In 330 BC, Demosthenes in his reply to the graphe paranomon brought by Aeschines six years earlier against the proposal of Ctesiphon to honour Demosthenes, launched a virulent attack on Aeschines, adducing a description of the activities of young Aeschines as follows:
ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις τοὺς καλοὺς θιάσους ἄγων διὰ τῶν ὁδῶν, τοὺς ἐστεφανωμένους τῷ μαράθῳ καὶ τῇ λεύκῃ, τοὺς ὄφεις τοὺς παρείας θλίβων καὶ ὑπὲρ τῆς κεφαλῆς αἰωρῶν, καὶ βοῶν ‘εὐοῖ σαβοῖ,’ καὶ ἐπορχούμενος ‘ὑῆς ἄττης ἄττης ὑῆς,’ ἔξαρχος καὶ προηγεμὼν καὶ κιττοφόρος καὶ λικνοφόρος καὶ τοιαῦθ᾽ ὑπὸ τῶν γρᾳδίων προσαγορευόμενος, μισθὸν λαμβάνων τούτων ἔνθρυπτα καὶ στρεπτοὺς καὶ νεήλατα, ἐφ᾽ οἷς τίς οὐκ ἂν ὡς ἀληθῶς αὑτὸν εὐδαιμονίσειε καὶ τὴν αὑτοῦ τύχην;
By day you led brilliant bands of reveling worshipers through the streets. They wore crowns of fennel and white poplar as you clutched fat-headed snakes and swung them over your head. You would shout ‘Euoi Saboi’ and dance to the beat of ‘Hyes Attes Attes Hyes’ as the old hags would hail you as leader and guide, bearer-of-the-casket and bearer-of-the-winnow and so on. You were paid with soppy bread, twisted rolls and flat cakes. Enjoying all this, who would not regard himself and his lot in life as truly fortunate?Footnote 1
Obviously, this is not the place to argue about the impact of the description on Demosthenes’ rhetorical strategy.Footnote 2 The passage is significant in another, rather neglected, respect. It reflects the ambience created by these kaloi thiasoi, ‘brilliant groups’, an atmosphere of hustle and buzzes. It is exactly this sense of thorybos conveyed by the passage that interests me. Similar thorybos may be behind the decision of the deme of Piraeus to ban groups of worshippers convening outside the Thesmophorion in Piraeus, except on certain festival days.Footnote 3 Thorybos (that is, cheers, shouts, heckling and laughter) was an essential feature of social activity in the ancient Greek world. Quite apart the religious sphere, several scholars emphasised the role of thorybos in the working of Athenian democracy, in the assembly and in the lawcourts.Footnote 4 Judith Tacon claims that thorybos (that is, cases when speakers interrupt each other, demos interrupts speakers, demos allies with opposing speakers) was an integral feature of assembly debate and by extension of Athenian democracy. Anti-democracy theorists regarded it as negative. In the same vein, Robert Wallace notes that the Athenian demos felt no obligation to sit quietly and listen to talk they objected to; such conduct was a befitting feature of a monarchy, oligarchy or tyranny. Thorybos was some sort of a negative vote of the people. Melissa Schwartzberg regards thorybos as an acclamatory mechanism functioning simultaneously as a form of democratic participation in the deliberations and as an accountability mechanism. Similarly, Victor Bers and Adrian Lanni have pointed out the role of thorybos among dikastai in the lawcourts as well as among the audience.Footnote 5
Nevertheless, thorybos heightens tension, which may develop either among the members of a group over, say, the ways of exploiting communal property (IG II2 1289) or between two different groups.Footnote 6 Furthermore, tensions may result in conflicts, some of them resolved informally with mediation or arbitration, while some others will find their way into the formal ways of dispute resolution, that is to say into lawcourts;Footnote 7 the worst-case scenario is the conflict to turn into an open physical confrontation. Hence, the need arises to devise and to provide mechanisms and procedures to establish eustatheia – that is stability, steadiness – which in its turn will lead to eukosmia, the proper conduct in the premises of the association, something that will also reflect on the constantly constructed and projected image of the group.Footnote 8 At least in Roman times, it was thought that the best way to achieve this aim was by inscribing the rules of the group.Footnote 9 Be that as it may, the association of thorybos with Greece and eustatheia with Rome is certainly hyperbolic and sketchy, since there were definitely less noisy meetings of Greeks and livelier than average Roman gatherings.Footnote 10 The polarity thorybos-eustatheia, however, provides a hermeneutic scheme, perhaps not wholly satisfactory, to approach the normative universe of Athenian associations in the Hellenistic and Roman era.Footnote 11
In doing that I am going to refrain from any discussion of the rule attributed to Solon and reported in Dig. 47.22.4.Footnote 12 Current discussions on Athenian associations avoid a thorough examination of the legal aspect of their activities.Footnote 13 Following the three approaches to the normative world of ancient associations outlined by the editors in Chapter 1, I shall present, from a socio-legal perspective, the rules governing corporate activities in Athens from the late fourth century BC down to the late second century AD, in two chronologically distinct parts.Footnote 14 This approach is to a large extent dictated by the date of the available evidence. It will become clear, I hope, that in regulations of the Roman era there was a mutation of the normative world of Athenian associations; its main concern shifted to guaranteeing stability and proper conduct.Footnote 15 Following that, I shall explore the historical implications of the differentiated focus. Was the influence of the Roman authorities so decisive as to leave a permanent imprint on the modes of collective action? Was willingness to conform to precepts of Romanitas so great that it dictated the harmonisation or, some would say, the transfer of legal rules from the Italian peninsula to the Greek? And in this last respect we can point the finger to at least one major Athenian figure, who could have mediated, Claudius Herodes Atticus.
