Talk:Twelve Tables

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

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Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 11:50, 17 January 2022 (UTC)

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 24 September 2020 and 11 December 2020. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): UhOhSpaghettio378. Peer reviewers: Maugrin, AgardW40.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 11:50, 17 January 2022 (UTC)


How tall and wide were the Twelve Tables?

Wasn't there some law or prophecies in Rome that fell from the sky (shields)? Maybe they were twelve. Anyway, that's what I expected when finding the article? -- Error

The incident with shields falling from the sky had to do with Mars, king Numa Pompilius, and the Salii priesthood. Mars made a shield fall from the sky that had a prophecy for the future greatness of Rome written on it, supposedly. The king had eleven matching shields made and used them to found the Salian priesthood. This took place well before the Twelve Tables, which were made during the Republican period. -- IHCOYC

The translations seem to be too literal to be of interest to the average reader . . . I don't have access to a full translation of the Twelve Tables, but if someone who does wants to revise, that would be nice. UnDeadGoat 23:09, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

On removing the comparison to Wikipedia: I am not one of those who believes that encyclopedic is a synonym for dull, but since I made the comparison in the first place I will let others decide whether or not it should be reinstated. I would like to note that the most important part of the reason for the comparison was omitted from the comment field when the comparison was removed: "bring forward for public discussion any additions or subtractions which seemed desirable". Rick Norwood 14:15, 12 December 2005 (UTC)


I do not understand where the word sesterces in the translation comes from. I don't see the word in the in the latin, and suspect it is anachronistic. I think the first sestertii were silver coins worth 2.5 asses minted after the sack of Syracuse during Punic War I (eg. Crawford 44/7).

Lex Aternia Tarpeia of 454 BC apparently provides value conversions from the traditional oxen and sheep to asses (100 asses = 1 oxen, 10 asses = 1 sheep, 1 as is a pound of bronze; see, eg, wikipedia aes rude) (Cicero De Republica II 60). The twelve tables are older than this, so I think these should these numbers should refer to oxen or sheep.

This law in turn was followed by the Lex Iulia Papiria of 430 BC which re-tariffed the bronze to such an extent that the use of cattle was discontinued (Livy.4.30.3).

Curtius 00:59, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

More, but easy-to-understand info?[edit]

I suggest that under each of the rules, there should be some explanation as to why some people believe it was passed and possibly some more explanation about the tablets and how they were found and what else is known about them. I also suggest that there be a *remove hyperlinks* option. The hyperlinks can get very agitating when someone is trying to write a report. I suggest having all hyperlinks in a special spot on the bottom and the top of the article. Snick! 23:55, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Nietzsche quote?[edit]

Hi, I was just wondering if there are any interested Classics scholars here, Nietzsche alludes to the Twelve Tables (Genealogy II 5) saying "si plus minusve secuerunt, ne fraude esto", 'if they have cut off more or less, let that not be considered a crime'. This is meant to be in Table 3, section 6. Is this an omission? (talk) 18:59, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

odd vandalism[edit]

Why in the world is someone vandalizing the article on the Twelve Tables, of all things!? Granted, I don't get vandalism in any case, but on such an obscure article!? FeygeleGoy/פֿײגעלע גױ‎ (talk) 03:08, 11 April 2009 (UTC)


The article has the translation of "Adversus hostem aeterna auctoritas esto" as "Against a foreigner, the right of property is valid forever". Now, I can't exactly brag with my knowledge of Latin, but all definitions of the word "hostem"/"hostis" I can find seem to indicate that it means "enemy" (of the state), rather than "foreigner"; which also seems more congruent with its etymological descendant "hostile". Furthermore, "auctoritas" seem to be a more general term for various legal titles, rather than some more specific property right. Shouldn't the translation read "Against enemies of the state, legal titles are valid forever", or is it just me? --Dolda2000 (talk) 18:52, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Just a thought, but maybe it has something to do with the mindset of the early Republic. To them, all non-citizens were enemies. (talk) 13:07, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
Good point, but this is supposed to be an older meaning of the word. Lat. hostis is related to English guest and Russian gost' "guest"- both meanings can be derived from "foreigner." It is also generally believed that auctoritasis used in an archaic sense here. As well as aduorsus!
SkaraB 15:51, 10 November 2016 (UTC)

Table 2 - Civil procedure?[edit]

