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Phasis 18, 2015
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
IN THE MONUMENTS OF GEORGIAN LAW
Abstract. The article focuses chiefly on the research of Latin legal terminology
presented in written monuments of Georgian Law in the 11th-21st centuries. It
describes the long history of endeavors to establish the existence of Latin legal
terms in Georgian legal sources, how they were received during different
epochs, the regularities of forming these terms in the Georgian language, their
initial meanings and other noteworthy details that are important not only from
a philological perspective but from a legal point of view. Despite the fact that
Georgia was never under the ruling of the Roman Empire, and hence, — Latin
legal terms never entered Georgian law directly from Roman law or from the
Latin language, from as early as the 11th century these terms made a significant
impact on the creation of Georgian legal terminology. Overall, they greatly
contributed to approximating Georgian law to Western legal culture.
The article is based on the work carried out personally by the author in the
framework of the interdisciplinary project Latin Law Terminology funded
by the Rustaveli National Scientific Foundation in 2012-2014.1 The project
aimed at studying the meaning of Latin legal terms in Roman law, in
1 The Head of the Project: Prof. Levan Aleksidze. Key Personell: Associate Prof. Iamze
Gagua, Associate Prof. Ekaterine Kobakhidze, Assistant Prof. Nino Rukhadze, Dr. Maia
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
modern Georgian legal acts and Georgian historical sources. Respectively,
meaning of each Latin term covered within the project2 is displayed in
three paragraphs, the first is devoted to the meaning of the term in the
Roman Law, the second – in modern Georgian legislation and the third –
in Georgian historical monuments. The meanings of the Latin term in
modern and historical legal sources of Georgia are corroborated by rele-
vant citations. The following example can serve as illustration:
Candidatus [candida’tus, “clad in white”] candidate.
I – Aspirant to magistrate’s position.
II – A person nominated to be elected or appointed in a state or a private
organization. An employer is authorized to obtain information on the
candidate, which the employer requires for making decision on his em-
III – “Whenever a Chief Priest or Archimandrite died, the Catholicos nom-
inated a candidate and, if the king wished, would approve him”(Law Pr.
Dav. 6, 8).
As seen from the example, the project mainly focused on the meanings
and function of Latin legal terms in Roman law and the modern Georgian
legislation, correspondingly its format did not envisage a systematic anal-
ysis of the cases of confirmed primary usage of Latin legal terms revealed
in Georgian legal sources, which leads us to making considerable conclu-
The present article serves the purpose of rectifying this flaw and shows
a centuries-old history of endeavoring establishment of the existence of
Latin legal terms in Georgian legal sources, the ways of their reception in
different epochs, the regularities of forming these terms in the Georgian
language, their initial meanings and many other noteworthy details that
are important not only from a philological perspective but from a legal
point of view.
We can tentatively divide Latin legal terminology, in terms of the chro-
nology of establishment of their usage in Georgian legal sources, into the
2 Discussion on selection of terms for the purposes of the work and their legal status is
presented in Aleksidze, Gagua, Danelia, Kobakhidze and Rukhadze 2015.
3 Georgian Labor Code, 5th (1) Article (2010).
A) The terms introduced in the 11th-12th centuries;
B) The terminology first confirmed in the 18th-19th centuries;
C) The legal terms first presented in the legal acts of the first Democratic
Republic of Georgia (1918-1921);
D) The legal terminology established during the Soviet period (1921-1989);
E) The terms first confirmed in the post-Soviet and active legislation.
Let us briefly review the signs and tendencies characteristic of each of
A) THE TERMS INTRODUCED IN THE 11TH-12TH CENTURIES
It can be clearly stated, that Georgia’s political and cultural development,
which is characteristic of this period, equally touched upon all the im-
portant institutions of the state, including the legal institutions. It is in this
epoch, when the so called Western tendencies, craving for European cul-
ture and receptions from the antiquity are on the increase, when Latin
terminology first appears in the Georgian legal tradition. It is especially
noteworthy that this process originates in the thick of Ecclesiastical law.
