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p459 Emptio et Venditio

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p459 of

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

EMPTIO ET VENDITIO. The contract of buying and selling is one of those which the Romans called ex consensu, because nothing more was required than the consent of the parties to the contract (Gaius, III.135, &c.). It consists in the buyer agreeing to give a certain sum of money to the seller, and the seller agreeing to give the buyer some certain thing for his money; and the contract is complete as soon as both parties have agreed about the thing that is to be sold and about the price. No writing is required, unless it be part of the contract that it shall not be complete till it is reduced to writing (Dig.44 tit. 7 s.2; Inst. 3 23). After the agreement is made, the buyer is bound to pay his money, even if the thing which is the object of purchase should be accidentally destroyed before it is delivered; and the seller must deliver the thing with all its intermediate increase. The purchaser does not obtain the ownership of the thing till it has been delivered to him, unless the thing is sold on credit (Dig. 19 tit. 1 s.11 §2). If he does not pay the purchase money at the time when it is due, he must pay interest on it. The seller must also warrant a good title to the purchase [Evictio], and he must also warrant that the thing has no concealed defects, and that it has all the good qualities which he (the seller) attributes to it. It was with a view to check frauds in sales, and especially in the sales of slaves, that the seller was obliged by the edict of the curule aediles [Edictum] to inform the buyer of the defects of any slave offered for sale: "Qui mancipia vendunt, certiores faciant emptores quod morbi vitiique," &c. (Dig. 21 tit. 1). In reference to this part of the law, in addition to the usual action arising from the contract, the buyer had against the seller, according to the circumstances, an actio ex stipulatu, redhibitoria, and quanti minoris. Horace, in his Satires (II.3.286), and in the beginning of the second epistle of the second book, alludes to the precautions to be taken by the buyer and seller of a slave.


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