The Digest of Justinian - Vol. 1

The Digest of Justinian - Vol. 1

The Digest of Justinian - Vol. 1

The Digest of Justinian - Vol. 1


When Justinian became sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire in A.D. 527, he ordered the preparation of three compilations of Roman law that together formed the Corpus Juris Civilis. These works have become known individually as the Code, which collected the legal pronouncements of the Roman emperors, the Institutes, an elementary student's textbook, and the Digest, by far the largest and most highly prized of the three compilations. The Digest was assembled by a team of sixteen academic lawyers commissioned by Justinian in 533 to cull everything of value from earlier Roman law. It was for centuries the focal point of legal education in the West and remains today an unprecedented collection of the commentaries of Roman jurists on the civil law.

Commissioned by the Commonwealth Fund in 1978, Alan Watson assembled a team of thirty specialists to produce this magisterial translation, which was first completed and published in 1985 with Theodor Mommsen's Latin text of 1878 on facing pages. This paperback edition presents a corrected English-language text alone, with an introduction by Alan Watson.


This is a corrected edition, minus the Latin text, of the four-volume The Digest of Justinian, Latin text edited by Theodor Mommsen with the aid of Paul Krueger, English translation edited by Alan Watson, published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 1985.

This edition incorporates a number of corrected translations. I am grateful to all who called suggested changes to my attention, and in particular to Tony Honoré and Olivia Robinson.

The biggest change has been a new translation by Sebastian and Olivia Robinson of the Dédoken, the Greek version of the preface, “The Confirmation of the Digest.” The previous edition repeated the translation of the rather different Latin preface.

A note about the appearance of the pages. The pagination of the Mommsen edition has been maintained, as was done in the original four-volume hardcover edition. As a result, the pages of the translation vary in length.


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