Gnaeus Domitus Annius Ulpianus (170 – 223AD) was a Roman jurist and chief adviser to two emperors, Caracalla and Severus Alexander He served as a judge and published many books on legal and constitutional subjects.
But what marks him out is that he is credited with devising the first mortality table. He is thus the father of probability and longevity studies and his tables continued in validity until the 18th Century. His longevity writings in fact reach us at third hand. His work was cited by Aemilius Macer shortly after Ulpian’s death and, through that source, included in Justinian’s Digest.
Ulpian’s life tables have had their critics but they correspond, in fact, to other modern populations with abnormally high mortality rates, suggesting Ulpian’s Roman contemporaries had a predicted life expectancy at birth of between 19 and 23.
Ulpian has been described as an author “characterised by doctrinal exposition of a high order, judiciousness of criticism and lucidity of arrangement, style and language” – a fitting nomenclator for a consultancy in probability, longevity and regulation.