Summum ius summa iniuria –
remarks on a legal maxim of interpretation
Interpretation based on maxims of legal logic occupies an honourable place among the possible methods of legal interpretation; this being done most frequently using basic concepts originating from the classical period of Roman law, which faciliate orientation among contradictory decrees and help to clarify the meaning of legal rules. Here belong the following principles, widely known in Modestinus’s formulation but dating from the period of the leges XII tabularum: “lex posterior derogat legi priori”, the Papinian “lex specialis derogat legi generali”, and the “lex primaria derogat legi subsidiariae”. It is a basic interpretive principle, that the legal rule should be interpreted in its integrity, not by extracting certain parts of it; following the letter of the law often leads to its evasion; during the interpretation the legislator’s intention should be taken into account, if this is doubtful, the more lenient solution should be preferred. All these can be traced back into a highly philosophical, Celsian principle – also widely accepted in contemporary legal thinking – declaring the vocation of the Law to implement Justice, according to which “ius est ars boni et aequi”, the Law is an art of the Good and the Just. Out of these, the procedure called in fraudem legis is connected to the statement that enforcing the letter of the law often leads to inequity contradictory with the spirit of the law, i. e. injustice. Cicero also quotes this proverbium, already widely spread in the age of the Republic, which remained in use in his formulation until today: “summum ius summa iniuria”, i. e. the utmost enforcement of the law leads to the greatest injustice.
The present paper has a modest aim, it does not offer a general survey, but rather an introspection into the problem. First it enumerates the occurences of this proverb in the sources of Roman literature (I.), then it sketches the development and semantic changes of the concept of interpretatio (II.), next it investigates the meaning of summum ius in the relation of the ars boni et aequi principle and the concept of Justice in legal sources and Cicero’s works (III.), in the end it will consider the further reaching consequences of this proverbium in Adagia by Erasmus of Rotterdam, one of the most important humanists (IV.).
I. This idea first occurs in Terence’s comedy, Heautontimoroumenos: “Neque tu scilicet / illuc confugies: ’Quid mea? Num mihi datumst? Num iussi? Num illa oppignerare filiam meam me invito potuit?’ Verum illuc, Cherme, / dicunt: Ius summum saepe summast malitia.” The situation is the following: Syrus asks Chermes for money, so that he could help his young master, but in order to get the sum he claims that he needs it for Chermes’s daughter. The law is indubitably on Chermes’s side, but unconditioned clinging to the law cannot be reconciliated with the pietas and clementia expected from a Roman pater familias. In order to anlyse the summa malitia turning point it is useful to peruse some meanings and the most typical occurences of the summus–summa–summum adjective and the different connotations of the word malitia. In its original meaning summus is the Latin equivalent of the Greek hypathos. Varro and Isidorus Hispalensis use it as a grammatical technical term for the explanation of the superlativus, Quintilian applies it for the description of rhetorical amplification. Used figuratively, it can be encountered in many places, both with temporal meaning and in relation with social status, e. g. applied to the optimates and the nobiles as the contradiction of the humiles, the infima plebs and the infimus ordo. Isidorus describes the word malitia, deriving from the word malus, as the evil thought of mind, it occurs in many auctors as the synonym of astutia and calliditas. In the prologue of Heautontimorumenos Terence mentions expressis verbis the Greek type of his comedy, which, with regard to the above cited proverbium, can most probably be identified with two lines by Menander, though the two ideas do not correspond word for word. Terence speaks about ius, whereas Menander mentions nomoi, i. e. the laws and not dikaion; the synchophantés carries a slightly wider semantic load than malitia, which could be translated into Latin as damnum, calumnia or malum, in any way designating a content in contradiction with the spirit and destination of ius; the lian akribós can be equally translated by the phrase summo iure or nimis exacto quodam studio. Hence it becomes obvious that Terence heavily altered the Menandrian thought and adapted it to the circumstances of Roman legal life but preserved its basic message.
Hieronymus takes his version from this Terentian locus: “O vere ius summum summa malitia.” A statement with similar content (summum ius summa crux) is formulated by Columella, when he speaks about the responsibilities of the pater familias and the dominus: “comiter agat cum colonis facilemque se prebeat, … sed nec dominus in unaquaque re, cui colonum obligaverit, tenax esse sui iuris debet, sicut in diebus pecuniarum vel lignis et ceteris paucibus accessionibus exigendis, quarum cura maiorem molestiam quam impensam rusticis adfert. Nec sane vindicandum nobis quidquid licet, nam summum ius antiqui summam putabant crucem.” So it is forbidden to deal too harshly with the colonii, the master should exercise the virtues of meekness and consideration.
The proverbium passed into legal common knowledge in Cicero’s formulation in De Officiis: “Existunt saepe iniuriae calumnia quadam et nimis callida, sed malitiosa iuris interpretatione. Ex quo illud ’summum ius summa iniuria’ factum est iam tritum sermone proverbium.” Consequently, it is not the ius itself that results in iniuria, but the malevolent enforcement of a seemingly lawful claim is the case when injustice is committed unter the mask of law enforcement. Examining the bequeathing of the proverbium, one can safely assert that the Terentian and Columellian versions are more closely connected to each other than to the Ciceroniam antithesis, and that they represent an earlier stage in the formulation of this thought. In these two authors’ work the clash of the legal and moral norms becomes foregrounded, i. e. the action permitted and approved by the ius becomes contestable from the side of the mos. The Ciceronian formulation goes even further: it is not only the legal and ethical norm that conflict here, the collision takes place within the legal system. The claim is made not only for a morally correct decision but also for the right and just application of the law. The proverb objects to the abuse of the law, to its literal and not sensible interpretation. (The phrase factum etiam tritum sermone proverbium could refer to the fact that Cicero himself took over the idea of summum ius summa iniuria from an earlier auctor or the practice on the forum, or it can be assumed that he is referring to his own rhetorical practice when he emphasises the great familiarity of the proverb, as he frquently used the summo iure agere and the summo iure contendere phrases too.)
However, he greatly exceeds the requirement of equitable legal interpretation in De legibus, where, among other things, he analyses the connection between natural law and positive law. In this work Cicero appears as legislator – as his model Plato does in Nomoi –, a thing which must have seemed extremely new, almost provoking indignation, because doing this he intended to reform and replace the venerated leges XII tabularum, thus occupying the place of the nation who made these laws. The first book contains considerations of legal theory, which was practically unknown in the in Rome I. century BC. It aims at harmonizing statutory law with natural law because this was the only way Roman law could lay claim to universality. From the demand of ius naturale neither the comitia, nor the senatus can give exemption, this being eternal and unchanging. The fundamental task of the legislator and the judge is to porceed according to this, and the task of the law is to separate the lawful from the unlawful. The law and the ratio are inseparably connected, moreover, they are each other’s synonyms in a certain respect; so the law must originate directly from philosophy and not from the pretorial edict or the leges XII tabularum, thus it can never lose its validity. He formulates in a strictly imperative mood the demand never before written down in Rome: “Lex iusta esto!” Law must be based on Justice, which might seem trivial in itself, but Cicero had felt the lack of this condition himself; thus the law solely depends on Justice, and social cohabitation depends only on the law, this conclusion must have seemed considerably bold in ancient Rome. Cicero, appearing in philosophy as a great system originator, wanted to encompass law in a system as well as in his work – unfortunately lost since then – entiteled De iure civili in artem redigendo, which does not seem to have exerted much influence on legal scholars in Rome.
