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FUNDUS

FUNDUS The primary signification of this word appears to be the bottom or foundation of a thing; and its elementary part (fud-) seems to be the same as that of πυθμήν (Curtius, Gr. Etym. 263). Some would include βυθὸς in the comparison; but that word is connected with βαθὺς and βένθος, a different root (ib. 466). The conjectures of the Latin writers as to the etymology of fundus may be safely neglected. Fundus is often used as applied to land, the solid substratum of all man's labours, and means land belonging to a private owner (locus privatus). The land constituting a fundus might be situated either in the town or country (cf. Isid. Orig. 15.13, 4: “fundus et urbanum aedificium et rusticum intelligendum est” ); but fundus commonly means a country estate only. According to Florentinus (Dig. 50, 16.111), the term fundus comprised all land and constructions on it; but usage had restricted the name of aedes to city houses, villae to rural houses, area to a plot of land in a city not built upon, ager to a plot of ground in the country, and fundus to ager cum aedificiis. In its more proper sense, however, ager only includes the arable land of a fundus. This definition of fundus may be compared with the uses of that word by Horace and other writers. In one passage (Ep. 1.2, 47) Horace uses domus with fundus to denote the land and home of a family, domus being apparently there used as equivalent to aedes. The term fundus often occurred in Roman wills and conveyances, the testator frequently indicating the fundus to which his last dispositions referred, by some name such as Sempronianus, Sejanus; sometimes also with reference to a particular tract of country, as “fundus Trebatianus qui est in regione Atellana” (Brissonius, de Fundis, 7.80). A fundus was sometimes devised cum omni instrumento, with its stock and implements of husbandry. Occasionally a question arose as to the extent of the word instrumentum between or among the parties who derived their claim from a testator (Dig. 33, 17, 12).

Fundus has a derived sense which flows easily enough from its primary meaning. “Fundus,” says Festus, “dicitur, populus esse rei, quam alienat, hoc est auctor” [ACTOR]. Compare Plautus, Trin. 5.1, 7 (fundus potior). In this sense fundus esse is to warrant or confirm a thing; and in Gellius (19.8) there is the expression “sententiae legisque fundus subscriptorque fieri.”

[G.L] [E.A.W]

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