inscriptions from various parts of Greece, many of which were published for the first time by Foucart, and will be found at the end of his book.
The first striking point is that the object of all these associations is to maintain the worship of some foreign deity, i.e. of some deity who was not one of those admitted and guaranteed by the state—the divine inhabitants of the city, as they may be called. For all these the state made provision of priests, temples, sacrifices, &c.; but for all others these necessaries had to be looked after by private individuals associated for the purpose. The state, as we see from the law of Solon quoted above, made no difficulty about the introduction of foreign worships, provided they did not infringe the law and were not morally unwholesome, and regarded these associations as having all the rights of legal corporations. So we find the cult of deities such as Sabazius, Mater Magna (see Great Mother of the Gods) and Attis, Adonis, Isis, Serapis, Mēn Tyrannos, carried on in Greek states, and especially in seaports like the Peiraeus, Rhodes, Smyrna, without protest, but almost certainly without moral benefit to the worshippers. The famous passage in Demosthenes (de Corona, sect. 259 foll.) shows, however, that the initiation at an early age in the rites of Sabazius did not gain credit for Aeschines in the eyes of the best men. We are not surprised to find that, in accordance with the foreign character of the cults thus maintained, the members of the associations are rarely citizens by birth, but women, freedmen, foreigners and even slaves. Thus in an inscription found by Sir C. Newton at Cnidus, which contains a mutilated list of members of a thiasos, one only out of twelve appears to be a Cnidian citizen, four are slaves, seven are probably foreigners. Hence we may conclude that these associations were of importance, whether for good or for evil, in organizing and encouraging the foreign population in the cities of Greece.
The next striking fact is that these associations were organized, as we shall also find them at Rome, in imitation of the constitution of the city itself. Each had its law, its assembly, its magistrates or officers (i.e. secretary, treasurer) as well as priests or priestesses, and its finance. The law regulated the conditions of admission, which involved an entrance fee and an examination (δοκιμασία) as to character; the contributions, which had to be paid by the month, and the steps to be taken to enforce payment, e.g. exclusion in case of persistent neglect of this duty; the use to be made of the revenues, such as the building or maintenance of temple or club-house, and the cost of crowns or other honours voted by the assembly to its officers. This assembly, in accordance with the law, elected its officers once a year, and these, like those of the state itself, took an oath on entering office, and gave an account of their stewardship at the end of the year. Further details on these points of internal government will be found in Foucart’s work (pp. 20 foll.), chiefly derived from inscriptions of the orgeones engaged in the cult of the Mother of the Gods at the Peiraeus. The important question whether these religious associations were in any sense benefit clubs, or relieved the sick and needy, is answered by him emphatically in the negative.
As might naturally be supposed, the religious clubs increased rather than diminished in number and importance in the later periods of Greek history, and a large proportion of the inscriptions relating to them belong to the Macedonian and Roman empires. One of the most interesting, found in 1868, belongs to the 2nd century A.D., viz. that which reveals the worship of Mēn Tyrannos at Laurium (Foucart, pp. 119 foll.). This Phrygian deity was introduced into Attica by a Lycian slave, employed by a Roman in working the mines at Laurium. He founded the cult and the eranos which was to maintain it, and seems also to have drawn up the law regulating its ritual and government. This may help us to understand the way in which similar associations of an earlier age were instituted.
Roman.—At Rome the principle of private association was recognized very early by the state; sodalitates for religious purposes are mentioned in the XII. Tables (Gaius in Digest, 47. 22. 4), and collegia opificum, or trade gilds, were believed to have been instituted by Numa, which probably means that they were regulated by the jus divinum as being associated with particular worships. It is difficult to distinguish between the two words collegium and sodalitas; but collegium is the wider of the two in meaning, and may be used for associations of all kinds, public and private, while sodalitas is more especially a union for the purpose of maintaining a cult. Both words indicate the permanence of the object undertaken by the association, while a societas is a temporary combination without strictly permanent duties. With the societates publicanorum and other contracting bodies of which money-making was the main object, we are not here concerned.
The collegia opificum ascribed to Numa (Plut. Numa, 17) include gilds of weavers, fullers, dyers, shoemakers, doctors, teachers, painters, &c., as we learn from Ovid, Fasti, iii. 819 foll., where they are described as associated with the cult of Minerva, the deity of handiwork; Plutarch also mentions flute-players, who were connected with the cult of Jupiter on the Capitol, and smiths, goldsmiths, tanners, &c. It would seem that, though these gilds may not have had a religious origin as some have thought, they were from the beginning, like all early institutions, associated with some cult; and in most cases this was the cult of Minerva. In her temple on the Aventine almost all these collegia had at once their religious centre and their business headquarters. When during the Second Punic War a gild of poets was instituted, this too had its meeting-place in the same temple. The object of the gild in each case was no doubt to protect and advance the interests of the trade, but on this point we have no sufficient evidence, and can only follow the analogy of similar institutions in other countries and ages. We lose sight of them almost entirely until the age of Cicero, when they reappear in the form of political clubs (collegia sodalicia or compitalicia) chiefly with the object of securing the election of candidates for magistracies by fair or foul means—usually the latter (see esp. Cic. pro Plancio, passim). These were suppressed by a senatusconsultum in 64 B.C., revived by Clodius six years later, and finally abolished by Julius Caesar, as dangerous to public order. Probably the old trade gilds had been swamped in the vast and growing population of the city, and these, inferior and degraded both in personnel and objects, had taken their place. But the principle of the trade gild reasserts itself under the Empire, and is found at work in Rome and in every municipal town, attested abundantly by the evidence of inscriptions. Though the right of permitting such associations belonged to the government alone, these trade gilds were recognized by the state as being instituted “ut necessariam operam publicis utilitatibus exhiberent” (Digest, 50. 6. 6). Every kind of trade and business throughout the Empire seems to have had its collegium, as is shown by the inscriptions in the Corpus from any Roman municipal town; and the life and work of the lower orders of the municipales are shadowed forth in these interesting survivals. The primary object was no doubt still to protect the trade; but as time went on they tended to become associations for feasting and enjoyment, and more and more to depend on the munificence of patrons elected with the object of eliciting it. Fuller information about them will be found in G. Boissier, La Religion romaine d’Auguste aux Antonins, ii. 286 foll., and S. Dill, Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius, pp. 264 foll. How far they formed a basis or example for the gilds of the early middle ages is a difficult question which cannot be answered here (see Gilds); it is, however, probable that they gradually lost their original business character, and became more and more associations for procuring the individual, lost as he was in the vast desert of the empire, some little society and enjoyment in life, and the certainty of funeral rites and a permanent memorial after death.
We may now return to the associations formed for the maintenance of cults, which were usually called sodalitates, though the word collegium was also used for them, as in the case of the college of the Arval Brothers (q.v.). Of the ancient Sodales Titii nothing is known until they were revived by Augustus; but it seems probable that when a gens or family charged with