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Article

codex  

Tony Honoré

Codex, though it came to have a special meaning in legal contexts, denotes leaves of wood, papyrus, or (especially) parchment bound together in the form of a modern volume as opposed to a roll. (See books, greek and roman.) Christian Scriptures took this convenient form, which made it easier to find the passage one wanted. The earliest legal work to which the term was applied was the Codex Gregorianus of ce 291. This was a collection of imperial laws (constitutions) from the time of Hadrian onwards, divided into books (libri) and subject-headings (titles). The identity of the author Gregorius is uncertain; he may have been a western lawyer who served *Diocletian as master of petitions (*magister libellorum). His Codex was composed largely of replies on behalf of emperors to petitions in writing on points of law (rescripts). Extracts from it have survived, mainly in Justinian's Codex.

Article

Piero Treves and Andrew Lintott

Coercitio, the right, held by every magistrate with *imperium, of compelling reluctant citizens to obey his orders and decrees, by inflicting punishment. Against this compulsion, which magistrates exercised not as judges but as holders of executive authority, *provocatio might be employed or an appeal to the tribunes. Moreover, the provocatio laws made it an offence to inflict capital punishment in face of appeal and banned the flogging of citizens, except in certain contexts, notably those of military service, the games, and the stage.

Article

Arnold Hugh Martin Jones and Antony Spawforth

Collatio lustralis (chrysargyron), a tax in gold and silver levied every five years (later four) on traders in the widest sense. It was instituted by *Constantine, and abolished in the east by Anastasius in ce 498; it continued to exist in the Ostrogothic and Visigothic kingdoms in the 6th cent. From the late 4th cent. it was levied in gold only. Not only were merchants liable, but moneylenders, craftsmen who sold their own products, and apparently anyone who received fees. Prostitutes paid, and the fact that the government thus profited from sin made the tax unpopular with Christians. Doctors and teachers were expressly exempted. Landowners and peasants selling their own products were also immune, and rural craftsmen were declared exempt in 374. Painters were also freed from the tax then, and clergy and veterans who practised crafts or trade were exempt if their assessment fell below a certain minimum. The tax was assessed on the capital assets of the taxpayer, including himself and his slaves and family. The rate of tax does not seem to have been heavy, but it caused grave hardship to poor craftsmen and shopkeepers; this explains the evidence for payment by annual instalments, in Roman Egypt and perhaps generally. It was levied in each city by mancipes (i.

Article

Piero Treves, Cyril Bailey, and Andrew Lintott

(1) Magisterial or priestly: a board of officials. (2) Private: any private association of fixed membership and constitution (see clubs, roman).The principle of collegiality was a standard feature of republican magistracies at Rome. Although in some cases the common status of colleagues did not exclude seniority (originally one *consul may have been superior to the other and the consuls as a whole were senior colleagues of the *praetors), the principle in general was to avoid arbitrary power by ensuring that every magistracy should be filled by at least two officials, and in any case by an even number. They were to possess equal and co-ordinate authority, but subject to mutual control. Thus a decision taken by one consul was legal only if it did not incur the veto (*intercessio) of the other. This principle led to alternation in the exercise of power by the consuls each month. Under the Principate emperors might take as a colleague in their tribunician power (see tribuni plebis) their intended successors, who in many cases were co-emperors.

Article

Michael Crawford

Almost any statement that one might wish to make about the colonate as an institution of the Late Roman Empire is contestable. It would probably be widely agreed that evidence begins to appear in the 4th cent. ce for coloni who are not simply tenants, but who are adscripti (assigned), adscripticii (characterized by their being assigned), originarii (characterized by reference to their origo), inquilini (inhabitants of a place); that the term coloni, tout court, is sometimes used to refer to these categories; and that the three distinguishing features of these categories are (1) that their agreement with the landowner included a provision that made him liable for the payment of their taxes, which is not the same as to say that he collected them, (2) that they were registered accordingly in the census, and (3) that they owed services to the landowner. By way of contrast, ‘free’ coloni, who co-existed with the categories just described, owed no such services. A necessary condition for the existence of the categories in question is the possibility for an estate to be the origo of someone, as well as a city or village; it cannot be determined when this possibility emerged, but presumably during the 3rd cent.

Article

comitia  

Arnaldo Momigliano and Tim Cornell

In Rome the *Comitium was the place of assembly. Comitia is a plural word meaning an assembly of the Roman people summoned in groups by a magistrate possessing the formal right to convoke them (ius agendi cum populo). The convocation had to be on a proper ‘comitial’ day (dies comitialis), after the auspices had been taken, on an inaugurated site. When only a part of the people was summoned, the assembly was strictly a concilium (Gell. NA 15. 27). When the whole people was summoned, but not by groups, the assembly was a *contio. In the comitia the majority in each group determined the vote of the group. The comitia voted only on proposals put to them by magistrates, and they could not amend them.The three types of comitia were the comitia curiata, the comitia centuriata, and the comitia tributa, the constituent voting groups being, respectively, curiae (see curia(1), *centuriae, and *tribus.

Article

Ian Archibald Richmond, Donald Emrys Strong, and Janet DeLaine

The chief place of political assembly in republican Rome (Varro, Ling. 5. 155; Livy 5. 55) occupying an area north of the *forum Romanum at the foot of the Capitoline. It is associated with nine levels of paving from the late 7th to the mid-1st cent. bce, after which it ceased to exist as a recognizable monument owing to Caesar's reorganization of the area, although individual elements remained into the empire. The natural topography and the archaeological evidence suggest it was an irregular triangular space, eventually flanked by three platforms: the Rostra to the south, the praetorian tribunal (whence justice was administered) to the east, and the Graecostasis (place where foreign embassies awaited reception by the Senate) to the west. Although in the mid-2nd cent. the rostra was replaced by a curved stepped structure, the rest of the Comitium retained its original form. The numerous monuments and statues which filled it have perished, except for the altar, truncated column, and archaic cippus (a stone marker), bearing a ritual inscription (ILS 4913), sealed below a black marble pavement (lapis niger) originally dating to the Caesarian alterations and subsequently incorporated into the Augustan paving.

Article

John Percy Vyvian Dacre Balsdon and Barbara Levick

Under the Roman republic distinguished politicians influenced the elections of magistrates by open canvassing (suffragatio) on behalf of friends. This practice was continued by emperors (Suet. Aug. 56. 1), and, when done in absence, by letter or by posting a list of recommended candidates, was known as commendatio (cf. ‘epistulae commendaticiae’, Cic. Fam. 5. 5. 1). This method became normal when the emperor was infirm (Cass. Dio 55. 34. 20, ce 8), or absent (e.g. *Tiberius, ce 26 onwards). Such candidati Caesaris were normally sure of success; that made Tiberius careful to limit their numbers and delicate in his handling of the consulship (Tac. Ann. 1. 15. 1; 1. 81). However, *Vespasian, in order to give his candidates a better chance, had to have them voted on separately (ILS244 = EJ364). Any pretence that imperial influence was not decisive disappeared by the end of the 1st cent. (*Pliny (2), Pan.

Article

Christopher Pelling

Commentarii ‘memoranda’, were often private or businesslike, e.g. accounts, notebooks for speeches, legal notes, or teaching materials. Their public use (excluding the false ‘commentarii of the kings’) developed in the priestly colleges (e.g. *pontifices, see libri pontificales, and augures), and with magistrates (*consuls, *censors, *aediles) and provincial governors. They apparently recorded decisions and other material relevant for future consultation, and at least in some cases explained their rationale: this could amount to a manual of protocol. Under the empire the ‘imperial memoranda’ (commentarii principis) provided an archive of official constitutions, rescripts (see magister libellorum), etc: entering a decision in the commentarii conferred its legal authority.In the late republic a more literary usage developed, ‘memoir’ rather than ‘memoranda’. Various records, handbooks, and other learned works were so described, but especially autobiographies, under the influence of such Greek works as *Aratus (2)'s ‘memoirs’ (ὑπομνήματα, the nearest Greek equivalent): thus perhaps the work of *Sulla, more certainly *Cicero's accounts of his consulship and above all *Caesar's commentarii.

Article

Nicholas Purcell

Conciliabulum, term of Roman administrative law used to denote large villages in Italy in the republic. The rural population had been organized into tribus rusticae (see tribus), which had become unwieldy when (in the 4th–3rd cents.) Roman territory greatly increased in size. The conciliabulum provided a focus for relations with the centre, but had few distinctive rights. The category became obsolete with the municipalization (see municipium) of Italy after the *Social War (3).