Returning to summum ius summa iniuria: it was quite common that certain maxims formulated in everyday life and transmitted through literary sources were appropriated by Law as rules of universal validity. Just for example, here are a couple of proverbia becoming regulae iuris. Aquila Romanus quotes the sentence “cui quod libet, hoc licet”, which can be found in Ulpianus as “non omne quod licet honestum est”. Publius Syrus’s thought, “lucrum absque damno alieno fieri non potest” resonates with Pomponius’s rule: “iure naturae aequum est neminem cum alterius detrimento fieri locupletiorem”. Seneca maior’s sentence “tacite loquitur; silentium videtur confessio” corresponds with Paulus’s “qui tacet, non utique fatetur: sed tamen verum est eum non negare”.
II. In order to highlight the origin and the meaning of the word interpretatio, let us examine the loci to see in what context the concept interpres and interpretari in Plautus, and other, mainly fragmentary bequethed authors of archaic Roman literature. In Poennulus the slave says that the speech of his master could only be made intellegible by Oedipus, who solved the enigma of the Sphinx too. In Pseudolus the content of an undecipherable letter could be solved only by the Sybilla. Both cases ar concerned with the deciphering the meaning of extremely intricate texts, which can be done exclusively by oracula, the solvers of great predictions, of mythical secrets, so the author draws the activity of interpretari into the circle of religious mysteries and endows it with the meaning of decoding, of solving an enigma. In Bacchides, the importunate messenger is made to leave in a comic fashion but with quite resolutely, by the use of very palpable means, to which the messenger, who interpreted the highly paraphrased threat for himself thought it better to proceed more cautiously. In Cistellaria a father gathers from the words of the hetaira speaking with him that she seduced her son; in this case it is not the enigmatic words and composition of the interlocutor where one should draw conclusions from, but it is rather the conclusion drawn from the situation, the subjective opinion that is denominated by the word interpretor. Refreshing the interlocutor’s memory, recalling a certain event can also be signified by the verb interpretari, elsewhere the revealer, the solver of a doubtful situation, or the implementor of a plan is called the interpres, in the last case it is the synonym of internuntius. Thus Plautus uses the expressions interpres and interpretari with two connotations, on the one hand in their original sense, meaning mediation, on the other hand in the sense of understanding, making to understand, a more abstact and indirect meaning; this latter meaning including a kind of irrational activity, pertaining to the realm of the religio. This seems to be corroborated by the fragments after Plautus and before Cicero. A Pacuvian fragment connects the task of the interpres with the interretive activity of the augures and haruspices and it mentions a sinister prodigium, placing the interpretive activity within the context of Roman religious institutions. A fragment from a Latin translation of the Ilias contains a line from Agamemnon’s reply to Calchas’s premonition; comparing it to the Homeric text it becomes evident that interpres here stands for the Greek mantis. It is also a fragment by Pacuvius according to which the activity of the interpretari in the course of interpreting obscure texts is at times doomed to highly uncertain guesses. Based on this, we can assume that in the beginning the interpres mediated not only between humans but also between the human and the divine sphere, so in the course of fulfulling his task, besides everyday logic he had to employ certain means belonging to the realm of the irrational as well.
For the religious usage of these expressions one can find ample evidence in the Corpus Ciceronianum and other authors from the contemporary Roman literature; augures, haruspices, decemviri and Persian magi are mentioned as interpretes, premonitions, miraculous and sinister signs, thunderstrucks, dreams, religious phenomena, and generally the will of the gods, all pertaining to the sphere of religio, constitute the object of interpretari. In many cases the expressions interpres and coniector serve as each other’s explanation, highlighting each other. According to Cicero, this interpretive activity is needed because of the obscure and doubtful nature of certain religious phenomena, so it is not surprising that the concept of interpretatio was eagerly connected to obscure and polisemic contents outside the circle of religio too, e. g. in philosophical polemic.
In paralell with sacral connotations the most practical, everyday use of interpres can also be founded, it occurs in diplomatic, administrative, military and commercial fields too. In these cases the interpres is none other than interpreter or translator. In the sources the interpreter translates word for word, verbum pro verbo, and in this respect he can be regarded the contrary of the rhetor, who possibly takes over a thought from somebody else, but enriches and embellishes it with elements of style when delivering it to the audience. Cicero himself used these possibilities of individualisation when he translated the speeches of Greek rhetors into Latin, an in his philosophical works with respect to the employment of Greek models. Horace, giving advice to poets, in his Ars Poecita is against word for word translation performed in the manner of the interpres. Quintilian challenges a poet’s originality precisely because of his being an interpres. Interpretatio as a technical term first occurs in rhetorics namely in Auctor ad Herennium’s discourse concerning rhetoric figures, according to which a kind of geminatio; the conduplicatio only differs from interpretatio in that the verbum pro verbo translation is a form-and-content.true transfer of a train of thought from a different language whereas conduplicatio is the same activity within a single language. Quintilian does not consider the interpretatio to be a rhetoric figure as it was previously by Cornificius, but sees in it only an exercise to be used in the course of rhetoric training. In certain cases interpretatio means the etymological analysis of words and the most precise rendering in Latin of the Greek technical terms, in course of which, as Cicero warns, one should avoid excessive hair splitting.
It can be concluded that in the Ciceromian age the expression interpres was used in two clearly separable meanings: on the one hand it was used as interpres deorum, for the definition of the person enlightening phenomena from the sphere of religio, transmitting the divine will towards the human realm, on the other hand (as the religious semantic content did not entirely occupy this concept) it was used for denoting the interpreter and translator mediating in human communication by bridging linguistic impediments.
