Avalon Project

    THOSE PERSONS WHO Are Not To Be Tried While They Hold a Magistracy or the Imperium. A dictator, consul, praetor, master of the horse, censor, aedile, plebeian tribune, quaestor, triumvir capitalis, triumvir for granting and assigning lands, or military tribune in any of the first four legions shall not be summoned to court as long as he holds a magistracy or the imperium … It is not the intent of this law that anyone of those who retires from such magistracy or command shall not be summoned to court.

Interesting to see that the Romans, too, had issues with the relative powers of the executive and the judiciary. Interesting, too, to read ancient law and to find that it sounds pretty much like something we might have come up with today: look at the the sentence at the end of the quote explicitly stating the “intent” of the law.

This from Acilian Law on the Right to Recovery of Property Officially Extorted (122 B.C.)Manius Acilius was a Roman Consul. See also this brief explanation., found in Yale University’s Avalon Project, a gathering of online documents, ancient and modern, pertaining to law, history and diplomacy. Here you’ll find, for example, a collection of documents relating to the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade buildings, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Declaration (Shanghai, China; October 21, 2001), the Convention of 1815 Between the United States and Great Britain (and associated documents), and the Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery (September 26, 1925), along with dozens of other documents, mostly, but not exclusively, having to do with the United States.


  1. Apropos of this posting, there is an intriguing session at the upcoming American Association of Law Libraries conference in New Orleans in July entitled Rome: the power of Film to Teach Foundations of Roman and Civil Law.

    The session is by Professor Dennis Kehoe of the Department of Classical Studies at Tulane.

    The link to the materials for the session is on the AALL conference page at: