The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 4
by Edward Gibbon
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II. The History of the Roman Law, by Professor Hugo, in the French translation of M. Jourdan. Paris, 1825.

III. Savigny, Geschichte des Romischen Rechts im Mittelalter, 6 bande, Heidelberg, 1815.

IV. Walther, Romische Rechts-Geschichte, Bonn. 1834. But I am particularly indebted to an edition of the French translation of this chapter, with additional notes, by one of the most learned civilians of Europe, Professor Warnkonig, published at Liege, 1821. I have inserted almost the whole of these notes, which are distinguished by the letter W.—M. The vain titles of the victories of Justinian are crumbled into dust; but the name of the legislator is inscribed on a fair and everlasting monument. Under his reign, and by his care, the civil jurisprudence was digested in the immortal works of the Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes: [1] the public reason of the Romans has been silently or studiously transfused into the domestic institutions of Europe, [2], and the laws of Justinian still command the respect or obedience of independent nations. Wise or fortunate is the prince who connects his own reputation with the honor or interest of a perpetual order of men. The defence of their founder is the first cause, which in every age has exercised the zeal and industry of the civilians. They piously commemorate his virtues; dissemble or deny his failings; and fiercely chastise the guilt or folly of the rebels, who presume to sully the majesty of the purple. The idolatry of love has provoked, as it usually happens, the rancor of opposition; the character of Justinian has been exposed to the blind vehemence of flattery and invective; and the injustice of a sect (the Anti-Tribonians,) has refused all praise and merit to the prince, his ministers, and his laws. [3] Attached to no party, interested only for the truth and candor of history, and directed by the most temperate and skilful guides, [4] I enter with just diffidence on the subject of civil law, which has exhausted so many learned lives, and clothed the walls of such spacious libraries. In a single, if possible in a short, chapter, I shall trace the Roman jurisprudence from Romulus to Justinian, [5] appreciate the labors of that emperor, and pause to contemplate the principles of a science so important to the peace and happiness of society. The laws of a nation form the most instructive portion of its history; and although I have devoted myself to write the annals of a declining monarchy, I shall embrace the occasion to breathe the pure and invigorating air of the republic.

[Footnote 1: The civilians of the darker ages have established an absurd and incomprehensible mode of quotation, which is supported by authority and custom. In their references to the Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes, they mention the number, not of the book, but only of the law; and content themselves with reciting the first words of the title to which it belongs; and of these titles there are more than a thousand. Ludewig (Vit. Justiniani, p. 268) wishes to shake off this pendantic yoke; and I have dared to adopt the simple and rational method of numbering the book, the title, and the law. Note: The example of Gibbon has been followed by M Hugo and other civilians.—M]

[Footnote 2: Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, and Scotland, have received them as common law or reason; in France, Italy, &c., they possess a direct or indirect influence; and they were respected in England, from Stephen to Edward I. our national Justinian, (Duck. de Usu et Auctoritate Juris Civilis, l. ii. c. 1, 8—15. Heineccius, Hist. Juris Germanici, c. 3, 4, No. 55-124, and the legal historians of each country.) * Note: Although the restoration of the Roman law, introduced by the revival of this study in Italy, is one of the most important branches of history, it had been treated but imperfectly when Gibbon wrote his work. That of Arthur Duck is but an insignificant performance. But the researches of the learned have thrown much light upon the matter. The Sarti, the Tiraboschi, the Fantuzzi, the Savioli, had made some very interesting inquiries; but it was reserved for M. de Savigny, in a work entitled "The History of the Roman Law during the Middle Ages," to cast the strongest right on this part of history. He demonstrates incontestably the preservation of the Roman law from Justinian to the time of the Glossators, who by their indefatigable zeal, propagated the study of the Roman jurisprudence in all the countries of Europe. It is much to be desired that the author should continue this interesting work, and that the learned should engage in the inquiry in what manner the Roman law introduced itself into their respective countries, and the authority which it progressively acquired. For Belgium, there exists, on this subject, (proposed by the Academy of Brussels in 1781,) a Collection of Memoirs, printed at Brussels in 4to., 1783, among which should be distinguished those of M. de Berg. M. Berriat Saint Prix has given us hopes of the speedy appearance of a work in which he will discuss this question, especially in relation to France. M. Spangenberg, in his Introduction to the Study of the Corpus Juris Civilis Hanover, 1817, 1 vol. 8vo. p. 86, 116, gives us a general sketch of the history of the Roman law in different parts of Europe. We cannot avoid mentioning an elementary work by M. Hugo, in which he treats of the History of the Roman Law from Justinian to the present Time, 2d edit. Berlin 1818 W.]

[Footnote 3: Francis Hottoman, a learned and acute lawyer of the xvith century, wished to mortify Cujacius, and to please the Chancellor de l'Hopital. His Anti-Tribonianus (which I have never been able to procure) was published in French in 1609; and his sect was propagated in Germany, (Heineccius, Op. tom. iii. sylloge iii. p. 171—183.) * Note: Though there have always been many detractors of the Roman law, no sect of Anti-Tribonians has ever existed under that name, as Gibbon seems to suppose.—W.]

[Footnote 4: At the head of these guides I shall respectfully place the learned and perspicuous Heineccius, a German professor, who died at Halle in the year 1741, (see his Eloge in the Nouvelle Bibliotheque Germanique, tom. ii. p. 51—64.) His ample works have been collected in eight volumes in 4to. Geneva, 1743-1748. The treatises which I have separately used are, 1. Historia Juris Romani et Germanici, Lugd. Batav. 1740, in 8 vo. 2. Syntagma Antiquitatum Romanam Jurisprudentiam illustrantium, 2 vols. in 8 vo. Traject. ad Rhenum. 3. Elementa Juris Civilis secundum Ordinem Institutionum, Lugd. Bat. 1751, in 8 vo. 4. Elementa J. C. secundum Ordinem Pandectarum Traject. 1772, in 8vo. 2 vols. * Note: Our author, who was not a lawyer, was necessarily obliged to content himself with following the opinions of those writers who were then of the greatest authority; but as Heineccius, notwithstanding his high reputation for the study of the Roman law, knew nothing of the subject on which he treated, but what he had learned from the compilations of various authors, it happened that, in following the sometimes rash opinions of these guides, Gibbon has fallen into many errors, which we shall endeavor in succession to correct. The work of Bach on the History of the Roman Jurisprudence, with which Gibbon was not acquainted, is far superior to that of Heineccius and since that time we have new obligations to the modern historic civilians, whose indefatigable researches have greatly enlarged the sphere of our knowledge in this important branch of history. We want a pen like that of Gibbon to give to the more accurate notions which we have acquired since his time, the brilliancy, the vigor, and the animation which Gibbon has bestowed on the opinions of Heineccius and his contemporaries.—W]

[Footnote 5: Our original text is a fragment de Origine Juris (Pandect. l. i. tit. ii.) of Pomponius, a Roman lawyer, who lived under the Antonines, (Heinecc. tom. iii. syl. iii. p. 66—126.) It has been abridged, and probably corrupted, by Tribonian, and since restored by Bynkershoek (Opp. tom. i. p. 279—304.)]

The primitive government of Rome [6] was composed, with some political skill, of an elective king, a council of nobles, and a general assembly of the people. War and religion were administered by the supreme magistrate; and he alone proposed the laws, which were debated in the senate, and finally ratified or rejected by a majority of votes in the thirty curiae or parishes of the city. Romulus, Numa, and Servius Tullius, are celebrated as the most ancient legislators; and each of them claims his peculiar part in the threefold division of jurisprudence. [7] The laws of marriage, the education of children, and the authority of parents, which may seem to draw their origin from nature itself, are ascribed to the untutored wisdom of Romulus. The law of nations and of religious worship, which Numa introduced, was derived from his nocturnal converse with the nymph Egeria. The civil law is attributed to the experience of Servius: he balanced the rights and fortunes of the seven classes of citizens; and guarded, by fifty new regulations, the observance of contracts and the punishment of crimes. The state, which he had inclined towards a democracy, was changed by the last Tarquin into a lawless despotism; and when the kingly office was abolished, the patricians engrossed the benefits of freedom. The royal laws became odious or obsolete; the mysterious deposit was silently preserved by the priests and nobles; and at the end of sixty years, the citizens of Rome still complained that they were ruled by the arbitrary sentence of the magistrates. Yet the positive institutions of the kings had blended themselves with the public and private manners of the city, some fragments of that venerable jurisprudence [8] were compiled by the diligence of antiquarians, [9] and above twenty texts still speak the rudeness of the Pelasgic idiom of the Latins. [10]

[Footnote 6: The constitutional history of the kings of Rome may be studied in the first book of Livy, and more copiously in Dionysius Halicarnassensis, (l. li. p. 80—96, 119—130, l. iv. p. 198—220,) who sometimes betrays the character of a rhetorician and a Greek. * Note: M. Warnkonig refers to the work of Beaufort, on the Uncertainty of the Five First Ages of the Roman History, with which Gibbon was probably acquainted, to Niebuhr, and to the less known volume of Wachsmuth, "Aeltere Geschichte des Rom. Staats." To these I would add A. W. Schlegel's Review of Niebuhr, and my friend Dr. Arnold's recently published volume, of which the chapter on the Law of the XII. Tables appears to me one of the most valuable, if not the most valuable, chapter.—M.]

[Footnote 7: This threefold division of the law was applied to the three Roman kings by Justus Lipsius, (Opp. tom. iv. p. 279;) is adopted by Gravina, (Origines Juris Civilis, p. 28, edit. Lips. 1737:) and is reluctantly admitted by Mascou, his German editor. * Note: Whoever is acquainted with the real notions of the Romans on the jus naturale, gentium et civile, cannot but disapprove of this explanation which has no relation to them, and might be taken for a pleasantry. It is certainly unnecessary to increase the confusion which already prevails among modern writers on the true sense of these ideas. Hugo.—W]

[Footnote 8: The most ancient Code or Digest was styled Jus Papirianum, from the first compiler, Papirius, who flourished somewhat before or after the Regifugium, (Pandect. l. i. tit. ii.) The best judicial critics, even Bynkershoek (tom. i. p. 284, 285) and Heineccius, (Hist. J. C. R. l. i. c. 16, 17, and Opp. tom. iii. sylloge iv. p. 1—8,) give credit to this tale of Pomponius, without sufficiently adverting to the value and rarity of such a monument of the third century, of the illiterate city. I much suspect that the Caius Papirius, the Pontifex Maximus, who revived the laws of Numa (Dionys. Hal. l. iii. p. 171) left only an oral tradition; and that the Jus Papirianum of Granius Flaccus (Pandect. l. L. tit. xvi. leg. 144) was not a commentary, but an original work, compiled in the time of Caesar, (Censorin. de Die Natali, l. iii. p. 13, Duker de Latinitate J. C. p. 154.) Note: Niebuhr considers the Jus Papirianum, adduced by Verrius Fiaccus, to be of undoubted authenticity. Rom. Geschichte, l. 257.—M. Compare this with the work of M. Hugo.—W.]

