Abstract and Keywords
Focusing on a few key passages, derived principally from law codes and literary sources, this chapter sketches out the legal situation of collegia vis-à-vis “the state”. However, this material is weighed against the rich epigraphic evidence (i.e. inscribed documents) that suggests the widespread and, in practical effect, unrestricted nature of Roman associations. It suggests that the appearance of governmental interference and regulation, from the late Republic throughout the Principate, was itself merely a pretext, as the government continued to encourage the development and proliferation of collegia as a means of social and political control. It questions whether the senate and the emperors had an interest in actually regulating and licencing collegial assembly, and whether legal texts can be reconciled with the inscriptional material attesting extensive collegial organisation, particularly in Italy and the Empire’s western provinces.
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