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Justinian, in describing a donatio mortis causa, says that it is "when the donor wishes that the thing given should belong to himself rather than to the person to whom he gives it, and to that person rather than to his own heir." In illustration of which he cites the words which Homer puts into the mouth of Telemachus when the latter gives to Pirceus: "Pirous, for we know not how these things shall be, whether the proud suitors shall secretly slay me in the palace, and shall divide the goods of my father. I would that thou thyself shouldst have and enjoy these things rather than that any of those men should; but if I shall plant slaughter and death amongst those men, then indeed bear these things to my home, and joying give them to me in joy."

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