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Imaginarius

(208 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (literally: ‘imaginary’) in Roman law the term for a legal transaction which expressed something other than what the parties actually intended. The most graphic example is the  mancipatio nummo uno, a transfer against, and by payment of, a merely symbolic copper coin ( aes). Its outward appearance was that of a cash purchase; its actual effect, however, was to enable transfer for any purpose, it could thus be ‘abstract’ - an imaginaria venditio (Gai. Inst. 1,113). In early Roman law, surety meant subjugation to the power of seizure vested in the creditor. Release ( solutio…

Dispensator

(169 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] ( ab aere pendendo, Varro, Ling. 5,183). In earlier times the dispensator would presumably weigh unminted precious metals for his master or the state. The post developed into that of bookkeeper, cashier and steward, much like the Greek oikonómos. It is frequently encountered in Roman inscriptions. Many dispensatores were slaves or freedmen. In Gaius Inst. 1,122 they are distinguished as a special type of slaves: servi, quibus permittitur administratio pecuniae, dispensatores appellati sunt (‘slaves entrusted with the management of money are called dispensatores…

Anquisitio

(149 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] is a part of Roman criminal proceedings of the republican period in crimes against the state. The comitia passed judgement on them in a iudicium publicum. The anquisitio preceded this: first of all the peoples' tribunes, as the magistrates responsible, pleaded the intended charge three times before the assembled people (  contio ). Contrary to the opinion of Mommsen [1], the comitia were not just a pardoning body which decided after a   provocatio against the sentence previously passed by the magistrate. As Brecht [2] and Kunkel [3] discovered from their studies, the anqu…

Nomen

(61 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (pl. nomina). In Roman law, the term for debts. Gai. Inst. 128-133 distinguishes between ‘cash debts’ ( nomina arcaria), which arose e.g. from loans ( mutuum , see also condictio ), and ‘ledger debts’ ( nomina transscripticia), which arose by an entry in the ‘ledger’ of the creditor as an obligation from a litterarum obligatio . Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)

Instrumentum

(362 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The term instrumentum (an object that has been ‘erected’ or ‘set up’) has widely differing meanings in Roman legal terminology: 1. in the Imperial period, especially in late antiquity, instrumentum was the document recorded by a document writer (  Tabellio ) concerning a civil legal transaction or (as instrumentum publicum) by an authority regarding a private or public matter. The instrumentum publicum and the instrumentum of the document writer, which was attested as authentic by three witnesses and also by the tabellio in writing, had full status as proof in…

Lex, leges

(2,519 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A. Concept Lex (‘law’, pl. leges) in Roman law denotes stipulation by a private individual, an office-bearer or a legislative body. The etymology is obscure. A derivation from legere (‘to read out’), referring to the method of stipulation by way of a ceremonial formula (cf. B. below on nuncupatio) remains speculative. Crucial to the lex is its mandatory character. On the other hand, in the original use of the term it lacks the ‘abstract’ (claiming general validity) and ‘general’ (directed at a large number of people) character of mod…

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 …

Furor

(203 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The expression for  mental illness in Roman law. The person affected by this, the furiosus, according to the Twelve Tables ( c. 450 BC), found himself in a special relationship of authority and dependence (foster-care, cura furiosi). The agnate (  agnatio ) and, when needed, in early times the gentile (  gens ) were entitled to the office of the curator (Cic. Inv. 2,148; Rhet. Her. 1,23). The position of the curator, similar to that of a trustee, corresponded to a great extent to that of a guardian (  tutela ) and was valid not only for the person but also for the property of the furi…

Furtum

(819 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A. Overview Furtum is the offence against property in Roman law. At least in the classical period (1st-3rd cents. AD) the term furtum includes not only theft and embezzlement, but also the mere use of items that are not one's own ( furti usus), the removal of one's own property, e.g. from a collateral creditor ( furtum possessionis, possession theft), fraud, receiving stolen goods and aiding and abetting the perpetrator of a furtum. The object of furtum could in addition to res corporales be slaves and persons under paternal authority. In the classical period, …

