AD 41-54 )

( Johnson, Coleman-Norton & Bourne, Ancient Roman Statutes, Austin, 1961, pp. 140-141, n. 170


   One of the few Latin documents preserved on papyri, reported in 1898, contains what seems to be an emperor's address (oratio) to the Senate. The style and the internal evidence for date indicate Claudius as the author (Von Woess, ZSS, 51, 1931, p. 336).


     1) . . . It seems a heavy task to be imposed on the five decuries. At any rate, provide this that no one twenty-four years of age shall be appointed a recuperator. In my opinion, there is no inequity if those who do not make any use of the help of the Laetorian Law in managing their own affairs are called upon to act as judices in actions involving slavery or f reedom . . .
     2) . . . Conscript fathers, I think that I have noticed often on other occasions, and particularly at the present moment, the remarkable devices of prosecutors who, when they have subscribed to an action, . . . that it shall be, of advantage for the plaintiff to have maintained the action. Lest these devices be of service to those persons who sue in bad faith, if it meets with your approval, conscript fathers, let us issue a decree that, even though they must postpone their own affairs, the necessity of rendering a decision shall be imposed on those judices who have not decided the cases that have been begun within the days prescribed for pleading actions. I am not unaware that many fraudulent schemes will be found by perverted prosecutors, for which, I hope, we have devised remedies. Meanwhile, it is sufficient to bar this all too common trick practiced by all those persons who bring actions maliciously. For in truth, I cannot in any way endure the tyranny of plaintiffs who, when they have brought their enemies to trial before an investigative advisory council, leave them suspended, as it were, on the court docket, while they themselves go abroad as if they had done nothing. And yet common sense rather than legislation should keep plaintiff and defendant tied together in firm bonds. To be sure, the voluptuous habits of defendants are also a help in this . . . scheme of accusers, so that such acts of theirs may be less odious, seeing that they are too fastidious to don mourning garb or to let their hair and beard go untrimmed, that they may excite pity in their action. But let them see for themselves how these devices of pity provided by nature aid them in their cause. At any rate, let us take from prosecutors this insolent tyranny in this way, that we empower the praetor to summon the prosecutor, when the period granted for the trial has expired. If the prosecutor fails to appear or fails to provide an excuse the praetor shall declare that the plaintiff appears to have instituted the action fraudulently and maliciously.
     3) If this proposal meets with your approval, conscript fathers, give your vote forthwith, openly and sincerely. If it does not, find some other remedy here within this temple or, if you desire more time for reflection at greater leisure perchance, take it, provided, however, that wherever you are summoned to meet, you shall keep in mind that your own opinion must be given to us. For it does not at all accord with the dignity of this order, conscript fathers, that one person only, that is, the consul designate, should express an opinion here, and that phrased in the exact words of the introductory presentation of the question by the consuls, while the rest of you utter the single phrase "I approve" and then depart from the Senate claiming that you have spoken to the motion.