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Chapter 2 - Admission Procedures and Financial Contributions in Private Associations

Norms and Deviations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2023

Vincent Gabrielsen
University of Copenhagen
Mario C. D. Paganini
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien


The self-perpetuity of Greek private associations and the continuous performance of their collective activities presupposed the ability both to admit new members and to draw regular contributions (that is to say, material support) from the existing ones. The diffuse evidence on the rules that regulated these essential aspects of the associations’ internal functions has been thoroughly examined both in the pioneering works of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and in more recent studies.

Private Associations in the Ancient Greek World
Regulations and the Creation of Group Identity
, pp. 39 - 62
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023


The self-perpetuity of Greek private associations and the continuous performance of their collective activities presupposed the ability both to admit new members and to draw regular contributions (that is to say, material support) from the existing ones. The diffuse evidence on the rules that regulated these essential aspects of the associations’ internal functions has been thoroughly examined both in the pioneering works of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and in more recent studies.Footnote 1 The modest purpose of this chapter is to offer some, it is hoped, fresh remarks on certain aspects of these rules that bear relevance to issues related to the purpose of this volume. Associative laws and regulations cannot be viewed exclusively as administrative measures. They constituted, inter alia, instruments through which particular associations were constructing themselves as credible and respectable networks composed of equally credible and respectable members. In this respect, those rules that provided for the admission of members and the fulfilment of their regular financial obligations created real and imaginary moments within the associative time that enabled the most vivid demonstration, (re)confirmation and reproduction of the fundamental qualitative features that defined the associative identity, both at the individual and at the collective level. Within this framework, the present chapter will investigate the values endorsed by these rules, the image of the associations that they promoted and their relation to the broader social and civic environment. Here, I will mainly focus on evidence from mainland Greece, the Aegean islands and Asia Minor, but the rich material from Egypt will be also taken into proper account, mainly for the sake of comparison. The first section of this chapter deals with the rules regulating admission into the orgeones of Bendis. The second section focuses on the regular financial contributions imposed by associations in the Hellenistic period. The third section examines the evidence relating to the Imperial period. The final section gives a brief general assessment in the light of the network paradigm issues raised by the editors of this volume in Chapter 1.

The Orgeones of Bendis

The well-known decree of the orgeones of Bendis at Piraeus (CAPInv. 230), dated to 330–324 BC, may be considered as the first document that provides comprehensive information on the rules regulating admission to a private association.Footnote 2 Lines 20–5 establish a two-stage procedure that includes first the payment of a uniform entrance-fee for all aspiring members and the registering of the contributors’ names on a stele and then a process of scrutiny.Footnote 3

The point that I would like to underline is that the decree itself provides us with a highly interesting but so far barely noticed clue regarding the potential audience to which these admission rules were addressed: it envisages the possibility of individual private sacrifices being offered not only by existing members but also by outsiders (the term idiotes, ‘private individuals’, that is to say, non-members, here is indicative) who, in so doing, were obliged to pay dues ranging from 1½ to 3 obols and, in addition, to hand over the skin and the thigh of the sacrificial offering to the priests and priestesses. This rule testifies to the existence of a circle of devotees who, despite their affiliation to Bendis, stood outside the association. The fact that they alone were subject to this sacrificial fee, as opposed to the members of the association who were declared immune, functioned as a material and symbolic mark of their exclusion.Footnote 4 In my view, this was exactly the group of people at which the provisions recorded in lines 20–5 were mainly targeted. These idiotai were persons familiar with the sanctuary and the cult of Bendis, with the relevant rituals and certainly with the members of the association, the use of the same sanctuary providing space and opportunities for cultivating social bonds with them. Paulin Ismard has recently emphasised the existence of a cultic network centred on Bendis and Artemis all over Attica, and the persons in question here were probably somehow involved in this.Footnote 5 These outsiders – who were outsiders not to the cult of Bendis but to the group of its orgeones – were now encouraged to become full members of the association. Both the entrance-fee and the regular annual contribution of 2 drachmas paid by every member should be assessed against the background of the immunity enjoyed by the associates for their private sacrifices and the right to participate in the monthly common assemblies.Footnote 6 This indicates that the more these non-associate idiotai were devoted to Bendis and the more they were willing to show this devotion by offering private sacrifices, the more financially attractive their eventual full participation in the association became to them.

The examination of each newcomer by the orgeones’ assembly also favoured the aforementioned idiotai. The use of the verb dokimazein (δοκιμάζειν), ‘to scrutinise, examine’, indicates that this process was envisaged as being structured on the model of similar civic institutions.Footnote 7 Although the decree of the orgeones did not refer to fixed questions addressed to the candidates, the evidence regarding those civic dokimasiai, ‘examinations’, on which we have detailed information (the dokimasiai of the Athenian ephebes before entering the demes, of the councillors and the magistrates), the manifestly cultic character of the orgeones and the information on associative dokimasiai from the Imperial period (discussed below) suggest that the questions posed concerned not only the moral qualities of the candidates but also their religious devotion, particularly to Bendis.Footnote 8 In this respect, there can be no doubt that each candidate would have had to present his own credentials, and the individual sacrifices of the idiotai would surely have functioned as such.

Another point needs to be stressed. While the civic dokimasia was clearly an institution following popular election or appointment by lot (permitting the correction of what could be perceived as mistaken choices), the scrutiny of newcomers in the decree of the orgeones was technically not a confirmation of a prior choice made by the group – such a choice is not mentioned at all – but a deliberation on a candidate’s application and an examination of his suitability, both conducted at the same time. In this respect, it could be argued that it was the payment of the entrance-fee and the registering on the stele that functioned as the equivalent to the civic election or appointment by lot. This symbolic statement on the part of the aspiring member about his willingness to share the association’s cause was the preliminary stage of the admission procedure, to be followed and validated by the approval of the collective. Compared to the analogous civic process, this associative one was clearly more time-saving and convenient, both for the candidates and for the members of the controlling assembly.

But these differences concerned issues of procedure. In every other significant way the admission rules enacted by the orgeones of Bendis fit in perfectly with the overall tendency of private associations to be integrated into the public sphere.Footnote 9 In this respect, scrutiny did not only serve the purpose of ensuring the suitability of new members. It also turned admission into a prize, elevating in this way the prestige both of the group (presented as a respectable and privileged organised body) and of its individual members who, in order to achieve participation, were to be examined as thoroughly as the Athenian citizens and magistrates were. The very fact that the approval of the association was granted in the standard democratic and egalitarian way of an individual vote, exactly as the Athenian judges voted individually in the scrutiny of civic magistrates, underlines this point.Footnote 10

Money Contributions and Entrance-Fees in the Hellenistic Period

Besides the decree of the orgeones of Bendis, entrance-fees (Table 2.1) are also attested in a decree of the thiasotai of Artemis in Athens in 248/7 BC (CAPInv. 269). This group decided to erect a stele recording the names of their members, and newcomers were to be registered after the payment of the required argyrion, ‘money’.Footnote 11 As the reference to this rule is incidental, the amount is not specified: it was obviously regulated by the law of the group mentioned in the same phrase. Regular financial contributions are attested in the second-century BC Haliadan and Haliastan koinon at Rhodes (CAPInv. 10), which charged each member 3 obols, payable at every meeting, for the purchase of a crown to be given as a posthumous honour to their leader Dionysodoros from Alexandria.Footnote 12 Moreover, in 57/6 BC, an association of Athenian Heroistai (CAPInv. 357) decreed that even those members who were absent from Attica had to pay half the contribution of 6 drachmas imposed on every associate, while those present in Attica but not attending had to pay the whole sum, termed φορά.Footnote 13 To this evidence should be added various references to immunities granted by associations from Athens, Delos, Rhodes and Maroneia to those of their members who acted as benefactors.Footnote 14

Table 2.1 Evidence on entrance-fees and regular contributions (indirect evidence, e.g. mentions of immunities, is not included)

