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Syro-Roman law book

(350 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The SRLB is a juristic collection of Late Antiquity which survives in several Syriac, Arabic and Armenian versions of differing scope. It was widespread in the territory of the Oriental churches, but contained secular Roman law. The interest in imperial law in the eastern provinces makes itself felt in terms of the history of transmission, first in the Sententiae Syriacae, a paraphrase of imperial laws, esp. from the reign of Diocletian and primarily from the years AD 293/4. The translation into Syriac was not directly from the (lost) Lat…

Scriptura

(124 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (literally 'that which is written down'), in the field of law, denoted all Roman documents, and (as literacy increased) from the Principate, but esp. in late antiquity, e.g. the testament, the note of hand ( cheirógraphon ), generally the contract, but also a legal opinion or a legal ruling, provided that these were given in writing. In a narrower sense, probably arising from the fact that the Roman tax farmers ( publicani ) 'marked down' transactions of relinquishment of public pasture to private (sub-)lessees, scriptura was the payment the lessee had to make for…

Banishment

(57 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] In Graeco-Roman Antiquity banishment largely replaced the death penalty for members of the upper class, but also existed as an independent  punishment, as in the Attic ostrakismós . For details for Greece, particularly Athens, see phygḗ , aeiphygía , apeniautismós , for Rome see exilium , deportatio , relegatio . Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)

Pater familias

(841 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] From a legal perspective, the head of a family in Rome was the most important person in the family (IV.B.), its 'king' as it were [1. 75]. As holder of patria potestas and manus , he held power at any rate over wife, children (even when adult), grandchildren and slaves. As the autocrat of the family, he was the only member to hold rights and privileges: he alone had the right to dispose of the family's property and only he acquired rights from contracts and other transactions. However, he incur…

Fictio

(422 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Fictio, rooted in Roman jurisprudence, describes a technique still used in modern legal practice in order to arrange sanctions for different circumstances from those originally addressed by the law through working on the assumption that both sets of circumstances are identical, even though in reality they are not. This concept developed from the religious rule stating simulacra pro veris accipiuntur (‘images are accepted as reality’): Priests as the first legal experts in Rome's early history transferred the concept expressed in this reli…

Vindicta

(93 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] In the Roman legal procedure of legis actio sacramento in rem ('legal assertion of claim'): the staff that was symbolically applied to the slave or item of property in order to give concrete expression to the plaintiff’s claim and the defendant’s counterclaim to the item. The etymology of vindicta is disputed (cf. most recently [1. 47 f.12]). The most probable connection appears to be with vim dicere ('to assert that one has - legally founded - power over the item'). Rei vindicatio Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) Bibliography 1 A. Bürge, Römisches Privatrecht, 1999.

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. …

Tergiversatio

(193 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (literally 'to turn your back'). In Roman law, the term refers to the turning away of the private accuser in a criminal trial ( accusatio , delatio nominis ) from the case he had brought against the defendant. Beginning with the SC Turpillianum (AD 61), the tergiversatio led to a case against the accuser himself. When the withdrawal was unjustified, the tergiversatio was punished with a fine (Dig. 47,15,3,3). Beyond that, the private accuser lost his right to hold an office as well as his civic honour ( infamia , Dig. 48,16,2). The defendant who had…

Vidua

(16 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Latin expression and Roman legal term for widow (II.). Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)

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…

Supplicium

(250 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] ('Punishment') is used in Roman law similarly to poena , but confined to 'public' punishment (Penal Law) and more specifically the death penalty. One can only speculate on how supplicium (originally probably a plea for forgiveness) came to acquire the meaning of a punishment. The Twelve Tables (5th cent. BC) do recognize the death penalty in some cases, but primarily as a private punishment; it is not called supplicium in reports on the law. A supplicium more maiorum ('punishment according to the tradition of the forefathers') is mentioned several times i…

