Academic journal article Antichthon

The Testament of Sempronius Tuditanus *

Academic journal article Antichthon

The Testament of Sempronius Tuditanus *

Article excerpt

Sempronius Tuditanus, son of the consul of 129 BC and a nobilis of some wealth, achieved notoriety on account of his eccentric behaviour. The ancient authors who mention him attribute this to insanity. Cicero alludes to Tuditanus early in the first century BC (Phil. 3.16; Acad. 2.89) and Valerius Maximus (7.8.1) comments on his will. Valerius' text, which has attracted its share of debate, is of particular interest to scholars working on the lex Voconia (not mentioned by Valerius Maximus) and the handling of wills drawn up by a furiosus. It occurs in a section of Valerius' work discussing instances of wills that were upheld, but which might have been set aside as void. Tuditanus' will provides Valerius' first example:1

His rescissorum testamentorum exemplis contenti, attingamus ea quae rata manserunt, cum causas haberent propter quas rescindi possent. Quam certae, quam etiam notae insaniae Tuditanus! Utpote qui populo nummos sparserit, togamque velut tragicam vestem in foro trahens maximo cum hominum risu conspectus fuerit, ac multa his consentanea fecerit. Testamento instituit heredem, quod Ti. Longus sanguine ei proximus hastae iudicio subvertere frustra conatus est: magis enim centumviri quid scriptum esset in tabulis quam quis eas scripsisset considerandum existimaverunt.

Content with these examples of wills rescinded, let us touch upon those that remained valid, though having reasons for which they might have been rescinded. How certain, how notorious even, was the insanity of Tuditanus! He scattered coins among the people, he trailed his gown like a tragic robe in the Forum amid the guffaws of onlookers, he committed many similar extravagances. By his will he made his < son > his heir, which Ti. Longus, his nearest blood relation, tried unsuccessfully to cancel in the Court of a Hundred. For the Hundred thought that what was written in the will ought to be considered rather than who wrote it.

Valerius Maximus 7.8.1 tells us that when Sempronius Tuditanus, the father of Sempronia and grandfather of Fulvia, died, his nearest blood relation, Tiberius Sempronius Longus, tried to challenge the will. Longus' challenge was rejected by the Centumviral Court which declared that what was written in the will was more important than the temperament of its testator. Today the case remains controversial, with classicists and legal historians divided as to what the correct reading of the phrase testamento instituit heredem should be. This phrase is crucial to understanding the impact of the lex Voconia on the inheritance and property rights of Roman women.

More than six hundred manuscripts of Valerius Maximus' Factorum et Dictorum Memorabilium Libri Novem have been preserved, though few are of real importance to the textual tradition.2 Of the manuscripts preserving Valerius Maximus 7.8.13 all but an epitome provide the reading testamento instituit heredem.4 Yet, despite this consistency in the manuscripts, some commentators reject filium in favour of filiam. As Shackleton-Bailey explains in his recent translation for the Loeb Classical Library, '[Tuditanus] died in the first quarter of the first century, leaving a daughter, mother of the famous Fulvia, and so far as is known, no son. That in itself should protect filiam in a context of legal and other uncertainties.'5

Support for the reading filiam has been drawn from the late fourth - early fifth century AD epitome of Julius Paris. Yet even before Angelo Mai published this epitome in 1828, some commentators had already conjectured a reading of filiam.6 Other readings suggested for Valerius Maximus 7.8.1 include: Ofilium advocated by Justus Lipsius,7 Fulviam noted by Kempf8 and adopted by Babcock,9 and Fulvium suggested by Perizonius, adopted by Halm, 10 but noted with reserve by Kübler and Münzer. 11 The attempt to establish the correct reading has, in general, been confounded by the difficult legal and linguistic problems that attend each of these interpretations. …

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