A major role in the corn supply of the Roman armies, from at least the third century B.C. on, is ascribed to large scale contractors, who took care of all aspects of organization, administration and execution. In Badian's influential study of these private entrepreneurs, it is supposed that the feeding of the Roman armies exceeded the capabilities of the Roman governmental apparatus; as a result, the state in Republican times had to rely on private enterprise. The question whether indeed it was private business and not the Roman state itself that managed the corn supply of the Roman armies is important for our understanding of the Roman wars, the state and private trade in this period. This paper shows that the evidence furnished for the role of large scale contractors in the corn supply of the armies is inadequate. The sources provide ample evidence of other means the Roman government had to acquire corn for its armies.
|Published - 1995