CAPInv.AssociationEntrance-feesRegular contributionsLocationDate
1687Unknown nameMonthly: unspecified sumMemphis391/0 BC
230Orgeones (of Bendis)Unknown sumAnnual: 2 drachmas for sacrificePiraeus330–324 BC
269koinon ton thiasoton (of Artemis)Unspecified sumAthens248/7 BC
1689Association of the temple of Horus-BehedetMonthly: 1 kitePisais (Arsinoites)223 BC
1686UnknownUnspecified sumArsinoites192–100 BC
1971Those of the association of …2 debenKrokodilon polis (Arsinoites)179 BC
1932The association of the Priests of SoknebtynisMonthly: unspecified sumTebtynis (Arsinoites)178–145 BC
1690The association of …Monthly: 5 debenArsinoites137 BC
1970Those of the association of (the companions?)Monthly: 5 debenArsinoites137 BC
10Haliadan and Haliastan koinonThree obols at every meeting for the purchase of a crownRhodesII cent. BC
357To koinon ton HeroistonPhora of 6 drachmasAthens57/6 BC
1963The troop/crowd of the weavers of Coptos90 debenCoptos30 BC
1408Unknown nameMonthly: 12 drachmas for banquetsTebtynis (Arsinoites)AD 14–37
1325He hiera synodos ton peri ton Breisea Dionyson techneiton kai mystonUnspecified sum; possible reduce for patromystaiSmyrnaAD 80–83
349Synodos ton Herakliaston en Limnaissons of members: 16½ minas of pork; others: 33 minas of porkPhora for ekdoseis (unspecified sum)Paiania (Attica)Early II cent. AD
1653Hymnodoi of Augustus and RomeSons of members: 15 denarii to the gods and 7 denarii to each actual member + choreion, receiving a 50 per cent return; others: 100 denarii for sacrifices, 30 denarii to the gods and 15 denarii to each actual member.PergamumAD 127–138
339Bakcheion (Iobacchoi)Sons of members: 25 denarii; brothers of members: 50 denarii; others: 50 denarii + libationPhora for wine (unspecified sum)AthensAD 164/5
1659Unknown nameSons of members for over 5 years: 50 denarii; others: the whole sum (not specified)PergamumII cent. AD
1912, 1939 and 1952Worldwide association of Dionysiac artists100 denarii (beg. of the 3rd cent.); 250 denarii (after c. AD 250)III cent. AD
984Hiera Gerousia tou Soteros AsklepiouSons of members: no entrance-fee; other relatives: 50 denarii; outsiders: 100 denariiHyettus (Boeotia)After AD 212

Commenting on the status of asymbolos, ‘exempt from contributions’, awarded to Telestas by the Rhodian Adoniastai (CAPInv. 1612), Durrbach and Radet observed, using the only available parallel at the time – the civic ateleia πασῶν τῶν συμβολῶν πορευομένοις εἰς τὰ Ἰτώνια, ‘exemption from all contributions for those travelling to the festival of Athena Itonia’, given to Kleophantos of Arkesine and his relatives – that the honorand was exempted not from monthly subscriptions but from payments for festivals, sacrifices and common meals.Footnote 15 This connection between regularly required payments and sacrifices has been noted by several scholars.Footnote 16 The point I would like to stress is that it was the official public discourse of the associations themselves, as expressed in their decrees, which perceived and recorded these ‘membership fees’ as being an integral part of and a prerequisite for the groups’ common activities. Civic parallels do exist. We now know that in Hellenistic Amorgos two more benefactors besides Kleophantos are attested to have financially supported the festival of Itonia, proclaiming that the participants were to be asymboloi or ateleis ton symbolon, ‘exempt from contributions’.Footnote 17 Moving to a purely associative context, we find the Dionysiac artists in Cyprus (CAPInv. 1033) establishing a perpetual asymbolos festival in honour of their benefactor Isidoros: the association defined this event as one directly financed by the common treasury and not by individual contributions, as was normally expected to be done.Footnote 18 The decree of the Tyrian merchants at Delos (CAPInv. 12) awarding to Patron the status of asymbolos and aleitourgetos, ‘exempt from compulsory services (to the association)’, recorded these privileges as being valid at every meeting of the association.Footnote 19 A second-century BC decree issued by the Maroneian therapeutai (CAPInv. 937) declared the former priest Sokles to be aleitourgetos kai aneisphoros pases eisphoras, ‘exempt from compulsory services and from all dues’, but at the same time emphasised the fact that the honorand was nonetheless entitled to take part in all the common affairs of the association.Footnote 20 Already in the late fourth century BC the chous (wine-contribution for banquets) from which Kalliades and Lysimachides – members of the orgeones of Amynos, Asclepius and Dexion (CAPInv. 229) – enjoyed ateleia was recorded as being applied to both of the association’s temples (en amphoin toin hieroin).Footnote 21 The decree of the orgeones of Bendis (CAPInv. 230) explicitly ordered that the members’ annual payments of 2 drachmas, described with the verbs δίδωμι, ‘to give’, and συμβάλλω, ‘to collect’, were to be given to the religious officials, the hieropoioi, that is to say, to finance a collective sacrifice, as opposed to the individual ones mentioned at the beginning of the decree.Footnote 22 Finally, the phora, ‘tribute’, of 6 drachmas to which the Athenian Heroistai (CAPInv. 357) were subject was also defined as a means to finance a communal event, as is indicated by the clause prescribing that the absent members should nonetheless pay, but without receiving their due share.Footnote 23

Admittedly, entrance-fees in particular and perhaps also the aforementioned symbolai, ‘contributions’, could produce a surplus that could potentially have been used to meet various irregular expenses.Footnote 24 However, this does not change the fact that, whenever the associative contributions and immunities are placed in a meaningful context by the associations themselves, they are advertised not as general subscriptions to be deposited in the common fund but rather as regularly levied payments in connection with and attached to the realisation of specific associative events.Footnote 25

The significance of this connection lies in the fact that these events had a well-defined spatial and temporal dimension, establishing a clear notion of a well-ordered associative space and time.Footnote 26 Symbolai may thus be seen as the result of rules that, by regulating access to this associative universe, articulated the reciprocal rights and duties both of the group vis-à-vis its members and of the members vis-à-vis the group. On the one hand, we find associative decisions that create, control, manage and offer material infrastructures, building space and opportunities, fixed in time, for the collective expression of religious piety. Within this framework the associations emerged as agents eager to publicly declare the transparent way in which they exploited the financial resources drawn from their members: contributions were always linked with pre-defined expenses of the collective.Footnote 27 On the other hand, we find that the members were entitled to make use of this associative space and time upon payments that were, at least implicitly, justified not only by reference to the contributors’ status as associates but also – and in a much more emphatic way – in terms of their actual or anticipated presence in the various collective activities. Individual participation in the collective was not limited only to deliberating in the decision-making processes regarding the establishment of common events but also extended to an active involvement in bearing the cost of the execution of these decisions and the realisation of these events. Viewed in this light, symbolai, ‘contributions’, and eisphorai, ‘dues’, were envisaged as multi-functional tools of internal governance: they not only enabled the association to present itself as an independent, self-financing entity following rules that obeyed the principle of transparency, but they also promoted within the group a specific concept of membership based on commitment to constant active participation in all the different temporal and spatial aspects of associative life, which ensured the reproduction of the group as a living organism. The specific way in which the associates’ contributions were formalised, conceptualised and publicised expressed both the durable character of the ties that brought them together and the intensity of the association’s internal functions as a well-structured network of members.Footnote 28

