Justinian and the Corpus Iuris: An Overview
By Rafael Domingo
Published online, 2017
Introduction: The most important legal undertaking of Antiquity was the compilation of what was later called Corpus Iuris Civilis promulgated by Emperor Justinian. It is rightly said that this body of laws and jurisprudence, along with Aristotelian writings and the Bible, constitutes one of the three pillars of Western culture.
The Corpus Iuris, a true temple of justice, is both an endpoint and a starting point in world history. Histories of Rome usually end with Justinian’s Corpus Iuris; Byzantine histories and Western legal histories, on the other hand, begin with the Corpus Iuris. Justinian’s codification is the bridge that links Antiquity, the Byzantine Empire, and Europe. It is also the link between civil law and common law, and between canon law and civil law.
To know about the Corpus Iuris is to know about something that was instrumental for the development of justice and law in the past, continues to operate in the present, and will probably have its impact in the future. The Corpus Iuris, especially the Digest, has not only a historic value but an intrinsic one because it embodied the creative spirit and permanent character of all of Roman jurisprudence.