindicate his honour by impeaching the will of inofficiositas (immorality, or want of natural affection), although such querela inofficiosi testamenti, being an action having a right to property for its object, would not otherwise have been maintainable by a filiusfamilias. If the plaintiff filiusfamilias could show that the disinheritance or omission was not due to his own demerits, he invalidated the will by a fictitious presumption of the testator’s lunacy and made the testator intestate; and thus filiusfamilias vindicated his own character, though whatever share he recovered in the intestate succession vested in his father. Cf. 2 §§ 152-173, comm.; Inst. 2, 18.
The right of filiusfamilias to sue by actio commodati or depositi was founded on a different principle. Suppose that filiusfamilias had borrowed or hired a thing that he afterwards lent or deposited; his father, not being responsible for his son’s debts, would not be interested in the recovery of the thing, and therefore was not entitled to sue the depositary or borrower: the son, however, would be answerable to the original lender or letter, and accordingly was allowed to sue in his own name. To avoid, however, contravening the civil law by affirming a proprietary right vested in a filiusfamilias, he did not sue by a formula in jus concepta, i. e. of the form, si paret oportere, ‘if the plaintiff establish a right,’ but by a formula in factum, of the form, si paret factum esse, ‘if the plaintiff establish a fact.’ It is remarkable that Gaius instances precisely the actio commodati and the actio depositi as having two forms, one in jus and another in factum (4 § 47); and we may eonjecture that the latter was invented to be used under these very circumstances by filiusfamilias.
b. The latter periods of Roman law present a gradual emancipation of filiusfamilias by successive inventions of new kinds of peculium. As early as the time of Augustus filiusfamilias was allowed to dispose freely by will of his earnings in military service, castrense peculium, which came to be treated in all respects as his individual property, except that till the time of Justinian the rules of intestate succession did not apply to it. Filiifamilias in castrensi peculio vice patrumfamiliarum funguntur, Dig. 4, 6, 2. Subsequently to the time of Gaius, under Constantine and his successors, the earnings of filiifamilias in the civil service of the State, in holy orders, in the liberal professions, were assimilated to their earnings in the army, and came to be called peculium quasi castrense. Further, in the time of Constantine, it was also established that whatever came to the son from his mother or, as the law was under Justinian, from the maternal line, or from any source but the paternal estate (ex re patris), should be acquired for the father, and held by him only as a usufruct or life estate, while, subject to this, the son had the ownership of it (peculium adventicium). Peculium adventicium thus included everything acquired by the son which was not castrense peculium, nor quasi-castrense peculium, nor acquired by means of the father’s property (ex re patris). Only this latter peculium derived from the paternal estate continued, under the name of peculium profecticium, subject to the old rules, and belonged in absolute property to the father. Cf. 2 § 87, comm.; Inst. 2, 9, 1; 3, 19, 6; 4, 8, 7; 3, 10, 2, 28 pr.
The Gallic race, of which the Galatians were a branch, are mentioned by Caesar as having the institution of patria potestas: Viri in uxores, sicuti in liberos, vitae necisque habent potestatem, De Bello Gall. 6, 19. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians may perhaps allude to the peculiarity of their law: ‘The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant (slave), though he be lord of all’; 4, 1, though the Apostle seems to be directly referring to the cognate institution of guardianship.
In any treatise on the law of marriage that we open we shall meet the expression, the marriage contract; and this suggests the inquiry, is marriage a contract, and, if so, to which class of Roman contracts, Verbal, Literal, Real, Consensual, 3 § 89, is Roman marriage to be referred? Most writers assume that it was a Consensual contract, on the strength of texts like the following: Nuptias non concubitus sed consensus facit, Dig. 35, 1, 15. ‘Marriage does not depend on cohabitation, but on consent.’ Ortolan, however, remarks that consensual contracts could be formed by absent contractors, Inst. 3, 22, 2, whereas a marriage could not be contracted in the absence of the wife, Paul, 2, 19, 8; and shows that, besides the consent of the parties, delivery of possession of the wife to the husband was required, from which he infers that Roman marriage was not a Consensual but a Real contract. It is true that marriage might be contracted in the absence of the husband; but this was only under certain conditions, Dig. 23, 22, 5. ‘A man in his absence may marry by letter or message, provided the woman is led to his house: a woman in her absence cannot marry by letter or message, for the leading must be to the husband’s house, as the domicile of the married pair.’ And precisely the same conditions were sufficient in other cases to constitute delivery of possession, Dig. 41, 2, 18, 2. ‘If a vendor deposit any article in my house by my order, I have possession of it though I have never touched it.’ Consensus, then, in the above-quoted passage, is not opposed to delivery of possession, but to cohabitation, or to the use of certain words or certain documents, or to the solemn and graceful ceremonial with which custom surrounded the matrimonial union.
Real contracts, however, are executory on one side and executed on the other, whereas in the conjugal relation both parties are on the same footing in respect of execution; and we may ask whether marriage is a contract at all; whether it does not rather fall under the opposite category of alienation or conveyance. Instead of finding its analogon in locatio-conductio or societas (consensual contracts) or pignus or commodatum (real contracts), may we not rather, with Savigny, find it in transfer of dominion or other creations of real right, such as adoption, the concession of patria potestas, or emancipation? This seems the truer view, and if we use the expression, marriage contract, we must use the term contract not in a specific sense, as opposed to conveyance, but in the generic sense of bilateral disposition (as opposed to unilateral disposition, e.g. testation), a sense embracing both contract proper and conveyance, and extending beyond the sphere of Property into the relations of domestic life. Contract proper and conveyance, though generally contrasted in jurisprudence, have much in common. If contract in its narrower sense is defined to be the concurrence of two manifestations of will creating a jus in personam, and conveyance the concurrence of two manifestations of will creating a jus in rem, the concurrence of two manifestations of will creating a jus is an element common to both terms of the comparison, and this common element may be denominated in a generic sense a contract. Contract in the narrower sense may then be distinguished as an obligative contract and conveyance as a translative contract, and the latter head will include the contract of marriage, if we continue to employ this expression.
As in respect of property or dominion we find in Roman law the distinction of Quiritary and Bonitary, that is, of civil and gentile, ownership, so in respect of the conjugal relation we find the distinction of Roman or civil marriage (connubium, justae nuptiae, justum matrimonium) and gentile marriage (nuptiae, matrimonium), of which the former alone was valid at civil law (connubium est uxoris jure ducendae facultas, Ulpian, 5, 3; ‘connubium is the capacity of marriage valid by civil law’) and capable of producing patria potestas and agnatio, though the latter produced legitimate children (justi as opposed to naturales liberi) and cognatio or natural relationship.
Capacity of civil marriage (connubium) is (a) absolute and (b) relative. (a) Only citizens have the absolute capacity of civil marriage, and such Latins and aliens as are specially privileged, § 56: slaves are incapable both of civil and gentile marriage. (b) Capacity of civil marriage is, however, always relative to another person who forms the other party to the union. A citizen only has connubium with a citizen or with such Latins and aliens as are specially privileged; and, before the lex Papia Poppaea was passed, a freeborn citizen (ingenuus) had no connubium with a citizen by manumission (libertinus). Lege Papia cavetur omnibus ingenuis, praeter senatores eorumque liberos libertinam uxorem habere licere, Dig. 23, 2, 23. ‘The lex Papia permits all freeborn citizens, except senators and their children, to marry freedwomen.’
Constantinus, a. d. 355, restored the ancient law and prohibited marriage with a brother’s daughter as incestuous, Cod. Theod. 3, 12, 1.
Affinity (affinitas) is the relationship of a person to the kin (cognates) of a spouse. The husband is allied to the kin of the wife, the wife to the kin of the husband; but there is no alliance between the kin of the husband and the kin of the wife. The following are some of the names given to these relationships. In the ascending line the father and mother of the wife or husband are socer and socrus (father-in-law, mother-in-law), and in relation to them the husband of the daughter and wife of the son are gener and nurus (son-in-law, daughter-in-law). In the descending line the children of the spouse are privignus and privigna (step-son, step-daughter), and in relation to them the husband of the mother and the wife of the father are vitricus and noverca (step-father and step-mother). In the collateral line the husband’s brother is levir (brother-in-law), the husband’s sister is glos (sister-in-law). Intermarriage with affines in the direct line, or their ascendents or descendents, was absolutely prohibited; collateral alliance appears to have been no impediment in the time of Gaius, but at a later period marriage with a deceased brother’s wife or a deceased wife’s sister was forbidden, Cod. Theod. 2, 3, 12; Cod. 5, 5, 5.
To the marriage of a filius- or filia-familias the consent of the father was required: but if he withheld it without a reason he could be compelled by the magistrate to give it, and, in the case of a daughter, to provide a dower, Dig. 23, 2, 19: one of several instances in which, as the condition of the validity of a title, when a voluntary action could not be obtained, the legislator substituted a compulsory action, instead of simply declaring the action unnecessary. See § 190, comm.
Mistake or error sometimes conferred a right which a party could not have acquired if he had not acted under a mistake. Thus, the lender of money to a filiusfamilias without the father’s consent had no legal claim to recover, unless he lent believing the borrower to be independent (sui juris), and possession could not mature by usucapion into ownership, unless it had a bona fide inception, i. e. unless it commenced in an honest misunderstanding. The relief of error had similarly important results in questions of status. Erroris causam probare seems to mean ‘to make good a title by error,’ i. e. to establish, as title (causa) to relief, a probabilis error or justa ignorantia; i. e. a mistake not due to negligence; for negligence would exclude from relief.
The subjection of a child to patria potestas by erroris causae probatio operated to invalidate a previously executed will, like the subsequent birth (agnatio) of a child in civil wedlock (suus postumus), 2 § 142.
§§ 76, &c. The rules relating to the status of the offspring of parents of unequal status are at first sight chaotic and bewildering, but they are reducible to a few canons. The most general canon is the rule of jus gentium, that children follow the condition of the mother. This is subject to two exceptions.
1. Children born in civil wedlock follow the condition of the father. Cf. §§ 88, 89, 94.
2. Children born in gentile (lawful) wedlock of a Roman mother and alien father follow the condition of the father: this was a special enactment of the lex Minicia.
These rules are stated in the following passages: Lex naturae haec est ut qui nascitur sine legitimo matrimonio matrem sequatur nisi lex specialis aliud inducat, Dig. 1, 5, 24. ‘By the law of nature children not born in civil wedlock follow the status of the mother, in the absence of a special statute to the contrary.’ Connubio interveniente liberi semper patrem sequuntur: non interveniente connubio, matris conditioni accedunt, excepto eo qui ex peregrino et cive Romana peregrinus nascitur, quoniam lex Minicia (in MS. Mensia) ex alterutro peregrino natum deterioris parentis conditionem sequi jubet, Ulpian, 5, 8. ‘In civil wedlock the children have the status of the father, in the absence of civil wedlock of the mother; except that the children of an alien father and Roman mother are aliens, as the lex Minicia makes the children aliens when either parent is an alien.’
The Sc. Claudianum introduced some special enactments respecting the intercourse of freewomen with slaves, which, however, were subsequently abolished.
a. If a freewoman had intercourse with a slave with the consent of his proprietor she retained her freedom, though degraded to the class of a freedwoman, but her issue was the slave of the proprietor. The slavery of the issue was abolished by Hadrian, § 84.
b. If a freewoman persisted in intercourse with the slave of another person against the will and in spite of the prohibition of the proprietor, after three denunciations on his part she was awarded to him by the magistrate as a slave, and her issue, whether born before or after the adjudication, became slaves of the same person, who also acquired her estate by a species of universal succession. Cf. §§ 91, 160. This terroristic law, which, from the minuteness with which the details are developed (Paulus, 2, 21), appears to have been often applied, was not abrogated till the time of Justinian, Inst. 3, 12, 1.
c. If a freeman had intercourse with a slave whom he supposed to be free by a law the title of which is lost, but which possibly may be the Sc. Claudianum, her male children were born into freedom. This relief of error was abolished by Vespasian as anomalous (inelegans), § 85.
Supposing the status of a parent changes during the period of gestation (if, for instance, the mother is a slave at the time of conception and free at the time of birth), what effect has this on the status of the issue? The following rule was adopted: in cases where the child follows the status of the father, that is, when it is begotten in civil marriage, the status of the father at the time of conception determines the status of the child; where the child follows the status of the mother, that is, when it is begotten in gentile marriage or in promiscuous intercourse, the status of the child is determined by the status of the mother at the moment of birth. Ulpian, 5, 10. ‘Children born in civil wedlock have their status fixed at the time of conception; children born out of civil wedlock have their status fixed at the time of delivery.’ That is to say, the legal position of the issue is made to follow the analogy of its physical condition. The physical influence of the father terminates with conception: his subsequent health, life, or death, does not affect the physical state of the child; but the child is affected by every change in the physical condition of the mother, her health, life, or death, up to the moment of birth. In imitation of this analogy, the status of the child, when it depended on the status of the father, was not affected by any change in that status subsequent to the period of conception; but when it depended on the status of the mother it varied with every change in that status up to the moment of birth. By the time of Gaius, though the change is not mentioned in the text, this rule was modified in favour of liberty, and it was established that if the mother was free either at the date of conception or at the date of birth or at any intermediate period, the issue was born free. Si libera conceperit et ancilla facta peperit, liberum parit, id enim favor libertatis exposcit. Si ancilla conceperit et medio tempore manumissa sit, rursus facta ancilla peperit, liberum parit, media enim tempora libertati prodesse, non nocere etiam possunt, Paulus, 2, 24, 2. Cf. Inst. 1, 4 pr.
The grant of civitas was either made to communities or to individuals. It was a lucrative source of revenue to the emperors. The fees to be paid were not small, Acts of the Apostles, 22, 28, and the new-made civis was regarded as a manumitted slave of the emperor, and was expected to remember the emperor in his will. The philosophic emperor, Marcus Aurelius, under whom Gaius flourished, granted Roman citizenship to all who were ready to pay the fees, data cunctis promiscue civitas Romana, Aurelius Victor, 16. Antoninus Caracalla, a. d. 212-217, after raising from one-twentieth to one-tenth the tax on manumissions and the testamentary succession and legacy duty, which was only levied on Roman citizens, exhausted for a time this source of revenue by conferring at a stroke Roman citizenship on every free subject of the empire: In orbe Romano qui sunt ex constitutione imperatoris Antonini cives Romani effecti sunt, Dig. 1, 5, 17. This was not a general manumission of slaves nor an abolition of the status of Latin or alien, but a grant of citizenship to all existing Latins and aliens, imposing in effect a capitation tax on the individuals, and leaving those orders to be again replenished by subsequent manumissions of Latini and dediticii. The value of the privileges of civis Romanus was gradually declining. The political portions of civitas had been extinguished by the establishment of the empire, and Rome was destined at last to undergo the fate she had inflicted on so many other cities. She was sacked by Alaric, king of the Goths, a. d. 410. She was entered by Genseric, king of the Vandals, and, after a sack of fourteen days, left a heap of ruins, a. d. 455. The splendour of the title of civis Romanus was sadly dimmed before Justinian made it acquirable by every form of manumission.
The grant of patria potestas by the Emperor to the new-made citizen, § 93, may be assimilated to the legislative grant of patria potestas in adrogatio. Its different effects may be compared with the incidents of Naturalization and Denization in English law. Naturalization formerly only effected by act of parliament is retrospective, and puts an alien in exactly the same state as if he had been born in the king’s ligeance, and his son born before the naturalization may inherit: whereas the issue of a Denizen (an alien born who has obtained ex donatione regis letters patent to make him an English subject) cannot inherit to him, but his issue born after may. Blackstone.
The name of a senate in a municipality was ordo decurionum or simply ordo or curia, its members being decuriones or curiales. The office of decurio, which was at one time a coveted distinction, became very burdensome; and in order to make it more acceptable, privileges were from time to time attached to it, as e. g. Latium majus, and in later times legitimatio per oblationem curiae (Inst. 1, 10, 13). (Dig. 50, 2 de decurionibus.)
It is to be noticed that the jus Latii could, according to Gaius, § 95, be constitutionally granted in three ways, either by the people itself (in Comitia), or by the senate (representing the people), or by the Emperor (in whom the power of the people was to a great extent vested).