The presence of Latin legal terminology in the legal sources of this
chronological period is proved in the translated monuments and their
scholia as well as the original texts. The most noteworthy from these
sources are: The Deed of Protection given by King Giorgi II to Shiomgvimi
Monastery, The Typicon of Petritsoni Georgians’ Monastery (1084),4 Writing
of Monuments for the Ruisi-Urbnisi Convention (1103),5 The Nomocanon,6
and The Minor Nomocanon.7
The list of some terms are provided below:
(in Georgian context)
NC 142, 16
Adding the act of will
NC Sch. 137
Codex, the collection pub-
lished under Justinian’s lead-
4 The Monuments of Georgian Law 1965-1985.
5 The Monuments of Georgian Law 1965-1985.
6 Gabidzashvili et al. 1975.
7 Giunashvil, Gabidzashvili and Dolakidze 1972.
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
(in Georgian context)
NC 180, 1,
NC Sch. 137
Digests, collection published
by Justinian in 533
Libellous letter, slanderous
NC Sch. 136
Institutions, manual of Legal
Systematic Course published
by Justinian in 533
NC 137, 16
Addition to the Book of Will
Organizer of ceremonies at
NC 179, 4
Emperor’s private property
The article does not allow us to present the contexts and citations of all
the terms provided in the texts, which contain interesting material in
many respects, but we would still like to draw the reader’s attention to a
number of cases.
The fact that the abovementioned terms are encountered for the first
time in the Georgian legal realm is primarily proved by the argument that
they are, as a rule, accompanied with rather detailed explanations in their
sources. For example, the scholia of the Nomocanon explain not only mean-
ings of the terms, but point out their etymology too: “Kodikoi is a Roman
word and it is the name of the documents and laws promulgated by the
Royal persons and clergy and is divided into separate books for their plen-
titude, the parts and the chapters of which are devoted to different is-
sues”(NC Sch. 137); “Digeston is the name of a Roman book of the greatest
sages like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and also the Book of Civil Laws and the
shortened version of a book with many parts, each part of which belongs
to a separate person” (NC. Sch. 137).
The thing that the term ”Roman” really denotes here Roman and Latin
(and not Byzantine, as this is the case in some passages of the Life of Kartli
as S. Khaukhchishvili explains in his dictionary)8 is proved from the very
scholia of the Nomocanon, which clarifies that “These are the names of Ro-
man, currently the civil books known among Greeks” – where from the
chronological sequence – Roman – Greek – is clearly seen.
What is the way of borrowing these terms? At the first glance is quite
evident that this Latin law terminology enters in Georgian from the Greek
language. Let’s compare the forms:
Worthy of note also is the way of reading the “B” as the “V” in the term
“libellus” – “liveloni,” which is characteristic of the Greek of Byzantine
period. We have the analogous case in the terms: “privati” (πριβάτος) and
“lighati” (λιγάτος) to which “G” into “gh” had been transferred. At the
same time, the fact that some Latin legal terms borrowed through Greek
are erroneously represented in Georgian as compared with Greek, is also
Having these two factors in mind we can assume that transfer of Latin
legal terms from Greek into Georgian happened not in written way, but
We encounter partial confirmation of our point of view in I. Javakhish-
vili’s explanation with regard to the term “kodikoi” provided in the No-
mocanon. “The word is Latin” – he says, – “(codex). Codex represents a bo-
rrowed Greek form; it is probable that it is a verbally transferred word.”9
8 Khaukhchishvili 1955, 417.
9 Javakhishvili 1984, VI, 30.
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
It is interesting that in the legal monuments of the 11th-12th centuries we
encounter proper names connected with Roman law. These are:
1. Augustus, G. Julius Caesar Octavianus (“Avgvistos” Writing of the Mon-
ument for Ruisi-Urbnisi Convention (1103) (MGL, III, 125) – Octavian Augus-
tus, initiator of a whole number of laws.