[Footnote 9: A pompous, though feeble attempt to restore the original, is made in the Histoire de la Jurisprudence Romaine of Terasson, p. 22—72, Paris, 1750, in folio; a work of more promise than performance.]

[Footnote 10: In the year 1444, seven or eight tables of brass were dug up between Cortona and Gubio. A part of these (for the rest is Etruscan) represents the primitive state of the Pelasgic letters and language, which are ascribed by Herodotus to that district of Italy, (l. i. c. 56, 57, 58;) though this difficult passage may be explained of a Crestona in Thrace, (Notes de Larcher, tom. i. p. 256—261.) The savage dialect of the Eugubine tables has exercised, and may still elude, the divination of criticism; but the root is undoubtedly Latin, of the same age and character as the Saliare Carmen, which, in the time of Horace, none could understand. The Roman idiom, by an infusion of Doric and Aeolic Greek, was gradually ripened into the style of the xii. tables, of the Duillian column, of Ennius, of Terence, and of Cicero, (Gruter. Inscript. tom. i. p. cxlii. Scipion Maffei, Istoria Diplomatica, p. 241—258. Bibliotheque Italique, tom. iii. p. 30—41, 174—205. tom. xiv. p. 1—52.) * Note: The Eugubine Tables have exercised the ingenuity of the Italian and German critics; it seems admitted (O. Muller, die Etrusker, ii. 313) that they are Tuscan. See the works of Lanzi, Passeri, Dempster, and O. Muller.—M]

I shall not repeat the well-known story of the Decemvirs, [11] who sullied by their actions the honor of inscribing on brass, or wood, or ivory, the Twelve Tables of the Roman laws. [12] They were dictated by the rigid and jealous spirit of an aristocracy, which had yielded with reluctance to the just demands of the people. But the substance of the Twelve Tables was adapted to the state of the city; and the Romans had emerged from Barbarism, since they were capable of studying and embracing the institutions of their more enlightened neighbors. [1211] A wise Ephesian was driven by envy from his native country: before he could reach the shores of Latium, he had observed the various forms of human nature and civil society: he imparted his knowledge to the legislators of Rome, and a statue was erected in the forum to the perpetual memory of Hermodorus. [13] The names and divisions of the copper money, the sole coin of the infant state, were of Dorian origin: [14] the harvests of Campania and Sicily relieved the wants of a people whose agriculture was often interrupted by war and faction; and since the trade was established, [15] the deputies who sailed from the Tyber might return from the same harbors with a more precious cargo of political wisdom. The colonies of Great Greece had transported and improved the arts of their mother country. Cumae and Rhegium, Crotona and Tarentum, Agrigentum and Syracuse, were in the rank of the most flourishing cities. The disciples of Pythagoras applied philosophy to the use of government; the unwritten laws of Charondas accepted the aid of poetry and music, [16] and Zaleucus framed the republic of the Locrians, which stood without alteration above two hundred years. [17] From a similar motive of national pride, both Livy and Dionysius are willing to believe, that the deputies of Rome visited Athens under the wise and splendid administration of Pericles; and the laws of Solon were transfused into the twelve tables. If such an embassy had indeed been received from the Barbarians of Hesperia, the Roman name would have been familiar to the Greeks before the reign of Alexander; [18] and the faintest evidence would have been explored and celebrated by the curiosity of succeeding times. But the Athenian monuments are silent; nor will it seem credible that the patricians should undertake a long and perilous navigation to copy the purest model of democracy. In the comparison of the tables of Solon with those of the Decemvirs, some casual resemblance may be found; some rules which nature and reason have revealed to every society; some proofs of a common descent from Egypt or Phoenicia. [19] But in all the great lines of public and private jurisprudence, the legislators of Rome and Athens appear to be strangers or adverse at each other.

[Footnote 11: Compare Livy (l. iii. c. 31—59) with Dionysius Halicarnassensis, (l. x. p. 644—xi. p. 691.) How concise and animated is the Roman—how prolix and lifeless the Greek! Yet he has admirably judged the masters, and defined the rules, of historical composition.]

[Footnote 12: From the historians, Heineccius (Hist. J. R. l. i. No. 26) maintains that the twelve tables were of brass—aereas; in the text of Pomponius we read eboreas; for which Scaliger has substituted roboreas, (Bynkershoek, p. 286.) Wood, brass, and ivory, might be successively employed. Note: Compare Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 349, &c.—M.]

[Footnote 1211: Compare Niebuhr, 355, note 720.—M. It is a most important question whether the twelve tables in fact include laws imported from Greece. The negative opinion maintained by our author, is now almost universally adopted, particularly by Mm. Niebuhr, Hugo, and others. See my Institutiones Juris Romani privati Leodii, 1819, p. 311, 312.—W. Dr. Arnold, p. 255, seems to incline to the opposite opinion. Compare some just and sensible observations in the Appendix to Mr. Travers Twiss's Epitome of Niebuhr, p. 347, Oxford, 1836.—M.]

[Footnote 13: His exile is mentioned by Cicero, (Tusculan. Quaestion. v. 36; his statue by Pliny, (Hist. Nat. xxxiv. 11.) The letter, dream, and prophecy of Heraclitus, are alike spurious, (Epistolae Graec. Divers. p. 337.) * Note: Compare Niebuhr, ii. 209.—M. See the Mem de l'Academ. des Inscript. xxii. p. 48. It would be difficult to disprove, that a certain Hermodorus had some share in framing the Laws of the Twelve Tables. Pomponius even says that this Hermodorus was the author of the last two tables. Pliny calls him the Interpreter of the Decemvirs, which may lead us to suppose that he labored with them in drawing up that law. But it is astonishing that in his Dissertation, (De Hermodoro vero XII. Tabularum Auctore, Annales Academiae Groninganae anni 1817, 1818,) M. Gratama has ventured to advance two propositions entirely devoid of proof: "Decem priores tabulas ab ipsis Romanis non esse profectas, tota confirma Decemviratus Historia," et "Hermodorum legum decemviralium ceri nominis auctorem esse, qui eas composuerit suis ordinibus, disposuerit, suaque fecerit auctoritate, ut a decemviris reciperentur." This truly was an age in which the Roman Patricians would allow their laws to be dictated by a foreign Exile! Mr. Gratama does not attempt to prove the authenticity of the supposititious letter of Heraclitus. He contents himself with expressing his astonishment that M. Bonamy (as well as Gibbon) will be receive it as genuine.—W.]

[Footnote 14: This intricate subject of the Sicilian and Roman money, is ably discussed by Dr. Bentley, (Dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris, p. 427—479,) whose powers in this controversy were called forth by honor and resentment.]

[Footnote 15: The Romans, or their allies, sailed as far as the fair promontory of Africa, (Polyb. l. iii. p. 177, edit. Casaubon, in folio.) Their voyages to Cumae, &c., are noticed by Livy and Dionysius.]

[Footnote 16: This circumstance would alone prove the antiquity of Charondas, the legislator of Rhegium and Catana, who, by a strange error of Diodorus Siculus (tom. i. l. xii. p. 485—492) is celebrated long afterwards as the author of the policy of Thurium.]

[Footnote 17: Zaleucus, whose existence has been rashly attacked, had the merit and glory of converting a band of outlaws (the Locrians) into the most virtuous and orderly of the Greek republics. (See two Memoirs of the Baron de St. Croix, sur la Legislation de la Grande Grece Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xlii. p. 276—333.) But the laws of Zaleucus and Charondas, which imposed on Diodorus and Stobaeus, are the spurious composition of a Pythagorean sophist, whose fraud has been detected by the critical sagacity of Bentley, p. 335—377.]

[Footnote 18: I seize the opportunity of tracing the progress of this national intercourse 1. Herodotus and Thucydides (A. U. C. 300—350) appear ignorant of the name and existence of Rome, (Joseph. contra Appion tom. ii. l. i. c. 12, p. 444, edit. Havercamp.) 2. Theopompus (A. U. C. 400, Plin. iii. 9) mentions the invasion of the Gauls, which is noticed in looser terms by Heraclides Ponticus, (Plutarch in Camillo, p. 292, edit. H. Stephan.) 3. The real or fabulous embassy of the Romans to Alexander (A. U. C. 430) is attested by Clitarchus, (Plin. iii. 9,) by Aristus and Asclepiades, (Arrian. l. vii. p. 294, 295,) and by Memnon of Heraclea, (apud Photium, cod. ccxxiv. p. 725,) though tacitly denied by Livy. 4. Theophrastus (A. U. C. 440) primus externorum aliqua de Romanis diligentius scripsit, (Plin. iii. 9.) 5. Lycophron (A. U. C. 480—500) scattered the first seed of a Trojan colony and the fable of the Aeneid, (Cassandra, 1226—1280.) A bold prediction before the end of the first Punic war! * Note: Compare Niebuhr throughout. Niebuhr has written a dissertation (Kleine Schriften, i. p. 438,) arguing from this prediction, and on the other conclusive grounds, that the Lycophron, the author of the Cassandra, is not the Alexandrian poet. He had been anticipated in this sagacious criticism, as he afterwards discovered, by a writer of no less distinction than Charles James Fox.—Letters to Wakefield. And likewise by the author of the extraordinary translation of this poem, that most promising scholar, Lord Royston. See the Remains of Lord Royston, by the Rev. Henry Pepys, London, 1838.]

[Footnote 19: The tenth table, de modo sepulturae, was borrowed from Solon, (Cicero de Legibus, ii. 23—26:) the furtem per lancem et licium conceptum, is derived by Heineccius from the manners of Athens, (Antiquitat. Rom. tom. ii. p. 167—175.) The right of killing a nocturnal thief was declared by Moses, Solon, and the Decemvirs, (Exodus xxii. 3. Demosthenes contra Timocratem, tom. i. p. 736, edit. Reiske. Macrob. Saturnalia, l. i. c. 4. Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanatum, tit, vii. No. i. p. 218, edit. Cannegieter.) *Note: Are not the same points of similarity discovered in the legislation of all actions in the infancy of their civilization?—W.]

Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.—Part II.

