Justinian and mathematics: an analysis of the Digest’s compilation plan
AuthorFurlong, P. J.
Source TitleAustralian Journal of Legal History (AJLH)
PublisherAustralian Scholarly Publishing
University of Melbourne Author/sFURLONG, PIERCE
AffiliationArts: Department of History
Arts: Centre for Classics and Archaeology
Document TypeJournal (Paginated)
CitationsFurlong, P. J. (2005). Justinian and mathematics: an analysis of the Digest’s compilation plan. Australian Journal of Legal History, 9(1), 85-117.
Access StatusThis item is currently not available from this repository
This paper supersedes an earlier version of this work appearing on Tony Honoré's web site at: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~alls0079/
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The compilation of the Digest comprised the major component of the acclaimed Second Law Commission of Justinian the Great. The commission was formed on 15 December 530 and concluded three years later on 16 December 533. Its task was to edit and condense almost 1000 years of Roman legal writing; this it achieved in a single volume of fifty books. The question that has intrigued modern legal historians is how was the final compilation realised. The first major advance in answering this question occurred in 1820, when Bluhme proposed that the original books of legal writings (libri) had been excerpted in an orderly manner to produce four masses (bodies of text), which were subsequently combined during an editing stage to form the Digest. Bluhme also argued that these four masses had been assigned to three committees, which he named the Sabinian, the Edictal and the Papinian; the smaller fourth mass, the Appendix, having later been appended to the Papinian mass. Subsequently, Krueger made some minor amendments to Bluhme’s list. This revised list, which shows the order in which the committees excerpted their material, is called the Bluhme-Krueger Ordo. The next major insight into the Digest’s compilation came in the 1970s when Honoré proposed that each of the three committees was divided into two subcommittees for the purpose of excerpting. I utilise Honoré’s quantitative analysis of the Digest to provide a detailed statistical and arithmetical argument that the commissioners were operating under a pre-ordained plan in which the existing body of legal writing was to be reduced to precisely 5% of the total number of libri lines available to the commission. Moreover, I show how by understanding this key to the Digest’s compilation one can reveal various other details of the commission’s work, including an identification of the excerpting and editing contributions of specific commissioners, as well as the commission’s general timetable.
KeywordsJustinian the Great; Second Law Commission; Corpus Iuris; Digest; Codex Iustinianus; Deo-auctore; C Tanta; C Imperatoriam; Tribonian; Constantinus; Theophilus; Dorotheus; Anatolius; Cratinus; Sabinian; Edictal; Papinian; Bluhme-Kreuger Ordo; Honoré; Nika riots; quantitative analysis
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