The use of contractors to build and maintain public works in Rome and the provinces is a common feature of Roman building practice in the Republic and early Principate. It reflects a general tendency in Roman republican administration (also found in other sectors such as tax-farming) to let out state business to private entrepreneurs. While the extant sources frequently mention the use of contractors in public works contracts, most references do not describe the internal workin of these contracts or (to use the terminology of Roman private law) the rights and duties of the parties involved. This article examines selected references to public works contracts in legal and literary sources in an attempt to clarify a single aspect of the contractual relationship between the state and an individual. The purpose of this survey is to establish whether the sources allude to any form of legal protection available to a contractor in his dealings with Roman magistrates in the context of public works contracts.
- locatio conductio operis, Roman public law, letting and hiring, construction of public works