Page images
PDF
EPUB

There are many other names more or less famous in the history of law. The foremost is S. Thomas Aquinas, whose definition of law, as will be seen later, was accepted by Dante, though the argument of his De Regimine Principum was not. He is alluded to very frequently, and it is not too much to say that a great part of the argument of the Paradiso is little more than a versification of S. Thomas. The principal civilian is Franciscus Accursius, or Francesco d' Accorso, the most eminent of an eminent family of jurists, and interesting to Englishmen from his having been one of the Secretarii Regis of Edward I. in 1278.* Canonists are represented by Isidore of Sevillet and Gratian, the monk of Bologna and the compiler of the Decretum. I Among jurists of smaller note are Petrus de Vinea or Pier delle Vigne, the Chancellor of Frederic II., $ Lapo Saltarello, li Taddeo, s and Bonagiunta.** Oriental law is represented by Averroestt and his first translator, Michael Scott. If In addition to these, there are others alluded to but not expressly named. They begin with Moses, who is il legista par excellence, ff

* Inf. xv., 110. He had free quarters in the Beaumont Palace at Oxford (Rashdall, “ Hist. of the Universities of Europe,” ii., 460, from Twyne's MS.), + Par. X., 131.

Par. X., 104.

f Inf. xiii., 158. Il Par. xv., 128. He is not to be confounded with the more famous Lapo Gianni named in the sonnet to Guido Cavalcanti.

| Par. xii., 83. Taddeo is said to have been a jurist, but he was more probably Taddeo d' Alderotto, a physician of Bologna and the translator of Aristotle's Ethics. (See Convito, i., 10.)

** Purg. xxiv., 19; De Vulg. El., i., 13, where he is alluded to with some contempt. Possibly his law, rather than his literary power, was his strong point.

# Inf. iv., 144. The legal treatises written by Averroes (Ibn Rasch) are enumerated by Renan, Averroes (2nd ed., 1861, p. 73). The main one appears to have been an abridgment of Al Ghazzali's Al-Mustasfa. The etyniology o Averroes from a and veritas (quasi senza verità) will hardly hold water, although it is the invention of as good a Dante scholar as Benvenuto da Imola.

II Inf. XX., 116. Like Pier delle Vigne, he was one of the Court of Frederic II.

$$ Inf. iv., 57

DANTE AS A JURIST.

93

in the quinas cepted

gimine y, and iment on of rsius

and those hinted at under the legal titles of notaio, * avvocato,t giudice non gentil, f and the geographical titles of Ostienses and Aretino. ||

(3.) Legal terms.—This is rather a difficult subject to arrange, as many terms, in strictness legal in their meaning, are, as in English, often applied in a general sense; for example, arra (in the sense of prediction), chiosa, debito, diritto, 1 digesto, disigillarsi, disfrancare, editto, eterna legge, infamia, indizio,** masnada,tt prefetto nel foro divino, reda, retaggio, reo, rio, testimonio. Among technical words of law calling for no special notice are: arra, bando, cancellare, chiosa, colpa, comento, concistoro,ff consistoro, contumacia, convenanza, convegno, corte, costume, danno, ßß dannato, decreto, decretali, divicto, diritto, dispensare, drittura, duolo, || | editto,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

* The poet lawyer, Jacopo da Lentino, Purg. xxiv., 56,

L'avvocato de' tempi cristiani, Par. X., 119, may be either Orosius, the author of Historia adversus Paganos, or St. Ambrose, the reputed author of Mosaicarum et Romanarum Legum Collatio.

# Another and perhaps better reading is Giudice Nin Gentil, Purg. viii., 53. In either case the allusion is to Nino Visconti, the Governor of the Pisan possessions in the island of Sardinia.

§ Par. xii., 83. The allusion is to Enrico da Susa, Cardinal of Ostia, a commentator on the Canon Law. Students of that law were said Ostiensem sequi. See Epist. viii., 7, Ostiensem declamant.

|| Benincasa da Arezzo.
I Dritto is always strictly legal in its meaning, as in Purg. V., 78.

** As a term of the law of evidence, the word is generally in the plural, but in Dante is always in the singular.

tt Almost equivalent to the old English law term manupast, those who ate at a man's table, but used by Dante as meaning simply a number of persons, Inf. xv., 41; Purg. ii., 130.

II Used figuratively in Convito iv., 5, quell'altissimo e congiuntissimo consistoro della Trinità. “ Consistorie” is similarly used in a figurative sense in Piers Plowman's “ Vision of the Last Judgment."

$$ Note that the elements of actionability under the Lex Aquilia (damnum, culpa, injuria) often occur in the “ Divina Commedia.” 11 In Inf. xxi., 32, it appears to be used as equivalent to dolus.

fellonia, fio, foro,* frode, furto, giustizia, giusto,f giudice, giudicare, giudizio, giuggiare, giurare, giura, I interdetto, ingiusto, ingiuria, legge, legista, lite, norma, patto, patteggiare, perdono, perdonanza, privilegio, registrare, reo, rio, sentenza, statuto, testare, testamento, torto, § tolletto.|| Worthy of special notice is the great variety of words used for torture, among which are found briga, dolore, croce, martirio, martire, noia, soffriri, tormento, tortura, travaglia, and the verbs affaticare and assannare. The words which follow have an interest of their own.

