Gaius (jurist)
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Gaius (; '' fl.'' AD 130–180) was a Roman jurist. Scholars know very little of his personal life. It is impossible to discover even his full name, Gaius or Caius being merely his personal name ('' praenomen''). As with his name it is difficult to ascertain the span of his life, but it is safe to assume he lived from AD 110 to at least AD 179, since he wrote on legislation passed within that time. From internal evidence in his works it may be gathered that he flourished in the reigns of the emperors
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Trâiānus Hadriānus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born in Italica (close to modern Santiponce in Spain), a Roman '' municipium'' founded by Italic settlers in Hispan ...
,
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
,
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Latin: áːɾkus̠ auɾέːli.us̠ antɔ́ːni.us̠ English: ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD and a Stoic Stoic may refer to: * An adherent of Stoicism; one whose moral qu ...
and
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor who ruled from 177 to 192. He served jointly with his father Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Latin: áːɾkus̠ auɾέːli.us̠ antɔ́ːni.us̠ English: ...
. His works were thus composed between the years 130 and 180. After his death, however, his writings were recognized as of great authority, and the emperor
Theodosius II Theodosius II ( grc-gre, Θεοδόσιος, Theodosios; 10 April 401 – 28 July 450) was Roman emperor for most of his life, proclaimed '' augustus'' as an infant in 402 and ruling as the eastern Empire's sole emperor after the death of hi ...
named him in the '' Law of Citations,'' along with
Papinian Aemilius Papinianus (; grc, Αἰμίλιος Παπινιανός; 142 CE–212 CE), simply rendered as Papinian () in English, was a celebrated Roman jurist, ''magister libellorum'', attorney general (''advocatus fisci'') and, after the d ...
, Ulpian, Modestinus and Paulus, as one of the five jurists whose opinions were to be followed by judicial officers in deciding cases. The works of these jurists accordingly became most important sources of
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
. Besides the '' Institutes'', which are a complete exposition of the elements of Roman law, Gaius was the author of a treatise on the ''Edicts of the Magistrates'', of ''Commentaries on the
Twelve Tables The Laws of the Twelve Tables was the legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve ...
'', and on the important ''Lex Papia Poppaea'', and several other works. His interest in the antiquities of Roman law is apparent, and for this reason his work is most valuable to the historian of early institutions. In the disputes between the two schools of Roman jurists he generally attached himself to that of the Sabinians, who were said to be followers of Ateius Capito, of whose life we have some account in the ''
Annals Annals ( la, annāles, from , "year") are a concise historical record in which events are arranged chronologically, year by year, although the term is also used loosely for any historical record. Scope The nature of the distinction between an ...
'' of
Tacitus Publius Cornelius Tacitus, known simply as Tacitus ( , ; – ), was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. The surviving portions of his two major works—the ...
, and to advocate a strict adherence as far as possible to ancient rules, and to resist innovation. Many quotations from the works of Gaius occur in the '' Digest,'' created by Tribonian at the direction of
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus, ; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. His reign is marked by the ambitious but ...
, and so acquired a permanent place in the system of Roman law; while a comparison of the '' Institutes of Justinian'' with those of Gaius shows that the whole method and arrangement of the later work were copied from that of the earlier, and very numerous passages are word for word the same. The ''Digest'' and the ''Institutes of Justinian'' are part of the '' Corpus Juris Civilis.'' Probably, for the greater part of the period of three centuries which elapsed between Gaius and Justinian, his ''Institutes'' had been the familiar textbook for all students of Roman law.


The ''Institutes''

The '' Institutes'' of Gaius, written about the year AD 161, was an introductory textbook of legal institutions divided into four books: the first treating of persons and the differences of the status they may occupy in the eye of the law; the second of things, and the modes in which rights over them may be acquired, including the law relating to wills; the third of intestate succession and of obligations; and the fourth of actions and their forms. Another circumstance which renders the work of Gaius more interesting to the historical student than that of Justinian, is that Gaius lived at a time when actions were tried by the system of ''formulae,'' or formal directions given by the '' praetor'' before whom the case first came, to the ''judex'' to whom he referred it. Without a knowledge of the terms of these ''formulae'' it is impossible to solve the most interesting question in the history of Roman law, and show how the rigid rules peculiar to the ancient law of Rome were modified by what has been called the equitable jurisdiction of the praetors, and made applicable to new conditions, and brought into harmony with the notions and the needs of a more developed society. It is clear from evidence of Gaius that this result was obtained, not by an independent set of courts administering, as in England previous to the Judicature Acts, a system different from that of the ordinary courts, but by the manipulation of the ''formulae''. In the time of Justinian the work was complete, and the formulary system had disappeared. The work was lost to modern scholars, until, in 1816, a palimpsest was discovered by B. G. Niebuhr in the chapter library of Verona, in which some of the works of St. Jerome were written over some earlier writings, which proved to be the lost work of Gaius. The greater part of the palimpsest has, however, been deciphered with the help of August von Bethmann-Hollweg, and the text is now fairly complete. More recently, two sets of
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, '' Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to ...
fragments have been found. The discovery of Gaius' work has thrown a flood of light on portions of the history of Roman law which had previously been most obscure. Much of the historical information given by Gaius is wanting in the compilations of Justinian, and, in particular, the account of the ancient forms of procedure in actions. In these forms can be traced "survivals" from the most primitive times, which provide the science of comparative law with valuable illustrations, which may explain the strange forms of legal procedure found in other early systems. There are several editions of the ''Institutes'', beginning with the '' editio princeps'' of I. F. L. Göschen (Berlin, 1820). The author of the 1911
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-d ...
article recommends the English edition of Edward Poste published in 1885, which includes an English translation and copious commentary. More recent editions include E. Seckel and B. Kuebler (8th edition; Leipzig, 1939); Francis de Zulueta, containing his own Latin text with an English translation and commentary (1946); and W. M. Gordon and O. F. Robinson (London, 1988), with an English translation and the Latin text by Seckel and Kuebler. A comparison of the early forms of action mentioned by Gaius with those used by other primitive societies will be found in Sir Henry Maine's ''Early Institutions'', chapter 9. For further information see M. Glasson, ''Étude sur Gaius et sur le jus respondendi''. The relief of Gaius located over the gallery doorway at the Chambers of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. was sculpted by Joseph Kiselewski.


Quotation

"The law is what the people order and establish", ''Institutiones, 1.2.3''.In the original
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
: "Lex est quod populus iubet atque constituit


See also

* Law of Citations *
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
* Legal history


Notes


External links

*
A collection of resources maintained by professor Ernest Metzger

''The Roman Law Library'' by Professor Yves Lassard and Alexandr Koptev
{{DEFAULTSORT:Gaius Ancient Roman jurists Silver Age Latin writers 2nd-century Romans