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Sextus Pomponius

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A Roman lawyer of the 2nd cent. ad who wrote under Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. A teacher and prolific writer, the author of over 300 books (libri), he seems not to have given responsa (consultative opinions) nor to have held public office. His relation to the Sabinian and Proculian schools is problematic; but there is (disputed) evidence that he was at one time an associate of Gaius (2) (Dig. 45. 3. 39). His Enchiridium (Introduction to Law), from which Justinian's compilers excerpted a long passage (Dig. 1. 2. 2), is of great interest for its account of the history of the Roman constitution and the legal profession. It was the first and for long the only work on legal history. But the text, perhaps taken from a student's notes of lectures shortly before 131 ad, is garbled and contains many errors. Pomponius' large-scale commentaries included thirty-nine books of readings on Quintus Mucius (see SCAEVOLA), thirty-five on Masurius Sabinus' ius civile (Civil Law), and perhaps 150 on the praetor's edict: we know of a citation from book 83 which deals with a topic that comes little more than halfway through the edict. Ulpian, an admirer, made great use of this work, which was not available to Justinian's compilers. There were also extensive casuistic works, Epistulae (Letters) and Variae lectiones (Varied Readings). In all Justinian's compilers included over five hundred passages from Pomponius in their Digesta. Dealing meticulously with unlikely as well as likely hypotheses, Pomponius' work not only founded the study of legal history but made a solid contribution to the analysis and structure of Roman private law.

Tony Honoré

Subjects: Classical studies

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