As a scientific technical term, the word interpres first became widely used in the fields of philology and legal science. Cicero does not call the philologists interpretes, according to Suetonius’s relations however Cornelius Nepos already mentions them as poetarum interpretes. In the field of legal science Livius remembers Tullus Hostilius as “clemens legis interpres”, though this wording is slightly anachronistic as the king did not interpret or translate the law concerning provocatio, he only faciliated its implementation. In Pliny’s Naturalis Historia the Ephesian Hermodoros appears as the interpres of the leges XII tabularum but it means only translator, just as in Pomponius’s text the mentioning of Hermodoros as auctor means the same. However in connection with the lex Valeria, dating from 449 BC., conferring the status of sacrosanctus on the trinuni plebis, aediles and the iudices decemviri, Livius already speaks about the interpretes as a genuine legal technical term, as they tried to establish the correct interpretation of this law in long legal debates. Both the explanators of the leges XII tabularum, driven by an archeological interest, usually searching for the meaning of a forgotten word, and the iuris prudentes of the near past are mentioned as interpretes in the 1. century BC. sources. Cicero does not simply call the lawyers of his time interpretes iuris – as it was later used by Quintilian as the equivalent of iuris consultus – but rather he defines the task of interpretari as a basic component of the iuris consultus’s activity, at times narrowing its scope using synonyms. In De oratore, in the parts concerned with establishing the place and importance of the auxiliary sciences of rhetorics from the point of view of the theory of science and dialectics Cicero does not mention interpretatio. Cicero, in his work entiteled Brutus, dealing with the history of Roman rhetorics, in the loci dedicated to his friend, one of the most outstanding lawyers of the age, Servius Suplicius, makes some remarks concerning certain cases of interpretatio (primary highlighting its task to clarify and order obscure and doubtful states of affairs), but neglects to make its methodology and inner construction an object of scrunity; in the course of this he fails to mention the instances of interpretatio iuris when the iuris consultus is dealing with the applicability and modes of application of perfectly clearly formulated legal texts containing decrees of general validity.
In legal texts, the expression interpres can seldom be encountered, and not as a technical term, it usually means translator or interpreter here and only in specific cases does it signify the person doing the interpretation, the one searching for the meaning of texts. The derivations interpretari and interpretatio beyond doubt mean the interpretive activity performed by lawyers and forums administrating justice. Following Fuhrmann’s thematization, this interpretive activity could refer to different legal transactions (e. g. testamenta, stipulationes, contractus), to the laws in general, to criminal laws, to verdicts in criminal cases, imperial privileges, and certain concrete decrees resulting from the leges XII tabularum, other laws, the pretorial edict, senatus consulta ans constitutiones. In certain cases the meaning of interpretari ranges from interpretation to assumption and establishing. Based on this, the formational and developmental process of the meaning of interpretari become visible. In the preclassical age, interpretatio often occurs in the spheres of religion and mantics, i. e. indicating the mediation between the divine and human spheres. However, from Cicero’s time the latest, it became to mean the translator’s and interpreter’s activity, i. e. a secularised activity, mediating only between humans;from this time both grammar and rhetorics, and on their analogy jurisprudence, began to use it as their own technical term.
III. Celsus’s famous statement “ius est ars boni et aequi” – transmitted by Ulpianus – occurs as the opening idea of Iustinian Digesta, according to this, whoever intends to deal with law should first know where its name comes from; ius got its name from iustitia – as Celsus astutely defines – law is the art of the good and the equitable. Following this train of thought, Ulpianus states that lawyers should exercise their profession as a priestly vocation, because they must respect justice, propagate the knowledge of the good and the equitable, separating the legal from the illegal, the permissible from the forbidden. Later Ulpianus defines justice as an unceasing and eternal effort to give everybody their due right. Therefore the commandments of the law are the following: to live decently, not to hurt anyone, to give everybody their due, this definition being considerably well known, there is not need of further explanation. In concordance with this Ulpianus expressis verbis calls the magistrates’ attention to the fact that unlawful procedures are forbidden. As far as judges are concerned – for whom it is also forbidden to proceed with partiality, prejudice, or generally incorrectly – they must keep in mind the principle of aequitas, especially in the cases in which their personal consideration is of greater importance. The mere memorization of the legal material is not equivalent with the genuine knowledge of law, as Celsus emphasises, and he strongly blames the lawyers who do not want to consider the entire law when solving a case, and who only present an arbitrarily selected portion even while justifying their responsa. The “suum cuique tribuere” principle is in remarkable resonance with that locus of Cicero’s Topica which defines the ius civile as the aequitas established for the people living in the same state with the scope of preserving their goods. Regarding the Corpus Ciceronianum, in the speech delivered in defence of L. Licinius Murena, this contradiction is throughly highlighted: in connection with certain legal institutions of marital law (coemptio tutelae evitandae causa, coemptio sacrorum interimendorum causa), which became empty and troublesome by the time of Cicero, the rhetor formulates: “In omni denique iure civili aequitatem relinquerunt, verba ipsa tenuerunt.” So, criticism is not directed against the keystone of the state, the laws, only against legal practitioners and their methods of interpretation.
The loci from the Corpus Ciceronianum referring to aequitas – with special regard to Cicero’s theoretical works – can be classified in the following categories. In certain cases aequitas appears as the opposite of ius, in other cases one can find the trinity of aequitas–ius–lex, which divedes the concept of law in a very special way. On the one hand it divides justice into a ius based on lex, on the other hand into a ius based on aequitas. Elsewhere – e. g. in Pro Caecina – aequitas is none other than the means of interpretatio iuris. A third different group is constituted by the loci where aequitas is mentioned as a synonym of ius. In his philosophical works aequitas appears in many thoughts as a projection, a form of iustitia, being the foundation of human relationships. It brings us closer to our present topic of discussion if we try to trace the occurences of aequitas in Cicero’s speeches and his correspondence. In certain characterisations it appears as a personal characteristic feature, this is the way he characterises Scipio and Servius Sulpicius, and he expects every Roman in office to possess this quality, he finds it particulary desirable in the case of judges. At the same time iustitia appears only as an exception as somebody’s personal feature in Ciceronian characterisations. Aequitas, often mentioned together with ius, not only as its complementary, is considered an ethical norm playing an important role in the administration of law, so it does not appear as the kind of equity that would give the judge the possibility to reach a decision in contradiction with written law because this way the verdict could easily become unjust, coming to a result contradictory with its aim.
Let us take a quick view – following Pringsheim’s statements – to the changes that the concept of aequitas underwent after Cicero, as the complementary and opposite of ius, and see how the concepts of ius aequum and ius strictum are formed. The ius aequum adjectival construction does not mean the legal interpretation, used in an abstract sense, based on equity, but the adjective aequus means, both in literary and legal sources, according to its original sense, the equal right, identically available for everybody. Basically, it is not the ius that is divided into ius aequum and ius strictum, but aequitas appears as a principle regulating, at times aiding, correcting ius, at times harmonising with it, at times constituting a contradictory principle, which however, was never defined at the level of an abstract definition, probably due to a lack of effort. In the time of the dominate aequitas kept gaining terrain from ius, a turning point in this being was Constantinus’s legislation who on the one hand declared that the emperor alone is entiteled to interpret the difference between ius and aequitas, on the other hand, he made aequitas the synonym of iustitia and ius iustitiaque, ranking these above ius (strictum). This idea was later taken over by Iustinian legal science, so the sources reflect the clear dominance of aequitas, to which the concepts of humanitas, iustitia, benignitas, utilitas and bona fides are associated, leaving to ius the meaning of strict, limited and – sit venia verbo – narrow-minded law, clinging to a rigid, word for word interpretation. The expression ius strictum cannot be found in the literary sources of the classical period, iudicium strictum is used as a technical term of rhetorical works. In Statius’s Silvae strictae leges are opposed with aequum; ius strictum only becomes an unquestionable technical term in Iustinian’s legal work.
