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Bill Thayer

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[right arrow]  This is an article about a Byzantine legal text.
If you are looking for the Basilica (a type of Roman building),
and/or any one of more than 20 specific examples of it in Rome,
see this separate article of Smith's Dictionary.

p200 Basilica

Unsigned article on p200 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

BASI′LICA. About A.D. 876, the Greek emperor Basilius, the Macedonian, commenced this work, which was completed by his son Leo, the philosopher, who reigned from A.D. 886 to 911. Before the reign of Basilius, there had been several Greek translations of the Pandect, the Code, and the Institutes; but there was no authorised Greek version of them. The numerous constitutions of Justinian's successors, and the contradictory interpretations of the jurists, were a further reason for publishing a revised Greek text under the imperial authority. This great work was called Ἀνακάθαρσις τῶν παλαιῶν νόμων, τὸ ἐξηκοντάβιβλιον, ὁ βασιλικός (νόμος) and τὰ βασιλικά. It was revised by the order of Constantine Porphyrogenneta, about A.D. 945. The Basilica comprised the Institutes, Pandect, Code, the Novellae, and the imperial Constitutions subsequent to the time of Justinian, in sixty books, which are subdivided into titles. For the Institutes the paraphrase of Theophilus was used, for the Digest the πλάτος of Stephanus, and the commentary of Cyrillus and of an anonymous author, for the Code the κατὰ πόδας of Thalelaeus and the work of Theodorus, and for the Novellae, except the 168, the Summae of Theodorus, Athanasius, and Philoxenus. The publication of this authorised body of law in the Greek language led to the gradual disuse of the original compilations of Justinian in the East. But the Roman law was thus more firmly established in Eastern Europe and Western Asia, where it has maintained itself among the Greek population to the present day.

The arrangement of the matter in the Basilica is as follows:— All the matter relating to a given subject is selected from the Corpus Juris; the extracts from the Pandect are placed first under each title, then the constitutions of the Code, and next in order the provisions contained in the Institutes and the Novellae, which confirm or complete the provisions of the Pandect. The Basilica does not contain all that the Corpus Juris contains; but it contains numerous fragments of the opinions of ancient jurists, and of imperial Constitutions, which are not in the Corpus Juris.

The Basilica were published, with a Latin version, by Fabrot, Paris, 1647, seven vols. folio. Fabrot published only thirty-six books complete, and six others incomplete: the other books were made up from an extract from the Basilica and the Scholiasts. Four of the deficient books were afterwards found in MS., and published by Gerhard Meerman, with a translation by M. Otto Reitz, in the fifth volume of his Thesaurus Juris Civilis et Canonici; and they were also published separately in London, in 1765, folio, as a supplement to Fabrot's edition. A new critical edition, by C. Guil. E. Heimbach, Leipzig, 1833, &c., 4to., has been commenced (Böcking, Institutionen, vol. I p105).

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Page updated: 4 Mar 02