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 [Translated by Samuel Scott, The Civil Law. Translation amended by me.]




The Emperor Justinian to the People of Constantinople.


We think that it is clear to all men of good judgment that Our principal solicitude and prayer is, that those who have been entrusted to Us by God may live properly, and obtain Divine favor. And as God does not desire the perdition of men, but their conversion and salvation, and as He receives those who, having committed sin, have repented, We invite all Our subjects to fear God and invoke His clemency, for We know that all those who love the Lord and are deserving of His pity do this.


Therefore, as certain persons, instigated by the devil, devote themselves to the most reprehensible vices, and commit crimes contrary to nature, We hereby enjoin them to fear God and the judgment to come, to avoid diabolical and illicit sensuality of this kind; in order that, through such acts, they may not incur the just anger of God, and bring about the destruction of cities along with their inhabitants; for We learn from the Holy Scriptures that both cities as well as men have perished because of wicked acts of this kind.

(1) And as, in addition to those who commit these offences which We have mentioned, there are others who utter blasphemous words, and swear by the sacraments of God, and provoke Him to anger, We enjoin them to abstain from these and other impious speeches, and not swear by the head of God, or use other language of this kind. For if blasphemy when uttered against men is not left unpunished, there is much more reason that those who blaspheme God himself should be deserving of chastisement. Therefore We order all men to avoid such offences, to have the fear of God in their hearts, and to imitate the example of those who live in piety; for as crimes of this description cause famine, earthquake, and pestilence, it is on this account, and in order that men may not lose their souls, that We admonish them to abstain from the perpetration of the illegal acts above mentioned. But if, after Our warning has been given, anyone should continue to commit these offences, he will in the first place render himself unworthy of the mercy of God, and will afterwards be subjected to the penalties imposed by the laws.

(2) We order the Most Glorious Prefect of this Royal City to arrest any persons who persist in committing the aforesaid crimes, after the publication of Our warning; in order that this city and the State may not be injured by the contempt of such persons and their impious acts, and inflict upon them the punishment of death. If, after the publication of this law, any magistrates should become aware of such offences, and not take measures to punish them, they shall be condemned by God. And even if the Most Glorious Prefect himself should find any persons doing anything of this kind, and not punish them in accordance with Our laws, he will, in the first place, be subjected to the judgment of God, and afterwards sustain the weight of Our indignation.




The Emperor Justinian to the People of Constantinople.


As we are always in need of the benevolence and kindness of God, and above all, at this time, when we have provoked Him to anger in many ways, on account of the multitude of our sins, and although He threatens us with the penalties we deserve, He, nevertheless, manifests his clemency to us, and has deferred the exercise of his wrath to some future time, expecting that we will manifest repentance, for He is more desirous for Our conversion and salvation than for Our death.

Wherefore it would not be just for us to treat with contempt His abounding kindness, His tolerance, and His infinite patience, lest, avoiding repentance, our hearts may become hardened, and We may accumulate His anger upon our heads, on the day of His vengeance. But while we attempt to avoid committing wicked actions, and cherishing improper desires, there are persons who are guilty of abominable offences, which are deservedly detested by God. We have reference to the corruption of males, a crime which some persons have the sacrilegious audacity to perpetrate.


We know, from the study of the Holy Scriptures, that God, in order to punish such persons, visited His wrath upon those who formerly inhabited the City of Sodom, and caused its territory to be consumed, even to this day, by an inextinguishable fire; and in this manner He informs Us that We should abhor conduct of this description, which is contrary to the laws of nature. We also know what the Divine Apostle said concerning it, and also what provisions Our laws have promulgated with reference thereto. Wherefore it is proper that all those who are influenced by the fear of God should abstain from such impious and criminal acts which even are not committed by beasts, and that those who have not yet perpetrated them may hereafter be deterred from doing so. Hence those who are given to this

species of vice must hereafter not only refrain from sinning, but also show that they are penitent; prostrate themselves before God; confess their faults in the presence of the Most Blessed Patriarch, and (as has already been stated) they will reap the fruits of their repentance; so that the Almighty in his indulgence, and on account of the wealth of His compassion, may render Us worthy of His kindness; that We may all give thanks for the salvation of those who are penitent; and that the magistrates, by prosecuting the guilty, may conciliate God who is deservedly incensed against Us. And, indeed, We consciously and wisely beseech to bring to repentance those who defile themselves with filthy practices of this kind, so that there will no longer be occasion for Us to prosecute such offences. We notify all persons who may hereafter be guilty of this crime that if they do not cease to sin, and do not confess their guilt to the Most Holy Patriarch or provide for their own salvation, and propitiate God on the holy festival days, they will render themselves liable to terrible chastisement, and will not, in the future, be deserving of pardon. We shall not neglect to adopt severe measures against such as do not manifest their repentance on the most holy festival days, and who persist in their wickedness, for if We should show any negligence in this respect, We will bring down the wrath of God upon Us, and by closing Our eyes will become accomplices in a crime sufficiently atrocious to arouse the anger of Heaven against all persons.

