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p921 Plagium

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p921 of

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

PLAGIUM. This offence was the subject of a Fabia Lex, which is mentioned by Cicero (Pro Rabirio c3), and is assigned to the consulship of Quintus Fabius and M. Claudius Marcellus, B.C. 183; but without sufficient reason. The chief provisions of the Lex are collected from the Digest (48. tit. 15 s6): "if a freeman concealed, kept confined, or knowingly with dolus malus purchased an ingenuus or libertinus against his will, or participated in any such acts; or if he persuaded another person's male or female slave to run away from a master or mistress, or without the consent or knowledge of the master or mistress concealed, kept confined, or purchased knowingly with dolus malus such male or female slave, or participated in such acts, he was liable to the penalties of the Lex Fabia." The penalty of the Lex was pecuniary, and the consequence was Infamia; but this fell into disuse, and persons who offended against the lex were punished, either by being sent to work in the mines or by crucifixion, if they were humiliores, or with confiscation of half their property or perpetual relegation, if they were honestiores. The crime of kidnapping men became a common practice and required vigilant pursuit (Suetonius, Octavian. c32). A Senatusconsultum ad Legem Fabiam did not allow a master to give or sell a runaway slave, which was technically called "fugam vendere"; but the provision did not apply to a slave who was merely absent, nor to the case of a runaway slave when the master had commissioned any one to go after him and sell him: it was the object of the provision to encourage the recovery of runaway slaves. The name of the Senatusconsultum, by which the Lex Fabia was amended, does not appear. The word Plagium is said to come from the Greek πλάγιος, oblique, indirect, dolosus. But this is doubtful. Schrader (Inst. 4 18 §10) thinks that the derivation from plaga (a net) is more probable. He who committed plagium was plagiarius, a word which Martial (Ep. I.53) applies to a person who falsely gave himself out as the author of a book; and in this sense the word has come into common use in out language (Dig. 46 tit. 15; Cod. 9 tit. 20; Paulus, S.R. I. tit. 6a; Rein, Das Criminalrecht der Römer, p386).


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