Adrogation, or the adoption of an independent person (paterfamilias), reducing him to a dependent status (filiusfamilias), was a legislative act of the Comitia Curiata; but though, as representing the people, this assembly was legally omnipotent, it was unconstitutional to deprive a person either of the citizenship or of domestic independence without his own consent. We learn from Cicero the formula by which this assent was ascertained. De Domo, 29. ‘As it is an immemorial rule of law that no citizen of Rome shall be deprived of the independent position of paterfamilias or of citizenship against his will, as you have had occasion of learning by your own experience, for I suppose that, illegal as your adrogation was in all points, you at least were asked whether you consented to become subject to the adrogator’s power of life and death as if you were his son;—if you had opposed or been silent, and the thirty Curiae had nevertheless passed the law, tell me, would their enactment have had any binding force?’ The form in which the law was proposed to the legislative assembly is given by Gellius, 5, 19. ‘Adrogation is the subjection of an independent person with his own consent to the power of a superior, and is not transacted in the dark or without investigation. The Comitia Curiata, at which the College of Pontiffs is present, are convened, and examine whether the age of the adrogator does not rather qualify him for the natural procreation of children, and whether the estate of the adrogatus is not the object of fraudulent cupidity, and an oath, said to be framed by Q. Mucius, the high pontiff, has to be taken by the adrogator. . . . Adrogation, the name given to this transmit into a strange family, is derived from the interrogation of the legislative body, which is in the following form: ‘May it please you to will and command that L. Valerius shall be as completely by law and statute the son of L. Titius as if he were born of L. Titius and his wife, and that L. Titius shall have power of life and death over L. Valerius as a father has over his son. Do you will and command as I have said, Quirites?’ Those who voted in affirmation of the measure proposed said (at least in other similar assemblies): Uti rogas; those who voted against it said: Antiquo. Women were originally incapable of being adrogated, § 101, because they were incapable of appearing in the Comitia Curiata, Quoniam cum feminis nulla comitiorum communio est, Gellius, ibid.; but this incapacity vanished as soon as the lex Curiata, as form of adrogation, was superseded by imperial rescript (principale rescriptum), Gaius in Dig. 1, 7, 21. Women, being incapable of exercising parental power, could not, properly speaking, adrogate, § 104; but they were permitted, under Diocletian a. d. 291, by quasi adrogation to establish the same legal relation as existed between a mother and her natural children, Cod. 8, 48, 5; Inst. 1, 11, 10. An adrogator was usually required to be sixty years old, Dig. 1, 7, 15, 2, and to be eighteen years (plena pubertate) older than adrogatus, Inst. 1, 11, 4. Originally a youth must have attained the age of puberty before he could be adrogated, § 102, and Gellius, ibid.: Sed adrogari non potest nisi jam vesticeps . . . quoniam tutoribus in pupillos tantam esse auctoritatem potestatemque fas non est, ut caput liberum fidei suae commissum alienae ditioni subiciant. ‘A youth cannot be adrogated before he has assumed the toga virilis, because a guardian has no authority or power to subject an independent person, with whose charge he is entrusted, to the domination of a stranger.’ The purple-edged praetexta was generally laid aside by boys along with the bulla aurea which they wore round their neck, on the first Liberalia, the 17th March, Ovid, Fasti, 3, 771, after the completion of their fourteenth year. Females did not lay aside the praetexta till their marriage. Antoninus Pius permitted the adrogation of youths below the age of puberty (impubes, investis) under certain conditions; e. g. the adrogator entered into a stipulation, originally with a public slave, in later times with a public notary (tabularius), in the event of the death of adrogatus before the age of puberty, to restore his estate to his natural heirs, and, in the event of emancipation, to adrogatus himself: and adrogatus became entitled to a fourth part of the estate of adrogator (called quarta Antonini), of which he could not be deprived by disinherison or by unmerited emancipation, § 102; cf. Inst. 1, 11, 3. In the time of Justinian the adrogator only acquired a usufruct for life in the property, subject to which the adrogatus was owner of it; that is to say, the property of adrogatus was transformed by adrogation into peculium adventicium. Cf. 3, 84, comm.
The form of simple adoption is explained below, § 134, under the head of dissolution of patria potestas, for as patria potestas is vested by adoption in the adoptive father, so it is divested from the natural father.
The effect of adoption was much reduced by a constitution of Justinian. If the adoption was by an ascendent, maternal or paternal, it retained its old character: but if it was by a stranger it neither created nor extinguished patria potestas; it did not transfer the adopted son from his old family into a new family, and therefore it neither destroyed nor created any tie of agnation: its only effect was to give to the adopted son, in the event of intestacy, a claim against the estate of the intestate adoptive father; Cod. 8, 47, 10; Inst. 1, 11, 2 and 3, 1, 14.
In early Roman law a woman on marriage necessarily passed out of her own agnatic family into that of her husband, taking the place of a filiafamilias in it. If her husband was paterfamilias, she came into his hand, if he was filiusfamilias into that of his father. This power (manus) was the same in its nature as patria potestas. By manus the husband, or the husband’s father, had power of life and death over the wife, Livy, 39, 18; Tac. Ann. 13, 32; and all the property of the wife, even more absolutely than by the common law of English jurisprudence, vested in the husband or his paterfamilias, 2 § 98.
The patriarchs of the Roman nation could probably not conceive of the conjugal union as disjoined from manus. Yet at a very early period of Roman history these were recognized as separable, and in later times they were almost universally dissociated, and wedlock was unaccompanied by manus. In a marriage celebrated without confarreation and without coemption before the expiration of the first year of cohabitation, there was civil wedlock without manus, and the Twelve Tables provided a method (trinoctio abesse) by which this state could be indefinitely prolonged, § 111: and as soon as gentile marriages were recognized by the law the Romans were still more familiarized with the spectacle of lawful matrimony without manus. As the ages advanced the wife acquired more and more independence; manus was almost obsolete in the time of Gaius, and it has quite vanished from the legislation of Justinian. (For a detailed account of the law of marriage see Sohm, pp. 470-498.)
Confarreation was a form of marriage which made the issue eligible for certain high sacerdotal functions, and may therefore be regarded as characteristic of the patrician caste. Originally it probably produced marital power in its full extent; but when Augustus, b. c. 10, after a vacancy of seventy-five years, renewed the priesthood of Jove (flaminium diale) he limited by statute the legal effect of confarreation in that particular instance, § 136; and Tiberius, a.d. 23, extended the limitation to all future cases of confarreation, Tac. Ann. 4, 16. Henceforth it only operated a change of family in respect of sacred rites (sacra): the woman ceased to have the domestic gods and domestic worship of her father, and took in exchange the domestic gods and domestic worship of her husband. But in secular matters her family was unchanged: she remained, if filiafamilias, subject to patria potestas, and did not become quasi filiafamilias in the household of her husband: her old ties of agnation in her father’s family were not snapped, and no new ties of agnation in her husband’s family were acquired. Divorce (diffarreatio, Festus, s.v.) was almost impossible, and this indissolubility of the connexion contributed to the unpopularity of confarreatio. Moreover, it was a religious ceremonial, requiring the presence of the pontifex maximus and flamen dialis, and as such it vanished with vanishing paganism. The ten witnesses apparently represented the ten curiae of which the tribe was composed, or the ten gentes of which the curia was composed, or, if the decimal division continued further, the ten families of which the gens was composed.
The purchase of the wife by the husband, a widespread custom in a primitive state of society, was no doubt one of the ways in which Roman marriage originated. The exact nature of Coemption, in consequence of the defective state of the Veronese manuscript, must, however, remain a mystery. Coemption was a form of mancipation, § 113, but in virtue of the provision of the Twelve Tables, Cum nexum faciet mancipiumque, uti lingua nuncupassit, ita jus esto, the nature of every mancipation depended on the mancipii lex, the accompanying nuncupation or verbal declaration of its condition, intentions, purposes; as in English conveyancing the nature of a grant is limited and determined by the habendum and tenendum of the deed. We are informed that in coemption, the formula was not the same as in other mancipations, § 123, but we are not informed what it was. Even in Cicero’s time many advocates were ignorant of the legal effect of a coemption because they were ignorant of the precise terms of the formula in which it was concluded, De Orat. 1, 56. The word itself may suggest a conjecture that it was a conveyance of the husband to the wife as well as of the wife to the husband; and this is supported by Servius on Georgics, 1, 34, and Isidorus, 5, 24, no great authorities, but who quoted apparently from Ulpian: ‘An ancient nuptial form wherein husband and wife made a mutual purchase, to bar the inference that the wife became a slave.’ Plutarch informs us that the wife asserted her equality by the terms, Ubi tu Caius, ego Caia, Quaest. Rom. 28: ‘Where thou art master, I am mistress.’ Boethius on Cicero, Topica, 3, 14, quoting from Ulpian, says: ‘The man and woman interrogated one another. He asked her if she wished to be mother of his household; she answered, Yes. She asked him if he wished to be father of her household; he answered, Yes. And thus the woman passed into the hand of the man, and was called the mother of his household, with the status of filiafamilias.’ According to Cicero, the wife was only called materfamilias when subject to hand: Genus est uxor; ejus duae formae; una matrumfamilias, eae sunt, quae in manum convenerunt, altera earum quae tantummodo uxores habentur, Top. 3, 14. Gellius says the same, 18, 6, 7: Tradiderunt matremfamilias appellatam esse eam solam quae in mariti manu mancipioque aut in ejus, in cujus maritus manu mancipioque esset. Boethius (in Cic. Top. 3, 14) further limits the title to a wife who has become subject to manus by coemption: Quae autem in manum per coemptionem convenerant, hae matresfamilias vocabantur, quae vero usu et farreatione, minime, ibid. However this may have been, in one sense the name was a misnomer, for a wife subject to hand was not sui juris (materfamilias), but alieni juris (filiafamilias): and that materfamilias denoted a woman sui juris, whether married or unmarried, as opposed to a filiafamilias or woman alieni juris, appears from Ulpian (4, 1): Sui juris sunt familiarum suarum principes, id est paterfamiliae itemque materfamiliae. (See Muirhead’s Roman Law, App. B.)
If the wife was subject to the power of her father, she required his sanction before she could make a coemption with her husband. If the wife was independent of parental control, she required the sanction of her guardians, who under the old law would have been her nearest agnates.
Coemption was sometimes employed for other purposes than matrimony, and was then called fiduciary coemption. Sometimes the intention was to extinguish the obligation of onerous sacred rites attached to the estate of an heiress: Jure consultorum ingenio senes ad coemptiones faciendas interimendorum sacrorum causa reperti sunt, Cic. Pro Murena, 12, § 27. ‘Juristic ingenuity invented coemptions with aged men for extinguishing sacred rites.’ Savigny (Verm. Schr. 1, 190) gives the following conjectural explanation of the process. The obligation to the sacra belonged to the Quiritary ownership of the universitas of the woman’s estate. This, by the effect of coemption, vested in the coemptionator, an old man approaching dissolution (senex coemptionalis), with whom a fictitious marriage was contracted, and who took the estate as universal successor. He forthwith dismissed the woman from his manus by remancipation and manumission: and then, according to covenant, restored to her the estate in portions; that is, released from the ritual obligations, which only attached to the universitas. On his death, as Quiritary owner of the empty universitas, the obligation to the rites was extinguished: for the succession (hereditas) to the coemptionator did not pass to the woman, as she by remancipation had ceased to be [such was the hypothesis of Savigny before the discovery of Gaius: instructed by Gaius we must rather say, as mere fiduciary coemption had not the effect of making her] his filiafamilias and sua heres. The phrase senex coemptionalis denotes a slave. From which it may be inferred that a slave, useless for any other purpose, and therefore very cheap, was sometimes bought and manumitted to serve as coemptionator. In such a case the whole transaction would be very inexpensive, if not very decorous. This mode of getting rid of sacred rites is compared by Ihering, § 58, with the institution of a slave as heir to bear the infamy of bankruptcy instead of the deceased testator, 2 § 154. Universal succession was an institution which Roman law only admitted in certain cases, 2 § 98, including the cases of Manus and Adrogatio. If universal succession was required for the purpose of extinguishing the obligation to sacred rites attaching to the estate of an heiress, we might have supposed that Adrogatio would have been a less offensive mockery than a fictitious marriage (fiduciary coemption); adrogatio, however, was inapplicable, because, as we have seen, up to a late period of Roman law women were incapable of being adrogated. Moreover, the Pontifices, who had a veto on adrogations, were not likely to lend themselves readily to the extinction of sacred rites. (Comments of other modern writers on this subject are noticed in Roby’s Roman Private Law, 1, 71, n. 1.)
At other times Coemption was employed to enable a woman to select a guardian, §§ 115, 195 a. Cic. Pro Murena, 12 § 27. ‘There are many wise legal provisions that juristic ingenuity has defeated and perverted. All women on account of their weakness of judgement were placed by our ancestors under a guardian’s control: jurists invented a kind of guardian subject to female dictation.’ (Cf. Sohm, 103, n. 2.)
The latest employment of Coemption enabled a woman to break the ties of agnation and thus acquire testamentary capacity, § 115 a; Cic. Top. 4, 18. The coemptionator (party to the coemption) in virtue of the manus thereby acquired was able, and by a fiducia or trust was bound, to sell the woman into bondage as if she were filiafamilias: accordingly he remancipated her to a third person, who by manumitting her in accordance with another fiducia became her patron, and as patron, in accordance with the Twelve Tables, §§ 165, 166, her statutory guardian (tutor legitimus), and, as having acted under a fiducia, her fiduciary guardian, § 115. It may occur to us that as coemptio required the sanction of a father or guardian, this process could not be of much use in getting rid of a guardian or defeating the claims of agnatic guardians to a woman’s intestate succession; but it must be remembered that the nearest agnate, who alone was heir and guardian, was a variable person, and that a given nearest agnate might be not indisposed to allow a woman to acquire the free disposition of her property and to defeat the claims of those who, after his death, would be nearest agnates and presumptive heirs. At all events, however indisposed the guardian might be to such a course, a period at last arrived when the auctoritas of the guardian, though still required as a formality, could be extorted, if not yielded voluntarily, by appeal to the magistrate, § 190.
Agnatic guardianship of female wards was abolished by a lex Claudia, § 171, and thus the woman would be free from the control of an interested guardian in the disposition of her property during her lifetime. She would still however have had little more than a life interest until she acquired the power of testation. For when wills could be only executed in the comitia, 2 § 101, she would be excluded from testation, as well as from adrogation, by exclusion from the comitia: and after the introduction of the mancipatory will she was still barred by her agnates’ indefeasible claims to her reversion. Agnation itself, however, was defeasible by means of coemptio and remancipatio and the consequent capitis minutio; and when the auctoritas of the guardian for these proceedings could be extorted, § 190, the woman had practically acquired power of testation, although its exercise was hampered by a tedious formality, which was not abolished by the emperor Claudius when he abolished agnatic guardianship. It was not till the senatusconsult of Hadrian that the rupture of the ties of agnation by means of coemptio ceased to be necessary to the validity of a woman’s will, § 115 a; 2 §§ 112, 118; though it had probably been previously a mere formality (the woman having power to extort at pleasure the auctoritas of the agnatic guardian) even before the time of Claudius. As we learn from the text coemption had not been required previously in the case of certain privileged women. Cf. §§ 145, 194; 3 § 44; Ulp. 29, 3.
The pactum fiduciae, or agreement by which the conditions or trusts were defined, must not be identified with nuncupatio. Nuncupatio forms an integral part of Mancipatio, and what was declared in it would constitute a title under the law of the Twelve Tables. Pactum fiduciae, on the other hand, never coalesces with Mancipatio, but remains a separate adjunct, originally only morally binding on the transferee, but afterwards forming an obligation of jus gentium, and affording ground to support a bonae fidei actio. Herein Mancipatio is contrasted with Tradition and the dispositions of natural law. Conventions accompanying Tradition unite with it, and form a single consolidated disposition; and the pacts annexed (pacta adjecta) to any contract of natural law (venditio, conductio, mandatum, &c.) become integral parts thereof, and are enforced by the action brought on the principal contract. Stipulatio, as a civil disposition, seems to have originally resembled Mancipation in this respect: at least it was a late period of the law when the rule was clearly established that: Pacta incontinenti facta stipulationi inesse creduntur, Dig. 12, 1, 40, i. e. Pacts made contemporaneously with a stipulation are deemed to be portions of the stipulation. Savigny, § 268. It is true that a Pactum adjectum respecting interest and annexed to the gentile disposition Mutuum could not be enforced by an action brought upon the Mutuum: but that was a consequence of the nature of the action (condictio certi) whereby Mutuum was enforced, and which could not embrace any sum beyond the original subject of the Mutuum; 3 §§ 90, 91, comm.
