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How to say this in proper, idiomatic, classical Latin?

Theft is, according to existing law, laying hands on others' (foreign, strange, belonging to others) things fraudulently.

Would one use the genitive (legis latae) or the ablative (lege lata)?

I use contrectatio fraudulenta to translate laying hands fraudulently since I can't easily thing of a noun to translate in English contrectatio which is a term in common legal use.

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Henry de Bracton, a medieval English jurist, in his book De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae, defined furtum as follows:

… furtum est secundum leges contrectatio rei alienæ fraudulenta animo furandi, invito illo cuius res illa fuerit.
… theft is, according to the laws, a deceitful touching of a thing that belongs to someone else with the intent to steal, against the will of him to whom the thing belongs.

It seems unlikely that you were unaware of this rather famous definition or some derivative of it when you asked the question; if so, you might want to mention such things. Anyway, since you want existing law, as TKR wrote in his answer, you need legem latam and arrive at:

Furtum est secundum legem latam contrectatio rei alienae fraudulenta.

The text is obviuously medieval (in fact, this very sentence really begins with: Et sciendum quod furtum est …). But the particular fragment you need, as far as I can tell, has nothing particularly unclassical in it.

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  • I am actually Greek( Half-Greek Half-Brazilian) and I am not very fond of history. I simply see some Latin phrases in my Greek Law text books which don't seem right( Portuguese is a Romance language and some phrases strike me as foreign maybe because of word order or word choice). I didn't intend to plagiarise( not even the textbooks mention the medieval source that is why I was honestly unaware). – George Ntoulos Jun 2 at 6:28
  • How could one communicate the need for the contrectatio to be commited with the intent to misappropriate( the intent to illegally dispossess someone of the thing and appropriate it themselves-add it to their property) so as to be considered theft? – George Ntoulos Jun 2 at 6:28
  • @GeorgeNtoulos Bracton does this with the addition of cum animo furandi – literally, “with the intent to steal.” – Sebastian Koppehel Jun 2 at 19:39
  • Cum animo furandi would mean With the intent of misappropriating? Why Genitve instead of Ablative( for the declination of furandus)? Am I risking circularity as TKR said because of the use the verb furor in a definition of the noun furtum or not? – George Ntoulos Jun 2 at 20:27
  • @GeorgeNtoulos Why the genetive? Because animus + gerund genetive means “the will/intention/desire/inclination of …” This is a rare example where Lewis & Short miss something important (unless I have overlooked it), but Georges knows about it. All his examples are from Justin and Velleius, so not medieval, but perhaps not Cicero & Caesar classical either. – Sebastian Koppehel Jun 2 at 21:34
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Neither genitive nor ablative: secundum takes the accusative, so the phrase would be secundum legem latam. You can usually find which case a preposition takes from its dictionary entry.

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  • Would Furtum est, secundum legem latam, contrectatio rei alienae fraudulenta be proper and idiomatic classical latin when translating Theft is, according to existing law, laying hands on others' things fraudulently? – George Ntoulos Jun 1 at 17:43
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    @GeorgeNtoulos That looks grammatically correct to me. Of course Latin word order is flexible and context-dependent, so there would be various correct ways of phrasing this. – TKR Jun 1 at 19:26
  • Could one add animo furando or cum animo furando to mean with misappropriating intent( with the intent to misappropriate)? – George Ntoulos Jun 1 at 19:31
  • @GeorgeNtoulos That would not be a correct use of the gerundive -- animo furando would mean something like "by stealing a mind". (In any case it would risk circularity to use the verb furor in a definition of the noun furtum.) – TKR Jun 1 at 19:42
  • How could one communicate the need for the contrectatio to be commited with the intent to misappropriate( the intent to illegally dispossess someone of the thing and appropriate it themselves-add it to their property) so as to be considered theft? – George Ntoulos Jun 1 at 20:12

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