Returning to Cicero, the expressions “summo iure agere” and “summo iure contendere” indicate the use of the whole range of posibilities offered by the law, which in itself does not mean legal practice contradictory with aequitas, its being proper or improper becomes clear only in the concrete situation. At times Cicero has the possibility to be lenient, but the hostile behaviour of the opponent can make him legitimately act against this with the strictest means of the law, keeping in mind not only his personal interests but the interests of the state as well. (In connection with the summum ius being dependent on the specific situation, both Stroux and Bürge quote as a literary example, the scene from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice in which, Portia as judge uses the literal, instead of the sensible interpretation of the law against Shylock, reluctant to accept the doge’s more equitable proposal, finally making him withdraw.) Although aequitas as the principle of interpretatio is not formulated expressis verbis in connection with causa Curiana, treated by Cicero, the contradiction between interpretatio restrictiva and interpretatio extensiva being discussed here, regarding its content, it seems to belong to its essence. The basic question concerning the facts of the case is whether the substitutio pupillaris can also be regarded as substitutio vulgaris, and connected to this, the question whether the so-designed heir is also the heir of the bequeather, should also be answered. Q. Mucius Scaevola argued for the restrictive, L. Licinius Crassus argued for the extending interpretation. Consequently, both of them referred to auctores substantiating their opinion. Moreover, Crassus, employing the weapon of humor, made fun of the obsolete formulation of the legal text, thus ridiculing its restrictive interpretation. (The decision made in causa Curiana did not prove to be of long-lasting value from the point of view of legal science, as we know about several later sententiae contradictory with this.) As we have seen neither Cicero, nor other Roman legal scientists, basically reluctant to abstract definitions, determined the uncontradictory concept of aequitas. Therefore the decisiveness of the attempt to solve the scriptum–voluntas contradiction, emphasised by Stroux in connection with the causa Curiana, loses its validity because the aequitas did not act as a basic principle of judgement, but rather as a rhetorical ornament. Crassus, who in the causa Curiana acted as patrocinium aequitatis, in another case proved to be the advocate of ius strictum. M. Marius Gratidianus sold a plot to C. Sergius Orta, from whom he had bought the same plot a few years earlier; the plot was loaded with servitutes, about which Sergius Orta, as the former owner must have had knowledge, however, at the signing of the contract, Gratidianus did not mention the servitutes, though this would have been his duty. In the case of actio empti the seller is responsible for the dolus, the judge had to decide whether Gratidianus proceeded dolose or not; the advocati of the parts had a great opportunity to influence the iudex, using rhetoric devices based on legal science. As Cicero remarks too, in this case Antonius based his reasoning on aequitas, opposed to him, Crassus clung to the more restrictive interpretation. The appearance of these poles in the same case strongly resonates with the training practice of rhetoricians, according to which the magister divided the case to be discussed among the students in a way that half of them had to defend their point of view based on the aequitas, the other half based on ius strictum, then they changed the roles.
In as much as we do not consider aequitas to be an abstract idea in these cases, but as a freely applicable rhetoric device, Cicero’s rather liberal handling of the concept of aequitas harmonises with the other statements dealing with the essence of eloquence. Within the boundaries desingated by legal science – which in a given case can mean the facts of the case, determined by the iuris consultus – the orator can freely move concentrating his attention on the task of the defence, all the more so, as he is not striving for proving the truth, but for convincing the audience of the veri simile. (To illustrate this, Cicero tells the following example. A simple man from the country wanted to ask P. Crassus iuris consultus for advice, but the jurist sent him away, as he thought that he could do nothing for him. However, Servius Galba, the rhetor, presented him so many examples, parallels, arguments interlarded with humor, based on aequitas, and not on ius, in support of the rusticus, that the jurist – still not sharing the rhetor’s point of view – had to admit that his arguments were so probable that they almost sounded like truth.) The freedom of movement of the rhetor is considerably greater than that of the jurist, as Gellius puts it, he is not closely tied to the truth content of the facts. The rhetor had to be able to argue for or against the same case, as this technique constituted a substantial part of rhetoric studies. The difference between legal and rhetorical methods was long preserved in Rome, as Quintilian admits in his Institutio oratoria, in the chapter in which he emphasises the importance of the rhetor’s acquiring legal knowledge. In the course of time, this difference even became wider, when, at the beginning of the Principate, political eloquence faltered, whereas eloquence lost its connections with jurisprudence by dealing with fictitious examples and solving more and more artificial rhetorical situations.
IV. Investigating the use and explanation of the proverbium “summum ius summa iniuria” in Ersamus of Rotterdam seems substantiated not so much due to the historical and depth of the Erasmian interpretation – as this idea was made the object of much more through-going legal theoretical scrutiny by numerous humanists e. g. Claudius Cantiuncula, Bonifacius Amerbach or Symon Grynaeus (if only due to Erasmus’s slighter interest for historical study) –, but for the immense influence over the centuries feeding on the enormous authority of this excellent humanist. Without having to enter a more meticulous genetic and influence study of Erasmus’s Adagia, it can be stated that from its first edition in the XVI century until the end of the XVIII century, it was used as a widely appeciateed scholary text book, thus it can be safely assumed that the “summum ius summa iniuria” paroemia gained considerable popularity among humanists, theologians, philosophers, as it is proved by its being frequently quoted in the most various context.
As Erasmus had been taking effort to perfect the Adagia until the end of his life, several versions and explanations of this idea can be encountered in the Erasmian corpus. The first edition dating from 1500 mentions the proverb in two places , first in connection with the Terentian quotation “summum ius summa malitia”, later referring to Plato and Cicero under the title of “ad vivum summo iure”. The text appearing in Basel in 1540 but dating from 1536 synthetizes all the known occurences of this idea in Latin authors. Before enumerating and analysing the loci, trying to avoid the charge that he includes sententiae instead of adagia i. e. proverbs Erasmus gives a long explanation, finally finding his aquittal in quoting the Terentian nominatim.