Whatever might be the origin or the merit of the twelve tables, [20] they obtained among the Romans that blind and partial reverence which the lawyers of every country delight to bestow on their municipal institutions. The study is recommended by Cicero [21] as equally pleasant and instructive. "They amuse the mind by the remembrance of old words and the portrait of ancient manners; they inculcate the soundest principles of government and morals; and I am not afraid to affirm, that the brief composition of the Decemvirs surpasses in genuine value the libraries of Grecian philosophy. How admirable," says Tully, with honest or affected prejudice, "is the wisdom of our ancestors! We alone are the masters of civil prudence, and our superiority is the more conspicuous, if we deign to cast our eyes on the rude and almost ridiculous jurisprudence of Draco, of Solon, and of Lycurgus." The twelve tables were committed to the memory of the young and the meditation of the old; they were transcribed and illustrated with learned diligence; they had escaped the flames of the Gauls, they subsisted in the age of Justinian, and their subsequent loss has been imperfectly restored by the labors of modern critics. [22] But although these venerable monuments were considered as the rule of right and the fountain of justice, [23] they were overwhelmed by the weight and variety of new laws, which, at the end of five centuries, became a grievance more intolerable than the vices of the city. [24] Three thousand brass plates, the acts of the senate of the people, were deposited in the Capitol: [25] and some of the acts, as the Julian law against extortion, surpassed the number of a hundred chapters. [26] The Decemvirs had neglected to import the sanction of Zaleucus, which so long maintained the integrity of his republic. A Locrian, who proposed any new law, stood forth in the assembly of the people with a cord round his neck, and if the law was rejected, the innovator was instantly strangled.

[Footnote 20: It is the praise of Diodorus, (tom. i. l. xii. p. 494,) which may be fairly translated by the eleganti atque absoluta brevitate verborum of Aulus Gellius, (Noct. Attic. xxi. 1.)]

[Footnote 21: Listen to Cicero (de Legibus, ii. 23) and his representative Crassus, (de Oratore, i. 43, 44.)]

[Footnote 22: See Heineccius, (Hist. J. R. No. 29—33.) I have followed the restoration of the xii. tables by Gravina (Origines J. C. p. 280—307) and Terrasson, (Hist. de la Jurisprudence Romaine, p. 94—205.) Note: The wish expressed by Warnkonig, that the text and the conjectural emendations on the fragments of the xii. tables should be submitted to rigid criticism, has been fulfilled by Dirksen, Uebersicht der bisherigen Versuche Leipzig Kritik und Herstellung des Textes der Zwolf-Tafel-Fragmente, Leipzug, 1824.—M.]

[Footnote 23: Finis aequi juris, (Tacit. Annal. iii. 27.) Fons omnis publici et privati juris, (T. Liv. iii. 34.) * Note: From the context of the phrase in Tacitus, "Nam secutae leges etsi alquando in maleficos ex delicto; saepius tamen dissensione ordinum * * * latae sunt," it is clear that Gibbon has rendered this sentence incorrectly. Hugo, Hist. p. 62.—M.]

[Footnote 24: De principiis juris, et quibus modis ad hanc multitudinem infinitam ac varietatem legum perventum sit altius disseram, (Tacit. Annal. iii. 25.) This deep disquisition fills only two pages, but they are the pages of Tacitus. With equal sense, but with less energy, Livy (iii. 34) had complained, in hoc immenso aliarum super alias acervatarum legum cumulo, &c.]

[Footnote 25: Suetonius in Vespasiano, c. 8.]

[Footnote 26: Cicero ad Familiares, viii. 8.]

The Decemvirs had been named, and their tables were approved, by an assembly of the centuries, in which riches preponderated against numbers. To the first class of Romans, the proprietors of one hundred thousand pounds of copper, [27] ninety-eight votes were assigned, and only ninety-five were left for the six inferior classes, distributed according to their substance by the artful policy of Servius. But the tribunes soon established a more specious and popular maxim, that every citizen has an equal right to enact the laws which he is bound to obey. Instead of the centuries, they convened the tribes; and the patricians, after an impotent struggle, submitted to the decrees of an assembly, in which their votes were confounded with those of the meanest plebeians. Yet as long as the tribes successively passed over narrow bridges [28] and gave their voices aloud, the conduct of each citizen was exposed to the eyes and ears of his friends and countrymen. The insolvent debtor consulted the wishes of his creditor; the client would have blushed to oppose the views of his patron; the general was followed by his veterans, and the aspect of a grave magistrate was a living lesson to the multitude. A new method of secret ballot abolished the influence of fear and shame, of honor and interest, and the abuse of freedom accelerated the progress of anarchy and despotism. [29] The Romans had aspired to be equal; they were levelled by the equality of servitude; and the dictates of Augustus were patiently ratified by the formal consent of the tribes or centuries. Once, and once only, he experienced a sincere and strenuous opposition. His subjects had resigned all political liberty; they defended the freedom of domestic life. A law which enforced the obligation, and strengthened the bonds of marriage, was clamorously rejected; Propertius, in the arms of Delia, applauded the victory of licentious love; and the project of reform was suspended till a new and more tractable generation had arisen in the world. [30] Such an example was not necessary to instruct a prudent usurper of the mischief of popular assemblies; and their abolition, which Augustus had silently prepared, was accomplished without resistance, and almost without notice, on the accession of his successor. [31] Sixty thousand plebeian legislators, whom numbers made formidable, and poverty secure, were supplanted by six hundred senators, who held their honors, their fortunes, and their lives, by the clemency of the emperor. The loss of executive power was alleviated by the gift of legislative authority; and Ulpian might assert, after the practice of two hundred years, that the decrees of the senate obtained the force and validity of laws. In the times of freedom, the resolves of the people had often been dictated by the passion or error of the moment: the Cornelian, Pompeian, and Julian laws were adapted by a single hand to the prevailing disorders; but the senate, under the reign of the Caesars, was composed of magistrates and lawyers, and in questions of private jurisprudence, the integrity of their judgment was seldom perverted by fear or interest. [32]

[Footnote 27: Dionysius, with Arbuthnot, and most of the moderns, (except Eisenschmidt de Ponderibus, &c., p. 137—140,) represent the 100,000 asses by 10,000 Attic drachmae, or somewhat more than 300 pounds sterling. But their calculation can apply only to the latter times, when the as was diminished to 1-24th of its ancient weight: nor can I believe that in the first ages, however destitute of the precious metals, a single ounce of silver could have been exchanged for seventy pounds of copper or brass. A more simple and rational method is to value the copper itself according to the present rate, and, after comparing the mint and the market price, the Roman and avoirdupois weight, the primitive as or Roman pound of copper may be appreciated at one English shilling, and the 100,000 asses of the first class amounted to 5000 pounds sterling. It will appear from the same reckoning, that an ox was sold at Rome for five pounds, a sheep for ten shillings, and a quarter of wheat for one pound ten shillings, (Festus, p. 330, edit. Dacier. Plin. Hist. Natur. xviii. 4:) nor do I see any reason to reject these consequences, which moderate our ideas of the poverty of the first Romans. * Note: Compare Niebuhr, English translation, vol. i. p. 448, &c.—M.]

[Footnote 28: Consult the common writers on the Roman Comitia, especially Sigonius and Beaufort. Spanheim (de Praestantia et Usu Numismatum, tom. ii. dissert. x. p. 192, 193) shows, on a curious medal, the Cista, Pontes, Septa, Diribitor, &c.]

[Footnote 29: Cicero (de Legibus, iii. 16, 17, 18) debates this constitutional question, and assigns to his brother Quintus the most unpopular side.]

[Footnote 30: Prae tumultu recusantium perferre non potuit, (Sueton. in August. c. 34.) See Propertius, l. ii. eleg. 6. Heineccius, in a separate history, has exhausted the whole subject of the Julian and Papian Poppaean laws, (Opp. tom. vii. P. i. p. 1—479.)]

[Footnote 31: Tacit. Annal. i. 15. Lipsius, Excursus E. in Tacitum. Note: This error of Gibbon has been long detected. The senate, under Tiberius did indeed elect the magistrates, who before that emperor were elected in the comitia. But we find laws enacted by the people during his reign, and that of Claudius. For example; the Julia-Norbana, Vellea, and Claudia de tutela foeminarum. Compare the Hist. du Droit Romain, by M. Hugo, vol. ii. p. 55, 57. The comitia ceased imperceptibly as the republic gradually expired.—W.]

[Footnote 32: Non ambigitur senatum jus facere posse, is the decision of Ulpian, (l. xvi. ad Edict. in Pandect. l. i. tit. iii. leg. 9.) Pomponius taxes the comitia of the people as a turba hominum, (Pandect. l. i. tit. ii. leg 9.) * Note: The author adopts the opinion, that under the emperors alone the senate had a share in the legislative power. They had nevertheless participated in it under the Republic, since senatus-consulta relating to civil rights have been preserved, which are much earlier than the reigns of Augustus or Tiberius. It is true that, under the emperors, the senate exercised this right more frequently, and that the assemblies of the people had become much more rare, though in law they were still permitted, in the time of Ulpian. (See the fragments of Ulpian.) Bach has clearly demonstrated that the senate had the same power in the time of the Republic. It is natural that the senatus-consulta should have been more frequent under the emperors, because they employed those means of flattering the pride of the senators, by granting them the right of deliberating on all affairs which did not intrench on the Imperial power. Compare the discussions of M. Hugo, vol. i. p. 284, et seq.—W.]

The silence or ambiguity of the laws was supplied by the occasional edicts [3211] of those magistrates who were invested with the honors of the state. [33] This ancient prerogative of the Roman kings was transferred, in their respective offices, to the consuls and dictators, the censors and praetors; and a similar right was assumed by the tribunes of the people, the ediles, and the proconsuls. At Rome, and in the provinces, the duties of the subject, and the intentions of the governor, were proclaimed; and the civil jurisprudence was reformed by the annual edicts of the supreme judge, the praetor of the city. [3311] As soon as he ascended his tribunal, he announced by the voice of the crier, and afterwards inscribed on a white wall, the rules which he proposed to follow in the decision of doubtful cases, and the relief which his equity would afford from the precise rigor of ancient statutes. A principle of discretion more congenial to monarchy was introduced into the republic: the art of respecting the name, and eluding the efficacy, of the laws, was improved by successive praetors; subtleties and fictions were invented to defeat the plainest meaning of the Decemvirs, and where the end was salutary, the means were frequently absurd. The secret or probable wish of the dead was suffered to prevail over the order of succession and the forms of testaments; and the claimant, who was excluded from the character of heir, accepted with equal pleasure from an indulgent praetor the possession of the goods of his late kinsman or benefactor. In the redress of private wrongs, compensations and fines were substituted to the obsolete rigor of the Twelve Tables; time and space were annihilated by fanciful suppositions; and the plea of youth, or fraud, or violence, annulled the obligation, or excused the performance, of an inconvenient contract. A jurisdiction thus vague and arbitrary was exposed to the most dangerous abuse: the substance, as well as the form, of justice were often sacrificed to the prejudices of virtue, the bias of laudable affection, and the grosser seductions of interest or resentment. But the errors or vices of each praetor expired with his annual office; such maxims alone as had been approved by reason and practice were copied by succeeding judges; the rule of proceeding was defined by the solution of new cases; and the temptations of injustice were removed by the Cornelian law, which compelled the praetor of the year to adhere to the spirit and letter of his first proclamation. [34] It was reserved for the curiosity and learning of Adrian, to accomplish the design which had been conceived by the genius of Caesar; and the praetorship of Salvius Julian, an eminent lawyer, was immortalized by the composition of the Perpetual Edict. This well-digested code was ratified by the emperor and the senate; the long divorce of law and equity was at length reconciled; and, instead of the Twelve Tables, the perpetual edict was fixed as the invariable standard of civil jurisprudence. [35]

