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BONAM CO´PIAM JURA´RE

BONAM CO´PIAM JURA´RE to take an oath to one's competence or solvency, is a phrase which occurs in a passage of Varro (de Ling. Lat. 7.105) and also in the Lex Julia municipalis. The passage in Varro states that there was a provision of a certain law by which all those qui bonam copiam jurarent were released so as to be no longer nexi. Owing to the corrupt state of the text in this passage, it cannot be clearly ascertained what law is referred to. According to Bethmann-Hollweg (Civil-Prozess, § 113), the Lex Plaetoria is meant, which he supposes to have contained a temporary provision whereby those who were nexi at the time of its passing were released if they complied with the condition prescribed. Others think that the Lex Poetelia is the law in question (Liv. 8.28; Cic. de Rep. 2.33, 34).

In the Lex Julia municipalis or Tabula Heracliensis we find that anyone “queive . . . . in jure abjuraverit, bonamve copiam juravit juraverit,” is included in the class of infames.

Thus, according to this law, a person qui bonam copiam juravit incurred to some extent the penalty of insolvency. This seems to show that such an oath was taken by a debtor when in default. It may have been allowed when a debtor was granted an extension of time for payment, or it may have reference to a composition with creditors. A debtor “qui bonam copiam juravit” would escape imprisonment; a benefit extended by the Lex Julia to all those who made cessio bonorum.

The phrase bonam copiam ejurare is used by Cicero (Cic. Fam. 9.16; cf. Festus, Epit. v. ejuratio), and is usually interpreted to mean the taking of an oath by a debtor to the fact of his insolvency. Mommsen restores the text in the above passage of the Lex Julia and reads “queive in jure bonam copiam abjuravit,” &c., thus identifying bonam copiam abjurare with bonam copiam ejurare. But perhaps abjurare in this passage simply means to perjure, and has no connexion with bonam copiam. It has been suggested that ejurare in the phrase bonam copiam ejurare is used in an intensive sense for jurare (cf. Cic. de Or. 2.7. 0, § 285; Verr. 3.60.137; Nonius, p. 105, ejurare = valde jurare), so that bonam copiam ejurare is equivalent to bonam copiam jurare. (Huschke, Nexum; Dirksen, Civilist. Abhandlung, p. 107; Marezoll, Frag. Tabul. Heracl. 1816, 4.142; Bethmann-Hollweg, Civil-Prozess, 2.113.)

[E.A.W]

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