Erasmus himself not being a jurist, he dedicated less attention to the legal paroemia, except a few explanations referring to Iustitia. Only four years before his death, in 1532 Erasmus became interested in juridic regulations and asked his friend, Bonifacius Amerbach in a letter to send him some material, suitable for the completion of tha Adagia, then, after receiving the two-page-long collection, he urged his friend to send him some more. It is highly probable that this was how the quotations provening from the Roman sources found their way into the 1540 edition of the Adagia. In Erasmus’s interpretation the aequitas often mentioned to highlight the “summum ius summa iniuria” paroemia probably did not so much mean equity as legal interpretive principle, but rather justice, that should be enforced even against the letter of the law. For the explanations Erasmus usually makes appeal to antique authors generally with the exact documentation of the sources but at times without summarizing their content; the concept of aequitas is most often simply used in the sense of aequum et bonum, as the opposite of iniquitas, placing the spirit of the law above its letter. One can find the type of the Ciceronian pair of concepts in the Aristotelian Ethica Nicomachea, according to which a man can be regarded equitable, if he is satisfied with less, even if the law is on his side, and does not stick to his own justice in the detriment of others, so equity is none other than a kind of justice. It is interesting though, that Erasmus does not make reference to Aristotle in the early editions of the Adagia, only the 1536 and 1540 editions permit us to assume that probably he had in mind the specific locus from Ethica Nicomachea. In these latter editions reference is made to Cicero’s Pro Murena, instead of Pro Caecina, naturally, together with the classic formulation of the proverbium, which can be read in De officiis. We can suspect Aristotelian influence – rather on an ideological level not so much in the concrete wording – in the reference to the intention of the legislator opposed to the letter of the law. The “voces … quasi legum cutis est” picture, i. e. the words constitute the skin, the outward layer, is presumably Erasmus’s own; Erasmus’s attention to the two legal fragments by – Celsus and Paulus respectively – from the Digesta by Iustinian was probably called by Bonifacius Amerbach, but he used these rather as a kind of illustration without examining either their historical or dogmatic background.
Reaching the end of our introspection, we can draw the following conclusions. From the maxims of legal logic as means of legal interpretation, in the present work we made the proverbium “summum ius summa iniuria” the object of our scrutiny, enumerating its occurences in the antique literary sources, namely in Terence, Columella then in Cicero. In this last formulation the meaning of the proverb became the most clearly crystallized, it signifies the excessive, malevolent legal practice in the course of interpretatio iuris, playing the letter of the law against its spirit. Following this we tried to trace the different meanings, the formation, and developmental stages of the expression interpretatio itself, in the course of which interpretatio, combining mutatis mutandis the nuances of the religious sphere on the one hand, and those of the grammatical field on the other, until it reached the semantic content of interpretive activity, becoming a determinal factor by the classical age. The Celsian “ius est ars boni et aequi” sententia formulates one of the most general, all-encompassing basic principles of interpretatio meant to offer protection against the too strictly interpreted and applied summum ius. Although jurists never clearly defined the concept of aequitas, it became a very important means of legal development as a thought emerging from the interaction of iurisprudence and eloquence. By presenting the relevant loci from Erasmus of Rotterdam’s Adagia as a typical example of the persistence of the paroemia “summum ius summa iniuria”, we wanted to show the way a proverb becoming regula iuris – apart from its direct legal application – became an integral part of today’s legal common knowledge.
 XII tab. 12, 5; Mod. D. 1, 4, 4.
 Pap. D. 48, 19, 41; 50, 17, 80.
 Földi A.–Hamza G.: A római jog története és institúciói (History an Institutes of Roman Law), Budapest 2004. (9th edition) 72.
 Cels. D. 1, 3, 24. Incivile est nisi tota lege perspecta una aliqua particula eius proposita iudicare vel respondere.
 Paul. D. 1, 3, 29. Contra legem facit, qui id facit, quod lex prohibet, in fraudem vero, qui salvis verbis legis sentantiam eius circumvenit.
 Cels. D. 1, 3, 19. In ambigua voce legis ea potius accipienda est significatio, quae vitio caret, praesertim cum etiam voluntas legis ex hoc colligi possit.
 Marc. D. 28, 4, 3. pr. In re dubia benigniorem interpretationem sequi non minus iustius est quam tutius.
 Ulp. D. 1, 1, 1.
 Cicero: De officiis 1, 33.
 Földi–Hamza op. cit. 73.
 Terentius: Heautontimoroumenos 792. sqq.
 A. Walde–J. B. Hofmann: Lateinisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch I–II. Heidelberg 1954. II 630.
 Varro: De lingua Latina 8, 75.
 Isidorus: Origines sive etymologiae 1, 7, 27.
 Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 7, 10.
 Plautus: Asinaria 534; Persa 33; Pseudolus 374; Cicero: Cato maior de senectute 78; Suetonius: Tiberius 64, 4.
 Plautus: Cistellaria 516; Amphitruo 77; Captivi 279; Mercator 694; Stichus 409; Persa 418; Cicero: Tusculanae disputationes 2, 144.
 Plautus: Stichus 492. sq.; Cistellaria 23. sq.; Pseudolus 70; Mercator 604; Terentius: Heautontimoroumenos 227. 609; Adelphoe 502.
 Plautus: Cistellaria 24. sq.; Terentius: Eunuchus 489; Hecyra 380; Cicero: Epistulae ad Atticum 4, 1, 5; Philippica in M. Antonium 2, 3.
 A. Carcaterra: ’Ius summum saepe summast malitia’, In: Studi in onore di E. Volterra, Milano 1971. IV. 631. sqq.
 Isidorus: Differentiae 1, 358. Cogitatio prova mentis malitia appellatur.
 Isidorus: Origines sive etymologiae 10, 6. Astutus ab astu vocatus, quid est callidi et cauti nominis, qui possit sine periculo fortiter aliquid facere;. Cf. Carcaretta op. cit. 638.
 Terentius: Heautontimoroumenos 4–5.
 Menandros Nr. 545.
 About the question of contaminatio in Terence’s comedies see Rieth: Die Kunst des Menanders in den Adelphen des Terenz, Hildesheim 1964.
 Donatus: Commentarius a. h. l. Summum ius saepe summa est malitia id enim, quod datum est, utique reddendum est, sed iure cautum est, ut filia quidquid acceperit vel filiae nomine datum fuerit, quae in familia est, non recte datum videatur. Itaque aequitatis est ut debitum solvi debeat, ius est ut sic datum reddatur: ita summum ius summa malitia.
 Carcaterra op. cit. 641.
 Carcaterra op. cit. 644.
 Hieronymus: Epistulae 1, 44.
 Columella: De re rustica 1, 7, 1. sq.
 M. Fuhrmann: Philologische Bemerkungen zur Sentenz ’Summum ius, summa iniuria’, In: Studi in onore di E. Volterra, Milano 1971. II. 74.
 Cicero: De officiis 1, 33.
 A. Bürge: Die Juristenkomik in Ciceros Rede Pro Murena, Zürich 1974. 53.
 J. Stroux: ’Summum ius, summa iniuria’ Ein Kapitel der Geschichte der interpretatio iuris, Berlin–Leipzig 1926. 21; Fuhrmann op. cit. 1971. 74.
 Stroux op. cit. 49.
 Fuhrmann op. cit. 1971. 75.
