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Gaius, Gaia


A praenomen very common at Rome to both sexes. (On the name see F. D. Allen in Harvard Studies in Class. Philology, iii. pp. 71-87 [1891]). C (the old form of G), in its natural position, denoted the name of the male, and when reversed, that of the female; thus, C was equivalent to Gaius ; but C to Gaia. Female praenomina, which were marked with an inverted capital, were, however, early disused among the Romans. The custom after this was, in case there was only one daughter, to name her after the gens. If there were two, to distinguish them by maior and minor added to their names; if there were more than two, they were distinguished by their number, Prima, Secunda, etc. Thus we have, in the first case, Tullia, the daughter of Cicero; Iulia, the daughter of Caesar; and in the second, Cornelia Maior, Cornelia Minor, etc. (See Nomen.) Gaius and Gaia are the typical names of husband and wife in Roman usage; and at weddings the bridegroom and bride were called respectively Gaius and Gaia (cf. Festus, s. v. Gaia; and the marriage formula pronounced by the bride, Ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia).


One of the most accomplished professors of Roman law and writers on that subject. He was a native of the Asiatic provinces, and spent his days in Rome under Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius (about A.D. 110-180). His writings were numerous; but we possess in a tolerably complete form nothing but his Institutiones, or introduction to the private law of the Romans. This was discovered by Niebuhr in 1816 on a palimpsest of the fifth century at Verona, having before been known in quotations only. The work is in four books, the first of which treats of the family, the second and third of property, and the fourth of legal procedure. Popular and intelligible without being superficial, it was a favourite hand-book of law, and served as a foundation for the Institutiones of Justinian. As a jurist Gaius belongs to the conservative school of the Sabiniani. (See Ateius Capito.) The first edition of Gaius was that of Göschen and Hollweg (Berlin, 1820), the third edition being revised by Lachmann (Berlin, 1842). The best text is now that of Huschke in the Tenbner series; while translations into English with commentaries have been made by Abdy and Walker (Cambridge, 1870), E. Poste (Oxford, 1875), Muirhead (Edinburgh, 1880), and Mears (London, 1882).

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