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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

Ville Vuolanto

The lex Oppia, decreed in 216 bce, regulated the use of wealth by the Roman women. There are different modern interpretative approaches to the law, dealing with its original contents and purpose (as a sumptuary law or as a wartime emergency measure), its abrogation in 195 bce with Cato the Elder’s speech and women’s demonstrations, and its uses in Livy and the debates in Rome in the late 1st century bce.The lex Oppia was a plebiscitum decreed after a proposal by the people’s tribune Gaius Oppius in 215bce; it was repealed in 195bce. According to Livy, it provided that no woman should have (habere) more than one half an ounce (semiuncia, c. 14 grams) of gold, wear luxuriously coloured (versicolor) clothing, or ride in a carriage (iunctum vehiculum) in Rome, in any town, or within a mile of the settlement in question, except in the performance of public religious rites (.

Article

Ville Vuolanto

The lex Voconia is a plebiscitum, named after the people’s tribune Q. Voconius Saxa, who proposed the bill before the concilium plebis (see comitia) in 169bce. It provides that testators of the first census class (that is those with a minimum wealth of 100,000 asses) were not allowed to institute a woman as a testamentary heir. Furthermore, the law states that the value of a legacy or donatio mortis causa could not exceed the part of the inheritance left to the heir or heirs (Gai. Inst. 2.274 and 2.226; Dio Cass.56.10; Cic. Verr. 1.43). It seems likely that this latter provision was not as restrictive as the former and that it therefore applied to all levels of the society irrespective of their wealth.There is no persuasive evidence that the law originally would have included other provisions. While the 3rd-centuryPauli Sententiae (4.8.20) excludes female relatives more remote than sisters from intestate succession among the agnates and connects this exclusion to the lex Voconia, it cannot be determined whether this was one of these other provisions.

Article

The lex de Gallia Cisalpina is the usual modern title given to the fragment of a Roman statute on a bronze tablet found at the ancient town of Veleia in 1760, the surviving part of which deals with provisions for and restrictions on local jurisdiction in Cisalpine Gaul (CIL XI 1146; I2 592; FIRA I 19; Roman Statutes, no. 28).1 An additional small fragment found at Veleia (CIL XI 1144; I2 601, included in the Roman Statutes edition) is usually associated with it, and it remains a matter of debate whether the so-called fragmentum Atestinum (CIL I2 600; Roman Statutes, no. 16) represents a copy of a different part of the same law.2 The main tablet from Veleia is numbered IV and contains chapters 19–23 of the law. The law of the Veleia tablet is usually, though not entirely securely, associated with the otherwise unattested tribunician lex Rubria, which is twice mentioned in the sample formulae for local trials included in it (col.

Article

Kimberley Czajkowski

The senatus consultum Tertullianum was a senatorial decree of the Hadrianic era that placed certain mothers in the line of succession to the estates of their intestate children, thereby improving their position. It is typically discussed alongside the sc Orfitianum in the context of the gradual shift from agnatic to cognatic ties in succession law.The senatus consultum Tertullianum was a senatorial decree of the Hadrianic era that placed certain mothers in the line of succession to the estates of their intestate children (see children in Roman law).1 Until this point, women who were married sine manu, and therefore did not move into the legal control of their husband, had no right of succession to their children’s estates under the ius civile. It should be noted, however, that in the praetorian order of intestate succession, which, in Papinius’ words, aimed to “support, supplement, and correct” the ius civile.

Article

Kimberley Czajkowski

The Senatus Consultum Orfitianum was a senatorial decree enacted under Marcus Aurelius in 178 ce that gave children priority over other heirs in inheriting from an intestate mother. Together with the sc Tertullianum, it is typically discussed in the context of the gradual shift from agnatic to cognatic ties in succession law.The Senatus Consultum Orfitianum is a senatorial decree enacted under Marcus Aurelius in 178ce that gave children priority over other heirs in inheriting from an intestate mother (Ulpian, Reg. 26.7). The jurists Gaius and Paul wrote monographs on the decree, and the lengthy comments of Ulpian in the twelfth book of ad Sabinum are also preserved in the Digest (D.38.17.1).1The senatus consultum (sc) should be understood in the broader context of Roman intestate succession. A dual system gradually developed whereby the praetor, in Papinius’ words, aimed to “support, supplement, and correct” the order of succession in the .

