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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.
Codified by Justinian I and published under his aegis in A.D. 533, this celebrated work of legal history forms a fascinating picture of ordinary life in Rome.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Justinian I (483 -565) was Eastern Roman Emperor from 527 until his death. One of the most important rulers of Late Antiquity, he is best remembered for his reform of the legal code through the commission of Tribonian the military expansion of imperial territory that was achieved during his reign, primarily through the campaigns of Belisarius and his marriage and partnership with his wife Empress Theodora. He is also known as "The last Roman Emperor" and was the emperor who reconquered the city of Rome from the Ostrogoths.