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La'beo, Domi'tius

In Dig. 28. tit. 1. s. 27, is contained an epistle of Domitius Labeo to Juvcntius Celsus, with the rude answer of the latter [CELSUS, Vol. I. p. 662]. In Dig. 41. tit. 3. s. 30.1, Pomponius cites Labeo Libris Epistolarum, and Cujas supposes that for Labeo should be read Javolenus, as the Libri Epistolarum of Antistius Labeo the jurist are nowhere else mentioned ; but there is nothing unusual in the work of a jurist being ἅπαξ λεγόμενον.

It is not unlikely, indeed, that the Libri Epistolarum cited by Pomponius is identical with the Libri Responsorum of Antistius Labeo, of which the 15th book is cited by Ulpian, in Coll. Leg. Rom. et Mos. 12.7. We have Labeo rescribit in Dig. 37. tit. 1. s. 3.1. and in Dig. 33. tit. 7. s. 12.35, we find the expression Neratius, lib. iv. epistolarum respondit, showing that epistolae and responsa may be used synonymously. As the proposed alteration of Cujas is unnecessary, so there is no need for the conjecture of Bertrandus (De Jurisp. 1.10.9), that the Labeo mentioned in Dig. 41. tit. 3. s. 30.1. is Domitius Labeo. In Dig. 28. tit. 1. s. 27, Domitius Labeo is the questioner, and it is the jurist who is questioned from whom we should expect the publication of Epistolae. There is nothing even to prove that Domitius Labeo was a jurist, though he is classed as such by Cotta, Rivallius, Eberlinus and others. It is true that one jurist sometimes consulted another, as Atilicinus consulted Proculus (Dig. 23. tit. 4. s. 17), but epistolae were more frequently addressed to jurists by non-professional persons. B. Rutilius (Vitae Ictorum, 100.60) seems to think that in Dig. 35. tit. 1. s. 39.40, the extract is taken from one Labeo, and contains a citation of another Labeo, and that Domitius Labeo cites the earlier jurist, Antistius Labeo; but in the extract referred to, it is Javolenus who cites Antistius Labeo. (Guil. Grot. de Vit. Ict. 2.4.8; Ménage, Amoen. Jur. 100.20; Alphen, de Javoleno, 4.2.)

It has been supposed by some that the ignorance of law manifested by Domitius Labeo in his celebrated letter, is rather an argument that he was not a jurist, and Celsus has been thought unpolite, but not hasty, in charging him with folly. But F. Kämmerer (Beiträge zur Geschichte und Theorie des Römischen Rechts, pp. 208-226) has shown that this question may have a deeper meaning than is commonly supposed. We find from Ulpian (Dig. 28. tit. 1. s. 21.2. that in wills where there ought to be testes rogati, one who was accidentally present alterius rei causa could not be a witness. Ulpian qualifies the rule, by saying that a person, though asked to come for another purpose, might be a witness, if specially informed before the attestation that he was wanted as such. The question of Domitius Labeo may mean to ask whether a person, invited to write the will, and not specially to witness it, was a good witness, if he signed without further intimation that his testimony was required.


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