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p363 Corpus Juris Civilis

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp363‑364 of

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

CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS. The three great compilations of Justinian, the Institutes, the Pandect or Digest, and the Code, together with the Novellae, form one body of law, and were considered as such by the glossatores, who divided it into five volumina. The Digest was distributed into three volumina, under the respective names of Digestum Vetus, Infortiatum, and Digestum Novum. The fourth volume contained the first nine books of the Codex Repetitae Praelectionis. The fifth volume contained the Institutes, the Liber Authenticorum or Novellae, and the three last books of the Codex. The division into five volumina appears in the oldest editions; but the usual arrangement now is, the Institutes, Digest, the Code, and Novellae. The name Corpus Juris Civilis was not given to this collection by Justinian, nor by any of the glossatores. Savigny asserts that the name was used in the twelfth century: at any rate, it became common from the date of the edition of D. Gothofredus, 1604.

Most editions of the Corpus also contain the following matter:— Thirteen edicts of Justinian, five constitutions of Justin the younger, several constitutions of Tiberius the younger, a series of constitutions of Justinian, Justin, and Tiberius; 113 Novellae of Leo, a constitution of Zeno, and a number of constitutions of different emperors, under the name of Βασιλικαὶ Διατάξεις or Imperatoriae Constitutiones; the Canones Sanctorum et venerandorum Apostolorum, Libri Feudorum, a constitution of the emperor Frederick II, two of the emperor Henry VII called Extravagantes, and a Liber de pace Constantiae. Some editions also contain the fragments of the Twelve Tables, of the praetorian edict, &c.

The Roman law, as received in Europe, consists only of the Corpus Juris, that is, the three compilations of Justinian and the Novellae which were issued after these compilations; and further, this Corpus Juris is only received within the limits and in the form which was given to it in the school of Bologna. Accordingly, all the Ante-Justinian law is now excluded from all practical application; also, the Greek texts in the Digest, in the place of which the translations received at Bologna are substituted; and further, the few unimportant restorations in the Digest, and the more important restorations in the Codex. Of the three collections of Novellae, that only is received which is called Authenticum, and in the abbreviated form which was given to it at Bologna, called the Vulgata.

But, on the other hand, there are received the additions made to the Codex in Bologna by the reception of the Authentica of the Emperors Frederick I and II, and the still more numerous Authentica of Irnerius. The application of the matter comprised within these limits of the Corpus Juris has not been determined by the school of Bologna, but by the operation of other principles, such as the customary law of different European countries and the development of law. Various titles of the Corpus Juris have little or no application in modern times; for instance, that part of the Roman law which concerns constitutional forms and administration. (Savigny, System des Heut. Römischen Rechts, vol. I p66).

Some editions of Corpus Juris are published with the glossae, and some without. The latest edition with the glossae is that of J. Febius, Lugd. 1560‑61, folio, which was several times reprinted; Contius, Lugd. 1571 and 1581, 15 vols. 12mo; Lud. Charondae, Antw. ap. Christ. Plantin. 1575, folio; Dionys. Gothofredi, Lugd. 1583, 4to. p364of which there are various editions, one of the best by Sim. Van Leeuwen, Amst. 1663, folio; G. Chr. Gebaueri, cura G. Aug. Spangenberg, Goetting. 1776‑1797, 2 vols. 4to; Schrader, 1 vol. 4to, Berlin, 1832, of which only the Institutes are yet published.

For further information on the editions of the Corpus Juris and its several portions, see Böcking, Institutionen, p78, &c., and Mackeldey, Lehrbuch, &c. § 97a, 12th ed.


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