How to get your stuff back when the Romans stole it.

Some late night Latin translation. Festus wrote an abridgement of a lexicon by Verrius to which he added his own adaptations and supplements, but it barely survived into the modern world. Seriously: only one manuscript copy made it, and that was missing pages and damaged by pests, aging, and fire! Also surviving is an abridgment by Paul the Deacon. That's right, an abridgement of an abridgement, which was pretty common, concern for the busy pace of life not being merely a modern phenomenon.

Here's what Festus had to say about the reciperatores in ancient Rome, an institution dating back to at least 171 BCE. Latin from Lindsay's 1913 edition, trans. (along with any errors) my own. Some nice, if rather outdated, commentary on the biography and manuscript tradition of Festus is available online.

N.b. the reciperatores were members of a board at Rome appointed to oversee the legal process of claims for recovery. The word literary means 'recoverers', but that sounds funny and could be confused with those seeking recovery, so I left it in the Latin.

Lindsay p. 342 lines 9-13 Festi Fragm. e cod. Farn. L. XVII

Reciperatio est, ut ait Gallus Aelius, cum inter populum et reges nationesque et civitates peregrinas lex convenit, quomodo per reciperatores reddantur res reciperenturque, resque privatas inter se persequantur.

Reciperatio is, as Gallus Aelius says, when the law meets foreign peoples, kings, nations and citizenships, by which things might be restored by the reciperatores and recovered, and stolen things might be pursued among one another.

p. 343 lines 1-2 Pauli Excerpta

Reciperatio est, cum inter civitates peregrinas lex convenit, ut res privatae reddantur singulis recuperenturque.

Reciperatio is, when the law meets the foreign citizenships, so that stolen things might be returned apiece and they might be restored.


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