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CAUPO The nature of the business of a caupo is explained by Gaius (Dig. 4, 9, 5): “Caupo ... mercedem accipit non pro custodia, sed ut viatores manere in caupona patiatur ... et tamen custodiae nomine tenetur.” Thus he lodged travellers in his house, and was answer-able for the safe custody of their property while remaining there, his liability being of two distinct kinds.

1. He was answerable as on a quasi-or implied contract to take extreme care of such property: “nautae caupones stabularii quod cujusque salvum fore receperint nisi restituent in eos judicium dabo” (Dig. 4, 9, 1, pr.); he was responsible for custodia, and not merely for culpa, so that loss of or damage to such property not attributable to damnum fatale or vis major (Dig. ib. 3, 1) fell on his shoulders, though for unavoidable calamity--such as robbery, lire, or the like--he could not be called to account. The introduction of the praetorian action ( “recepti nautarum cauponum,” &c.) was due to the desire to exact a high responsibility where great confidence was placed (Dig. ib. 1, pr.): the civil actions on hire (locati conducti) or bailment (deposit) would often lie against the caupo, but the former was of no use unless there had been at least culpa levis, and the latter availed only in cases of dolus and culpa lata. But the obligation of custodia could be excluded by express agreement between the parties.

2. He was answerable as on a quasi-delict (as we should say, he was vicariously liable in tort) for theft of such property by his employés or slaves, or for all damage done to it by them while under his charge (Inst. 4.5, 3; Dig. 47, 5; 44, 7, 5, 6), and he seems to have been similarly liable when the actual delinquent was merely another person staying in the house (Dig. 47, 5, 1, 6). The penalty in this case was double the value of the property stolen, or double the loss occasioned by damage (Dig. 47, 5, 1, 2); and here, too, the action was in factum, i.e. praetorian in origin (Inst. loc. cit.).


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