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p420 Domicilium

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on pp420‑421 of

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

DOMICI′LIUM. This word signifies a man's regular place of abode. It was used in the Lex Plautia Papiria in such a manner, that when that lex was enacted, B.C. 89, the word domicilium must have had a fixed meaning: "Si qui foederatis civitatibus adscripti fuissent, si tum cum lex ferebatur in Italia domicilium habuissent, et si sexaginta diebus apud praetorem essent professi." (Cicero, Pro Archia, c4). This further appears from another passage in the same chapter: "At domicilium Romae non habuit: is qui tot annis ante civitatem datam sedem omnium rerum ac p421fortunarum suarum Romae collocavit;" and this indirect definition agrees, in part, with one in the Code, which will presently be cited.

There are various definitions of domicilium in the Corpus Juris. One of these (Dig. 50 tit. 1 s27 § 1) determines that a person must be considered to have his domicilium in a municipium, if he buys and sells there, attends the public spectacles, keeps the festival days there, and, in fine, enjoys all the advantages of the municipium, and none of the colonia, or the place where he is merely for the purpose of cultivation (ubi colendi ruris causa versatur). In another passage (Cod. 10 tit. 40 (39) s7), it is stated that a civis is made by origo, manumissio, allectio vel adoptio; but that domicilium, as an edict of Divus Hadrianus declares, makes a person an incola. Domicilium is then defined in the following terms: "In eo loco singulos habere domicilium non ambigitur ubi quis larem rerumque ac fortunarum summam constituit, unde rursus non discessurus si nihil advocet, unde cum profectus est peregrinari videtur, quod (quo?) si rediit, peregrinari jam destitit."

In a passage in the Digest (Dig. 50 tit. 1 s5), "incolam esse" and "domicilium habere" are used as equivalent terms.

It was important, for many purposes, to determine where a man had his permanent abode. An incola was bound to obey the magistrates of the place where he was an incola, and also the magistrates of the place where he was a civis; and he was not only subject to the municipal jurisdiction in both municipia, but he was bound to perform all public functions (publica munera). If a man was bound (obligatus), to pay a sum of money in Italy, and had his domicilium in a provincia, he might be sued either in Italy or in the province (Dig. 5 tit. 1 s19, § 4). A son followed the civitas which was the naturalis origo of his father, and did not follow his father's domicilium. If a man had no legal father (justus pater), he followed the origo of his mother. In the Praescriptio longi temporis decem vel viginti annorum, it was enacted by Justinian, that the ten years' prescription should apply, if both parties (tam petens quam possidens) had their domicilium in the same provincia; if the two parties had not their domicilium in the same province, the prescription of twenty years applied (Cod. 7 tit. 33 s12).

The modern law of Domicile is a branch of what is sometimes called international law; and many of the principles which are admitted in modern times are founded on the Roman rules (The Law of Domicile by Robert Phillimore, 1847; Burge, Commentaries on Colonial and Foreign Laws, vol. I).


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