Papinian (Aemilius Papinianus)pəpĭn´ēən [key], d. 212, Roman jurist. He was a close friend of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, under whom he was libellorum magister [master of the rolls] and later Praetorian prefect; but Severus' son Caracalla had Papinian put to death for reasons that are obscure. Papinian was a jurist of enormous erudition, perhaps the greatest figure in Roman law, and a stern moralist. A constitution of Theodosius II and Valentinian (426) reflects the Roman attitude toward him: five jurists (and the authors whom they quoted) were set up as the sole authorities to be cited—Paulus, Gaius, Ulpian, Modestinus, and Papinian. If they were not unanimous the majority was to prevail, but, in case of equal division, the opinion of Papinian was to decide. His chief works were Quaestiones (37 books), Responsa (19 books), Definitiones (2 books), and De adulteriis (2 books). They are known through quotations in the Theodosian Code and in the Digest of the Corpus Juris Civilis.
See H. F. Jolowicz, Roman Foundations of Modern Law (1957); B. W. Frier, The Rise of the Roman Jurists (1985).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Law: Biographies