Private Associations, Urbanism and Empire under Rome

Lecture by Benedikt Eckhardt (Universität Bremen).

2017.11.16 | Julie Thomsen Raunstrup

Date Tue 01 May
Time 12:00 13:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) Aarhus University Moesgård Allé 20, DK-8270 Højbjerg Denmark Building 4230-232





The history of ancient private associations is intimately connected with the history of ancient urbanism. Associations were miniature cities, and competed for members and benefactors in an urban environment. Roman legal regulations on collegia vel corpora seem to reflect this reality when they treat certain associations ad exemplum rei publicae, on a par with municipia and colonies. However, only some groups (those with proven utilitas publica) could claim this status for themselves, while the existence of others was legally dubious. The civic and the imperial level thus offered two separate models for associations to follow. Both aspects – the tendency of associations to mimic urban frameworks and the tendency of Roman legal regulations to distinguish between different types of associations – have been discussed in scholarship. However, no attempt has been made to bring them together and ask how different types of cities fostered the emergence of different types of associations. That cities governed by Roman law (municipia and colonies) provided a different environment for the spread of associations than civitates liberae is evident not only from Pliny’s correspondence and the Spanish municipal laws, but also from the epigraphic evidence for associations. In this paper, the question what the treatment of associations ad exemplum rei publicae really means in a world where the spread of res publicae could be seen (by Tertullian and others) as a decisive feature of the age will be considered. What sort of associations do we find in cities governed by Roman law, in free cities and in rural areas?



History and archaeology, Lecture/talk