The Vulgate is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible that became the Catholic Church's promulgated Latin version of the Bible during the 16th century. The translation was the work of Jerome, who in 382 had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Vetus Latina Gospels in use by the Roman Church. Jerome, on his own initiative, extended this work of revision and translation to include most of the books of the Bible, once published, the new version was adopted and eclipsed the Vetus Latina; the Catholic Church affirmed the Vulgate as its official Latin Bible at the Council of Trent, though there was no authoritative edition at that time. The Clementine edition of the Vulgate of 1592 became the standard Bible text of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and remained so until 1979 when the Nova Vulgata was promulgated; the Vulgate has a compound text, not the work of Jerome. While Jerome revised all the Gospels of the Vetus Latina from the Greek, it is unknown who revised the rest of the New Testament.
Several unrevised books of the Vetus Latina Old Testament commonly became included in the Vulgate. Medieval Vulgate Bibles might further include the Prayer of Manasses, 4 Esdras, the Epistle to the Laodiceans and Psalm 151. Jerome himself translated all books of the Jewish Bible from Hebrew; the Vulgate's components include: Independent translation from the Hebrew by Jerome: the books of the Hebrew Bible, including a translation of the Psalms from the Hebrew, found in early medieval Vulgate manuscripts but is supplanted by Jerome's Gallican version in bibles. This was completed in 405. Free translation from a secondary Aramaic version by Jerome: Tobias and Judith. Translation from the Greek of Theodotion by Jerome: The three additions to the Book of Daniel; the Song of the Three Children was retained within the narrative of Daniel, Susanna was moved by Jerome from before the beginning of Daniel to the end of the book along with Bel and the Dragon. These additions he marked with an obelus to distinguish them from the canonical text.
Translation from the Common Septuagint by Jerome: the Additions to Esther. Jerome gathered all these additions together at the end of the Book of Esther, marking them with an obelus. Translation from the Hexaplar Septuagint by Jerome: his Gallican version of the Book of Psalms. Jerome's Hexaplaric revisions of other books of Old Testament continued to circulate in Italy for several centuries, but only Job and fragments of other books survive. Revision of the Old Latin by Jerome: the Gospels, corrected with reference to the best Greek manuscripts Jerome considered available. Revision of the Old Latin: the Roman Psalter including Psalm 151, undertaken prior to Jerome but continuing in liturgical use, included in many medieval Vulgate Old Testaments and liturgical psalters. Revision of the Old Latin by a person or persons unknown, contemporary with Jerome: Acts, Pauline epistles, Catholic epistles and the Apocalypse. Old Latin, wholly unrevised: Epistle to the Laodiceans, Prayer of Manasses, 4 Esdras, Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Maccabees.
The Book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah were excluded by Jerome as non-canonical, but sporadically re-admitted into the Vulgate tradition from the Additions to the Book of Jeremiah of the Old Latin from the 9th century onwards. Independent translation, distinct from the Old Latin, he had been commissioned by Damasus I in 382 to revise the Old Latin text of the four Gospels from the best Greek texts. By the time of Damasus' death in 384, Jerome had completed this task, together with a more cursory revision from the Greek Common Septuagint of the Old Latin text of the Psalms in the Roman Psalter, a version which he disowned and is now lost. How much of the rest of the New Testament he revised is difficult to judge today, but none of his work survived in the Vulgate text of these books; the revised text of the New Testament outside the Gospels is the work of one or more other scholars. This unknown reviser worked more than Jerome had done using older Greek manuscript sources of Alexandrian text-type, had published a complete revised New Testament text by 410 at the latest, when Pelagius quoted from it in his commentary on the letters of Paul.
