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798

NEXUM.

and consequently could mancipate themselves either matrimonii causa or fiduciae causa, whereby how­ever they did not, like the nexi, come into a con­dition similar to that of slaves, but only into a state of dependence similar to that of a child. The nexi were, as a matter of course, in mancipio, and consequently alien! juris, but for that very reason greatly different from the addicti. How­ever, they could, like them, be put in chains, until the power of putting debtors in chains was al­together abolished."

The meaning of the provision in the Twelve Tables, cited by Gellins, as to cutting the debtor in pieces has been a subject of much discussion. Taylor in his essay (Comment, ad L. Decemviralem de Inope Debitore in partis dissecando) attempts to prove that Gellius misunderstood the old law, and that the words of the Twelve Tables " partis secanto : si plus minusve secuerint se fraude esto," mean that the several creditors are intitled to have the " partis," that is, the " operae " of the addictus divided or distributed among them ; and he goes on to explain the rest of the law in these terms: " Communis sit servus eorum, qui quidem ad-fuerint ; et sine fraude esto, si ceteri toties proci-tati suas quoque partis in Debitore non vindica-verint." But the arguments of Taylor are by no means satisfactory. The conjecture that the " partis " are the shares of the creditors arising from the sale of the debtor, is also unsupported by any proof. This monstrous enactment, if we take it literally, shocks all our notions of humanity, but it has been well observed that it is by no means inconsistent with the spirit of the old Roman law ; and the fact of an actual division of a debtor's body not being on record, is no proof against, and hardly furnishes a presumption against the existence of such a law. The Romans had no prisons for debtors. The creditor was the debtor's jailer, and we know that in the oldest time he was often a cruel keeper. When there were several creditors who claimed the body of a debtor, he might be kept by any one for the benefit of himself and the rest till the sixty days were over ; but after that time, if the creditors could not agree among them­selves, there was no possible mode of settling their conflicting claims than that which the law of the Decemviri gave them, and which they might adopt if they chose. Such a law could never be carried into effect in any country, as the legislators must have well known, and thus while its terms fully satisfied the claims of the creditors, in practice it may have turned out really favourable to the debtor. (See the remarks of Gellius on this part of the law, xx. 1.) But the solution of the difficulty is quite a different matter from the fact of its ex­istence, which is in no way to be questioned be­cause we cannot explain it.

The various authorities on the subject of the Nexum and Addictio are referred to by Rein, Das Rom. Privatrecht, p. 313, &c. The writer of this article has not had the advantage of seeing the essay of Savigny, Ueker das altromische Schuldreclit, Berlin, 1834. The whole subject is still en­ cumbered with difficulty, as will appear from a reference to the various writers on this subject. The note of Walter (GescJiiclite des Rom. Rechts, p. 642. n. 6) appears to contain the true statement as to the difference between the effect of a Nexum and a Res Judicata ; but he rejects the notion of a man selling or pledging himself. [G. L.]

NOBILES.

NOBILES, NOBFLITAS. In the early-periods of the Roman state the Patricians were the Nobles as opposed to the Plebs. The Patricians possessed the chief political power and the distinc­tion which power gives. Livius, who wrote in the age of Augustus, and is not very careful in the use of terms, often designates the Patricians by the term Nobilis (vi. 42) ; and yet Nobilis, in its proper historic sense, has a different meaning.

In b. c. 366, the plebeians obtained the right of being eligible to the consulship, and finally they obtained access to all the curule magistracies. Thus the two classes were put on the same footing as to political capacity. Those plebeians who had obtained a curule magistracy were thus elevated above their own body, and the personal distinction of a father would confer distinction on his descend­ants. It is in the nature of aristocratical institu­tions to perish if they are exclusive ; but they perpetuate themselves by giving a plebeian class the power of entering within their narrow limits. Those who are received within the body of nobles are pleased at being separated from their former companions, and are at least as exclusive in their notions as the original members of the class which they hafve joined.

This was the history of Nobilitas at Rome. The descendants of plebeians who had filled curule magistracies formed a class called Nobiles or men " known," who were so called by way of distinction from " Ignobiles " or people who were not known. The Nobiles had no legal privileges as such; but they were bound together by a common distinction derived from a legal title and by a common interest; and their common interest was to endeavour to confine the election to all the high magistracies to the members of their body, to the Nobilitas. Thus the descendants of those Plebeians who had won their way to distinction combined to exclude other Plebeians from the distinction which their own ancestors had transmitted to them.

The external distinction of the Nobiles was the Jus Imaginum, a right or privilege which was ap­parently established on usage only, and not on any positive enactments. These Imagines were figures with painted masks of wax, made to resemble the person whom they represented (Plin. //. N. xxxv. 2. eocpressi cera vultus).; and they were placed in the Atrium of the house, apparently in small wooden receptacles or cases somewhat in the form of temples (£v\wa z/cu'5ia, Polyb. vi. 53). The Imagines were accompanied with the tituli or names of distinction which the deceased had acquired ; and the tituli were connected in some way by lines or branches so as to exhibit the pedigree (stemma) of the family. (Compare the passages quoted in Becker, p. 222, note 53.) These Imagines were generally enclosed in their cases, but they were opened on festival days and other great ceremonials, and crowned with bay (lau-reatae) : they also formed part of a solemn funeral procession. The most complete account of these Imagines is in the passage of Polybius, which has been already referred to ; but there is frequent mention of them in the Roman writers.

These were the external marks or signs of a Nobilis Familia ; a kind of heraldic distinction in substance. The origin of this use of Imagines from which the notion of a Roman Nobilitas must not be separated, is uncertain. The term Nobilitas, as already observed, is applied by Livius to a

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