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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 11, 2014

The application of natura (φύσις) in Byzantine law

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From the journal Byzantinische Zeitschrift


The original meaning in early classical Roman law of the term natura, to express external and internal characteristics, was extended to contracts and actions in late classical law. It also refers to the substantive characteristics of contracts and actions. By using φύσις in his Digest teachings, the sixth-century Byzantine jurist Stephanus was able to explain changes to contracts and actions. Not only could a contract be changed into a completely new contract, but a pactum could also transform the contract itself. Stephanus also used φύσις to explain the use of the general condiction, ὁ κέρτος γενικὸς κονδικτίκιος instead of another specific condiction. The term φύσις does not cause new rules of law to be enacted but the application of φύσις explains their effect in practice. Stephanus used fixed verbs for the changes, transformations and adaptions. He appears to have been unique in this theory. In the Byzantine lexicon Ῥωμαϊκαὶ ἀγωγαί and the Meditatio de pactis nudis parts of Stephanus’ Digest teachings about φύσις can be found.

Online erschienen: 2014-02-11
Erschienen im Druck: 2013-12

© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.

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