Article

Antony Spawforth

Concilium or commune, koinon in the east, the provincial council, an important element in the Roman system of provincial administration (see provincia); although never, it seems, standardised. The councils held (? annual) meetings attended by representatives (local notables) from the constituent communities of part or all of a province or even several associated provinces (as with Gallia Comata; see Gaul (transalpine)). Their origins were chequered: some in the east had once been independent leagues (see federal states); others were Roman initiatives (notably the concilium of the three Gallic provinces inaugurated in 12 bce by Drusus, Augustus’ stepson); yet others emerge fully-fledged from hazy antecedents, as with the Sicilian commune known from *Cicero's Verrines or the most influential of all these bodies, the koinon of the Greeks of Asia, well established by the late republic. Their chief functions were (1) to represent their provinces to the centre (through their right to send embassies to the senate and emperor) not only diplomatically (e.g. to mark imperial accessions) but also on matters of substance, notably complaints against unsatisfactory governors (note Tac. Ann.

Article

Nicholas Purcell

The Roman law of letting contracts (see locatio conductio) was central to the working of much public and private business. The conductor was the lessee, that is the person to whom the contract was let. The term is used of contractors for private building, and other private concerns (Vitr. 1. 1. 10; Dig. 19. 1. 52 pr., 40. 7. 40. 5), including agricultural *leases. More importantly, it covered the lessees of state building projects, and under the empire, those to whom the state farmed taxes, especially, at least in the 2nd cent., ce the *portoria, and the indirect taxes (*vectigal) due to local communities. It was also used of those who managed under lease imperial assets such as the Vipasca mines (Portugal), storehouse complexes in Italy, and agricultural estates. In inscriptions from an estate of this kind in the late 2nd cent. ce, conductores are found acting as middlemen between the *procurator and the primary producers, and abusing their considerable powers.

Article

John Percy Vyvian Dacre Balsdon and Barbara Levick

A Roman magistrate was always at liberty to summon advisers in deliberation or on the bench. The fluctuating body of advisers summoned to the Roman emperors retained this semi-unofficial character, though the gathering of amici (see amicus augusti) was increasingly afforced by judicial and administrative personnel (the prefect of the praetorian guard was regularly a member) and its meetings must be distinguished from consultation of individuals. Rules of selection and procedure continued to be flexible, although under Marcus *Aurelius a grade of salaried legal experts, consiliarii, appears (Ulpian, Dig. 4. 4. 11. 2). Cassius Dio (52. 14. 3; cf. 15) makes *Maecenas advise *Augustus to put the management of affairs into the hands of himself and the best citizens, reflecting the interest of ruling circles in their role rather than the actual scope of the work done by the consilium. Hence the interest of other imperial writers in its composition: Suet.

Article

Arnold Hugh Martin Jones and R. S. O. Tomlin

Consistorium, the name given to the imperial consilium from the time of *Diocletian, since the members no longer sat but stood in the emperor's presence. It functioned both as a general council of state and as a supreme court of law. Its membership depended on the emperor's choice but normally included the principal civil and military officers of the imperial court (comitatus), former holders of these offices, and appointed members known as comites consistoriani who held no office; these last included legal experts, mostly drawn from the Bar. Its minutes were kept by the imperial notarii, secretaries who might also serve as confidential emissaries and rise to high office, but in the 5th cent. their clerical duties passed to *agentes in rebus and subordinates of the *magister memoriae. Its sessions were called ‘silences’ (silentia), and its ushers silentiarii. The consistory was an active council of state during the 4th cent., but its time was increasingly filled by ceremonial business, and by the 5th cent. its proceedings appear to have become entirely formal.

Article

Myles Lavan

An enactment (probably an edict) of Caracalla dating to 212 or early 213 that granted Roman citizenship to all or almost all free inhabitants of the empire who did not already have it. It is so called because constitutio is the technical term for an imperial decision and Caracalla’s name was M. Aurelius Severus Antoninus.

Both Cassius Dio (78[77].9.5) and Ulpian ( Dig. 1.5.17) record that Caracalla granted citizenship to everyone in the Roman empire. Several later texts misattribute the act to emperors of better repute. The constitution itself may survive in Greek translation as the badly damaged first text on a famous papyrus held at the University of Giessen ( PGiss. 40). Following several decades of controversy, the identification is now widely accepted, though there remain several phrases in the papyrus that are hard to reconcile with this hypothesis. In any case, the lacunose text is so fraught with interpretive difficulties that it can provide little independent information about Caracalla’s grant.

