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.
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