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[4arg] What sort of slaves Caelius Sabinus, the writer on civil law, said were commonly sold with caps on their heads, and why; and what chattels were sold under a crown in the days of our forefathers; and the meaning of that same expression “under a crown.”

CAELIUS SABINUS, the jurist, has written 1 that it was usual, when selling slaves, to put caps on those for whom the seller assumed no responsibility. He says that the reason for that custom was, that the law required that slaves of that kind be marked when offered for sale, in order that buyers might not err and be deceived; that it might not be necessary to wait for the bill of sale, but might be obvious at once what kind of slaves they were. “Just so,” he says, “in ancient times slaves taken by right of conquest were sold wearing garlands, and hence were said to be sold 'under a crown.' For as the crown was a sign that those who were being sold were captives, so a cap upon the head indicated that slaves were being sold for whom the seller gave the buyer no guarantee.”

[p. 35] There is, however, another explanation of the reason for the common saying that captives were sold “under a crown” namely, because a guard of soldiers stood around the bands of prisoners that were offered for sale, and such a ring of soldiers was called corona. But that the reason which I first gave is the more probable one is made clear by Marcus Cato in the book which he wrote On Military Science.

Cato's words are as follows 2 “That the people may rather crown themselves and go to offer thanks for success gained through their own efforts than be crowned and sold because of ill-success.”

1 Fr. 2, Huschke; De Manc. fr. 19, Bremer.

2 Fr. 2, Jordan, p. 80.

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