Article

The law of Augustus concerning the regulation of marriage (18 bce), a plebiscite often treated in conjunction with the consular law of Papius and Poppaeus (lex Papia Poppaea, 9 ce, together as lex Iulia et Papia), primarily obliges all Roman citizens to enter into marriage with the purpose of producing legitimate offspring. With this goal, the law probably contained set age limits at which point one was expected to have been married, an age likely reflective of the fertility age, and an extensive list of rewards and privileges for those producing (legitimate) offspring.The literary sources of the 1st and 2nd centuries ce emphasize the reward structure the law contained. For example, Tacitus, in Tac. Ann. 2.51 suggests the number of children was crucial for the election of a praetor. The general overviews of the laws enacted by Augustus in Suetonius, Augustus 34 and Cassius Dio, Historia Romana.

Article

Kaius Tuori

The Lex de imperio Vespasiani ( CIL VI 930, 31207=ILS 244) is an epigraphic text on a bronze tablet, now partially lost, containing part of a law that granted some or all powers of the emperor to Vespasian in the year 70 ce.1 The text appears to be a piece of comitial legislation. The extant text is on a large bronze tablet discovered by Cola di Rienzo in the 14th century and currently held at the Musei Capitolini in Rome. The text is fragmentary: because there is no introduction to the text, it is assumed that there would have been another tablet preceding the surviving one. Whether Cola di Rienzo saw the missing tablet is disputed. The commonly used title of the law is a modern reconstruction. The law was promulgated in Rome in January, before Vespasian had arrived from Alexandria.2

The surviving text of the law contains eight clauses and a sanction. The beginning of the text is missing, including the preamble.

Article

Babatha  

Kimberley Czajkowski

Babatha was a Jewish woman who lived in the province of Roman Arabia in the first half of the 2nd century ce. Her documents were found wrapped up in a leather purse in the Cave of Letters, near the Dead Sea. Babatha’s archive is multilingual and dates from before and after the annexation of the region in 106 ce. It consists of legal and administrative documents, including marriage contracts, deeds of gift, land registrations, and two cases of litigation that were aimed at the court of the Roman governor. The archive therefore sheds light on various aspects of the life of one particular Jewish family in this era, particularly on everyday legal transactions in the newly annexed province and “on the ground” reactions of imperial inhabitants to the new ruling power.Babatha was a Jewish woman who lived in the province of Roman Arabia in the first half of the .

Article

actio  

Thomas Rüfner

In Roman law, the word actio refers to a civil lawsuit. At first sight, it seems obvious that actio derives from the verb ago, which has the basic meaning “to drive,” “to urge,” or simply “to act.” The Roman jurists themselves clearly regarded ago as the verb corresponding to the noun actio and meaning “to conduct a lawsuit” (cf. Festus, Gloss. Lat. 21, l. 15, s.v. agere). Hence, actio may be explained as referring to the claimant urging the judge (and/or the adversary) to do something,1 or simply to the claimant’s actions in court.2 Some scholars have proposed different etymologies. It seems possible that actio is not a derivative of ago (“to drive, to urge”), but of a root agjō meaning “to speak” (cf. the verb aio), and that the word was only later associated with ago.3 Alternatively, it has been argued that ago and aio have a common root that, in the context of archaic law, refers to a performative utterance which affects the Roman citizens collectively.

Article

Benedikt Eckhardt

senatus consultum Iuventianum is the modern designation for a senate decree passed on March 14, 129ce, in reaction to a legal case decided by Hadrian. The name is derived from P. Iuventius Celsus, one of the consuls who brought in the motion and a legal expert thought to be responsible in large part for the senatus consultum’s content. Ulpianus (15 ad ed., D. 5.3.20.6–21) preserves the text and gives a lengthy commentary, including discussion of treatments by other jurists of the 2nd and early 3rd century. While both the unity of the text (6a–d) and the authenticity of individual parts have been doubted in earlier scholarship, recent discussions tend to accept Ulpian’s text as it stands.1The regulation concerns the question of how compensation was to be made if an inheritance had been falsely claimed and then sold by the illegitimate possessor. The senatus consultum Iuventianum introduces two distinctions, one moral and one temporal.