It may, in a certain sense, seem natural to draw a similarity with analogous civic institutions and practices. The various mechanisms relating to the accountability of civic officials also highlighted the significance of financial transparency as a key element for the normal functioning of the city.Footnote 29 Paying taxes, justified in terms of civic suzerainty and property-rights on the various goods and resources that the citizens used, was a central element of citizen status.Footnote 30 As noted above, in demanding regular contributions private associations also acted as owners of communal space and time, that is to say, as micro-cities, while the payment of symbolai and eisphorai was a crucial element of the fundamentally participatory associative identity as well. Moreover, taxes as means of financing specific purposes and activities were levied by the Greek cities as well.Footnote 31 However, there was a noteworthy difference that deserves some comment. Civic taxes were levied in proportion to property (as in the case of the Athenian eisphora) or to the extent to which each individual used the civic facilities and resources or proceeded to engage in commercial transactions (as in the case of the percentage or ad valorem taxes).Footnote 32 Not all the citizens were called upon to pay the same taxes and not all the citizens liable to the same tax paid the same amount of money. However, associative symbolai and eisphorai demanded a fixed uniform sum from all.Footnote 33 In this respect, they were much closer to the various payments and offerings demanded by all those who, as private individuals, consulted oracles, were initiated in mysteries and performed sacrifices.Footnote 34 It seems that these religious ‘taxes’ had a much greater influence on the way associations regulated their members’ financial obligations than the concepts defining civic taxation. This uniformity of regular associative symbolai may, as a practice, seem, proportionately, to have been a heavier burden on the poor than on the rich, but in reality it worked the other way around. A wealthy Athenian citizen could boast about properly paying his eisphora, turning compulsion into an act of euergetism and highlighting his superiority and excellence within the citizen-body.Footnote 35 Regular associative symbolai and eisphorai left no room for such claims. They reflected equality, not internal hierarchy. It was mainly the extraordinary collections of funds that could permit the display of individual superiority, in terms of higher voluntary contributions.Footnote 36

Although associative euergetism did not operate within the framework of regularly levied contributions, it exercised a considerable impact on associative ‘fiscal’ rules: the immunities awarded as honours in response to benefactions actually constituted deviations from universal associative norms and created internal hierarchies.Footnote 37 A comparison with the similar tactics adopted by the polis illustrates this point. While private associations known to have offered immunities honoured their own members in this way, their hosting cities normally did not treat immunities as honours for their own citizens. Admittedly, Demosthenes’ speech Against Leptines is a valuable testimony of the honorary immunities awarded to Athenian citizens, but the Athenian orator makes it absolutely clear that these fiscal exemptions concerned only specific non-military liturgies and not regularly levied eisphorai.Footnote 38 Athenian tribes are also known to have rarely honoured some of their members with exemptions, but again these concerned liturgies.Footnote 39 Hence, although this Athenian practice may be considered as a parallel to the aforementioned exemptions from associative leitourgiai, ‘compulsory services’, it can hardly be viewed as such to the exemptions from the regular associative symbolai/eisphorai or to the ateleia from the regular contribution to a collective banquet given by the orgeones of Amynos, Asclepius and Dexion (CAPInv. 229) to two of their own co-associates.

Within this framework of deviations from standard associative rules as a form of honour, even the regulations regarding entrance-fees could be sometimes overlooked. In a second-century BC honorific decree issued by a Delian synodos (CAPInv. 859), the honorands were awarded several rather common honours, including the status of aleitourgos, but were also admitted into the association without having to pay the regular eisodion, ‘entry fee’.Footnote 40 Although such exceptions do not seem to be as frequent as the immunities from symbolai/eisphorai, more impressive privileges at odds with normal admission procedures are also attested. A decree of a synodos of geouchoi, ‘landowners’, of Psenamosis (CAPInv. 38) in Ptolemaic Egypt admitted into the group the benefactor Paris, donor of a plot of land, declaring him asymbolos, aleitourgetos and aneisphoros but also awarding him the right to introduce three new members into the group without any charge.Footnote 41 Similarly, the Athenian Heroistai (CAPInv. 357) gave to those who contributed 30 drachmas the right to introduce new members to the group.Footnote 42

Clearly, the Athenian Heroistai went significantly further than the Egyptian geouchoi, giving to the same privilege a fixed, institutionalised form: the deviation from the traditional admission-rules was not a decision taken ad hoc in response to an individual’s services, but a general rule applicable to all those meeting well-defined criteria. This practice potentially deprived the association of the ability to determine collectively who was going to enter the body, allowing this fundamental function to be exercised by generous contributors taking individual decisions that had a significant effect on the composition of the association. The nature of the group in question may partly explain this: it was devoted to the cult of three distinguished Athenian citizens from a single family of Marathon and was probably presided over by the son of one of these heroised figures.Footnote 43 At least some of those willing to contribute 30 drachmas were surely relatives of the deceased heroes. These persons were both able and willing to open the group to their clients and personal connections and to promote even further a cult likely to enhance their own influence in the city.Footnote 44 Hence, the fundamental equality of the associates, materially expressed in their uniform contributions, was combined with a possibility of internal hierarchisation. There were of course methods that, if adopted, could effectively counterbalance this institutionalised superiority of certain individuals within the association. In AD 64, the Gerousia of Akmonia gave to a certain Demades the right to introduce an asymbolos member to the body, but his choice was subsequently sanctioned by vote.Footnote 45 Whether a similar approval was also envisaged in the decree of the Heroistai cannot be established, as the stele breaks off at that point and the whole context is not entirely clear.

The Imperial Period

A group of inscriptions dated to the second and third centuries AD allows us to follow the evolution of the associative rules under examination here and to trace various kinds of combinations. These inscriptions include:

  1. a. A decree issued by the Herakliastai at Limnai from Paiania (CAPInv. 349), regulating various issues of the group’s function.Footnote 46

  2. b. The well-known law of the Iobacchoi (CAPInv. 339).Footnote 47

  3. c. A decree of the Sacred Gerousia of Asclepius at Hyettus in Boeotia (CAPInv. 984) engraved on a stele, which also recorded two donations of small estates and a list of members.Footnote 48

  4. d. The foundation charter of a second-century AD association of eranistai from Paiania (CAPInv. 308).Footnote 49

The offerings of wheat flour ordained in l. 36 of the decree of the Herakliastai (διδότωσαν δὲ τὴν σιμίδαλιν πάντες τῇ δ̣ημοσίᾳ χοίνικι [.], ‘all shall give the wheat flour according to the measure of the public choenix …’), have to be combined with the feast days to which the preceding lines 30–3 refer.Footnote 50 The phorai, ‘dues’, mentioned in lines 42–3 are explicitly defined as means of financing the ekdoseis, ‘outgoings’, made by the treasurer of the body (τὰς δὲ φορὰς καταφέριν τῷ ταμίᾳ ἐπάναγκες ἰς τὰς ἐγδόσις, ‘it is compulsory to hand over the dues to the treasurer for the expenses’).Footnote 51 Likewise, the participation of the Iobacchoi in the various meetings of the group depended on the payment of a well-defined phora for the purchase of wine, non-compliance bringing exclusion.Footnote 52 In both these cases, the prescribed phorai have to be understood as payments in cash, though the exact amount is not given. As in the Hellenistic period, private associations continued to link associative ‘taxes’ with the notions of active participation and financial transparency,Footnote 53 the members’ contributions being explicitly attached to specific associative events and activities.Footnote 54

The major change has to do with the place occupied by the principle of heredity in the admission rules. However, it should be stressed that there was no uniformity. In certain cases, family lineage allowed for lower entrance-fees. Thus, any member of the Herakliastai wishing to introduce his son was obliged to contribute 16½ minas of pork, while other individuals wishing to enter the association were bound to contribute 33 minas of pork.Footnote 55 According to the law of the Iobacchoi, the members’ sons were obliged to pay an entrance-fee of 25 denarii, while the fee for the members’ brothers was fixed at 50 denarii, and those indicatively styled as me apo patros, ‘not (receiving membership) from the father’, had to pay 50 denarii and to offer a libation. Furthermore, sons of members were to pay half the regular monthly contribution of wine until they reached puberty.Footnote 56 However, in the case of the Gerousia of Hyettus, a filial relationship with a member brought a complete exception: if any member died, the Gerousia had to elect his replacement from among his sons, newcomers paying no entrance-fee at all. If the deceased member had no sons, one of his closest relatives was allowed to enter the body, subject to an admission-fee of 50 denarii. Finally, an outsider entering the body had to pay an entrance-fee amounting to 100 denarii.Footnote 57 It should also be noted that in an inscription regarding a Chalcidian synodos centred on the local gymnasium, certain new members were stated as having been enrolled ἀπὸ κληρονομιῶν, ‘by hereditary right’, other newcomers being admitted ἀπὸ ἡβητηρίας, ‘chosen from among the former ephebes’.Footnote 58