2. Iustinianus (“Iustiniane,” Minor Nomocanon, 18) – Iustinian I, person
who strove for the revival of Roman law, with Hellenic and Christian
tinge. The Codex, Digest, and Institutes have been put together under his
I would like to specially dwell on the form “Avgvistos,” which Arsen
Monk (of Ikalto), the author of the Writing of the Monument, used to evalu-
ate David the Builder. Arsen Monk notes that king David was “aggrandiz-
er of the owned (i.e. the authority and power, expander of the domain Ε.
Κ.), (he was distinguished E. K.) as befits “Avgvistos” Caesar.” (Writing of
the Monument for Ruisi Urbnisi Convention (1103) GML, III, 125).
It is noteworthy that “Avgvistos” and the adjectival form “Avgvistiani”
derived from it are encountered as an epithet in the Georgian literature of
this period a number of times. They are frequently used in The Life of Kartli
to characterize Georgian sovereigns.10
This enables us to discuss the terms confirmed in the monuments of
Georgian law in the general cultural context of that epoch. As an initial
conclusion one can say that the Latin legal terminology confirmed in the
Georgian legal monuments of the 11th -12th centuries is fully borrowed from
Greek. It seems that some part of it has been received not in written, but in
I think that this fact is totally natural, considering that the case concerns
the Ecclesiastical law of the 11th-12th centuries the greater part of norms of
which had been introduced via Greek language predominantly – orally.
Naturally, this used to engender some imprecision, which was noted by
Giorgi Mtatsmindeli in his time, who tried to stamp out this flaw by trans-
lating spiritual literature and promoting education. 11
11 Kekelidze and Baramidze 1987, 99, 113.
B) THE 18TH-19TH CENTURIES
From the 12th century till the second half of the 18th century, against the
background of Mongolian, Turkish and Persian domination, the link of
Georgian law with European law had been weakening and, correspond-
ingly, the inflow of Latin terms into Georgian legal space was hampered,
or one can say – was totally ceased. Georgia’s approximation to Russia
opened up the door for the influx of a new wave of information on the
European law and facilitated entry of Latin terms established in the Euro-
pean law into the legal monuments of Georgia.
I will provide a number of important examples.
1. Appellatio [apelatsia] (Law Pr. Dav. C. 2,23) – lodging of claim against
the court verdict with the higher instance.12
2. Articulus [artikuli] (The Tractate on Kartl-Kakheti Kingdom Entering Protec-
torate of Russia) [GML, II, 478] – referring to the law, interim court decision.
3. Caeremonia [tseremonia], (Decreeing on King Erekle’s Burial Service (1798)
[GML, II, 534 ] – some event held ceremoniously and the rule of its stag-
4. Candidatus [kandidati] (Law Pr. Dav. 6.8) – a person nominated for elec-
tion or appointment to a state or private organization.
5. Classis [klasi] (Law Pr. Dav. 238) – layer of population.
6. Collegium [koleghia] (The Tractate on Kartl-Kakheti Kingdom Entering
Protectorate of Russia (1783) GML, II, 460] – a group of officials.
7. Deputatus [deputati] (The Rule of Supreme Court of Megrelia – 1856 [GML,
VIII, 815] – a member of the state legislative or other representative body
elected by population.
8. Generalis [ghenerali] (Law Pr. Dav. 144) – the highest military rank;
9. Gubernator [gubernatori] (Law Pr. Dav. C. 16) – governor, ruler.
10. Imperator [imperatori] (Solomon I’s Book of Donations to the Mother of
God of Kutaisi (1777) [GML, VII, 429] – emperor, ruler.
11. Imperium [imperiisa, imperia] (Law Pr. Dav. C. 1) – empire, monarchy,
which is headed by an emperor.
12 Purtseladze 1964.
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
12. Investitura [investituris, investitura] (The Tractate on Kartl-Kakheti King-
dom Entering Protectorate of Russia (1783) GML, II, 464) – delegation of land
or position, accompanied by a relevant ceremony during the middle ages.