In 385, Jerome was forced out of Rome and settled in Bethlehem. There he was able to use a surviving manuscript of the Hexapla from the nearby Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima, a column
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. The English language draws a terminological distinction between interpreting. A translator always risks inadvertently introducing source-language words, grammar, or syntax into the target-language rendering. On the other hand, such "spill-overs" have sometimes imported useful source-language calques and loanwords that have enriched target languages. Translators, including early translators of sacred texts, have helped shape the languages into which they have translated; because of the laboriousness of the translation process, since the 1940s efforts have been made, with varying degrees of success, to automate translation or to mechanically aid the human translator. More the rise of the Internet has fostered a world-wide market for translation services and has facilitated "language localization"; the English word "translation" derives from the Latin word translatio, which comes from trans, "across" + ferre, "to carry" or "to bring".
Thus translatio is "a carrying across" or "a bringing across": in this case, of a text from one language to another. The Germanic languages and some Slavic languages have calqued their words for the concept of "translation" on translatio; the Romance languages and the remaining Slavic languages have derived their words for the concept of "translation" from an alternative Latin word, itself derived from traducere. The Ancient Greek term for "translation", μετάφρασις, has supplied English with "metaphrase" —as contrasted with "paraphrase". "Metaphrase" corresponds, in one of the more recent terminologies, to "formal equivalence". Speaking, the concept of metaphrase—of "word-for-word translation"—is an imperfect concept, because a given word in a given language carries more than one meaning. "metaphrase" and "paraphrase" may be useful as ideal concepts that mark the extremes in the spectrum of possible approaches to translation. Discussions of the theory and practice of translation reach back into antiquity and show remarkable continuities.
The ancient Greeks distinguished between paraphrase. This distinction was adopted by English poet and translator John Dryden, who described translation as the judicious blending of these two modes of phrasing when selecting, in the target language, "counterparts," or equivalents, for the expressions used in the source language: When appear... graceful, it were an injury to the author that they should be changed. But since... What is beautiful in one is barbarous, nay sometimes nonsense, in another, it would be unreasonable to limit a translator to the narrow compass of his author's words:'tis enough if he choose out some expression which does not vitiate the sense. Dryden cautioned, against the license of "imitation", i.e. of adapted translation: "When a painter copies from the life... he has no privilege to alter features and lineaments..."This general formulation of the central concept of translation—equivalence—is as adequate as any, proposed since Cicero and Horace, who, in 1st-century-BCE Rome and cautioned against translating "word for word".
Despite occasional theoretical diversity, the actual practice of translation has hardly changed since antiquity. Except for some extreme metaphrasers in the early Christian period and the Middle Ages, adapters in various periods, translators have shown prudent flexibility in seeking equivalents—"literal" where possible, paraphrastic where necessary—for the original meaning and other crucial "values" as determined from context. In general, translators have sought to preserve the context itself by reproducing the original order of sememes, hence word order—when necessary, reinterpreting the actual grammatical structure, for example, by shifting from active to passive voice, or vice versa; the grammatical differences between "fixed-word-order" languages and "free-word-order" languages have been no impediment in this regard. The particular syntax characteristics of a text's source language are adjusted to the syntactic requirements of the target language; when a target language has lacked terms that are found in a source language, translators have borrowed those terms, thereby enriching the target language.
Thanks in great measure to the exchange of calques and loanwords between languages, to their importation from other languages, there are few concepts that are "untranslatable" among the modern European languages. A greater problem, however, is translating terms relating to cultural concepts that have no equivalent in the target language. For full comprehension, such situations require the provision of a gloss; the greater the contact and exchange that have existed between two languages, or between those lang
John of Damascus
Saint John of Damascus. Born and raised in Damascus c. 675 or 676, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem on 4 December 749. A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination, he wrote works expounding the Christian faith, composed hymns which are still used both liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world as well as in western Lutheranism at Easter. He is one of the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church and is best known for his strong defence of icons; the Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary. The most common source of information for the life of John of Damascus is a work attributed to one John of Jerusalem, identified therein as the Patriarch of Jerusalem; this is an excerpted translation into Greek of an earlier Arabic text.
