University College London | The British Academy
Introduction to the Projet Volterra IThe «Projet Volterra» was established in honour of the memory of the distinguished Roman Lawyer Edoardo Volterra. Given that the general aims of the Projet Volterra are to promote the study of Roman legislation, the area of Roman imperial legal pronouncements was identified as one in which current scholarship was less than adequately served in terms of Regesten, repertoria and bibliographical aids. Within this field the area of later imperial legislation was felt to be particularly poorly exploited by scholars in general. It was decided that access to the material would be most satisfactorily facilitated by the production of a database in an electronic medium which would act not only as a Regest but also contain the basic texts of imperial legal pronouncements (where the ipsissima verba of the issuer(s) survive) from whatever provenance, be it an epigraphic, papyrological, juristic or literary source, details relating to each text's transmission (including their fate during successive codifications), the texts of ancient scholia upon them and an annotated bibliography of relevant modern scholarly output. While in no sense providing entirely new editions, the text of laws included in the database are critical, including the checking of original manuscript readings where appropriate.
Within the broader field of later imperial legislation, it was initially decided to work on the period before AD 364; and the legislation of the 'House of Constantine' (that is of the Augusti Constantinus II, Constantius II, Constans, and Julian), covering the period between AD 337 and 363, was identified as the initial sample. This coverage was then extended both backwards to cover the period of the Tetrarchy and Constantine (305-337) and forwards to cover the reigns of Jovian, Valentinian, Valens and Gratian (363-383) so that the database would bridge the gap existing between the palingenesiae already provided by Professor A. M. Honoré in his studies on the lawyers and quaestors who actually composed the texts of imperial legislation. Honoré's texts have also been incorporated into the format of the Laws database. This provides a series of searchable tables for the entire period AD193-455. The singular advantage of this format is that it brings together for the first time the source material itself, ancient interpretation of that material and reference to modern historical as well as legal commentary. In this way it is complementary to, rather than in competition with, various other on-going projects (such as the Palingenesia of the Accademia Romanistica Costantiniana) or already published electronic databases (FIVRIS, Bibliotheca Iuris Antiqui), whose scope is either broader and less focused or narrower and of more single intent than that of the Projet Volterra database.
For those sections of the database that rely on the text transmitted in the Codex Theodosianus, the text used has been that contained in the 1905 edition of the Theodosian Code and Novels by Theodor Mommsen and Paul M. Meyer. An electronic version CTh Books I-VIII is available on this site, and links to other on-line versions deriving from the same edition are given in the Resources for Roman Law page. However, while it is not intended to produce an entirely new critical edition, our text has been provided with a critical apparatus and readings have been checked against surviving manuscripts were areas of doubt have arisen.
The Projet Volterra I was funded initially by the British Academy, then by the Arts and Humanities Research Board until the conclusion of the principal work in 2004. However it was adopted as one of the British Academy's Research Projects in 2005 and, as a living database, continues to receive occasional funding for up-dating and enhancement. It is based in the History Department of University College London.
The team, who worked on the project, comprised Professor Michael Crawford and Dr Benet Salway (from 1995) and Dr Simon Corcoran (from1999), all based in the Department of History at University College London. Neophytos Christodoulides, an undergraduate at King's College London, also provided much valuable assistance as a volunteer in 2003-4. The work designing the web-searchable interface for the database was done by Ashley Van Haeften. If you have any queries about the activity of the project or any comments on the database, please e-mail us at the Projet Volterra.
A brief history and description of the project written by Simon Corcoran was published in the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 49 (2006). This serves as an introduction to a set of three papers (by Hartwin Brandt, Caroline Humfress, and Simon Corcoran) taken from the colloquium held at the Institute of Classical Studies in the Senate House, London (March 2004) to celebrate Volterra I's then approaching completion. This was the third of the colloquia held during the lifetime of the project.