Twelve Tables

See about the Twelve Tables.

Source of the English translation: Oliver J. Thatcher, ed., The Library of Original Sources (Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co., 1901), Vol. III: The Roman World, pp. 9-11. The text is modernized.

Only random quotations from the Twelve Tables are extant, so that much knowledge of their contents derives from references in later juridical writings (these are included in the English translation).
Tabula I   Table I.
si in ius vocat, ito. ni it, antestamino. igitur em capito.

si calvitur pedemve struit, manum endo iacito. si morbus aevitasve vitium escit, iumentum dato. si nolet, arceram ne sternito.

assiduo vindex assiduus esto. proletario iam civi quis volet vindex esto.

nex . . . forti sanati . . .

rem ubi pacunt, orato. ni pacunt, in comitio aut in foro ante meridiem caussam coiciunto. com peroranto ambo praesentes. post meridiem praesenti litem addicito. si ambo praesentes, solis occasus suprema tempestas esto.

vades . . . subvades . . .

  1. If anyone summons a man before the magistrate, he must go. If the man summoned does not go, let the one summoning him call the bystanders to witness and then take him by force. 

2. If he shirks or runs away, let the summoner lay hands on him. 

3. If illness or old age is the hindrance, let the summoner provide a team. He need not provide a covered carriage with a pallet unless he chooses. 

4. Let the protector of a landholder be a landholder; for one of the proletariat, let anyone that cares, be protector.

6-9. When the litigants settle their case by compromise, let the magistrate announce it. If they do not compromise, let them state each his own side of the case, in the comitium of the forum before noon. Afterwards let them talk it out together, while both are present. After noon, in case either party has failed to appear, let the magistrate pronounce judgment in favor of the one who is present. If both are present the trial may last until sunset but no later. 

Tabula II   Table II.
<actor dicito:> ex sponsione te mihi . . . dare oportere aio. quando tu negas, te praetor iudicem sive arbitrum postulo uti des.

. . . morbus sonticus . . . aut status dies cum hoste . . . quid horum fuit unum iudici arbitrove reove, eo dies diffissus esto.

cui testimonium defuerit, is tertiis diebus ob portum obvagulatum ito.

  2. He whose witness has failed to appear may summon him by loud calls before his house every third day.
Tabula III   Table III.
aeris confessi rebusque iure iudicatis XXX dies iusti sunto.

post deinde manus iniectio esto. in ius ducito. ni iudicatum facit aut quis endo eo in iure vindicit, secum ducito, vincito aut nervo aut compedibus XV pondo, ne maiore aut si volet minore vincito. si volet suo vivito, ni suo vivit, qui eum vinctum habebit, libras faris endo dies dato. si volet, plus dato.

tertiis nundinis partis secanto. si plus minusve secuerunt, se fraude esto adversus hostem aeterna auctoritas <esto>.

  1. One who has confessed a debt, or against whom judgment has been pronounced, shall have thirty days to pay it in. After that forcible seizure of his person is allowed. The creditor shall bring him before the magistrate. Unless he pays the amount of the judgment or some one in the presence of the magistrate interferes in his behalf as protector the creditor so shall take him home and fasten him in stocks or fetters. He shall fasten him with not less than fifteen pounds of weight or, if he choose, with more. If the prisoner choose, he may furnish his own food. If he does not, the creditor must give him a pound of meal daily; if he choose he may give him more. 

2. On the third market day let them divide his body among them. If they cut more or less than each one's share it shall be no crime.

3. Against a foreigner the right in property shall be valid forever. 

Tabula IV   Table IV.
si pater filium ter venum duit, filius a patre liber esto.   1. A dreadfully deformed child shall be quickly killed.

2. If a father sell his son three times, the son shall be free from his father. 

3. As a man has provided in his will in regard to his money and the care of his property, so let it be binding. If he has no heir and dies intestate, let the nearest agnate have the inheritance. If there is no agnate, let the members of his gens have the inheritance. 

4. If one is mad but has no guardian, the power over him and his money shall belong to his agnates and the members of his gens

5. A child born after ten months since the father's death will not be admitted into a legal inheritance.

Tabula V   Table V.
uti legassit super pecunia tutelave suae rei, ita ius esto. si intestato moritur, cui suus heres nec escit, adgnatus proximus familiam habeto. si adgnatus nec escit, gentiles familiam habento.

si furiosus escit, adgnatum gentiliumque in eo pecuniaque eius potestas esto. . . . ast ei custos nec escit . . .

ex ea familia . . . in eam familiam.

  1. Females should remain in guardianship even when they have attained their majority.
Tabula VI   Table VI.
cum nexum faciet mancipiumque, uti lingua nuncupassit, ita ius esto.

si qui in iure manum conserunt tignum iunctum aedibus vineave sei concapit ne solvito . . .. duplione . . . quandoque sarpta, donec dempta erunt.

  1. When one makes a bond and a conveyance of property, as he has made formal declaration so let it be binding. 

3. A beam that is built into a house or a vineyard trellis one may not take from its place. 

5. Usucapio of movable things requires one year's possession for its completion; but usucapio of an estate and buildings two years.

