previous next


ACTOR generally means a plaintiff in a civil action, but is sometimes used for a prosecutor in a public or criminal trial. The plaintiff in a civil action is also called petitor, and one who prosecutes another for a crime accusator (Cic. Att. 1.1. 6; Dig. 48, tit. 2). The defendant was called reus, both in private and public causes; reus, however, in a general sense, meant a party to an action or other legal proceeding, and so is used by Cicero for the plaintiff as well as the defendant (De Orat. 2.43). In a private action the defendant was often called adversarius but either party might be called adversarius in opposition to the other. As free persons who were under potestas had no independent property, they could not, as a rule, be plaintiffs in an action, but certain actions could be maintained by filii, as well as patres familias (Dig. 9, 44, 7). In respect to peculium castrense and quasi-castrense a filius familias was in the position of an independent person. Actions on behalf of wards (pupilli) who were below the age of seven were brought by their guardian (tutor); actions on behalf of wards above the age of seven were either brought by their guardian, or, as was more commonly the case, the action was brought in the name of the ward with the sanction (auctoritas) of the guardian. Peregrini or aliens could not maintain an action under the early form of procedure called legis actio; in later procedure, partly by means of feigned assumptions of citizenship (Gaius, 4.37), they became capable of suing and being sued. Persons who appeared in actions as representatives of the parties directly concerned were called cognitores or procurators [ACTIO]. A universitas or corporate body was represented for the purposes of procedure by an agent, who was called actor or syndicus (Dig. 3, tit. 4).

Actor has also the sense of an agent or manager of another's business generally; so a slave who was given the management of an estate, and put over other slaves, is termed actor. (Plin. Ep. 3.19.2; Paul. Sent. 3.6, 47, 48.)

The actor publicus was the officer who had the superintendence or care of slaves belonging to the state ; he was himself a slave or freedman. In the case mentioned by Pliny (Plin. Ep. 7.18.2) the actor publicus was the representative of the community (respublica) of Comum (Tac. Ann. 2.30; 3.67).

The actor rerum privatarum nostrarum was the manager of the emperor's private estate (Cod. Just. 3.26, 9).

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

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: