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CODEX ACCEPTI ET EXPENSI Each Roman citizen kept at least two account books: (1) The Adversaria, a kind of wastebook or day-book, in which he entered day by day, according as they occurred, the several transactions in which he took part. It is especially noticed that the entries in the adversaria were carelessly (negligenter) jotted down (dejecta) in no regular order (Cic. pro Rosc. Com. 2, 7--a most important passage) [ADVERSARIA]; yet it is most likely that the transactions of each day were kept separate. They seem accordingly to be called ephemerides in Prop. 4.23, 20. Such would be practically the easiest way of entering these memoranda at the time of jotting them down, and would certainly be most convenient when posting the entries into the codex.

(2) The Codex Accepti et Expensi (Cic. pro Rosc. Com. 1, 2; Verr. 2.76, 186)--also called tabulae, codices (Cic. pro Rosc. Com. l.c.), domestica ratio (Ascon. in Verr. 2.1, 23, 60)--into which the entries of the adversaria were carefully posted each month. It undoubtedly consisted of a series of double pages (Plin. Nat. 2.22)--one debit (acceptum), the other credit (expensum); hence the book is sometimes called codices. The entries were made in a certain ordo, which is much insisted on as being of the essence of the codex, as opposed to the adversaria (Cic. pro Rosc. Com. 2, 6, 7; Verr. 3.75, 175). Now this ordo was no doubt chronological, the date by year and day being given (Dig. 2, 13, 1, 2); but if it was only this, as is Schüler's view (Die Litterarum obligatio, p. 16), it could be regarded as little else than a fair copy of the adversaria. So we must suppose that the codex was somewhat like the Journal of modern book-keepers (except indeed that it had two pages, the line corresponding to each entry on the opposite page being left blank: see Pagenstecher, de Litt. obligatione, &c. p. 18), in which there are certain heads of accounts (rationes, Cic. Verr. 2.77, 188), partly accounts with individuals and partly accounts of separate departments of business. For example, that there was a profit and loss account may be inferred from the common expressions such as apponere lucro; lucri, damni facere=lucri, damni nomine facere (cf. Cic. Ver. 3.45, 107; Ascon. in Verr. 2.1, 23, 60): that Atticus kept a separate head for presents may be inferred from Cic. Att. 2.4, 1. So we may suppose that a paterfamilias would have one separate account (say) for each of his wards, another for his farming operations, another for household expenses, another for money invested, and so on. The arranging under such separate heads appears to have been called digerere (Cic. pro Rosc. Com. 3, 9). In the codex these accounts were then probably kept separate, the individual entries (nomina, Cic. l.c.) under each account being arranged for the month in chronological order. For the creditor to book a transaction with a person in the codex was called nomen facere (hence the term came to mean “to lend money,” Senec. Benef. i. 1, 2), and constituted the ground of a literal contract [LITTERARUM OBLIGATIO]. As the accounts were usually personal, the general term for an entry was nomen; a term afterwards transferred, as we saw, to nominal accounts. It was expected that the greatest care would be observed in posting the codex, no erasures or corrections allowed to appear (Cic. Ver. 2.76, 187 ff.; 1.36, 92), and sufficient details of each transaction given to afford knowledge of particulars and preclude any mistakes in case another person had occasion to consult the book (Cic. 2 Verr. 1.14, 36). If an entry had to be made subsequently to the posting of the codex (e. g. in the case of disputed claims legally settled only after long delay), a note had to be appended, A.F.P.R. (=ante factum post relatum): cf. Cic. de Orat. 2.69, 280. Extraordinariae pecuniae were sums entered out of their proper order; that is, which were not entered under one of the usual heads of accounts in the codex, either entirely omitted or entered as “extraordinariae,” like the “sundries” of careless housekeepers. (Cic. pro Rosc. Com. 1, 4; Verr. 2.1, 39, 100, 102.) The term came to have the additional connotation of money used for or acquired by dishonourable means (e. g. bribery); [p. 1.466]for either the books would not balance, or, if they did by an entry of “extraordinariae,” it was only dishonourable transactions which would require to be veiled under this vague title. (Schol. on Cic. Verr. l.c.) Cicero (l.c.) speaks of such entries as severely reprehensible. The result was that with properly kept accounts the whole state of a man's income must be apparent, and no surplus or deficiency in any department fail to come under his notice (Cic. Clu. 30, 82).

There is specific evidence of entry on the debit side (acceptum ferre or referre, acceptilatio) of money paid back by debtors (Plin. Ep. 2.4), interest received (Dig. 3, 5, 38), legacies received (Dig. 32, 29, 2), the rent of leased land or buildings (Dig. 33, 1, 91, 3-6), price of goods sold (Cic. Ver. 4.6, 12), presents received (ib. 1.39, 100, 102), loans received (Liv. 26.36, 11): and on the credit side (expensum ferre, referre, expensilatio), price of goods bought (Cic. Ver. 1.23, 61), presents given (Cic. Att. 2.4, 1), capital lent out (Liv. 6.20, 6), and doubtless repayment of loans and interest thereon; in fact, all money paid out (Ascon. ad Verr. 1.39, 102).

It must not be supposed that it was only actual cash transactions which were entered in the codex. No doubt all entries were in terms of cash: but the actual cash payments and receipts ( “Dr. to Cash” and “Cash Dr. to so and so” ) of our modern book-keeping were called Arcaria nomina (Gaius, 3.131, 132). These stand in opposition to Transcriptitia nomina, a term to be explained in connexion with the Litterarum Obligatio. It is frequently insisted on that the codex exhibits the whole state of a man's affairs (Cic. Clu. 30, 82; Font. 1, 3), and we cannot suppose that all his transactions would be ready-money ones.

The codex was sufficient for the ordinary householder; but of course those who had extensive business transactions--such as the state, municipalities, companies, bankers--had to keep ledgers (rationes, libri rationum), each personal or nominal account being called ratio. Private individuals too, who had large property, had often to keep separate books for different heads of their business; e. g. the calendaria, which were accounts of investments made and--dividends received.

For other points, such as the relation of Transcriptitia nomina to the codex, and the importance of the latter in establishing a literal obligation, see LITTERARUM OBLIGATIO and the literature cited under that head; but more especially for the codex, H. Schüler, Die Litterarum obligatio, 1842, pp. 6-32; E. Pagenstecher, De Litterarum obligatione et de rationibus tam domesticis quam argentariorum, 1851, pp. 13-26; and, above all, W. Rein, Das Privatrecht der Römer, 1858, pp. 677-681.


hide References (18 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (18):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.4
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 82
    • Cicero, For Sextus Roscius of Ameria, 1
    • Cicero, For Sextus Roscius of Ameria, 2
    • Cicero, For Sextus Roscius of Ameria, 3
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.61
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.2.187
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.3.107
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.4.12
    • Cicero, For Aulus Cluentius, 30
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 2.69
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.22
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 2.4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 36
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 20
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 11
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