Law and Empire, AD 193-455: the Projet Volterra (2)

The general aims of the Projet Volterra (named, in association with the École Française de Rome, in honour of Edoardo Volterra (1904-1987), the distinguished scholar of Roman Law) are to promote the study of Roman legislation in its full social, political and legal context, and its continuing tradition. 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. The project has worked to produce 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 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), with details of ancient commentary and modern bibliography. While in no sense providing entirely new editions, the texts of laws included in the database are critical, including the checking of original manuscript readings where appropriate. The database is aimed at a wide range of scholars working in the broad areas of Roman law, late Roman history, and the Roman law tradition, and is advertised on the Roman Law Resources web-site ( ), which itself includes a directory of ‘Legal historians’, being representative of the target constituency.

Principal investigator
Simon Corcoran
Principal project staff
Dr Simon James Joseph Corcoran; Dr Richard William Benet Salway; Professor Michael Hewson Crawford
Start date
Friday, April 1, 2005
Completion date
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Source material
For periods 193-305 and 383-455, texts derive from Word Perfect documents on floppy disks published with T. Honoré, Emperors and Lawyers (Oxford, 1994) and Law in the Crisis of Empire (Oxford, 1998). For the period 305-383, texts were manually typed into MS Word from various published editions or sometimes copied from other web-available versions. Texts were then revised and edited in MS Word, before being entered into MS Access.

Simon Corcoran
‘The sins of the fathers: a neglected constitution of Diocletian on incest’, Journal of Legal History 21.2 (2000): 1-34
‘A fragment of a Tetrarchic constitution from Crete’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 133 (2000): 251-5
‘A Tetrarchic inscription from Corcyra and the Edictum de Accusationibus’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 141 (2002): 221-30
‘The publication of law in the era of the Tetrarchs: Diocletian, Galerius, Gregorius, Hermogenian’, in A. Demandt et al. (eds.), Diokletian und die Tetrarchie: Aspekte einer Zeitenwende (Millennium-Studien 1; Berlin/New York, 2004): 56-73