Article

Benedikt Eckhardt

Senatus consultum Pegasianum is the name used by Gaius (2.256, 258, 286a) and the Institutes of Justinian (2.23.6-7) for a decree by the senate on fideicommissa, passed in the consulate of L. Cornelius Pusio and the jurist Plotius Pegasus, most likely in 72 ce (but dated to the time of Hadrian in some earlier scholarly literature).1 Gaius does not preserve the text, but gives a substantial report about its content. Some references to the decree, but not to its original designation are also preserved in the Digest; due to Justinianic modifications, the relevant content is there attributed to the earlier senatus consultum Trebellianum.The senatus consultum Pegasianum was one of several attempts to solve problems created by Augustus’ decision to make fideicommissa actionable like legacies. In 41 bce, the lex Falcidia had limited the amount to which an inheritance could be reduced through legacies: Heirs were allowed to keep a quarter of the inheritance, no matter how many legacies the testator had made to others.

Article

Ville Vuolanto

In the Roman world, the age limits connected to children were often flexible. Even in the case of legal liability, the ages were not rigid. In individual cases, children’s capacity to understand right and wrong, criminality, and responsibility were to be taken into account—at least in theory.1 Generally, children until the age of seven were referred to as infantes, until puberty (or, in later legislation, until the age of twelve for girls and fourteen for boys) as impuberes, and those between the puberty and the age of twenty-five (with the full legal capacity) more generally as (minores).Even if children and, more broadly, minores feature in the Roman law already from the Twelve Tables onwards, they did not constitute a category of their own in Roman legislative thinking. Thus, information on children in Roman law is scattered throughout the whole corpus of legal literature.A child is here defined as an individual below the age of full legal capacity, not primarily as a blood relationship to one’s parents. The focus here is on matters pertaining to the rights and status of the children themselves as underaged persons. The main themes are children’s legal incapacity in economic matters, guardianship, paternal and parental power over the person of the child (patria potestas and personal status; exposure, killing and selling of children) and the obligations between parents and children.

Article

Jacob Giltaij

The lex Papia Poppaea was enacted in 9 ce by the suffect consuls, M. Papius Mutilus and Q. Poppaeus Secundus, probably on the initiative of the Emperor Augustus. The law complemented, supplemented, and enhanced the provisions of the lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus (the law of Augustus concerning the regulation of marriage, enacted in 18 bce). The two laws, referred to jointly as the lex Iulia et Papia, had the primary effect of obliging all Roman citizens to marry and have (legitimate) heirs.There are several pre-Justinian sources in which the lex Papia Poppaea is treated separately from the lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus. For example, in Gaius, Institutes 2.286a, the lex Papia Poppaea is said to have determined that those who did not have children (orbi) would lose half of their estates and legacies upon death. Moreover, Gaius indicated that the lex increased the rights of patrons in the case of the death of their freedmen, providing them with an equal share irrespective of whether the freedmen had left a will (.

Article

Jakob Fortunat Stagl

The lex Falcidia is a plebiscitum (41–40 bce) that restricts the testator’s capacity to charge his testament with legacies, namely sums of money or objects the heir must transfer to a third person (legatum).1 According to the lex Falcidia, legacies decreed by the deceased cannot exceed by more than three quarters the worth of the whole estate.2 In consequence, the heir must receive at least one fourth of the estate free from legacies, he must obtain so called “Falcidian quarter.”The Law of the Twelve Tables declared that the testator had total freedom to charge the testament with as many legacies as he wished.3 To the extent that testators availed themselves of this freedom, the heirs designated in the testaments declined from accepting the inheritance, having only obligations arising from it without any compensation. Since a testament without an heir could not exist in the Roman conception, such a testament was therefore void. As a further consequence, this entailed intestate succession and the nullity of all dispositions in the initial testament. To avoid these consequences, which were detrimental to all parties involved, the Romans started to legislate against this tendency to charge the heir with too many legacies. They considered legacies a luxury because the institution of an heir was necessary for social and religious reasons, whereas the bestowal of legacies was not. The first attempts at limiting legacies, the lex Furia (181–169bce), which prohibits the acceptance of legacies of more than 1000 asses, and the lex Voconia (bce), which stated that legacies of deceased from the highest census class could not exceed the sum bestowed upon the heirs, were awkward insofar as they made use of absolute limits to the testator’s freedom.

