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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.


Anna Tarwacka

Lex Aebutia (de formulis) was a statute concerning Roman civil procedure. It related to the transition from legis actiones to formulary proceedings. Both its date and detailed provisions are highly debatable. The archaic procedure per legis actiones consisted of two stages, the first of which took place before a magistrate and required the use of formal words, while the second was held before a judge who decided the case. The introduction of formulae (i.e., instructions for judges written by the praetor giving them authority to condemn or free the defendant) simplified the procedure: there were still two stages, but the parties were able to state their case in an informal way, and the defendant was allowed to present circumstances in his favour.There are very few sources that mention this law. Gaius (Gai. Inst. 4.30) wrote that the legis actiones gradually fell into disuse, because the forefathers had created this law in a way that called for such a high level of exactness that even the slightest formal mistake a party made during the proceedings resulted in his losing the case. That is why the lex Aebutia and the two Julian laws on jurisdiction (see lex Iulia on jurisdiction) abolished the legis actiones, so that the parties could conduct a legal dispute by means of verba concepta, that is by the formulae.


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.