[Footnote 3211: There is a curious passage from Aurelius, a writer on Law, on the Praetorian Praefect, quoted in Lydus de Magistratibus, p. 32, edit. Hase. The Praetorian praefect was to the emperor what the master of the horse was to the dictator under the Republic. He was the delegate, therefore, of the full Imperial authority; and no appeal could be made or exception taken against his edicts. I had not observed this passage, when the third volume, where it would have been more appropriately placed, passed through the press.—M]

[Footnote 33: The jus honorarium of the praetors and other magistrates is strictly defined in the Latin text to the Institutes, (l. i. tit. ii. No. 7,) and more loosely explained in the Greek paraphrase of Theophilus, (p. 33—38, edit. Reitz,) who drops the important word honorarium. * Note: The author here follows the opinion of Heineccius, who, according to the idea of his master Thomasius, was unwilling to suppose that magistrates exercising a judicial could share in the legislative power. For this reason he represents the edicts of the praetors as absurd. (See his work, Historia Juris Romani, 69, 74.) But Heineccius had altogether a false notion of this important institution of the Romans, to which we owe in a great degree the perfection of their jurisprudence. Heineccius, therefore, in his own days had many opponents of his system, among others the celebrated Ritter, professor at Wittemberg, who contested it in notes appended to the work of Heineccius, and retained in all subsequent editions of that book. After Ritter, the learned Bach undertook to vindicate the edicts of the praetors in his Historia Jurisprud. Rom. edit. 6, p. 218, 224. But it remained for a civilian of our own days to throw light on the spirit and true character of this institution. M. Hugo has completely demonstrated that the praetorian edicts furnished the salutary means of perpetually harmonizing the legislation with the spirit of the times. The praetors were the true organs of public opinion. It was not according to their caprice that they framed their regulations, but according to the manners and to the opinions of the great civil lawyers of their day. We know from Cicero himself, that it was esteemed a great honor among the Romans to publish an edict, well conceived and well drawn. The most distinguished lawyers of Rome were invited by the praetor to assist in framing this annual law, which, according to its principle, was only a declaration which the praetor made to the public, to announce the manner in which he would judge, and to guard against every charge of partiality. Those who had reason to fear his opinions might delay their cause till the following year. The praetor was responsible for all the faults which he committed. The tribunes could lodge an accusation against the praetor who issued a partial edict. He was bound strictly to follow and to observe the regulations published by him at the commencement of his year of office, according to the Cornelian law, by which these edicts were called perpetual, and he could make no change in a regulation once published. The praetor was obliged to submit to his own edict, and to judge his own affairs according to its provisions. These magistrates had no power of departing from the fundamental laws, or the laws of the Twelve Tables. The people held them in such consideration, that they rarely enacted laws contrary to their provisions; but as some provisions were found inefficient, others opposed to the manners of the people, and to the spirit of subsequent ages, the praetors, still maintaining respect for the laws, endeavored to bring them into accordance with the necessities of the existing time, by such fictions as best suited the nature of the case. In what legislation do we not find these fictions, which even yet exist, absurd and ridiculous as they are, among the ancient laws of modern nations? These always variable edicts at length comprehended the whole of the Roman legislature, and became the subject of the commentaries of the most celebrated lawyers. They must therefore be considered as the basis of all the Roman jurisprudence comprehended in the Digest of Justinian. ——It is in this sense that M. Schrader has written on this important institution, proposing it for imitation as far as may be consistent with our manners, and agreeable to our political institutions, in order to avoid immature legislation becoming a permanent evil. See the History of the Roman Law by M. Hugo, vol. i. p. 296, &c., vol. ii. p. 30, et seq., 78. et seq., and the note in my elementary book on the Industries, p. 313. With regard to the works best suited to give information on the framing and the form of these edicts, see Haubold, Institutiones Literariae, tom. i. p. 321, 368. All that Heineccius says about the usurpation of the right of making these edicts by the praetors is false, and contrary to all historical testimony. A multitude of authorities proves that the magistrates were under an obligation to publish these edicts.—W. ——With the utmost deference for these excellent civilians, I cannot but consider this confusion of the judicial and legislative authority as a very perilous constitutional precedent. It might answer among a people so singularly trained as the Romans were by habit and national character in reverence for legal institutions, so as to be an aristocracy, if not a people, of legislators; but in most nations the investiture of a magistrate in such authority, leaving to his sole judgment the lawyers he might consult, and the view of public opinion which he might take, would be a very insufficient guaranty for right legislation.—M.]

[Footnote 3311: Compare throughout the brief but admirable sketch of the progress and growth of the Roman jurisprudence, the necessary operation of the jusgentium, when Rome became the sovereign of nations, upon the jus civile of the citizens of Rome, in the first chapter of Savigny. Geschichte des Romischen Rechts im Mittelalter.—M.]

[Footnote 34: Dion Cassius (tom. i. l. xxxvi. p. 100) fixes the perpetual edicts in the year of Rome, 686. Their institution, however, is ascribed to the year 585 in the Acta Diurna, which have been published from the papers of Ludovicus Vives. Their authenticity is supported or allowed by Pighius, (Annal. Rom. tom. ii. p. 377, 378,) Graevius, (ad Sueton. p. 778,) Dodwell, (Praelection. Cambden, p. 665,) and Heineccius: but a single word, Scutum Cimbricum, detects the forgery, (Moyle's Works, vol. i. p. 303.)]

[Footnote 35: The history of edicts is composed, and the text of the perpetual edict is restored, by the master-hand of Heineccius, (Opp. tom. vii. P. ii. p. 1—564;) in whose researches I might safely acquiesce. In the Academy of Inscriptions, M. Bouchaud has given a series of memoirs to this interesting subject of law and literature. * Note: This restoration was only the commencement of a work found among the papers of Heineccius, and published after his death.—G. ——Note: Gibbon has here fallen into an error, with Heineccius, and almost the whole literary world, concerning the real meaning of what is called the perpetual edict of Hadrian. Since the Cornelian law, the edicts were perpetual, but only in this sense, that the praetor could not change them during the year of his magistracy. And although it appears that under Hadrian, the civilian Julianus made, or assisted in making, a complete collection of the edicts, (which certainly had been done likewise before Hadrian, for example, by Ofilius, qui diligenter edictum composuit,) we have no sufficient proof to admit the common opinion, that the Praetorian edict was declared perpetually unalterable by Hadrian. The writers on law subsequent to Hadrian (and among the rest Pomponius, in his Summary of the Roman Jurisprudence) speak of the edict as it existed in the time of Cicero. They would not certainly have passed over in silence so remarkable a change in the most important source of the civil law. M. Hugo has conclusively shown that the various passages in authors, like Eutropius, are not sufficient to establish the opinion introduced by Heineccius. Compare Hugo, vol. ii. p. 78. A new proof of this is found in the Institutes of Gaius, who, in the first books of his work, expresses himself in the same manner, without mentioning any change made by Hadrian. Nevertheless, if it had taken place, he must have noticed it, as he does l. i. 8, the responsa prudentum, on the occasion of a rescript of Hadrian. There is no lacuna in the text. Why then should Gaius maintain silence concerning an innovation so much more important than that of which he speaks? After all, this question becomes of slight interest, since, in fact, we find no change in the perpetual edict inserted in the Digest, from the time of Hadrian to the end of that epoch, except that made by Julian, (compare Hugo, l. c.) The latter lawyers appear to follow, in their commentaries, the same texts as their predecessors. It is natural to suppose, that, after the labors of so many men distinguished in jurisprudence, the framing of the edict must have attained such perfection that it would have been difficult to have made any innovation. We nowhere find that the jurists of the Pandects disputed concerning the words, or the drawing up of the edict. What difference would, in fact, result from this with regard to our codes, and our modern legislation? Compare the learned Dissertation of M. Biener, De Salvii Juliani meritis in Edictum Praetorium recte aestimandis. Lipsae, 1809, 4to.—W.]

From Augustus to Trajan, the modest Caesars were content to promulgate their edicts in the various characters of a Roman magistrate; [3511] and, in the decrees of the senate, the epistles and orations of the prince were respectfully inserted. Adrian [36] appears to have been the first who assumed, without disguise, the plenitude of legislative power. And this innovation, so agreeable to his active mind, was countenanced by the patience of the times, and his long absence from the seat of government. The same policy was embraced by succeeding monarchs, and, according to the harsh metaphor of Tertullian, "the gloomy and intricate forest of ancient laws was cleared away by the axe of royal mandates and constitutions." [37] During four centuries, from Adrian to Justinian the public and private jurisprudence was moulded by the will of the sovereign; and few institutions, either human or divine, were permitted to stand on their former basis. The origin of Imperial legislation was concealed by the darkness of ages and the terrors of armed despotism; and a double tiction was propagated by the servility, or perhaps the ignorance, of the civilians, who basked in the sunshine of the Roman and Byzantine courts. 1. To the prayer of the ancient Caesars, the people or the senate had sometimes granted a personal exemption from the obligation and penalty of particular statutes; and each indulgence was an act of jurisdiction exercised by the republic over the first of her citizens. His humble privilege was at length transformed into the prerogative of a tyrant; and the Latin expression of "released from the laws" [38] was supposed to exalt the emperor above all human restraints, and to leave his conscience and reason as the sacred measure of his conduct. 2. A similar dependence was implied in the decrees of the senate, which, in every reign, defined the titles and powers of an elective magistrate. But it was not before the ideas, and even the language, of the Romans had been corrupted, that a royal law, [39] and an irrevocable gift of the people, were created by the fancy of Ulpian, or more probably of Tribonian himself; [40] and the origin of Imperial power, though false in fact, and slavish in its consequence, was supported on a principle of freedom and justice. "The pleasure of the emperor has the vigor and effect of law, since the Roman people, by the royal law, have transferred to their prince the full extent of their own power and sovereignty." [41] The will of a single man, of a child perhaps, was allowed to prevail over the wisdom of ages and the inclinations of millions; and the degenerate Greeks were proud to declare, that in his hands alone the arbitrary exercise of legislation could be safely deposited. "What interest or passion," exclaims Theophilus in the court of Justinian, "can reach the calm and sublime elevation of the monarch? He is already master of the lives and fortunes of his subjects; and those who have incurred his displeasure are already numbered with the dead." [42] Disdaining the language of flattery, the historian may confess, that in questions of private jurisprudence, the absolute sovereign of a great empire can seldom be influenced by any personal considerations. Virtue, or even reason, will suggest to his impartial mind, that he is the guardian of peace and equity, and that the interest of society is inseparably connected with his own. Under the weakest and most vicious reign, the seat of justice was filled by the wisdom and integrity of Papinian and Ulpian; [43] and the purest materials of the Code and Pandects are inscribed with the names of Caracalla and his ministers. [44] The tyrant of Rome was sometimes the benefactor of the provinces. A dagger terminated the crimes of Domitian; but the prudence of Nerva confirmed his acts, which, in the joy of their deliverance, had been rescinded by an indignant senate. [45] Yet in the rescripts, [46] replies to the consultations of the magistrates, the wisest of princes might be deceived by a partial exposition of the case. And this abuse, which placed their hasty decisions on the same level with mature and deliberate acts of legislation, was ineffectually condemned by the sense and example of Trajan. The rescripts of the emperor, his grants and decrees, his edicts and pragmatic sanctions, were subscribed in purple ink, [47] and transmitted to the provinces as general or special laws, which the magistrates were bound to execute, and the people to obey. But as their number continually multiplied, the rule of obedience became each day more doubtful and obscure, till the will of the sovereign was fixed and ascertained in the Gregorian, the Hermogenian, and the Theodosian codes. [4711] The two first, of which some fragments have escaped, were framed by two private lawyers, to preserve the constitutions of the Pagan emperors from Adrian to Constantine. The third, which is still extant, was digested in sixteen books by the order of the younger Theodosius to consecrate the laws of the Christian princes from Constantine to his own reign. But the three codes obtained an equal authority in the tribunals; and any act which was not included in the sacred deposit might be disregarded by the judge as epurious or obsolete. [48]

