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Whose family came from Samnium in central Italy, was a leading Roman lawyer of the age of Augustus and died between 10 and 22 ad. His father Pacuvius, also a lawyer, was killed fighting for the republican cause. As a member of a commission to reconstitute the senate in 18 bc he showed his independent spirit. Out of sympathy with the new order, his political career stopped at the praetorship: the consulship belatedly offered him by Augustus he refused. Sextus Pomponius (Dig. 1. 2. 2. 47) and Tacitus (Ann. 3. 75) contrast his attachment to republican principle with the obsequiousness of his contemporary Ateius Capito. Taught by his father, and by Gaius Trebatius Testa, and by others, he acquired expertise not only in law but in dialectics, language, literature, and grammar, which he brought to bear on legal problems. Author of many innovations, he divided his time equally between teaching in Rome and writing in the country, and composed in all some 400 books. He drew a line, as it were, under republican jurisprudence, which was henceforth cited largely through him. He was also, after Gaius Aquillius Gallus, the first important figure to devote himself to legal science to the exclusion of political concerns. Sextus Pomponius speaks of him as the founder of the Proculian school, presumably because of his intellectual breadth and attachment to principle. In time his works were superseded, so that, though much cited by Ulpian, Justinian's compilers had available for excerpting only his Pithana (‘Persuasive Views’) and Posteriora (posthumous works) selected and edited by Javolenus Priscus

Tony Honoré

Subjects: History of Law.

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