In what respects did domestic bondage (mancipium or mancipii causa) differ from slavery (servitus)? Bondage was an institute of jus civile, slavery an institute of jus gentium, § 52. Bondage was the result of mancipation by a parent or coemptionator, and only a Roman citizen was capable of becoming a bondsman. The proprietor has possession of the slave, the lord has no possession of the bondsman, 2 § 90. The bondsman was civis Romanus, though what became of his political capacities during his bondage is uncertain; and he was liber, though alieni juris; he was free in respect of the rest of the world, he was only a bondsman in respect of the person in whose mancipium he was. Thus the status of mancipium was relative; a man could only be in mancipio in relation to a given domestic lord: whereas the status of slavery was absolute; a man might be a slave without an owner (servus sine domino): for instance, a person condemned for a capital crime, who was called the slave of punishment (servus poenae, Inst. 1, 12, 3), or a slave abandoned (derelictus) by his owner. Accordingly, falling into servitus was maxima capitis diminutio, while falling into mancipii causa was minima capitis diminutio, § 162. The bondsman had no proprietary rights against his superior, 2 § 86, but he had some of the primordial rights; for instance, he could sue his superior for outrage, § 141; and he was capable of civil wedlock and could beget Roman citizens, though during his bondage his patria potestas was in abeyance, § 135. Release from bondage, as from slavery, was by manumission, § 138, and the manumitter became the patron of the released person, §§ 166, 195 a, but the manumitted bondsman became ingenuus, whereas the manumitted slave became libertinus. Bondage did not exist in the time of Justinian.
§ 128. Relegation was a milder form of punishment than deportation, and involved no loss of civitas nor of domestic rights, Inst. 1, 12, 2.
§ 132. The epitome of Gaius, 1, 6, 3, which throws light on this passage, mentions as present at an emancipation, besides the five witnesses and libripens, a seventh person called antestatus, who is also mentioned in the bronze tablet referred to in the remarks on pignus and fiducia. Book 3, §§ 90, 91, comm. His duty may have been to ask the witnesses whether they were bearing witness to the transaction (antestari). Cf. Roby, Private Law, pp. 180, n. 2, 423, n. 3.
The vindicta or wand used in manumission, as already stated, was the rod or verge symbolizing a lance carried by the parties in a real action, 4 § 13. The status of freedom (libertas) whether as opposed to slavery or to bondage (mancipii causa) was a real right (jus in rem). and therefore a subject to be contested in a vindicatio. Manumission by vindicta was a collusive vindicatio, in other words, an in jure cessio. Cf. Roby, 1, p. 26, n. 1.
The epitome of Gaius (l. c.) calls the person, to whom the son was mancipated by pater naturalis, pater fiduciarius, which implies that the mancipation was accompanied by a fiducia or declaration of trust. The trust would be that the pater fiduciarius should make default or confess in the subsequent in jure cessio.
The status of paterfamilias or of filiusfamilias being, like other kinds of status, a real right, the claim of a person as filiusfamilias was a matter to be contested in a real action or vindicatio brought against the person in whose possession he was. This would seem the more obvious in primitive times, when probably no distinction was made between patria potestas and dominica potestas, i. e. between paternal power and absolute proprietorship. Such vindicatio was sometimes a matter of contentious (not voluntary) jurisdiction, i. e. of genuine litigation. Cf. Dig. 6. 1, 1, 2, where we are told that the ground of making a claim of this kind must be particularly specified (adfecta causa) in the vindication. The ordinary mode of judicially determining the status of a child in case of dispute was by a praejudicium, 4 § 44, comm. The father could compel any one, who had possession of his child, to produce him by the interdictum de liberis exhibendis or de liberis ducendis 4 §§ 138-170, comm. In case of dispute between paterfamilias and filiusfamilias inter se, recourse might be had to the extraordinaria cognitio of the magistrate. Sohm’s Inst. § 101.
Justinian simplified the formalities of emancipation and adoption. He allowed the former to be accomplished by a simple declaration of the father before a competent judge or magistrate (Emancipatio Justinianea); and the latter after appearance of all the parties before such a judge, insinuatio, i. e. a memorandum of the transaction in the public records (actis intervenientibus) being in both cases required. Emancipation by imperial rescript had been previously instituted by the Emperor Anastasius (Emancipatio Anastasiana). Imperial rescript was required for effecting an arrogation.
In English law children are enfranchised, and the limited power of the father over their person and property is terminated by two events which did not operate emancipation in Roman law, marriage and arrival at years of discretion, that is, attainment of majority by the completion of twenty-one years of age. At these points, under English law, the empire of the father or other guardian gives place to the empire of reason; whereas neither marriage nor majority released the Roman son or daughter from potestas.
§ 137. Dissolution of marriage (divortium) could be effected either by the consent of both parties or by the act of one. The message of repudiation (repudium) contained the formula, Tuas res tibi habeto, ‘Take away thy property.’ Mimam illam suam suas res sibi habere jussit, claves ademit, exegit, Cic. Phil. 2, 28. ‘The actress was ordered to pack, deprived of the keys, turned out of the house.’ The lex Julia de adulteriis prescribed a form for repudium, and required the message to be delivered by a freedman of the family, in the presence of seven witnesses above the age of puberty and citizens of Rome. The party who made a causeless repudium, or whose misconduct justified a repudium, was punished by pecuniary losses in respect of dos and propternuptial donations. After much veering legislation under the Christian Emperors, Justinian enacted that a man or woman who divorced without a cause should retire to a cloister and forfeit all his or her estate, one moiety to his or her successors, and the other moiety to the cloister. Nov. 134, 11. But it was not till later times that the Church succeeded in making marriage indissoluble by law.
Having examined those inferiorities of legal capacity which constituted a status, we now proceed to examine certain cases of incapacity of acting independently which, though analogous to the former as belonging to the sphere of unequal rights, were not included by the Romans under the denomination of status. The inferiorities of capacity in infancy, minority, tutelary wardship, curatel, were different in character and not so considerable as those which we have hitherto examined. The diminution of rights in a lapse from independence to curatel was less than the least capitis minutio, and accordingly a prodigal who was interdicted from the administration of his estate and subjected to the control of a curator, was not said to undergo a status mutatio: his patrimony still vested in him, though he was deprived of its administration; whereas adrogatio and in manum conventio divested a person of the capacity of ownership and active obligation: inferior status, in a word, is incapacity of right; wardship and curatel are only incapacities of disposition.
Guardianship is thus defined: Est autem tutela, ut Servius definit, jus ac potestas in capite libero, ad tuendum eum qui propter aetatem se defendere nequit, jure civili data ac permissa, Inst. 1, 13, 1. ‘Guardianship is a right and power over an independent person conferred or authorized by the Civil law for the protection of one who is incapacitated by age for self-defence.’ The duties of the guardian related both to the person and to the property of the ward. In respect of his person, the guardian was charged with the care of his nurture and education: in respect of his property, the guardian’s function was distinguished as either exclusive administration or concurrent interposition of authority (rem gerere et auctoritatem interponere). Up to the age of seven the ward was called infans, 3 § 109, and during this period the guardian acted alone (administratio, negotiorum gestio); after the completion of seven years until the age of puberty (fourteen for males, as the time was ultimately fixed, twelve for females) the ward acted, and the guardian concurrently gave his sanction (auctoritas). The sanction of the guardian was a legal act of a highly formal character (actus legitimus), by which such legal acts of his ward, as would otherwise have been imperfect, obtained validity. Accordingly the guardian could not give his sanction by letter or through an agent, but had to be present himself for the purpose at the time when the act of the ward was executed, so that he might be a subsidiary party to it. Inst. 1, 21, 2 Tutor autem statim in ipso negotio praesens debet auctor fieri, si hoc pupillo prodesse existimaverit. post tempus vero aut per epistulam interposita auctoritas nihil agit.
The sanction of the guardian was necessary whenever the act of the ward was one which might possibly entail loss, but not otherwise. Cf. 2 §§ 80-85, Inst. l. c. pr. and 1 Auctoritas autem tutoris in quibusdam causis necessaria pupillis est, in quibusdam non est necessaria. ut ecce si quid dari sibi stipulentur, non est necessaria tutoris auctoritas: quod si aliis pupilli promittant, necessaria est: namque placuit meliorem quidem suam condicionem licere eis facere etiam sine tutoris auctoritate, deteriorem autem non aliter quam tutore auctore. unde in his causis, ex quibus mutuae obligationes nascuntur, in emptionibus venditionibus, . . . si tutoris auctoritas non interveniat, ipsi quidem, qui cum his contrahunt, obligantur, at invicem pupilli non obligantur In respect of administration of property the guardian incurred a quasi-contractual obligation, and was accordingly liable to the judicium or actio tutelae.
In the time of Gaius, women continued subject to guardianship after the age of puberty: the functions of the guardian were in their case confined to auctoritas, which in most cases was a mere formality; the power of administration vested in the woman, § 190.
§ 156. As to this definition of agnati see Moyle’s note to Inst. 1, 15, 1. The maxim here enunciated is calculated to give a false idea of the relation of the institutes of jus gentium to those of jus civile. Title by cognation is just as much an institute of positive law as title by agnation, though cognation, or blood-relationship, is in itself a natural and permanent tie, while agnation is an artificial one, and therefore only occasional. The synthesis of title and right in jus civile may be freakish and capricious, while that in jus gentium may be reasonable and expedient; but both are equally positive institutions, and both are equally mutable and liable to be overruled. Accordingly, the specious-sounding maxim, that revolutions in status or civil condition cannot affect such rights as are annexed to natural titles, crumbles away as soon as we examine it, for we find that it only holds good of the most insignificant change, the minima capitis minutio, 3 § 27, and that maxima and media capitis minutio extinguish title by cognation, which belongs to jus gentium, as well as title by agnation, which belongs to jus civile. Inst. 1, 16, 6.
The truth is, that the effects of a collision of Civil and Natural law fall under two very different classes, which it is important to distinguish.
1. If the command of the civil lawgiver, under the sway of motives financial, political, ethical, or religious, is highly imperious and absolutely compulsive, all natural titles with which it may come in conflict are absolutely void and inoperative: e. g. the Sc. Velleianum, prohibiting suretyship of women, allowed no naturalis obligatio to be produced by any such suretyship: and so with the laws prohibiting gambling and usury.
2. If the command of the civil law is less peremptory and absolute, it may deprive any conflicting natural title of plenary force, and yet leave to it a naturalis obligatio capable of acquiring efficacy by some machinery of positive law; e. g. the Sc. Macedonianum, prohibiting money loans to a filiusfamilias without the sanction of his father, made them irrecoverable by action, and yet the courts recognized in the borrowing filiusfamilias a naturalis obligatio, which was capable of novation, Dig. 46, 2, 19, and a bar to recovery back (condictio indebiti) in case of actual repayment, Dig. 14, 6, 10.
When Justinian consolidated the law of intestate succession and made the right of succession depend on cognation instead of agnation, he made a corresponding change in the obligation of guardianship, which henceforth devolved on cognates instead of agnates, women as formerly, with the exception of mothers and grandmothers, being excluded from the office, Nov. 118, 5.
§ 160. Ulpian also refers to the penalty incurred by incensi (11, 11 cum incensus aliquis venierit; cf. Cic. Pro Caec. 34, 99). The lex, the name of which is now illegible, may possibly be the lex Aelia Sentia, which by one of its provisions recalled into slavery dediticii, who resided in Rome or within a certain distance from it (§ 27), though there is the difficulty that it would be inaccurate to speak of such freedmen suffering loss of citizenship as well as liberty. Other grounds of reducing to slavery existed at various times, as surrender by the pater patratus to a foreign state for an offence against international law, Livy, 5, 36, or evasion of military service (populus quum eum vendidit qui miles factus non est, Cic. Pro Caec. 34, 11; Ulp. 11, 11), or capture by the enemy, § 129, or condemnation for a capital crime, which made the convict a slave of punishment (servus poenae, Inst. 1, 16, 1), i. e. reduced him to penal servitude, or condemnation of a freedman for ingratitude towards his patron (libertus ingratus circa patronum condemnatus, ibid.) whereupon he forfeited his freedom, or collusion of a freeman in consenting to be sold as a slave on condition of sharing the purchase-money (cum liber homo, major viginti annis, ad pretium participandum sese venundari passus est, Inst. 1, 3, 4). After the price had been paid, the vendor disappeared, the supposed slave recovered his liberty by a liberalis causa, and the purchaser was left without his slave and without his money. The praetor, to check this fraud, allowed the purchaser to defend himself by exceptio doli, and senatusconsulta subsequently enacted, that if the person sold was twenty years old at the time of the sale or partition of the price, he should really become the slave of the purchaser, Dig. 40, 12, 7 pr. 1.
The libertus ingratus would exemplify a fall from the condition of libertinus to that of servus; any of the other instances might be a case of a fall from ingenuus to servus; the fall from ingenuus to libertinus would also be an analogous kind of degradation. Thus by the Sc. Claudianum a freewoman (ingenua) who had commerce with a slave with the consent of his proprietor procreated slaves without forfeiting her own freedom, § 84; she lost status, however, for she became the freedwoman of the proprietor, Paulus, 4, 10, 2; Tac. Ann. 12, 53.
The political elements of civitas, suffragium and honores, were forfeited by infamy (infamia) or loss of civic honour (existimatio); and hence arises the question whether infamia is to be regarded as a capitis minutio (see, on this subject, Greenidge, Infamia).
Austin, in laying the bases of jurisprudence, has referred to the law of honour to illustrate the difference of positive law from all law not positive; but in Rome the law of honour, as the law of religion in most modern states, was partially taken up into positive legislation. The public sentiments of esteem and disesteem, that is to say, were armed with political sanctions, and thus certain proceedings were discouraged which were not otherwise prohibited by positive law, and the due application of these sanctions was the function of a special organ appointed by the legislator. This organ was the censor, who had both a discretionary power of branding a man with ignominy by an annotation against his name in the civic register (notatio, subscriptio censoria), and, as revisor of the lists of the senate, the knights, and the tribes, enforced the disabilities of infamy by removing the infamous person from any of those bodies. As the Comitia Centuriata, as well as the Comitia Tributa, had in later times been connected with the division into tribes, the tribeless man (aerarius) forfeited his vote and became incapable of military service, Livy, 7, 2. These graver consequences of infamy were not in the discretion of the censor, but governed by strict rules of consuetudinary law (jus moribus introductum). The law of infamia, as established by the censor, came to be also recognized by the praetor in his edict (cf. Dig. 3, 1, 1, 8 Qui edicto praetoris ut infames notantur), who made infamy not only a consequence of condemnation in any criminal trial (publicum judicium), but also of condemnation in certain civil actions founded on delict, such as theft, rapine, outrage, fraud; or on certain contracts, such as partnership, agency (mandatum), deposit; or on quasi contract, such as guardianship; or of insolvency (bona possessa, proscripta, vendita); or, without any judicial condemnation, was annexed to certain violations of the marriage laws, such as bigamy or the marriage of a widow before the termination of her year of mourning, and to the pursuit of certain professions, such as that of stage-player or gladiator. In some of these latter instances consuetudinary law, as above intimated, inflicted positive sanctions on acts that originally had only been prohibited by the law of honour. In view of these consequences, infamia may at one time have been regarded as capitis minutio. Cicero pro Quinctio speaks of a suit involving existimatio as a causa capitis (cf. pro Rosc. Com. 6), and Tertullian, the father of the Church, who was noted for his knowledge of Roman law, and possibly was identical with the jurist of that name, of whom five fragments are preserved in the Digest, speaks of infamia as capitis minutio, De Spectaculis, 22, Scenicos manifeste damnant ignominia et capitis deminutio. But the political rights of civitas had ceased to be of importance under the emperors, and we are expressly told in the Digest that only death or loss of citizenship can be understood to affect a man’s caput, Modestinus in Dig. 50, 16, 103.
