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On this page: Portumnalia – Posca – Posetdonia – Possessio


Cass. xxxvii. 51 ; Cic. ad Ait. ii. 16.) It appears,' However, that the cause of this abolition was not any complaint by the people of the tax itself, but of the portitores, i. e. the persons who collected it, and who greatly annoyed the merchants by their unfair conduct and vexatious proceedings. [PuBLi- cANi.J Thus the republic for a time only levied import and export duties in the provinces, until Julius Caesar restored the duties on commodities imported from foreign countries. (Suet. Caes.AZ.) During the triumvirate new portoria were intro­ duced (Dion Cass. xlviii. 34), and Augustus partly increased the old import duties and partly insti­ tuted new ones. The subsequent: emperors in­ creased or diminished this branch of the revenue as necessity required, or as their own discretion dictated. •

As regards the articles subject to an import duty, it may be stated in general terms, that all commodities, including slaves, which were im­ported by merchants for the purpose of selling them again, were subject to the portorium ; whereas things which a person brought with him for his own use, were exempted from it. A long list of such taxable articles is given in the Digest (39. tit. 4. s. 16 ; compare Cic. c. Verr. ii. 72, 74). Many things, however, which belonged more to the luxuries than to the necessaries of life, such as eunuchs and handsome youths, had to pay an import duty, even though they were imported by persons for their own use. (Snet. dc. clar. Rhet. 1 ; Cod. 4. tit. 42. s. 2.) Things which were im­ported for the use of the state were also exempt from the portorium. But the governors of pro­vinces ( praesides), when they sent persons to pur­chase things for the use of the public, had to write a list of sticli things for the publicani ( portitores) to enable the latter to see whether more things were imported than what were ordered (Dig. 39. tit 4.- s. 4) ; for the practice of smuggling appears to have been as common among the Romans as in modern times. Respecting the right of the porti­tores to search travellers tmd merchants, see pub-ijicani; Such goods as were duly stated to the portitores were called scripta^ and those which were not, inscripta. If goods subject to a duty were concealed, they were, on their discovery, con­fiscated. (Dig. 39. tit. 4. s. 16.)

Respecting the amount of the import or export duties we "have, but very few statements in the ancient writers. In the time of Cicero the por­torium in the ports of Sicily was one-twentieth (vieesima) of the value of taxable articles (Cic. c. Verr. ii. 75) ; and as this was the customary fate in Greece (Bockh, PuU. Econ. p. 325, 2d edit.), it is probable that this was the average sum raised in all the other provinces. In the times of the emperors the ordinary rate of the por­torium appears to have been the fortieth part (quadragesima) of the value of imported goods. (Suet. Vespas. 1 ; Quintil. Declam. 359 ; Symmach. Epist. v. 62, 65.) . At a late period the exorbitant sum of one-eighth (octava, Cod. 4. tit. 61, s. 7) is mentioned as the ordinary import duty ; but it is uncertain whether this is the duty for all articles of commerce, or merely for certain things.

The portorium was, like all other vectigalia, farmed out by the censors to the publicani, who collected it through the portitores. [vectigalia-; publicani.] (Burmann, De Vectigalibus Populi Rom, pp.50—77 ;'li. Boss2, Gnmdzuyc desFinanz-



ivesens im Rom. Staat, Braunschweig 1803, 2 vols. ; Hegewisch, Versuch ubcr die Rom. Fincm- zen, Altona, 1804.) [L, S.]

PORTUMNALIA, or PORTUNA'LIA, a festival- celebrated in honour of Portumnus, or Portunus, the god of harbours. (Varro, De Ling. Lat. vii. 19, ed. Miiller.) It was celebrated on the 17th day before the Kalends of September. (Calendarium Maff.)

POSCA, vinegar mixed with water, was the common drink of the lower orders among the Romans, as of soldiers when on service (Sparfc. Hadr. 10), slaves (Plant. Mil. iii. 2. 23), &e.

POSETDONIA (TiweiSdwa), a festival :held every year in Aegina in honour of Poseidon; (Atiien. xiii. p. 588 ; Pint. Quaesi. Gr. 44.) It seems to have been celebrated by all the inhabit­ants of the island, as Athenaeus (xiii. p. 590) calls it a panegyris, and mentions that during one celebration Phryne, the celebrated hetaera, walked naked into the sea in the presence of the assem­bled Greeks. The festival is also mentioned by Theodoretus (T/ierap. 7), but no particulars are recorded respecting the way in which it was cele­brated. (Comp. Miiller, 'Aeginet. p. 148.) [ L. S. J

POSSESSIO. Paulus (Dig. 41. tit. 2. s. 1) observes, " Possessio appellata est, ut et Labeo ait, a pedibus % quasi positio: quia naturaliter tenetur ab eo qui insistit." The absurdity of the etymology and of the reason are equal. The ele­ments of Possidere are either pot (pot-is), and sedere; or the first part of the word is related to apud, and the cognate Greek form of irorl (irpos).

Possessio, in its primary sense, is the power by virtue of which a man has such a mastery over a corporeal thing as to deal with it at his pleasure and to exclude other persons from meddling with it. This condition or power is called Detention, and it lies at the bottom of all legal senses of the word Possession. This Possession legal statd or condition, but it may be the source of rights, and it then becomes Possessio in a juristical or legal sense. Still even in this sense, it is not in any way to be confounded with Property (pro- prietas). A man may have the juristical posses­ sion of a thing without being the proprietor ; and a man may be the proprietor of a thing without hav­ ing the Detention of it, or even the juristical pos­ session, (Dig. 41. tit. 2. s. 12.) Ownership is the legal capacity to operate on a thing according to a man's pleasure and to exclude everybody else from doing so. Possession, in the sense of Detention^ is the actual exercise of such a power as the owner has a right to exercise. . -

Detention becomes juristical possession and the foundation of certain rights, when the Detainer has the intention (animus) to deal with the thing as his own. If he deal with it as the property of another, as exercising over it the rights of another, he is not said " possidere " in a juristical sense ; but he is said " alieno nomine possidere." This is the case with the Commodatarius and with him who holds a deposit. (Dig. 41. tit. 2. s. 18, 30.)

When the Detention is made a juristical Pos­sessio by virtue of the animus, it lays the found­ation of a right to the Interdicts, and by virtue of Usucapion it may-become ownership. The right to the Interdicts is simply founded on a juristical possession, in whatever way it may have originated,

"Sedibus." — Ed. Flor. 3r

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