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High Roman magistrates (praetors, aediles, quaestors, censors, the governors of provinces) proclaimed by edicts the steps which they intended to take in the discharge of their office. Formally an edict was valid only for the term of office of the magistrate issuing it, but the new magistrate customarily took over his predecessor's edict, with only such deletions or additions as he thought desirable. The content of the edict therefore remained largely constant. The edict of the urban praetor was esp. important for the development of the private law. His province was in form merely to apply the existing laws affecting Roman citizens, but in his edict he was able to promise new actions and other remedies and thus to create a mass of new rules. In the formulation of his edict and in its administration during his year of office, the praetor would rely on the advice of jurists (see lawyers, roman). It was no doubt this indirect professional control which enabled the edict to play its vital formative function in the private law. Hadrian commissioned the jurist Salvius Iulianus to compose a revised version of the edict (c.ad 130), which was confirmed by a senatus consultum. It thus acquired a permanent form (ēdictum perpetuum) and the praetors lost the power to change it.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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