The Ancient Library

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On this page: Actor – Actuariae Naves – Actuarii – Actus – Actus – Acus


Spence's work on the Equitable Jurisdiction of tlie Court of Chancery, pp. 206—235. The Roman forms of procedure underwent various changes in the course of time, which it is not very easy to describe ; but it has been remarked by Hollweg (Handbucli des Civilprozesses, p. 19) that the system of procedure maintained itself in all essential par­ticulars unaltered for many centuries, and what we learn from Cicero (b. c. 70) is almost the same as what we learn from Gains (a. d. 160). Modern writers, however, differ on various points ; and the subject requires a complete examination from one who is fully acquainted with the Roman law, and practically versed in the nature of legal proceedings generally.

The following are the principal actions which we read of in the Roman writers, and which are briefly described under their several heads: — Actio — Aquae pluviae arcendae ; Bonorum vi raptorum ; Certi et Incerti ; Commodati; Com- muni dividundo ; Confessoria; Damni injiiria dati; Dejecti vel effusi; Depensi; Deposit!; De dolo malo ; Emti et venditi; Exercitoria j Ad Exhi- bendum ; Familiae erciscundae; Fiduciaria ; Fi- nium regundorum ; Furti; Hypothecaria; Injuria- rum ; Institoria ; Judicati ; Quod jussu ; Legis Aquiliae ; Locati et conduct! ; Mandati ; Mutui ; ISIegativa; Negotiorum gestorum ; Noxalis ; t)e pauperie ; De peculio ; Pignoraticia, or Pignora- titia ; Publiciana ; Quanti minoris ; Rationibus distrahendis ; De recepto ; Redhibitoria ; Rei uxoriae, or Dotis ; Restitutoria and Rescissoria; Rutiliana ; Serviana ; Pro socio; Tributoria; Tutelae. [G. L.]

ACTOR signified generally a plaintiff. In a civil or private action, the plaintiff was often called petiior ; in a public action (causa publica), he was called accusator. (Cic. ad Att. i. 16.) The de­fendant was called reus, both in private and public causes: this term, however, according to Cicero (De Orat. ii. 43), might signify either party, as in­deed we might conclude from the word itself. In a private action, the defendant was often called adversarius^ but either party might be called ad-versarius with respect to the other. Originally, no person who was not sui juris could maintain an action ; a filius familias, therefore, and a slave, could not maintain an action ; but in course of time certain actions were allowed to a filius familias in the absence of his parent or his procurator, and also in case the parent was incompetent to act from madness or other like cause. (Dig. 47. tit. 10. s, 17.) Wards (pitpilii) brought their actions by their tutor (tutor} ; and in case they wished to bring an action against their tutor, the praetor .named a tutor for the purpose. (Gaius, i. 184.) Peregrini, or aliens, originally brought their action through their patronus ; but afterwards in their own name, by a fiction of law, that they were Roman citizens. A Roman citizen might also generally bring his action by means of a cognitor or procurator. [actio.] A universitas or cor­porate body, sued and was sued by their actor or syndicus. (Dig. 3. tit-. 4.)

Actor has also the sense of an agent or manager of another's business generally. The actor publicus was an officer who had the superintendence or care of slaves belonging to the state. Lipsius says that the actor publicus was a slave or freedman. A slave could acquire property for others, though not for himself. In the case mentioned by Pliny (Ep> vii»

ACUS. -13

18), the actor publicus was the representative of the community (respublica) of Coinum. (Tacit. Ann. ii. 30, iii. 67 j Lips. 30.) [G.L.]


ACTUARII, or ACTA'RII, clerks who com- piled the Acta Publica, [AcTA, p. 8, b.] The name is also sometimes given to the Notarii, or short-hand writers, who took down the speeches in the senate and the courts {Suet. Jul. 55 ; Sen. Ep. 33) ; respecting whom and the use of short­ hand among the Romans, see notarii.

2. Military officers whose duty it was to keep the accounts of the army, to see that the con­tractors supplied the soldiers with provisions ac­cording to agreement, &c. (Amm. Marc. xx. 5 ; Cod. 12. tit. 37. s. 5. 16 ; 12. tit. 49.)

3. The title of certain physicians at the court of Constantinople. [medicus.]

ACTUS, a Roman measure of land, which formed the basis of the whole system of land measurement. In that system the name actus (from ago}, which originally meant a way between fields for beasts of burthen to pass (or, as some say, the length of a furrow), was given to such a way when of a definite width and length, and also to a square piece of land of the same length. The former was called actus minimus or simplex, and was 120 feet (Roman) long by 4 feet wide. (Varro, L. L. iv. 4, or v. 34, Miiller; Colum. v. 1. § 5, ed. Schneider ; Festus, s.D. Her inter vicinos IV. pedum latum}. The actus quadratus, which was the square unit in the system of Roman land- measurement, was of the same length as the actus minimus, and of a width equal to its length: it was thus 120 feet square, and contained 14,400 square feet. It was the half of a juger. (Colum. I.e.; Varro, I. c., and JR. R. i. 3 0. § 2, ed. Schneider). The following are the etymological explanations of the word: Actus vocabatur, in quo boves agerentur cum aratro, uno impetu justo (Plin. xviii. 3) ; Ut ager qu'o agi poterat, sic qua agi actus. (Varro, L. L. I. c.} The actus furnishes an example of the use of the number twelve among the Romans, its length being twelve times the standard decempeda. Cdlumella (/. c. § 6) says that the Gauls called the actus quadratus, aripennis ; but this could only bo an approximate identification, for the actus qua­ dratus is somewhat smaller than the great French arpent and much larger than the small arpent. (Compare acna ; Niebuhr, Hist, of Rome, vol. ii. Appendix I.) [P. S.]

ACTUS. [servitutes.]

ACUS ($£X6vri, fieXovis, pcupls}, a needle, a pin. The annexed figures of needles and pins, chiefly

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