The author analyses the development of suburban villa from the early 2nd century BC to the later decades of the Roman republic. He points out that Cato’s suburbanum, closely connected with the market, and the one described one and half century later by Varro have more differences than similarities. Though suburban villa producing goods for Rome was highly profi table, for Cato, who administered his estate according to the principles of economy and mos maiorum, suburban villa did not become a model farming unit. In Varro’s time development of such a profi table branch of husbandry as poultry breeding (pastio villatica) made it possible to get high profi ts, as some members of the equestrian order proved. However, for the Roman élite villa suburbana became primarily the place for otium cum dignitate and a means to prove their high social status.