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Robbery

(1,088 words)

Author(s): Hengstl, Joachim (Marburg/Lahn) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. General Robbery is the appropriation of a moveable object belonging to another with violence against that person or by the use of threats with present danger to life and limb and with intent to appropriate the object in contravention of the law (§ 249 German Criminal Code). In law, robbery is a combination of theft and duress. In the popular mind of today, robbery is regarded as a more serious offence than simple theft. However, in ancient legal systems and until the Middle Ages, theft (by stealth) was seen as worse than (public and violent) dispossession. Hengstl, Joachi…

Privilegium

(234 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A technical term in Roman law, and as such not to be understood in the broad sense of 'privilege' in the medieval and early modern periods, still less to be equated with the same word in modern colloquial usage, Roman privilegium was a 'law for an individual', and according to the Twelve Tables (tab. 9,1) impermissible as a law of proscription at the expense of an individual: it was forbidden to propose it in the popular assembly ( ne inroganto, Cic. Leg. 3,4,11). During the Principate, prerogatives of certain institutions and groups of people were denoted by means of privilegi…

Ius iurandum

(569 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The oath to be sworn to Roman law (  ius ) or before the court (at the praetor or iudex). The older type of oath is probably the   sacramentum , which however, from the late Republic onwards with the dying out of the legis actio sacramento, essentially described the soldier's oath. The ius iurandum was sworn by  Jupiter, all the gods or by the  genius of the emperor. The magistrates swore the existing laws with a ius iurandum in leges within five days of taking up office, and magistrates stepping down usually also swore the legitimacy of their administration …

Pledge, law of

(1,278 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient The requesting of a surety to secure a contract is documented in the laws of the Ancient Orient to varying degrees. Requiring a pledge plays a large role in debt trials in agrarian societies. For example, if tenants were in arrears with their obligations, the forfeiting of a personal surety often led to debt-bondage [1; 2; 15. 179f.] with the resultant negative consequences for the social balance of a society ( Leasehold I.). The requesting of a pledge has been documented in cuneiform legal texts by documents of varying complexity from t…

Divisor

(157 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (‘One who apportions endowments’). From the 2nd cent. BC or earlier war spoils of the Roman state were occasionally distributed among the people of Rome. In the absence of an official ‘Body of Apportionment’ it fell to private citizens, divisores, to assume that function. By the end of the Republic this had led to a system of canvassing that has been described in detail in Cicero Planc. 48ff. Divisores promised in single   tribus a ‘reward’ to a sufficient number of tribus members in the event of a particular candidate being elected. If the tribus was won over and the cand…

Purchase

(1,351 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) | Neumann, Hans (Berlin)
[German version] I. Introduction After the supersession of the concept that the ideal economic form was an autarkic entity of production and consumption not depending upon trade (e.g. the Homeric oîkos), and after the invention of means of payment - whether in the form of unstamped precious metals or coins - purchase, i.e. the exchange of goods for money, was a self-evident element of ancient societies. In spite of its presumably general distribution, however, purchase was underdeveloped in terms of legal provision. Laws and…

Tabulae duodecim

(1,105 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
('Twelve Tables', or, more completely, lex duodecim tabularum, 'Law of the Twelve Tables'), the most important legislation of the Roman Republic. The name originates in the tradition that they were written on twelve oak ( roboreas, as it ought to read, rather than eboreas, 'ivory', in Pompon. Dig. 1,2,2,4) tablets. However, they have not survived in epigraphic form. Text and content must be reconstructed from ancient literature. It may be assumed, in the light of accounts of the legislative process in ancient authors (esp. Liv. 3,32 ff.), that they were written around 450 BC. …

Orbi

(138 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The childless who, according to Roman law dating from the time of Augustus, suffered certain legal penalties: to promote a higher birthrate, women who had many children benefited through the lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus and the lex Papia ( ius liberorum ), while on the flip-side childless people (men and women) were restricted in their capacity ( capacitas) to accept inheritances and legacies: what was left to orbi under a will, was halved (in the case of a surviving spouse reduced to a tenth). The remainder, known as the caducum (a lapsed inher…

Iustitium

(117 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] In Rome the suspension of judicial activity generally ordered by a magistrate (the highest present in Rome) with an edict and associated with further restrictions of transactions, e.g. the closure of the state treasury (  aerarium , Cic. Har. resp. 55) or the stores in the Forum (Liv. 9,7,8). By the late Republic this order had to be preceded by a resolution of the Senate (Liv. 3,3,6). The iustitium was not solely an emergency measure but already in the Republican period could be caused by public mourning over a military defeat (Liv. 9,7,8) or the…

Modus

(303 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] has two meanings in Roman law: one describing a ‘measure’ primarily of land, the other - according to the matter in hand - the same as the modern concept of an instruction (on a gift or testamentary benefit). M. agri (the land measure) was the subject of a well-known action from Paul. sent. 2,17,4  ( actio de modo agri): if the price of a piece of land was calculated according to its area, the purchaser could demand from the seller double the proportional price as a private penalty, if it transpired that the area was smaller than stated.…