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…

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…

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…

Suppositio Partus

(20 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] In Roman law the punishable act of substituting children, partus suppositus . Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)

Comparatio publica

(125 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] was probably not a technical term at first (therefore also c. venalitium, c. specierum). It referred to the public purchases of provisions for the Roman State, primarily concerning military equipment and public grain supplies ( Logistics,   cura annonae ). Comparatio publica (CP) did not become a legal category until the Cod. Theod. (under headings 11,15). There, it is designated as a highly regulated type of business including sales obligations (in modern law: contract obligations) and exact price …

Wills and testaments

(3,807 words)

Author(s): Hengstl, Joachim (Marburg/Lahn) | Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen) | Manthe, Ulrich (Passau)
[German version] [1] (Religion) see Bible; Christianity; New Testament Apocrypha; Septuagint; Testamentary literature; Vulgate (Religion) see Bible; Christianity; New Testament Apocrypha; Septuagint; Testamentary literature; Vulgate Hengstl, Joachim (Marburg/Lahn) [German version] [2] History of law (History of law) Hengstl, Joachim (Marburg/Lahn) [German version] I. General Testament (from the Latin testamentum in the sense of the final will made before witnesses; see below IV.) denotes a unilateral 'last will and testament' (or, in common E…

Crematio

(340 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (Burning at the stake) was a form of Roman capital punishment. The execution may originally have been left to the injured party and his agnates (  agnatio ) in a kind of ‘channelled’ private revenge. In that case, the criminal proceedings served only to establish the prosecutor's right to carry out the private punishment. This is probably how we should understand Gaius' report in his comm. on the Twelve Tables (Dig. 47,9,9), which states that this law (pl. 8,10) ordered execution by fire for premeditated arsons: igni necari iubetur (interpretation according to [1], b…

Gestio

(309 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] (also gesta). Generally an expression for transactions relevant to business (not necessarily legal transactions). In Roman civil law the following are significant: (1) the pro herede gestio (behaviour as an heir), informal behaviour (e.g. taking possession) as an expression of the desire to come into an inheritance ( Succession, law of). (2) the negotiorum gestio (modern law: conducting business without a commission). In Roman law it concerns all affairs in the conduct of someone else's transactions that are not commissioned (  mandatum ) or…

Abolitio

(109 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] The abolitio, which has come down to us in the Digest title 48,16, is in Roman law discontinuation of criminal proceedings, often with the effect of a pardon (  indulgentia ), but mainly with the possibility of renewing the charge, as with the abolitio publica, ordered by the Senate or in exceptional cases by the emperor, and the abolitio privata, pronounced by the judge at the request of a private prosecutor. The abolitio ex lege, for example, takes effect on the death of the prosecutor. In any event this first appears under the designation abolitio in the imperial period…

Estate register

(390 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] In contrast to the  land register that existed ─ probably based on an Old Egyptian model [1] ─ in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (and, in antiquity, possibly only there) as a safeguard for private property transactions, the primary purpose of estate registers (ER) and similar registers was the levy of land taxes as well as the administration of state leases. Thus, almost inevitably, they were just as widespread as those very forms of state income. A prerequisite for starting up archive…

Crimen

(862 words)

Author(s): Schiemann, Gottfried (Tübingen)
[German version] A. Public criminal prosecution The legal technical category in classical Roman jurisprudence of the Principate applied to public criminal procedures ( iudicium publicum) where crimes were prosecuted based upon accusation (  accusatio ). As with civil legal forms in Roman Law, it is not a characteristic routine legal transaction but should rather be understood as a means of attack and defence in a trial (  actio ,   exceptio ). The meaning of the term crimen predominantly lies in the procedural field. Therefore, crimen appears most frequently in the sources in co…
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