The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
[I. DE IVRE CIVILI ET NATVRALI.] - Gaius, Institutes of Roman Law [160 AD]
Gai Institutiones or Institutes 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
[I. DE IVRE CIVILI ET NATVRALI.]
§ 1.Omnes populi qui legibus et moribus reguntur partim suo proprio, partim communi omnium hominum iure utuntur; nam quod quis|que populus ipse sibi ius constituit, id ipsius proprium est uocaturque ius ciuile, quasi ius proprium ciuitatis; quod uero naturalis ratio inter omnes homines constituit, id apud omnes populos peraeque custoditur uocaturque ius gentium, quasi quo iure omnes gentes utuntur. populus itaque Romanus partim suo proprio, partim communi omnium hominum iure utitur. quae singula qualia sint, suis locis proponemus.
Dig. 1, 1, 9 (Gaius), Inst. 1, 2, 1.
§ 2. Constant autem iura populi Romani ex legibus, plebiscitis, senatusconsultis, constitutionibus principum, edictis eorum qui ius edicendi habent, responsis prudentium.
Inst. 1, 2, 3.
§ 3. Lex est quod populus iubet atque constituit. Plebiscitum est quod plebs iubet atque constituit. plebs autem a populo eo distat, quod populi appellatione uniuersi ciues significantur, connumeratis etiam patriciis; plebis autem appellatione sine patriciis ceteri ciues significantur; unde olim patricii dicebant plebiscitis se non teneri, quia sine auctoritate eorum facta essent; sed postea lex Hortensia lata est, qua cautum est ut plebiscita uniuersum populum tenerent; itaque eo modo legibus exaequata sunt.
Inst. 1, 2, 4.
§ 4. Senatusconsultum est quod senatus iubet atque constituit, idque legis uicem optinet, quamuis fuerit quaesitum.
Inst. 1, 2, 5.
§ 5. Constitutio principis est quod imperator decreto uel edicto uel epistula constituit. nec umquam dubitatum est, quin id legis uicem optineat, cum ipse imperator per legem imperium accipiat
Inst. 1, 2, 6; Dig. 1, 4, 1.
§ 6. ——— ius autem edicendi habent magistratus populi Romani; sed amplissimum ius est in edictis duorum praetorum, urbani et peregrini, quorum in prouinciis iurisdictionem praesides earum habent; item in edictis aedilium curulium, quorum iurisdictionem in prouinciis populi Romani quaestores habent; nam in prouincias Caesaris omnino quaestores non mittuntur, et ob id hoc edictum in his prouinciis non proponitur.
Inst. 1, 2, 7.
§ 7. Responsa prudentium sunt sententiae et opiniones eorum quibus permissum est iura condere. quorum omnium si in unum sententiae concurrunt, id quod ita sentiunt legis uicem optinet; si uero dissentiunt, iudici licet quam uelit sententiam sequi; idque rescripto diui Hadriani significatur.
Inst. 1, 2, 8.
ON CIVIL LAW AND NATURAL LAW.
§ 1. The laws of every people governed by statutes and customs are partly peculiar to itself, partly common to all mankind. The rules established by a given state for its own members are peculiar to itself, and are called jus civile; the rules constituted by natural reason for all are observed by all nations alike, and are called jus gentium. So the laws of the people of Rome are partly peculiar to itself, partly common to all nations; and this distinction shall be explained in detail in each place as it occurs.
§ 2. Roman law consists of statutes, plebiscites, senatusconsults, constitutions of the emperors, edicts of magistrates authorized to issue them, and opinions of jurists.
§ 3. A statute is a command and ordinance of the people: a plebiscite is a command and ordinance of the commonalty. The commonalty and the people are thus distinguished: the people are all the citizens, including the patricians; the commonalty are all the citizens, except the patricians. Whence in former times the patricians maintained that they were not bound by the plebiscites, as passed without their authority; but afterwards a statute called the lex Hortensia was enacted, which provided that the plebiscites should bind the people, and thus plebiscites were made co-ordinate with statutes.
§ 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.
§ 6. Power to issue edicts is vested in magistrates of the people of Rome, the amplest authority belonging to the edicts of the two praetors, the home praetor and the foreign praetor, whose provincial jurisdiction is vested in the presidents of the provinces, and to the edicts of the curule aediles, whose jurisdiction in the provinces of the people of Rome is vested in quaestors: in the provinces of the emperor no quaestors are appointed, and in these provinces, accordingly, the edict of the aediles is not published.