This Edict shall be communicated to the citizens of Constantinople.

Given at Constantinople, on the Ides of March, during the thirtysecond year of the reign of Our Lord the Emperor Justinian, and the eighteenth year after the Consulate of Basil.




The Emperor Justinian to Marthana.


The punishment prescribed by Our predecessors against those who dare to make eunuchs are sufficiently clear to everyone. Nevertheless, certain persons, not having their own salvation in view, have recently ventured to commit this infamous offense, on account of which certain of them have undergone the penalties which they deserve, and others, after having been punished, have been sent into exile. Still, however, because these impious acts have not ceased, but, on the other hand, have multiplied, and out of the great number of those upon whom this operation is performed only a very few survive, so that certain of them have stated in Our presence that of ninety who have been castrated, hardly three have escaped with their lives; what person in authority could have so little regard for his salvation as to treat a matter of this kind with contempt and permit it to go unpunished? For if Our laws punish those who strike others with a sword, how can We close Our eyes, and let murders of this kind, which are both offenses against God and the law, be committed with impunity? Hence We have considered it very necessary, by means of this law, to relentlessly prosecute persons who are guilty of such a crime.


Therefore We decree that any persons who, in any part of Our Empire whatsoever, have presumed, or may hereafter presume to castrate anyone, or themselves submit to the operation which they have performed upon others, and they survive, shall have their property confiscated to the Treasury on the responsibility of him who, at the time, discharges the duties of the magistracy of Your Glory, and that they themselves shall be banished to the Island of Gypsum, there to pass the remainder of their lives.

Where, however, women are guilty of this offense, We order that they shall be punished, and their property be confiscated to the Treasury, on the responsibility of the magistrate whom We have just mentioned, and be sent into exile, and those who expected or do now expect to profit by the commission of such an atrocious act shall both be subjected to punishment, and lose their property.

We decree that persons of either sex who confine themselves to giving orders to make eunuchs, or who furnish individuals to be operated upon in this way, or who even provide houses, or any other place whatsoever for this purpose shall, as participants in the same crime, suffer the same punishment.


As persons became free in ancient times when they were castrated, We order that those who have undergone such an operation (no matter by whom it may have been performed) in Our Empire, from the date of the tenth indiction of the present month, shall be free, and cannot be reduced to slavery under any circumstances, nor by virtue of any agreement; and any public or private instrument which already has been, or may hereafter be executed with reference to a matter of this kind, whether it was fraudulent or not, shall be void. No investigation shall be made of the status of castrated persons, and We order that all those who hereafter take any part in the execution of contracts relating to castration shall undergo the penalty which We have mentioned.

If a slave should happen to be castrated on account of some illness, We order that he shall obtain his freedom, for the law presumes that those are free in the beginning, when attacked by the disease for which this remedy is employed. Therefore We direct that castrated persons who have been made such in Our Empire (no matter in whose house this may have been done) shall be considered as emancipated

from the date We have just fixed, shall become free, and shall never again be reduced to servitude.

If, after the publication of the present law, anyone should dare to retain castrated persons in his house, We permit the latter who, under this Constitution, are already entitled to their liberty, if they are in this city, to apply to the Emperor, to the Most Holy Archbishop, and to the other high officials of Our Most Glorious Empire; and if they are in the provinces, to the most glorious bishops of their dioceses, and to the Governor; and they will, through the efforts of all Our magistrates, and at the risk of the officers subject to their authority be entitled to retain their freedom (both at Constantinople and in any other portion of Our dominions) for We do not intend to allow so many murders to be perpetrated under Our Government by means of castration. And if the barbarians have heard and obeyed Our orders on this subject, bow, after so many enactments by Our predecessors, can We allow the crime which We prohibit again to be committed and go unpunished in Our Empire?,