Caorsa I is grouped with Sodom, for usury was a terrible sin in the fourteenth century, and the inhabitants of Cahors were famous usurers. This is not the place to enter on the great question of the treatment of usury in mediæval Italy, but it may be noticed that in the “ Divina Commedia " the word usura occurs twice** and the word usuriere once.tt The usurer is placed among the violent, probably from a misunderstanding of Aristotle, 11 and Virgil explains that usury is offensive to Divine goodness because it is contrary to nature, probably from a feeling that the usurer unnaturally produces money from money, “a breed of barren metal.”$$ The words scranna and vivagni are curious. The former appears to be etymologically the English “screen,” and sedere a scranna|| || would mean sitting

tting at screen, very much like sitting in Chancery, if that word be derived from the low Latin word cancelli, meaning screen-work. Vivagni means the

* L'uno e l'altro foro, Par. X., 104: i.e., civil and canon law.

† Justice is defined in Par. xix., 88, as that which conforms to the Supreme Good.

I Or jura, Par. ix., 4.
§ Delitto is not used.
|| In the sense of bona vi possessa, Par. V., 33.
Inf. xi., 50.

** Inf. xi., 95; Par. xxii., 79. tt Inf. xi., 109.

11 Eth, i., 5,

8. $$ Inf. xi., 94.

11 || Par. xix., 81.

Tikki

ingiuste

,

berdeen

testare, e is the ich are sofrin Et and

,

[merged small][ocr errors]

borders of anything, but in one place* is used to signify the margins of treatises on Canon law, with their closely-printed glosses or summa, brocarda or brocardica. The well-known phrase il gran rifiutot touches a question of Canon law. This is commonly understood of the resignation of the Papacy by Celestine V. in 1294. It was, according to Scartazzini, a cowardly abjuration of his high office, and was an abjuration rather than a resignation, because a resignation can only be made to a human superior, and a Pope has no human superior. The apostolic succession was broken ; Boniface XIII. was a usurper; the chair of St. Peter was vacant. I In several cases English lawyers are reminded of familiar phrases. Bobolcas (if Tassoni's view be adopted), and tollette dannosell recall bovata and maletolts; per conservar sua pace reminds of conservators of the peace, and barattare,** barattiere,tt baratteriaff of the now practically obsolete offence of common barratry.s$ Corte has a double meaning like curia and "court” in England, viz., the king's entourage and a tribunal. In “De Vulgari Eloquio” the phrase curia regis occurs. lll!

(4.) Legal Arguments.—In two passages there seems to be an allusion to legal procedure. The inquisitorial

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

* Par. ix., 135.

The allusion is probably to the thumb-marks on the margins, caused by continual study.

+ Inf. iii., 60.

$ This is the reason of St. Peter's strong assertion, thrice repeated, of the usurpation of his place (il loco mio, il loco mio, il loco mio, Par. xxvii., 22). It is said that Cardinal Egidio Colonna owed his elevation to the Sacred College to his defence of the legality of Boniface's appointment in his De Renuntiatione Papæ. The Canon law on the subject is to be found mainly in Decretals i., 9. § Par. xxiii., 132. || Inf. xi., 36.

Inf. xxiii., 107. ** Par. xvi., 57.

tt Inf. xxi., 41; xxii., 87, 136. 11 Inf. xxii., 53. $$ “ Barratry of the master and mariners" is, however, still a phrase known in policies of marine insurance.

[ocr errors]

III. i., 8.

process of the ecclesiastical courts is perhaps glanced at in the Purgatorio,* and in the Inferno the trial before Minos is entirely in accordance with the practice of the mediæval Italian courts, both ecclesiastical and secular, for the purpose of obtaining evidence.† The argument of Cicero, aut vi aut fraude fiat injuria, I seems to be the basis of the argument in the Inferno that injury works either by force or fraud, but fraud is the more displeasing to God because it is a peculiarly human failing (proprio male), therefore the fraudulent are more severely punished than the violent. In the same canto there is an attempt at a division of fraud, according as it is practised on one who trusts the fraudulent person or on one who does not. The former is the graver offence and is punished as treason.|| At the end of Canto VI. of the Purgatorio is the famous comparison of Florence to a sick woman who can find no rest in her bed. Florence is similarly unsettled, for she is continually changing

Legge, moneta, offizio, e costume. Later in the Purgatorio the poet says that law should be a curb (freno), and laws there are, but who obeys them? The reason is that what made Rome great, the two sunsEmperor and Pope-no longer shine, for the light of the one has extinguished the light of the other. I The lines

in nostra corte Rivolge contra 'l taglio la rota, **

* E dolcemente che parli acco' lo, Purg. xiv., 6.

+ Inf. V., 7. "Good judges and justices," says Coke, “abhor these practices,” 2 Inst., 55. # De Off., i., 13.

§ Inf. xi., 23.

|| Id., 53. 1 xvi., 106. They are the duo luminaria of De Monarchia iii., I, 4; there he also calls them sun and moon. The two swords of S. Luke, xxii., 38, he is careful to say in De Mon. iii., 9, do not represent the temporal and spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope.

** Purg. xxxi., 41.

« PreviousContinue »