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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

By the master hand of Heineccius


3311: Compare throughout the brief but admirable sketch of the progress and growth of the Roman jurisprudence, the necessary operation of the jusgentium, when Rome became the sovereign of nations, upon the jus civile of the citizens of Rome, in the first chapter of Savigny. Geschichte des Romischen Rechts im Mittelalter.--M.]

[Footnote 34: Dion Cassius (tom. i. l. xxxvi. p. 100) fixes the perpetual edicts in the year of Rome, 686. Their institution, however, is ascribed to the year 585 in the Acta Diurna, which have been published from the papers of Ludovicus Vives. Their authenticity is supported or allowed by Pighius, (Annal. Rom. tom. ii. p. 377, 378,) Graevius, (ad Sueton. p. 778,) Dodwell, (Praelection. Cambden, p. 665,) and Heineccius: but a single word, Scutum Cimbricum, detects the forgery, (Moyle's Works, vol. i. p. 303.)]

[Footnote 35: The history of edicts is composed, and the text of the perpetual edict is restored, by the master-hand of Heineccius, (Opp. tom. vii. P. ii. p. 1--564;) in whose researches I might safely acquiesce. In the Academy of Inscriptions, M. Bouchaud has given a series of memoirs to this interesting subject of law and literature. * Note: This restoration was only the commencement of a work found among the papers of Heineccius, and published after his death.--G. ----Note: Gibbon has here fallen into an error, with Heineccius, and almost the whole literary world, concerning the

real meaning of what is called the perpetual edict of Hadrian. Since the Cornelian law, the edicts were perpetual, but only in this sense, that the praetor could not change them during the year of his magistracy. And although it appears that under Hadrian, the civilian Julianus made, or assisted in making, a complete collection of the edicts, (which certainly had been done likewise before Hadrian, for example, by Ofilius, qui diligenter edictum composuit,) we have no sufficient proof to admit the common opinion, that the Praetorian edict was declared perpetually unalterable by Hadrian. The writers on law subsequent to Hadrian (and among the rest Pomponius, in his Summary of the Roman Jurisprudence) speak of the edict as it existed in the time of Cicero. They would not certainly have passed over in silence so remarkable a change in the most important source of the civil law. M. Hugo has conclusively shown that the various passages in authors, like Eutropius, are not sufficient to establish the opinion introduced by Heineccius. Compare Hugo, vol. ii. p. 78. A new proof of this is found in the Institutes of Gaius, who, in the first books of his work, expresses himself in the same manner, without mentioning any change made by Hadrian. Nevertheless, if it had taken place, he must have noticed it, as he does l. i. 8, the responsa prudentum, on the occasion of a rescript of Hadrian. There is no lacuna in the text. Why then should Gaius maintain silence concerning an innovation so much more important than that of which he speaks? After all, this question becomes of slight interest, since, in fact, we find no change in the perpetual edict inserted in the Digest, from the time of Hadrian to the end of that epoch, except that made by Julian, (compare Hugo, l. c.) The latter lawyers appear to follow, in their commentaries, the same texts as their predecessors. It is natural to suppose, that, after the labors of so many men distinguished in jurisprudence, the framing of the edict must have attained such perfection that it would have been difficult to have made any innovation. We nowhere find that the jurists of the Pandects disputed concerning the words, or the drawing up of the edict. What difference would, in fact, result from this with regard to our codes, and our modern legislation? Compare the learned Dissertation of M. Biener, De Salvii Juliani meritis in Edictum Praetorium recte aestimandis. Lipsae, 1809, 4to.--W.]

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