GAIUS, a Roman jurist, most probably of the age of the Antonines, and the chief source of our knowledge of Roman law prior to Justinian. Considering the important place which lie holds in ancient legal literature, it is strange that his personal history should be almost entirely unknown, and that almost every circumstance eplinected with him should be a subject of controversy. The discussion as to whether the name is properly Gains or Calla i.s a mere verbal dispute; but the questions regarding hiS coun try, his condition, and even his religion, have been canvassed at considerable length. From his being uniformly called by the single appellation G., it has been inferred that he was either a foreigner or a freedman: from Ids familiarity with the Greek language, some have argued that he was of Greek origin; from his being cited as "our" G, by Justinian, who was a native of Illyricum, it is argued by sonic that G. must have been an Illyrian by birth; while others, arguing from the same fact, and from other equally inconclusive data, have even set him down as a Christian. That the last inference is a false one, cannot admit of a moment's doubt; the others, even if it were possible to settle them definitively, are of no practical importance. As to the precise age of G., this much is certain, that before the revision of the Roman laws, and the.reform of the legal studies by Justinian, the Institutions of G., as well as four other of his treatises, were the received, text-books of the schools of law. His Institutions, moreover, formed the ground-work of the Institutions of Justinian. From his being thus preferred to Ulpian or Papinian, it is not to be inferred that he lived after them, but only that his work was more popular. The latest jurist whom he cites is Salvius Julianus, who lived under Hadrian, and the latest imperial edict is one of Antoninus Pius, whence it may fairly be concluded that lie survived Antoninus, and probably wrote under his successor. ' The works of G. were largely used in the compilation of the Digest, which contains no fewer than 535 extracts from his writings. The principal are, the Edietum Pi'ovinci ale, books; the Aurea, in seven; the Edietum Urbicum; On Trusts; On _Mortgages; and, above all, the Institutions, in four books. The last-named work is that by which G. is chiefly known, and it was probably the earliest complete and systematic text-hook of Roman law. Athough it was the basis of Justinian's Institutions, both as to its matter and its division, yet it was completely superseded by that work, and after a time was entirely lost, the only knowledge of it which remained being that which was gathered from the detached extracts in the Digest, and from the Dreviarium Alaricianum, or code of the Visigoths, which was known to he derived from it. The recovery of this work, therefore, would in any circumstances be considered a fortunate event; but the Institutions of G. draw additional interest from the remarkable manner in. which
it has been restored to literature. It had thng been known that the MSS. in the library of the chapter of Verona were specially curious in the matter of jurisprudence; and in 1816, Niebuhr, while• on his way to Rome, discovered, in a palimpsest MS., the later writing of which was a copy of St. Jerome's epistles, portions of the work of some ancient jurisconsult, the value of which he at once recognized, and the specimen page of which, as copied by him, was soon afterwards. pronounced by Savigny to he a portion of the Institutions of Gains. On the publication of his report, the Berlin academy of sciences commissioned two German scholars, Goschen and Hollweg,. in 1817, to make a copy of the entire palimpsest, which consists of 127 sheets. It was a work of immense labor. The original writing had beekyery carefully washed, and in many pages scraped gi‘ "7;1 out; the lines of the second writing did not cros the original, as often happens in pal impsests, but ran in the same direction, and frequently over it; while 63 pages of the palimpsest had actually been written three times, G. having been erased to make room for a theological treatise, which in its turn was scraped out to mhke room for St. Jerome! It reflects no small credit on the skill and patience of the copyists that they succeeded in recovering so much as nine tenths of the entire work, which was published in 1821 by G5schen, and again, after a fresh collation of the MS. by Blume in 1824; a third and much improved edition, by Bachmann, appeared in 1342. A comparative edition of the Institutions of G. and of Justinian, by Kleuze and.BOcking, had appeared at Berlin in 1820.
The Institutions of G. are divided into four books, of which the first is devoted to the law of persons, the second and third to the law of things, and the fourth to the law of actions. The first book was translated into German in 1824 by Von Brockdorff, and the entire work has been translated into French three several times—by Baulet in 1826, by Domenget in 1843. and by Pellat in 1844. In England, it has attracted but little notice, except in a few of the critical journals, and there chiefly as a literary curiosity; nor has any English translation of the work hitherto appeared.
The Lae Pomona Wisigothorum, or Breviarium Alaricianum, is in substance a recast of the Institutions of G., published in 506 by .Alaric for the use of the Roman subjects of the west Gothic kingdom. It is chiefly curious as illustrating the analogies and the dis crepancies of Roman and barbarian law, and as supplying the germ of many of the medixval institutions by which Roman practice was supplanted. See, in addition to the editions of the Institutions enumerated above, Hnschke, Zur and Interpre tation von Gains Inst4ntionen, in his Studien des Romischen Reehts; also Mackeldey's Lehrbuch des Ripnischen. Reehts; and Savigny, System des heutigen Rom. Redd&