Diversity also characterises the institution of dokimasia, ‘examination, scrutiny’. It was a necessary condition even for the sons of the Iobacchoi, as no one could enter the group unless his worthiness and suitability were tested by a process that involved an individual vote by each member.Footnote 59 But in the Gerousia of Hyettus, only those completely unrelated to the existing members were tested by the collective. This is a point worth emphasising. The association in question consisted of a small number of members, perhaps belonging to a circle of inter-related nuclear families.Footnote 60 The choice of the group’s name was a deliberate strategic move aimed at placing this association on a par both with the respectable ‘public’ gerousiai, ‘councils of the elders’, widespread in Asia Minor but sporadically attested on the Greek mainland, and, rather more directly, with organised groups of elders in the Peloponnese, affiliated with important local deities and mythical figures.Footnote 61 Clearly, this small religious association envisaged itself as a highly esteemed family organ devoted to an important local cult.Footnote 62 Hence, it was only natural that descent was conceived as an indisputable proof of a newcomer’s moral qualities; that is why, while relatives of members were simply elected, scrutiny was restricted to those completely unrelated to the existing members.Footnote 63

Conversely, family lineage appears to play no formal role in the admission rules of the eranistai from Paiania, an association explicitly formed on the basis of the bonds of friendship that united the original members.Footnote 64 The recruitment of new ones was the result of a process that, as in the case of the Iobacchoi, equated selection with the testing (note again the use of the verb dokimazein) of the moral quality and piousness of the candidates.Footnote 65 Admittedly, this examination was not performed by an assembly of the collective but delegated to a group of officials.Footnote 66 However, most of them were appointed by lot. Moreover, the parallel cases of the Iobacchoi and the Herakliastai of Paiania indicate that the basis for allotment was broad enough to include all the associates.Footnote 67 Consequently, it is quite safe to conclude that the dokimasia of new eranistai retained its traditional democratic character.Footnote 68 One cannot escape noticing that Athenian private associations still valued and preserved democratic procedures associated with the Classical Athenian democracy, such as sortition from among all the members of the community, even at a time when the host polis had abandoned them.Footnote 69

The following clause in the foundation charter of the eranistai prescribed that the eranos should be increased by means of generosities (philotimiai). This has been viewed as a reference to outsiders promising to provide contributions and hence achieve membership of the association.Footnote 70 However, it is equally probable that the clause on the philotimiai referred not to an additional admission rule but to contributions given by the existing eranistai, which were consequently viewed as means to increase the funds available in the common treasury and to enhance the overall situation of the association.Footnote 71 In this respect, the aforementioned clause may have constituted an open call to all the eranistai to function as associative euergetai. The important point is that, whether referring to newcomers’ entrance-fees or to members’ contributions, the clause in question prescribed no standard amount of money. At the same time, however, voluntarism, an integral part of any philotimia, took the form of compliance with a formal rule integrated in the nomos, ‘law’, of the eranistai. This reflects the basic concept which characterises the eranos in question: philia, ‘friendship’. If we view associative payments not only instrumentally, as sources of income, but also sociologically, as proofs of devotion, we can see how commitment to a group based on a philia that was stressed as being voluntary was conceptualised as an obligation that could not be measured in terms of fixed sums of money.Footnote 72 Instead, it demanded – just like a civic epidosis, ‘collection of donations’– the best possible of what a philos, ‘friend’, could offer, irrespective of his family origin.Footnote 73 In fact, the provision in question prevented the potential exclusion of poorer philoi, ‘friends’, while it encouraged wealthier ones to contribute as much as they wished or could afford.Footnote 74

It has been widely held that in every period the associates’ descendants and relatives constituted an important source from which new members were admitted.Footnote 75 This is, after all, quite a natural aspect of all such groups, generated by the various mechanisms of socialisation that characterise them. But there was an important novelty in the Imperial period that should be highlighted: it was only now that the privileged treatment of the existing members’ relatives was formally integrated into sets of rules prescribing reduced entrance-fees. Are we to see these rules as means of materially facilitating the continuous presence of certain already tested families in the respective associations? A positive answer would presuppose that the reduced entrance-fees represented a significant financial benefit, but, although this may be at least partly true in the case of the sons of poorer associates, it is not necessarily so in the case of those of wealthier ones. Conversely, there can be no doubt that these lower entrance-fees carried an important symbolic significance: they formally linked the perpetuation of the collective’s function and respectability with the expectation that the descendants of its members would carry on what was envisaged as a family tradition and duty.Footnote 76 Admittedly, this was in accordance with the general social and political climate of the Imperial period, similar tendencies towards a regularisation of the continuing presence of certain families through lower entrance-fees being observed in certain illustrious semi-public bodies, like the hymnodoi, ‘choral singers’, of Augustus and the goddess Roma at Pergamum (CAPInv. 1653), and, more importantly, but in a rather different way, in the civic councils as well.Footnote 77 This emphasis on the conservative values of family tradition, which were widely recognised in contemporary civic discourse, may be seen as another reflection of the tendency on the part of associations to gain respectability by emulating models drawn from political institutions.Footnote 78 It also highlights another factor frequently mentioned by recent scholarship: the extent to which private associations functioned as loci of relationships, complementary but not alternative to the ones fostered within family and kinship units.Footnote 79 We may thus observe the integration of informal family networks within a wider formal network provided by the associative structures and activities. Also of particular interest is the precise form that the privileged treatment of the associates’ descendants took and its implications. As is well known, by receiving larger portions of food and higher sums of money in public banquets and distributions, councillors and gerousiasts were publicly viewed as persons of high civic status. In an inverse but similar way, the reduced entrance-fees paid by the associates’ descendants undoubtedly gave the existing members a sense of superior identity, highlighting what was perceived as their and the entire collective’s elevated status vis-à-vis the outside world.Footnote 80

Nevertheless, the rules favouring hereditary membership did not challenge the control exercised by the entire collective, at least at the final stage of the admission procedures. The dokimasia functioned as a weapon in the hands of the Iobacchoi, which they could potentially use to rule out any unsuitable future member. Even in the Gerousia at Hyettus, which was restricted in number and orientated towards specific families, it was the body that chose who among the deceased’s sons or relatives were to be admitted.Footnote 81 Poland found this curious.Footnote 82 In fact it was not: although family lineage obviously mattered, priority was given to the collective, self-defined and self-advertised to the outside world as a union of equal members sharing an honorific status achieved after a thorough examination.Footnote 83

Moreover, the increased significance of the hereditary principle in the Imperial period did not lead to the transformation of associations into exclusively family groups. On the contrary, every association on which we have adequate information envisaged the admittance of outsiders as well. The higher entrance-fees demanded from them show how this admittance was conceptualised: these persons might not have been the heirs of a long-standing commitment to the common cause, but they were willing (and required) to counterbalance this lack by offering more and by exhibiting their eunoia, ‘good-will’, and philotimia, ‘zeal, generosity’, so as to acquire full membership on an equal footing. In this way, not only could the accepting body’s decision be legitimised but a not insignificant sense of personal superiority and psychological satisfaction could also be offered to these newcomers, (self-) perceived as having achieved admission on their personal merit, as associative small-scale euergetai.

Final Remarks

Due to restraints of space, I have consciously avoided so far discussing a crucial topic – namely, whether the level of the fees set by associations could actually deter candidates from applying for membership. However, certain methodological remarks are necessary. The evidence presented above raises the question of how expensive participation in private associations was and how rich associates had to be. In this respect, several factors should be taken into account. Αs noted above, the various financial obligations imposed by associations could have worked as an additional informal selection mechanism, potentially discouraging or even excluding poor outsiders from attempting to become members. Moreover, the rules prescribing the regular payment of membership fees could have driven existing members facing economic difficulties out of an association. Finally, not all associations were equally burdensome. Obviously, the very existence of entrance- and membership-fees suggests that the members of the associations mentioned in this chapter were persons with adequate means, willing to invest a portion of their income in achieving and maintaining their associative status.Footnote 84 Conversely, rather subjective factors such as a strong desire to be part of an association could potentially lead persons of rather modest means to acquire and sustain membership. One cannot escape noticing that any attempt to quantify all this is extremely difficult. It demands a lengthy analysis, taking into consideration factors such as wages, net output and subsistence levels, which are by definition highly uncertain and probably quite variable in space and time. The value of such an enterprise is indisputable but lies beyond the scope of the present investigation.

