A leading lawyer of the Severan age and a close associate of the emperor Septimius Severus. In ad 205 he became praetorian prefect, but on the death of Septimius in 211 was dismissed by Caracalla (see Aurelius Antoninus ). After the murder of Caracalla's brother and joint emperor Septimius Geta in 212, he was prosecuted by the praetorians and, without protest from Caracalla, put to death, an event which entered into legend as the martyrdom of a just man.
Papinian is best known for 37 books of ‘Problems’, and 19 of ‘Ordered Opinions’, not confined to his own practice but drawing on a wide range of sources. His efforts to explore the ethical basis of legal rules goes along with a more crabbed style than is usual with Roman lawyers, but when properly understood his reasoning is as impressive as his technical mastery. Papinian was long regarded as the greatest Roman lawyer.
Subjects: Classical Studies.