Hermogenianus, Aurelius (?)

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Diocletian (284—305)

Maximian (b. c. 250)

magister libellorum

Justinian (483—565) Byzantine emperor 527–65

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A Roman lawyer of the late 3rd and early 4th cent. ad; of a systematic cast of mind, he came from the eastern empire and, to judge from evidence both of style and access to material, was Diocletian's magister libellorum (master of petitions) from the beginning of ad 293 to the end of 294, after which he probably served Maximian in the west in the same capacity. He used the spare and uncompromising rescripts (replies to petitions) which he drafted in that capacity, along with some western material, as the basis for his compilation of imperial laws (Codex Hermogenianus), probably completed in Milan in 295. Two further editions were published in the author's lifetime, at least one more after his death. His Codex remained in use until superseded by Justinian's Codex of 528, which incorporated many of its laws. Around 300 Hermogenianus wrote six books (libri) of Iuris epitomae (‘Summaries of the Law’), a synopsis of classical legal writing, in which the sources are not identified. An inscription uncovered in Brescia in 1983 shows that an Aurelius Hermogenianus, probably the same man, became praetorian prefect under Constantius Caesar not later than 305. He is important as the first lawyer who made an effort to reduce the law to a small number of basic principles, such as respect for the individual will, from which solutions to concrete problems could be deduced. This effort was further developed by the natural law and historical schools of jurisprudence from the 17th cent. onwards.

Tony Honoré

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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