The Arabic original contains a prologue not found in most other translations, was written by an Arab monk, Michael. Michael explained that he decided to write his biography in 1084 because none was available in his day. However, the main Arabic text seems to have been written by an earlier author sometime between the early 9th and late 10th centuries AD. Written from a hagiographical point of view and prone to exaggeration and some legendary details, it is not the best historical source for his life, but is reproduced and considered to contain elements of some value; the hagiographic novel Barlaam and Josaphat, traditionally attributed to John, is in fact a work of the 10th century. John was born in Damascus in the third quarter of the 7th century AD, to a prominent Damascene Christian family known as "Mansoūr"; the family was named after John's grandfather, Mansour ibn Sarjun, responsible for the taxes of the region during the reign of Emperor Heraclius. Mansur seems to have played a role in the capitulation of Damascus to the troops of Khalid ibn al-Walid in 635 after securing favorable conditions of surrender.
Eutychius, a 10th-century Melkite patriarch, mentions him as one high-ranking official involved in the surrender of the city to the Muslims. Though information about the tribal background of the Mansour family are absent in contemporary sources, biographer Daniel Sahas speculates the name Mansour could have implied that they belonged to the Arab Christian tribes of Kalb or Taghlib. Moreover, the family name was common among Syrian Christians of Arab origins, Eutychius noted that the governor of Damascus, Mansour ibn Sarjun, was an Arab. However, Sahas asserts that the name does not imply an Arab background and could have been used by non-Arab, Semitic Syrians. While Sahas and biographers F. H. Chase and Andrew Louth assert that Mansūr was an Arabic name, Raymond le Coz asserts that the "family was without doubt of Syrian origin". John was raised in Damascus, Arab Christian folklore holds that during his adolescence, John associated with the future Umayyad caliph Yazid I and the Taghlibi Christian court poet al-Akhtal.
When Syria was conquered by the Muslim Arabs in the 630s, the court at Damascus retained its large complement of Christian civil servants, John's grandfather among them. John's father, went on to serve the Umayyad caliphs. According to John of Jerusalem and some versions of his life, after his father's death, John served as an official to the caliphal court before leaving to become a monk; this claim, that John served in a Muslim court, has been questioned since he is never mentioned in Muslim sources, which however do refer to his father Sarjun as a secretary in the caliphal administration. In addition, John's own writings never refer to any experience in a Muslim court, it is believed that John became a monk at Mar Saba, that he was ordained as a priest in 735. One of the vitae describes his father's desire for him to "learn not only the books of the Muslims, but those of the Greeks as well." From this it has been suggested. John does indeed show some knowledge of the Quran, which he criticizes harshly..
Other sources describe his education in Damascus as having been conducted in accordance with the principles of Hellenic education, termed "secular" by one source and "Classical Christian" by another. One account identifies his tutor as a monk by the name of Cosmas, kidnapped by Arabs from his home in Sicily, for whom John's father paid a great price. Under the instruction of Cosmas, who taught John's orphan friend, John is said to have made great advances in music and theology, soon rivalling Pythagoras in arithmetic and Euclid in geometry; as a refugee from Italy, Cosmas brought with him the scholarly traditions of Western Christianity. John had at least one and two careers: one as a civil servant for the Caliph in Damascus, the other as a priest and monk at the Mar Saba monastery near Jerusalem. One source believes John left Damascus to become a monk arou
Digest (Roman law)
The Digest known as the Pandects, is a name given to a compendium or digest of juristic writings on Roman law compiled by order of the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I in the 6th century CE. It is divided into 50 books; the Digest was part of a reduction and codification of all Roman laws up to that time, which came to be known as the Corpus Juris Civilis. The other two parts were a collection of statutes, the Codex, which survives in a second edition, an introductory textbook, the Institutes; the set was intended to be complete, but Justinian passed further legislation, collected separately as the Novellae Constitutiones. The original Codex Justinianus was promulgated in April of 529 by the C. "Summa". This made it the only source of imperial law, repealed all earlier codifications. However, it permitted reference to ancient jurists whose writings had been regarded as authoritative. Under Theodosus II's Law of Citations, the writings of Papinian, Ulpian and Gaius were made the primary juristic authorities who could be cited in court.