The translation in the external links section seems to show that Table Two is "Concerning Judgements and Thefts" but you'd never know it from the article which has an obscure excerpt labeled "Civil procedure". It seems more like criminal procedure rather than civil to me, but maybe someone who knows more about it could look into it. It's also interesting that law 6 on that table provides for detecting a thief "by means of a dish and a girdle" with various conjectures on what that meant, such as that it was a type of superstitious ordeal (likeliest explanation IMO). Is there any wikipedia article that talks about the dish and girdle method? Thanks, Til Eulenspiegel (talk) 19:25, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

anachronistic use of word 'corn'[edit]

In Table VIII the word "segetem" has been translated as "corn". Corn is a New World crop, and therefore seemingly cannot be the correct translation. I only had a few years of Latin many years ago, but looking around in various online translators/dictionaries/etc., it seems as though the word is a generic word for any crop of field grains. This has led me to be suspicious of the quality of these translations. Almost all of these fragments and associated translations were posted up at once in May, 2003, by a user who has far more background in these areas than I do, but no sources were cited. Has anyone who has studied very early Latin verified the accuracy of these translations? mooingpolarbear (talk) 17:24, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Outside the united states, Corn refers to grain generally, rather than specifically to maize as it does in America. CRATYLUS22 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:47, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

deleted section[edit]

Moving the recently deleted section here for future reference/discussion. Excerpts from the Twelve Tables or The Lex Talio

TABLE I (Civil procedure)===

Si in ius vocat, ito. Ni it, antestamino. Igitur em capito.

If someone is called to go to court, he has to go. If he does not go, a witness should be called. Only then should he be captured.

Si calvitur pedemve struit, manum endo iacito. Si morbus aevitasve vitium escit, iumentum dato. Si nolet, arceram ne sternito.

If he shirks or flees, he should be captured. If illness or old age is an impediment, let him be given acarriage. If he does not want it, it should not be covered.

Adsiduo vindex adsiduus esto. Proletario iam civi quis volet vindex esto.

Only a landowner should be surety for another landowner. But any citizen can be surety for aproletarian.

Rem ubi pacunt, orato. Ni pacunt, in comitio aut in foro ante meridiem caussam coiciunto. Com peroranto ambo praesentes. Post meridiem praesenti litem addicito. Si ambo praesentes, solis occasus suprema tempestas esto.

When parties have made an agreement, announce it. If they do not agree, they shall state their case in theForum before noon. They shall plead together in person. After noon, let the judge pronounce. If both are present, the case shall end at sunset.

TABLE II (Civil procedure)===

...morbus sonticus... aut status dies cum hoste... quid horum fuit unum iudici arbitrove reove, eo dies diffensus esto. Cui testimonium defuerit, is tertiis diebus ob portum obvagulatum ito.

Serious illness... or else a day appointed with an enemy; ... if any of these is an impediment for the judge or any party, on that day proceedings must end. One who seeks the testimony from an absent person should wait before his doorway every third day.

TABLE III (Debt)===

Aeris confessi rebusque iure iudicatis XXX dies iusti sunto.

1. In case of an admitted debt or of awards made by a court, 30 days shall be allowed for payment.

Post deinde manus iniectio esto. In ius ducito. Ni iudicatum facit aut quis endo eo in iure vindicit, secum ducito, vincito aut nervo aut compedibus XV pondo, ne maiore aut si volet minore vincito. Si volet suo vivito, ni suo vivit, qui eum vinctum habebit, libras faris endo dies dato. Si volet, plus dato.

After then, the creditor can lay hands on him and haul him to court. If he does not satisfy the judgement and no one is surety for him, the creditor may take the defendant with him in stocks or chains with a weight of no more than 15 lbs. (or less if he desires). The debtor may live on his own resources if he wishes. If he does not wish to live on his own resources, the man who has him bound must give him a pound of wheat a day. If he wants to he may give more.

Tertiis nundinis partis secanto. Si plus minusve secuerunt, se fraude esto.

On the third market day, (creditors) may cut pieces. If they take more than they are due, they do so with impunity.

Adversus hostem aeterna auctoritas esto.

Against a foreigner, the right of property is valid forever.

TABLE IV (Parents and children)===

Cito necatus insignis ad deformitatem puer esto.

If a child is born with a deformity he shall be killed.

Si pater filium ter venum duit, filius a patre liber esto.

If a father sells his son into slavery three times, the son shall be free of his father.

TABLE V (Inheritance)===

Si intestato moritur, cui suus heres nec escit, adgnatus proximus familiam habeto. Si adgnatus nec escit, gentiles familiam habento.

If a person dies intestate without heirs, the nearest [male] kinsman shall inherit. If there is no near [male] kinsmen, his clansmen shall inherit.