In terms of content, procedures and symbolic messages, the rules of private associations on admission and regular financial contributions displayed a tendency not only to respond to vital internal needs but also to construct in various ways a respectable collective identity, perceived as such both by the members and the outside world. A creative and flexible use of civic models highlighted the notions of transparency in the exploitation of financial resources and of responsible active involvement in common affairs; the principles of participation and equality were combined with – but not undermined by – a sense of hierarchy, created by ‘legitimate’ deviations from standard rules that took the form of individual immunities, rights to introduce new members and, in the Imperial period, reduced entrance-fees for the members’ relatives. Two points should be stressed. First, the egalitarian principle of a newcomer’s examination by the collective remained formally and officially valid even in the Imperial period, in accordance with various democratic survivals in the civic sphere, which coexisted with – but were not eliminated by – widespread tendencies towards oligarchisation.Footnote 85 Second, while the reduced entrance-fees levied on the existing members’ relatives functioned as marks of a superior status enjoyed by the associates and their families as well, the higher entrance-fees for other newcomers may be equally seen as mechanisms through which the admission of an individual with no family tradition was experienced by all the parties involved as an honourable distinction.

The orgeones of Bendis recruited new members from a wider network of people who had already integrated the cult of Bendis into their individual set of religious beliefs and practices. Other cult associations, as well as the eranistai from Paiania, also viewed individuals integrated into networks based on kinship, personal contacts and friendship as potential new members and took steps to formally encourage their admission. In this respect, private associations may be viewed as formally organised networks of members that depended on wider informal networks of related people and volunteers in order to ensure their perpetuity in time.

At a different level, the concepts of transparency, respectability, participation, egalitarianism and hierarchy, being widely accepted social and civic values, formed ‘ties’ that brought each individual association into contact with other similar structures and with the polis itself. Admittedly, these conceptual ‘ties’ were abstract and imaginary, in the sense that they involved a movement of ideas and practices, not official contacts and interpersonal relations.Footnote 86 But they may be seen as complementing the more formal bonds between private associations and public institutions and the people who controlled them, demonstrated by the place occupied by the former in the award of honours and in various public ceremonies.Footnote 87 This aspect of the associative admission and ‘fiscal’ rules enables us – and presumably the inhabitants of the Greek cities as well – to regard private associations as well-structured koinoniai, ‘communities’, forming part of a wider, diverse and plural politike koinonia, ‘political community’.Footnote 88


1 Ziebarth Reference Ziebarth1896: 140–2 and 156–7; Poland Reference Poland1909: 274–7, 299–300, 437, 492–4; Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 96–101.

2 IG II² 1361. On the various issues concerning the character of this association, see Wilhelm Reference Wilhelm1902: 132; Ferguson Reference Ferguson1944: 98–9; Ferguson Reference Ferguson1949: 156–7; Garland Reference Garland1992: 111–13; Mikalson Reference Mikalson1998: 140–1, 152–3 and 155; Jones Reference Jones1999: 257; Ismard Reference Ismard2010: 265–70; Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 38; Steinhauer Reference Steinhauer2014: 34–5, 48 and 92–3. Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou, Gabrielsen and Thomsen2015: 39–49. Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen and Tiersch2016a: 141–6.

3 On this admission procedure, see Foucart Reference Foucart1873: 10 and 12; Ferguson Reference Ferguson1944: 99–100; Jones Reference Jones1999: 257–60; Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 98 (convincingly refuting Ferguson and Jones’ view that before the decree’s enactment membership to these orgeones was hereditary; I would simply add that the fragmentary clause at the beginning of the decree explicitly distinguishes between registered members and their descendants, so it cannot reflect previous rules for entering the association); Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 35–7.

4 IG II² 1361, ll. 3–6. It could be argued that the phrase ‘orgeones participating at the sanctuary’ used to describe the collective may demonstrate that there were individuals who were not viewed as idiotai but as orgeones who nonetheless did not participate at the sanctuary. But the emphasis on the sanctuary simply reflects the fact that this was the key element of the collective’s identity (Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen and Tiersch2016a: 145).

5 Ismard Reference Ismard2010: 270–2. If the split between an association of orgeones based at Piraeus and one based at the asty had already taken place by the time the decree IG II² 1361 was passed (Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen and Tiersch2016a: 142–5), the members of the second association may have also constituted a potential target group for the provisions under examination here. But there is no evidence to press this hypothesis further.

6 IG II² 1361, ll. 17–20. Jones Reference Jones1999: 257–60 conceived of these payments as a remedy for the lack of benefactions and endowments and as a means of dealing with the bad financial situation in which the orgeones found themselves. But such payments are very widespread in the world of private associations. They are not a particularity of the orgeones of Bendis, hence they need not be considered as indicative of financial problems.

8 See Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 98 and Feyel Reference Feyel2009: 25–6 and 115–80.

9 See, inter alia, van Nijf Reference van Nijf1997 (for professional associations); Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 21–2 and 154–5 (for democratic Athens); Suys Reference Suys, Dasen and Piérart2005: 214; Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen2007; Fröhlich and Hamon Reference Fröhlich and Hamon2013b: 14–26. Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou, Gabrielsen and Thomsen2015: 49 (on the orgeones of Bendis).

10 Feyel Reference Feyel2009: 176–9. As noted by Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 99, scrutiny is not attested in other private associations of the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods. However, since our documentation does not include general regulations, such as the decree of the orgeones of Bendis, but decisions responding to specific needs of the issuing bodies, this lack of evidence should not be necessarily taken as evidence of absence. In fact, the regulations set up by Diomedon for the familial association he founded on Hellenistic Cos prescribed a process of examination for allowing nothoi, ‘illegitimate children’, to participate in the sacred rites. Probably this examination aimed at certificating that these nothoi were indeed sons of existing members: see IG XII.4 1 348 D, ll. 146–9 (bibliography and discussion in CAPInv. 1919). Moreover, dokimasia is consistently present in the epigraphical record of the Imperial period (see below).

11 IG II² 1298, ll. 16–20. On the interpretation of this clause as referring to entrance-fees and not just dues (as Kloppenborg and Ascough 2011: 114 understand it), see Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 99 n. 32. On the status of the members of this group and its relation with the thiasotai of a goddess who issued an honorific decree followed by a list of members in 237/6 BC (IG II² 1297; CAPInv. 268), see Mikalson Reference Mikalson1998: 149; Ismard Reference Ismard2010: 353; Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 113 and 135; Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou, van Nijf and Alston2011b: 28–39; CAPInv. 269. Entrance-fees are also mentioned in a Demotic inscription with the regulations of an association of weavers at Coptos (CAPInv. 1963): each newcomer pays 90 deben.

12 IG XII.1 155 d, ll. 22–3. See Foucart Reference Foucart1873: 43. On the context of this decision and the way it was implemented, see Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen1994: 143–7.

13 IG II² 1339. On the character of this association, which seems to have celebrated the cult of Zenon, Pammenes and Diotimos from Marathon, see Geagan Reference Geagan1992; Baslez Reference Baslez and Follet2004: 107 and 115; Baslez Reference Baslez and Molin2006: 166; Ismard Reference Ismard2010: 362; Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 218–19. On regulating compulsory participation in associations, see Eckhardt in Chapter 3.

14 For a detailed treatment, see Poland Reference Poland1909: 437 and 492–4. The rules of several Egyptian associations also imposed regular membership fees. See Table 2.1.

15 Durrbach and Radet Reference Durrbach and Radet1886: 260–1 (for the same inscription, see I.Rhod.Per. 12). For Kleophantos, see IG XII.7 22, ll. 27–9. In the technical vocabulary of Greek corporate bodies, symbole denotes contributions imposed on the existing members. See Giannakopoulos Reference Giannakopoulos2013: 16–18.

