CODEX ACCEPTI ET EXPENSI
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)
]; 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
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
pro Rosc. Com.
(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.
)--one debit (acceptum
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;
3.75, 175). Now this ordo
was no doubt chronological, the date by year and day being
given (Dig. 2
); but if it was only
this, as is Schüler's view (Die Litterarum
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,
18), in which there are certain heads of accounts (rationes, Cic.
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
(cf. Cic. Ver.
; Ascon. in
2.1, 23, 60): that Atticus kept a separate head for presents
may be inferred from Cic. Att. 2.4
. 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,
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
(hence the term came to mean
“to lend money,” Senec. Benef. i.
1, 2), and
constituted the ground of a literal contract [LITTERARUM
]. 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.
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.
, 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]
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.
l.c.) Cicero (l.c.
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
There is specific evidence of entry on the debit side (acceptum ferre
) of money paid back by debtors (Plin. Ep. 2.4
), interest received (Dig.
received (Dig. 32
), the rent of leased land or buildings (Dig. 33
of goods sold (Cic. Ver. 4.6, 12
), presents received (ib. 1.39, 100, 102),
loans received (Liv. 26.36
): and on the credit side (expensum ferre,
), price of goods bought (Cic. Ver. 1.23, 61
), presents given (Cic. Att. 2.4
), capital lent out (Liv. 6.20
), and doubtless repayment
of loans and interest thereon; in fact, all money paid out (Ascon. ad
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
It is frequently insisted on that the codex exhibits
state of a man's affairs (Cic. Clu. 30
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
), each personal or nominal account being called
Private individuals too, who had
large property, had often to keep separate books for different heads of
their business; e. g. the calendaria,
accounts of investments made and--dividends received.
For other points, such as the relation of Transcriptitia
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,