Article

Georgy Kantor

The lex Iulia municipalis was a law of uncertain content and scope concerning municipal institutions passed by Iulius Caesar or less likely Augustus. It is attested in a single inscription from Patavium, commemorating a certain Marcus Iunius Sabinus as quattuorvir aediliciae potestatis “in accordance with the lex Iulia municipalis” (CIL V 2864 = ILS 5406) and may have been a piece of legislation dealing specifically with Patavium or a general regulation dealing with municipal institutions in Italy, and possibly reorganising aedilician powers of local magistrates. It may be alluded to by Cicero, Fam. VI.18.1, mentioning a ban on heralds (praecones) taking municipal office.1Earlier scholarship frequently identified the lex Iulia municipalis with a collection of material from Roman statutes on a bronze tablet broken into two pieces found in 1732 in the territory of the city of Heraclea (CIL I2 593; Roman Statutes, no. 24).

Article

Callie Williamson

Ius honorarium (magistrate law), derived from honos (curule office), was a classification formulated by jurists of the Roman imperial period to distinguish the private law made by juridical magistrates of the Republic from ius civile (civil law) [Dig.1.1.7. (Papinian), Dig.1.1.11 (Paulus)]. The primary juridical magistrates were, in order of creation, the urban praetor (367bce), the curule aediles (367bce), and the peregrine praetor (c. 244bce), and later the provincial governors. None of these offices was created for the express purpose of judicial action, nor was this ever their sole function. As a corollary, they did not constitute a professional judiciary. The praetors’ basis of legal authority was imperium (the supreme power), a subset of which was iurisdictio, the authority to “speak the law,” and ius edicendi, the right to issue edicts.The curule aediles, whose sphere of operation was limited to the marketplace and city administration, had only iurisdictio and ius edicendi.

Article

delict  

Maria Floriana Cursi

“Delict” (delictum) is, in Roman law, a private wrong, as opposed to a public wrong called “crime” (crimen). Notwithstanding its private nature, in the beginning the consequence of a delict was a penalty whose function was fundamentally punitive, because of the intentional conduct of the wrongdoer (dolus). However, at the end of the Republic, and simultaneously with the rise of the notion of negligence (culpa), an additional compensatory function was introduced.In classical Roman law, four types of private wrongs (delicta) existed: bodily injury and insult (iniuria), theft (furtum), damage to property (damnum iniuria datum), and theft committed by means of violence (rapina) (Gai. Inst. 3.182).The historical formation of this scheme is unclear. Private wrongs are certainly ancient, but the first evidence in the sources dates back only as far as the 5th century bce, in the Twelve Tables, which deal mostly with bodily injury and theft.

Article

Charles Bartlett

The lex Publilia Philonis of 339bce addressed two issues of importance for the functioning of the Senate. The first concerned the auctoritas of the body, and did away with the practice of senatorial review of legislation that had been passed by the popular assemblies, whereby patrician senators could overturn legislation on technicalities. Thereafter, senators gave authorization to legislative proposals before the voting began. It remained the case that this authorization was couched in terms of technical procedural requirements, but senatorial objections on other grounds could be shrouded in such language both before and after the lex Publilia Philonis, albeit less egregiously after its passage. The second provision of the law was the requirement that one censor of every college be a plebeian (see plebs). The law also reiterated or paraphrased the crux of the lex Valeria Horatia of 441bce (see lex Valeria de provocatione), specifying that legislative enactments of the conciliumplebis were binding on the entire population at Rome.

Article

Charles Bartlett

The lex Ovinia, or more properly, the plebiscitum Ovinium, is a plebiscite that transferred the power to determine membership in the Roman Senate from the consuls or chief magistrates to the censors. Its date is uncertain, but it was probably passed in or just before 318bce, when evidence of its effect is first seen. The lex Ovinia therefore postdates the lex Valeria Horatia (see lex Valeria de provocatione) of 449bce, which had stipulated that plebeian legislative enactments applied equally to patricians as to plebeians (see plebs). Nevertheless, the patriciate apparently disapproved of the legislative authority invoked in the case of the lex Ovinia, objecting to the use of a plebiscite to address such an issue, although it seems not to have opposed the provisions of the law. A later lex Hortensia of 287/6bce, another plebiscite which decreed forcefully that such acts by the concilium plebis should bind the entire populace, seems to have settled this issue.