 K. Büchner: Summum ius summa iniuria, In: Humanitas Romana, Heidelberg 1957. 102; C. S. Tomulescu: Der juristische Wert des Werkes Ciceros, In: Gesellschaft und Recht im griechisch-römischen Altertum, Berlin 1968. I. 230.
 Cicero: In Verrem 6, 4. Non agam summo iure tecum, non dicam id quod debeam forsitan obtinere, cum iudicium certa lege sit.; Epistulae ad Atticum 16, 15, 1. Ego ... dubitassem fortasse utrum remissior essem an summo iure contenderem.
 Tomulescu op. cit. 230.
 Cicero: De legibus 1, 15.
 Cf. H. Görgemanns: Beiträge zur Interpretation von Platons Nomoi, München 1960; G. R. Morrow: Plato’s Cretan City, Princeton 1960.
 Cicero: De legibus 2, 23. 59.
 U. Knoche: Ciceros Verbindung der Lehre vom Naturrecht mit dem römischen Recht und Gesetz, In: Cicero ein Mensch seiner Zeit, hg. G. Radke, Berlin 1968. 41.
 Hamza G.: A ius naturale a Corpus Ciceronianumban (The ius naturale in the Corpus Ciceronianum), In: Hereditas Ciceroniana, Debrecen 1995. 75. sqq.
 Cicero: De re publica 3, 22.
 Cicero: De legibus 2, 13.
 Cicero: De legibus 1, 18; 2, 14.
 Cicero: De legibus 1, 18.
 Knoche op. cit. 46. sqq.
 U. v. Lübtow: Cicero und die Methode der römischen Jurisprudenz, In: Festschrift für L. Wenger, München 1944. I. 232.
 Carcaterra op. cit. 663.
 Aquila Romanus: De figuris sententiarum 27.
 Ulp. D. 50, 17, 144.
 Publilius Syrus: Sententiae L, 6.
 Pomp. D. 50, 17, 206.
 Seneca: Controversiae 10, 2, 6.
 Paul. D. 50, 17, 142
 Plautus: Poennulus 443. sq. Isti … orationi Oedipo opust coniectore, qui Sphingi interpres fuit.
 Plautus: Pseudolus 25. sq. Has … credo, nisi Sibulla legerit, interpretari alium posse neminem.
 M. Fuhrmann: Interpretatio – Notizen zur Wortgeschichte, In: Sympotica F. Wieacker, Göttingen 1970. 82.
 Plautus: Bacchides 595. sq. Ne tibi hercle haud longe est os ab infortunio, ita dentifragibula haec meis manibus gestiunt.
 Plautus: Bacchides 597. Cum ego huius verba interpretor, mihi cautiost.
 Plautus: Cistellaria 316. sqq. Sed cum dicta huius interpretor, haec herclest, ut ego opinor, meum quae corrumpit filium. Suspiciost eam esse, utpote quam numquam videro; de opinione credo.
 Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 84.
 Plautus: Epidicus 552.
 Plautus: Miles gloriosus 798. 951. sq. 962.
 Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 84.
 Pacuvius v. 80. sqq. (Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, ed. O.Ribbeck, Leipzig 1871.) Cives, antiqui amici maiorum meum, consilium socii, augurium atque extum interpretes, postquam prodigium horriferum, portentum pavos.
 About the aurures and haruspices cf. K. Latte: Römische Religionsgeschichte, München 1967. 141. 158.
 Matius frg. 2. (Fragmenta Poetarum Latinorum, ed. W. Morel, Leipzig 1927.) Obsceni interpres funestique ominis auctor.; Cf. Il. 1, 106. sq.
 Pacuv. v. 151. sq. (Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, ed. O.Ribbeck, Leipzig 1871.) Nil coniectura quivi interpretarier, quorsum flexiloqua dictio contenderet.
 Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 85.
 Cicero: De legibus 2, 20; Philippica in M. Antonium 13, 12; De natura deorum 2, 12; 3, 5; De divinatione 1, 3. 4. 46; 2, 110; Livius: Ab urbe condita 10, 8, 2; Gellius: Noctes Atticae 4, 1, 1.
 Cicero: De legibus 2, 20. 30; De divinatione 1, 3. 45. 92. 93. 116; Pro M. Aemilio Scauro 30; De domo sua 107; Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 3, 6, 30; Plinius: Naturalis historia 2, 141; 7, 203; Gellius: Noctes Atticae 4, 1, 1; Valerius Maximus: Facta et dicta memorabilia 1, 5. 6.
 Cicero: De natura deorum 2, 12; De divinatione 1, 118; 2, 62. 66. 144; Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 3, 6, 30.
 Cicero: De divinatione 1, 1166; De natura deorum 1, 39; Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 3, 4, 3.
 Cicero: De finibus bonorum et malorum 3, 15; Hieronymus: Epistulae 57, 5.
 Cicero: De optimo genere oratorum 14; De legibus 2, 17; De officiis 1, 6; 2, 60; De oratore 1, 23; Academica priora 2. 1, 6; De finibus bonorum et malorum 1, 6.
 Horatius: Ars poetica 133. sq. Nec verbum pro verbo curabis reddere fidus interpres.
 Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 10, 1, 87.
 Auctor ad Herennium 4, 38; Cf. Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 88.
 Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 9, 3, 98; 10, 5, 5.
 Cicero: De divinatione 1, 1; Topica 35; De officiis 2, 5; De finibus bonorum et malorum 3, 15; Livius: Ab urbe condita 1, 44, 4; Seneca: De beneficiis 1, 3, 6; Gellius: Noctes Atticae 4, 9, 9; Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 5, 10, 8; Cf. Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 89; H. Flashar: Formen der Aneingnung griechischer Literatur durch die Übersetzung, Arcadia 3. 1968.
 Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 91.
 Cicero: De divinatione 1, 34.
 Suetonius: De grammaticis 4.
 Livius: Ab urbe condita 1, 26, 8.
 Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 92.
 Plinius: Naturalis historia 43, 21.
 Pomp. D. 1, 2, 2, 4.
 Livius: Ab urbe condita 3, 55, 8.
 Cicero: De oratore 1, 193; De legibus 2, 59; Brutus 144; Philippica in M. Antonium 9, 10; Cf. Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 92. sq.
 Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 3, 6, 59; Cf. C. 1, 14, 12, 5; 7, 4, 17. pr.; 6, 29, 4. pr.; 6, 23, 30.
 Cicero: Pro Balbo 20; Pro Caecina 70; De oratore 1, 199; De legibus 1, 14; De officiis 2, 65.
 Cicero: De oratore 1, 185–192; Cf. K. Barwick: Das rednerische Bildungsideal Ciceros, Berlin 1963. 7. sqq.
 About Servius Sulpicius Rufus see F. Schulz: Geschichte der römischen Rechtswissenschaft, Weimar 1961. 65; P. Stein: The place of Servius Sulpicius Rufus in the development of Roman legal science, In: Festschrift für F. Wieacker, Göttingen 1978. 176. sqq.
 Cicero: Brutus 152; Cf. Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 96. sq.