[Footnote 3511: It is an important question in what manner the emperors were invested with this legislative power. The newly discovered Gaius distinctly states that it was in virtue of a law—Nec unquam dubitatum est, quin id legis vicem obtineat, cum ipse imperator per legem imperium accipiat. But it is still uncertain whether this was a general law, passed on the transition of the government from a republican to a monarchical form, or a law passed on the accession of each emperor. Compare Hugo, Hist. du Droit Romain, (French translation,) vol. ii. p. 8.—M.]

[Footnote 36: His laws are the first in the code. See Dodwell, (Praelect. Cambden, p. 319—340,) who wanders from the subject in confused reading and feeble paradox. * Note: This is again an error which Gibbon shares with Heineccius, and the generality of authors. It arises from having mistaken the insignificant edict of Hadrian, inserted in the Code of Justinian, (lib. vi, tit. xxiii. c. 11,) for the first constitutio principis, without attending to the fact, that the Pandects contain so many constitutions of the emperors, from Julius Caesar, (see l. i. Digest 29, l) M. Hugo justly observes, that the acta of Sylla, approved by the senate, were the same thing with the constitutions of those who after him usurped the sovereign power. Moreover, we find that Pliny, and other ancient authors, report a multitude of rescripts of the emperors from the time of Augustus. See Hugo, Hist. du Droit Romain, vol. ii. p. 24-27.—W.]

[Footnote 37: Totam illam veterem et squalentem sylvam legum novis principalium rescriptorum et edictorum securibus truncatis et caeditis; (Apologet. c. 4, p. 50, edit. Havercamp.) He proceeds to praise the recent firmness of Severus, who repealed the useless or pernicious laws, without any regard to their age or authority.]

[Footnote 38: The constitutional style of Legibus Solutus is misinterpreted by the art or ignorance of Dion Cassius, (tom. i. l. liii. p. 713.) On this occasion, his editor, Reimer, joins the universal censure which freedom and criticism have pronounced against that slavish historian.]

[Footnote 39: The word (Lex Regia) was still more recent than the thing. The slaves of Commodus or Caracalla would have started at the name of royalty. Note: Yet a century before, Domitian was called not only by Martial but even in public documents, Dominus et Deus Noster. Sueton. Domit. cap. 13. Hugo.—W.]

[Footnote 40: See Gravina (Opp. p. 501—512) and Beaufort, (Republique Romaine, tom. i. p. 255—274.) He has made a proper use of two dissertations by John Frederic Gronovius and Noodt, both translated, with valuable notes, by Barbeyrac, 2 vols. in 12mo. 1731.]

[Footnote 41: Institut. l. i. tit. ii. No. 6. Pandect. l. i. tit. iv. leg. 1. Cod. Justinian, l. i. tit. xvii. leg. 1, No. 7. In his Antiquities and Elements, Heineccius has amply treated de constitutionibus principum, which are illustrated by Godefroy (Comment. ad Cod. Theodos. l. i. tit. i. ii. iii.) and Gravina, (p. 87—90.) ——Note: Gaius asserts that the Imperial edict or rescript has and always had, the force of law, because the Imperial authority rests upon law. Constitutio principis est, quod imperator decreto vel edicto, vel epistola constituit, nee unquam dubitatum, quin id legis, vicem obtineat, cum ipse imperator per legem imperium accipiat. Gaius, 6 Instit. i. 2.—M.]

[Footnote 42: Theophilus, in Paraphras. Graec. Institut. p. 33, 34, edit. Reitz For his person, time, writings, see the Theophilus of J. H. Mylius, Excurs. iii. p. 1034—1073.]

[Footnote 43: There is more envy than reason in the complaint of Macrinus (Jul. Capitolin. c. 13:) Nefas esse leges videri Commodi et Caracalla at hominum imperitorum voluntates. Commodus was made a Divus by Severus, (Dodwell, Praelect. viii. p. 324, 325.) Yet he occurs only twice in the Pandects.]

[Footnote 44: Of Antoninus Caracalla alone 200 constitutions are extant in the Code, and with his father 160. These two princes are quoted fifty times in the Pandects, and eight in the Institutes, (Terasson, p. 265.)]

[Footnote 45: Plin. Secund. Epistol. x. 66. Sueton. in Domitian. c. 23.]

[Footnote 46: It was a maxim of Constantine, contra jus rescripta non valeant, (Cod. Theodos. l. i. tit. ii. leg. 1.) The emperors reluctantly allow some scrutiny into the law and the fact, some delay, petition, &c.; but these insufficient remedies are too much in the discretion and at the peril of the judge.]

[Footnote 47: A compound of vermilion and cinnabar, which marks the Imperial diplomas from Leo I. (A.D. 470) to the fall of the Greek empire, (Bibliotheque Raisonnee de la Diplomatique, tom. i. p. 504—515 Lami, de Eruditione Apostolorum, tom. ii. p. 720-726.)]

[Footnote 4711: Savigny states the following as the authorities for the Roman law at the commencement of the fifth century:— 1. The writings of the jurists, according to the regulations of the Constitution of Valentinian III., first promulgated in the West, but by its admission into the Theodosian Code established likewise in the East. (This Constitution established the authority of the five great jurists, Papinian, Paulus, Caius, Ulpian, and Modestinus as interpreters of the ancient law. * * * In case of difference of opinion among these five, a majority decided the case; where they were equal, the opinion of Papinian, where he was silent, the judge; but see p. 40, and Hugo, vol. ii. p. 89.) 2. The Gregorian and Hermogenian Collection of the Imperial Rescripts. 3. The Code of Theodosius II. 4. The particular Novellae, as additions and Supplements to this Code Savigny. vol. i. p 10.—M.]

[Footnote 48: Schulting, Jurisprudentia Ante-Justinianea, p. 681-718. Cujacius assigned to Gregory the reigns from Hadrian to Gallienus. and the continuation to his fellow-laborer Hermogenes. This general division may be just, but they often trespassed on each other's ground]


Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.—Part III.

Among savage nations, the want of letters is imperfectly supplied by the use of visible signs, which awaken attention, and perpetuate the remembrance of any public or private transaction. The jurisprudence of the first Romans exhibited the scenes of a pantomime; the words were adapted to the gestures, and the slightest error or neglect in the forms of proceeding was sufficient to annul the substance of the fairest claim. The communion of the marriage-life was denoted by the necessary elements of fire and water; [49] and the divorced wife resigned the bunch of keys, by the delivery of which she had been invested with the government of the family. The manumission of a son, or a slave, was performed by turning him round with a gentle blow on the cheek; a work was prohibited by the casting of a stone; prescription was interrupted by the breaking of a branch; the clinched fist was the symbol of a pledge or deposit; the right hand was the gift of faith and confidence. The indenture of covenants was a broken straw; weights and scales were introduced into every payment, and the heir who accepted a testament was sometimes obliged to snap his fingers, to cast away his garments, and to leap or dance with real or affected transport. [50] If a citizen pursued any stolen goods into a neighbor's house, he concealed his nakedness with a linen towel, and hid his face with a mask or basin, lest he should encounter the eyes of a virgin or a matron. [51] In a civil action the plaintiff touched the ear of his witness, seized his reluctant adversary by the neck, and implored, in solemn lamentation, the aid of his fellow-citizens. The two competitors grasped each other's hand as if they stood prepared for combat before the tribunal of the praetor; he commanded them to produce the object of the dispute; they went, they returned with measured steps, and a clod of earth was cast at his feet to represent the field for which they contended. This occult science of the words and actions of law was the inheritance of the pontiffs and patricians. Like the Chaldean astrologers, they announced to their clients the days of business and repose; these important trifles were interwoven with the religion of Numa; and after the publication of the Twelve Tables, the Roman people was still enslaved by the ignorance of judicial proceedings. The treachery of some plebeian officers at length revealed the profitable mystery: in a more enlightened age, the legal actions were derided and observed; and the same antiquity which sanctified the practice, obliterated the use and meaning of this primitive language. [52]

[Footnote 49: Scaevola, most probably Q. Cervidius Scaevola; the master of Papinian considers this acceptance of fire and water as the essence of marriage, (Pandect. l. xxiv. tit. 1, leg. 66. See Heineccius, Hist. J. R. No. 317.)]

[Footnote 50: Cicero (de Officiis, iii. 19) may state an ideal case, but St. Am brose (de Officiis, iii. 2,) appeals to the practice of his own times, which he understood as a lawyer and a magistrate, (Schulting ad Ulpian, Fragment. tit. xxii. No. 28, p. 643, 644.) * Note: In this passage the author has endeavored to collect all the examples of judicial formularies which he could find. That which he adduces as the form of cretio haereditatis is absolutely false. It is sufficient to glance at the passage in Cicero which he cites, to see that it has no relation to it. The author appeals to the opinion of Schulting, who, in the passage quoted, himself protests against the ridiculous and absurd interpretation of the passage in Cicero, and observes that Graevius had already well explained the real sense. See in Gaius the form of cretio haereditatis Inst. l. ii. p. 166.—W.]