Crux

(354 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Little is known about the origin and spread of crucifixion in ancient legal systems. There is probably no evidence for it in classical Greece [1]. Herodotus (1,128; 4,43; 202) reports on it as a form of execution among the barbarians, Polybius (1,24,6) among the Phoenicians. Little likely is the idea of the Romans adopting it directly from the Phoenicians [2] (differing views in [3; 4]). Crucifixion however does come to be used as capital punishment among the Romans from about 200 BC (cf. Plaut. Mil. 359). The   tresviri capitales probably introduce…

Nervus

(63 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] An iron chain used to tether a debtor's feet  ( ferreum vinculum, quo pedes impediuntur, Fest. 162,1-2). According to the Twelve Tables (Lex XII tab. 3,3),  a creditor was apparently permitted to use the nervus to take the debtor into a kind of coercive detention, if the latter did not pay his debts despite having been sentenced.  Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)

Delatio nominis

(412 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] ‘To indicate the name (of a suspect)’ is originally only the very first step in initiating a public prosecution in Rome. Plaut. Aul. 416 uses the expression in this way regarding the campaign conducted by the   tresviri capitales against underclass criminality. In proceedings before these magistrates, a kind of police-court justice, the meaning of delatio nominis ─ entirely in the sense of a modern complaint to the police ─ is evidently confined to the sole process of reporting a criminal act [1. 60, 78]. In the 3rd and above all the 2nd cents. BC, alongside the …

Litis contestatio

(653 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A. Term In Roman legal language, lis is the expression for a dispute, in particular when it is taken to court. Litis contestatio (LC) thus refers to the ‘witnessing’ of such a dispute (Fest. p. 34,50 L.). The instigation of a claim (action) and defence (repudiation of action) in front of witnesses determined the course of a (civil) law suit. Until the predominance of the imperial cognitio procedure around AD 300, LC was the crucial point [1. 77] in the entire proceedings. Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) [German version] B. Legis actio procedure The necessity of summonin…

Matrimonium

(158 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Besides nuptiae the Roman term for marriage. Matrimonium (‘motherhood’) was associated with the root mater (‘mother’), from which the word is derived. Linguistically, a woman was led or given into matrimonium, and a man had a woman in matrimonio. In law, too, matrimonium was primarily significant because of motherhood: iustum (recognised by law) or legitimum (lawful) matrimonium is a marriage between Roman citizens or between a Roman and a woman who was entitled to conubium . The children of such a marriage were Roman citizens, and their status followed the ius civile, …

Tutelage

(67 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] Tutelage played an important part in both Athenian (cf. epitropos [2]) and Roman law (cf. tutela [1]). It applied not only in respect of infants and impubes ('those under the age of discretion') not under the patria postestas ('paternal power'), but also in a wider context as a gender-based tutelage in respect of women ( Kyrios [II], Tutela, [1 III]). Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)

Naturales liberi

(370 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (also known as liberi naturales ). In Late Antiquity, ‘natural children’ were the issue of an illegitimate union ( concubinatus ). Compared to other children of illegitimate descent ( spurius ), they were privileged in many respects. Thus, the possibility of a legitimation, that is the eventual acquisition of the legal status of legitimate offspring ( legitimi), existed only for NL. In what was probably initially intended as an incentive to contract marriage with one's partner in concubinage, the parents' marriage brought about the ful…

Discussor

(154 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A discussor (Greek logothétēs, etym. from discutere in the meaning of ‘to check, investigate’) was an official of the late antique Roman state, to whom article 10,30 of the Cod. lust. was dedicated. The main tasks of the discussores lay in tax administration. In that context, they apparently carried out external audits of the tax bases set by the   census through self-assessment ( professio). They also appear as auditors for customs, public building projects, and state regulated prices. Administrative acts issued by the discussores were called   sententiae

Aequitas

(674 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The word aequitas has several meanings. There is a particularly fluid transition to iustum. The latter usually tends to refer to fidelity to positive law, aequitas to justice characterizing and penetrating the whole of law. Linguistic kinship to the horizontal points to equality in the sense of the corollary of performance and counter-performance, misconduct and sanction. Additionally aequitas includes the meaning of proper appropriation of facts as equal or unequal to the cases already decided in positive law. Going still further at th…
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