Besides extinguishing the political or public elements of civitas, infamia affected to a certain extent its private elements, both commercium and connubium; the former, as we shall see, in respect of the office of cognitor, 4 § 124 (cf. Dig. 3, 1, de postulando), and the latter in respect of the disabilities of celibacy under the lex Julia, which were not removed by marriage with an infamis. Both these classes of disability had practically vanished even before they were abolished in the time of Justinian.
This seems the proper place to notice certain inequalities of condition, analogous to the old distinctions of status, which grew up subsequently to the time of Gaius in the later ages of Rome, and some of which survived the fall of the Roman empire. From the establishment of the empire the army was caressed by each succeeding despot, and privileges of various kinds were so accumulated on the military service, that the relation of the soldiery to the rest of the world very much resembled the ancient relation of Romanus to peregrinus. The pre-eminence of the military caste was the result of elevation; other unprivileged castes were created by depression. As the new religion grew to political power, zealous legislators were eager to promote its ascendency by the means of political sanctions. Pagans, Jews, heretics, apostates, protestants, papists, were successively frowned upon by the legislator, and for a long season subjected to incapacities and disabilities as great as, or greater than, those which weighed upon infames: until by a change in political conceptions these inequalities of right have been again levelled and almost obliterated in most of the codes of modern Europe. See also the remarks on Colonatus, 3 § 145.
In the exposition of capitis minutio, and particularly of the third and last kind, I have adopted the theory of Savigny as being the most tenable, and forming the most harmonious system of legal conceptions. I must now briefly notice an opposing theory, and the objections that may be raised against that of Savigny. Some expositors hold that capitis minutio minima did not necessarily and essentially involve any degradation, any downward step on the ladder of status, but might be merely a horizontal movement on the same platform, a transit from family to family, a disruption of the ties of agnation, a cessation of membership in a given civil group. (See on this subject Dr. Moyle’s Excursus, Inst. Bk. 1, and Professor Goudy’s App. to Muirhead’s Roman Law, second ed., p. 426, where Mommsen’s explanation is given.) This opinion is founded on the authority of Paulus, undeniably an eminent juris auctor, who defines the least diminution of head as follows: Dig. 4, 5, 11. ‘Capital diminution is of three orders, greatest, minor, least; as there are three things that we have, liberty, citizenship, family. The universal loss of freedom, citizenship, family, is the greatest capital diminution; loss of citizenship while liberty is retained is minor capital diminution; when liberty and citizenship are retained, and family only is changed, there is the least capital diminution.’ Consistently with this definition Paulus affirms that the children of adrogatus suffer capitis minutio minima: Dig. 4, 5, 3 pr. ‘The children who follow an adrogated parent suffer capital diminution, as they are dependent and have changed family’: here, then, if Paulus is right, we have capitis minutio without any degradation, any loss of rank; for the children of adrogatus have the same status of filiifamilias after their father’s adrogation as they had before, although in a different family. The proposition, however, that the children of adrogatus suffer capitis minutio is not confirmed by any other jurist, and Savigny supposes that the doctrine was peculiar to Paulus, and was in fact inaccurate. Another objection to the theory of Savigny, though not so serious as the opposing authority of Paulus, is presented by the operation of in manum conventio.
When an independent woman made a coemption she undoubtedly declined in status, as before coemption she was sui juris, and after coemption she is filiafamilias. But a filiafamilias who made a coemption apparently suffered no degradation: the definitive result of the coemption leaves her, as before, filiafamilias, and that, apparently, without having passed through any lower stage; for Gaius expressly says that the lex mancipii, or formula of mancipation in coemption, was not calculated to reduce the woman to a servile condition, § 123. Gaius tells us, however, that coemption operates a capitis minutio, § 162, without limiting the effect to the case of a woman sui juris. The operation of coemption to produce capitis minutio is also mentioned by Ulpian, and again without any express limitation to the case of an independent woman: 11, 13. ‘There is least capital diminution when both citizenship and freedom are unimpaired, and only position in household life is changed, as occurs in adoption and subjection to hand.’ If filiafamilias underwent capitis minutio when she made a coemption, her case disproves our theory that all capitis minutio requires degradation: but Savigny assumes that, though in these passages there is no express limitation to the case of independent women, yet this limitation must be understood; and there is nothing outrageous in this supposition.
While, however, these objections to the hypothesis of Savigny are doubtless serious, on the other hand they are compensated by legal facts which seem absolutely irreconcilable with the adverse hypothesis, the cases of Flamen Dialis and Virgo Vestalis. Gellius, 1, 12. ‘As soon as a vestal virgin is selected and conducted to the shrine of Vesta and delivered to the pontifices, she instantaneously, without emancipation and without capital diminution, is freed from parental power and acquires testamentary capacity. . . . . Moreover, in the commentary of Labeo on the Twelve Tables it is stated that a vestal virgin is neither heiress-at-law to any one who dies intestate nor, if she herself die intestate, leaves any heir-at-law, and that in this event her property lapses to the state.’ For Flamen Dialis, see 3 § 114. If mere transit from a family and ceasing to belong to a given group of agnates constituted capitis minutio, and was its definition, then the vestal virgin must inevitably have suffered capitis minutio; the fact that she did not, in spite of leaving her family and snapping the agnatic tie, is at once conceivable, on the supposition that there is no capitis minutio without degradation.
Unless capitis minutio minima involved a downward step on the stair of status, it has no analogy to the other forms of capitis minutio, and it is not obvious why it should have the same generic appellation, or why it should be handled in the same department of the code. The rupture of the ties of agnation, extinguishing rights of intestate succession, might be a loss, but it was not a loss from inferiority of privilege; it was a loss of an equal among equals; it was more like the loss of dos which a husband might incur by divorce of his wife, or an heir by neglecting to accept a succession within the appointed period (cretio), 2 § 164; neither of which persons were said to undergo capitis minutio, because neither of them suffered a reduction of the universitas juris called status.
On the whole, then, Savigny seems justified in considering the definition given by Paulus and his statement respecting the children of adrogatus as inexact. Paulus himself, in speaking of emancipation, implies the true conditions of capitis minutio: Dig. 4, 5, 3 Emancipato filio et ceteris personis capitis minutio manifesto accidit, cum emancipari nemo possit nisi in imaginariam servilem causam deductus; aliter atque cum servus manumittitur, quia servile caput nullum jus habet ideoque nec minui potest.
Although rupture of the ties, and forfeiture of the rights, or release from the duties, of agnation, were not the essence of capitis minutio minima, yet they were among its principal consequences. The capite minutus lost his claim as suus heres at civil law, that is, his right to succeed to an intestate ascendent, or to be instituted heir in his will or formally disinherited. These effects of capitis minutio were, however, counteracted to some extent by jus praetorium or the legislation of the praetor (bonorum possessio unde liberi: and contra tabulas). He also lost his right as legitimus heres at civil law, that is, his right to succeed as nearest agnate to an intestate collateral; and here the praetor only so far interposed to assist the capite minutus, as, in default of all persons entitled as nearest agnates, to call him to the succession in the inferior order of cognates (bonorum possessio unde cognati). The collateral civil heir was called legitimus heres (statutory heir) because his title was founded on the statutes of the Twelve Tables, which, in default of self-successors, called the nearest collateral agnates to the succession. Subsequent statutes created certain quasi agnates or persons entitled to succeed in the same order as if they were agnates, who hence were also called legitimi heredes; e. g. children entitled to succeed to an intestate mother under the Sc. Orphitianum, and mothers entitled to succeed to intestate children under the Sc. Tertullianum. The effect of capitis minutio in extinguishing title to succeed was confined to legitimus heres created by the Twelve Tables, and did not extend to the legitimus heres created by these subsequent statutes.
Besides the effects of capitis minutio which followed logically from its consisting in a degradation or fall in status, and from its involving elimination from a given family or a certain circle of agnates, it had certain other abnormal or arbitrary consequences—consequences, that is, which may have once been explicable on known maxims of the civil law, but which are now inexplicable, whose rationale had perhaps been lost even in the classical period, and is certainly now past conjecture. Such is the rule, that capitis minutio minima of an independent person extinguished the debts of capite minutus. It is true that the injustice operated by this rule of civil law in the case of adrogatio was counteracted by the interposition of the praetor, but, as at civil law filiusfamilias, though incapable of rights, was capable of obligations, it is not obvious why even at civil law a man’s debts should have been cancelled by his degradation from the status of paterfamilias to that of filiusfamilias. 3 § 84, comm.; 4 § 38.
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§ 165. The same statute of the Twelve Tables assigns the guardianship of freedwomen and of freedmen below the age of puberty to the patron and the patron’s children, and this guardianship, like that of agnates, is called statutory guardianship, not that it is anywhere expressly enacted in the Twelve Tables, but because the interpretation has procured for it as much reception as it would have obtained from express enactment; for the fact that the statute gave the succession of a freedman or freedwoman, when they die intestate, to the patron and patron’s children, was deemed by the lawyers of the republic (veteres) a proof that it intended to give them the guardianship also, because the Tables, when they call agnates to succeed to the inheritance, likewise confer on them the guardianship.
§ 164 a. As in default of agnates the inheritance by the law of the Twelve Tables devolved on the gens it may be inferred by the reasoning adopted in § 165 that the guardianship passed to it also. So it is probable that at the beginning of the lacuna Gaius made mention of the statutory guardianship of the Gentiles, and that this is the passage on the subject referred to in 3, 17. As to the nature of the gens, see Introduction.
§ 173. Cf. Ulp. 11, 22. The name and date of this senatusconsultum cannot be ascertained.
§ 188. In the time of Justinian there were three forms of guardian,—testamentary, or appointed by will; statutory, or prescribed by the law in case of intestacy; and magisterial (dativus), or appointed by the magistrate, in default of a testamentary or statutory guardian. The other forms of guardian had become obsolete, except a kind of fiduciary one, Inst. 1, 19, in consequence of the change in legislation.
For an account of Q. Mucius Scaevola (Consul b. c. 95) and Servius Sulpicius Rufus (Consul b. c. 51), who may be regarded as the fathers of Roman jurisprudence, see Roby, Intr. to Justinian’s Digest, pp. cvi and cxi.
As women were capable of administration, the functions of the guardian, which in the case of infants were either administrative or sanctionative, in the case of women were confined to sanctioning. Pupillorum pupillarumque tutores et negotia gerunt et auctoritatem interponunt: mulierum autem tutores auctoritatem dumtaxat interponunt, Ulp. 11, 25. It is transparent that the wardship of women after full age was not designed to protect their own interests, but those of their heirs apparent, their agnates. Originally the authorization of the guardian was not sufficient to validate the will of an independent woman: it was necessary that she should first break the ties of agnation, and separate from her family by means of a coemption (with her guardian’s sanction) and subsequent remancipation and manumission. She then, with the sanction of the manumissor, in his character of fiduciary guardian, could make a valid will. In the time of Gaius, Hadrian having abolished the necessity of coemption, to make a valid will an independent woman only required the sanction of her guardian, 2 § 112, and Claudius, as we have seen, had put an end to agnatic guardianship, § 171.
When a woman was liberated from the administrative control of her guardian, and the guardian had no longer any interest in the succession to her property, the simplest course would have been to declare her dispositions valid without his sanction—to declare her no longer a ward. But with characteristic conservatism of forms, Roman law, to avoid the open change, declared the auctoritas still necessary, but made it compulsory instead of voluntary—gave the ward a power of extorting it from the guardian, 2 §§ 80-85. So the act whereby a testamentary heir accepts an inheritance was originally absolutely voluntary: but when trusts (fidei commissa) were introduced, and the heir as trustee or fiduciarius by groundlessly refusing to make the necessary aditio, which in this case was the merest form, could produce intestacy, and thus deprive the beneficiary, fidecommissarius, or cestui que trust of the provision destined for him by the bounty of the testator: instead of declaring the aditio of the heres unnecessary to the acquisition of the fortune by fideicommissarius; or that in such a case the beneficiary should be deemed to be a direct substitutus of the heres; or that the vexatious refusal of the heres should be deemed to be an aditio and restitutio; the legislator ordained that the heres should be compelled to make aditio in order to complete the title, 2 § 258, comm. Again, the terms of the security given by the guardian (rem pupilli salvam fore) against dilapidation of the estate of the ward made the responsibility of the guardian depend on his actual administration; so that he was not responsible if the estate went to ruin in consequence of his total abstention from the performance of his duties. To protect the ward against this contingency, instead of altering the formula of the satisdatio, and making the liability of the guardian depend on his appointment and not on his acting; the law compelled him to proceed to some act of guardianship, in order to bring him under the unchanged terms of his security; Dig. 46, 6, 4, 3. In all these and other cases a compulsory act was substituted for a voluntary act for the sake of giving the law an outward appearance of continuity. At last, at some period before the epoch of Justinian, the tutelage of women above the age of puberty had ceased in form as well as in substance, and no sanction of a guardian, whether voluntary or compulsory, was required.
It is to be observed, that as women were gradually enfranchised from their disabilities, they also forfeited some of their original privileges. It was a rule of the administration of justice that while error of fact might be pleaded to defend a person against the consequences of his own acts or omissions, no one should be allowed to allege an error of law, Dig. 22, 6, 9 pr. An exception however was made in favour of minors, of soldiers, of the utterly uneducated (rustici), and of women. Against their ignorance of rules of law, particularly those rules of jus civile which are not, like rules of jus gentium or naturale, the almost self-evident dictates of reason and common sense, they were relieved by a branch of the praetor’s extraordinary jurisdiction, called in integrum restitutio, a power of cancellation and rescission, in cases of manifest collision between law and equity; §§ 197-200, comm. This privilege of women was partially abrogated by a constitution of the Emperor Leo, a. d. 472; Cod. 1, 18, 13. ‘To prevent the indiscriminate revocation by women of all their contracts on the ground of omission of error, be it enacted, that ignorance of law, whereby a woman is damnified in her right or property, shall only be a title to relief in those cases where previous statutes have sanctioned such relief.’
From § 189 it might appear that Gaius referred the institution of guardianship to the code of jus gentium. We have, however, quoted from the Institutes, §§ 142, 154, comm., a passage which ascribes it to jus civile: and, indeed, no institution confined in its operation almost entirely to cives, can be supposed to belong to jus gentium or natural law. Moreover, the law of guardianship has been most variable, not only if we look to different countries, but also if we look at different periods in the same country; and the praetor or chancellor or other authority that has had the supervision of guardians has always exercised a great latitude of discretion; features which again forbid us to ascribe the rules of wardship to any comparatively immutable code of nature. Tutela was in fact an old Roman institution, by which the gens or familia maintained control in its own interest over its weaker members, who were not subject to patria potestas. It is possible that this control was at first exclusively exercised by the gens, in whom the ownership of all land occupied by the gentiles may have been vested, and that agnatic as well as testamentary guardianship was first instituted by the law of the Twelve Tables, whereby patricians and plebeians were put on an equality in respect of private rights. That the gens was in the habit of taking charge in some way of lunatics and insane persons we know from the words of the Twelve Tables, which have come down to us—‘Si furiosus exit, ast ei custos ne exit, adgnatûm gentiliumque in eo pecuniaque eius potestas est.’ Cf. Muirhead, Roman Law, §§ 26, 28.
§ 196. All jurists agreed that in the case of impotence, whether natural or acquired, some fixed date must be assumed as the conventional period of puberty. The Sabinian rule appears to be preserved in a passage of Paulus: Spadones eo tempore testamentum facere possunt quo plerique pubescunt, id est, anno decimo octavo, 3, 4 a, 2. Fourteen was assumed to be the average age of puberty; but it was too early, even in the southern climes subject to Roman legislation, for a minority of constitutions which advance more slowly to maturity. Eighteen was supposed to be sufficiently postponed to include most of these cases of retarded development. We have already, in treating of adrogation, § 106, commentary, met with the phrase, plena pubertas, denoting eighteen years of age.