Others cited by them could be referred to, but their views had to be "informed by a comparison of manuscripts". The principal surviving manuscript is the Littera Florentina of the late sixth or early seventh century. In the Middle Ages, the Digest was divided into three parts, most of the manuscripts contain only one of these parts; the entire Digest was translated into English in 1985. The Digest was discovered in Amalfi in 1135, prompting a revival of learning of Roman law throughout Europe. Other sources claim it was discovered in 1070 and formed a major impetus for the founding of the first university in Europe, the University of Bologna; the codified authorities conflicted. Therefore, Justinian ordered these conflicts to be settled and fifty of these were published as the "quinquaginta decisiones". Soon after, he further decreed that the works of these ancient writers, which totalled over 1,500 books, be condensed into fifty books; these were to be entitled, in Digesta or, in Greek, Πανδέκται Pandectae.
In response to this order of December 15, 530, Tribonian created a commission of sixteen members to do the work—one government official, four professors, eleven advocates. The commission was given the power to condense and alter the texts in order to simplify and eliminate conflicts among them; the Digest's organization is complex: each of the fifty books is divided into several titles, each containing several extracts, many of the extracts have several parts or paragraphs. Research in the modern era has created a probable picture of how the commission carried out its task. Two-fifths of the Digest consists of the writings of Ulpian, while some one-sixth belongs to Paulus; the work was declared to be the sole source of non-statute law: commentaries on the compilation were forbidden, or the citing of the original works of the jurists for the explaining of ambiguities in the text. Corpus Juris Civilis Civil code Law of Citations Tony Honoré,'Justinian's Codification' in The Oxford Classical Dictionary 803-804.
HF Jolowicz and Nicholas, Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law 452 CCM Radding and A Ciaralli, The Corpus Iuris Civilis in the Middle Ages: Manuscripts and Transmissions from the Sixth Century to the Juristic Revival T Mommsen, P Krueger and A Watson, The Digest of Justinian F Mackeldey Handbook of the Roman Law FH Blume, C. Summa SP Scott, The Civil Law which contains the Digest's 50 volumes; the start of the first book is here, scrolled down a third of the page Roman Law Resources, maintained by Prof Ernest Metzger. The Roman Law Library, Professor Yves Lassard and Alexandr Koptev. WW Buckland, A Text-Book of Roman Law from Augustus to Justinian though there were new editions by Peter Stein in 1963 and 1975. Herbermann, Charles, ed.. "Pandects". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire, of the Byzantine Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire, until falling to the Ottoman Empire. It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, dedicated on 11 May 330; the city was located in what is now the core of modern Istanbul. From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe; the city was famed for its architectural masterpieces, such as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares. The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453, including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts.
It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom's holiest relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross. Constantinople was famed for its complex defences; the first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. In the 5th century, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 kilometres to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front; this formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity. The city was built intentionally to rival Rome, it was claimed that several elevations within its walls matched the'seven hills' of Rome; because it was located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara the land area that needed defensive walls was reduced, this helped it to present an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces and towers, the result of the prosperity it achieved from being the gateway between two continents and two seas.
Although besieged on numerous occasions by various armies, the defences of Constantinople proved impregnable for nearly nine hundred years. In 1204, the armies of the Fourth Crusade took and devastated the city, its inhabitants lived several decades under Latin misrule. In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos liberated the city, after the restoration under the Palaiologos dynasty, enjoyed a partial recovery. With the advent of the Ottoman Empire in 1299, the Byzantine Empire began to lose territories and the city began to lose population. By the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs, along with Morea in Greece, making it an enclave inside the Ottoman Empire. According to Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, the first known name of a settlement on the site of Constantinople was Lygos, a settlement of Thracian origin founded between the 13th and 11th centuries BC; the site, according to the founding myth of the city, was abandoned by the time Greek settlers from the city-state of Megara founded Byzantium in around 657 BC, across from the town of Chalcedon on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus.
