Penus iuris civilis, siue De alimentis tractatus…Aviarium iuris civilis…Ardua sapientis cuiusdam Graeci.

Lyon, apud Ioan. Tornaesium, et Guil. Gazeium, 1550.


4to. 3 works in 1, pp. 69 (iii) 50, lacking final blank. Roman letter, little Italic or Greek. Woodcut vignette to t-p, white on black initials. Varying degrees of age browning and slight marginal foxing, light water stain to outer corners, small worm trail to outer blank margin of o3-o4, repaired to p5. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, traces of ties, ink lettered spine, early illegible autograph to fep and t-p, armorial woodcut stamp to verso of t-p.

Extremely interesting collection of two works on food and animal management regulations, with an appended, brief legal disputation. Étienne Forcadel (1519-78) was professor of law at Toulouse and author of poetic and legal works. The first two works in this collection—‘De alimentis tractatus’ and ‘Aviarium iuris civilis’—exemplify the active C16 interest in Roman law, as filtered by the commentaries of Justinian’s medieval glossators, seeking to reconcile this ancient legal tradition with the customary law regulating the world of landowners and merchants (‘Studies in Roman Law’, 55). ‘Tractatus’ begins with an introduction to the legal concepts of ‘penus’ which meant food and drink that could be stored and consumed by a household. Forcadel discusses key questions quoting theories of ancient jurists: e.g., does ‘penus’ include only food? Does it include drink and if so also wine or other alcoholic beverages? The rest of the work is concerned with very detailed food categorisations, especially types of cereals, wine, oil and salt. Three sections are devoted to wine: each type (e.g., oenomel, sweet, ‘passum’) should have an agreed and controlled denomination and its nature and taste always correspond to those of that denomination. This will make it easier to identify doctored wine unsuitable for selling, either with the addition of vinegar or water. Interestingly, Forcadel divides fruit or produce into ‘naturales’ (e.g., grapes and olives) and ‘industriales’ (e.g., wine and oil), the latter being among the earliest occurrences of the term to mean something which ‘nature alone cannot offer’ without human ‘industria’, seen as productive labour. He also examines types of storerooms and vases for food preservation, and the distribution of provisions in kind to those who cannot afford food. The second work—‘Aviarium iuris civilis’—discusses the laws relating to wild and domestic fowl (e.g., eagles, pheasants, hens and panther-birds) and circumstances of selling (e.g., if one buys a pheasant with chicks, are the chicks included in the price?) and hunting (e.g., can a hunter keep a bird killed in someone else’s property?). There is also a chapter devoted to criminal law, e.g., the stealing of chickens and punishment for letting them run free and escape. The brief appendix presents a legal argument between a Greek and a ‘stultus’ Roman. An unusual and extremely dense volume shedding light onto the complex food and animal-management regulations in the world of early modern farmers and merchants.

Adams F741; Simon 265. Not in BM STC Fr., Bitting, Vicaire, Oberlé or Brunet.


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