Lex commissoria

(213 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A Roman forfeiture or cancellation agreement, it was usually a unilateral (hence: lex ) clause inserted in conditions of sale (see emptio venditio D), or a pledge ( fiducia , pignus ). Upon purchase the clause granted the vendor a right of rescission if the purchaser did not pay the purchase price - for instance, in the event of an agreement for payment in instalments or a date of payment. If the vendor exercised the right of rescission, he could request the return of the sold property by means of the actio venditi (according to the Sabinians) or by means of an actio in factum (acco…

Leasehold

(919 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia, Egypt Leasehold in the sense of the limited taking over of the use of land used for agricultural or gardening purposes against payment of a rent, was attested in Mesopotamia from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Both institutional households ( Palace; Temple) as well as private individuals could function as lessors. The rent was set either at an absolute value in kind or silver, or as a part of the harvest. The one third leasehold, which meant that the lessor received 1/3 of the harvest and the leaseholder received 2/3, was typical above all for the ea…

Denuntiator

(89 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Someone who has something to announce or proclaim. In a narrower sense the term is applied to those who, whether as a private individual or on behalf of an office, report a criminal offence. Denuntiator is then very often synonymous with   delator . The excesses of the latter had a lasting effect on the public opinion on denunciation. Denuntiatores crop up in Rome even as junior officials in the role of heralds. For similar functions in Greek law   menysis ,   sykophantes . Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)

Conubium

(399 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] In Rome being eligible to marry ( conubium) was a prerequisite for a legally valid marriage. Both partners had to have the conubium: Conubium est uxoris iure ducendae facultas. Conubium habent cives Romani cum civibus Romanis: cum Latinis autem et peregrinis ita, si concessum sit. Cum servis nullum est conubium (‘ Conubium is the legal ability to marry a woman. Roman citizens have the conubium to marry each other but, only by special dispensation, to marry Latins and other foreigners . There is no conubium with slaves’; Ulp. 5,3-5). That description omits to mentio…

Suicide

(502 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Suicide, from neo-Latin suicidium ('self-killing'), a parallel formation on homicidium , was a subject of lively intellectual debate in Greek and Roman Antiquity: in schematic comparison it can be said that the followers of and successors to Plato, as well as Aristotle [6] and Neo-Platonism, condemned suicide, whereas some Sophists, and the Cynics (Cynicism) even more, acknowledged suicide as an expression of individual freedom, even expressly endorsing it. This point of …

Lawcourt

(459 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The institution of the law court (LC) has existed from the beginning of state control in antiquity. It is no longer possible to deduce whether and where a phase of arbitration preceded it. In the documents of the Ancient Orient LCs are attested on many occasions [1; 2; 3]. The respective city prince or king was probably also the master of the court although in Mesopotamia there was also local jurisdiction (i.e. within certain groups) [2]. The scribes were suited for work as judg…

Basilics

(144 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The ‘Basilics’, after the Greek term basiliká (n.pl.: ‘imperial’; sc. law books), are a compilation in Greek of the most important parts of the   Corpus iurisDigesta and   Codex (II)Iustinianus, as well as extracts from   Institutiones and   Novellae C.) from the time of the Byzantine emperor Leo(n) [9] VI (886-912). For five-and-a-half centuries the Basilics secured the continuance of Roman law in Byzantium (I. B.3). At the same time, they are an invaluable secondary source for the survival of the Corpus iuris, above all the Digesta (A.3). The Basilics also f…

Absolutio

(227 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] in Roman court proceedings is the opposite of ‘condemnation’ (  condemnatio ). In civil proceedings the formula in which the praetors set down the programme for the iudex ends stereotypically with the judicial command ... condemnato. Si non paret, absolvito. Both absolutio and condemnatio were final and absolute, in other words the decision -- apart from the special case of   appellatio -- was irrevocable, the dispute was definitively concluded and the exceptio rei iudicatae (demurrer of legal force) stood in the way of a new action. The saying omnia iudicia absolutor…

Adfinitas

(91 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (relations by marriage). Gai. Inst. 1,63 speaks of adfinitas in connection with the statement: Item (scil. uxorem ducere non licet) eam, quae nobis quondam socrus, aut nurus, aut priuigna, aut nouerca fuit. According to this in classical Roman law (possibly since Augustus' marriage legislation) marriage to mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepdaughter and stepmother is forbidden. This impediment to marriage was extended in late antiquity to relations by marriage of the first degree in the collateral line (brother's wife, wife's sister) (Cod. Theod. 3,12,2). Sch…

Concussio

(159 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The Digests (Title 47,13) label cases of a forced granting of benefits to an officeholder as concussio (blackmail). Possibly, this is a further development of the reclamation procedure (  repetundarum crimen ). Punishable behaviour in office due to concussio was not prosecuted by a iudicium publicum but by extraordinaria   cognitio . Therefore, it was probably only considered an independent offence in the Imperial period (2nd cent. AD). The sources present pretending a (higher) official authority, orders of a superior and threats of an unfounded suit as means of concu…
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