00536 - Institutes in Roman Law (A-C)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Life on land Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course is intended to present, by analysing the origins and evolution of the fundamental institutions in Roman law, an effective instrument for the comprehension of the contemporary law, regarding in particular the private law, while not neglecting the historical contextualisation of the period during which the extraordinary experience of Roman law has developed.

Course contents

The course will be divided into two parts: the first part offers a historical perspective and the second a dogmatic one. The first part will take into consideration the principle stages of Roman legal history from the Law of the Twelve Tablets to the epoch of Justinian. In this context, while not neglecting some considerations on the constitutional changes, it will be analysed the evolution of the concept of law and its classifications (ius naturale, ius civile, ius gentium); the history of the pontifical and secular jurisprudence and its role on the law development; the relation between ius civile and ius honorarium; the legislative enactments of the emperors in various forms; the vulgar law and post-classical sources; the codes in late antiquity. Special attention will be given to the Justinian age and to the compilation of the Corpus Iuris Civilis, which represents an experience of extraordinary importance for the world legal history. In detail: the figure of Justinian and his main collaborators; the first and the second Code; the Digest and the theories about his compilation; the Institutes; the Novels and their collections; the relation between Justinian law and classical law; the attention of the emperor to the theological problems and religious policy; the reform of the state between reconquest and routine. The second part will take into consideration the fundamental institutions of Roman private law. The analysis of the law of persons will focus on the legal regulation of slavery in its historical evolution, the emergence of concepts of legal capacity and capacity to act, the problems related to the birth and death of an individual, the features and privileges of Roman citizenship and the effects of his grant to all the inhabitants of the empire. Special attention will be given to the singularity of Roman family centred on the figure of the pater familias; the marriage, the divorce and de facto unions; the legal status of children and the legitimation; the gradual emergence of a patrimonial autonomy of the descendents and the connected institutions; adoption and arrogation; guardianship and care. The part which regards the real rights will take into consideration the characteristics of the quiritarian ownership and the other types of ownership known in Roman law; the problems concerning the modes of original and derivative acquisition; the subordinate real rights and the possession. The law of obligations will begin from the concept of obligation and its sources. It will be analysed various types of obligations, the performance, the non-performance and its consequences. It will be analysed the origin of the concept of contract and the single figures of typical contracts in their division into four parts (real, verbal, literal, consensual). As regards the successions, it will be presented the basic concepts: the general notions, to the various kinds of the succession and their relations, the testament, the legacies. Also it will be traced the evolution of the Roman civil procedure in its principal forms: the legis actiones, the formulary system and the cognitio extra ordinem. In this context more attention will be dedicated to the relation between substantive law and trial, the various kinds of actions and the role of praetor.

First part

  1. Historical development of Roman private law. Periodization;
  2. Sources of law;
  3. The Gaius’ catalogue: leges and mores;
  4. Plebiscita;
  5. Senatus consulta and constitutiones principum;
  6. Responsa prudentium;
  7. Edicts issued by magistrates;
  8. The postclassical age: leges and iura;
  9. The Law of citations;
  10. The Theodosian Code;
  11. The age of Justinian;
  12. Justinian’s Compilation. The codes;
  13. The Digest and the Institutes;
  14. The Justinian’s Novels;
  15. The summa divisio de iure personarum;
  16. The slavery. Forms of manumissiones;
  17. The marriage and de facto unions;
  18. The patria potestas;
  19. The adoptio and the adrogatio;
  20. The guardianships and care.

