Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the maintenance of a particular cult had died out, its place was supplied by a sodalitas (Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, iii. 134). The introduction of new cults also led to the institution of new associations; thus in 495 B.C. when the worship of Minerva was introduced, a collegium mercatorum was founded to maintain it, which held its feast on the dies natalis (dedication day) of the temple (Liv. ii. 27. 5); and in 387 the ludi Capitolini were placed under the care of a similar association of dwellers on the Capitoline hill. In 204 B.C. when the Mater Magna was introduced from Pessinus (see Great Mother of the Gods) a sodalitas (or sodalitates) was instituted which, as Cicero tells us (de Senect. 13. 45) used to feast together during the ludi Megalenses. All such associations were duly licensed by the state, which at all times was vigilant in forbidding the maintenance of any which it deemed dangerous for religious or political reasons; thus in 186 B.C. the senate, by a decree of which part is preserved (C.I.L. i. 43), made all combination for promoting the Bacchic religious rites strictly illegal. But legalized sodalitates are frequent later; the temple of Venus Genetrix, begun by Julius and finished by Augustus, had its collegium (Pliny, N.H. ii. 93), and sodalitates were instituted for the cult of the deified emperors Augustus, Claudius, &c.

We thus arrive by a second channel at the collegia of the empire. Both the history of the trade gilds and that of the religious collegia or sodalitates conduct us by a course of natural development to that extraordinary system of private association with which the empire was honeycombed.

As has been already said of the trade gilds, the main objects of association seem to have been to make life more enjoyable and to secure a permanent burial-place; and of these the latter was probably the primary or original one. It was a natural instinct in the classical as in the pre-classical world to wish to rest securely after death, to escape neglect and oblivion. This is not the place to explain the difficulties which the poorer classes in the Roman empire had to face in satisfying this instinct; but since the publication of the Corpus Inscriptionum has made us familiar with the conditions of the life of these classes, there can be no doubt that this was always a leading motive in their passion for association. In the year A.D. 133 under Hadrian this instinct was recognized by law, i.e. by a senatusconsultum which has fortunately come down to us. It was engraved at the head of their own regulations by a collegium instituted for the worship of Diana and Antinous at Lanuvium, and runs thus: “Qui stipem menstruam conferre volent in funera, in id collegium coëant, neque sub specie ejus collegii nisi semel in mense coëant conferendi causa unde defuncti sepeliantur” (C.I.L. xiv. 2112). From the Digest, 47. 22. 1, the locus classicus on this subject, we learn that this was a general law allowing the founding of funerary associations, provided that the law against illicit collegia were complied with, and it was natural that from that time onwards such collegia should spring up in every direction. The inscription of Lanuvium, together with many others (for which see the works of Boissier and Dill already cited), has given us a clear idea of the constitution of these colleges. Their members were as a rule of the humblest classes of society, and often included slaves; from each was due an entrance fee and a monthly subscription, and a funeral grant was made to the heir of each member at his death in order to bury him in the burying-place of the college, or if they were too poor to construct one of their own, to secure burial in a public columbarium. The instinct of the Roman for organization is well illustrated in the government of these colleges. They were organized on exactly the same lines as the municipal towns of the empire; their officers were elected, usually for a year, or in the case of honorary distinctions, for life; as in a municipal town, they were called quinquennales, curatores, praefecti, &c., and quaestors superintended the finances of the association. Their place of meeting, if they were rich enough to have one, was called schola and answered the purpose of a club-house; the site or the building was often given them by some rich patron, who was pleased to see his name engraved over its doorway. Here we come upon one of those defects in the society of the empire which seem gradually to have sapped the virility of the population—the desire to get others to do for you what you are unwilling or unable to do for yourself. The patroni increased in number, and more and more the colleges acquired the habit of depending on their benefactions, while at the same time it would seem that the primary object of burial became subordinate to the claims of the common weal. It may also be asserted with confidence, as of the Greek clubs, that these collegia rarely or never did the work of our benefit clubs, by assisting sick or infirm members; such objects at any rate do not appear in the inscriptions. The only exceptions seem to be the military collegia, which, though strictly forbidden as dangerous to discipline, continued to increase in number in spite of the law. The great legionary camps of the Roman province of Africa (Cagnat, L’Armée romaine, 457 foll.) have left us inscriptions which show not only the existence of these clubs, but the way in which their funds were spent; and it appears that they were applied to useful purposes in the life of a member as well as for his burial, e.g. to travelling expenses, or to his support after his discharge (see especially C.I.L. viii. 2552 foll.).

As the Roman empire became gradually impoverished and depopulated, and as the difficulty of defending its frontiers increased, these associations must have been slowly extinguished, and the living and the dead citizen alike ceased to be the object of care and contribution. The sudden invasion of Dacia by barbarians in A.D. 166 was followed by the extinction of one collegium which has left a record of the fact, and probably by many others. The master of the college of Jupiter Cernenius, with the two quaestors and seven witnesses, attest the fact that the college has ceased to exist. “The accounts have been wound up, and no balance is left in the chest. For a long time no member has attended on the days fixed for meetings, and no subscriptions have been paid” (Dill, op. cit. p. 285). The record of similar extinctions in the centuries that followed, were they extant, would show us how this interesting form of crystallization, in which the well-drilled people of the empire displayed an unusual spontaneity, gradually melted away and disappeared (see further Gilds and Charity and Charities).

Besides the works already cited may be mentioned Mommsen, de Collegiis et Sodaliciis (1843), which laid the foundation of all subsequent study of the subject; Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, iii. 134 foll.; de Marchi, Il Culto privato di Roma antica, ii. 75 foll.; Kornemann, s.v. “Collegium” in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie.  (W. W. F.*) 

Modern Clubs.—The word “club,” in its modern sense of an association to promote good-fellowship and social intercourse, is not very old, only becoming common in England at the time of The Tatler and The Spectator (1709–1712). It is doubtful whether its use originated in its meaning of a knot of people, or from the fact that the members “clubbed” together to pay the expenses of their meetings. The oldest English clubs were merely informal periodic gatherings of friends for the purpose of dining or drinking together. Thomas Occleve (temp. Henry IV.) mentions such a club called La Court de Bone Compaignie, of which he was a member. John Aubrey (writing in 1659) says: “We now use the word clubbe for a sodality in a tavern.” Of these early clubs the most famous was the Bread Street or Friday Street Club, originated by Sir Walter Raleigh, and meeting at the Mermaid Tavern. Shakespeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, Selden and Donne were among the members. Another such club was that which met at the Devil Tavern near Temple Bar; and of this Ben Jonson is supposed to have been the founder.

With the introduction of coffee-drinking in the middle of the 17th century, clubs entered on a more permanent phase. The coffee-houses of the later Stuart period are the real originals of the modern club-house. The clubs of the late 17th and early 18th century type resembled their Tudor forerunners in being oftenest associations solely for conviviality or literary coteries. But many were confessedly political, e.g. The Rota, or Coffee Club (1659), a debating society for the spread of republican ideas, broken up at the Restoration, the Calves Head Club (c. 1693) and the Green Ribbon Club (1675) (q.v.). The characteristics of all these clubs were: (1) no permanent financial bond between