previous next


BASIL´ICA the Greek code of Roman law. About A.D. 876, the Emperor Basil, the Macedonian, commenced this work, which was completed by his son Leo, the philosopher, who reigned from A.D. 886 to 911. Before the reign of Basil, there had been several Greek translations of the Pandects, the Code, and the Institutes; but there was no authorised Greek version of them. The numerous Constitutions of Justinian's [p. 1.293]successors, and the contradictory interpretations of the jurists, were a further reason for publishing a revised Greek text under the imperial authority. This great work was called Ἀνακάθαρσις τῶν παλαιῶν νόμων, τὸ ἑξηκοντάβιβλιον, βασιλικός (ϝόμος) and τὰ βασιλικά. It was revised by the order of Constantine Porphyrogennitus, about A.D. 945. The Basilica comprised the Institutes, Pandects, Code, the Novellae, and the imperial Constitutions subsequent to the time of Justinian, in sixty books, which are subdivided into titles. For the Institutes the paraphrase of Theophilus was used; for the Digest the πλάτος of Stephanus, and the commentary of Cyrillus and of an anonymous author; for the Code the κατὰ πόδας of Thalelaeus and the work of Theodorus; and for the Novellae, except the 168, the Summae of Theodorus, Athanasius, and Philoxenus. The publication of this authorised body of law in the Greek language led to the gradual disuse of the original compilations of Justinian in the East. But the Roman law was thus more firmly established in Eastern Europe and Western Asia, where it has maintained itself among the Greek population to the present day.

The arrangement of the matter in the Basilica is as follows:--All the matter relating to a given subject is selected from the Corpus Juris; the extracts from the Pandect are placed first under each title, then the constitutions of the Code, and next in order the provisions contained in the Institutes and the Novellae, which confirm or complete the provisions of the Pandect. The Basilica does not include all that the Corpus Juris contains; but it preserves numerous fragments of the opinions of ancient jurists, and of imperial constitutions, which are not in the Corpus Juris.

The Basilica were published, with a Latin version, by Fabrot, Paris, 1647, seven vols. folio. Fabrot published only thirty-six books complete, and six others incomplete: the other books were made up from an extract from the Basilica and the Scholiasts. Four of the deficient books were afterwards found in MS., and published by Gerhard Meerman, with a translation by M. Otto Reitz, in the fifth volume of his Thesaurus Juris Civilis et Canonici; and they were also published separately in London, in 1765, folio, as a supplement to Fabrot's edition. The work, however, is still incomplete, not less than 17 out of the 60 books having been lost, and others mutilated. The best edition is that of C. W. E. Heimbach, Leipzig, 1833-51, 5 vols. 4to, with a Supplementum editionis Basilicorum Heimbachianae by C. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, Leipzig, 1846.

(Heimbach, de Basilicorum Origine, Fontibus, &c., Leipzig, 1825; A. F. Rudorff; Röm. Rechtsgeschichte, 1.127, pp. 355-359.)

[W.S] [W.W]

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