 Ulp. D. 45, 1, 1, 6; Pomp. D. 49, 15, 5, 3; Gai. inst. 3, 93.
 Paul. D. 1, 3, 37. Optima est legum interpres consuetudo.
 Testmenta: Iav. D. 32, 29. pr.; Nerva D. 40, 7, 17; Pomp. 50, 16, 123; Afr. D. 28, 5, 48, 2; Gai. D. 35, 1, 16; Scaev. 40, 5, 41, 10; Pap. D. 35, 1, 72. pr.; 50, 17, 12; Ulp. D. 7, 8, 12, 2; Mod. 31, 34, 1. Stipulationes: Proc. D. 50, 16, 125; Cels. 45, 1, 99. pr.; Nerva D. 2, 11, 14; Pomp. D. 23, 4, 9; Maecen. D. 35, 2, 32, 2; Pap. D. 2, 15, 2; Ulp. D. 45, 1, 38, 18. Contractus: Iav. D. 18, 1, 77, 80. pr.; Nerva D. 2, 14, 58; Marc. D. 13, 5, 24; Pap. D. 17, 2, 81; Paul. D. 50, 17, 172. pr.; Ulp. D. 23, 4, 11. Laws in general: Cels. D. 1, 3, 18; Iul. D. 1, 3, 11; Paul. D. 1, 3, 23. 37; Ulp. 1, 3, 13; Mod. D. 1, 3, 25. Criminal laws and criminal cases: Paul. 50, 17, 155, 2; Herm. D. 48, 19, 42. Privilegs: Iav. D. 1, 4, 3; Paul. D. 28, 6, 43. pr. Leges XII tabularum: Pomp. D. 40, 7, 21. pr.; 50, 16, 120. Leges: Gai. D. 23, 5, 4; Scaev. D. 28, 2, 29, 6. 13; Pap. D. 48, 3, 2, 1; Paul. D. 49, 14, 40. Edicta: Paul. D. 13, 5, 17; Ulp. D. 12, 1, 1. pr.; 13, 5, 18, 1; 13, 6, 1, 1; 25, 4, 1, 11; 37, 12, 1, 2; 43, 3, 1, 11. Senatus consulta: Ulp. D. 5, 3, 20, 6; 36, 1, 1. pr.; 38, 17, 1, 6. Constitutiones: Marc. D. 29, 1, 25; Paul. D. 50, 15, 8, 7.
 Cels. D. 48, 19, 21; Nerva D. 25, 1, 15; Iul. D. 50, 16, 201; Afr. D. 47, 2, 62, 6; Pomp. D. 50, 16, 246, 1; Pap. D. 22, 1, 1, 3; Herm. D. 5, 3, 52; Gai. inst. 4, 72 a; Pap. D. 50, 17, 79; Ulp. D. 13, 5, 5, 6.
 Fuhrmann op. cit. 1970. 99. sq.
 Ulp. D. 1, 1, 1. Iuri operam daturum prius nosse oportet, unde nomen iuris descendat. Est autem a iustitia appellatum: nam, ut eleganter Celsus definit, ius est ars boni et aequi.
 Ulp. D. 1, 1, 1. Cuius merito quis nos sacerdotes appellet: iustitiam namque colimus, et boni et aequi notitiam profitemur, aequum ab iniquo separantes, licitum ab illicto discernentes, bonos non solum metu poenarum, verum etiam praemiorum quoque exhortatione efficere cupientes, veram nisi fallor philosophiam, non simulatam affectantes.
 Ulp. D. 1, 1, 10. Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas suum cuique tribuendi. Iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere.
 Ulp. D. 47, 10, 32; 5, 1, 15, 1; Gai. D. 50, 13, 6; C. 3, 1, 13, 6; Tryph. D. 16, 3, 31. pr.
 Cels. D. 1, 3, 17. 24; Cf. A. Polaèek: Ius est ars aequi et boni, In: Studi in onore di A. Biscardi, Milano 1982. II. 27. sq.
 Cicero: Topica 2, 9. Ius civile est aequitas constituta eis, qui eiusdem civitatis sunt ad res suas obtinendas.
 Cf. F. Benedek: Die conventio in manum und die Förmlichkeiten der Eheschließung im römischen Recht, PTE Dolg. Pécs 1978. 19. sqq.
 Cicero: Pro Murena 27. Mulieres omnes propter infirmitatem consilii maiores in tutorum potestate esse voluerunt, hi invenerunt genera tutorum, quae potestate mulierum continetur. Sacra interire noluerunt, horum ingenio senes ad coempionales faciendas interimendorum sacrorum causa reperti sunt.
 Cicero: Pro Murena 27.
 Cicero: De legibus 1, 14.
 G. Ciulei: Les rapports de l’équité avec le droit et la justice dans l’oeuvre de Cicéron, RHD 1968. 640. sqq.
 Cicero: De inventione 32; Partitiones oratoriae 28; Pro Caecina 36; De oratore 1, 56.
 Cicero: Topica 5. 7.
 Ciulei op. cit. 642.
 Cicero: Partitiones oratoriae 39; De re publica 5, 2.
 Cicero: Topica 2. 24; Partitiones oratoriae 37.
 Cicero: De re publica 1, 2; Laelius de amicitia 22; De officiis 1, 19; Topica 23.
 Cicero: Ad Quintum fratrem 1, 1, 45.
 Cicero: In Verrem 5, 81.
 Cicero: Ad familiares 4, 4, 3; Philippica in M. Antonium 9, 10.
 Cicero: De lege agraria 2, 102; Pro M. Tullio 8; Pro L. Valerio Flacco 49; Pro Cluentio 5. 159.
 Cicero: Ad familiares 13, 28 A, 2; 13, 66, 2; Cf. Bürge op. cit. 49. sqq.
 Cicero: De oratore 1, 86. 173; Cf. Schulz op. cit. 90; F. Pringsheim: Ius aequum und ius strictum, ZSS 42. 1921. 643. sqq.
 Cicero: Philippica in M. Antonium 5, 20; De imperio Cn. Pompei 58; Cf. Bürge op. cit. 52.
 Pringsheim op. cit. 643. sqq.
 Cicero: In Verrem 3, 118; Livius: Ab urbe condita 38, 50, 9; Tacitus: Annales 3, 27; Seneca: Epistulae ad Lucilium 86, 2; Tryph. D. 29, 1, 18, 1; Paul. D. 46, 1, 55; C. 3, 36, 11; 6, 58, 15, 1.
 Paul. D. 50, 17, 90; 44, 4, 1, 1; Ulp. D. 2, 14, 52, 3. Cf. Pringsheim op. cit. 644.
 C. 1, 14, 1; C. Th. 1, 5, 3; 3, 1, 8.
 Cf. Földi A.: A jóhiszemûség és tisztesség elve – Intézménytörténeti vázlat a római jogtól napjainkig, PIIR IX. Budapest 2001. (With German Summary: Das Prinzip von Treu und Glauben – Abriß der Geschichte eines Rechtsgrundsatzes vom römischen Recht bis zur Gegenwart) 9. 19. sqq.
