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AUCTOR´ITAS The technical meanings of this word correlate with those of auctor. The auctoritas senatus 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 interponere, 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, Dig. 1, 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 similiter judicatarum).

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; Dirksen, Zwölf-Tafel-Fragm. p. 447). (As to the expression usus auctoritas, see USUCAPIO

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.

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

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 1.1
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 17.7
    • Cicero, Topica, 4
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