16 Poland Reference Poland1909: 494; Aneziri Reference Aneziri2003: 182 n. 65.

17 IG XII.7 241 (Epinomides); IG XII Suppl. 330 (Agathinos). See Gauthier Reference Gauthier1980: 206–7.

18 Le Guen Reference Le Guen2001: I 308–10 no 66. See Aneziri Reference Aneziri2003: 182.

19 I.Délos 1519, ll. 43–5. As far as the associative leitourgiai are concerned, we are in no position to know whether they were imposed only on the wealthiest associates or, as Foucart Reference Foucart1873: 44 has suggested, on all the members by some sort of rotation. Based on what we know of the civic leitourgiai, it could be argued that the associative ones were also imposed only on the wealthiest members. However, as we shall see below, the regular associative eisphorai and symbolai were paid by all the associates and, in this respect, they were manifestly different from their civic counterparts. Hence, in principle there is no reason to deny the possibility of associative leitourgiai being imposed on all the members. Admittedly, there is no evidence to support either of these hypotheses. In any case, the formulation of the decree for Marcus Minatius (see below Footnote n. 25) demonstrates that the leitourgoi of private associations were required to provide both personal work and financial support. In fact, the terms leitourgoi and leitourgia could denote the officials of associations. See SEG 41:74, ll. 27–8 (Serapiastai at Rhamnous; CAPInv. 350) and SEG 33:639, ll. 14–15 (Sabaziastai at Rhodes; CAPInv. 2111). Hence aleitourgesia may refer to exemption from assuming such posts.

20 I.Aeg.Thrace E183.

21 IG II² 1252+999, ll. 11–12. On this association see Ferguson Reference Ferguson1944: 86–91; Mikalson Reference Mikalson1998: 145–6; Jones Reference Jones1999: 254–6; Ismard Reference Ismard2010: 257–9; Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 43–7; Steinhauer Reference Steinhauer2014: 30–2.

22 IG II² 1361, ll. 17–20. See recently Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou, Gabrielsen and Thomsen2015: 43–4.

23 IG II² 1339, ll. 9–15. See Steinhauer Reference Steinhauer2014: 46. Based on the mention of the term eranos in the relevant clause, Foucart Reference Foucart1873: 42–3 argued that this was a monthly contribution.

24 P.Tebt. I 118 (CAPInv. 1213) demonstrates that the common treasury could benefit from the surplus of contributions imposed for communal events such as banquets and feasts (see Arlt and Monson Reference Arlt, Monson, Knuf, Leitz and von Recklinghausen2010: 121). It has been argued that the Heroistai and the eranistai from Paiania provided friendly loans to the associates (Raubitschek Reference Raubitschek1981: 97; Baslez Reference Baslez and Molin2006: 166–8; but see Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 70–87 on the use of the term eranos for various kinds of associations), but if they did so, there is no evidence regarding the source of the money used for that purpose. Although Hellenistic associations frequently provided in various ways for the burial of their members (e.g. IG II² 1323 = CAPInv. 274; IG II² 1327 = CAPInv. 361; IG II² 1277 = CAPInv. 267; IG XII.9 1151 = CAPInv. 86; Marchand Reference Marchand2015 on Boeotia; Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen1997: 123–5 on Rhodes; Maillot Reference Maillot2013: 207–10 on Cos; see also P.Enteux. 20 = CAPInv. 754, P.Ryl. IV 580 = CAPInv. 671 and P.Ryl. IV 590 = CAPInv. 674; discussion in van Nijf Reference van Nijf1997: 50–3 and Steinhauer Reference Steinhauer2014: 113–18), there is no direct evidence linking entrance-fees or regular contributions with this practice. In fact, the purchase of a burial plot could be financed through the means of an irregular epidosis, ‘collection’ (Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen1997: 125).

25 In this respect, the case of the orgeones of Bendis is highly indicative: they were more than willing to relieve themselves of the obligation to pay a telos ‘dues’, when they sacrificed as individuals. But this was not the case when the orgeones functioned as participants in a collective sacrifice organised by the group itself. To the aforementioned examples of immunities from contributions should be added the decree of the Berytian merchants at Delos (CAPInv. 9), awarding to the banker Marcus Minatius the right to be aleitourgetos pases ascholias kai dapanes pases, ‘exempt from all obligations and costs’ (I.Délos 1520, ll. 48–9). Moving to Rhodes, we find the eranistai of Adonis (CAPInv. 1612) honouring two more benefactors besides Telestas as asymboloi, granting them ateleia as well. See Pugliese Carratelli Reference Pugliese Carratelli1939/40: 147 no 1 for Sosikles and Demetrios. Five other Rhodian associations are equally known to have awarded an ateleia from all charges. See IG XII.1 155 (CAPInv. 10) and Maiuri Reference Maiuri1925: no 46 (CAPInv. 2060; see also Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen1994); IG XII.1 867 (CAPInv. 1821); Pugliese Carratelli Reference Pugliese Carratelli1939/40: 153 no 11 (CAPInv. 2049).

26 As Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 22 has eloquently remarked, associations ‘set a rhythm of life for their members’. On regulations of space by associations, see Skaltsa in Chapter 5. The connection between members’ financial contributions and associative space and time is highlighted in the rules of an association of worshippers of Zeus Hypsistos from Philadelpheia in Egypt (P.Lond. VII 2193 = CAPInv. 654): these rules prescribe monthly banquets in Zeus’s sanctuary for all the syneisphoroi, ‘contributing members’. The same connection is unsurprisingly manifest in records of extraordinary payments destined to support the associations’ infrastructure or the realisation of communal events. For example, a third-century BC decree of the Amphieraistai of Rhamnous (I.Rhamnous 167 = CAPInv. 356) advertised the association’s decision to invite its members to contribute at will to the rebuilding of certain parts of the sanctuary. Likewise, a decree issued by a Dionysiac thiasos at Hellenistic Teos (SEG 4:598 = CAPInv. 1684) referred to money given by the members for a festival in honour of the priestess Hediste, which seems to have been also financed by an endowment founded by the priestess. For a fragmentary decree concerning the organisation of an epaggelia, ‘promise’, by a Coan thiasos, see IG XII.4 1 125 (CAPInv. 1883).

27 References to the accountability of associative officials (IG II² 1292 = CAPInv. 351; Agora 16 161 = CAPInv. 227) may be seen in the same light.

28 On durability and intensity as features of social networks and private associations, see Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou, van Nijf and Alston2011b: 43–4, Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2011a: 273–4 and Harland Reference Harland2013a: 120. For contributions to Athenian demes as factors ‘reinforcing collective identity’, see Whitehead Reference Whitehead1986: 151.

30 See Chankowski Reference Chankowski, Andreau and Chankowski2007: 303–6; Liddel Reference Liddel2007: 210–307 (262–82 for financial obligations).

31 Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen and Beck2013: 335–7.

32 See Chankowski Reference Chankowski, Andreau and Chankowski2007: 307–19. On the Athenian eisphora, see Rhodes Reference Rhodes1982: 1–13; Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen1987; Christ Reference Christ2007a: 146–8.

33 Possible exceptions may be observed in late Hellenistic Egypt. The accounts of two associations record individual contributions of different amounts, which are sometimes called symbolai. They also refer to asymboloi members: see SB III 7182 (CAPInv. 856) and P.Tebt. III.2 894 (CAPInv. 863). It is not entirely clear, however, what kind of payments was included in these lists. As it is well known, the regulations of Egyptian associations prescribed additional payments from those members occupying associative offices (de Cenival Reference de Cenival1972: 207–8; Monson Reference Monson2006). In fact, the regulations in question (see Table 2.1) often drew a sharp difference between monthly contributions and ‘fees of office’; this difference was explicitly expressed even in lists of members and payments such as P.Prague Dem. 1 (CAPInv. 1690), where we find officials contributing strikingly higher sums than ordinary members. It appears that the concept of proportional ‘taxation’ was not unknown to Egyptian associations. It was institutionalised but functioned in relation not to income or property but to possession of associative offices. See also below Footnote n. 74.

34 On these payments, see Sokolowski Reference Sokolowski1954: 153–9.

35 Liddel Reference Liddel2007: 276.

36 Hence, two lists of contributors to thiasoi (or a single one?) at Hellenistic Knidos (I. Knidos 39 and 23), with sums ranging from 3 to 5 drachmas and from 5 to 300 drachmas, respectively, seem to have recorded extraordinary epaggeliai, ‘promises (of money)’ (cf. I.Knidos 39, l. 29). See CAPInv. 836 and 839. It should be noted, however, that the aforementioned list of contributors to the Amphieraistai of Rhamnous (n. 26 above) recorded only names and not the donated sums of money. In this particular case, possible unequal contributions did not result in a publicly recorded expression of individual superiority.