6. Any woman who does not wish to be subjected in this manner to the hand of her husband should be absent three nights in succession every year, and so interrupt the usucapio of each year. 

Tabula VII   Table VII.
. . . ambitus . . . sestertius pes . . .

si iurgant . . . tres arbitri . . .

viam muniunto: ni sam delapidassint, qua volet iumento agito.

si aqua pluvia nocet . . .

  1. Let them keep the road in order. If they have not paved it, a man may drive his team where he likes.

9. Should a tree on a neighbor's farm be bend crooked by the wind and lean over your farm, you may take legal action for removal of that tree.

10. A man might gather up fruit that was falling down onto another man's farm.

Tabula VIII   Table VIII.
qui malum carmen incantassit . . .

si membrum rup<s>it, ni cum eo pacit, talio esto.

manu fustive si os fregit libero, CCC <assium>, si servo, CL <assium> poenam subito si iniuriam faxsit, viginti quinque poenae <asses> sunto.

. . . rup<s>it . . . sarcito.

qui fruges excantassit . . . neve alienam segetem pellexeris . . . <capite>. . . si nox furtum faxsit, si occisit, iure caesus esto.

luci . . . si se telo defendit, . . . endoque plorato.

lance et licio <ito>.

si adorat furto, quod nec manifestum erit . . ., <duplione damnum decidito>.

patronus si clienti fraudem fecerit,, sacer esto.

qui se sierit testarier libripensve fuerit, ni testimonium fatiatur, inprobus intestabilisque esto.

si telum manu fugit magis quam iecit, <arietem subicito>.

  2. If one has maimed a limb and does not compromise with the injured person, let there be retaliation. If one has broken a bone of a freeman with his hand or with a cudgel, let him pay a penalty of three hundred coins If he has broken the bone of a slave, let him have one hundred and fifty coins. If one is guilty of insult, the penalty shall be twenty-five coins.

3. If one is slain while committing theft by night, he is rightly slain. 

4. If a patron shall have devised any deceit against his client, let him be accursed. 

5. If one shall permit himself to be summoned as a witness, or has been a weigher, if he does not give his testimony, let him be noted as dishonest and incapable of acting again as witness. 

10. Any person who destroys by burning any building or heap of corn deposited alongside a house shall be bound, scourged, and put to death by burning at the stake provided that he has committed the said misdeed with malice aforethought; but if he shall have committed it by accident, that is, by negligence, it is ordained that he repair the damage or, if he be too poor to be competent for such punishment, he shall receive a lighter punishment.

12. If the theft has been done by night, if the owner kills the thief, the thief shall be held to be lawfully killed.

13. It is unlawful for a thief to be killed by day....unless he defends himself with a weapon; even though he has come with a weapon, unless he shall use the weapon and fight back, you shall not kill him. And even if he resists, first call out so that someone may hear and come up.

23. A person who had been found guilty of giving false witness shall be hurled down from the Tarpeian Rock.

26. No person shall hold meetings by night in the city.

Tabula IX   Table IX.
<privilegia ne inroganto.>

<de capite civis nisi per maximum comitiatum . . . ne ferunto.>

  4. The penalty shall be capital for a judge or arbiter legally appointed who has been found guilty of receiving a bribe for giving a decision. 

5. Treason: he who shall have roused up a public enemy or handed over a citizen to a public enemy must suffer capital punishment.

6. Putting to death of any man, whosoever he might be unconvicted is forbidden.

Tabula X   Table X.
hominem mortuum in urbe ne sepelito neve urito.

. . . hoc plus ne facito: rogum ascea ne polito.

mulieres genas ne radunto neve lessum funeris ergo habento.

homine mortuo ne ossa legito, quo post funus faciat.

qui coronam parit ipse pecuniave eius honoris virtutisve ergoduitur ei . . .

neve aurum addito. at cui auro dentes iuncti escunt. ast in cum illo sepeliet uretve, se fraude esto.

  1. None is to bury or burn a corpse in the city.

3. The women shall not tear their faces nor wail on account of the funeral. 

5. If one obtains a crown himself, or if his chattel does so because of his honor and valor, if it is placed on his head, or the head of his parents, it shall be no crime.

Tabula XI   Table XI.
<conubia plebi cum patribus>

. . . dies intercalandi . . .

. . . dies fasti . . .

  1. Marriages should not take place between plebeians and patricians.
Tabula XII   Table XII.
si servo furtum faxit noxiamve no<x>it.

si vindiciam falsam tulit, si velit is . . . tor arbitros tris dato, eorum arbitrio . . . fructus duplione damnum decidito.

  2. If a slave shall have committed theft or done damage with his master"s knowledge, the action for damages is in the slave's name.

5. Whatever the people had last ordained should be held as binding by law. 

Fragmenta incertae sedis    

transque dato




Latin Texts Main Page
Preliterary Period Main Page

Latin Language Main Page
Orbis Latinus Main Page

This page is part of Orbis Latinus
© Zdravko Batzarov