The origins of the name of Byzantion, more known by the Latin Byzantium, are not clear, though some suggest it is of Thraco-Illyrian origin. The founding myth of the city has it told that the settlement was named after the leader of the Megarian colonists, Byzas; the Byzantines of Constantinople themselves would maintain that the city was named in honour of two men and Antes, though this was more just a play on the word Byzantion. The city was renamed Augusta Antonina in the early 3rd century AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus, who razed the city to the ground in 196 for supporting a rival contender in the civil war and had it rebuilt in honour of his son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, popularly known as Caracalla; the name appears to have been forgotten and abandoned, the city reverted to Byzantium/Byzantion after either the assassination of Caracalla in 217 or, at the latest, the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235. Byzantium took on the name of Kōnstantinoupolis after its refoundation under Roman emperor Constantine I, who transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium in 330 and designated his new capital as Nova Roma'New Rome'.
During this time, the city was called'Second Rome','Eastern Rome', Roma Constantinopolitana. As the city became the sole remaining capital of the Roman Empire after the fall of the West, its wealth and influence grew, the city came to have a multitude of nicknames; as the largest and wealthiest city in Europe during the 4th–13th centuries and a centre of culture and education of the Mediterranean basin, Constantinople came to be known by prestigious titles such as Basileuousa and Megalopol
John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, his ascetic sensibilities; the epithet Χρυσόστομος denotes his celebrated eloquence. Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church, exceeded only by Augustine of Hippo in the quantity of his surviving writings, he is honored as a saint in the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches, as well as in some others. The Eastern Orthodox, together with the Byzantine Catholics, hold him in special regard as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs; the feast days of John Chrysostom in the Eastern Orthodox Church are 27 January. In the Roman Catholic Church he is recognized as a Doctor of the Church and commemorated on 13 September in the current General Roman Calendar and on 27 January in the older calendar.
Other churches of the Western tradition, including some Anglican provinces and some Lutheran churches commemorate him on 13 September. However, certain Lutheran churches and Anglican provinces commemorate him on the traditional feast day of 27 January; the Coptic Church recognizes him as a saint. John was born in Antioch in 349 to Greek parents from Syria. Different scholars describe his mother Anthusa as a pagan or as a Christian, his father was a high-ranking military officer. John's father died soon after his birth and he was raised by his mother, he was tonsured as a reader. It is sometimes said that he was bitten by a snake when he was ten years old, leading to him getting an infection from the bite; as a result of his mother's influential connections in the city, John began his education under the pagan teacher Libanius. From Libanius, John acquired the skills for a career in rhetoric, as well as a love of the Greek language and literature; as he grew older, John became more committed to Christianity and went on to study theology under Diodore of Tarsus, founder of the re-constituted School of Antioch.
According to the Christian historian Sozomen, Libanius was supposed to have said on his deathbed that John would have been his successor "if the Christians had not taken him from us". John lived in extreme asceticism and became a hermit in about 375; as a consequence of these practices, his stomach and kidneys were permanently damaged and poor health forced him to return to Antioch. John was ordained as a deacon in 381 by Saint Meletius of Antioch, not in communion with Alexandria and Rome. After the death of Meletius, John separated himself from the followers of Meletius, without joining Paulinus, the rival of Meletius for the bishopric of Antioch, but after the death of Paulinus he was ordained a presbyter in 386 by Evagrius, the successor of Paulinus. He was destined to bring about reconciliation between Flavian I of Antioch and Rome, thus bringing those three sees into communion for the first time in nearly seventy years. In Antioch, over the course of twelve years, John gained popularity because of the eloquence of his public speaking at the Golden Church, Antioch's cathedral his insightful expositions of Bible passages and moral teaching.
The most valuable of his works from this period are his Homilies on various books of the Bible. He was concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor, he spoke against abuse of wealth and personal property:Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad, he who said: "This is my body" is the same who said: "You saw me hungry and you gave me no food", "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did to me"... What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and with what is left you may adorn the altar as well, his straightforward understanding of the Scriptures – in contrast to the Alexandrian tendency towards allegorical interpretation – meant that the themes of his talks were practical, explaining the Bible's application to everyday life. Such straightforward preaching helped Chrysostom to garner popular support.
