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 p807  Novellae

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p807 of

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

NOVELLAE or NOVELLAE CONSTITUTIO′NES form a part of the Corpus Juris. Most of them were published in Greek, and their Greek title is Αὐτοκρατορος Ἰουστινιανου Αὐγουστου Νεαραι Διαταξεις. Some of them were published in Latin and some in both languages. The first of these Novellae of Justinian belongs to the year A.D. 535 (Nov. 1), and the latest to the year A.D. 565 (Nov. 137); but most of them were published between the years 535 and 539. These Constitutiones were published after the completion of the second edition of the Code, for the purpose of supplying what was deficient in that work. Indeed it appears that on the completion of his second edition of the Code the Emperor designed to form any new constitutions, which he might publish, into a body by themselves so as to render a third revision of the Code unnecessary, and that he contemplated giving to this body the name of Novellae Constitutiones (Const. Cordi. s4). It does not however appear that any official compilation of these new constitutions appeared in the lifetime of Justinian. The Greek text of the Novellae, as we now have them, consists of 165 Novellae at the least, or 168 as some make of it, of which 159 belong to Justinian and the rest to Justin the Second and to Tiberius: they are generally divided into chapters.

A large part of these Novellae relate to the administration of the state and to ecclesiastical affairs; but a considerable number relate to Privatum Jus, and they modified or altered many rules of law.

There is a Latin Epitome of these Novellae by Julian, a teacher of law at Constantinople, which contains 125 Novellae. The Epitome was probably made in the time of Justinian, and the author was probably Antecessor at Constantinople.

There is also another collection of 134 Novellae, in a Latin version made from the Greek text. This collection is generally called Authenticum or Liber Authenticorum; the compiler and the time of the compilation are unknown. This collection has been made independently of the Greek compilation. It is divided into nine Collationes, and the Collationes are divided into tituli. This was the collection which the Glossatores considered as having the authority of law.

The most complete work on the history of the Novellae is by Biener, Geschichte der Novellen. See also Beitrag zur Litterar-Geschichte des Novellen-Auszugs von Julian, Von Haubold, Zeitschrift, &c. vol. 1v. The history of the collections of the Novellae is very confused, and it is impossible to state it correctly in a short space (Puchta, Inst. I § 147).

After the publication of his Codex, Theodosius made various new enactments under the name of Novellae Constitutiones, or Novellae Leges, as to which see Codex Theodosianus.

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Page updated: 14 Feb 20