§ 197. In English jurisprudence there is no distinction corresponding to that between tutor and curator, impubes (pupillus) and minor (adolescens). Infant and minor are in English synonymous; guardianship continues to the attainment of majority, i. e. to the completion of twenty-one years of age; and after that the young of both sexes are considered to be capable of taking care of themselves, and are free from further control. At Rome wardship (tutela) ceased at puberty, or, as the law came to be defined, at the age of fourteen for males and twelve for females, ages at which the young manifestly continue to stand in need of guidance and protection, though according to Roman law they were then fully competent to administer their own property, and to dispose of it by will.
Such protection was provided for them partly by two statutes, partly by praetorian legislation. (1) The lex Plaetoria, or Laetoria, was as old as Plautus, who about 186 b. c. makes a youth exclaim: Lex me perdit quinavicenaria; metuunt credere omnes, Pseudolus, 303. ‘The statute with its five and twenty years prevents my getting credit.’ It made a crimmal offence, and subject to a criminal prosecution (judicium publicum, Cic. de Nat. Deor. 3, 30), what Cicero calls circumscriptio adolescentium, De Off. 3, 15; i. e. over-reaching and circumventing persons below the age of twenty-five. Such is Savigny’s interpretation of judicium publicum. Vermischte Schriften, 18. Ihering maintains that judicium publicum denotes in this passage not a criminal prosecution but an actio popularis; i. e. a civil action that could be instituted not only by the Minor but by a common Informer: and he quotes Dig. 26, 10, 1, 6 (cf. Inst. 1, 26, 3) Consequens est ut videamus qui possunt suspectos (tutores) postulare, et sciendum est quasi publicam esse hanc actionem, hoc est, omnibus patere. Dig. 12, 2, 30, 3, where quasi publica actio means an action similar to actio popularis, Geist des Romischen Rechts, § 52, nn. 158, 159. The circumscription of a minor, like fraudulent mal-administration by a guardian, rendered the person convicted thereof infamis. A contractor with a minor might secure himself against the penalties of the law, if a curator were nominated by the praetor to advise the minor in respect of the special transaction.
(2) As the lex Plaetoria was only applicable in cases of fraud (dolus malus, Cic. de Off. 3, 15), the protection it gave to minors was inadequate: accordingly, the praetor, besides allowing a minor to set up the plea of minority when sued in an action, proclaimed in his edict that he would relieve minors who had been damaged in consequence of inexperience and improvidence by rescission and cancellation of the proceeding (in integrum restitutio). To obtain this relief it was not necessary to prove any fraud on the part of the person who contracted with the minor.
(3) A person who wished to bring an action against a minor could compel him to obtain from the praetor a curator for the purpose of defending the particular suit; whose office ceased as soon as the special litigation terminated. Marcus Aurelius, under whom Gaius flourished, enacted that any minor who chose should be able to obtain from the praetor a general curator (generalis curator), who then should be charged with the general administration (generalis administratio) of his estate, Capitolinus, 10. In view of this option of the minor, Justinian could still say: Inviti adolescentes curatores non accipiunt praeterquam ad litem, Inst. 1, 23, 2. ‘Unless they choose, minors need not have a curator, except for a suit.’ A minor who had a curator could not aliene without the consent of his curator: he could incur an obligation without the consent of his curator, subject to his right of in integrum restitutio, though, unless he had a curator, persons would not be very willing to contract with him. Even the existence of a curator did not deprive the minor of his right of restitution, but of course it could not be obtained so readily as when he acted without the advice of a curator. The praetor allowed actiones utiles against a curator, corresponding to those to which a tutor was subject.
The tutor and curator were entirely separate functionaries: when women were under perpetual tutelage, a woman might have both a tutor and a curator. The curator of a minor must be distinguished from an agent (procurator), a person invested with certain rights and duties, which will be explained when we examine the different kinds of contract. An agent is governed by the instructions (mandatum) of his principal: a minor is under the direction of his curator: the employment of an agent is a private matter, purely voluntary on the part of the principal; the curator, like the tutor, holds a public function, and having one is in some cases involuntary on the part of the minor.
How exactly the lacuna in § 197 should be filled up is doubtful. We do not know what is the previous passage referred to.
Besides minors, lunatics and prodigals of whatever age were committed to the charge of curators. The cura of lunatics and prodigals is, indeed, older than that of minors, being regulated by the Twelve Tables, which directed that the nearest agnate should be curator of a lunatic, and manage the estate of an interdicted prodigal. In later times it was usual for the praetor or praeses provinciae to appoint a curator after inquest (ex inquisitione). Paulus has preserved the form of words in which the prodigal was interdicted: 3, 4 a, 7. ‘By custom the praetor interdicts a prodigal from the administration of his property in the following terms: As thy profligacy is wasting the estate of thy father and ancestors, and bringing thy children to destitution, I therefore interdict thee from the control of thy patrimony, and from all disposition of property.’
In integrum restitutio, a branch of the praetor’s equitable jurisdiction, and one of the most remarkable cases of his cognitio extraordinaria, has been mentioned more than once, and deserves here a brief explanation. Restituere in a general sense denotes any undoing of a wrong, any replacement of a person or his right in his or its original condition, whether by the voluntary act of the wrongdoer, or after action brought, and then either at the invitation of the judge (in virtue of the clause, ni restituat, 4 § 47), or in execution of a judicial sentence. But in the phrase we are examining it denotes the act, not of a private party, but of a magisterial authority. In integrum restitutio is the restitution by the praetor of a person to his original legal condition, in cases when some injury has been done to him by operation of law. The interposition in such cases of the highest Roman minister of justice bears some analogy to the use made of the prerogative of the Crown in our own early legal history. The function of thus overruling the law where it collided with equity was only confided to the highest magisterial authority, and even in his hands was governed by the principle that he was only supposed to act in a ministerial, not in a legislative capacity. Five grounds or titles (justae causae) to extraordinary relief (extraordinarium auxilium) were recognized and enumerated in the edict, Dig. 4, 1: intimidation (metus), fraud (dolus malus), absence, error, minority (aetatis infirmitas). Two, however, of these titles, fraud and intimidation, had additional remedies in the ordinary course of procedure (ordo judiciorum), where they were recognized as grounds of exception and personal action. Thus we find that a praetor called Octavius introduced the actio and exceptio metus mentioned by Cicero, Verr. 2, 3, 65, where the actio metus is called Formula Octaviana, and that the famous Aquilius Gallus, the colleague of Cicero, introduced the exceptio and the actio doli, Cic. de Natura Deorum, 3, 30.
The chronological order of the remedy by Action and the remedy by Restitution, like that of the historical relation of interdict to action, is disputed. Savigny, §§ 112, 191, 199, holds that the remedy by Restitution was older than the remedy by Action; while Vangerow, § 185, holds that the remedy by Action was older than the remedy by Restitution. As remedies they were very different in character, the effect of a grant of restitution being simply to reinstate a person in a legal right, which he had lost, not to give him damages on account of the violation of a right.
There are three conditions of Restitution: (1) The first condition is a Laesion by the operation of law, i. e. a disadvantageous change in civil rights or obligations brought about by some omission or disposition of the person who claims relief. This disadvantage may either consist in positive loss of acquired property, or in missing a gain which would not have involved, on the part of another, a positive loss of acquired property. An instance of such a laesion would be the loss of property by omitting to interrupt a usucapio or by omitting to claim an inheritance, or by making some omission in procedure. Cf. 4 § 57.
(2) A second condition is some special or abnormal position of the person who claims relief when such special circumstance is the cause of the loss which he has suffered. Thus a minor may be relieved against an injudicious bargain, but not against the casual destruction of the thing he has purchased, for this loss was not occasioned by his minority or inexperience. Such abnormal positions (justae causae) are compulsion, fraud, minority, absence, error.
(3) A third condition of relief is the absence of various disentitling circumstances. Thus relief is granted against the effect of legal dispositions and omissions, but not against the effect of delicts. Again the extraordinary relief of in integrum restitutio is not granted when the courts of law can administer an adequate remedy.
Originally capitis minutio of a defendant was ground for a restitution, 3 § 84; but this ceased at an early period to be anything more than a formal case of restitution; for rescission of the adrogation, adoption, emancipation, whereby a person’s debts were extinguished, was granted as a matter of course without any previous investigation (causae cognitio), and without any period of prescription like that which limited the right to pray for restitution.
This was, originally, annus utilis, and in the time of Justinian, quadriennium continuum or four calendar years, which begin to run, not from the date of the Laesion, but from the termination of the Causa, i. e. the abnormal position—minority, absence, compulsion, deception, error—whereby the Laesion was occasioned. Such at least is Savigny’s and Windscheid’s opinion. Vangerow holds that, except in Minority and Absence, prescription begins to run from the date of Laesion, 4 §§ 110-113, comm.
Of the five titles to restitution that we have enumerated, four, namely, intimidation, fraud, absence, error, implying equality of rights in all parties, belong to the law of Things or actions; title by minority, implying a privileged class or inequality of rights, belongs to the law of Persons.
As we shall have occasion in the next book, §§ 1-14, comm., to use the expression Rerum universitas, it may seem appropriate, before we quit the law of Persons, to give some explanation of the contrasted term, Personarum universitas. A University of persons in the private code is a fictitious or juristic person, composed generally by the union of a number of individuals, and capable like a natural individual (singularis persona) of the various rights and duties of property, that is to say, of potestas, patronatus, dominium, servitus, obligatio; and the power of suing and being sued (cf. Sohm, §§ 37, 38).
Some Universities have a visible existence or representation in a number of individual members, and are then called Corporations. An essential incident of Corporations is that their rights are not vested in the aggregate of individuals, but in the ideal whole, regarded as distinct from the members of which it is composed. Examples of such Corporations are municipalities (civitas, municipium, respublica, communitas), colleges of priests, of Vestal Virgins, corporations of subordinate officials, e. g. lictors, notaries (scribae, decuriae), industrial guilds, e. g. smiths, bakers, potters, shipowners, mining companies (aurifodinarum, argentifodinarum, salinarum, societas), contractors for the revenue (vectigalium publicorum societas), social clubs (sodalitates, sodalitia), friendly societies (tenuiorum collegia) (cf. Mommsen, de Collegiis et sodaliciis Romanorum; Karlowa, Rom. Rechtsg. 2 § 2).
Other juristic persons, not so visibly embodied in any natural individuals, e. g. temples, churches, hospitals, almshouses, or any other beneficent aims personified, are called by civilians, not Corporations, but Foundations.
The state, though not strictly speaking a juristic person, as invested with rights of property, was called in the time of the republic Aerarium. Under the first emperors, when the public treasure was divided between the emperor and the senate, the senate, as in a proprietary position representing the republic, was called Aerarium, while the treasury of the emperor was called Fiscus. At an uncertain date, but after the time of M. Aurelius, when all power was undisguisedly absorbed by the emperor, and the public chests were united, the terms Aerarium and Fiscus lost their distinctive meanings, and we find them used convertibly in the compilations of Justinian. The Fiscus, as a proprietary unit, came to have a special legal status and to be invested with peculiar privileges.
Juristic persons, though invested with rights of property, being mere fictions or ideal unities, are, strictly speaking, incapable of making a declaration of intention; for how can a fiction have an intention? It is true that slaves could acquire property and active obligations for their proprietors; but a slave could not aliene property, nor be himself subject to a civil obligation, nor be a party to a suit: and therefore Universities could not make such dispositions by means of their slaves. In this respect they resemble infants and lunatics; and as infants and lunatics must be represented by their guardians and curators, so juristic persons must be represented by the agents designated and defined by their constitution. The temporary representative of a Corporation, for the purpose of suing and being sued, was called Actor; a permanent representative for this purpose was called Syndicus, Gaius in Dig. 3, 4, 1. The constitutions of juristic persons are too various to admit of any general definition. But a juristic person was only bound by the act of its representative, in so far as such juristic person was benefited thereby. Dig. 12, 1, 27.
Although a Universitas is said to hold common property, the relation of the members of a Universitas must not be identified with that of Co-proprietors (communio). A co-proprietor is the separate proprietor of an undivided ideal portion, which he can aliene, mortgage, and otherwise dispose of; and which, by requiring a partition (actio communi dividundo), he can always reduce to a real portion: whereas the whole of the common property can only be dealt with if the co-proprietors are unanimous. Members of a Universitas, on the contrary, cannot demand a partition; and dispositions of the property of the Universitas can only be made by the vote of a majority, sometimes only by a majority of two-thirds of the members.
Every juristic person was originally incapable of being instituted heir, as Pliny mentions in the case of municipalities: Nec heredem institui nec praecipere posse rempublicam constat, Epist. 5, 7. ‘Neither an inheritance nor a legacy by praeceptio (which implies that the legatee is also heir, 2 § 217) can be left to a municipality.’ Juristic persons were not, as is sometimes stated by Roman jurists, subject to this incapacity simply because, owing to the idea of an artificial person not having yet been distinctly formed, they were regarded as personae incertae, 2 § 238, but also because, being fictions, they were incapable of entering on an inheritance (aditio), which involves acceptance on the part of the heir, and excludes representation. First the senate, disregarding this difficulty, allowed municipalities to be instituted heirs by their own liberti, Ulpian 22, 5: and subsequently the Emperor Leo, a. d. 469, gave to municipalities the capacity of being instituted her by any testator, Cod. 6, 24, 12. No general enactment extended this capacity to all Corporations, but some received it as a special privilege.
Originally municipalities, like other juristic persons, were incapable of taking bequests (legata), but subsequently they were declared capable by Nerva and Hadrian, Ulpian 24, 28; 2 § 195: and this capacity was extended to Collegia, Templa and Churches, Dig. 34, 5, 20. Towns were also capable of taking successions by fideicommissum, Ulpian 22, 5.
Under Christian legislation Pious Foundations (pia corpora) were made capable of taking hereditas and legatum: and testamentary dispositions of hereditas and legatum, that would otherwise have been void by the rule avoiding devises to incerta persona, e. g. a devise to the poor of a town who, not forming a corporation, were not persona certa, acquired validity from the pious purpose of the disposition.
The origin and extinction of Universitates, Collegia, &c. required the assent of the Emperor. The special privileges and incapacities which we have indicated, by their analogy to status, may perhaps justify the mention of Universities in the law of Persons. Savigny, §§ 85-102.
(8 fere uersus in C legi nequeunt)
—|[ ] *e domino.
Having treated of the law of Persons (unequal rights), we proceed to the law of Things (equal rights), and the first right which Gaius intends to discuss is the right called Dominion. Seduced, however, by an ambiguity of the word Res, which signifies either a right or the subject of a right, his opening statements (§§ 12-14) are deplorably confused.
In order to see our way, let us first examine Res as denoting the Object of a right. Every right implies, as we have stated, a duty; and every right or duty implies at least two persons, one of whom is entitled to the right while the other is liable to the duty. The immediate object of every right is an act or forbearance of the person who is liable to the duty. But the act or forbearance generally relates to some body, that is, to some tangible portion of the external world, whether a thing or a person. This body, accordingly, may be called the mediate, indirect, or secondary Object of the right. The secondary object of a right, however, is not always a body; it may be corporeal or incorporeal. For instance, dominium over land is a right to forbearance on the part of all the world from molestation of the owner in dealing with the land. A servitude, say a right of way, is a right to forbearance on the part of all the world from molestation of the person entitled when he passes over certain land. A contractual right is a right to a positive act or forbearance on the part of a determinate person, say, to the conveyance or delivery of a certain piece of land. In these cases, land, the secondary object of the right, is something corporeal. So, too, when a person is the object of a right; for instance, a child or a gladiator, 3 § 199, in the possession (detention or custody) of the parent or employer, and whose removal from such possession engenders in the removing party an obligation ex delicto. But in primordial rights, the object, at least as distinguished from the two parties in whom the right and duty respectively vest, is something incorporeal. A man has a right to forbearance on the part of all the world from molestation in his life, health, locomotion, honour. These objects of the right are incorporeal. Other rights, apparently, have no determinate object, corporeal or incorporeal, to which they are correlated. In a right to the services of a menial or gladiator, for instance, it would be hard to indicate any secondary or corporeal object to which the obligation of the menial or gladiator relates.
