The technical meanings of this word
correlate with those of auctor. The auctoritas
was not a senatus consultum;
it was a measure, incomplete in itself, which received its completion by
some other authority. Similarly in private law the tutor
was said auctoritatem
when he gave his sanction to such acts of his ward as
would otherwise have been ineffectual (Gaius, 1.190).
An act which required the order or approval of a magistrate was said to be
done by the authority of such magistrate (auctoritas
praetoris, auctoritate principis adoptare,
, tit. 7, s. 2, pr.).
The word auctoritas
is used to express the force
and validity of statute law, of legal opinion, and of decided cases
(auctoritas legis, sententiae, rerum perpetuo
Auctoritas sometimes signifies the obligation, of the auctor
in case the purchaser is evicted (Paul. 2.17.1, 3), as
also the action by [p. 1.247]
which the auctor
may be made liable (Dig. 21
tit. 2, s. 76.) It thus comes to mean the title by which property is held
(Cic. Top. 4
, 23; pro Caecin.
26, 74). It was a provision of the XII.
Tables that no title by usucapion could be acquired in respect to a stolen
thing (res furtiva,
Gaius, 2.45), which is thus
expressed in the Atinian law as given in Gellius, 17.7
: “Quod subreptum erit, ejus rei aeterna auctoritas esto
;” i. e. the owner from whom the thing had been stolen retained his
title, however long he might be out of possession (Cic. de Off. 1.1. 2
(As to the expression usus auctoritas,
In the imperial constitutions auctoritas is used as a title of honour (Cod.
Theod. 5.13, 15, 17: “Illustris et magnifica auctoritas tua” ).
The other meanings of auctoritas may be easily derived from the primary
meaning of the word, and from the explanations here given.