When Justinian became sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire in A.D.
527, he ordered the preparation of three compilations of Roman law
that together formed the Corpus Juris Civilis. These works have
become known individually as the Code, which collected the
legal pronouncements of the Roman emperors, the
Institutes, an elementary student's textbook, and the
Digest, by far the largest and most highly prized of the
three compilations. The Digest was assembled by a team of
sixteen academic lawyers commissioned by Justinian in 533 to cull
everything of value from earlier Roman law. It was for centuries
the focal point of legal education in the West and remains today an
unprecedented collection of the commentaries of Roman jurists on
the civil law.
Commissioned by the Commonwealth Fund in 1978, Alan Watson
assembled a team of thirty specialists to produce this magisterial
translation, which was first completed and published in 1985 with
Theodor Mommsen's Latin text of 1878 on facing pages. This
paperback edition presents a corrected English-language text alone,
with an introduction by Alan Watson.
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