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 p76  Alluvio

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p76 of

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

ALLU′VIO. "That," says Gaius (Gaius, II.70, &c.), "appears to be added to our land by alluvio, which a river adds to our land (ager) so gradually that we cannot estimate how much is added in each moment of time; or, as it is commonly expressed, it is that which is added so gradually as to escape observation. But if a river (at once) takes away a part of your land, and brings it to mine, this part still remains your property." There is the same definition by Gaius in his Res Cotidianae (Dig.41 tit. 1 s7), with this addition:— "If the part thus suddenly taken away should adhere for a considerable time to my land, and the trees on such part should drive their roots into my land, from that time such part appears to belong to my land." The acquisitio per alluvionem was considered by the Roman jurists to be by the jus gentium, in the Roman sense of that term; and it was comprehended under the general head of Accessio. A man might protect his land against loss from the action of a river by securing the banks of his land (Dig.43 15; De Ripa Munienda), provided he did not injure the navigation.

If an island was formed in the middle of a river, it was the common property of those who possessed lands on each bank of the river; if it was not in the middle, it belonged to those who possessed lands on that bank of the river to which it was nearest (Gaius, II.72). This is explained more minutely in the Digest (41 tit. 1 s7). A river means a public river (flumen publicum).

According to a constitution of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, there was no jus alluvionis in the case of agri limitati, for a certain quantity (certus cuique modus) was assigned by the form of the centuriae (Dig.41 tit. 1 s16; comp. Aggenus Urbicus, in Frontin. Comment. De Alluvione, pars prior, ed. Goes; and Ager.) Circumluvio differs from alluvio in this, that the whole of the land in question is surrounded by water, and subject to its action. Cicero (De Orat. I.38) enumerates the jura alluvionum and circumluvionum as matters included under the head of causae centumvirales.

The doctrine of alluvio, as stated by Bracton in the chapter De acquirendo Rerum Dominio (fol. 9), is taken from the Digest (41 tit. 1 s7), and is in several passages a copy of the words of Gaius, as cited in the Digest.

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Page updated: 26 Jan 20