CODE, CODEX. The original mean ing of the Latin word Caudex or Codex was the trunk or stem of a tree. Before the use of more convenient materials, wooden tablets were employed by the ancients for writing on. Such a written tablet was called Codex, of which Codi cillus is a diminutive. First they wrote by making notches or indents in these tablets, but afterwards they covered them with wax, and used a style to write with.
The notion of the word was then ex tended, and it had several new significa tions. 1. Codex denoted any hand-writ ing on parchment, or paper, or ivory, or other material (Dig. 32, s. 52). 2. The diminutive Codicilli (codicil) was used in the plural number in various senses, and finally in that of a testamentary writing. 3. A collection of laws was also called Codex, and is now called a Code in modern languages, as in English and French. In this sense the word is now most commonly used. There are several kinds of codes. A code may be made by merely collecting and arranging in a chronological or sys tematic order the existing laws of a state, which have been made at various times by the sovereign power. Such a collection is either made by public authority, as was the case with the Codex Theodosianus and Codex Justinianeus, or by private individuals, as was the case with the Codex Gregorianus and Hermogenianus.
The Germans call collections of old Ger man laws, made in the middle ages, " Rechtsbiicher" (books of law). A code (in German Gesetzbuch, book of laws), by which the legislative power makes a new system of laws, is very different from a compilation of existing laws. A mere arrangement and classification of existing laws is more properly called a Digest (Digests), which is the Roman name for one of Justinian's legal com pilations. If to this classification and arrangement selection be superadded, it would still be properly only a Digest. A code, though it may adopt many ex isting laws and customs, is now generally used to express a new system, founded on new fundamental principles ; such prin ciples, for instance, as are set forth in Bentham's ' Leading Principles of a Con stitutional Code for any State.' In Eng land, for example, if it were proposed to make a code in the modern sense, it might be found useful or necessary to modify the law of tenures, or to abolish certain kinds of tenures, such as cus tomary tenures ; and also to provide positive rules for numerous cases that are still either unprovided for or left doubtful by conflicting decisions, or decisions re garded as of little authority.