previous next


A word meaning that which is determined in a particular case after examination or consideration. It is thus applied to a resolution of the Senate.

A decretum of the Senate would seem to differ from a senatusconsultum, in that it was limited to the special occasion and circumstances instead of being of general application. But this distinction in the use of the two words, as applied to an act of the Senate, is not consistently observed.

Cicero (Ad Fam. xiii. 56) opposes edictum to decretum, between which there is in this passage apparently the same analogy as between a consultum and a decretum of the Senate.

Decretum is the technical term for the decision and order which a magistrate gives in a particular case after an inquiry into its circumstances (causae cognitio). A iudex is said condemnare not decernere; the latter word being appropriate in judicial proceedings to a magistrate who has iurisdictio. A decretum, as one of the kinds of imperial constitutions, was a judicial decision in a case before the emperor in his capacity of supreme magistrate; cases were brought into the imperial court (consistorium principis) by supplicationes or provocationes of suitors.

The interpretations of law laid down by the emperor in his decreta were, as a rule, binding on all courts in subsequent cases.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: