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p554 Fundus

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p554 of

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

FUNDUS. The primary signification of this word appears to be the bottom or foundation of a thing; and its elementary part (fud), seems to be the same as that of βυ-θος and πυθ-μην, the n in fundus being used to strengthen the syllable. The conjectures of the Latin writers as to the etymology of fundus may be safely neglected.

Fundus is often used as applied to land, the solid substratum of all man's labours. According to Florentinus (Dig. 50 tit. 16, s211) the term fundus comprised all land and constructions on it; but usage had restricted the name of aedes to city houses, villae to rural houses, area to a plot of ground in the country, and fundus to ager cum aedificiis. This definition of fundus may be compared with the uses of that word by Horace, and other writers. In one passage (Ep. I.2.47), Horace places domus and fundus in opposition to one another, domus being apparently there used as equivalent to aedes.

The term fundus often occurred in Roman wills, and the testator frequently indicated the fundus, to which his last dispositions referred, by some name, such as Sempronianus, Seianus; sometimes also, with reference to a particular tract of country, as Fundus Trebatianus qui est in regione Atellana (Brissonius, de Formulis, VII.80). A fundus was sometimes devised cum omni instrumento, with its stock and implements of husbandry. Occasionally a question arose as to the extent of the word instrumentum, between or among the parties who derived their claim from a testator (Dig. 33 tit. 17 s12).

Fundus has a derived sense which flows early enough from its primary meaning. "Fundus," says Festus, "dicitur populus esse rei, quam alienat, hoc est auctor." [Auctor.] Compare Plautus, Trinum. V.1.7 (fundus potior). In this sense "fundus esse" is to confirm or ratify a thing; and in Gellius (XIX.8) there is the expression "sententiae legisque fundus subscriptorque fieri." [Foederati.]

For the division of fundi
and the persistence of their names thru modern times,
see this section of the article Ager.

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