free ebooks

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Itaque siquid erat in illis seditiosum


of Justinian, [78] were instructed

to labor, not for the curiosity of antiquarians, but for the immediate benefit of his subjects. It was their duty to select the useful and practical parts of the Roman law; and the writings of the old republicans, however curious on excellent, were no longer suited to the new system of manners, religion, and government. Perhaps, if the preceptors and friends of Cicero were still alive, our candor would acknowledge, that, except in purity of language, [79] their intrinsic merit was excelled by the school of Papinian and Ulpian. The science of the laws is the slow growth of time and experience, and the advantage both of method and materials, is naturally assumed by the most recent authors. The civilians of the reign of the Antonines had studied the works of their predecessors: their philosophic spirit had mitigated the rigor of antiquity, simplified the forms of proceeding, and emerged from the jealousy and prejudice of the rival sects. The choice of the authorities that compose the Pandects depended on the judgment of Tribonian: but the power of his sovereign could not absolve him from the sacred obligations of truth and fidelity. As the legislator of the empire, Justinian might repeal the acts of the Antonines, or condemn, as seditious, the free principles, which were maintained by the last of the Roman lawyers. [80] But the existence of past facts is placed beyond the reach of despotism; and the emperor was guilty of fraud and forgery, when he corrupted the integrity of their
text, inscribed with their venerable names the words and ideas of his servile reign, [81] and suppressed, by the hand of power, the pure and authentic copies of their sentiments. The changes and interpolations of Tribonian and his colleagues are excused by the pretence of uniformity: but their cares have been insufficient, and the antinomies, or contradictions of the Code and Pandects, still exercise the patience and subtilty of modern civilians. [82]

[Footnote 78: An ingenious and learned oration of Schultingius (Jurisprudentia Ante-Justinianea, p. 883--907) justifies the choice of Tribonian, against the passionate charges of Francis Hottoman and his sectaries.]

[Footnote 79: Strip away the crust of Tribonian, and allow for the use of technical words, and the Latin of the Pandects will be found not unworthy of the silver age. It has been vehemently attacked by Laurentius Valla, a fastidious grammarian of the xvth century, and by his apologist Floridus Sabinus. It has been defended by Alciat, and a name less advocate, (most probably James Capellus.) Their various treatises are collected by Duker, (Opuscula de Latinitate veterum Jurisconsultorum, Lugd. Bat. 1721, in 12mo.) Note: Gibbon is mistaken with regard to Valla, who, though he inveighs against the barbarous style of the civilians of his own day, lavishes the highest praise on the admirable purity of the language of the ancient writers on civil law. (M. Warnkonig quotes a long passage of Valla in justification of this observation.) Since his time, this truth has been recognized by men of the highest eminence, such as Erasmus, David Hume and Runkhenius.--W.]

[Footnote 80: Nomina quidem veteribus servavimus, legum autem veritatem nostram fecimus. Itaque siquid erat in illis seditiosum, multa autem talia erant ibi reposita, hoc decisum est et definitum, et in perspicuum finem deducta est quaeque lex, (Cod. Justinian. l. i. tit. xvii. leg. 3, No 10.) A frank confession! * Note: Seditiosum, in the language of Justinian, means not seditious, but discounted.--W.]


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us