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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 478 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BASILICA, a code of law, drawn up in the Greek language, with a view to putting an end to the uncertainty which prevailed throughout the East Roman empire in the 9th century as to the authorized sources of law. This uncertainty had been brought about by the conflicting opinions of the jurists of the 6th century as to the proper interpretation to be given to the legislation of the emperor Justinian, from which had resulted a system of teaching which had deprived that legislation of all authority, and the imperial judges at last were at a loss to know by what rules of law they were to regulate their decisions. An endeavour had been made by the emperor Leo the Isaurian to remedy this evil, but his attempted reform of the law had been rather calculated to increase its uncertainty; and it was reserved for Basil the Macedonian to show himself worthy of the throne, which he had usurped, by purifying the administration of justice and once more reducing the law into an intelligible code. There has been considerable controversy as to the part which the emperor Basil took in framing the new code. There is, however, no doubt that he abrogated in a formal manner the ancient laws, which had fallen into desuetude, and the more probable opinion would seem to be, that he caused a revision to be made of the ancient laws which were to continue in force, and divided them into forty books, and that this code of laws was subsequently enlarged and distributed into sixty books by his son Leo the Philosopher. A further revision of this code is stated to have been made by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the son and successor of Leo, but this statement rests only on the authority of Theodorus Balsamon, a very learned canonist of the 12th century, who, in his preface to the Nomocanon of Patriarch Photius, cites passages from the Basilica which differ from the text of the code as revised by the emperor Leo. The weight of authority, however, is against any further revision of the code having been made after the formal revision which it underwent in the reign of the emperor Leo, who appointed a commission of jurists under the presidency of Sympathius, the captain of the body-guard, to revise the work of his father, to which he makes allusion in the first of his Novellae. This latter conclusion is the more probable from the circumstance, that the text of the code, as revised by the emperor Leo, agrees with the citations from the Basilica which occur in the works of Michael Psellus and Michael Attaliates, both of them high dignitaries of the court of Constantinople, who lived a century before Balsamon, and who are silent as to any second revision of the code having taken place in the reign of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, as well as with other citations from the Basilica, which are found in the writings of Mathaeus Blastares and of Constantine Harmenopulus, both tif whom wrote shortly after Balsamon, and the latter of whom was far too learned a jurist and too accurate a lawyer to cite any but the official text of the code. Authors are not agreed as to the origin of the term Basilica, by which the code of the emperor Leo is now distinguishe i. The code itself appears to have been originally entitled The Revision of the Ancient Laws (1'j avaKaOapols TCOV ira)tau,p vhµwv); next there came into use the title i] EE11KOPri 3c(3AOS, derived from the division of the work into sixty books; and finally, before the conclusion of the loth century, the code came to be designated 6 ,BaviXucbs, or Ta SaQAAura, being elliptical forms of 6 (3avcAIK6s voµos and Ta /3aoILALKa vbµiµa, namely the Imperial Law or the Imperial Constitutions. This explanation of the term " Basilica " is more probable than the derivation of it from the name of the father of the emperor Leo, inasmuch as the Byzantine jurists of the 11th and 12th centuries ignored altogether the part which the emperor Basil had taken in initiating the legal reforms, which were completed by his son; besides the name of the father of the emperor Leo was written Owl's cuss, from which substantive, according to the genius of A, High altar. B, Altar of our Lord. C, C, Steps to crypt. D, Crypt. F ( Chorus cantorum. G, Our Lady's altar. H, Bishop's throne. K, South porch with altar. L, North porch containing school. M, Archbishop Odo's tomb. the ancient Greek language, the adjective I3av5X KOS could not the Acta Archelai et Manetis c. 53i only became known in its well be derived. I complete form later, and was published by L. Traube in the Sitzungsbericht der Miinchener Akad., phil, histor. K1. (1903), pp. 533-549. Irenaeus (Adv. Haet'. i. 24 §§ 3-7) gives a sketch of Basilides' school of thought, perhaps derived from Justin's Syntagma. Closely related to this is the account in the Syntagma of Hippolytus, which is preserved in Epipha.nius, Haer. 24, Philaster, Haer. 32, and Pseudo-Tertullian, Haer. These are completed and confirmed by a number of scattered notices in the Stromateis of Clemens Alexandrinus. An essentially different account, with a pronounced monistic tendency, is presented by the so-called Philosophumena of Hippolytus (vii. 20-27; X. 14). Whether this last account, or that given by Irenaeus and in the Syntagma of