 Ulp. D. 15, 1, 32. pr; Pap. D. 26, 7, 36; Paul. D. 39, 3, 25; Pap. D. 46, 6, 12.
 Pringsheim op. cit. 648.
 Seneca: Controversiae 1. praef. 23; 4. praef. 3; Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 12, 10, 52.
 Statius: Silvae 3, 5, 87. sq. Nulla foro rabies aut strictae in iurgia leges; morum iura viris solum et sine fascibus aequum.
 C. 4, 31, 14, 1; 5, 13, 1, 2; Pap. D. 5, 3, 50, 1; Paul. 13, 5, 30; Tryph. D. 23, 2, 67, 1; Pap. D. 29, 2, 86. pr.; Iav. D. 40, 7, 28. pr.; C. 3, 42, 8, 1; Gai. inst. 3, 18.
 Cicero: In Verrem 6, 4.
 Cicero: Epistulae ad Atticum 16, 15, 1.
 Stroux op. cit. 57.
 Bürge op. cit. 54.
 Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice 4, 1, 300. sqq.
 Gai. inst. 2, 179; Cf. G. Finazzi: La sostituzione pupillare, Napoli 1997.
 Gai. inst. 2, 174. sqq; Cf. Földi–Hamza 626.
 Cf. M. d’Orta: Saggio sulla ’heredis institutio’, Problemi di origine, Torino 1996.
 Cicero: De oratore 1, 180; Cf. Bürge op. cit. 58; Schulz op. cit. 95.
 Treb. D. 26, 2, 33; Mod. D. 28, 6, 4. pr.
 Iav. D. 50, 17, 202.
 Stroux op. cit. 57.
 Bürge op. cit. 54.
 Cf. G. Grosso: Le servitù prediali nel diritto romano, Torino 1969.
 Cicero: De officiis 3, 67.
 Bürge op. cit. 61.
 Cicero: De oratore 1, 244; Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 7, 6, 1; Cf. H. K. Schulte: Orator – Untersuchungen über das ciceronianische Bildungsideal, Frankfurt a. M. 1935. 37. sqq.
 Bürge op. cit. 63.
 Cicero: Partitiones oratoriae 90; De officiis 2, 51. Iudicis est semper in causis verum sequi, patroni non numquam veri simile, etiam si minus sit verum, defendere.
 Cicero: De officiis 2, 40.
 Gellius: Noctes Atticae 1, 6, 4. Rhetori concessum est sententiis uti falsis, audacibus, versutis, subdolis, captiosis, si vero modo similes sint et possint movendos hominum animos qualicumque astu inrepere.
 Cicero: De oratore 2, 30.
 Quintilianus: Institutio oratoria 12, 3, 2. sqq.
 E. Norden: Die antike Kunstprosa, Leipzig 1909. I. 126. sqq.
 Cf. T. C. Appelt: Studies in the Contents and Sources of Erasmus’ Adagia, with Particular Reference to the First Edition, 1500, and the Edition of 1526, Chicago 1942.
 G. Kisch: Summum ius summa iniuria, In: Aequitas und bona fides, Festgabe Simonius, Basel 1955. 211.
 Desyderii Herasmi Roterdami veterum maximeque insignium paroemiarum id est adagiorum collectanea, Parrhisiis M. Iohanne Philippo Alamanno diligentissimo impressore Anno MVc.
 Summum ius summa malicia. Non asscripturus eram, ut sententias non adagia dicerer conscribere, ni a servo Comino nominatim pro adagio referretur. Verum illud Cherme dicunt “Ius summum sepe summa malicia est.” Quo proverbio monemur equitatem potius quam legum litteras sequi.
 Ad vivum summo iure. Id est ad cutem usque, ita loquimur nimis exactam rationem significantes, videlicet quum rem nimis acriter urgemus. Thrasymachus apud Platonem Socratem Sicophantam appellat, id est, calumniatorem, quia orationem suam ad nimis arctam rationem exigat, depravans potius recte dicta quam incautius dicta in meliorem sensum trahens. Additque. Quare sequundum exactam rationem, quando et tu ad vivum resecas, nullus artifex peccat. Nec huic dissimile illud apud Ciceronem pro Cecinna (§ 65). Nam caeteri, inquit tum ad istam orationem decurrunt, quum se in causa putant habere equum et bonum quod defendant, si contra, verbis et literis et (ut dici solet) summo iure contenditur, solent eiusmodi iniquitanti et boni et aequi nomen dignitatemque opponere. Est igitur summo iure contendere, leges ad vivum et nimis severam rationem exigere, und et illud: Summum ius summa malicia.
 Des. Erasmi Rot. Operum Secundus Tomus Adagiorum Chiliades Quatuor cum Sesquicenturia Complectens, ex postrema ipsius auctoris recognitione accuratissima, quibus non est quod quicquam imposterum vereare accessurum, Basileae ex Officina Frobeniana AN. M.D.XL.
 Summum ius summa iniuria. Summum ius summa iniuria, hoc est, tum maxime disceditur ab aequitate, cum maxime superstitiose haeretur legum literis. Id enim summum ius appellant, cum de verbis iuris contenditur, neque spectatur quid senserit is qui scripsit. Nam voces ac litterae, quasi legum summa cutis est, Eam ineptiam quorundam superstitiosorum iuris interpretum, copiose simul et eleganter illudit M. Tullius in actione pro Murena (§§ 25–27). Terentius (IV, 5, 47; v. 796), Verum illud Cherme dicunt, ius summum saepe summa malitia est. M. Tullius Officiorum libro primo (10, 33): Ex quo illud, summum ius, summa iniuria, factum est iam tritum sermone proverbium. Columella primo rei rusticae libro (7, 2): Nec sane est vindicandum nobis, quicquid licet. Nam summum ius antiqui summam putabant crucem. Citatur et Celsus adolescens libro Pandect. Quadragesimo quinto, titulo De verborum obligatione, Cap. Si servum Stichum (D. 45. 1. 91. 3, i. f.): qui scripserit quaestionem esse de bono et equo, in quo genere plerunque sub auctoritate iuris scientiae periculose erratur. Itidem Paulus libro quinquagesimo, titulo, De regulis iuris (D. 50. 17. 90): In omnibus quidem, maxime tamen in iure aequitas spectanda est. Simili figura Seneca libro De ira primo dixit, summo animo. Si intelligis non ex alto venire nequitiam, sed summo, quod aiunt, animo inhaerere.
 Kisch op. cit. 207.
 Kisch op. cit. 208.
 Büchner op. cit. 13. sq.
 Aristoteles: Nicomachea ethica 1138 a
 Aristoteles: Ars rhetorica 1374 b
 Kisch op. cit. 210.