Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Landlords and Tenants in Imperial Rome

Landlords and Tenants in Imperial Rome

Bruce W. Frier
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 292
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Landlords and Tenants in Imperial Rome
    Book Description:

    By examining a portion of private law in imperial Rome as a functioning element in social life, this book constitutes an important contribution to the sociological understanding of law in premodern societies. Using archaeological data as well as literary and legal texts, Bruce Frier shows that members of the upper class, including senatorial families, lived in rented apartments and that the Roman law of urban lease was designed mainly for them, not for the lower class.

    Originally published in 1980.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5514-8
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Plan and Plates
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Charles Donahue Jr.

    Professor Frier’s book could not have come at a more crucial time for legal history, law, and jurisprudence. For legal history it signals, I hope, a revival of interest in Roman law, a topic which has almost disappeared from view in America and is struggling for survival in Europe. For American law it comes at a time when the winds of change are blowing strong in the area of urban landlord and tenant law but when the course these changes ought to take is by no means clear. For jurisprudence it comes at a time when interest is once again...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
    B. W. F.
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-2)
  7. I Upper-Class Apartment Housing in Ostia and Rome
    (pp. 3-20)

    Excavations at Ostia, the port city of Rome, have revealed, in the course of the past century, a pattern of urban housing which literary sources also associate with Rome of the High Empire: sturdy four- and five-story apartment blocks (insulae), constructed primarily in brick and concrete with vaults or wooden raftering, and a high density of settlement—in short, an urban pattern perhaps distinguishable from Rome’s only by the much smaller size of Ostia (ca. 20,000-35,000 inhabitants).¹ An understanding has also emerged of the relationship between the social structure of Ostia (well-known from inscriptions) and the types of housing uncovered...

  8. II The Social Institutions of the Roman Rental Market
    (pp. 21-47)

    Wealthy Romans tended to invest their surplus wealth in land, and especially in farmland; they did so in the hope of a regular return on investment of somewhere around 5-6 percent a year.¹ While there is no doubt that agricultural land made up the bulk, nonetheless sufficient evidence survives to suggest that urban properties were also a part of the normal well-balanced portfolio.²

    The economics of urban investment are brought home in a famous anecdote told by Aulus Gellius (NA15.1.1-3) in the mid-second century a.d. A group of friends were accompanying therhetorAntonius Julianus up the Cispian hill...

  9. Plates
    (pp. None)
  10. III Introduction to the Jurists’ Treatment of Urban Leasehold
    (pp. 48-55)

    Within a system of private law, the law of procedure has the primary purpose of providing individuals with a mechanism whereby they may realize their legitimate claims against one another. Nonetheless, it is extremely probable (in the ancient world no less than in the modern) that many claims, and perhaps the great majority, never come to the attention of a court of law. A potential plaintiff may have a variety of reasons for not pressing a claim:

    (1) he may not realize that he has a claim;¹

    (2) he may lack access to skilled authority who can help him to...

  11. IV The Roman Law of Urban Leasehold
    (pp. 56-173)

    The law of urban leasehold was for the most part established in relation to two fundamental contractual actions, reciprocal in character: theactio locatiand theactio conducti. The procedural formula for theactio locatiwas reconstructed by Otto Lenel:¹

    Quod Aulus Agerius Numerio Negidio fundum (opus faciendum, operas) quo (quibus) de agitur locavit, qua de re agitur, quidquid ob earn rem Numerium Negidium Aulo Agerio dare facere oportet ex fide bona, eius iudex Numerium Negidium Aulo Agerio condemnato; si non paret, absolvito.

    With the substitution of one word (conduxitforlocavit), the formula for theactio conductiwas identical....

  12. V Recognition of Interests in Roman Lease Law
    (pp. 174-195)

    In the preceding chapter I set out the system of law by which, so I implied, urban leasehold was governed during the High Roman Empire. In three important respects, however, this implication is incorrect.

    First of all, we do not read our juristic sources in anything like their original form and fullness; rather, we read them mostly in a Byzantine version: highly excerpted, often compressed, and at least to some extent reworded. Admittedly, scholars have not yet arrived at a consensus in evaluating the significance of this Byzantine redaction,¹ nor, in the nature of things, is a consensus likely to...

  13. VI Roman Jurisprudence as an Instrument of Social Control
    (pp. 196-220)

    The construction of this book is obviously intended to suggest an answer to the question: how did the jurists go about creating Roman lease law? The first three chapters are designed to show that it was based on the upper-class rental market of the capital city of Rome. There are good reasons for limiting analysis of lease law more or less exclusively to upper-class leaseholds (Chapter III); but, within this socially defined area, Roman lease law takes into account every known feature of the market, including architectural as well as social and economic features (Chapters I-II). Further, the resultant law...

  14. Appendix A: An Egyptian “Eviction Notice”
    (pp. 221-222)
  15. Appendix B: Translation of Latin Passages Quoted in the Text
    (pp. 223-236)
  16. Index of Legal Sources
    (pp. 237-242)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 243-251)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 252-252)