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SENECA, DE BENEFICIIS 6.19.5—A NEGLECTED TEXT ON ROMAN PUBLIC LAW

  • Miriam Griffin (a1) and Andrew Lintott (a2)

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si quis patriae meae pecuniam credat, non dicam me illius debitorem nec hoc aes alienum profitebor aut candidatus aut reus: ad exsoluendum tamen hoc dabo portionem meam.

If anyone were to lend money to my country, I will not call myself his debtor nor will I declare this as money owed either when a candidate or when prosecuted: nevertheless, I will contribute my share to paying off the debt.

Miriam Griffin drew attention to the comment of Justus Lipsius: ‘a defendant might have to make such a declaration in cases involving financial penalties, such as extortion and peculation, for when the litis aestimatio [‘assessment of damages’] was made, it would be important to know who the other claimants to the convicted man's assets were, and how encumbered his property was.’ No further elucidation, however, has been made since Lipsius. Mommsen failed to record this passage in his Staatsrecht and Strafrecht, and, as far as we know, no monograph on Roman criminal law mentions the passage of Seneca.

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1 Griffin, M.T., Seneca on Society. A Guide to De Beneficiis (Oxford, 2013), 299300.

2 Lipsius, J., L. Annaei Senecae Opera (Antwerp, 1652 4), 353.

3 Basore, J.W., Seneca: Moral Essays III (Cambridge, Mass., 1935), 402.

4 See Griffin, M., ‘Latin philosophy and Roman law’, in Harte, V. and Lane, M. (edd.), Politeia in Greek and Roman Philosophy (Cambridge, 2013), 96115 with references to earlier literature.

5 Eck, W., ‘Die lex Troesmensium: ein Stadtgesetz für ein municipium ciuium Romanorum’, ZPE 200 (2016), 565606, B.1–3. Eck emended minores sint to minorue res sit in this passage: (K. XVII) [dum ne rationem habeat eius quoi ipsei, cum] petet, patri auoue paterno proauoue paterni | aui patri cuius in potestate sit, mino<rue> res si{n}t quam | ut eum adlegendum numero dec(urionum) conscriptorumue esse | inue eum numerum legi oporteat. ‘(Ch. XVII) [provided that he does not accept as candidate the man who, at the time of his] candidature, is subject to the power of his father, or paternal grandfather, or great grandfather, father of the paternal grandfather, or has less property than is required for him to be fit to be added to the number of the local senators or those enrolled or elected to that number’ (our translation).

6 Lintott, A., ‘M. Caelius Rufus and Pausanias’, CQ 30 (1980), 385–6.

7 See Lintott, A., Judicial Reform and Land Reform in the Roman Republic (Cambridge, 1992), 28.

SENECA, DE BENEFICIIS 6.19.5—A NEGLECTED TEXT ON ROMAN PUBLIC LAW

  • Miriam Griffin (a1) and Andrew Lintott (a2)

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