Article

Barry Nicholas

Constitutions (constitutiones), the generic name for legislative enactments by Roman emperors, took different forms.(a) Like all higher magistrates, emperors had the power to issue *edicts; imperial edicts were used for enactments of a general character (e.g. the *constitutio Antoniniana, extending citizenship to the whole Roman world).(b) The emperor had great judicial powers. His decisions took the form of decrees (decreta). Although the Romans had no theory of binding precedent, such rulings, coming from the emperor, were regarded as authoritative for future cases and were freely quoted by the jurists.(c) The emperor received many petitions and requests for rulings from officials and from individuals. Rescripts (rescripta) were the written answers issued by the imperial chancery. They were of two main kinds. (1) Epistulae (letters) were addressed to officials or public bodies, and were drafted by the department ab epistulis. (2) Subscriptiones (see subscriptions), so called because the emperor validated them by writing at the end ‘scripsi’ or ‘subscripsi’ (‘I have written underneath’), were drafted by the department a libellis in response to petitions (libelli) on a wide variety of subjects from private persons and (rarely) cities (see magister libellorum).

Article

consul  

Francisco Pina Polo

Two annual consuls were the chief magistrates of the Roman state during the Republican period. According to tradition, the consulship existed from 509 bce when kingship was abolished in Rome, but it may have been the culmination of a longer and more complex process: its origin could possibly be dated to 367–366 bce. Consuls were elected in the centuriate assembly and were granted imperium, which implied supreme civil and military power. Consulship was part of a structured career path (cursus honorum). Consuls carried out their functions under the principle of collegiality. They were eponymous magistrates, as their names were used to establish the official chronology of Rome. Until the 1st century bce, consuls were the chief commanders of the Roman army under the authority of the senate: as such, they were the leading actors in the imperial expansion of Rome. Consuls also carried out important civil functions when they were present in Rome. During the 1st century bce the role played by consuls changed due to the fact that they remained at Rome for most or all of their term of office.

Article

contio  

Piero Treves and Andrew Lintott

Contio (conventio, a coming together) was a public meeting at Rome from which no legal enactment actually emerged, even though it might form part of a longer formal procedure, such as a trial before the people. Hence it did not have to be held in a templum, an area hallowed by the taking of the auspices. It could be convened by a magistrate or a priest. Apart from trials, it was used among other things for preliminary discussion of legislation or simply as a means of providing a politician with a political platform to pronounce on matters of the moment. A magistrate could call away a meeting summoned by an inferior and a tribune could veto (see intercessio) the making of a speech at any meeting. The right of addressing the audience depended on the discretion of the convener. He addressed the gathering from a platform, to which he might summon speakers of sufficient importance, while others spoke from ground level. These meetings generally took place in the Forum or its neighbourhood, but could be held outside the *pomerium so that a pro-magistrate might attend without losing his *imperium.

Article

R. Zimmermann

Contract was one of the four branches of the law of obligations set out in Justinian Institutiones 3. 13. However, it constituted a law of specific contracts rather than a law of contract based on a uniform set of principles. According to Gaius Institutiones 3. 89 and Justinian Inst. 3. 13. 2 contracts fell into four classes. They could arise

(a) re, by the handing over of a thing;

(b) verbis, by formal words;

(c) litteris, by written entries in the creditor's account book (codex accepti et expensi);

(d) consensu, by mere informal agreement.

The contract litteris became obsolete during the first centuries ce.

By far the most important of the verbal contracts was the stipulation (*stipulatio); others were the promise of a dowry (dotis dictio) and a freed slave's promise of services (promissio operarum). Real contracts were of four kinds.

Article

M. I. Finley and Keith Bradley

Contubernium meant a ‘dwelling together’, as of soldiers or animals, but referred especially to a quasi-marital union between slave and slave or slave and free. Since a slave lacked juristic personality, a contubernium was not a marriage but a factual situation, at the pleasure of the slave-owner, creating no legal consequences despite the use of such words as uxor, maritus, or pater, even in legal texts. Children were the property of the mother's owner; no slave-woman could be guilty of adultery; manumission of one or both parents need not extend to their issue. Sepulchral inscriptions indicate that contubernia were highly valued. But how widespread de facto slave ‘families’ were and which social contexts best favoured them cannot be accurately known. Slave-owners always retained the right to separate slave family members, and commonly did so to judge from records of slave sales and bequests.

For bibliography see marriage law; slavery.