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Aurelius Hermogenianus, or Hermogenian, was an eminent Ancient Roman jurist and public servant of the age of Diocletian (245–311) and his fellow tetrarchs.[1]

Legal scholar[edit]

The compiler of the eponymous Codex Hermogenianus, which collects imperial laws of the years AD 293-94, has long been identified with Hermogenianus, author of the six-book Iuris epitomae (Summaries of the law), a synopsis of classical legal thought.[2] This manual, which followed the arrangement of the Praetor's Edict,[3] survives in 106 excerpts in Justinian's Digest or Pandects.[4] The excerpts are reassembled according to an approximation of their original order in Otto Lenel's Palingenesia and an English translation can be constructed by reference to Watson's edition of the Digest.[5] It is clear from his last place in the index to the Florentine Digest, that Hermogenian belonged to the last generation of jurists exploited by Justinian's compilers. References to plural principes and imperatores in several Digest extracts from the Iuris epitomae are certainly consistent with a tetrarchic date.[6] It is probably on this work that his subsequent high reputation was based; the fifth-century author Coelius Sedulius calls Hermogenian a doctissimus iurislator ('most learned relator of the law') and it is probably of the Iuris epitomae (rather than the Codex) that the same author claims that he produced three editions.[7] By analysing the style of the surviving extracts of the Iuris epitomae Tony Honoré has identified Hermogenian also as the drafter of the emperor Diocletian's rescripts (replies to petitions) from the beginning of AD 293 to the end of 294, a task that would have been the job of the emperor's (procurator) a libellis or magister libellorum (master of petitions). These rescripts formed the core of his compilation of imperial laws, the single-book codex that bore his name, which was perhaps designed to function as a supplement to the Codex Gregorianus that itself had gathered up material from as far back as the emperor Hadrian. Certainly, the two works are closely linked in subsequent citations, the Hermogenian always after the Gregorian.[8]

Public servant[edit]

More recently the legal scholar has been identified with the Aur(elius) Her[mog]enianus, revealed as co-author with his senior colleague as praetorian prefect, Iulius Asclepiodotus, of an inscribed dedication to Constantius as Caesar (AD 293/305), unearthed at Brixia (modern Brescia) in northern Italy in 1983.[9] At this stage, given his title vir eminentissimus (in contrast to his colleague's clarissimus), Hermogenian still belonged to the equestrian order. As happened to a number of senior equestrian prefects of the period,[10] at some point subsequently during Diocletian's reign, he was promoted to the senate, as witnessed by his tenure of the senatorial post of proconsul Asia, in which capacity he put up a dedication to Diocletian or his colleague Maximian at Ilium (Troy) sometime before 305.[11] His career culminated with appointment to the post of urban prefect (praefectus urbi) of Rome in AD 309–310.[12]


Correlating the ascertainable dates for his attested posts with their conventional hierarchical order, Hermogenian's known career has been reconstructed as follows:[13]

  • magister libellorum/a libellis (293–295)
  • praetorian prefect (295-?300)
  • publishes Codex Hermogenianus
  • proconsul of Asia (one or two years between 300 and 305)
  • publishes Iuris epitomarum libri VI
  • urban prefect (30 October 309-28 October 310)


According to Honoré,[1] he is important as the first Roman lawyer who made an effort to reduce the law to a small number of basic principles, such as respect for the individual will, from which solutions to concrete problems could be deduced. Both his works were exploited for Justinian's codificatory project in the late 520s and early 530s: Hermogenian's Codex formed a major component of the Codex Justinianus and his Iuris epitomae were excerpted for the Digest. In this form they became authoritative sources of law for the post-Justinianic empire and the revived medieval and early modern Roman law tradition based on the Corpus Juris Civilis, in which his ideas were further developed by the natural law and historical schools of jurisprudence from the 17th century onwards.


