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Roman associations

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

In the picture, a fragment of the relief, probably representing a member of collegium olitores, along with its goods - cauliflower, onions and garlic. The artifact is located in the Ostia Museum.

In ancient Rome operated colleges (collegia), gathering employees of the same branch of trade. These types of associations were created either on the initiative of the Senate or independently. What’s more, there were also religious associations.

Under Roman law, only three Roman citizens were able to open collegium. In the third century CE emperor Aurelian introduced institutions controlling the colleges due to the fact that the associations also connected persons involved in crimes.

It is worth mentioning that in Rome, collegium legitima (legal) or collegium illicita (illegal) was distinguished.

One can distinguish among others associations:

  • Collegium Armaroiorum – gladiators college
  • Collegium Bacchus – Bacchus College
  • Collegium Bisellariorum – college of chair manufacturers
  • Collegium Castrensialiorum – college of merchants traveling with the army
  • Collegium Centonariorum – college of textile traders
  • Collegium Communionis Minirum – college of actors
  • Collegium Dianae et Antinoi – college of Diana and Antinous
  • Collegium Farnariorum – college of people who care about gardens
  • Collegium Lupanariorum – college
  • Collegium Pistorum – a college of bakers from lupanar owners. One of the associations valued among the higher classes and the Senate.
  • Collegium Pontificum – college of pontificates (Roman priests)
  • Collegium Saliarium Baxiarum – college of shoemakers
  • Collegium Urinatorum – college of people engaged in catching sunken objects
  • Collegium Vasculariorum – college of metal vessel manufacturers
  • Collegium Vinariorum – college of wine sellers
  • Collegium Vinatorum – plantation college

In addition, the lower layers were gathered in the association:

  • merchants-wholesalers (magnarii), dealing in the trade of grain, olive oil and wine
  • shipowners (domini navium)
  • Vegetable sellers (olitores)
  • fish retailer (piscatores)
  • pate seller (siliginarii)
  • an association of tailors, sewing togas (vestiarii), coats (sagarii)
  • dyers association (sinctores), embroiderers (plumarii), workers (fontani)
  • goldsmiths relationship (aufifices)
  • seller of pearls (margaritarian), rings (anularii), ivory (eburarii), perfumes (pigmentarii)
  • college of porters ( geruli), mule wagons (muliones), chariots (vectuarii)1

Most historians did not devote much attention to Roman colleges in their works due to the fact that they linked to a large extent the lower social strata, which in this way wanted to defend their interests. Therefore, a large part of our knowledge about colleges are preserved artifacts.

  1. Starożytność nieznana
  • Guesde Jules, The encyclopedia of social reform: including political economy, political science, sociology and statistics

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