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Roman barber hit by football while shaving | Dr Footius Balloonicus, Professor of Football VII

January 12, 2020

Greetings from the desk of Dr Footius Balloonicus. The 6th century digest of Roman law, the Corpus
Juris Civilis, contains a fascinating debate on the nature of risk and liability. As mentioned by Ulpian, quoting Mila, “If,
when people were playing at ball, one of them hit a ball rather hard and knocked it against
the hands of a barber, so that a slave with a barber was shaving had his throat cut by
reason of the razor being jerked against it: in such a case, whoever of them is negligent
is liable under the law. Proculus says the negligence is the barber’s;
and certainly, if he was shaving at a place where people were accustomed to play, or where
there was heavy traffic, some blame must be attributed to him; though it is well said,
that if a person entrusts himself to a barber who has his chair in a dangerous place, he
has only himself to blame.” This debate remains unresolved, but we may
take the lesson: do not shave on the sidelines during a football match.

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