Si furiosus escit, adgnatum gentiliumque in eo pecuniaque eius potestas esto.

If someone goes mad, his nearest [male] kinsman shall have authority over his property.

TABLE VI (Property)===

Cum nexum faciet mancipiumque, uti lingua nuncupassit, ita ius esto.

When someone makes bond or conveyance and announces it orally, right shall be given.

Tignum iunctum aedibus vineave sei concapit ne solvito.

No one must displace beams from buildings or vineyards.

TABLE VII (Real Property)===

Viam muniunto ni sam delapidassint, qua volet iumento agito.

[A property owner must] build a road [if there is a right-of-way]; if they become dilapidated, passersby can drive their beasts where ever they want.

Si aqua pluvia nocet… iubetur ex arbitrio coerceri.

If runoff [from someone else's property] does damage, he shall be made to fix it by the judge.

TABLE VIII (Torts)===

Qui malum carmen incantassit…

Those who have incanted an "evil song"... (interpreted by Cicero as slander, in De re publica, Book IV)

Si membrum rupsit, ni cum eo pacit, talio and esto.

If one has maimed another and does not buy his peace, there be retaliation in kind.

Manu fustive si os fregit libero, CCC, si servo, CL poenam subito si iniuriam faxsit, viginti quinque poenae sunto.

Someone who breaks another's bone by hand or club must pay 300 sesterces; for a slave, 150; if he has done simple harm against another, 25.

Qui fruges excantassit… neve alienam segetem pellexeris

Someone who kills crops with a spell, or another's corn…

Patronus si clienti fraudem fecerit, sacer esto.

If a patron defrauds his client, let him be outlawed.

Qui se sierit testarier libripensve fuerit, ni testimonium fatiatur, inprobus intestabilisque esto.

If one has been called to witness, or hold the scales, unless he gives his testimony, let him be dishonoured and incapable of further testimony.

Si telum manu fugit magis quam iecit, arietem subicito.

If an object flies unaimed from your hand rather than aimed [and causes injury], you will owe a ram.[1]

TABLE IX (Constitutional principles)===

Privilegia ne irroganto.

4. Private laws (that is, laws against one individual) will not be proposed.

It is forbidden to propose laws against one single individual.

TABLE X (Funeral regulations)===

Hominem mortuum in urbe ne sepelito neve urito.

No dead man may be cremated nor buried in the City.

Qui coronam parit ipse pecuniave eius honoris virtutisve ergo arduitur ei…

When a man wins a crown, or his slave or cattle win a crown for him,…

Neve aurum addito. At cui auro dentes iuncti escunt. Ast in cum illo sepeliet uretve, se fraude esto.

No one must add gold (to a funeral pyre). But if his teeth are held together with gold, and are buried or burnt with him, it shall be disconsidered.

TABLE XI (Marriage)===

Conubia plebi cum patribus sanxerunt.

Marriages between plebeians and patricians are prohibited.

Men in the army may not wed until training is complete.

TABLE XII (Crimes)===

Si servo furtum faxit noxiamve noxit.

If a slave has committed theft or harm…

Si vindiciam falsam tulit, si velit is… tor arbitros tris dato, eorum arbitrio… fructus duplione damnum decidito.

Someone who has brought a false claim shall be brought before three judges, and shall pay a double penalty or be sent to death if he cannot do the time.

--Quadalpha (talk) 03:51, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. It would be useful to replace this confusingly presented mass with a clearer list of the laws. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:14, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, thank you. I normally copy across such things, but clearly I didn't. Agree with Cynwolfe. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 20:18, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
The problem, I think, is that we don't have a clear list of the laws but only various testimonia. We could probably give a few examples, citing where they come from, looking at a few linguistic issues, and in general doing a better job of presenting them. I will probably get around to doing that at some point, but do feel free to start without me, or implement other ideas! --Quadalpha (talk) 05:31, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Of course Quadalpha is right, it is stated in the article. The section shoudn't have been removed in the first place, it's one of the main parts of the article; if anything, it shoud be given a separate article. (talk) 02:20, 21 March 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ See A Stephenson, A History of Roman Law with Commentary on the Institutes of Gaius and Justinian (1912) 132

Dating the Twelve Tables[edit]

First off, the Twelve Tables were originally etched or cut from the outermost layers of wood (that is, the boles) from a very large tree (such as an oak), and not until much later, replaced with a series of sheets of copper. That gives us physical limits as to the size of the Twelve Tables. Anybody who has worked with copper has an idea how thick the sheets of copper were.