[Footnote 51: The furtum lance licioque conceptum was no longer understood in the time of the Antonines, (Aulus Gellius, xvi. 10.) The Attic derivation of Heineccius, (Antiquitat. Rom. l. iv. tit. i. No. 13—21) is supported by the evidence of Aristophanes, his scholiast, and Pollux. * Note: Nothing more is known of this ceremony; nevertheless we find that already in his own days Gaius turned it into ridicule. He says, (lib. iii. et p. 192, Sections 293,) prohibiti actio quadrupli ex edicto praetoris introducta est; lex autem eo nomine nullam poenam constituit. Hoc solum praecepit, ut qui quaerere velit, nudus quaerat, linteo cinctus, lancem habens; qui si quid invenerit. jubet id lex furtum manifestum esse. Quid sit autem linteum? quaesitum est. Sed verius est consuti genus esse, quo necessariae partes tegerentur. Quare lex tota ridicula est. Nam qui vestitum quaerere prohibet, is et nudum quaerere prohibiturus est; eo magis, quod invenerit ibi imponat, neutrum eorum procedit, si id quod quaeratur, ejus magnitudinis aut naturae sit ut neque subjici, neque ibi imponi possit. Certe non dubitatur, cujuscunque materiae sit ea lanx, satis legi fieri. We see moreover, from this passage, that the basin, as most authors, resting on the authority of Festus, have supposed, was not used to cover the figure.—W. Gibbon says the face, though equally inaccurately. This passage of Gaius, I must observe, as well as others in M. Warnkonig's work, is very inaccurately printed.—M.]

[Footnote 52: In his Oration for Murena, (c. 9—13,) Cicero turns into ridicule the forms and mysteries of the civilians, which are represented with more candor by Aulus Gellius, (Noct. Attic. xx. 10,) Gravina, (Opp p. 265, 266, 267,) and Heineccius, (Antiquitat. l. iv. tit. vi.) * Note: Gibbon had conceived opinions too decided against the forms of procedure in use among the Romans. Yet it is on these solemn forms that the certainty of laws has been founded among all nations. Those of the Romans were very intimately allied with the ancient religion, and must of necessity have disappeared as Rome attained a higher degree of civilization. Have not modern nations, even the most civilized, overloaded their laws with a thousand forms, often absurd, almost always trivial? How many examples are afforded by the English law! See, on the nature of these forms, the work of M. de Savigny on the Vocation of our Age for Legislation and Jurisprudence, Heidelberg, 1814, p. 9, 10.—W. This work of M. Savigny has been translated into English by Mr. Hayward.—M.]

A more liberal art was cultivated, however, by the sage of Rome, who, in a stricter sense, may be considered as the authors of the civil law. The alteration of the idiom and manners of the Romans rendered the style of the Twelve Tables less familiar to each rising generation, and the doubtful passages were imperfectly explained by the study of legal antiquarians. To define the ambiguities, to circumscribe the latitude, to apply the principles, to extend the consequences, to reconcile the real or apparent contradictions, was a much nobler and more important task; and the province of legislation was silently invaded by the expounders of ancient statutes. Their subtle interpretations concurred with the equity of the praetor, to reform the tyranny of the darker ages: however strange or intricate the means, it was the aim of artificial jurisprudence to restore the simple dictates of nature and reason, and the skill of private citizens was usefully employed to undermine the public institutions of their country. [521] The revolution of almost one thousand years, from the Twelve Tables to the reign of Justinian, may be divided into three periods, almost equal in duration, and distinguished from each other by the mode of instruction and the character of the civilians. [53] Pride and ignorance contributed, during the first period, to confine within narrow limits the science of the Roman law. On the public days of market or assembly, the masters of the art were seen walking in the forum ready to impart the needful advice to the meanest of their fellow-citizens, from whose votes, on a future occasion, they might solicit a grateful return. As their years and honors increased, they seated themselves at home on a chair or throne, to expect with patient gravity the visits of their clients, who at the dawn of day, from the town and country, began to thunder at their door. The duties of social life, and the incidents of judicial proceeding, were the ordinary subject of these consultations, and the verbal or written opinion of the juris-consults was framed according to the rules of prudence and law. The youths of their own order and family were permitted to listen; their children enjoyed the benefit of more private lessons, and the Mucian race was long renowned for the hereditary knowledge of the civil law. The second period, the learned and splendid age of jurisprudence, may be extended from the birth of Cicero to the reign of Severus Alexander. A system was formed, schools were instituted, books were composed, and both the living and the dead became subservient to the instruction of the student. The tripartite of Aelius Paetus, surnamed Catus, or the Cunning, was preserved as the oldest work of Jurisprudence. Cato the censor derived some additional fame from his legal studies, and those of his son: the kindred appellation of Mucius Scaevola was illustrated by three sages of the law; but the perfection of the science was ascribed to Servius Sulpicius, their disciple, and the friend of Tully; and the long succession, which shone with equal lustre under the republic and under the Caesars, is finally closed by the respectable characters of Papinian, of Paul, and of Ulpian. Their names, and the various titles of their productions, have been minutely preserved, and the example of Labeo may suggest some idea of their diligence and fecundity. That eminent lawyer of the Augustan age divided the year between the city and country, between business and composition; and four hundred books are enumerated as the fruit of his retirement. Of the collection of his rival Capito, the two hundred and fifty-ninth book is expressly quoted; and few teachers could deliver their opinions in less than a century of volumes. In the third period, between the reigns of Alexander and Justinian, the oracles of jurisprudence were almost mute. The measure of curiosity had been filled: the throne was occupied by tyrants and Barbarians, the active spirits were diverted by religious disputes, and the professors of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus, were humbly content to repeat the lessons of their more enlightened predecessors. From the slow advances and rapid decay of these legal studies, it may be inferred, that they require a state of peace and refinement. From the multitude of voluminous civilians who fill the intermediate space, it is evident that such studies may be pursued, and such works may be performed, with a common share of judgment, experience, and industry. The genius of Cicero and Virgil was more sensibly felt, as each revolving age had been found incapable of producing a similar or a second: but the most eminent teachers of the law were assured of leaving disciples equal or superior to themselves in merit and reputation.

[Footnote 521: Compare, on the Responsa Prudentum, Warnkonig, Histoire Externe du Droit Romain Bruxelles, 1836, p. 122.—M.]

[Footnote 53: The series of the civil lawyers is deduced by Pomponius, (de Origine Juris Pandect. l. i. tit. ii.) The moderns have discussed, with learning and criticism, this branch of literary history; and among these I have chiefly been guided by Gravina (p. 41—79) and Hei neccius, (Hist. J. R. No. 113-351.) Cicero, more especially in his books de Oratore, de Claris Oratoribus, de Legibus, and the Clavie Ciceroniana of Ernesti (under the names of Mucius, &c.) afford much genuine and pleasing information. Horace often alludes to the morning labors of the civilians, (Serm. I. i. 10, Epist. II. i. 103, &c)

Agricolam laudat juris legumque peritus Sub galli cantum, consultor ubi ostia pulsat. —————— Romae dulce diu fuit et solemne, reclusa Mane domo vigilare, clienti promere jura.

* Note: It is particularly in this division of the history of the Roman jurisprudence into epochs, that Gibbon displays his profound knowledge of the laws of this people. M. Hugo, adopting this division, prefaced these three periods with the history of the times anterior to the Law of the Twelve Tables, which are, as it were, the infancy of the Roman law.—W]

The jurisprudence which had been grossly adapted to the wants of the first Romans, was polished and improved in the seventh century of the city, by the alliance of Grecian philosophy. The Scaevolas had been taught by use and experience; but Servius Sulpicius [5311] was the first civilian who established his art on a certain and general theory. [54] For the discernment of truth and falsehood he applied, as an infallible rule, the logic of Aristotle and the stoics, reduced particular cases to general principles, and diffused over the shapeless mass the light of order and eloquence. Cicero, his contemporary and friend, declined the reputation of a professed lawyer; but the jurisprudence of his country was adorned by his incomparable genius, which converts into gold every object that it touches. After the example of Plato, he composed a republic; and, for the use of his republic, a treatise of laws; in which he labors to deduce from a celestial origin the wisdom and justice of the Roman constitution. The whole universe, according to his sublime hypothesis, forms one immense commonwealth: gods and men, who participate of the same essence, are members of the same community; reason prescribes the law of nature and nations; and all positive institutions, however modified by accident or custom, are drawn from the rule of right, which the Deity has inscribed on every virtuous mind. From these philosophical mysteries, he mildly excludes the sceptics who refuse to believe, and the epicureans who are unwilling to act. The latter disdain the care of the republic: he advises them to slumber in their shady gardens. But he humbly entreats that the new academy would be silent, since her bold objections would too soon destroy the fair and well ordered structure of his lofty system. [55] Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno, he represents as the only teachers who arm and instruct a citizen for the duties of social life. Of these, the armor of the stoics [56] was found to be of the firmest temper; and it was chiefly worn, both for use and ornament, in the schools of jurisprudence. From the portico, the Roman civilians learned to live, to reason, and to die: but they imbibed in some degree the prejudices of the sect; the love of paradox, the pertinacious habits of dispute, and a minute attachment to words and verbal distinctions. The superiority of form to matter was introduced to ascertain the right of property: and the equality of crimes is countenanced by an opinion of Trebatius, [57] that he who touches the ear, touches the whole body; and that he who steals from a heap of corn, or a hogshead of wine, is guilty of the entire theft. [58]

[Footnote 5311: M. Hugo thinks that the ingenious system of the Institutes adopted by a great number of the ancient lawyers, and by Justinian himself, dates from Severus Sulpicius. Hist du Droit Romain, vol.iii.p. 119.—W.]

[Footnote 54: Crassus, or rather Cicero himself, proposes (de Oratore, i. 41, 42) an idea of the art or science of jurisprudence, which the eloquent, but illiterate, Antonius (i. 58) affects to deride. It was partly executed by Servius Sulpicius, (in Bruto, c. 41,) whose praises are elegantly varied in the classic Latinity of the Roman Gravina, (p. 60.)]

[Footnote 55: Perturbatricem autem omnium harum rerum academiam, hanc ab Arcesila et Carneade recentem, exoremus ut sileat, nam si invaserit in haec, quae satis scite instructa et composita videantur, nimis edet ruinas, quam quidem ego placare cupio, submovere non audeo. (de Legibus, i. 13.) From this passage alone, Bentley (Remarks on Free-thinking, p. 250) might have learned how firmly Cicero believed in the specious doctrines which he has adorned.]

[Footnote 56: The stoic philosophy was first taught at Rome by Panaetius, the friend of the younger Scipio, (see his life in the Mem. de l'Academis des Inscriptions, tom. x. p. 75—89.)]