37 On this aspect of associative euergetism, see Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 147–53.

38 Dem. 20.18, 20.26–8. According to the Athenian orator, such ateleiai had been awarded to Konon and Chabrias (Dem. 20.68–79). On this law, see Rhodes Reference Rhodes1982: 13; Gauthier Reference Gauthier1985: 112–13; Gabrielsen Reference Gabrielsen1987: 15; Christ Reference Christ2007a: 151–2. On exemptions, see also Hansen Reference Hansen1991: 114. Those given to orphans, archons, disabled persons and associations did not have an honorific character.

39 Evidence for fiscal exemptions given by tribes and demes in Migeotte Reference Migeotte and Thür2010: 59–60 nn. 20–1. Among the eleven inscriptions cited, only three concern exemptions given as honours to members of the honouring parties (IG II² 1140, IG II² 1147 and SEG 23:78).

40 I.Délos 1521, ll. 16–19. The honorands were also declared aleitourgetoi.

41 I.Prose 40, ll. 31–4. For a detailed analysis of this inscription, see Paganini in press a.

42 IG II² 1339, ll. 15–18: ὁμ[οί|ως δὲ ἔδοξ]ε ἐμβιβάζειν ἐξεῖναι τοῖς [τε|λοῦσιν ἔραν]ον δραχμῶν τριάκοντα κα[ὶ]| – – – – – ων ἓξ δραχμῶν καὶ μὴ π…. See the translation of this section in Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 218 and Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 99 n. 34, who speaks of an entrance-fee.

43 See Footnote n. 13 above.

44 See Ismard Reference Ismard2010: 362, who rightly remarks that the location of the stele erected by these Heroistai, i.e. the sanctuary of Athena in the centre of the asty, ‘town’, indicates that this particular group sought to give an as widely public as possible dimension to the memory of its associative heroes.

45 Giannakopoulos Reference Giannakopoulos2013: 18–23 on SEG 56:1489.

46 SEG 31:122. See also the bibliography and the discussion in Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: Footnote no 50.

47 IG II² 1368. The vast bibliography on the Iobacchoi is assembled in Jaccotett Reference Jaccottet2003: II no 5 and Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: no 51. As far as the admission rules are concerned see, inter alia, the recent treatment in Ebel Reference Ebel2004: 144–6.

48 IG VII 2808.

49 IG II² 1369. Bibliography in Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: no 49.

50 On these feast days, see Lupu Reference Lupu2005: 187.

51 Raubitschek Reference Raubitschek1981: 97 thought that these ekdoseis refer to loans made by the eranos to its members, while Lupu Reference Lupu2005: 189 prefers to see them as contracts signed by the association for the provision of sacrificial victims and wood. Accepting this interpretation would mean that the contributions given by the associates to the tamias would have been used by the latter in order to pay the contractors. A Rhodian association (CAPInv. 2032) is attested to have honoured a benefactor for giving money to a bank account (ἔνθημα) opened by the association so as to finance contracts (ἔγδοσις) let out for works in the collective’s buildings. See IG XII.1 937, ll. 10–11 with Bogaert Reference Bogaert1968: 215–16 and Fraser Reference Fraser1972a: 116–17.

52 IG II² 1368, ll. 42–9. See Ebel Reference Ebel2004: 145–6. It was perhaps from this contribution that the secretary appointed by the tamias, ‘treasurer’, was exempted (IG II² 1368, ll. 155–60). Another similar exemption concerns the ateleia and aleitourgesia, ‘exemption from dues and compulsory services’, awarded to a lifelong priest, either upon entering the association or upon assuming the priesthood, by a Megarian synodos of thiasotai of Dionysus (CAPInv. 1527) in the second century AD. See Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 290–2 no 60 and SEG 61:323bis.

53 Another relevant example comes from Egypt. The charter of a private association from Tebtynis (P.Mich.V 243, dated to AD 14–37; CAPInv. 1408) prescribed monthly dues of 12 drachmas for the organisation of a monthly banquet. Moreover, several documents with accounts of private associations bear headings that explicitly link individual contributions with expenses for common events. See Footnote n. 74 below. The contributions in wine recorded in O.Theb. 142 (accounts of the synodos of the god Amenothes; CAPInv. 1385) were certainly used for banquets and other events.

54 Once again, there is no direct evidence of any link between these payments and the provision of cash for loans and funerals. Ebel Reference Ebel2004: 145–6 duly highlights the different use of membership fees between the Iobacchoi and the cultores Dianae et Antinoi from Lanuvium (CIL XIV 2112; see Bendlin Reference Bendlin and Öhler2011). Nevertheless, the Augustales of Cassandreia who provided 75 denarii for the burial of their co-associates κατὰ τὸ δόγμα, ‘as per decree’ (Juhel and Nigdelis Reference Juhel and Nigdelis2015: 103–7; see also AE 1991 no 1424 on a collegium urbanorum giving 50 denarii for the burial of a member) are very likely to have included such a (regular?) contribution among the obligations assumed by their members.

55 SEG 31:122, ll. 38–9. This was an entrance-fee in kind, presumably intended to provide for a communal meal (see Lupu Reference Lupu2005: 188, who remarks that the minas refer to the weight of the animal, and Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 239–40). The fact that the relevant clause immediately followed the one relating to the sacrificial victim offered to Heracles supports this conclusion. Thus, the contribution imposed upon each entering member ultimately functioned as another opportunity for organising an event to bring together the associates.

56 IG II² 1368, ll. 37–41 and 53–5.

57 IG VII 2808 B, ll. 1–12. For a brief analysis of these clauses, see Oliver Reference Oliver1941: 29–30; Roesch Reference Roesch1982: 159; Van Rossum Reference Van Rossum1988: 66–8.

58 IG XII.9 916. See Giannakopoulos Reference Giannakopoulos2012: 212–16. An inscription from Smyrna (I.Smyrna 731; CAPInv. 1325), dated around AD 80, lists new members of a Dionysiac association, probably a local branch of the oecumenical association, who had paid the entrance-fee, but also refers to patromystai, ‘sons of members’, who might had paid a lower fee. On entrance-fees to the worldwide association, see Table 2.1. The 850 denarii paid by a high-priest (Pap.Agon. 3, l. 15 = CAPInv. 1912) may not correspond to the fee normally demanded from newcomers. Regular contributions are implied by Hadrian’s decision that members awarded with Roman citizenship should continue to fulfill their financial obligations to the synodos. See SEG 56:1359 (CAPInv. 991).

59 IG II² 1368, ll. 35–7 and 53–5. Recent discussion in Ebel Reference Ebel2004: 144. As already noted, an individual vote was well in accordance with the Athenian civic traditions; the connection of the Iobacchoi with the sphere of Athenian civic politics has been recently emphasised by Suys Reference Suys, Dasen and Piérart2005: 205 and 213

60 See on this point Roesch Reference Roesch1982: 158–9, who bases his conclusions on the names included in the members’ list.

61 See Giannakopoulos Reference Giannakopoulos2008: 43–56, 289, 300–2 and 424–7. The difference between the Gerousia of Hyettus and the ‘civic’ ones is amply demonstrated by Van Rossum Reference Van Rossum1988: 66–8 contra Oliver Reference Oliver1941: 30. On ‘The Argive gerontes descended from Danaos and Hypermestra’ in Argos and ‘The sacred gerontes of Upesia descended from Kresphontes’ in Messene, see now Spawforth Reference Spawforth2012: 169–79 with further bibliography. Similar tactics were adopted by professional groups in Philadelphia and Saittai, called phylai, ‘tribes’ (van Nijf Reference van Nijf1997: 184).

62 Roesch Reference Roesch1982: 157–60.

63 The difference in the vocabulary is in this respect highly indicative. The Gerousia ‘elects’ (ἕληται) sons of members, but an outsider is ‘tested’ (δοκιμα|[σθ]ῇ). See IG VII 2808 B, ll. 5–10. It should be noted that in the familial association established by Diomedon on Cos (above Footnote n. 10), a process of dokimasia concerned only the nothoi, ‘illegitimate sons’.

64 See Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 129. Sokolowski Reference Sokolowski1969: 104–5 argued that this association assumed the cost of its members’ burials.

