Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates
From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson
New Ordinance as to Bankruptcy
But Caesar did not confine himself to helping the debtor for the moment; he did what as legislator he could, permanently to keep down the fearful omnipotence of capital. First of all the great legal maxim was proclaimed, that freedom is not a possession commensurable with property, but an eternal right of man, of which the state is entitled judicially to deprive the criminal alone, not the debtor. It was Caesar, who, perhaps stimulated in this case also by the more humane Egyptian and Greek legislation, especially that of Solon,(68) introduced this principle--diametrically opposed to the maxims of the earlier ordinances as to bankruptcy-- into the common law, where it has since retained its place undisputed. According to Roman law the debtor unable to pay became the serf of his creditor.(69)
68. The Egyptian royal laws (Diodorus, i. 79) and likewise the legislation of Solon (Plutarch, Sol. 13, 15) forbade bonds in which the loss of the personal liberty of the debtor was made the penalty of non-payment; and at least the latter imposed on the debtor in the event of bankruptcy no more than the cession of his whole assets.
69. Cf. I. XI. Manumission
The Poetelian law no doubt had allowed a debtor, who had become unable to pay only through temporary embarrassments, not through genuine insolvency, to save his personal freedom by the cession of his property;(70) nevertheless for the really insolvent that principle of law, though doubtless modified in secondary points, had been in substance retained unaltered for five hundred years; a direct recourse to the debtor's estate only occurred exceptionally, when the debtor had died or had forfeited his burgess-rights or could not be found.
70. Cf. II. III. Continued Distress
It was Caesar who first gave an insolvent the right--on which our modern bankruptcy regulations are based-- of formally ceding his estate to his creditors, whether it might suffice to satisfy them or not, so as to save at all events his personal freedom although with diminished honorary and political rights, and to begin a new financial existence, in which he could only be sued on account of claims proceeding from the earlier period and not protected in the liquidation, if he could pay them without renewed financial ruin.
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