It is clear that no division of Objects of right will coincide with a classification of Rights: while, if we divide Res in the metaphysical sense of the World, or Being, or Existence (a sense suggested by the differentiae, corporalis, and incorporalis), Dominium, like all other rights, will be a member of the branch res incorporales, or Ownership. Gaius, however, wishes us to identify Dominium with res corporalis, and to make Obligation and the fractions of Dominium (servitutes), and even some forms of Dominium (e. g. hereditas), members of the contra-distinguished branch, res incorporalis. (Cf. 3 § 83, omnes ejus res incorporales et corporales quaeque ei debita sunt.)
Gaius was probably not entirely responsible for this confusion of thought, which, perhaps, was too deeply inwoven in the formulae of Roman jurisprudence to be easily eliminated by an institutional writer. E. g. the declaration (intentio) of a real action (in rem actio) was of the form: Si paret (1) illum fundum—(2) illam hereditatem—actoris esse. (Cf. 4 § 3 In rem actio est cum aut corporalem rem intendimus nostram esse aut jus aliquod nobis competere.) Now as hereditas is a jus successionis, § 14, it is clear that, if the second formula is correct, the first formula ought to be, not, Si paret illum fundum—but, Si paret illius fundi dominium—actoris esse. To meet this and similar inaccuracies of the framers of the formularies, Gaius is misled into identifying in res corporalis two things completely disparate, Right and the corporeal thing or Secondary Object of a right. There is a similar confusion in English law, chattels, tenements, and hereditaments being sometimes used to denote the objects, movable or immovable, of certain rights, sometimes the rights over those objects: and just as Res is divided into Corporalis and Incorporalis, so Hereditaments are divided into Corporeal and Incorporeal; although, if the term denotes a right, both branches are equally incorporeal: if it denotes the secondary object of a right, both branches are equally corporeal.
We shall find hereafter, 4 §§ 138-170, comm., that the position of possession in Roman jurisprudence—whether it belongs to the department of jus in rem or of obligatio ex delicto—is a moot question; but at present we need do no more than notice the existence of the controversy. We need also only to indicate a division of rights and duties into single rights and duties, and aggregates of rights and duties (universitas juris), such as Hereditas. A universitas juris includes Obligations as well as Rights, Jus in personam as well as Jus in rem, being in fact the succession of one person to which another person succeeds. But in spite of the diverse character of the elements of which it is composed, the juris universitas itself, or the ideal whole of these various elements, is regarded, e. g. in Hereditatis petitio, as a real Right, not an Obligation; as a Jus in rem, not a Jus in personam.
As Gaius thought that he could obtain the idea of Dominium by a division of Res into corporales and incorporales, so he seems to have thought that he could distinguish private dominium, the special department which he intends to examine, from other forms of dominium by a further division of Res. The phrases res divinae, res humanae, res communes, res publicae, res privatae, do indeed suggest the notion that res privatae is a specific member of the genus Res; but the appearance is fallacious. Very little reflection will convince us that res divinae, res publicae, res privatae are not a division of the objects of property (res); for the same thing, a piece of ground, for instance, may be an object of divine or public or private dominion; but merely a division of proprietors. In res divinae, the only doubtful case, the gods were deemed to be proprietors. Sed et illa interdicta quae de locis sacris et de religiosis proponuntur veluti proprietatis causam continent, Dig. 43, 1, 2, 2. ‘The interdicts respecting sacred and religious places protect a quasi-property.’
The division of the objects of right by their physical differences, the only way in which they can be divided, though only of subordinate importance, and though it cannot furnish the distinctions of Dominium and Obligation, nor of Public and Private dominium, yet has a considerable influence on jurisprudence, and demands a certain amount of attention. Thus ocean, air, and light, as opposed to the earth, are by their nature essentially res communes. Being incapable of appropriation, they have not been appropriated and are held in communism. Again, in wild animals, as opposed to tame, property is only coextensive with possession. On the difference between specific and generic things, or things consumed by use, quae pondere numero mensurave constant, and things not consumed by use, is founded the distinction between the contracts of mutuum and commodatum. Cf. 3 § 90. On the same difference of specific and generic things are founded different rules relating to the contract of sale, 3 §§ 139-141, comm.; and the distinction of movables and immovables founds important differences in Roman and other systems of law.
The phrases in nostro patrimonio and extra nostrum patrimonium, § 1, are apparently equivalent to alicujus in bonis and nullius in bonis, § 9, and to the expressions we meet elsewhere, in commercio and extra commercium.
Of res communes, or things such as air and running water, which sometimes come under discussion (cf. Inst. 2, 1, 1 Et quidem naturali jure communia sunt omnium haec: aer et aqua profluens et mare et per hoc litora maris) but are not mentioned by Gaius, we may observe, that they only fall within the province of positive law, as belonging to the jurisdiction of each particular state.
All the things within the territory of a given state are subject to its dominion (dominium eminens), that is, are res publicae in a general sense of the term. Of these things it allows the dominium over some to vest in private individuals for their own advantage, while it retains the dominium over others in itself as if it were a corporation or collective person (personarum universitas). This gives us a division of all things into res privatae and res publicae in a narrower sense of the term. We must note, however, that the dominium of the state is not exactly similar to private dominium, that is to say, is not dominium in the proper sense or the sense in which the word is used in civil law. For the civil dominium of private persons is a right protected and sanctioned by a political superior, whereas a sovereign state is by hypothesis in subjection to no superior. A state, then, can only be said to have dominium in a modified sense of the word, that is, so far as it is not restrained by any positive law of any superior from using and dealing with certain things as it may please.
Of things which are objects of public dominion, some are vested immediately in the state, others in subordinate persons, single or corporate, magistrates, for instance, and municipalities, to be held by such persons for various public purposes. Among these we might also reckon res divini juris, though as dedicated to religious purposes, such things were regarded by the Romans as no man’s property, §§ 3-6.
Another division of res publicae is into res in patrimonio populi and res non in patrimonio populi. Under the former are included the public treasury, the public domain, public slaves, bequests lapsing to the state (caduca) or res privatae otherwise devolving on the state; in other words, all things of which the state as universitas retains not only the property but also the use and disposition (res enim fiscales quasi propriae et privatae principis sunt, Dig. 43, 8, 2, 4). The other class includes high roads, public rivers, public buildings, &c., that is, all things of which the property is in the community and the use in the members of the community. Or we may say that the property is in the universitas, but it is subject to a personal servitude (usus) vested in all the private members of that universitas (singuli, universi).
Not only res publicae but res privatae may be thus subject. For instance, the banks of public rivers and the trees thereupon are the property of the adjacent proprietors; but the navigators of these rivers have the right of mooring, landing, unlading, and using the banks in various other ways, Inst. 2, 1, 4.
Ownership (dominium) absolute or pre-eminently so called, may be defined as a right of unlimited duration, imparting to the owner a power of indefinite enjoyment or use, and a power of aliening from all who in default of alienation by him might succeed by descent; or, in other words, from all successors interposed between himself and the sovereign as ultimus heres. It is accordingly sometimes said to consist of jus utendi, fruendi, abutendi; where abusus includes the power of consumption or destruction, of dereliction, and of disposition (sale, exchange, gift, mortgage, lease, &c.). Another element is equally important, the right of exclusion (jus prohibendi). Another is the jus transmittendi, i. e. the right of leaving the integral right, in the absence of Disposition, to those whom he would presumably have wished to be his successors.
Besides ownership (dominium) Roman law recognizes various kinds of partial property, real rights over an object of which the dominium is in another person, called jura in re or jura in re aliena, rights which fall short of absolute property but approximate to it in various degrees. Such rights, which are limitations of ownership, are servitudes, § 14, mortgage (pignus), superficies, and emphyteusis. These may all be regarded as detached fractions of ownership, portions of the right of dominion taken from the proprietor and vested in another person. Servitudes are explained by Justinian in the parallel passage of his Institutes (2, 3-5), and, together with the other jura in re aliena, demand here a brief notice.
Servitudes are (1) praedial or real (praediorum), that is, belong to a person as owner of a certain house or land (praedium dominans) in respect of a house or land belonging to another proprietor (praedium serviens), or (2) personal (personarum), that is, are vested in a person without relation to his ownership of praedium dominans, and being thus inseparably attached to him they are inalienable and determine at his death. (Compare in English law the division of easements into easements appurtenant to land and easements in gross.)
Praedial servitudes are servitudes in the strictest sense, being contrasted with ownership by their precise and definite circumscription. Ownership (dominium) is a right against the world which gives to the party in whom it resides a power of dealing with the subject which is not capable of exact definition. Servitude is such a right against the world as gives to the party in whom it resides a power of using the subject which is susceptible of precise description. It is a definite subtraction from the indefinite powers of use and exclusion which reside in the owner; or a right against the owner and the rest of the world to make certain use of a thing or prohibit certain uses.
Praedial servitudes are (1) rustic, relating to land, or (2) urban, relating to houses. Urban servitudes are further subdivided into Positive or Affirmative and Privative or Negative. The following considerations will show the meaning of this division and its origin in the nature of Property.
Servitudes are limitations of, or deductions from, another person’s ownership or dominium. Dominium contains, among other elements, (A) certain powers of action (jus utendi), and (B) certain powers of exclusion (jus prohibendi). Restrictions on these powers will be (a) a certain necessitas non utendi, and (b) a certain necessitas patiendi. Correlative to these duties on the part of the owner of the servient tenement will be certain rights of the owner of the dominant tenement, viz. (α) a certain jus prohibendi, and (β) a certain jus utendi, or in other words, (α) a certain negative servitude, and (β) a certain affirmative servitude. As it happens that all the servitudes which public policy has recognized in relation to land are of an Affirmative character (except Si concedas mihi jus tibi non esse in fundo tuo aquam quaerere, minuendae aquae meae gratia, Dig. 8, 1, 15 pr. though, as Windscheid remarks, there is no reason why this should not also be an urban servitude—) and relate to some transient action (except Ut tugurium mihi habere liceret in tuo, scilicet si habeam pascui servitutem aut pecoris appellendi, ut, si hiems ingruerit, habeam quo me recipiam, Dig. 8, 3, 6, 1), they may be called jus faciendi: while those relating to houses are both Affirmative and Negative (jus prohibendi). Affirmative Urban servitudes, implying some permanent structure, may, in conformity with classical usage (e. g. jus tignum immissum habendi) for the sake of distinction from the Rural servitudes, be called jus habendi: they resemble them in the generic character that they are each a jus utendi.
(1) Instances of Rural servitude (jus faciendi) are iter, or jus eundi, right of way for beast and man on foot or on horseback over the servient tenement to the dominant tenement; actus or jus agendi, right of way for ordinary carriages (not for heavy-laden wagons); via (or jus vehendi?), right of paved way for heavy-laden wagons; aquae haustus, the right of drawing water from a private spring; aquae ductus, the right of conveying water over the servient tenement; pecoris ad aquam appulsus, the right of watering cattle; jus pecoris pascendi, the right of pasturing cattle; jus calcis coquendae, the right of burning lime; jus cretae eximendae, the right of quarrying for chalk; jus arenae fodiendae, the right of taking sand; jus silvae caeduae, the right of cutting wood in a wood suitable for the purpose.
(2) Instances of affirmative urban servitudes are jus tigni immittendi, the right of inserting a beam in a neighbour’s wall; jus oneris ferendi, the right of resting a weight on a neighbour’s wall or column (this servitude involves on the part of the servient owner the positive obligation of repairing the servient wall (refectio); whereas all other servitudes, as real rights, are contradistinguished from obligations or personal rights, by corresponding to the merely negative duty of abstention; cf. Windscheid, Pandekten, 1 § 211 a, note 3); jus protegendi, the right of projecting a roof over the soil of a neighbour; jus stillicidii recipiendi or avertendi or immittendi, the right of directing the rainfall on to a neighbour’s roof or area; jus cloacae immittendae, the right of making a sewer through the area of a neighbour; servitus luminum or jus luminis immittendi, the right of having a window in a neighbour’s wall; jus officiendi luminibus vicini, the reacquired right of an owner to diminish the light of a neighbour; jus altius tollendi, the reacquired right of an owner to increase the height of a structure, § 31; the right of storing fruit in his villa, ut fructus in vicini villa cogantur coactique habeantur; of placing quarried stones on his land, posse te cedere jus ei esse terram, rudus, saxa, jacere posita habere, et ut in tuum lapides provolvantur ibique positi habeantur, Dig. 8, 3, 3, 1 and 2. Vangerow holds that Aquaeductus, implying jus habendi, though it is servitus Rustica as to the land from which water is taken, is servitus Urbana as to the land over which water is conveyed.
(3) Instances of jus prohibendi are jus altius non tollendi, the right of forbidding a neighbour to raise the height of his buildings; jus ne prospectui officiatur, the right of having a prospect unintercepted; jus ne luminibus officiatur, the right of having the access of light to one’s windows obstructed; jus stillicidii non avertendi, the reacquired right of prohibiting my neighbour from discharging his rainfall into my area. Inst. 2, 3.
Personal servitudes (Inst. 2, 4 and 5) are rights of a less limited character in respect of user, but more restricted as to duration than praedial: instances are Habitatio, the right of occupying a house; Usus, the right of using a thing and consuming its immediate fruits or products, without the right of letting the thing or selling its products; of acquiring, in other words, its rent and profits, which may be regarded as its mediate or secondary fruits. Fructus, usually called Ususfructus, the further right of leasing the thing and selling its fruits. Habitatio, Usus, Ususfructus were usually, though not invariably, life interests, and, unlike real servitudes, implied Detention of the object; Possession of it, as opposed to Detention (4 §§ 138-170, comm.), remaining in the proprietor. For the modes of creating and vindicating servitudes, see §§ 28-33; 4 § 88, comm. Servitus was the only jus in re aliena belonging to jus civile. The other jura in re aliena, subsequently instituted, were pignus, superficies and emphyteusis.
Pignus or hypotheca, as developed by praetorian law, was the right of a creditor in a thing belonging to his debtor, maintainable against any one, in order to secure satisfaction of his debt. The praetorian action, by which the creditor could claim possession of the thing pledged, corresponding to the vindicatio of the owner, is called actio quasi Serviana in rem or hypothecaria. See 3 §§ 90, 91, comm.
Superficies is the right of a person who, having rented land for building on a long or perpetual lease, has built a house on it, which according to jus gentium, by the rule of Accession, is the property of the proprietor of the soil; cf. Inst. 2, 1, 29. The Praetor, however, recognized in the superficiarius a jus in re which he protected by an interdict de superficie and an actio in rem utilis.
Jus in agro vectigali or emphyteusis, as this species of right came to be called subsequently to the time of Gaius, from waste lands of the Emperor being let out under this kind of tenancy to be planted or cultivated, was a perpetual lease which transferred to the tenant or emphyteuta most of the rights of the owner. Accordingly he could maintain actio vectigalis in rem against any one to recover possession of the land thus leased to him. See 3 § 145. Although emphyteusis might be of unlimited duration, and was alienable without the consent of the owner, subject to his right of pre-emption, yet the owner had a right of recovering the land for breach of condition, or failing heirs of the emphyteuta, much as the feudal lord of a fee could recover the fief on forfeiture or escheat of the tenant, emphyteusis being even regarded by some as the model on which feudal tenure was instituted. This forfeiture or escheat to the lord of the fee makes property in land theoretically imperfect, like emphyteusis, falling short of ownership. Property in chattels, on the contrary, is not held of a superior, and, therefore, is absolute.
The Profits and Easements of English law generally correspond to the Servitutes of Roman law. But the principle: Servitutium non ea natura est ut aliquid faciat quis, sed ut aliquid patiatur aut non faciat, Dig. 8, 1, 15, 1: ‘Servitudes are not a right to a performance but to a permission or forbearance:’ would exclude from the class of Servitudes some members of the class of Profits; e. g. Rents, which are said to lie in render, i. e. to involve a performance of the party burdened, not in prender, i. e. not to consist in an act of the party entitled. Roman law adhered strictly to the principle that Real rights, or rights against the world, can only correlate to negative duties, duties of forbearance; and that rights correlating to positive obligations, or duties of performance, can only be Personal; i. e. can only regard a particular individual and his universal successors.
