Publius Iuventius Celsus
Publius Iuventius Celsus Titus Aufidius Hoenius Severianus (2nd. ct. AD) – the son of a little-known jurist of the same name, hence also Celsus filius – was, together with Julian, the most influential ancient Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 jurist of the High Classical era.

Celsus was presumably born in Upper Italy, where the name of Iuventius was common and where senatorial Iuventii can also be found. In 106 or 107 Celsus was praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

. In 114/115 he was governor of Thracia
Thracia is a Web-Based computer game created and developed by an exclusively Romanian team, part of Infotrend Consulting, and launched in 2009. At the time, it was the first endeavor of its kind. All browser games were text based, made up mostly of static content...

, and immediately afterwards, in 115, he became suffect consul. In 129 Celsus held the office of consul the second time and became proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

 of Asia in 129/130.

Celsus succeeded his father Iuventius Celsus in the Proculian school of lawyers. He was part of the Consilium of Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 and helped bring about the Senatusconsultum Iuventianum, which held that a good-faith possessor of an inheritance only had to yield it back inasmuch as he was enriched by it. Another dictum
In United States legal terminology, a dictum is a statement of opinion or belief considered authoritative though not binding, because of the authority of the person making it....

 of his, impossibilium nulla obligatio est – impossible obligations are void – has become a core tenet of civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...


Celsus' legal style was bold and biting. He left us the only definition Roman law ever conceived for itself – ius est ars boni et aequi. Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo , better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny's uncle, Pliny the Elder, helped raise and educate him...

 did, however, criticise his rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

al weaknesses. Celsus' principal work are his 39 libri digestorum.

Notable dicta

  • Ius est ars boni et aequi – Law is the art of the good and the equitable (Dig. 1, 1, 1)
  • Scire leges non hoc est verba earum tenere, sed vim ac potestatem – Knowing the laws does not mean knowing their words, but their intent and purpose (Dig. 1, 3, 17)
  • Incivile est, nisi tota lege perspecta, una aliqua particula eius proposita iudicare vel respondere – It is not artful to judge or to counsel based on a snippet of the law, without taking into consideration the law in its entirety (Dig. 1, 3, 24)
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