13. Pensio [pentsiai] (Law Pr. Dav. 97) – monetary help.
14. Procurator [prokurori] (Law Pr. Dav. C, 8 (3).
15. Senatus [senati] (Law Pr. Dav. 5).
As we see, the legal terminology of Latin provenance, which starts to
appear in Georgian legal monuments on the verge of the 18th-19th centu-
ries, mainly reflects those regulations and positions, which were estab-
lished within the boundaries of Russian empire (in this period appear also:
mediator, memoria, minister…). It is also evident, that because of this rea-
son the Georgian terms are composed in accordance with Russian tran-
scription and form, e.g.:
Unlike the previous period, the etymology of Latin legal terms in the
Georgian legal monuments of this epoch, as a rule, is not pointed out. The
only exception is the word appellation, which first appears in the source
the Book of Law of Prince David, where it says: ”The word appellation is
French, which in our language means lodging a complaint in the supreme
places” (Law Pr. Dav. C 2. 23). Coming out from the reality that the word
“French” has a number of meanings in the lexis of that period (French,
Catholic, foreign), this phrase, provided in the Book of Law of Prince David,
can be understood in different ways. It is possible that here reference is
made to the way the word “appellatio” entered the Russian language
(from French appellation). But if we base ourselves on other meanings, it
is not ruled out that “foreign,” “Catholic” (i.e. Latin) origins of the word
are meant here.
I am more in favor of the second version and, at the same time, note that
Prince David, this highly erudite man, could not have thought that the
word “appellatio” had French etymology. It is impossible to think that he
did not know the fact that the term “appellatio” had already been estab-
lished in Roman law and meant lodging a claim against the verdict
reached by a magistrate or court with the body of higher instant.
Thus, at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries Georgian legal monuments
clearly reflect the reality, which existed in the political life of the country. I
would like to note that the Book of Law of Prince David, which sets as its
goal harmonization of the Georgian law with the law of the civilized
Western world of that time, even through Russian, could not be practically
implemented. It, due to understandable reasons, became a theoretical
work and unrealizable dream for the country, which had turned into a
Russian colony and had not even managed to have the laws written in its
native language till the 20th century.
At the same time this period became a preparatory stage in terms of
working out the principles for formulating legal terms and, in our case, the
Latin legal terminology in Georgian – this is substitution of via Graeca es-
tablished in the 11th-12th centuries by new way of borrowing, via Russica,
which first and foremost was predetermined by political reasons.
C) THE PERIOD OF THE FIRST GEORGIAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Despite the fact, that legal monuments of this period, due to well-known
reasons, are very few, they still show a number of important Latin legal
terms, among which:
1. Constitutio [konstitutsia] (Article VIII of the Constitution of Georgia)13 –
Constitution, the main law of state having the supreme legal power.
2. Declaratio [deklaratsia] (The Act of Independence of Georgia, 1918, ad-
dendum V) – International act, which strengthens general principles and
tasks of international relations.
The way of borrowing these terms is evidently through Russian again,
as these terms newly introduced into Georgian law circulated much earlier
in the 18th-19th century Georgian press, writing and at the same time, the
13 “The Constitution of Georgian Democratic Republic of 21 February, 1921.” In The 26th
May of 1918 Act of Georgian Independence, 21 February, 1921, Constitution of Georgian Demo-
cratic Republic, edited with a preface by Giorgi Papuashvili. Batumi 2009.
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
way of forming them was clearly traditional – it repeated the previous
period. It is quite natural that this tendency became stronger during the
D) THE SOVIET PERIOD (1921-1919)
As distinct from the II part of the 19th century, the law of Georgian Soviet
Socialist Republic, even though trapped in the Soviet legal space, existed
in the national language but should be emphasized that it was mainly
translated from the Russian language. The issue which interests us – im-
portation of Latin terminology into the Soviet Georgian legal language,
offers us important material. More than 100 terms of Latin origin enter
Georgian law of this period, naturally from the Russian language sources
and in traditional Russian mold. I will list a number of them: abortus
[aborti], acceptus [aqtsepti], accreditatio [akreditatsia], alimentum [alimen-
ti], assignatio [asignatsia], cassatio [kasatsia], certification [sertifikatsia],
codification [kodifikatsia], compensation [kompensatsia], confiscation
[konfiskatsia], convention [konventsia], demunicipalisatio [demunitsipali-
zatsia], denationalisatio [denatsionalizatsia], directivus [direqtiva], dis-
criminatio [diskriminatsia], expertus [eqsperti], falsification [falsifikatsia],
fictio [fiqtsia], instantia [instantsia], internationalis [internatsionaluri],
interpellation [interpelatsia], iurisprudentia [iurisprudentsia], iustitia
[iustitsia] and many others.
