Soon after becoming emperor in A.D. 527, Justinian appointed a commission to review and codify all the legal practices of the last four centuries which were still valid. The result, The Digest of Roman Law, was first published on 16 December 533, undoubtedly one of the supreme achievments of the human mind and spirit. The fascination of the work is twofold. In the first place, Roman law pervades European history: as Colin Kolbert says in his excellent introduction, which reveals both the general and the legal background to the Digest, "it hides itself at times, but is never quite lost, always coming up alive". Indeed, apart from the actual laws, the conception of law that we take for granted originated with Rome.