65 IG II² 1369 ll. 31–8. On the common points between the Iobacchoi and the eranistai from Paiania in respect of the examination of new members, see Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 99 and Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 231 and 234.

66 A point already noted by Poland Reference Poland1909: 276 and Feyel Reference Feyel2009: 374.

67 For the Iobacchoi, see IG II² 1368, ll. 125–7: magistrates appointed by lot from among all the members. For the Herakliastai see also SEG 31:122, ll. 22–9: executive posts filled by lot from among all the members when those appointed refused to serve.

68 On the democratic character of sortition, see indicatively Demont Reference Demont2003: 39–44 and Taylor Reference Taylor2007.

69 Magistrates and councillors were not allotted in Imperial Athens. Moreover, not all the citizens were eligible for these posts. See Geagan Reference Geagan1967: 3–5, 17–19, 75–6; Oliver Reference Oliver1970: 57–61; Sartre Reference Sartre1991: 221–2; Muñiz Grijalvo Reference Muñiz Grijalvo2005: 271–2 on priesthoods. This contrast may invite us to rethink the implications of the whole relation between private associations and the imperial Greek polis, the first being perhaps more ‘democratic’ than the second in terms of organisation and function. In this respect, the associations’ size and social composition need also to be taken into account. But this is a topic that cannot be treated here.

70 IG II² 1369, ll. 39–40: αὐξανέτω δ[ὲ] | ὁ ἔρανος ἐπιφιλοτει̣μίαις, ‘may the eranos be increased by means of generous acts’. On the interpretation of this clause, see Robert Reference Robert1979: 159; Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 233.

71 For parallels of a similar use of the verb αὔξειν, ‘to increase, augment’, or its derivatives in an associative context, see IG II² 1297 l. 5–6 (a donation of a stele ‘increases’ the koinon) and IG II² 1343, l. 18 (a treasurer ‘increases’ the common fund) and l. 40 (those who will imitate the honorand will ‘increase’ the synodos).

72 Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou, Cartledge, Millet and von Reden1998b: 70 rightly remarks that the individual will of the original members was highlighted as the sole driving force for the creation of the association.

73 Thus, although friendship in the ancient world was a bond conceived to be passed on from one generation to the next, the eranos in question prescribed no reduced payments for sons of members. On altruism and spontaneous generosity between equals as a feature of friendship, see Konstan Reference Konstan1997: 51–82.

74 A nomos, ‘law’, issued by the thiasos Amandou at Physcus (IG IX.1².3 670 = CAPInv. 437; see also Kloppenborg and Ascough Reference Kloppenborg and Ascough2011: 292–4 no 61) fixed the members’ financial contributions at the rate of 14 obols and no less. Although this stipulation was obviously targeted against those not paying their entire share, it also left room for those willing to contribute more. Unequal individual contributions are mentioned in several Egyptian papyri of the Imperial period as well. P.Mich. V 246 (AD 25–56; CAPInv. 1276) records contributions to the synodos tou Harpochratou in Tebtynis, with amounts ranging from 10 to 24 silver drachmas. P.Lund IV 11 (AD 169/70; CAPInv. 1860) includes a λόγος δ[απάν]ης στολισμ[οῦ] θεῶν Διọ[σ]κ̣[ο]ύ̣ρων, ‘account of the expense for the vestment ritual of the gods Dioscuri’, with payments varying from 20 drachmas (3 contributors) to 100 drachmas (6 contributors), including 10 contributions of 60 drachmas and 1 of 80 drachmas (it remains uncertain whether this was an organised religious association). P.Athen. 41 (first cent. AD; CAPInv. 1440), labelled as ἔκθεσις οἰνικῶν συνόδου ὀνηλατῶν τῶν ἕως Φαρμοῦθ(ι) ιγ, ‘list of the expenses for the wine of the synodos of donkey-drivers up until 13 Pharmouthi’, also records different payments for wine, apparently made during a period of time (a year?) until the 13th of the month Pharmouthi. The headings of these documents raise the possibility that they did not include (only?) regular membership fees, but other payments as well, such as fees of office (see above Footnote n. 33) or contributions destined to cover specific needs, perhaps levied in accordance with individual associative status (at least two of the contributors in P.Mich. V 246 were officials titled kleisiarchai). The heading of the accounts of an association of sacred victors (λόγος τῶν δεδωκότ̣ω[ν ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣] ἱερονικῶν) is equally inconclusive as to the nature of the payments included: P.Oslo III 144 (AD 272–275; CAPInv. 1381).

75 Poland Reference Poland1909: 275–6 and 299–300; Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 35–6 and 63 (references to Isaeus 2 (On the Estate of Menekles) 14 and Isaeus 9 (On the Estate of Astyphilos) 30); Harland Reference Harland2013a: 19.

76 Cf. Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 96.

77 On the hymnodoi, see I.Pergamon 374 D, ll. 13–19. Price Reference Price1984: 90 observes that this was an exclusively elite association with extremely high entrance-fees, which, however, were considerably lower for the old members’ sons. Similar provisions are included in two other Pergamene documents (Hepding Reference Hepding1907: 293–6 nos 18–19) regulating admission into associations (CAPInv. 1659), which may be identified as the local gerousia and the council (Van Rossum Reference Van Rossum1988: 68–77 and 239–40; Ventroux Reference Ventroux2017: 114). In the first case, sons of presumably ex-members who had participated in the association for at least five years paid 50 denarii as an entrance-fee. However, if a son entered the association while his father was also a member or if his father had been an associate for less than five years, the newcomer paid the whole entrance-fee, the amount of which is not preserved on the stone. In the well-documented Bithynian case, a reduced decurionatus honorarius, ‘honorary office of decurion’, is not attested, only the determination of the censores, ‘censors’, to select first and foremost the descendants of ‘honourable families’. See Sherwin-White Reference Sherwin-White1966: 721–2; Fernoux Reference Fernoux2004: 142–5; Bekker-Nielsen Reference Bekker-Nielsen2008; 67; Madsen Reference Madsen2009: 36–8; Fernoux Reference Fernoux2011: 350.

78 On family tradition in the civic discourse, see Gauthier Reference Gauthier1985: 58 and Fernoux Reference Fernoux, Fernoux and Stein2007.

79 Bendlin Reference Bendlin and Öhler2011: 252–3 with further bibliography.

80 Ebel Reference Ebel2004: 144; however, her conclusion that the reduced entrance-fees conveyed the message that the admission of outsiders was undesirable is rather problematic (see my remarks in the last paragraph of this section).

81 The formulation of the relevant section in IG VII 2808 B, ll. 1–10 clearly demonstrates that no precedence was given to the first-born or to the closest relative. The choice of the newcomer, if more than one candidate existed, was in the hands of the body as a whole.

82 Poland Reference Poland1909: 300.

83 Undergoing a process of dokimasia was required for all the newcomers in the already mentioned Pergamene association CAPInv. 1659, even for the sons of old members. I.Smyrna 218 contains a particularly interesting – in fact the only – mention of dokimasia in a professional association: the symbiosis ton syppinadon (probably workers of flax) granted burial in the association’s grave chamber to members who had undergone examination (CAPInv. 1138).

84 Monson Reference Monson2006: 224–8 on the members of Egyptian religious associations in the Fayyum.

85 See indicatively Pleket Reference Pleket and Schuller1998: 206–12 and van Nijf and Alston Reference van Nijf, Alston, van Nijf and Alston2011: 9–14. See also above Footnote n. 69.

86 On the concept of ties linking different nodes that form parts of a network and its applicability in ancient history, see Malkin, Constantakopoulou and Panagopoulou Reference Gabrielsen2007; Rutherford Reference Rutherford2007: 26–7; Vlassopoulos Reference Vlassopoulos2007b: 12–13.

87 See, inter alia, van Nijf Reference van Nijf1997: 73–206 and Harland Reference Harland2013a: 71–139.

88 On the use of these Aristotelian concepts within the framework of a network analysis, see Vlassopoulos Reference Vlassopoulos2007a: 71–96. Cf. Ustinova Reference Ustinova, Dasen and Piérart2005: 189.

Figure 0

Table 2.1 Evidence on entrance-fees and regular contributions (indirect evidence, e.g. mentions of immunities, is not included)

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