The Titles of real rights are divisible into Titles by which single real rights are acquired and Titles by which aggregates of rights (universitates jurum) are acquired.
Titles by which single real rights are acquired are divisible into Titles sanctioned by the civil law (jus civile) and Titles sanctioned by natural law (jus gentium, jus naturale), natural law denoting the rules of Roman law introduced by praetors, jurists and statutes, as consonant to the general reason of mankind.
Titles to ownership by civil law are mancipatio, in jure cessio, usucapio, and others which will be mentioned. Titles by natural law are traditio, occupatio, accessio, and others which will be mentioned, § 35. We commence with Titles by civil law.
(6 uersus in C legi nequeunt)—|[ ]*plena possessio concessa—|[ ]ex formula qua hi qu —|—|—|[ ] fructus na—|[ ].
(4 uersus in C legi nequeunt)—|[ ]non fuissent—|[ ]
(7 uersus in C legi nequeunt) — s —|—|[ ] est quo nomine—|—[ ]ere uel—|[ ]praedium—|[ ]dem ulla libera ciuitas—admo|nendi sumus— |[ ] esse, prouincialis soli nexum non e— |[ ] significationem solum Italicum mancipi est, pro|uinciale nec mancipi est. aliter enim ueteri lingua a|—[ ]mancipa—|[ ].
§§ 14 a-23. Mancipable things—things taken by the hand and so alienable—were at first, probably, the more important accessories of a farm, that is, slaves and beasts of burden—oxen, horses, mules and asses (1 § 120), land itself in Italy and rural servitudes attaching to such land being subsequently made mancipable.
These, the objects of principal value to an agricultural community, became alienable by means of the formal proceeding by bronze and balance, called mancipation, which Gaius says (1, 119) is an imaginary sale.
In its origin, however, mancipation appears to have been not an imaginary, but a genuine sale for valuable consideration. The introduction of coined money by making the weighing of the bronze in the scales a formality first gave the proceeding an appearance of unreality, but in order to maintain its original character, the Twelve Tables, which were passed at the time when this important monetary change took place, expressly declared that no property should pass by mancipation, unless the price was actually paid to the mancipating party or security given him for it (cf. Inst. 2, 1, 41 Venditae vero et traditae non aliter emptori adquiruntur, quam si is venditori pretium solverit vel alio modo ei satisfecerit, veluti expromissore aut pignore dato: quod cavetur etiam lege duodecim tabularum)—where traditae is an evident Tribonianism for mancipatae. But this law was afterwards evaded by juristic ingenuity, the practice of paying only a nominal sum—a single sesterce—being held to be a sufficient compliance with it. This made it possible to use mancipation as a mere conveyancing form. Even in the case of genuine sales, it was found advantageous only thus to pay a nominal sum in the mancipation itself and to make the payment of the purchase money something entirely apart, for by this means the mancipating party in fact escaped the liability imposed on him by the Twelve Tables of paying, as warrantor of the title (auctor), double the price to the other party to the transaction in case of the latter being evicted (cf. Cic. pro Mur. 2, 3, in Caec. 19, 54), and it had the further advantage that the purchaser was enabled to acquire ownership by the mancipation before he had paid the actual purchase money (cf. Muirhead, Roman Law, § 30; Sohm, pp. 51, 61). How, by means of the nuncupation and by collateral fiduciary agreements, mancipation was adapted to effect various legal purposes, may be seen in other parts of the text and commentary.
The form of mancipation (1, 119) shows its archaic origin. If, as has been thought by many modern writers, the witnesses to it originally represented the five classes of the Roman people, mancipation, at least in its ultimate form, cannot have been earlier than the Servian constitution, by which this division of the people was made. The advantage of requiring the presence of a number of citizens to bear testimony to important transfers of property in an age when writing was not in common use is apparent.
In jure cessio or surrender before a magistrate cannot fail to recall to an English lawyer two similar modes of alienation that recently existed in English jurisprudence, alienation by Fine and alienation by Recovery, both of which, like in jure cessio, were based on a fictitious action; in both of which, that is to say, although the parties did not really stand in the relation of adverse litigants, the alienee was supposed to recover an estate by process of law. By a Fine, an action commenced against the alienor and at once terminated by his acknowledging the right of the alienee, a tenant in tail could aliene the fee simple, so far at least as to bar his own issue. By a Recovery, a tenant in tail could convey an absolute estate in fee. This was an action supposed to be, not like a Fine immediately compromised, but carried on through every regular stage to the conclusion; whereby the alienee recovered judgement against the alienor, who in his turn recovered judgement against an imaginary warrantor whom he vouched to warranty (cf. laudat auctorem, 3 § 141, comm.).
Res nec mancipi, that is all objects of individual ownership, other than res mancipi, were the only things allowed to pass in complete ownership (pleno jure) simply by tradition, § 19.
This informal mode of alienation did not, like mancipatio, in jure cessio, and usucapio, belong to Jus Civile, but to Jus Gentium, § 65; and was of later introduction than these.
The tradition or informal delivery of some res nec mancipi must, however, have been common from the earliest times, though such tradition would have been regarded at first merely as a delivery of possession, to be protected by the law of theft, not as a title of ownership, to be asserted by vindicatio. At a later period, however, in order to facilitate commerce, tradition became by the influence of jus gentium a mode of acquiring ownership in things which did not belong to the privileged class of res mancipi. By tradition, which is a transfer of possession, ownership may be also transferred, if the transferor is himself owner; otherwise conformably to the principle ‘Nemo plus juris transferre potest, quam ipse habet’—possession only passes, bona fide possession, if the transferee knows nothing of his defective title, malâ fide, if he is aware of it. If we consider Surrender before a Magistrate, Mancipation, Tradition, we shall see that they are only three forms of one identical title, Alienation. The substance or essence of the title, the intention on the one side to transfer property, on the other to accept it, is the same in all three; it is only the adventitious, or accidental, or evidentiary portion of the title in which they differ.
Although delivery of possession, like the solemnities of mancipation and surrender, is, as compared with the will or intention of the parties, only an evidentiary and declaratory part of the title; yet both parcels, delivery of possession, as well as agreement, are indispensable in the transfer of ownership. ‘Traditionibus et usucapionibus dominia rerum, non nudis pactis transferuntur,’ Cod. 2, 3, 20. ‘Tradition and usucapion, not bare agreement, operate as a transfer of ownership.’ Tradition, which is only applicable to corporeal things, is usually effected by some physical act of appropriation, but it may take place without any such actual delivery being made at the time. This occurs when a vendor agrees to hold the property he sells on account of, or as agent of, the purchaser (constitutum possessorium), or when a person already holding a thing on account of the vendor, e. g. as a deposit, or loan, agrees to purchase it (traditio brevi manu). (Inst. 2, 1, 44.)
We have spoken of tradition as a title whereby ownership was acquired. Tradition, however, was only an element, usually the final element, of the complex mode of acquisition, to which it gives its name. To be capable of passing property, delivery must be accompanied by another element, usually an antecedent element, some contract of sale or other legal ground, which is evidence of an intention to aliene. ‘Nunquam nuda traditio transfert dominium, sed ita si venditio vel aliqua justa causa praecesserit, propter quam traditio sequeretur,’ Dig. 41, 1, 31 pr. It is clear that bare delivery, or transfer of physical control, without any further element of Title, cannot pass Dominium, for in Loan for Use (commodatum) such transfer merely passes what may be called Detention without Possession; in Pledge (pignus) it passes what may be called derivative Possession; in Deposit it usually passes Detention alone, but sometimes Possession also, though in this case also it is derivative Possession, not Possession of the thing as one’s own. (4 §§ 138-170, comm.) The cases in which Ownership (Dominium) is passed by Tradition may be reduced to three classes, traditio donandi animo, traditio credendi animo, and traditio solvendi animo. In the first, it simply confers ownership on the donee; in the second, it confers ownership on the transferee, and subjects him to an obligation; in the third, it confers ownership on the transferee, and discharges the transferor of an obligation. In the two latter cases, i. e. tradition by way of loan, as of money (mutui datio), and tradition by way of payment (solutio), the disposition or justa causa accompanying tradition contains much that is unessential to the transfer of dominium or ownership, the only absolutely essential element being the intention of the parties to convey and take dominium. In Donation the justa causa traditionis consists solely of this essential element. The justa causa, then, which must accompany delivery, must involve the animus or voluntas transferendi dominii, and this, apparently, is given as the whole of the matter in a passage of Gaius quoted in Digest: ‘Hae quoque res, quae traditione nostrae fiunt, jure gentium nobis adquiruntur; nihil enim tam conveniens est naturali aequitati quam voluntatem domini volentis rem suam in alium transferre ratam haberi,’ Dig. 41, 1, 9, 3. Tradition is a mode of acquisition, ‘in accordance with Jus Gentium, for it is a plain dictate of natural justice, that the will of an owner to transfer his ownership to another should be allowed to take effect.’
In one case, as we have seen, the operation even of contract and delivery combined was limited by the Twelve Tables, namely, in Sale. Hence it came about that tradition did not operate a transmutation of property without a further condition—payment of the purchase money, unless the sale is intended to be a sale on credit, or satisfaction is made to the vendor in some way. Inst. 2, 1, 41. Delivery sometimes precedes the intention to transfer, for instance, in a conditional sale; in which case the transfer of property may be suspended until the condition is fulfilled. The intended transferee may be an incerta persona, for instance, when money is scattered among a mob by a praetor or consul (missilium jactus). Inst. 2, 1, 46.
Tradition in Roman law was never fictitious; it was always an actual delivery of a power of physical or corporeal control, so the delivery of the keys of a house is not something symbolical or fictitious, but a real transfer of a power of exercising dominion. The restriction of tradition, as a mode of acquiring ownership, to res nec mancipi had previously to the time of Gaius lost much of its importance, the Praetor protecting one to whom a res mancipi, such as land, had been delivered, as if Quiritarian ownership of it had been obtained by usucapion, § 41. In Justinian’s time Tradition had entirely superseded the civil titles of surrender before the magistrate and mancipation: the ancient distinction between res mancipi and res nec mancipi being no longer in existence.
During the Republic the taxes paid by provincials had been called stipendium—a word which points to the view originally taken that these revenues were meant to meet military expenses; for stipendium means pay for the army. During the Principate the word tributum came also to be used for imperial taxes; but this passage of Gaius shows that stipendium was still employed for the dues paid by the Public Provinces. The distinction between stipendiary and tributary provinces is perhaps based on a difference in the mode of collecting, not of levying, the taxes. It seems that in the Public Provinces the taxes were still collected by the local governments themselves and paid to the Quaestors, whereas in Caesar’s Provinces the Procurators came into direct contact with the tax-payer. The mode of collection was in the second case direct, in the first indirect. It is also possible that the ownership of the soil in Caesar’s Provinces was regarded as vested in the Princeps, that of the soil in the Public Provinces as vested in the Roman state (see Mommsen, Staatsrecht, ii. p. 1088), and this distinction may be implied in the two classes of provincialia praedia mentioned by Gaius.
The mode of taxation was uniform for the whole Empire, and the assessments were made at intervals by the Emperor’s officials. The taxes were either imports on the land (tributum soli) or on the person (tributum capitis). The land-tax was in most provinces paid either in money or grain, more usually in the former, although in certain minor districts it was delivered in the form of other produce. The personal tax might be one on professions, income, or movable property. Occasionally it was a simple poll-tax, this latter burden being probably imposed on those provincials whose property fell below a certain rating.
§ 28. So incorporeal hereditaments in English law were said to lie in grant, not in feoffment, i. e. to be only conveyable by deed, or writing under seal; whereas corporeal hereditaments were conveyable by feoffment, i. e. by livery of seisin or delivery of possession.
The servitus altius tollendi, or the right of increasing the height of an edifice, is at first sight very enigmatical. My right of increasing the height of my building, and thus obstructing the lights of my neighbour, would seem to be part and parcel of my unlimited rights of dominion: and, if a dispute arose, one would think that the burden of proof would be on my neighbour, who would have to prove a special limitation of my rights as owner of a praedium serviens and a special right residing in himself as owner of a praedium dominans: that is to say, that instead of my having to prove a servitude or jus altius tollendi, my neighbour would have to prove a servitude or jus altius non tellendi. Cum eo, qui tollendo obscurat vicini aedes, quibus non serviat, nulla competit actio, Dig. 8, 2, 9. ‘A man who by building obscures his neighbour’s lights, unless subject to a servitude, is not actionable.’ Altius aedificia tollere, si domus servitutem non debeat, dominus ejus minime prohibetur, Cod. 3, 34, 8. ‘A man cannot be prevented from raising the height of his house unless it is subject to a servitude.’ The same rule is laid down in English law. The following is perhaps the most probable solution of the problem:
The extinction of Rural and Urban servitudes was governed by different rules. The extinction of a Rural servitude was more easily accomplished than that of an Urban servitude: it was effected by simple non-user (non utendo) on the part of the dominant property for a period, originally, of two years, afterwards of ten. The extinction of an Urban servitude demanded, besides the negative omission of use on the part of the dominant, a positive possession of freedom (usucapio libertatis) on the part of the servient owner. Gaius (ad Edictum Provinciale, Dig. 8, 2, 6) thus explains the difference: in a servitus ne amplius tollantur aedes, or ne luminibus aedium officiatur, if the windows of the dominant house are closed with masonry there is a non-usus of the servitude on the part of the dominant owner; if at the same time the height of the servient house is raised there is possession of freedom on the part of the servient owner. Or in a servitus tigni immissi, if the dominant owner removes the beam from his neighbour’s wall there is on his part non-usus; if the servient owner builds up the orifice in which the beam was inserted, there is on his part usucapio libertatis. Originally Servitudes, like Dominium, could be acquired by Usucapion; and as Usucapion was applied to the extinction of Urban Servitudes, it was regarded by the jurists as a mode of acquiring or of creating an antagonistic servitude. On the extinction of a Rural servitude, the servient property simply recovered its original dimensions: an Urban servitude was a permanent diminution of the servient property, and on its extinction the servient property, instead of dilating to its original size, recovered what it had lost in the shape of the annexation of a contrary servitude. When at an unknown date the Usucapion of servitudes was abolished by a lex Scribonia, an exception was made in favour of these Contrary servitudes, which in fact were not genuine servitudes, but merely the expression of the greater difficulty of extinguishing an Urban servitude. Libertatem servitutium usucapi posse verius est, quia eam usucapionem sustulit lex Scribonia, quae servitutem constituebat, non etiam eam, quae libertatem praestat sublata servitute, Dig. 41, 3, 4, 28. ‘The better view is that extinction of servitude by usucapion is admissible, for the usucapion abolished by the lex Scribonia was usucapion whereby a servitude is constituted, not that which liberates by extinction of servitude.’ Thus he who laboured under a disability of building (jus altius non tollendi) was regarded on its extinction as having acquired the opposite easement, jus altius tollendi; he who was relieved of the servitus ne luminibus officiatur was regarded as acquiring a jus officiendi luminibus vicini; he who was relieved from the servitus stillicidii avertendi in tectum vel aream vicini was deemed to acquiie a jus stillicidii non avertendi, Gaius ad Edictum Provinciale. Dig. 8, 2, 2. It does not appear that the ordinary requisites of Usucapio, titulus and bona fides (§ 61, comm.), were required in this usucapio libertatis.
In usucapio libertatis, a right being acquired, the ten years are complete on the commencement of the last day: in non-usus, a right being lost, the ten years are not complete till the last day is terminated.
The three servitudes, ne prospectui officiatur, ne luminibus officiatur. ne altius tollatur, are similar in character, but differ in their degree of extension. The servitus ne luminibus officiatur is not so extensive as the servitus ne prospectui officiatur, for that may amount to an obstruction of prospect which does not cause a diminution of light, Dig. 8, 2, 15: but is wider than servitus altius non tollendi, because light may be intercepted by other causes than buildings, by plantation, for instance, though building is the principal means of interception.
Servitus luminum has been already noticed, §§ 1-14, comm., as apparently identical with jus luminis immittendi, i. e. the right of having a window in a neighbour’s wall. Luminum servitute constituta id adquisitum videtur ut vicinus lumina nostra excipiat. Dig. 8, 2, 4. ‘The servitude of Lights entitles the owner of the dominant house to have a window in the wall of his servient neighbour.’
