The lex Aquilia was the statutory foundation for the institutional delict damnum iniuria, relating to wrongful loss and damage to property. A plebiscite referred to as lex, its enactment is often dated just after lex Hortensia (287bce), which gave the enactments of the concilium plebis the force of lex without senatorial approval. However, its origins have also been linked to economic instability associated with the Second Punic War.1 The earliest surviving commentary is attributed to Brutus, in the late 2nd centurybce (Dig. 184.108.40.206). Two of its provisions survive into Justinian’s codification: chapters 1 and 3. They have distinct harm elements and methods of quantifying damages, but share a fault element. Chapter 2, ostensibly concerning co-promises, survives only in Gaius’s Institutes (G. 3.215-216) and was apparently in disuse by high classical law (Dig. 220.127.116.11).2Chapter 1 concerned the killing of slaves and pecudes, a category of four-footed grazing animals that came to include pigs, elephants, and camels (Dig.
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.