Celsus, P. Juve'ntius
a Roman jurist, the son of the subject of the preceding article.
He was an accomplice in a conspiracy against Domitian, along with Nerva (who was afterwards emperor) and others; but although he was denounced to the emperor, he contrived to rescue himself and his companions, by flattering the emperor, by professing his innocence, and by promising to unravel the whole plot, and thus creating delays until the death of Domitian. (D. C. 67.13
; Philostrat. Vit. Apoll. Tyan.
He was afterwards highly favoured by Nerva and his son Trajan. Pliny (Ep,.
6.5) mentions an altercation between him and Licinius Nepos, concerning the cause of Pomponius Rufus Varinus. Celsus was then praetor, and, as the leges annales were at that time religiously observed (Plin. Ep. 7.16
), may be supposed to have been 34 years of age.
This would give A. D. 67 for the year of the birth of Celsus, for the cause of Pomponius Rufus was pleaded when M. Acilius was consul-elect (Plin. Ep. 5.20
), that is to say, in A. D. 101. Celsus was twice consul.
The date of his first consulship is not recorded.
The second occurred A. D. 129, when he had C. Neratius Marcellus for his colleague. (Dig. 5
. tit. 3. s. 20.6.)
He was a friend of Hadrian, and one of that emperor's council (Spartian. Hadrian.
100.18, where for Julius Celsus is to be read Juventius Celsus), and he probably died towards the end of Hadrian's reign, for Julianus, the jurist, in a fragment of a work (Digesta
) which was written in the commencement of the reign of Antoninus Pius (compare Dig. 3
. tit. 5. s. 6.12; 4. tit. 2. s. 18), speaks of Celsus in the past tense:--" Quod etiam Juventio Celso apertissime placuit." (Dig. 28
. tit. 2. s. 28, pr.)
Celsus received legal instruction from his father, and is supposed from several indications in extant passages of his works to have studied philosophy, especially the philosophy of the Stoics. His education was probably attended to with great care, for his style is terse and elegant, and his latinity so pure, that Laurentius Valla and Floridus, who unsparingly criticise the diction of the ancient Roman jurists, find little or nothing to carp at in Celsus.
There are fragments which prove that he was acquainted with Greek. (Dig. 33
. tit. 10. s. 7, 13. tit. 3. s. 3.)
He early commenced the practice of the law. One of his youthful opinions was followed by Julianus, and is cited by Paulus. (Dig. 45
. tit. 1. s. 91.3, unless by Celsus ad olescens
we are here to understand Celsus the younger.) Celsus was manifestly well versed in the writings of his predecessors, for in the 20 pages which his 142 fragments occupy in Hommel (Palingen. Pandect.
), will be found references to Sex. Aelius, Brutus, Cascellius, Cato, Livius Drusus, Q. Mucius Scaevola, Q. Antistius Labeo, C. Trebatius Testa, Aelius Tubero, M.Tullius Cicero, Servius Sulpicius, Nerva, Masurius Sabinus, Semp. Proculus, and Neratius Priscus.
In return, we find him quoted by many of the most eminent later jurists, as Julianus, Pomponius, Maecianus, Ulpian, and Paulus, and by Justinian himself in the Institutes and the Code. In Cod. 6, tit. 2. s. 10 Justinian mentions a curious physiological opinion of Celsus concerning deafness.
He belonged, like his father, to the sect of Proculus, but he was an independent thinker, sometimes differing from Labeo, Nerva, and his own father, and sometimes agreeing with Sabinus and Cassius. (Dig. 47
. tit. 2.. s. 25.1; 21. tit. 2. s. 29, pr.; 12. tit. 4. s. 3. §§ 6, 7; 12. tit. 5. s. 6.)
In the fragments of Celsus there are several passages which betoken great self-confidence and uncivil dogmatism.
In this he deviated from the usual practice (almost amounting to professional etiquette) of jurists ancient and modern. A Roman or an English lawyer would say, "mihi videtur," " I think," " verius est," " the better opinion is ;" but Celsus sometimes omits such modest forms of expression. For example, it appears from Dig. 21
. tit. 2. s. 29, pr., that he called Nerva's opinion false.
But the grossest instance of rudeness occurs in answer to one Domitius Labeo, who inquired whether the person by whose hand a will was written was thereby disqualified front being one of the attesting witnesses. " Juventius Celsus Labeoni suo salutem. Aut non intelligo de quo me consulueris, aut valde stulta est consultatio tua: plus enim quam ridiculum est dubitare, an aliquis jure testis adhibitus sit, quoniam idem et tabulas testamenti scripserit." (Dig. 28
. tit. 1. s. 27.)
This question and this answer obtained such undesirable celebrity among civilians, that silly questions were called Quaestiones Domitianae,
and blunt answers Responsiones Celsinae.
He wrote--1. Digestorum Libri XXXIX.
after the order of the praetor's edict. Seven books of this work, viz. xxx--xxxvi, were occupied by a commentary on the Lex Julia et Papia Poppaea.
This is the only one of the works of Celsus of which pure fragments are preserved in the compilations of Justinian, and perhaps the only one then extant.
It belongs, according to Blume's theory, to the Classis Edictalis of the Digest. 2. Epistolae,
of which Ulpian (Dig. 4
. tit. 4. s. 3.1) cites the llth book. 3. Quaestiones,
which, according to a citation of Ulpian (Dig. 34
. tit. 2. s. 19.3), consisted of at least 19 books. 4. Commentarii,
of which the 7th book is cited by Ulpian. (Dig. 34
. tit. 2. s. 19.6.) 5. Institutiones,
in 7 books, according to the testimony of the old scholiast on Juvenal (6.243). Gravina (Orig. Jur. Civ.
lib. 1.49, p. 68) says, that Celsus left a work De Usucapionibus,
in which he refers to his father; but this statement is given without authority, and appears to be an error partly copied from Panciroli (de Claris Leg. Interp.
p. 44), who cites a passage in the Digest (Dig. 41
. tit. 2. s. 47) referring not to Celsus, but to Nerva filius.
(Heinece. de Juventio Celso,
Op. ii. pp. 518-532; Schott. de Quaestione Domiliana,
Lips. 1771; Hub. Greg. van Vryhoff, Observ. Jur. Civ.
100.35; Neuber, Die juristiche Klassiker,
pp. 133-1451; Kämmerer, Beiträge zur Gesch. u. Theorie des Röm. Rechts,
i. No. 3, pp. 208-226.)