free ebooks

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Qui talem in liberos habeant potestatem qualem nos habemus


[Footnote

9911: Since the time of Gibbon, the House of Peers has been more than doubled: it is above 400, exclusive of the spiritual peers--a wise policy to increase the patrician order in proportion to the general increase of the nation.--M.]

[Footnote 100: If the option of a slave was bequeathed to several legatees, they drew lots, and the losers were entitled to their share of his value; ten pieces of gold for a common servant or maid under ten years: if above that age, twenty; if they knew a trade, thirty; notaries or writers, fifty; midwives or physicians, sixty; eunuchs under ten years, thirty pieces; above, fifty; if tradesmen, seventy, (Cod. l. vi. tit. xliii. leg. 3.) These legal prices are generally below those of the market.]

[Footnote 101: For the state of slaves and freedmen, see Institutes, l. i. tit. iii.--viii. l. ii. tit. ix. l. iii. tit. viii. ix. Pandects or Digest, l. i. tit. v. vi. l. xxxviii. tit. i.--iv., and the whole of the xlth book. Code, l. vi. tit. iv. v. l. vii. tit. i.--xxiii. Be it henceforward understood that, with the original text of the Institutes and Pandects, the correspondent articles in the Antiquities and Elements of Heineccius are implicitly quoted; and with the xxvii. first books of the Pandects, the learned and rational Commentaries of Gerard Noodt, (Opera, tom. ii. p. 1--590, the end. Lugd. Bat. 1724.)]

The law of nature instructs most animals

to cherish and educate their infant progeny. The law of reason inculcates to the human species the returns of filial piety. But the exclusive, absolute, and perpetual dominion of the father over his children, is peculiar to the Roman jurisprudence, [102] and seems to be coeval with the foundation of the city. [103] The paternal power was instituted or confirmed by Romulus himself; and, after the practice of three centuries, it was inscribed on the fourth table of the Decemvirs. In the forum, the senate, or the camp, the adult son of a Roman citizen enjoyed the public and private rights of a person: in his father's house he was a mere thing; [1031] confounded by the laws with the movables, the cattle, and the slaves, whom the capricious master might alienate or destroy, without being responsible to any earthly tribunal. The hand which bestowed the daily sustenance might resume the voluntary gift, and whatever was acquired by the labor or fortune of the son was immediately lost in the property of the father. His stolen goods (his oxen or his children) might be recovered by the same action of theft; [104] and if either had been guilty of a trespass, it was in his own option to compensate the damage, or resign to the injured party the obnoxious animal. At the call of indigence or avarice, the master of a family could dispose of his children or his slaves. But the condition of the slave was far more advantageous, since he regained, by the first manumission, his alienated freedom: the son was again restored to his unnatural father; he might be condemned to servitude a second and a third time, and it was not till after the third sale and deliverance, [105] that he was enfranchised from the domestic power which had been so repeatedly abused. According to his discretion, a father might chastise the real or imaginary faults of his children, by stripes, by imprisonment, by exile, by sending them to the country to work in chains among the meanest of his servants. The majesty of a parent was armed with the power of life and death; [106] and the examples of such bloody executions, which were sometimes praised and never punished, may be traced in the annals of Rome beyond the times of Pompey and Augustus. Neither age, nor rank, nor the consular office, nor the honors of a triumph, could exempt the most illustrious citizen from the bonds of filial subjection: [107] his own descendants were included in the family of their common ancestor; and the claims of adoption were not less sacred or less rigorous than those of nature. Without fear, though not without danger of abuse, the Roman legislators had reposed an unbounded confidence in the sentiments of paternal love; and the oppression was tempered by the assurance that each generation must succeed in its turn to the awful dignity of parent and master. [Footnote 102: See the patria potestas in the Institutes, (l. i. tit. ix.,) the Pandects, (l. i. tit. vi. vii.,) and the Code, (l. viii. tit. xlvii. xlviii. xlix.) Jus potestatis quod in liberos habemus proprium est civium Romanorum. Nulli enim alii sunt homines, qui talem in liberos habeant potestatem qualem nos habemus. * Note: The newly-discovered Institutes of Gaius name one nation in which the same power was vested in the parent. Nec me praeterit Galatarum gentem credere, in potestate parentum liberos esse. Gaii Instit. edit. 1824, p. 257.--M.]


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