As for an actual age, there have been a number of scholarly publications that note how the letters R and S were interchangeable in Old Latin, especially in terms relating to "witness" being an independent third party (testis < tertis). I wish I could remember which publication that was. The main page of this article could be improved tremendously by mentioning which publication that was. In short, tertius ("third") and "testis" ("witness") were interchangeable because the letters R and S were interchangeable. The final suffix didn't contribute as much meaning to the word as its root did. Languages tend change with time, just like DNA changes. In the earliest days of Old Latin, there was a strong similarity to Proto-Italic. When people sought to corroborate their version of the facts underlying a particular legal issue, they went and got third party witnesses to appear before the magistrate. Even the word "tribunal" has been touted as being, originally, a functionary with authority to receive statements (usually oral statements) from a third position. In any case, there have been many studies connecting TESTIS with TERTIUS. Dexter Nextnumber (talk) 23:25, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

Please cite a source for any of these claims.
R and S were not interchangeable. Intervocalic S eventually became R in most environments in Latin (rhotacism), which is a completely different thing. The comment about suffixes is simply incorrect. Eponymous-Archon (talk) 19:55, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Citing Livy[edit]

Someone has cited 'Livy 2002'. Obviously Livy did not publish anything in 2002, so I'm guessing this is meant to be a citation of a 2002 edition of Livy. Does anybody know the actual citation of the original (e.g. Liv. 49.41.7 or something)? Catobonus (talk) 14:19, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

New Sources For Twelve Tables Information[edit]

Greenidge, A. H. J. “The Authenticity of the Twelve Tables.” The English Historical Review, vol. 20, no. 77, 1905, pp. 1–21.,

Steinberg, Michael. “The Twelve Tables and Their Origins: An Eighteenth-Century Debate.” Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 43, no. 3, 1982, pp. 379–396., — Preceding unsigned comment added by Drewleach (talkcontribs) 19:02, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

Better sources needed[edit]

There are numerous references to Crystalink as a source in this article, yet it is not a good source (and the text citing it generally shows it). That material should be replaced/improved. - Eponymous-Archon (talk) 20:52, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Confusing language[edit]

I fail to understand this passage:

Although faced with many issues, the Twelve Tables provided a premature understanding of some key concepts such as justice, equality, and punishment. While these ideas were not fully understood,...

Why "premature"? Who did not understand what: the Tables or the ideas expressed there? -> Please fix it if you understand what is meant here. Zezen (talk) 08:58, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

the twelve tables[edit]

hello bros — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:37, 29 March 2018 (UTC)

Twelve Tables[edit]

Do the Twelve Tables support the cause for the plebeians,who are Roman common people,or the Patricians,Roman noblemen. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

What about Table III?[edit]

The text under the heading of Table III appears to be a general description of the Twelve Tables, containing nothing specifically about Table III. Is this some kind of editing error (text from elsewhere in the article moved here by mistake)? Did we ever have a description specifically of Table III? 2607:FEA8:12A2:5A00:0:0:0:C559 (talk) 03:55, 4 February 2021 (UTC)

Evaluation of article[edit]

Overall, this article gives details needed to identify the laws expected of Roman citizens during this time. In particular, tables V, VI, and X are laws particular to women. Table V shows how, even in majority age, women are still expected to remain under guardianship. This table alone shows how little rights Roman women had at this point, having to constantly be under watch by men. Table VI brings a contradicting law when compared to table V. If a women is to live with a man she is not married to for a year, she will be considered his wife. A women must be under constant guardianship by a man, so this makes it very simple for a man to keep a women in his home for a year. Lastly, table X brings to light the way that women were viewed during this time. It presents women as obnoxious and uneducated, stating that, at a funeral, no women should "lacerate their faces" "tear their cheeks with their nails" or "utter loud cries bewailing the dead." This makes the assumption that most women would do these types of things at funerals and places all women into this group. This article contains many of the common laws followed during this time, but the laws restricting women seem to show much about their treatment at this time. All of the content in this article seems to be up to date. Also, the article gets straight to the point and makes it simple for the reader to get the basic details of the Twelve Tables and allows a person to quickly understand the topic of the article. The article does not reference as many sources as expected for this type of topic, but the sources referenced still give the main idea of the article and allow people to understand the information given. There definitely could be more images in the article but the two images that are present help tie to the article as a whole. The article's talk section mainly discusses possible improvements to the article and doesn't seem to be used too often. Mattlimoli (talk) 15:45, 29 October 2021 (UTC)