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p387 Decretum

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p387 of

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

DECRE′TUM, seems to mean that which is determined in a particular case after examination or consideration. It is sometimes applied to a determination of the consuls, and sometimes to a determination of the senate. A decretum of the senate would seem to differ from a senatus-consultum, in the way above indicated: it was limited to the special occasion and circumstances, and this will be true whether the decretum was of a judicial or a legislative character. But this distinction in the use of the two words, as applied to an act of the senate, was perhaps not always observed. Cicero (ad Fam. XIII.56) opposes edictum to decretum; between which there is, in this passage, apparently the same analogy as between a consultum and decretum of the senate. A decretum, as one of the parts or kinds of constitutio, was a judicial decision in a case before the sovereign, when it was carried to the auditorium principis by way of appeal. Paulus wrote a work in six books on these Imperiales Sententiae. Gaius (Gaius, IV.140), when he is speaking of interdicta, says that they are properly called decreta, "cum (praetor aut proconsul) fieri aliquid jubet," and interdicta when he forbids. A judex is said "condemnare," not "decernere," a word which, in judicial proceedings, is appropriate to a magistratus who has jurisdictio.


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