I’d like to highlight that an out-of-copyright translation of the Pandects, otherwise known as the Digest of Roman Law by Justinian, is actually online here as part of the Corpus Juris Civilis, under the misleading title of “The Civil Law”. Few people seem to know about this.
I thought that I would look at the comments on the Lex Cornelia, in 48.8, which I was discussing earlier in connection with legislation against magic. The law is mainly concerned with assassination and poisonings, and so are the comments. But there were clearly further provisions:
4. Ulpianus, On the Duties of Proconsul, Book VII. …
(2) The Divine Hadrian also stated the following in a Rescript: “It is forbidden by the Imperial Constitutions that eunuchs should be made, and they provide that persons who are convicted of this crime are liable to the penalty of the Cornelian Law, and that their property shall with good reason be confiscated by the Treasury.
“But with reference to slaves who have made eunuchs, they should be punished capitally, and those who are liable to this public crime and do not appear, shall, even when absent, be sentenced under the Cornelian Law. It is clear that if persons who have suffered this injury demand justice, the Governor of the province should hear those who have lost their virility; for no one has a right to castrate a freeman or a slave, either against his consent or with it, and no one can voluntarily offer himself to be castrated. If anyone should violate my Edict, the physician who performed the operation shall be punished with death, as well as anyone who willingly offered himself for emasculation.”
All this is interesting, considering that the priests of the state cult of Magna Mater (Cybele) were eunuchs!
A further interesting provision appears further down:
11. Modestinus, Rules, Book VI.
By a Rescript of the Divine Pius, Jews are permitted to circumcise only their own children, and anyone who performs this operation upon persons of a different religion will incur the penalty for castration.
This rescript of Antoninus Pius is second century, so cannot relate to Paul and Christianity; but if a similar attitude was around, it may explain why circumcision was not favoured by gentile converts.
Finally we get to something related to magic:
By a decree of the Senate it is ordered that anyone who offers sacrifices for the purpose of causing misfortune shall be subjected to the penalty of this law.
But the whole discussion relates to murder, rather than magic; clearly the latter was a minority concern.
Searching further for comments by Ulpian, I find this: 2. Ulpianus, On the Duties of Proconsul, Book VII. This is in 48.22, concerning associations, but again may relate to Christians.
Anyone who becomes a member of an unlawful association is liable to the same penalty to which those are subject who have been convicted of having seized public places or temples by means of armed men.