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Publius Rutilius Rufus (born 158 BC – after 78 BC) was a Roman statesman, orator and historian of the Rutilius family, as well as great-uncle of Gaius Julius Caesar.

He started his military career in 134 BC, as a member of the staff of Scipio Africanus Minor during the Numantine War. Later on, Rufus was a legate of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus in the campaign against Jugurtha of Numidia of 109 BC, along with Gaius Marius. He distinguished himself in the battle of the Muthul, where he faced a charge by the foe Bomilcar and managed to capture or maim most of the Numidian war elephants. In 105 BC he was elected to the consulship as a junior partner of Gnaeus Mallius Maximus. His main achievements concerned the discipline of the army and the introduction of an improved system of drill. Subsequently, he served as legate to Quintus Mucius Scaevola, governor of Asia.

By assisting his superior in his efforts to protect the provincials from the extortions of the publicani, or farmers of taxes, Rufus incurred the hatred of the equestrian order, to which the publicani belonged. In 92 BC he was charged with the very offence of extortion over those whom he had done his utmost to prevent. The charge was widely known to be false, but as the juries at that time were chosen from the equestrian order, his condemnation was only to be expected, as the order bore a grudge against him. Rufus was defended by his nephew Gaius Aurelius Cotta and accepted the verdict with the resignation befitting a Stoic and pupil of Panaetius.

He retired to Mytilene, and afterwards to Smyrna, where he spent the rest of his life (possibly as an act of defiance against his prosecutors: he was welcomed with honour into the very city he was prosecuted for allegedly looting), and where Cicero visited him as late as the year 78 BC. Although invited by Lucius Cornelius Sulla to return to Rome, Rufus refused to do so. It was during his stay at Smyrna that he wrote his autobiography and a history of Rome in Greek, part of which is known to have been devoted to the Numantine War. He possessed a thorough knowledge of law, and wrote treatises on that subject, some fragments of which are quoted in the Digests. He was also well acquainted with Greek literature.

Bankruptcy law reform

According to Professor Levinthal, in an article from 1918[1] Rutilius happened to be a revolutionary for bankruptcy proceedings.

The process of general execution against the debtor's property introduced into Roman law by Rutilius was called bonorum emptio or venditio. Whether the debtor was solvent or insolvent, whether there were many creditors or there was but one creditor, the proceeding was the same, leading to a sale of the entire estate of the debtor for the benefit of his creditors. The bonorum venditio was only granted when the debtor had committed one of several acts.[2] These acts, which might be termed acts of bankruptcy, were (a) absconding (latitans) or hiding from creditors,[3] (b) leaving a judgment unsatisfied for thirty days, and (c) admitting, without discharging, a debt, and taking no steps to pay it. The creditor or creditors were granted by the Praetor a missio in possessionerm, equivalent to the English "receiving order." In other words, they were put into possession of the debtor's estate. Then, at fixed intervals, followed three decrees: the first publicly advertised the sale and gave notice to the non-petitioning creditors to put in their claims; the second authorized the creditors to choose from among themselves a magister, equivalent to our trustee, to superintend the sale; and the last enabled them to publish the conditions under which the sale would take place. After a third interval, the estate, or universitas juris, of the debtor was put up to auction, and knocked down to the highest bidder (bonorum emptor), i. e., to the person who offered the creditors the highest precentage on their claims, the creditors being paid pro rata.

Notes

  1. ^ L Levinthal, ‘The Early History of Bankruptcy Law’ [1918] University of Pennsylvania Law Review 223, 235-6
  2. ^ Gaius, iii, 78.
  3. ^ Cf. Cic. Verr, ii, 24, s. 59. Compare the Pennsylvania statute of June 13, 1836, relating to domestic attachment.

References

Preceded by
Quintus Servilius Caepio and Gaius Atilius Serranus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Gnaeus Mallius Maximus
105 BC
Succeeded by
Gaius Flavius Fimbria and Gaius Marius
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PUBLIUS RUTILIUS RUFUS, Roman statesman, orator and historian, born c. 158 B.C. He was on intimate terms with the younger Scipio, under whom he served in the Numantine War (134), and he also accompanied Q. Metellus Numidicus in the campaign against Jugurtha (109). In 105 he was elected to the consulship, and restored the discipline of the army and introduced an improved system of drill. Subsequently, he went as legate to Q. Mucius Scaevola, governor of Asia. By assisting his superior in his efforts to protect the provincials from the extortions of the publicani, or farmers of taxes, Rufus incurred the hatred of the equestrian order, to which the publicani belonged. In 92 he was charged with the very offence of extortion which he had done his utmost to prevent. The charge was absurd, but as the juries at that time were chosen from the equites, his condemnation was only to be expected. Rufus accepted the verdict with the resignation befitting a Stoic and pupil of Panaetius. He retired to Mytilene, and afterwards to Smyrna, where he spent the rest of his life, and where Cicero saw him as late as the year 78. Although invited by Sulla to return to Rome, Rufus refused to do so. It was doubtless during his stay at Smyrna that he wrote his autobiography and a history of Rome in Greek, part of which is known to have been devoted to the Numantine War. He possessed a thorough knowledge of law, and wrote treatises on that subject, some fragments of which are quoted in the Digests. He was also well acquainted with Greek literature.

See Cicero, Pro Fonteio, 17, Brutus, 22, 30; Livy, edit. 70; Macrobius, Sat. I. xvi. 34; Appian, Hisp. 88; Athenaeus iv. p. 168; W. H. Suringar, De Romanis Autobiographis (Leiden, 1846); H. Peter, Hist. Rom. Reliquiae, r. cclxi.-cclxviii. (life), frags. p. 187; A. H. J. Greenidge, Hist. of Rome, i. p. 484.


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