He founded a series of hospitals in Constantinople to care for the poor. One incident that happened during his service in Antioch illustrates the influence of his homilies; when Chrysostom arrived in Antioch, the bishop of the city, had to intervene with Emperor Theodosius I on behalf of citizens who had gone on a rampage mutilating statues of the Emperor and his family. During the weeks of Lent in 387, John preached more than twenty homilies in which he entreated the people to see the error of their ways; these made a lasting impression on the general population of the city: many pagans converted to Christianity as a result of the homilies. As a result, Theodosius' vengeance was not as severe. In the autumn of 397, John was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople, after having been nominated without his knowledge by the eunuch Eutropius, he had to leave Antioch in secret due to fears that the departure of such a popular figure would cause civil unrest. During his time as Archbishop he
The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable; the works of William Shakespeare and Beethoven, most early silent films, are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are dedicated by their authors to the public domain; the term public domain is not applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as "under license" or "with permission". As rights vary by country and jurisdiction, a work may be subject to rights in one country and be in the public domain in another; some rights depend on registrations on a country-by-country basis, the absence of registration in a particular country, if required, gives rise to public-domain status for a work in that country.
The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". Although the term "domain" did not come into use until the mid-18th century, the concept "can be traced back to the ancient Roman Law, as a preset system included in the property right system." The Romans had a large proprietary rights system where they defined "many things that cannot be owned" as res nullius, res communes, res publicae and res universitatis. The term res nullius was defined as things not yet appropriated; the term res communes was defined as "things that could be enjoyed by mankind, such as air and ocean." The term res publicae referred to things that were shared by all citizens, the term res universitatis meant things that were owned by the municipalities of Rome. When looking at it from a historical perspective, one could say the construction of the idea of "public domain" sprouted from the concepts of res communes, res publicae, res universitatis in early Roman law.
When the first early copyright law was first established in Britain with the Statute of Anne in 1710, public domain did not appear. However, similar concepts were developed by French jurists in the 18th century. Instead of "public domain", they used terms such as publici juris or propriété publique to describe works that were not covered by copyright law; the phrase "fall in the public domain" can be traced to mid-19th century France to describe the end of copyright term. The French poet Alfred de Vigny equated the expiration of copyright with a work falling "into the sink hole of public domain" and if the public domain receives any attention from intellectual property lawyers it is still treated as little more than that, left when intellectual property rights, such as copyright and trademarks, expire or are abandoned. In this historical context Paul Torremans describes copyright as a, "little coral reef of private right jutting up from the ocean of the public domain." Copyright law differs by country, the American legal scholar Pamela Samuelson has described the public domain as being "different sizes at different times in different countries".
Definitions of the boundaries of the public domain in relation to copyright, or intellectual property more regard the public domain as a negative space. According to James Boyle this definition underlines common usage of the term public domain and equates the public domain to public property and works in copyright to private property. However, the usage of the term public domain can be more granular, including for example uses of works in copyright permitted by copyright exceptions; such a definition regards work in copyright as private property subject to fair-use rights and limitation on ownership. A conceptual definition comes from Lange, who focused on what the public domain should be: "it should be a place of sanctuary for individual creative expression, a sanctuary conferring affirmative protection against the forces of private appropriation that threatened such expression". Patterson and Lindberg described the public domain not as a "territory", but rather as a concept: "here are certain materials – the air we breathe, rain, life, thoughts, ideas, numbers – not subject to private ownership.
The materials that compose our cultural heritage must be free for all living to use no less than matter necessary for biological survival." The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". A public-domain book is a book with no copyright, a book, created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited. In most countries the term of protection of copyright lasts until January first, 70 years after the death of the latest living author; the longest copyright term is in Mexico, which has life plus 100 years for all deaths since July 1928. A notable exception is the United States, where every book and tale published prior to 1924 is in the public domain.