  1. ^ a b Honoré, Anthony Maurice, "Aurelius (?) Hermogenianus", biography.jrank.org, p. 5115 [permanent dead link].
  2. ^ Jones, Arnold Hugh (Hugo) Martin; Martindale, John R.; Morris, John (1971), Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire vol. 1, A.D.260–395, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-07233-5 , Hannibalianus 3.
  3. ^ Digest. 1.5.2 (Hermogenianus, lib. I iuris epit.): Cum igitur hominum causa omne ius constitutum sit, primo de personarum statu ac post de ceteris, ordinem edicti perpetui secuti et his proximos atque coniunctos applicantes titulos ut res patitur, diximus.
  4. ^ Liebs, Detlef (1964), Hermogenians Iuris Epitome, Göttingen ; Dovere, Elio (2005), De iure: l'esordio delle Epitomi di Ermogeniano, Naples , with palingenesia, pp. 115–130.
  5. ^ Lenel, Otto (1889), Palingenesia Iuris Civilis. Iuris consultorum reliquiae quae Justiniani digestis continentur, ceteraque iuris prudentiae civilis fragmenta minora secundum auctores et libros, 1, Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, pp. 265–278 , with Supplementum in Sierl, Lorenz E. (1960), Nachträge zu Lenel’s Palingenesia iuris civilis anhand der Papyri, Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt ; Watson, Alan, ed. (2009), The Digest of Justinian, Revised edition, vol. 1, Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, ISBN 978-0-8122-2033-9 , vol. 2, ISBN 978-0-8122-2034-6 , vol. 3, ISBN 978-0-8122-2035-3 , vol.4, ISBN 978-0-8122-2036-0 .
  6. ^ Digest. 28.1.41, 39.4.10, and 49.14.46.
  7. ^ Sedulius, Opus Paschale: Epistula ad Macedonium altera (Panagl, Victoria, ed. (2007), Sedulii Opera omnia: una cum excerptis ex Remigii expositione in Sedulii paschale carmen, recensuit et commentario critico instruxit Iohannes Huemer, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, 10, Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, ISBN 978-3-7001-3681-1 ), p. 172, lines 10–11: Cognoscant Hermogenianum, doctissimum iurislatorem, tres editiones sui operis confecisse.
  8. ^ Honoré, Anthony Maurice (1994), Emperors and Lawyers, Second edition, completely revised, with a Palingenesia of Third-Century Imperial Rescripts 193–305 AD, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN 978-0-19-825769-1 , pp. 163–80, 191 – secretary No 20.
  9. ^ Année Epigraphique 1987, 456 [Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg  HD008755; Epigraphic Database Roma  EDR080551]: [F]lavio V[alerio]| Constan[tio]| fortissim[o ac]| nobiliss(imo) Ca[es(ari) | I]ulius Asclepio[dotus]| v(ir) c(larissimus) et Aur(elius) Her[mo|g]enianus v(ir) [em(inentissimus)]| praeff(ecti) prae[t(orio)]| d(evoti) n(umini) m(aiestati)q(ue) eius. See Chastagnol, André (1989), "Un nouveau préfet du prétoire de Dioclétien: Aurelius Hermogenianus", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 78: 165–68, JSTOR 20187130 .
  10. ^ E.gg. T. Cl(audius) Aurelius Aristobulus (consul in AD 285; proconsul of Africa 290–294): Prosopographia Imperii Romani2 C 806, Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, 1 Aristobulus; Pomponius Ianuarianus (consul in AD 288; urban prefect AD 288–289): PIR2 P 722, PLRE, 1 Ianuarianus 2; Afranius Hannibalianus (consul AD 292, urban prefect AD 297): PIR2 A 444, PLRE, 1 Hannibalianus 3.
  11. ^ Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum III 7069 = Frisch, Peter (1975), Die Inschriften von Ilion, Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, 3, Bonn: Habelt, ISBN 978-3-7749-1211-3 , No 98, with Tafel 19: [D(omino) n(ostro) p]rov[identissimo | ac] victor[iosissimo principi (or imp(eratori) Caes(ari)) | C(aio) (or M(arco)) A]urelio V[alerio Diocletiano or Maximiano pio | fe]lici Aug(usto) vac. | M(arcus)? A]ur(elius) Hermoge[nianus v(ir) c(larissimus) | pr]oconsul vac. [d(evotus) n(umini) m(aiestati)q(ue) e(ius)].
  12. ^ Chronographus anni 354 (ed. Theodor Mommsen, Chronica minora I, p. 67): Maxentio II et Romulo (consulibus), III kal(endas) Novem(bres), Aurelius Hermogenes (sic) praefectus urbis (Prosopographia Imperii Romani2 A 1527, Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, 1 Hermogenes 8).
  13. ^ Salway, Benet (2006), "Equestrian prefects and the award of senatorial honours from the Severans to Constantine", in Kolb, Anne, Herrschaftsstrukturen und Herrschaftspraxis: Konzepte, Prinzipien und Strategien der Administration im römischen Kaiserreich: Akten der Tagung an der Universität Zürich, 18.-20. 10. 2004, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, pp. 115–135, ISBN 978-3-05-004149-0 , at p. 130.