Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses/Wandering Rocks/240
Coactus volui (Latin) Having been forced, I was willing. The phrase occurs in the Digest, the compendium of Roman law compiled by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. In Digest 4:2:21:5 a judgment of the Roman jurisconsult Paulus is cited:
Si metu coactus adii hereditatem,
If I have been forced by fear to accept a legacy,
From the context it is clear that the meaning of the phrase is: Although I was forced, this does not alter the fact that I was willing. According to Oliver St John Gogarty, Joyce's principal model for Buck Mulligan, Farrell was Classically trained and fond of abstruse Latin quotations; but why he makes this remark while frowning at the distant pleasance of duke's lawn is still a mystery. For further discussion, see R. J. Schork, Joyce and Justinian: U 250 and 520 in the James Joyce Quarterly, University of Tulsa, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Fall, 1985), pp. 77–80.