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Africa'nus, Sex. Caeci'lius

a classical Roman jurisconsult, who lived under Antoninus Pius. He was probably a pupil of Salvius Julianus, the celebrated reformer of the Edict under Hadrian. [JULIANUS, SALVIUS.] He consulted Julian on legal subjects (Dig. 25. tit. 3. s. 3.4).


There is a controverted passage in the Digest (Africanus libro vicesimo Epistolarum apud Julianum quaerit, &c. Dig. 30. tit. i. s. 39), which has been explained in various ways; either that he published a legal correspondence which passed between him and Julianus, or that he commented upon the epistolary opinions given by Julianus in answer to the letters of clients, or that he wrote a commentary upon Julianus in the form of letters. On the other hand, Julianus "ex Sexto" is quoted by Gaius (2.218), which shews that Julianus annotated Sextus, the formula "ex Sexto" being synonymous with "ad Sextum." (Neuber, die jurist. Klassiker, 8. 9.) Who was Sextus but Africanus ? Africanus was the author of " Libri IX Quaestionum," from which many pure extracts are made in the Digest, as may be seen in Hommel's "Palingenesia Pandectarum," where the extracts from each jurist are brought together, and those that are taken from Africanus occupy 26 out of about 1800 pages.

From his remains, thus preserved in the Digest, it is evident that he was intimately acquainted with the opinions of Julianus, who is the person alluded to when, without any expressed nominative, he uses the words ait, caistimarit, negarit, putavit, inquit, respondit, placet, notat. This is proved by Cujas from a comparison of some Greek scholia on the Basilica with parallel extracts from Africanus in the Digest. Paullus and Ulpian have done Africanus the honour of citing his authority. He was fond of antiquarian lore (Dig. 7. tit. 7. s. l, pr. where the true reading is S. Caccilius, not S. Aelius), and his "Libri IX Quaestionum," from the conciseness of the style, the great subtlety of the reasoning, and the knottiness of the points discussed, so puzzled the old glossators, that when they came to an extract from Africanus, they were wont to exclaim Africani lex, id est difficilis. (Heinecc. Hist. Jur. Rom. § cccvi. n.) Mascovius (de Sectis Jur. 4.3) supposes that Africanus belonged to the legal sect of the Sabiniani [CAPITO], and as our author was a steady follower of Salvius Julianus, who was a Sabinian (Gaius, 2.217, 218), this supposition may be regarded as established. In the time of Antoninus Pius, the distinction of schools or sects had not yet worn out.


Among the writers of the lives of ancient lawyers (Pancirollus, Jo. Bertrandus, Grotius, &c.) much dispute has arisen as to the time when Africanus wrote, in consequence of a corrupt or erroneous passage in Lampridius (Lamp. Alex. Sev. 68), which would make him a friend of Severus Alexander and a disciple of Papinian. Cujas ingeniously and satisfactorily disposes of this anachronism by referring to the internal evidence of an extract from Africanus (Dig. 30. tit. 1. s. 109), which, assumes the validity of a legal maxim that was no longer in force when Papinian wrote.

Sextus Caecilius Africanus and the jurist mentioned in the Digest as Caecilius

For reasons which it would be tedious to detail, we hold, contrary to the opinion of Ménage (Amoen. Jur. c. 23), that our Sextus Caecilius Africanus is identical with the jurist sometimes mentioned in the Digest by the name Caecilius or S. Caecilius. and also with that S. Caecilius whose dispute with Favorinus forms an amusing and interesting chapter in the Noctes Atticae. (Gel. 20.1.) Gellius perhaps draws to some extent upon his own invention, but, at all events, the lawyer's defence of the XI I Tables against the attacks of the philosopher is "ben trovato." There is something humorously cruel in the concluding stroke of the conversation, in the pedantic way in which our jurisconsult vindicates the decemviral law against debtors--partis secanto, &c.--by the example of Metius Fufetius, and the harsh sentiment of Virgil: “At tu dictis, Albane, maneres.


The remains of Africanus have been admirably expounded by Cujas (ad Africanum tractatus IX. in Cujac. Opp. vol. 1), and have also been annotated by Scipio Gentili. (Scip. Gentilis, Diss. I-IX ad Africanum 4to. Altdorf. 1602-7.)

Further Information

Strauchius, Vitae aliquot veterum jurisconsultorum, 8vo. Jen. 1723; I. Zimmern, Röm. Rechtsgeschichte, § 94.


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