It is noteworthy, that for producing an adjectival form of the term Geor-
gian suffixes are added to Latin base, which is done in analogy with Rus-
Coming out from the fact that the majority of terms was already known
for the pre-Soviet Russian legislation and the 18th-19th century Georgian
society, the meaning of the terms, despite their appearance in the Geor-
gian legal space for the first time, has not been explained, unlike the pre-
Only the terminology, newly appearing in the Soviet and through it the
Georgian law, is accompanied with the relevant comments, e.g.:
Alimentum [alimenti] (Georgian SSR Civil Law Procedural Code, 1924,
Part II, Article X, 102) – “for the case, which concerns demanding means of
livelihood (alimony) for wife in need and unable to work and for a child.”
Certificatio [sertifikatsia/sertifikati] (Decree N120 of the Council of Min-
isters of the Georgian SSR – 1983, Chron. Col. III, 334)14 – “prohibit renting
of houses and facilities to the holiday makers without the relevant permits
(certificates) of the local resort bureaus.”
Confiscatio [confiscatsia] (Decree N17, 6th April of 1921, Acts 1922-1978,
31)15 – “the land committees effect land seizure (confiscation).”
Expertus [experti] (Civil Procedural Code of Georgian SSR, 1922, Chap-
ter 122) – “the court, on its own, or on the demand of one of the parties or
due to the proving documents presented can carry out necessary checking
action: inspect the place, invite knowledgeable persons (experts).”
Falsificatio (Med. Lat.)16 [Falsifikatsia] (The Criminal Code of Georgian
SSR, 1924, Article 196) – “falsification, changing of the appearance and the
qualities of such things, which are sellable or usable by public, also selling
of these things for cheating purposes.”
Actio [aktsia] (The Civil Code of Georgian SSR, 1923, 322) – “sharehold-
ing collective is considered such a collective (society) […] the capital of
which is divided into an equal part of a definite number (share) and
whose liabilities are paid for only by the society property.”
It is noteworthy that Latin legal terms introduced into the Georgian le-
gal space during the Soviet epoch had played a great role in working out
Georgian legal terminology; they paved the way for the general principles
of formation of Latin terms during later period.
14 Chronological Collection of Georgian SSR Laws, of the Orders of the Presidium of the
Supreme Soviet and the Government’s Decrees of Georgian SSR, Tbilisi, vol. I-VII, 1959-
15 Collection of the Constitutional Acts of Georgian SSR 1921-1978, Tbilisi 1983.
16 It has been confirmed for the legal terminology created in Latin of middle centuries (Du
Cange et al. 1954).
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
Based on these principles, Latin legal terms formed under the influence
of Greek language at the first stage (11th-12th centuries), had finally become
supplanted with the new forms imported from different languages, tai-
lored to Russian mold.
E) ACTIVE LEGISLATION
At the backdrop of harmonization of Georgian legislation with the law of
European countries Latin and Latinate terms are adopted apparently in
the Russian mould. During this period the following terms were incorpo-
rated: accessorius [aqtsesoruli], alumnus [alumna], amicus curiae [amicus
kurie], beneficiarius [benefitsiari], bonitas/-tatis [boniteti], bonus [bonusi],
compromissum [kompromisi], concessio [kontsesia], consensus [konsen-
susi], cooptatio [kooptatsia], delimitatio [delimitatsia], discretio [diskret-
sia], emancipatio [emansipatsia], emissio [emisia], fiducia [fidutsiaruli],
fractio [fraqtsia], investor [investori], identification [identifikatsia], imple-
mentation [implementatsia], insignia [insignia], etc.