Second part

  1. Things (concept, partitions, relevant typologies);
  2. The ownership. Quiritarian ownership: characters and limits;
  3. The in bonis habere. The provincial ownership;
  4. Ownership in postclassical and justinian’s period;
  5. The defense of ownership;
  6. The modes of derivative acquisition of ownership;
  7. The real rights: servitudes;
  8. The usufruct and related figures;
  9. The possession;
  10. The concept of obligatio;
  11. The performance;
  12. Various types of obligations;
  13. The non performance and the mora;
  14. Sources of obligations;
  15. The contract;
  16. The real contracts;
  17. The verbal contracts;
  18. The consensual contracts: contract of sale;
  19. The locatio conductio;
  20. The societas;
  21. The mandatum;
  22. Unnamed contracts;
  23. The pacta;
  24. The delicta. General notions;
  25. Theft;
  26. Robbery;
  27. Damage;
  28. Injury;
  29. Death and succession: delatio hereditatis;
  30. The acceptance of the inheritance (requirements, forms, effects, defense);
  31. The bonorum possessio;
  32. The succession ab intestato;
  33. The testament and its forms;
  34. The institution of the heir and the substitutions;
  35. Successio contra tabulas;
  36. The codicilli;
  37. The legacies;
  38. The fideicommissa;
  39. The donatio.

For students who need to integrate 1, 2, or 3 CFU

Students who need to integrate one CFU must study the first chapter of the following volume: G. Luchetti, Materiali per un corso di storia del diritto romano, III, Dominato, Pàtron, Bologna, 2004.

Students who need to integrate two CFU must study the two chapters of the following volume: G. Luchetti, Materiali per un corso di storia del diritto romano, III, Dominato, Pàtron, Bologna, 2004.

Students who need to integrate three CFU must study the first three chapters of the following volume: G. Luchetti, Materiali per un corso di storia del diritto romano, III, Dominato, Pàtron, Bologna, 2004.

For Erasmus students

The Erasmus students’ exam program will be agreed upon with the holder of the course.

For students who intend to obtain recognition of examinations abroad (Erasmus, Overseas or other exchange programs)

The holder of the course will evaluate from time to time the congruity of the proposed content with the study subject of the discipline.


D. Dalla, R. Lambertini, Istituzioni di diritto romano, III ed., Giappichelli, Torino, 2006, pp. 482; except cap. II, par. 9; cap. III, parr. 10, 14; cap. IV; cap. V, parr. 9, 12, 13, 15; cap. VI, parr. 16, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26; cap. VII, par. 8.

In addition to the mentioned text:

G. Luchetti, Materiali per un corso di storia del diritto romano. III. Dominato, Pàtron, Bologna, 2004, pp. 248;


R. Bonini, Introduzione allo studio dell'età giustinianea, IV ed., Pàtron, Bologna, 1985, pp. 132.


G. Luchetti, Nuovi contributi di diritto tardoimperiale e giustinianeo, Bologna, 2021.

Teaching methods

Please note that lessons will be held in the first semester and, therefore, those who obtain the attestation of frequency in the current accademic years will be able to take the exam from January 2020.

There are no preparatory courses for this course.

Assessment methods

The final exam will consist of a verbal examination on the entire program of the course.

The interview aims to evaluate the achievement of the following educational objectives:

- understanding the fundamental institutions in Roman law;

- understanding the methods of elaboration and trasmission of Roman juridical thought and the impact on the in modern private law.

The evaluation of the examination will be carried out taking into consideration:

- the knowledge of institutional profiles;

- the ability to analyze the decisions of the courts and the opinions of academic commentators;

- the ability to make connections among the different parts of the program;

- the ability to develop critical arguments;

- the articulation of the exposure;

- the accuracy of the exposure.

Registration for the final exam will have to be done using the Almaesami platform (https://almaesami.unibo.it/almaesami/welcome.htm).

Bachelor's Thesis

The Bachelor's thesis project will be discussed and agreed upon with the professor from time to time.

Seminars will be organized for the Bachelor’s candidates to illustrate the main tools of historical-legal research and their correct use for writing the thesis.

Teaching tools

The teaching materials will be made available through the "Insegnamenti OnLine" platform (https://iol.unibo.it/).

Students which need compensatory tools for reasons of disability or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) will communicate to the teacher their needs so as to be directed to the dedicated person and arrange on the adoption of the most appropriate measures.

Office hours

See the website of Giovanni Luchetti