was a son of Macedonianus, according to Suidas.
There are in Suidas two articles on Tribonianus, both of which have been supposed to refer to the same person. They are a strange medley of confusion.
The first article begins by saying that Tribonianus was a Greek and an atheist, and in all respects averse to the faith of the Christians; in fact the latter part of the character is an explanation of what the zealot from whom this fragment is taken meant by an atheist.
He is further described as a flatterer and a cheat, and as persuading Justinian that he would not die, but would be translated to heaven in the flesh (Suidas, s. v. Τριβωνιανός
, ed. Gaisford, and the notes).
The foolish compiler seems not to have perceived that a profession of atheism and a promise of heaven to the emperor are hardly consistent things.
He is further said to have had great natural powers, and to have made acquirements inferior to those of no man of his age; but he was wonderfully greedy of money, and he sold justice for lucre ; every day he repealed some laws, and made others, selling to each according to his wants.
This is taken from Procopius (Persica,
He lived many years in honour, and died a natural death, having suffered no ill from any one, for he was cunning, and pleasant in his manners, and he threw a shade over his avarice by the abundance of his learning.
This is the character which we have of the quaestor of Justinian.
The other article appears to be intended by Suidas to refer to another person of the same name, whom he calls a native of Side in Pamphylia, but he also calls him a lawyer or advocate, and a very learned man.
He however makes him a contemporary of Justinian, for one of his works was addressed to the emperor.
The list of his works given by Suidas is a list of trifles; and no legal work is enumerated among them.
It may be safely affirmed that Tribonian the jurist was not the author of any of the works enumerated in this second article of Suidas.
Tribonianus was successively quaestor, consul, and master of the offices to Justinian. In A. D. 531 he was disgraced in consequence of a popular tumult, but he was soon restored, and remained in office until his death in A. D. 545. His name is recorded among those who made the legal compilations of Justinian. In A. D. 528 he was one of the ten commissioners appointed by Justinian to form his first codex : he had at that time the title of " Vir magnificus magisteria dignitate inter agentes decoratus."
In A. D. 530 Tribonianus, then quaestor, was commissioned with sixteen others, to compile the Digest or Pandect; and Tribonianus himself, and the four professors (antecessores) Theophilus, Craterus, Dorotheus and Anatolius, were the most active among the commissioners. In December A.D. 533 the Digest was promulgated as law.
During the time that he was employed on the Pandect, Tribonianus and the two professors, Theophilus and Dorotheus, were commissioned to compile an Institutional work. Tribonian had at this time the title of " Vir magnificus, magister, et Exquaestor sacri palatii nostri" (Instit.
Prooemium), and they took as their basis the Institutional work of Gaius, and produced the four books of the Institutions of Justinian, which were published in November A. D. 533.
The revised or second edition of the Codex was also the work of Tribonianus and four other jurists, and it was published in December A. D. 534. (Constitutio,
It is hardly possible to form any estimate of the services of Tribonianus as distinct from those of the other commissioners.
He had the superintendence of the Digest, and may have taken the chief part in planning the work; and to his activity it was owing, that the large collection of juristical writings was made, from which the compilers selected the materials for the Digest (Constitutio,
He had a well-stocked library of the old writers on law.
As to the compilations made by Tribonian and his associates see the article JUSTINANUS.
Gibbon (100.44) has expanded the scanty and scandalous notices of Procopius (Persica,
1.23, 24, and Anecdota, 13, 20
) and Suidas after his peculiar fashion.
There is a life of Justinian and Tribonian by J. P. de Ludewig, entitled " Vita Justiniani Magni atque Theodorae nec non Triboniani, Hal. 1731."