Let’s see the meanings of these terms in Georgian laws: accessorius [Aq-
tsesoruli]17 – “the right, which is connected with another right so, that it
cannot even exist without it;” alumnus [alumni]18 – “a graduate of an edu-
cational program;” amicus curiae [amicus curie]19 – “friend of court;” ben-
eficiarus [benefitsiari]20 – “a person in whose favor the trusted property is
managed, a person receiving benefit;” bonitas [boniteti] (Civil Code of
Georgia, 1997, 874 (4) Paragraph) – “indicator of profitability of a bank
account;” bonus [bonusi] (Georgian Law on the Rule of Issuing Conces-
sions to Foreign Countries and Companies, 1994, 15th Article) – “the sum
paid by investor on the basis of an agreement signed with the state;” clau-
sula [klauzula] (Decision of the First Board of the Georgian Constitutional
Court N1/3/136, 2002, Paragraph 12) – “legal guarantees given to foreign
investors by the state;” coalitio [coalitsia] (Georgian Organic Law on the
Elections to the Georgian Parliament, 1995, 21 (2) Paragraph) – “union of
states, political parties;” collisio [collizia] (Georgian Law on International
Private Law, 1998 32 (1) Paragraph) – “conflict, confrontation, clash;” con-
17 Civil Code of Georgia. 153 (1) Paragraph. 1997.
18 The Order of the Georgian Minister of Education and Science N184/6. 2011. (I) Para-
19 Criminal Procedural Code of Georgia. 55 Clause. 2009.
20 Georgian Organic Law on Georgian National Bank. 53 (1) (b) Paragraph. 1995.
sensus (consensus, Order of the President of Georgia N358, 1998 4th (15)
Paragraph] – “rule of reaching a decision, during which the decision is
considered reached, if none of the persons partaking of the decision mak-
ing process comes out against the decision;” lustratio [lustratsia],”21 etc.
During this period, which is quite important, and this tendency be-
comes stronger in the 21st century, Latin legal terminology enters from the
laws of Western countries in the forms established therein (mostly Ger-
man and Anglo-Saxon law), which is a deviation from the monolingual
picture existing during previous periods.
As an example we will provide a term “Amicus Curiae” [amikus kurie];
already during the Roman Law the term had a concrete function and it
denoted the so called “Friend of the court.” This was a person, who on his
own initiative offered the court information concerning laws and other
aspects and by this he helped justice to be exercised during court cases.
This term was established in the active legislation in 2009, in the Crimi-
nal Procedural Code of Georgia (Paragraph 55), with the relevant explana-
tion – “an interested person who is not a party to a criminal case under
review, may, at least five days before a hearing on the merits of the case,
submit to court in writing his/her own written opinion with regard to this
What was the road that this term took before appearing in Georgian
law? The term used in medieval Roman law in the 9th century first be-
comes established in English law and later emerges in the legislations of
other European countries too.
Later “Amicus Curiae” appears in the Common law and today it is used
by the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the
European Union. At the same time, it appears also in the rulings of the US
Supreme Court.22 It is namely the European Court wherefrom this term
Generally, on the basis of the study of the Latin legal terms incorporated
into the active legislation I can conclude that while incorporating Latin
legal terms into Georgian law, in comparison with the previous four peri-
21 Decision of Georgian Parliament about Creating the Provisional Commission for the
Mechanism of Lustration. 1998.
22 United States Supreme Court Rule, 37 3 (a).
LATIN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
ods unveiled by us, disruption of the monolingual picture of borrowing
has been underway, the avenues by which these terms are received have
expanded and the way of their formation has changed too.
It is hard to say what direction Georgian law will take in the future in
borrowing Latin-based legal terminology or to which avenue of reception
it will attach primacy.
Though it is obvious that despite the fact that Georgia was never under
the ruling of the Roman Empire, and that—based on concrete examples —
Latin legal terms never entered Georgian law directly from Roman law or
from the Latin language, from as early as the 11th century these terms had
a significant impact on the creation of Georgian legal terminology. Over-
all, they greatly contributed to bringing Georgian law closer to Western
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