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Article

Carlos Amunátegui Perelló

According to the tradition, during the early Republic (451–450 bce), during the Struggle of the Orders, a commission was set up to make the laws for the Romans. After two years, the results of the commission’s work were published on twelve boards of wood, perhaps bronze. These were known as the “Twelve Tables.” Tradition says they became fundamental to Rome’s institutional frame. Unfortunately, this is not easy to prove, for the text was lost during the early Middle Ages. The reconstructed versions are due to the casual quotes of historians, jurists, and antiquarians from later times, who happened to call upon its authority while discussing other subjects. The Humanists (16th century ce) made several attempts to reconstruct it, and the versions now available are due to their efforts. Scholarship has debated almost every aspect of the text, from its origin, to its scope, its contents, and its grammar. Only a few conclusions are widely held. Most scholars believe the document was written during the 5th century bce under the influence of Greek models. Its importance seems to lie in the fact that it managed to merge law and legislation in a way that put statutes at the centre of the Roman legal system.

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

Andrew M. Riggsby

“Crime” lacks a fully agreed definition across modern societies, but competing versions tend to stress notions like punishment, protection of public or collective interests, and a pervasive role for the state in proceedings. Over time the Romans used a series of different procedures (successively, trial before the assemblies, by specialized juries, or by imperial inquisitors) to try most of their offences that would be more or less recognizably criminal today. Substantively, the core of this group were offences against the state in an institutional sense (e.g., sedition, electoral malpractice, abuse of public office, forgery). Over time it also came to include an increasing number of (personal) crimes of violence. Some core modern criminal offences such as forms of theft and forgery of private documents came to be grouped in with these only at a very late date and incompletely. “Moral” offences that are treated as criminal more sporadically today (e.g., use of intoxicants, gambling, prostitution) were not criminalized. Penalties in earlier periods included fines, civic disgrace, and exile; later periods introduced finer differentiation of penalties, as well as execution. Imprisonment was not a formal penalty.

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

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

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

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

Edward Harris and Anna Magnetto

One of the most important decisions a litigant could make was the choice whether to submit his dispute to a private arbitrator or to go to trial. Private arbitration had several advantages because it provided a more flexible procedure and afforded the possibility of compromise solutions aimed at promoting good relations between the parties. By contrast, a trial was an all-or-nothing procedure, which created winners and losers. Nevertheless, there were disadvantages to private arbitration: the arbitrators might be reluctant to vote against a friend, or one of the parties might not agree to arbitration. Because public officials were not involved, documents might be lost. The institution of public arbitrators retained the advantages of private arbitration but avoided several of the disadvantages. Above all, it aimed to promote good relations between the parties and to avoid a bitter fight in court.

Interstate arbitration is identified by the sources as a genuine Greek tradition, attested to be from the Archaic period, that was employed and fostered by other powers, such as the Hellenistic Kings and Republican Rome. It allowed two parties in conflict to solve disputes by resorting to the judgment of a third party agreed upon by both. Its use contributed to the establishing of forms of international law, encouraging the poleis to identify a set of shared principles and rules, at least for territorial disputes, the most common kind of controversy.

Article

From the end of the Archaic era to the end of the Hellenistic period, all officials of Greek cities were required to render their accounts (euthynai) through procedures, which varied according to political regimes and times. Most of the time a board of controlling officials examined the accounts. This examination would take place at the end of the officials’ terms of office, but sometimes a partial examination took place during the terms. The controlling magistrates could initiate prosecutions against officials. In democracies, ordinary citizens could also sue magistrates in court. The procedure for holding officials accountable is called euthynai (correction) in the ancient sources. Many literary texts and epigraphic sources show the importance of the practice, particularly during the Classical and the Hellenistic periods. It was one of the most important features of civic institutions. From the End of the Archaic Period onwards, the Greek cities took a series of measures to prevent abuses of power by officials: accountability was only one of these measures. In fact, in Greek political thought, tyrannical power is characterised as aneuthynos (e.g., Herodotus 3.80.3), which broadly means “not subject to legal proceedings” or “uncontrolled.” Officials had to render their accounts (mostly logon apodidonai or tas euthynas didonai in Greek), at the end of their time in office as well as while in office. In most poleis, a separate body of magistrates was tasked with examining these accounts. At these moments, a set of procedures (which varied from city to city) enabled ordinary citizens to bring charges against officials before the courts.

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

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

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

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

Aeschines was an Athenian politician and orator. He came from a respectable family but was not a member of the wealthy elite. He worked as a secretary for the Council and Assembly, then as an actor. He participated in the embassies that negotiated the Peace of Philocrates with Philip II and argued for its ratification. After the Second Embassy to Philip, Demosthenes and Timarchus accused Aeschines of treason. Aeschines convicted Timarchus of being a homosexual prostitute, which discouraged Demosthenes from bringing his accusation to court until 343/342. Aeschines was acquitted by a narrow margin, but lost influence. He defended the Athenians against the charges of the Locrians at a meeting of the Amphictyons in 339. He accused Ctesiphon of proposing an illegal decree of honours for Demosthenes in 336, but he lost the case by a wide margin at Ctesiphon’s trial in 330.Ancient critics consistently included Aeschines in the canon of the ten great Attic orators. Cicero ranked him second only to .

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).