2018 | 3(19) | 32-36
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The text entitled Il testamento segreto romano e il Senatoconsulto Neroniano [“The Secret Testament in Rome and the Neronian Senatoconsultum”] is the result of a report I gave during the X Ionian-Polish Conference on the topic “Il segreto nei sistemi giuridici” [“The secret in legal systems”], held in Warsaw at Uczelnia Lazarskego University on 31 May 2017. Those who study the history of Roman law know that any examination of facts, situations and statements on the subject of ‘secrecy’ is a preliminary reminder that this right was originally in penetralibus pontificum repositum. The verb penetrate and those penetralia behind which the oldest part of the Roman rituals and of which the penetralia pontificum play the role that we know is hidden, through the narration of Tito Livio, belong to the purest and most essential semantics of secrecy. In the memory of the late-republican culture the wisdom of the popes was linked above all to the custody of the mos, of the religious and social customs of the ancestors. In the absence of writing, orality played a constitutive role, in the sense that it gave rise to a juridical consequence, a juridical constraint. Words pronounced in a certain way and specific gestures, served to trigger contact with the divine and with the ius. Hence the rigid control exercised consciously by the popes on the form of the words pronounced, on their sequence, on the rhythm of language. Only extremely skilled interpreters such as lawyers-priests were able to elaborate and manipulate them. The monopoly of knowledge of the pontiffs started to be shaken by the written editorship of the law of the Twelve Tables. But the much harsher blow was inflicted by the publication of the calendars and secret formulas of the Pontiffs by Gnaeus Flavius, a freed scribe of Appius Claudius the Blind (A. 304 BC.). A final step, this decisive time was taken by Tiberio Coruncanio, the first plebeian who came to the office of maximum pontiff, who removed the original secrecy from the activity of the pontiffs. From that moment on, the popes’ responses had to be given in public and can no longer be secret.
Physical description
  • Lazarski University Varsavia
  • Così R. Orestano, Sulla problematica del segreto nel mondo romano, in Atti convegno “Il segreto nella realtà giuridica italiana”, Roma 1983, pp. 95−144.
  • Schiavone, Ius. L’invenzione del diritto in Occidente, Torino 2005, p. 65 e ss.
  • T. Mommsen, Römische Geschichte 17, p. 170 = Storia 1, p. 211.
  • R. B. Bandinelli, Roma. L’arte romana nel centro del potere, 1969, 1.
  • Storia della giurisprudenza romana, tr. It.,1968, p. 20.
  • Così A. Schiavone, Storia del diritto romano, Torino 2000, p. 154.
  • J.M. Piquer Marì, Una reflexion sobre la interpretatio, el pontifice y los primeros modos de formalización jurídica in scritto A. Corbino, vol. 5 2016.
  • A. Leroi-Gourhan, Le geste et la parole, II: La mémoire et les rytmes, Paris 1965;
  • J. Assmann, Inscriptional violence and the Art of Cursing: A study of Performative Writing, “Stanford LiteratureReview” 9(1992), pp.43 ss.
  • Così M. Bretone, Diritto e pensiero giuridico romano, Firenze 1976, p. 8.
  • T. Masiello nel suo Corso di Storia del Diritto Romano, Bari 2011, p. 67 ss.
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