§ 7. The answers of jurists are the decisions and opinions of persons authorized to lay down the law. If they are unanimous their decision has the force of law; if they disagree, the judge may follow whichever opinion he chooses, as is ruled by a rescript of the late emperor Hadrian.
§ 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 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.
§ 3. Plebiscites as well as the enactments of the Comitia populi were called Leges, and were named after the tribunes by whom they were carried, as the leges proper (rarely called populiscita) were named after the consul, praetor or dictator by whom they were carried. Thus Lex Canuleia, Lex Aquilia, 3 § 210, Lex Atinia, Inst. 2, 6, 2, Lex Furia testamentaria, 2 § 225, were plebiscites named after tribunes, while the Lex Valeria Horatia was named after two consuls, the Lex Publilia and Lex Hortensia were named after dictators, the Lex Aurelia, 70 b. c., after a praetor. (As to the history of plebiscita and leges and of the other sources of Roman law cf. Historical Introduction and see Smith’s Dict. of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 3rd ed. s. v.)
§ 4. The legislative power of the senate was in the time of the republic a matter of controversy. It is certain that it had a power of issuing certain administrative decrees or instructions to magistrates that was hardly distinguishable from legislation. Under the emperors matters were changed. Legislation by the Comitia, though spoken of by Gaius in the present tense, had ceased to be a reality after the time of Tiberius, and the last recorded lex was passed in the reign of Nerva. As early as the time of Augustus the auctoritas of the senate began to be regarded as the essential process in making a law, and the subsequent rogatio of the Comitia as a mere formality, which was finally omitted. Senatusconsults, like laws, were sometimes named after the consuls who proposed them, though this is not in their case an official designation; they are sometimes even called leges: thus the measure which Gaius calls Sc. Claudianum, § 84, is subsequently referred to by him under the name of lex, § 157, 4 §§ 85, 86. Ulpian says, Non ambigitur senatum jus facere posse. Dig. 1, 3, 9. Of course, these senatusconsults were merely a disguised form of imperial constitution. The sovereignty had in fact passed from both patricians and plebeians to the hands of the princeps. A measure was recommended by the emperor in an oratio or epistola to the senate, and then proposed by the consul who convoked the senate, and voted by the senate without opposition. Hence a senatusconsult is sometimes called oratio, e. g. oratio divi Marci, Dig. 2, 12, 1 pr. Even this form was finally disused. No senatusconsult relating to matters of civil law occurs after the time of Septimius Severus.
§ 5. Although when Gaius wrote the emperor had not yet acquired the formal right of making statutes, his supreme executive power enabled him to give to his constitutions the same force as if they had been leges. The legal origin and character of the different forms of imperial constitution has been much controverted, and certainly varied at different periods.
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.
§ 6. Huschke points out that the vacant space in the MS. before jus probably contained a definition of Edicta.
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.
§ 7. The opinions of a jurist had originally only the weight that was due to his knowledge and genius; but on the transfer of power from the hands of the people to those of the princeps, the latter recognized the expediency of being able to direct and inspire the oracles of jurisprudence; and accordingly Augustus converted the profession of jurist into a sort of public function, giving the decisions of certain authorized jurists the force of law, Pomponius in Dig. 1, 2, 49 (cf. Inst. 1, 2, 8). ‘Until Augustus, the public decision of legal questions was not a right conferred by imperial grant, but any one who relied on his knowledge advised the clients who chose to consult him. Nor were legal opinions always given in a letter closed and sealed, but were generally laid before the judge in the writing or by the attestation of one of the suitors. Augustus, in order to increase their weight, enacted that they should be clothed with his authority, and henceforth this office was sought for as a privilege.’ Those jurists who had the jus respondendi were called juris auctores. Their auctoritas resided, in the first instance, in their responsa, or the written opinions they gave when consulted on a single case, but in the second instance, doubtless, in their writings (sententiae et opiniones), which were mainly a compilation of their responsa, a fact which has left its traces in the disjointed and incoherent style which disagreeably characterizes Roman juristic literature. The jus respondendi instituted by Augustus and regulated by Tiberius, who themselves held the office of Pontifex Maximus, gave those to whom it belonged similar authority in interpreting law as had previously been exercised by the College of Pontifices—‘omnium tamen harum et interpretandi scientia et actiones apud Collegium Pontificum erant, ex quibus constituebatur, quis quoque anno praeesset privatis’ (Pomponius in Dig. 1, 2, 6; cf. Sohm, § 18).
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.