It appears from the above explanation that the servitus luminum and the servitus ne luminibus officiatur belong to different categories, for the servitus luminum, like the jus officiendi luminibus, belongs to the category of jus habendi; while the servitus ne luminibus officiatur belongs to the category of jus prohibendi.
§§ 40, 41. Roman law originally only recognized one kind of ownership, called emphatically, quiritary ownership. Gradually, however, certain kinds of ownership were recognized which, though they failed to satisfy all the elements of the definition of quiritary dominion, were practically its equivalent, and received from the courts a similar protection. These kinds of ownership might fall short of quiritary ownership in three respects, (1) either in respect of the persons in whom they resided, (2) or of the objects to which they related, (3) or of the title by which they were acquired.
(1) To be capable of quiritary ownership a man must have one of the elements of Roman citizenship. Jus quiritium, right quiritary, sometimes, indeed, denotes all the elements of civitas Romana, Roman citizenship (1 §§ 28, 35, comm.). Beneficio principali Latinus civitatem Romanam accipit si ab imperatore jus quiritium impetraverit, Ulpian 3, 2. But the only element of citizenship required for quiritary ownership was commercium, and as we have seen that the Latinus possessed commercium without connubium, the Latinus was capable of quiritary dominion. The alien (peregrinus) on the contrary was incapable, except by special privilege: yet he might have ownership, which he acquired by titles of jus gentium, e g. tradition, occupation, accession, &c., and could maintain by a real action in the court of the praetor peregrinus or praeses provinciae.
(2) Provincial land was not capable of quiritary ownership Originally, indeed, private ownership appears to have been confined to things capable of being taken by the hand (mancipatae), that is to movables; and lands were only subject to public dominion or were the common property of the gens. Private ownership, however, first invaded a portion of the land, the heredium, or hereditary homestead of the gentilis, and finally became a general institution; and ager publicus, as opposed to ager privatus, almost ceased to exist on Italian soil. But in the provinces subsequently conquered, land continued to the end subject exclusively to public dominion; and thus one of the essential features of feudal tenure, the exclusive vesting of absolute or ultimate dominion over land in the sovereign as overlord, a principle commonly supposed to have been first introduced into Europe by the invading German hordes, had already existed, though in a different form, over by far the greater portion of the Roman world. It is true that the provinces were divided into private possessions and public domains; but private possessions as well as public domains were subject to a vectigal, and the tenants of the one and lessees of the other were equally devoid of absolute ownership. Rights over solum provinciale of a more or less limited kind were however acquirable, though not by titles of jus civile, and recoverable by real action, for which Gaius uses the terms possessio and ususfructus, § 7.
(3) Bonitary ownership was distinct both from an alien’s ownership and from rights over provincial land: it may be defined as the property of a Roman citizen in a subject capable of quiritary ownership, acquired in a way not known to the jus civile, but introduced by the praetor, and protected by his imperium or executive power. We have seen, for instance, that only non-mancipable things were capable of transfer by tradition; suppose, now, that a mancipable thing were conveyed by the owner to a vendee by tradition; the process would not make him quiritary owner; he would be no better than a bona fide possessor, until by the lapse of a year or of two years he acquired quiritary ownership by usucapion. The praetor, however, assisted the less cumbrous mode of alienation by treating the vendee as if he were owner; by giving him, if in possession, the exceptio rei venditae et traditae or plea of sale and delivery against the vendor who sought to recover as quiritary owner, and enabling the vendee, if dispossessed, to recover against the quiritary owner as well as against any third person by utilis vindicatio, called actio Publiciana, in which he would meet the plea of quiritary ownership (exceptio dominii) by the replicatio rei venditae et traditae or by the replicatio doli, a replication which could not be used by a mere bona fide possessor. Bonitary ownership, or ownership established by the praetor, when once invented, was employed by the praetor in other innovations, which he introduced, namely, as we shall see hereafter, in respect of res corporales of an insolvent debtor transferred to a purchaser by universal succession (bonorum venditio), and in respect of his testamentary and intestate succession (bonorum possessio): 3 § 80.
The barbarous term Bonitary (formed from the classical in bonis esse, in bonis habere) has the authority of Theophilus, who speaks of δεσπότης βονιτάριος, 1, 5, 4; he also calls bonitary ownership natural dominion (υσικ δεσποτεία), as opposed to statutory, civil, or quiritary dominion (ννομος δεσποτεία).
Actio Publiciana was not only the remedy of the bonitary owner, but was also applicable on the alienation of anything whatever by a non-proprietor to an innocent alienee (bona fide possessor) in case the latter lost possession of it.
Usucapion, as in the case of bonitary ownership, might in the lapse of time have given the bona fide possessor plenary dominion, and, with it, vindication in the event of a loss of possession; but if he lost possession whilst usucapion was still incomplete, he would have had no real action (for, not being owner, he could not vindicate), if the praetor had not allowed him to sue by the actio Publiciana, which treated bona fide possession, that is, usucapion possession, or the inception of usucapion, as if it were plenary dominion in respect of every one, except the rightful owner. The latter, however, could defend himself in this action successfully against a mere bona fide possessor by the exceptio dominii, or bring a vindication against a bona fide possessor who retained possession, though, as we have seen, the quiritary owner was not allowed to avail himself of these means of protection against a person having a praetorian or bonitary title of ownership.
Though the occupant of the vacant hereditament was called praedo, his possession, being encouraged by the lawgiver, was not unlawful until restitution was claimed, Savigny, § 264. This possession is probably the key to an enigmatical rule in Roman law: ipsum sibi causam possessionis mutare non posse, Dig. 41, 3, 33, 1; causam possessionis neminem sibi mutare posse, Dig. 41, 5, 2, 1. ‘No man can change at pleasure his title of possession.’ With the intention, it may be, of limiting the operation of possessio pro herede, an anomalous institution of questionable expediency, the rule declares that a person who commences his possession of a thing in the character of a vendee from a non-proprietor, or holds it as lessee, borrower, depositary, shall not be able, on the death of the true proprietor, to accelerate or initiate usucapion by merely professing that he ceases to hold in his former character and proceeds to hold as possessor pro herede or pro possessore.
Possessio pro herede was perhaps the germ of the intestate succession of next of kin or cognati, a succession, as we shall see, not originally recognized in Roman law: at least, the family or next of kin of an intestate would generally have the best chance of seizing any movables or immovables that he left; and perhaps it was this equitable result, no less than the object mentioned by Gaius, § 55, that, in the absence of a regular succession of cognati, led the public to look on possessio pro possessore as a rational and salutary institution.
The senatusconsultum mentioned in the text, § 57, is supposed by some commentators to be the same as one mentioned in the Digest (5, 3, 6), as having been passed at the instance of the Emperor Hadrian, when Q. Julius Balbus and P. Juventius Celsus were consuls, a. d. 129—hence called Sc. Juventianum. The institution of usucapio pro herede and pro possessore, or rather the senatusconsultum by which it was defeated, has left its traces in the formula, still to be found in the Digest, of the interdict Quorum bonorum, a remedy whereby a person who claimed either as civil heir (heres), or as praetorian heir (bonorum possessor), established his claim to succeed and recovered possession of the things belonging to the inheritance. See 4 § 144. To leave these traces in the wording of the interdict was according to Vangerow no oversight on the part of Justinian, as although in his legislation the last remnants of the institution of usucapio pro possessore, that is by a mala fide possessor, had been definitely abolished; yet usucapio pro herede, that is, by a bona fide possessor, or one who sincerely though mistakenly held himself to be heir, was still recognized by jurisprudence. § 320.
Provincial lands were not subject to Usucapion; but a possessor for ten years during the presence of the owner in the same province (inter praesentes), or for twenty years in his absence (inter absentes), if he satisfied the conditions of usucapion, had, according to the provincial edict, the plea called longi temporis praescriptio against any action brought by the owner for recovery, and subsequently was himself allowed to recover the land, as if he were owner of it, so that longi temporis possessio became in later Roman law not simply a limitation of the right of action, but a positive title analogous to usucapion.
Usucapion required something beyond mere possession for a certain period; and something beyond what we hereafter call Interdict possession, 4 §§ 138-170. The conditions of possession which entitled a possessor to appeal for the protection of his possession to the praetor’s interdict were merely that he should have de facto control of the property, as if he were owner of it, all question of right or title being immaterial: nor was a mala fide any more than a bona fide possessor excluded from this protection, unless he had obtained possession from the other party to the interdict by means of violence (vi), or clandestinely (clam), or by his permission (precario). But to produce Usucapion (1) the person and thing to be acquired must be capable of quiritary ownership, and (2) it must not have been taken by any one’s theft or violence from the former owner, § 49: so that land not being subject to furtum was more easily acquired by usucapion than movable property, § 50; (3) the possession of the usucapient must be based on a justa causa or titulus, a ground of acquiring ownership, such as tradition or bequest; (4) and commenced with bona fides on his part, a condition which appears to have been annexed to the law of the Twelve Tables by the interpretation of the prudentes. Bona fides, in the case of titulus of occupancy, which is an original mode of acquisition, e.g. usucapio pro derelicto, is a mistaken belief that the thing is res nullius, has no proprietor. In the case of derivative acquisition it is the belief that the auctor, or person from whom the thing is derived, is either owner or, if not owner, has a power of disposition as agent, guardian, mortgagee, or otherwise. Vangerow, § 321. The Canon law requires during the whole period of such prescription the bona fides which the Civil law only requires at the inception.
Justinian remodelled the law of Usucapion, combining it with longi temporis possessio. Cf. Inst. 2, 6. For movables he extended the period from one year to three years: for immovables he abolished the distinction between Italian and provincial land, and required ten years’ possession if the parties were domiciled in the same province, and twenty years’ possession if they were not domiciled in the same province. Further, he introduced a new usucapion (longissimi temporis praescriptio), which was governed by less stringent conditions than the ordinary usucapion (longi temporis praescriptio). It applied both to movables and immovables, was not vitiated by certain flaws in the subject (res furtiva, vi possessa), and needed no support of any titulus, but only required bona fides in its inception on the part of the possessor, Cod. 7, 39, 8. It was completed in thirty years.
Usucapion, particularly in this its later form, requires to be carefully distinguished from the Limitation of actions (temporalis praescriptio) with which it has been co-ordinated by some civilians under the name of Acquisitive, as opposed to Extinctive, Prescription. We shall see, 4 § 110, that all actions were originally divided into temporales and perpetuae, temporales being such as could only be brought within a certain period (e.g. in the case of praetorian actions, a year) from the time when the right of action accrued, perpetuae such as were subject to no such limitation. Subsequently, however, even the latter were limited, and no action could be brought after thirty years from the nativity of the action or the time when the right of action accrued (actio nata), Inst. 4, 12 pr. In the case of personal actions there is no danger of confusing Usucapion and Limitation. Usucapion implies possession, and in the case of personal actions, or jus in personam, no such thing as possession is conceivable, for possession only relates to res corporales. Usucapion and the Limitation of real actions are more similar, but even here a distinction may be recognized. Limitation is the extinction of a right by neglect of the person entitled, by his omission to enforce his remedy: Usucapion is the acquisition of a right by something positive on the part of the acquirer, his strictly defined possession for a certain time. Even extraordinary acquisitive prescription requires, as we have seen, bona fides in the commencement of possession: no such condition is attached to Limitation or extinctive prescription.
English law originally only recognized acquisitive prescription in the case of easements and profits, e.g. rights of way; for the acquisition of which the Prescription Act, 2 and 3 Will. 4, c. 71, requires possession for a fixed period. Moreover, since the Act for the limitation of real actions, 3 and 4 Will. 4, c. 27, deprives a proprietor of land of his right as well as his remedy if he omit to bring his action to recover it within twenty years after the right accrued (a limit which by the 37 and 38 Vict. c. 57 was reduced to twelve years), the principle of Usucapion (Acquisitive prescription) in corporeal as well as incorporeal hereditaments may be said to be now recognized in English real property law, though not very distinctly.
Besides the civil titles which we have examined, two others are mentioned by Ulpian: Singularum rerum dominia nobis adquiruntur mancipatione, traditione, in jure cessione, usucapione, adjudicatione, lege, 19, 2.
Adjudication (for the nature of which see 4 § 42), whereby property might be taken from one individual and vested in another without any of the ordinary methods of conveyance, as in the case of the award of a judex in a partition suit, may be compared in its operation to the vesting orders made by the Court of Chancery under the Trustee Acts. When trustees are disabled by lunacy or infancy from dealing with the estates vested in them, the Court of Chancery is empowered to make orders the effect of which is that the estate becomes immediately vested in the substituted trustees as effectually as if a conveyance had been duly made by the person previously entitled to the legal estate. Another parallel is to be found in the awards of certain commissioners acting under powers given by act of parliament. Thus the order of the Inclosure commissioners for exchange and partition of land closely resembles in subject and effect the adjudicatio of a judex n the actio finium regundorum.
Lex is an ambiguous and miscellaneous title. It is said to include title by caducity (caducum) under the lex Papia Poppaea, and bequest or legacy (legatum), a title deriving its validity from the lex of the Twelve Tables, Ulpian, 19, 17. Extending our view from res singulae, to which Ulpian confines himself, to universitates, lex was an apt denomination of title by will at the period when wills required the ratification of the Comitia Calata, 2 § 101, as at that time testamentary dispositions were really acts of the legislature. Title by lex in this case bears some kind of analogy to conveyances by private act of parliament in English jurisprudence.
It may assist to clear our conception of title if we observe that the title ‘Lege’ is ambiguous, and that (1) while one of its meanings implies an absence of all title, (2) another denotes a miscellaneous group of heterogeneous titles.
(1) The only case in which Law can be said in any distinctive sense to be a cause of acquisition is privilegium or private law. The acquisition of a right by immediate grant from the sovereign (private act of the legislature, private act of parliament) is unlike the acquisition of a person entitled under some general disposition of a universal law. Acquisition by bequest or escheat is not an acquisition by law in any pre-eminent manner, but only in the same degree as is acquisition by mancipation or usucapion or any other title, for all these acquisitions are equally founded on law or some legal disposition of general application. But in acquisition by privilegium there is, in this sense, neither title nor any general law. By a general law is meant a universal proposition, annexing a right or duty to a title: it knows nothing of individual persons, but stops short at classes of persons, classes, that is, defined by the title. Again, title is, properly speaking, a contingent fact distinct from a corresponding law: a fact which may occur an indefinite number of times, and entitle, that is, invest with rights or duties, an indefinite number of persons, in accordance with the dispositions of one and the same unchanging law. Title, loosely and inaccurately defined as a fact investing a person with a right, would include a privilege, i. e. a law conferring a right immediately on a given individual without the intervention of a fact distinguishable from the law; but title, properly defined as an intervening fact through which a law confers a right mediately, excludes privilege.
Whenever there is a genuine title and a general law, the title is interposed between the general right or duty and the particular person therewith invested, just as the middle term is interposed between the major and minor terms of a syllogism. E.g. All persons characterized by the fact B are invested with the right or duty A: the individual C is characterized by this fact B; therefore this individual is invested with the right or duty A. A genuine law is only the major premiss, the proposition stating the general right or duty, all B is A. The condition, represented by the middle term, which connects or disconnects the right or duty with a person is the title. In a privilegium we have no such premisses and no such middle term. The investment of the particular individual C with a general right or duty is not in this case possible, being unwarranted by any genuine title.
(2) In Bequest and loss of a bequest on account of caducity or ereption there is a general law and a genuine title, but the law is not the title, any more than it is in any other mode of acquisition. Either because these modes include fewer voluntary acts than some closely allied modes (for instance, the legatee may acquire ownership of the property bequeathed to him without any act of acceptance on his part), or, for some other reason, divers modes are lumped together under the head of acquisition by lex. The name, however, besides being a misnomer, is merely a sink or receptacle of miscellaneous unrelated titles, just as we shall find in the doctrine of obligations that miscellaneous titles (variae causarum figurae) are lumped together under the denomination of quasi-contract. As to the displacement in the MS. of §§ 62-64 see below, p. 163.