[Footnote 57: As he is quoted by Ulpian, (leg.40, 40, ad Sabinum in Pandect. l. xlvii. tit. ii. leg. 21.) Yet Trebatius, after he was a leading civilian, que qui familiam duxit, became an epicurean, (Cicero ad Fam. vii. 5.) Perhaps he was not constant or sincere in his new sect. * Note: Gibbon had entirely misunderstood this phrase of Cicero. It was only since his time that the real meaning of the author was apprehended. Cicero, in enumerating the qualifications of Trebatius, says, Accedit etiam, quod familiam ducit in jure civili, singularis memoria, summa scientia, which means that Trebatius possessed a still further most important qualification for a student of civil law, a remarkable memory, &c. This explanation, already conjectured by G. Menage, Amaenit. Juris Civilis, c. 14, is found in the dictionary of Scheller, v. Familia, and in the History of the Roman Law by M. Hugo. Many authors have asserted, without any proof sufficient to warrant the conjecture, that Trebatius was of the school of Epicurus—W.]

[Footnote 58: See Gravina (p. 45—51) and the ineffectual cavils of Mascou. Heineccius (Hist. J. R. No. 125) quotes and approves a dissertation of Everard Otto, de Stoica Jurisconsultorum Philosophia.]

Arms, eloquence, and the study of the civil law, promoted a citizen to the honors of the Roman state; and the three professions were sometimes more conspicuous by their union in the same character. In the composition of the edict, a learned praetor gave a sanction and preference to his private sentiments; the opinion of a censor, or a counsel, was entertained with respect; and a doubtful interpretation of the laws might be supported by the virtues or triumphs of the civilian. The patrician arts were long protected by the veil of mystery; and in more enlightened times, the freedom of inquiry established the general principles of jurisprudence. Subtile and intricate cases were elucidated by the disputes of the forum: rules, axioms, and definitions, [59] were admitted as the genuine dictates of reason; and the consent of the legal professors was interwoven into the practice of the tribunals. But these interpreters could neither enact nor execute the laws of the republic; and the judges might disregard the authority of the Scaevolas themselves, which was often overthrown by the eloquence or sophistry of an ingenious pleader. [60] Augustus and Tiberius were the first to adopt, as a useful engine, the science of the civilians; and their servile labors accommodated the old system to the spirit and views of despotism. Under the fair pretence of securing the dignity of the art, the privilege of subscribing legal and valid opinions was confined to the sages of senatorian or equestrian rank, who had been previously approved by the judgment of the prince; and this monopoly prevailed, till Adrian restored the freedom of the profession to every citizen conscious of his abilities and knowledge. The discretion of the praetor was now governed by the lessons of his teachers; the judges were enjoined to obey the comment as well as the text of the law; and the use of codicils was a memorable innovation, which Augustus ratified by the advice of the civilians. [61] [6111]

[Footnote 59: We have heard of the Catonian rule, the Aquilian stipulation, and the Manilian forms, of 211 maxims, and of 247 definitions, (Pandect. l. i. tit. xvi. xvii.)]

[Footnote 60: Read Cicero, l. i. de Oratore, Topica, pro Murena.]

[Footnote 61: See Pomponius, (de Origine Juris Pandect. l. i. tit. ii. leg. 2, No 47,) Heineccius, (ad Institut. l. i. tit. ii. No. 8, l. ii. tit. xxv. in Element et Antiquitat.,) and Gravina, (p. 41—45.) Yet the monopoly of Augustus, a harsh measure, would appear with some softening in contemporary evidence; and it was probably veiled by a decree of the senate]

[Footnote 6111: The author here follows the then generally received opinion of Heineccius. The proofs which appear to confirm it are l. 2 47, D. I. 2, and 8. Instit. I. 2. The first of these passages speaks expressly of a privilege granted to certain lawyers, until the time of Adrian, publice respondendi jus ante Augusti tempora non dabatur. Primus Divus ut major juris auctoritas haberetur, constituit, ut ex auctoritate ejus responderent. The passage of the Institutes speaks of the different opinions of those, quibus est permissum jura condere. It is true that the first of these passages does not say that the opinion of these privileged lawyers had the force of a law for the judges. For this reason M. Hugo altogether rejects the opinion adopted by Heineccius, by Bach, and in general by all the writers who preceded him. He conceives that the 8 of the Institutes referred to the constitution of Valentinian III., which regulated the respective authority to be ascribed to the different writings of the great civilians. But we have now the following passage in the Institutes of Gaius: Responsa prudentum sunt sententiae et opiniones eorum, quibus permissum est jura condere; quorum omnium si in unum sententiae concorrupt, id quod ita sentiunt, legis vicem obtinet, si vero dissentiunt, judici licet, quam velit sententiam sequi, idque rescripto Divi Hadrian signiticatur. I do not know, how in opposition to this passage, the opinion of M. Hugo can be maintained. We must add to this the passage quoted from Pomponius and from such strong proofs, it seems incontestable that the emperors had granted some kind of privilege to certain civilians, quibus permissum erat jura condere. Their opinion had sometimes the force of law, legis vicem. M. Hugo, endeavoring to reconcile this phrase with his system, gives it a forced interpretation, which quite alters the sense; he supposes that the passage contains no more than what is evident of itself, that the authority of the civilians was to be respected, thus making a privilege of that which was free to all the world. It appears to me almost indisputable, that the emperors had sanctioned certain provisions relative to the authority of these civilians, consulted by the judges. But how far was their advice to be respected? This is a question which it is impossible to answer precisely, from the want of historic evidence. Is it not possible that the emperors established an authority to be consulted by the judges? and in this case this authority must have emanated from certain civilians named for this purpose by the emperors. See Hugo, l. c. Moreover, may not the passage of Suetonius, in the Life of Caligula, where he says that the emperor would no longer permit the civilians to give their advice, mean that Caligula entertained the design of suppressing this institution? See on this passage the Themis, vol. xi. p. 17, 36. Our author not being acquainted with the opinions opposed to Heineccius has not gone to the bottom of the subject.—W.]

The most absolute mandate could only require that the judges should agree with the civilians, if the civilians agreed among themselves. But positive institutions are often the result of custom and prejudice; laws and language are ambiguous and arbitrary; where reason is incapable of pronouncing, the love of argument is inflamed by the envy of rivals, the vanity of masters, the blind attachment of their disciples; and the Roman jurisprudence was divided by the once famous sects of the Proculians and Sabinians. [62] Two sages of the law, Ateius Capito and Antistius Labeo, [63] adorned the peace of the Augustan age; the former distinguished by the favor of his sovereign; the latter more illustrious by his contempt of that favor, and his stern though harmless opposition to the tyrant of Rome. Their legal studies were influenced by the various colors of their temper and principles. Labeo was attached to the form of the old republic; his rival embraced the more profitable substance of the rising monarchy. But the disposition of a courtier is tame and submissive; and Capito seldom presumed to deviate from the sentiments, or at least from the words, of his predecessors; while the bold republican pursued his independent ideas without fear of paradox or innovations. The freedom of Labeo was enslaved, however, by the rigor of his own conclusions, and he decided, according to the letter of the law, the same questions which his indulgent competitor resolved with a latitude of equity more suitable to the common sense and feelings of mankind. If a fair exchange had been substituted to the payment of money, Capito still considered the transaction as a legal sale; [64] and he consulted nature for the age of puberty, without confining his definition to the precise period of twelve or fourteen years. [65] This opposition of sentiments was propagated in the writings and lessons of the two founders; the schools of Capito and Labeo maintained their inveterate conflict from the age of Augustus to that of Adrian; [66] and the two sects derived their appellations from Sabinus and Proculus, their most celebrated teachers. The names of Cassians and Pegasians were likewise applied to the same parties; but, by a strange reverse, the popular cause was in the hands of Pegasus, [67] a timid slave of Domitian, while the favorite of the Caesars was represented by Cassius, [68] who gloried in his descent from the patriot assassin. By the perpetual edict, the controversies of the sects were in a great measure determined. For that important work, the emperor Adrian preferred the chief of the Sabinians: the friends of monarchy prevailed; but the moderation of Salvius Julian insensibly reconciled the victors and the vanquished. Like the contemporary philosophers, the lawyers of the age of the Antonines disclaimed the authority of a master, and adopted from every system the most probable doctrines. [69] But their writings would have been less voluminous, had their choice been more unanimous. The conscience of the judge was perplexed by the number and weight of discordant testimonies, and every sentence that his passion or interest might pronounce was justified by the sanction of some venerable name. An indulgent edict of the younger Theodosius excused him from the labor of comparing and weighing their arguments. Five civilians, Caius, Papinian, Paul, Ulpian, and Modestinus, were established as the oracles of jurisprudence: a majority was decisive: but if their opinions were equally divided, a casting vote was ascribed to the superior wisdom of Papinian. [70]

[Footnote 62: I have perused the Diatribe of Gotfridus Mascovius, the learned Mascou, de Sectis Jurisconsultorum, (Lipsiae, 1728, in 12mo., p. 276,) a learned treatise on a narrow and barren ground.]

[Footnote 63: See the character of Antistius Labeo in Tacitus, (Annal. iii. 75,) and in an epistle of Ateius Capito, (Aul. Gellius, xiii. 12,) who accuses his rival of libertas nimia et vecors. Yet Horace would not have lashed a virtuous and respectable senator; and I must adopt the emendation of Bentley, who reads Labieno insanior, (Serm. I. iii. 82.) See Mascou, de Sectis, (c. i. p. 1—24.)]

[Footnote 64: Justinian (Institut. l. iii. tit. 23, and Theophil. Vers. Graec. p. 677, 680) has commemorated this weighty dispute, and the verses of Homer that were alleged on either side as legal authorities. It was decided by Paul, (leg. 33, ad Edict. in Pandect. l. xviii. tit. i. leg. 1,) since, in a simple exchange, the buyer could not be discriminated from the seller.]

[Footnote 65: This controversy was likewise given for the Proculians, to supersede the indecency of a search, and to comply with the aphorism of Hippocrates, who was attached to the septenary number of two weeks of years, or 700 of days, (Institut. l. i. tit. xxii.) Plutarch and the Stoics (de Placit. Philosoph. l. v. c. 24) assign a more natural reason. Fourteen years is the age. See the vestigia of the sects in Mascou, c. ix. p. 145—276.]

[Footnote 66: The series and conclusion of the sects are described by Mascou, (c. ii.—vii. p. 24—120;) and it would be almost ridiculous to praise his equal justice to these obsolete sects. * Note: The work of Gaius, subsequent to the time of Adrian, furnishes us with some information on this subject. The disputes which rose between these two sects appear to have been very numerous. Gaius avows himself a disciple of Sabinus and of Caius. Compare Hugo, vol. ii. p. 106.—W.]

[Footnote 67: At the first summons he flies to the turbot-council; yet Juvenal (Satir. iv. 75—81) styles the praefect or bailiff of Rome sanctissimus legum interpres. From his science, says the old scholiast, he was called, not a man, but a book. He derived the singular name of Pegasus from the galley which his father commanded.]

[Footnote 68: Tacit. Annal. xvii. 7. Sueton. in Nerone, c. xxxvii.]

