CHAPTER VI. ROMAN JURISPRUDENCE.
Servius Sulpicius, the friend of Cicero, and fellow-student of oratory, surpassed his teachers Balbus and Gallus, and was the equal in reputation of the great Mucius Scaevola, the Pontifex Maximus, who said it was disgraceful for a patrician and a noble to be ignorant of the law with which he had to do. Cicero ascribes his great superiority as a lawyer to the study of philosophy, which disciplined and developed his mind, and enabled him to deduce his conclusions from his premises with logical precision. He left behind him one hundred and eighty treatises, and had numerous pupils, among whom A. Ofilius and Alfenus Varus, Cato, Caesar, Antony, and Cicero, were great lawyers. Labeo, in the time of Augustus, wrote four hundred books on jurisprudence, spending six months in the year in giving instruction to his pupils, and in answering legal questions, and the other six months in the country in writing books. Like all the great Roman jurists, he was versed in literature and philosophy, and so devoted to his profession that he refused political office. His rival, Capito, was equally learned in all departments of the law, and left behind him as many treatises as Labeo. These two jurists were the founders of celebrated schools, like the ancient philosophers, and each had distinguished followers. Masurius Sabinus Gaius and Pomponius, were of the school of Capito. M. Cocceius Nerva, Sempronius Proculus, and Juventius Celsus, were of the school of Labeo. Gaius, who flourished in the time of the Antonines, was a great legal authority; and the recent discovery of his Institutes has revealed the least mutilated fragment of Roman jurisprudence which exists, and one of the most valuable, and sheds great light on ancient Roman law. It was found in the library of Verona. No Roman jurist had a higher reputation than Papinian, who was praefectus praetorio under Septimius Severus, an office which made him only secondary to the emperor - a sort of grand vizier - whose power extended over all departments of the state. He was beheaded by Caracalla. The great commentator Cujacius, declares that he was the first of all lawyers who have been, or who are to be; that no one ever surpassed him in legal knowledge, and no one will ever equal him. Paulus was his contemporary, and held the same office as Papinian. He was the most fertile of Roman law-writers, and there is more taken from him in the Digest than from any other jurist, except Ulpian. There are two thousand and eighty-three excerpts from this writer, one sixth of the whole Digest. No legal writer, ancient or modern, has handled so many subjects. In perspicuity, he is said to be inferior to Ulpian, one of the most famous of jurists, who was his contemporary. He has exercised a great influence on modern jurisprudence from the copious extracts of his writings in Justinian's Digest. He was the chief adviser of Alexander Severus, and like Paulus was praefectus praetorio. The number of excerpts in the Digest from him, is said to be two thousand four hundred and sixty-two, and they form a third part of it. Some fragments of his writings remain. The last of the great civilians associated with Gaius, Papinian, Paulus, and Ulpian, as oracles of jurisprudence, was Modestinus, who was a pupil of Ulpian. He wrote both in Greek and Latin. There are three hundred and forty-five excerpts in the Digest from his writings, the titles of which show the extent and variety of his labors. [Footnote: These facts are drawn from the different articles of George Long, in Smith's Dictionary.]
[The profession of law.]
These great lawyers shed great glory on the Roman civilization. In the earliest times men sought distinction on the fields of battle, but in the latter days of the republic honor was conferred for forensic ability. The first pleaders of Rome were not jurisconsults, but aristocratic patrons looked after their clients. But when law became complicated, a class of men arose to interpret it, and these men were held in great honor, and reached, by their services, the highest offices - like Cicero and Hortensius. No remuneration was given originally for forensic pleading, beyond the services which the client gave to a patron, but gradually the practice of the law became lucrative. Hortensius, as well as Cicero, gained an immense fortune. He had several villas, a gallery of paintings, a large stock of wines, parks, fish-ponds, and aviaries. Cicero had villas in all parts of Italy; a house on the Palatine with columns of Numidian marble, and a fortune of twenty millions of sesterces, equal to $800,000. Most of the great statesmen of Rome, in the time of Cicero, were either lawyers or generals. Crassus, Pompey, P. Sextus, M. Marcellus, P. Clodius, Calidius, Messala Niger, Asinius Pollio, C. Cicero, M. Antonius, Caesar, Calvus, Caelius, Brutus, Catulus, Messala Cervirus, were all celebrated for their forensic efforts. Candidates for the bar studied four years under a distinguished jurist, and were required to pass a rigorous examination. The judges were chosen from members of the bar, as well as, in later times, the senators. The great lawyers were not only learned in the law, but possessed great accomplishments. Varro was a lawyer, and was the most learned man that Rome produced. But, under the emperors, the lawyers were chiefly distinguished for their legal attainments, like Paulus and Ulpian.