caput (kap-[schwa]t), n. [Latin ¡°head¡±]

1. Hist. A head, chief, or principal person.

2. Roman law. A person.

3. Roman law. A person’s condition or status.

¡°A ¡®natural,¡¯ as opposed to an ¡®artificial,¡¯ person is such a human being as is regarded by the law as capable of rights or duties: in the language of Roman law as having a ¡®status.¡¯ … Besides possessing this general legal capacity, or status, a man may also possess various special capacities, such as the ¡®tria capita¡¯ of liberty, citizenship, and family rights. A slave having, as such, neither rights nor liabilities, had in Roman law, strictly speaking, no ¡®status,¡¯ ¡®caput,¡¯ or ¡®persona.¡¯ … It must however be remembered that the terms ¡®persona¡¯ and ¡®caput¡¯ were also used in popular language as nearly equivalent to ¡®homo,¡¯ and in this sense were applied to slaves as well as to freemen.¡± Thomas E. Holland, The Elements of Jurisprudence 80¨C81 (4th ed. 1888).

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