[Footnote 69: Mascou, de Sectis, c. viii. p. 120—144 de Herciscundis, a legal term which was applied to these eclectic lawyers: herciscere is synonymous to dividere. * Note: This word has never existed. Cujacius is the author of it, who read me words terris condi in Servius ad Virg. herciscundi, to which he gave an erroneous interpretation.—W.]

[Footnote 70: See the Theodosian Code, l. i. tit. iv. with Godefroy's Commentary, tom. i. p. 30—35. [! This decree might give occasion to Jesuitical disputes like those in the Lettres Provinciales, whether a Judge was obliged to follow the opinion of Papinian, or of a majority, against his judgment, against his conscience, &c. Yet a legislator might give that opinion, however false, the validity, not of truth, but of law. Note: We possess (since 1824) some interesting information as to the framing of the Theodosian Code, and its ratification at Rome, in the year 438. M. Closius, now professor at Dorpat in Russia, and M. Peyron, member of the Academy of Turin, have discovered, the one at Milan, the other at Turin, a great part of the five first books of the Code which were wanting, and besides this, the reports (gesta) of the sitting of the senate at Rome, in which the Code was published, in the year after the marriage of Valentinian III. Among these pieces are the constitutions which nominate commissioners for the formation of the Code; and though there are many points of considerable obscurity in these documents, they communicate many facts relative to this legislation. 1. That Theodosius designed a great reform in the legislation; to add to the Gregorian and Hermogenian codes all the new constitutions from Constantine to his own day; and to frame a second code for common use with extracts from the three codes, and from the works of the civil lawyers. All laws either abrogated or fallen into disuse were to be noted under their proper heads. 2. An Ordinance was issued in 429 to form a commission for this purpose of nine persons, of which Antiochus, as quaestor and praefectus, was president. A second commission of sixteen members was issued in 435 under the same president. 3. A code, which we possess under the name of Codex Theodosianus, was finished in 438, published in the East, in an ordinance addressed to the Praetorian praefect, Florentinus, and intended to be published in the West. 4. Before it was published in the West, Valentinian submitted it to the senate. There is a report of the proceedings of the senate, which closed with loud acclamations and gratulations.—From Warnkonig, Histoire du Droit Romain, p. 169-Wenck has published this work, Codicis Theodosiani libri priores. Leipzig, 1825.—M.] * Note *: Closius of Tubingen communicated to M.Warnkonig the two following constitutions of the emperor Constantine, which he discovered in the Ambrosian library at Milan:— 1. Imper. Constantinus Aug. ad Maximium Praef. Praetorio. Perpetuas prudentum contentiones eruere cupientes, Ulpiani ac Pauli, in Papinianum notas, qui dum ingenii laudem sectantur, non tam corrigere eum quam depravere maluerunt, aboleri praecepimus. Dat. III. Kalend. Octob. Const. Cons. et Crispi, (321.) Idem. Aug. ad Maximium Praef Praet. Universa, quae scriptura Pauli continentur, recepta auctoritate firmanda runt, et omni veneratione celebranda. Ideoque sententiarum libros plepissima luce et perfectissima elocutione et justissima juris ratione succinctos in judiciis prolatos valere minimie dubitatur. Dat. V. Kalend. Oct. Trovia Coust. et Max. Coss. (327.)—W]

Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.—Part IV.

When Justinian ascended the throne, the reformation of the Roman jurisprudence was an arduous but indispensable task. In the space of ten centuries, the infinite variety of laws and legal opinions had filled many thousand volumes, which no fortune could purchase and no capacity could digest. Books could not easily be found; and the judges, poor in the midst of riches, were reduced to the exercise of their illiterate discretion. The subjects of the Greek provinces were ignorant of the language that disposed of their lives and properties; and the barbarous dialect of the Latins was imperfectly studied in the academies of Berytus and Constantinople. As an Illyrian soldier, that idiom was familiar to the infancy of Justinian; his youth had been instructed by the lessons of jurisprudence, and his Imperial choice selected the most learned civilians of the East, to labor with their sovereign in the work of reformation. [71] The theory of professors was assisted by the practice of advocates, and the experience of magistrates; and the whole undertaking was animated by the spirit of Tribonian. [72] This extraordinary man, the object of so much praise and censure, was a native of Side in Pamphylia; and his genius, like that of Bacon, embraced, as his own, all the business and knowledge of the age. Tribonian composed, both in prose and verse, on a strange diversity of curious and abstruse subjects: [73] a double panegyric of Justinian and the life of the philosopher Theodotus; the nature of happiness and the duties of government; Homer's catalogue and the four-and-twenty sorts of metre; the astronomical canon of Ptolemy; the changes of the months; the houses of the planets; and the harmonic system of the world. To the literature of Greece he added the use of the Latin tonque; the Roman civilians were deposited in his library and in his mind; and he most assiduously cultivated those arts which opened the road of wealth and preferment. From the bar of the Praetorian praefects, he raised himself to the honors of quaestor, of consul, and of master of the offices: the council of Justinian listened to his eloquence and wisdom; and envy was mitigated by the gentleness and affability of his manners. The reproaches of impiety and avarice have stained the virtue or the reputation of Tribonian. In a bigoted and persecuting court, the principal minister was accused of a secret aversion to the Christian faith, and was supposed to entertain the sentiments of an Atheist and a Pagan, which have been imputed, inconsistently enough, to the last philosophers of Greece. His avarice was more clearly proved and more sensibly felt. If he were swayed by gifts in the administration of justice, the example of Bacon will again occur; nor can the merit of Tribonian atone for his baseness, if he degraded the sanctity of his profession; and if laws were every day enacted, modified, or repealed, for the base consideration of his private emolument. In the sedition of Constantinople, his removal was granted to the clamors, perhaps to the just indignation, of the people: but the quaestor was speedily restored, and, till the hour of his death, he possessed, above twenty years, the favor and confidence of the emperor. His passive and dutiful submission had been honored with the praise of Justinian himself, whose vanity was incapable of discerning how often that submission degenerated into the grossest adulation. Tribonian adored the virtues of his gracious of his gracious master; the earth was unworthy of such a prince; and he affected a pious fear, that Justinian, like Elijah or Romulus, would be snatched into the air, and translated alive to the mansions of celestial glory. [74]

[Footnote 71: For the legal labors of Justinian, I have studied the Preface to the Institutes; the 1st, 2d, and 3d Prefaces to the Pandects; the 1st and 2d Preface to the Code; and the Code itself, (l. i. tit. xvii. de Veteri Jure enucleando.) After these original testimonies, I have consulted, among the moderns, Heineccius, (Hist. J. R. No. 383—404,) Terasson. (Hist. de la Jurisprudence Romaine, p. 295—356,) Gravina, (Opp. p. 93-100,) and Ludewig, in his Life of Justinian, (p.19—123, 318-321; for the Code and Novels, p. 209—261; for the Digest or Pandects, p. 262—317.)]

[Footnote 72: For the character of Tribonian, see the testimonies of Procopius, (Persic. l. i. c. 23, 24. Anecdot. c. 13, 20,) and Suidas, (tom. iii. p. 501, edit. Kuster.) Ludewig (in Vit. Justinian, p. 175—209) works hard, very hard, to whitewash—the blackamoor.]

[Footnote 73: I apply the two passages of Suidas to the same man; every circumstance so exactly tallies. Yet the lawyers appear ignorant; and Fabricius is inclined to separate the two characters, (Bibliot. Grae. tom. i. p. 341, ii. p. 518, iii. p. 418, xii. p. 346, 353, 474.)]

[Footnote 74: This story is related by Hesychius, (de Viris Illustribus,) Procopius, (Anecdot. c. 13,) and Suidas, (tom. iii. p. 501.) Such flattery is incredible! —Nihil est quod credere de se Non possit, cum laudatur Diis aequa potestas. Fontenelle (tom. i. p. 32—39) has ridiculed the impudence of the modest Virgil. But the same Fontenelle places his king above the divine Augustus; and the sage Boileau has not blushed to say, "Le destin a ses yeux n'oseroit balancer" Yet neither Augustus nor Louis XIV. were fools.]

If Caesar had achieved the reformation of the Roman law, his creative genius, enlightened by reflection and study, would have given to the world a pure and original system of jurisprudence. Whatever flattery might suggest, the emperor of the East was afraid to establish his private judgment as the standard of equity: in the possession of legislative power, he borrowed the aid of time and opinion; and his laborious compilations are guarded by the sages and legislature of past times. Instead of a statue cast in a simple mould by the hand of an artist, the works of Justinian represent a tessellated pavement of antique and costly, but too often of incoherent, fragments. In the first year of his reign, he directed the faithful Tribonian, and nine learned associates, to revise the ordinances of his predecessors, as they were contained, since the time of Adrian, in the Gregorian Hermogenian, and Theodosian codes; to purge the errors and contradictions, to retrench whatever was obsolete or superfluous, and to select the wise and salutary laws best adapted to the practice of the tribunals and the use of his subjects. The work was accomplished in fourteen months; and the twelve books or tables, which the new decemvirs produced, might be designed to imitate the labors of their Roman predecessors. The new Code of Justinian was honored with his name, and confirmed by his royal signature: authentic transcripts were multiplied by the pens of notaries and scribes; they were transmitted to the magistrates of the European, the Asiatic, and afterwards the African provinces; and the law of the empire was proclaimed on solemn festivals at the doors of churches. A more arduous operation was still behind—to extract the spirit of jurisprudence from the decisions and conjectures, the questions and disputes, of the Roman civilians. Seventeen lawyers, with Tribonian at their head, were appointed by the emperor to exercise an absolute jurisdiction over the works of their predecessors. If they had obeyed his commands in ten years, Justinian would have been satisfied with their diligence; and the rapid composition of the Digest of Pandects, [75] in three years, will deserve praise or censure, according to the merit of the execution. From the library of Tribonian, they chose forty, the most eminent civilians of former times: [76] two thousand treatises were comprised in an abridgment of fifty books; and it has been carefully recorded, that three millions of lines or sentences, [77] were reduced, in this abstract, to the moderate number of one hundred and fifty thousand. The edition of this great work was delayed a month after that of the Institutes; and it seemed reasonable that the elements should precede the digest of the Roman law. As soon as the emperor had approved their labors, he ratified, by his legislative power, the speculations of these private citizens: their commentaries, on the twelve tables, the perpetual edict, the laws of the people, and the decrees of the senate, succeeded to the authority of the text; and the text was abandoned, as a useless, though venerable, relic of antiquity. The Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes, were declared to be the legitimate system of civil jurisprudence; they alone were admitted into the tribunals, and they alone were taught in the academies of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus. Justinian addressed to the senate and provinces his eternal oracles; and his pride, under the mask of piety, ascribed the consummation of this great design to the support and inspiration of the Deity.

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