Hippolytus, represents the original system of Basilides, has been the subject of a long controversy. (See Hilgenfeld p. 205, note 337.) The most recent opinion tends to decide against the Philosophumena; for, in its composition, Hippolytus appears to have used as his principal source the compendium of a Gnostic author who has introduced into most of the systems treated by him, in addition to the employment of older sources, his own opinions or those of his sect. The Philosophumena, therefore, cannot be taken into account in describing the teaching of Basilides (see also H. Stachelin, " Die gnostischen Quellen Hippolyts " in Texte and Untersuchungen, vi. 3; and the article GNOSTICISM). A comparison of the surviving fragments of Basilides, moreover, with the outline of his system in Irenaeus-Hippolytus (Syntagma) shows that the account given by the Fathers of the Church is also in the highest degree untrustworthy. The principal and most characteristic points are not noticed by them. If we assume, as we must needs do, that the opinions which Basilides promulgates as the teaching of the " barbari " (Acta Archelai c. 55) were in fact his own, the fragments prove him to have been a decided dualist, and his teaching an interesting further development of oriental (Tranian) dualism. Entirely consistent with this is the information given by the Acta Archelai that Basilides, before he came to Alexandria, had appeared publicly among the Persians (fuit praedicator apud Persas); and the allusion to his having appealed to prophets with oriental names, Barkabbas and Barkoph (Agrippa in Eusebius Hist. Ecd. iv. 7 § 7). So too his son Isidorus explained the prophecies of a certain Parchor (=Barkoph) and appealed to the prophecies of Chaml (Clemens Alexandrinus, Stromat. vi. 6 § 53). Thus Basilides assumed the existence of two principles, not derivable from each other: Light and Darkness. These had existed for a long time side by side, without knowing any-thing of each other, but when they perceived each other, the Light had only looked and then turned away; but the Darkness, seized with desire for the Light, had made itself master, not indeed of the Light itself, but only of its reflection ,(species, color). Thus they had been in a position to form this world: uncle nec perfectum bonum est in hoc mundo, et quad est, valde est exiguum. This speculation is clearly a development of that which the Iranian cosmology has to tell about the battles between Ahura-Mazda and Angro-Mainyu (Ormuzd and Ahriman). The Iranian optimism has been replaced here by a strong pessimism. This material world is no longer, as in Zoroastrianism, essentially a creation of the good God, but the powers of evil have created it with the aid of some stolen portions of light. This is practically the transference of Iranian dualism to the more Greek antithesis of soul and body, spirit and matter (cf. Irenaeus 24 § 5: animae autem eorum solam esse salutem, corpus enim natura corruptibile existit). The fundamental dualism of Basilides is confirmed also by one or two other passages. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Basilides saw the proof of naturam sine radice et sine loco rebus supervenientem (Acta Archelai). According to Clemens, Strom. iv. 12 § 83, &c., Basilides taught that even those who have not sinned in act, even Jesus himself, possess a sinful nature. It is possibly also in connexion with the dualism of his fundamental 1 = Nimrod = Zoroaster, cf. Pseudo-Clement, Homil. ix. 3. Recogn. iv. 27. No perfect MS. has been preserved of the text of the Basilica, and the existence of any portion of the code seems to have been ignored by the jurists of western Europe, until the important bearing of it upon the study of the Roman law was brought to their attention by Viglius Zuichemus, in his preface to his edition of the Greek Paraphrase of Theophilus, published in 1533. A century, however, elapsed before an edition of the sixty books of the Basilica, as far as the MSS. then known to exist supplied materials, was published in seven volumes, by Charles Annibal Fabrot, under the patronage of Louis XIII. of France, who assigned an annual stipend of two thousand livres to the editor during its publication, and placed at his disposal the royal printing-press. This edition, although it was a great undertaking and a work of considerable merit, was a very imperfect representation of the original code. A newly-restored and far more complete text of the sixty books of the Basilica was published at Leipzig in six volumes (1833-1870), edited by K. W. E. Heimbach and G. E. Heimbach. It may seem strange that so important a body of law as the Basilica should not have come down to us in its integrity, but a letter has been preserved, which was addressed by Mark the patriarch of Alexandria to Theodorus Balsamon, from which it appears that copies of the Basilica were in the 12th century very scarce, as the patriarch was unable to procure a copy of the work. The great bulk of the code was an obstacle to the multiplication of copies of it, whilst the necessity for them was in a great degree superseded by the publication from time to time of synopses and encheiridia of its contents, composed by the most eminent jurists, of which a very full account will be found in the Hisloire au droit byzantin, by the advocate Mortreuil, published in Paris in 1846.
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