Domitius Ulpianus (died 228), anglicized as Ulpian, was a Roman jurist of Tyrian ancestry. The time and place of his birth are unknown, but the period of his literary activity was between AD 211 and 222. He made his first appearance in public life as assessor in the auditorium of Papinian and member of the council of Septimius Severus; under Caracalla he was master of the requests (magister libellorum). Elagabalus (also known as Heliogabalus) banished him from Rome, but on the accession of Alexander (222) he was reinstated, and finally became the emperor's chief adviser and praefectus praetorio. His curtailment of the privileges granted to the Praetorian Guard by Elagabalus provoked their enmity, and he narrowly escaped their vengeance; ultimately he was murdered in the palace, in the course of a riot between the soldiers and the mob.
His works include: Ad Sabinum, a commentary on the jus civile, in over 50 books; Ad edictum, a commentary on the Edict, in 83 books; collections of opinions, responses and disputations; books of rules and institutions; treatises on the functions of the different magistrates — one of them, the De officio proconsulis libri x., being a comprehensive exposition of the criminal law; monographs on various statutes, on testamentary trusts, and a variety of other works. His writings altogether have supplied to Justinian's Digest about a third of its contents, and his commentary on the Edict alone about a fifth. As an author he is characterized by doctrinal exposition of a high order, judiciousness of criticism, and lucidity of arrangement, style and language.
Domitii Ulpiani fragmenta, consisting of 29 titles, were first edited by Tilius (Paris, 1549). Other editions are by Hugo (Berlin, 1834), Booking (Bonn, 1836), containing fragments of the first book of the Institutiones discovered by Endlicher at Vienna in 1835, and in Girard's Textes de droit romain (Paris, 1890).
It has been assumed for a long time that Ulpian of Tyre has been a model for Athenaeus' Ulpian in The Deipnosophists — or The Banquet of the Learned. Athenaeus makes 'Ulpian' out to be a grammarian and philologist, characterised by his customary interjections : "Where does this word occur in writing?". He is represented as a symposiarch and he occupies a couch alone; his death is passed over in silence in Book XV 686 c. Scholars today agree that Athenaeus's Ulpian is not the historical Ulpian, but possibly his father.
The date of the real Ulpian's death in 228 A.D. has been wrongly used to estimate the date of completion of The Deipnosophists.
- "Law is the art of the good and the fair." (Jus est ars boni et aequi)
- "The sovereign is not bound by the laws." (Princeps legibus solutus est)
- "What pleases the prince has the force of law." (Quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem)
- "Justice is the constant and perpetual will to render to every man his due."
- "The strong will resist and the weak will say anything to end the pain." (in reference to torture)
- "To live honorably, to harm no one, to give to each his own" (Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere) - Digesta 1.1.10