The Recovery of Gaius' Institutes

The complete work was unknown except for excerpts in Justinian's Digest, until in 1816, B.G. Niebuhr discovered a manuscript in the Cathedral Chapter Library of Verona, in which some of the works of Saint Jerome were written on top of an earlier text, which proved to be the lost work of Gaius. The greater part of the palimpsest has been deciphered, and the text is now fairly complete. More recently, two sets of papyrus fragments have been found. The discovery of Gaius' work has thrown light on portions of the history of Roman law which had previously been obscure. Much of the historical information given by Gaius is absent in the compilations of Justinian, and, in particular, Justinian's jurists did not put Gaius' account of the ancient forms of procedure in actions in the Digest. In these procedure forms can be traced the "survivals" from the most primitive times, which provide comparative law with valuable illustrations, and which may explain the strange forms of legal procedure found in other early systems.

There are several editions of the Institutes, beginning with the editio princeps of I.F.L. Göschen (Berlin, 1820). The author of the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica recommends the English edition of Edward Poste published in 1885,which includes an English translation and copious commentary; more recent editions include E. Seckel-B. Keubler (8th edition; Leipzig, 1939), and Francis de Zulueta, with an English translation and commentary (2 volumes; Oxford, 1946).

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia