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Summa Perusina

by Simon Corcoran


Introduction to the Summa Perusina

The Summa Perusina is a Roman legal compilation, probably of the tenth century, although using primarily seventh-century material. It survives incomplete in a single manuscript of central or south Italian origin, now at Perugia (Bibl. Cap. 32), dateable to the earlier eleventh century. Calling itself Adnotationes Codicum Domini Iustiniani, it comprises a set of brief summaries, notes, comments and glosses on the Justinian Code, covering the first eight books as far as CJ VIII.53.8. The text probably started life as a variety of marginal comments, not all of the same type, added to a Justinian Code manuscript, probably in the seventh century, and many of the notes presume that the Code text can be consulted. Liebs has favoured seeing this as originating in a teaching context, but something less formal seems more likely, especially in view of the poor legal quality of many of the notes. These marginalia were then copied out as a self-standing work, arranged by book and title of the Code, with each constitution numbered and headed by the name of the emperor and recipient, followed by its summary or set of notes. Sometimes a constitution, or at least a part of it, is copied out verbatim and on very rare occasions this includes the subscript date. There are no summaries for the Greek constitutions, although their existence is occasionally noted. The text is often confused and obscure , but it in many cases it is difficult to tell whether this is the fault of the seventh-century annotators, the tenth-century compiler or the eleventh-century copyist.

The creation of the Summa appears to belong to a pattern of revived interest in Justinianic legal texts in Rome and adjacent parts of central and southern Italy in the tenth century. It is quoted or cited as authoritative in court documents and legal compilations several times between the 990s and 1060s, most famously in a ruling made by the emperor Otto III at Rome in 999 (Il regesto di Farfa III no. 437). In the later eleventh-century, however, it was superseded, once use of the full Justinian Code text became standard.

The text

The text has been typed up from Patetta's edition (Rome, 1900), with some checking against the 2008 facsimile of the manuscript. Essentially the text reproduces that of this sole manuscript, which is extremely clear and easy to read, and so retains its highly irregular orthography and syntax. Note that this is more muted in the titles and those passages copied verbatim from the Code. The meaning of the text is usually straightforward, although sometimes only in the light of knowing the original constitution (and not always then). Patetta often gives suggestions in his footnotes to try and make sense of the most garbled passages. I have reflected most of these within brackets in the text, but also on occasion I instead indicate letters or words that could be added <> or deleted {} to aid intelligibilty. Such interventions, however, have been kept to a minimum, since otherwise there is a temptation to go too far and try to impose a spurious classical correctness upon the author or scribe's Latin, already tending towards the vernacular. I have not indicated variations between the names of the addressees of constitutions in the Summa as opposed to Krüger's Code edition, except where the divergence is quite startling. In any case, the relatively limited evidence for addressees' names in the Code manuscript tradition means that the Summa is itself an imporant source for them.

Bibliography on the Summa Perusina

Adnotationes Codicum Domini Justiniani (Summa Perusina) (with introd. by G. Crifò and M. Campolunghi; Florence, 2008) [facsimile of the manuscript published as part of the 700th anniversary celebrations of the University of Perugia; published with a reprint of Patetta 1900]
E. Besta, Il contenuto giuridico della Summa Perusina (Atti della reale Accademia di scienze, lettere e belle arte di Palermo 3rd ser. 8 [1904-1907]; Palermo, 1908)
A. Ciaralli, "Per le Adnotationes Codicum Domini Iustiniani (Summa Perusina), Perugia, Bibl. dell'Archivio Capitolare, MS. 32", SDHI 76 (2010) 861-9
A. Ciaralli and V. Longo, "Due contributi a un riesame della Summa Perusina (Perugia, Bibl. Cap. ms 32)", Scrittura e Civiltà 25 (2001) 1-62
M. Conrat, Geschichte der Quellen und Literatur des römischen Rechts im frühen Mittelalter (Leipzig, 1891) 182-187
I. Giorgi and U. Balzani (eds), Il regesto di Farfa compilato da Gregorio di Catino, III (Rome, 1883)
G. Heimbach, ANEKDOTA II (Leipzig, 1840; repr. Aalen, 1969) 1-144 [flawed edition of the Summa]
W. Kaiser, Die Epitome Iuliani (Frankfurt, 2004) 335-346
D. Liebs, Die Jurisprudenz im spätantiken Italien (260-640 n.Chr.) (Berlin, 1987) 276-282
F. Patetta, Adnotationes Codicum Domini Justiniani (Summa Perusina) [= Bullettino dell'Istituto di diritto romano 12 (1899)] (Rome; 1900; repr. Florence, 2008 to accompany the facsimile)
C. Radding and A. Ciaralli, The Corpus Iuris Civilis in the Middle Ages: Manuscripts and Transmission from the Sixth Century to the Juristic Revival (Leiden, 2007) 42-3 and 69-70


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