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p301 Codex Justinianeus

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp301‑302 of

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

CODEX JUSTINIANEUS. In February of the year A.D. 528, Justinian appointed a commission, consisting of ten persons, to make a new collection of imperial constitutions. Among these ten were Tribonianus, who was afterwards employed on the Digesta and the Institutiones, and Theophilus, a teacher of law at Constantinople. The commission was directed to compile one code from those of Gregorianus, Hermogenianus, and Theodosius, and also from the constitutions of Theodosius made subsequently to his code, from those of his successors, and from the constitutions of p302Justinian himself. The instructions given to the commissioners empowered them to omit unnecessary preambles, repetitions, contradictions, and obsolete matter; to express the laws to be derived from the sources above mentioned in brief language, and to place them under appropriate titles; to add to, take from, or vary, the words of the old constitutions, when it might be necessary; but to retain the order of time in the several constitutions, by preserving the dates and the consuls' names, and also by arranging them under their several titles in the order of time. The collection was to include rescripts and edicts, as well as constitutiones properly so called. Fourteen months after the date of the commission, the code was completed and declared to be law (16th April, 529) under the title of the Justinianeus Codex; and it was declared that the sources from which this code was derived were no longer to have any binding force, and that the new code alone should be referred to as of legal authority (Constit. de Justin. Cod. Confirmando).

The Digesta or Pandectae, and the Institutiones, were compiled after the publication of this code, subsequently to which fifty decisiones and some new constitutiones also were promulgated by the emperor. This rendered a revision of the code necessary; and accordingly a commission for that purpose was given to Tribonianus, to Dorotheus, a distinguished teacher of law at Berytus in Phoenicia, and three others. The new code was promulgated at Constantinople, on the 16th November 534, and the use of the decisiones, the new constitutiones, and of the first edition of the Justinianeus Codex, was forbidden. The second edition (secunda editio, repetita praelectio, Codex repetitae praelectionis) is the code that we now possess, in twelve books, each of which is divided into titles: it is not known how many books the first edition contained. The constitutiones are arranged under their several titles, in the order of time and with the names of the emperors by whom they were respectively made, and their dates.

The constitutions in this code do not go further back than those of Hadrian, and those of the immediate successors of Hadrian are few in number; a circumstance owing in part to the use made of the earlier codes in the compilation of the Justinian code, and also to the fact of many of the earlier constitutions being incorporated in the writings of the jurists, from which alone any knowledge of many of them could be derived (Constit. De Emendatione Cod. Dom. Justin.).

The constitutions, as they appear in this code, have been in many cases altered by the compilers, and consequently, in an historical point of view, the code is not always trustworthy. This fact appears from a comparison of this code with the Theodosian code and the Novellae. The order of the subject-matter in this code corresponds, in a certain way, with that in the Digest. Thus the seven parts into which the fifty books of the Digest are distributed, correspond to the first nine books of the Code. The matter of the three last books of the Code is hardly treated of in the Digest. The matter of the first book of the Digest is placed in the first book of the Code, after the law relating to ecclesiastical matters, which, of course, is not contained in the Digest; and the three following books of the first part of the Digest correspond to the second book of the Code. The following books of the Code, the ninth included, correspond respectively, in a general way, to the following parts of the Digest. Some of the constitutions which were in the first edition of the Code, and are referred to in the Institutiones, have been omitted in the second edition (Instit. 2 tit. 20 s27; 4 tit. 6 s24). Several constitutions, which have also been lost in the course of time, have been restored by Charondas, Cujacius, and Contius, from the Greek version of them (Zimmern, &c.; Hugo, Lehrbuch der Geschichte des Röm. Rechts, &c.; Böcking, Institutionen).

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