Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.04.10

Pedro López Barja de Quiroga, Esclaves et affranchis à Rome. Las relaciones de dependencia en las Instituciones de GAYO. Índice temático.   Paris:  Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2007.  Pp. 198.  ISBN 978-2-84867-170-3.  €18.00.  

Reviewed by Francesca Reduzzi Merola, University of Naples Federico II (
Word count: 1236 words

In the Introduction (Introducción, pp.7-10) Barja de Quiroga declares his purpose: to study Gaius and his major work and to analyze the connections between Roman law of slavery and its social background through the University of Besançon's thematic index. Preliminarily, he considers Gaius' biography ('Gayo: A. Datos biográficos,' pp. 13-19), reviewing the main hypothesis on the jurist's identity (professor of law, provincial citizen, etc.). His conclusion, based on the references included in Gaius' works (besides the Institutions, also the fragments contained in Justinian's Digest) and on the opinion of the majority of the scholars, is that Gaius was a Roman citizen who lived for some years in the east of the Roman Empire.

'Section B. Las instituciones' (pp. 20-30), paragraph 1. Manuscritos, describes the three principal manuscripts that contain the text, the famous Veronese palimpsest, (a codex rescriptus discovered in 1816 in the capitulary library of Verona by G.B. Niebuhr) and two Egyptian papyri published in the first half of the twentieth century. In paragraph 2. Fecha de publicación, Barja de Quiroga expounds the principal "internal" data (that can be drawn by references included in the same work), which enable dating the Institutions to around the second half of the II century AD. Barja de Quiroga examines particularly II,195, the only occurrence in which the emperor Antoninus Pius -- otherwise mentioned 7 times -- is called divus, analyzing the Institute there mentioned: a legacy left by a Latin (Iunianus) to a colony. Barja de Quiroga defends the authenticity of the passage that had been suspected and considered interpolated. Paragraph 3. Glosas, explains the attempts to apply the interpolation criticism on Gaius' texts and to what extent such methodology must be considered surpassed, since the text of the Institutions is now judged substantially authentic and very near to the original as it was known in the III century AD. Paragraph 4. Los "defectos" de Gayo, is centered on the critical visions of various modern scholars. Barja de Quiroga concludes his defense of Gaius by borrowing a thought from the Neapolitan scholar Antonio Guarino. According to him Gaius' work does not contain more errors or contradictions than many works of contemporary jurists, and furthermore, Justinian highly esteemed Gaius' text, which he took as a model for his Institutions. The last paragraph 5. Gayo en la historia, deals with the fortune of Gaius' text between the III and VIII centuries.

The following chapter is titled 'El index' (pp. 31-155): in the first paragraph, 'A. Criterios utilizados,' Barja de Quiroga illustrated the criteria used to compile the index, based on the Index thématique des références à l'esclavage et à la dépendance, devised several years ago by the Centre d'histoire ancienne of the University of Besançon, today ISTA (Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l'Antiquité). Barja de Quiroga uses four large categories: I. Slaves/dependents and economic structures; II. Slaves/dependents and production relations; III. Slaves/dependents and social practices; IV. Ideologies on the existence and functioning of slavery/dependence: practices and systems.

Barja de Quiroga shows how the index constitutes an open structure. Since it is based on the sources, it can be modified, enlarged and specified in relation to the new texts taken under examination. Its aim is to overcome a synchronic view and to grasp all the transformations that take place in a slave system, although the task is particularly difficult concerning the Institutions, given the rareness of direct quotations of jurists and of imperial measures. Finally, Barja de Quiroga emphasizes that until now the thematic index of Besançon was never applied to legal works and therefore it had only dealt with "real" slaves and masters. In Gaius slaves and masters, freedmen and patrons are abstract entities and this induced Barja de Quiroga to introduce new records/entries. Barja de Quiroga continues with a detailed exposition of the criteria adopted both for the entries that were difficult to adapt to a legal text and for the ones that were expressly created for it.

In my opinion a description of the Index ('Paragraph B. Aplicación directa del Index,' pp. 65-148) would be too complex in comparison with explaining the single records. I will therefore try to show the guidelines of the compilation with some examples. The first record (p. 65) bears the passage I, 9 with the famous division, Et quidem summa divisio de iure personarum haec est, quod omnes homines aut liberi sunt aut servi. The status, shown at the top on the right is servus; the references to the thematic index are: 311 (a), 313 (a), 411 (b); such references, mainly based on Besançon's thematic index, were previously explained by Barja de Quiroga: 311 (a) is the "specific" Terminology of the dependent (i.e., servus, libertus, fugitivus); 313 (a) is individual Dependence (slaves/ private, public, imperial freedmen), 411 (b) is the Definition by opposition (assimilation comparison) with a non-dependent. The second entry is the passage Gai I,10, referring to the status of freedmen. In effect the text says: Rursus liberorum hominum alii ingenui sunt, alii libertini, with references to the entries: 311 (a), 313 (a) and 411 (b), seen above; while the third record concerns Gai I,11: Ingenui sunt, qui liberi nati sunt, libertini, qui ex iusta sevitute manumissi sunt. It refers to the status of freedman, and to references 311 (a), 313 (a), 411 (b), seen above, and to n. 313 (c), Modification of status: promotion (i.e., manumission), regression; 411 (a), Definition of status through a concept, 431: elements of a theory that justifies the appearance or the maintenance of a form of dependence. And thus one proceeds for almost three hundred records. 'Para. C. Aplicación inversa' shows the passages of Gaius that correspond to the numbers of the index.

The last chapter of the book, 'Las relaciones de dependencia' (pp. 157-189), sums up the conclusions that the index work accomplished, while paragraph A. Introducción also offers through the use of statistical tables a general picture of the index that continues in paragraph B. Los Enunciados, e C. Status Socio Jurídico. In para. D. Manumisiones, the laws on manumissions (present in Gaius in no less than 65 paragraphs) are expounded, and therefore Barja de Quiroga examines: 1. La ley Elia Sencia, 2. La ley Junia, demonstrating a great command of legal texts. In paragraph 3. Conclusiones the author offers his thoughts on Gaius' attitude towards the institution of slavery described by the ancient jurist "casi como un antropólogo" (p. 188).

This study places itself in the wake of works such as that of Marcel Morabito on slavery in Justinian's Digest (which Barja de Quiroga knows well and uses) and has the merit of treating for the first time a legal text in the same manner as the literary ones, although with the necessary cautions. It also enhances the possibilities of a textbook-like work such as the Institutions -- not always very popular among ancient classical scholars -- of being used. Surely it opens the way to similar research that could be initiated by historians who have an interest in ancient law or from jurists with a close link to the history of antiquities. Unfortunately, some tables are not always immediately comprehensible to those who do not have great familiarity with the Besançon thematic index: for example the table on p. 159, unclear at first reading, gives the percentage of paragraphs devoted to dependence in the four commentaries of Gaius. At the end of the book there is a good, essential bibliography (pp.191-198).

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