Rules and Regulations
Nine normative texts issued by Athenian cult associations survive, while several – mainly disciplinary – clauses are scattered among numerous honorary decrees.Footnote 16 Normative texts, that is to say, corporate decisions introducing binding rules for their members (irrespective of any penal clause), are almost evenly spread in time. Five of them are dated between the late fourth and second century BC, while the remaining four are dated between the late first century BC and second century AD. The oldest, so far, is IG II2 1361, a fragmentary stele whose top and bottom are missing, dated ca. 330–324 BC.Footnote 17 It contains rules about sacrifices (portion to priests/priestesses, ban on parabomia, ‘beside the altar’ sacrifices, that is to say, outside the customary ritual), financial administration of the group’s assets (land and water), enlisting new members and the necessary entrenchment clause (where the regulation is described as nomos). Agora 16 161 (beginning of the third century BC) records three decisions of an unknown group of orgeones; in the first, they regulate financial affairs (probably debts to the group) according to their older decisions (archaia psephismata), in the second decree sacral affairs are settled (date of sacrifice, kind of victim, portions), while from the third one only a few words survive. Inscription IG II2 1275 (late fourth or early third century BC) preserves the lower part of a stele on which the text of a nomos was inscribed; there survives only an exhortation to the next of kin of a deceased member to announce the death to the community and the fellows to attend the funeral as well as a stricture about solidarity.Footnote 18 The last six lines record an entrenchment clause, that is, terms of prosecution and sanction against the members who challenge the nomos. Inscription IG II2 1283 dated now to 240/39 BC contains regulations about the relation between the orgeones of the goddess Bendis in Piraeus and those in the city; according to it, the orgeones of the city will enjoy the same treatment during the procession, they will have priority in submitting requests to the orgeones of the Piraeus and they will have the right to join the group.Footnote 19 Inscription IG II2 1328 records two decisions, of which only the first one (ll. 4–20, passed in 183/2 BC) has a normative character; in particular, the decision clarified what priestesses ought to provide during the ceremonies and the mode of appointing an assistant to the priestesses.
Hellenistic Athenian normative texts, therefore, include principally clauses about cult activities, organisational corporate affairs and the exploitation of common property. Sometimes, but not always, rules are accompanied by sanctions.
Inscription IG II2 1339 dated to 37/6 BC forms in a sense a bridge between the Hellenistic and the Roman periods. It records the decision of a koinon Heroiston to take care of exacting the fees due by members, irrespective of whether they are abroad or in Athens. SEG 31:122, dated to ca. AD 94, appears as the decision of the chief-eranistes.Footnote 20 It begins with a disciplinary provision (penalty meted out on the member who starts a fight), settling financial affairs (use of a donated amount of money – entheke – and the penalties for abusing it, the provision of pork and wine, a clause on the conditions to lend the donated amount of money) and decisions affecting the organisation of the group (exercise of priestly duties, appointment of minor officials, penalty for the individual who does not wish to undertake the post of pannychistes or to serve until the end of the term, contributions for joining the group and accountability process). IG II2 1368 is probably the most cited corporate inscription and in certain respects unique. It is 163 lines long and is dated now to AD 164/5. The rules are the decisions (δόγματα) of the priest, the chief-BakchosFootnote 21 and the prostates. They have received a vociferous and unanimous approval by the members of the association.Footnote 22 The rules, most often accompanied by penalties, settle affairs such as admission of new membersFootnote 23 (scrutiny, fee, token as proof of membership, celebrations), members’ discipline (behaviour during celebrations, fights, abuse and reproach, hubristic behaviour, wounds, fee-payment avoidance), magistrates’ and members’ duties and participation in the funeral of a deceased member.Footnote 24 IG II2 1369 (late second century AD) is the latest testimony of regulations in Athenian cult associations. It is designated as nomos and contains exclusively administrative rules pertaining to admissions, officials and expulsion as a penalty for those members who initiate a fight or disturbances.Footnote 25
Offences are outlined in any kind of corporate decision, be it a regulation or an honorary decree. In Athens, particular offences associated with officials are attested in Hellenistic honorary decrees. In the normative clauses scattered in these texts, associations regulate and penalise the non-performance of duties by their magistrates (in particular, crowning and the public proclamation of the crown) and later the non-acceptance of magisterial duties.Footnote 27 In the Hellenistic normative texts, the non-payment of fees and the violation of any corporate decision, especially of the entrenchment clause, are regarded as offences. In Roman times, a distinct category of offences appears, aiming at the deviant behaviour of members against their fellows.Footnote 28
Organs Imposing Sanctions
Usually there are two organs involved in imposing and enforcing penalties: the assembly of the members and the individual magistrates. A distinctive red line between the jurisdiction of the assembly and of magistrates depends on the perceived gravity of the offence for the well-being of the association. In Hellenistic times, the assembled members have the discretionary power to impose any penalty they wish on the member who violates the entrenchment clause (IG II2 1275, ll. 14–17) or on the priestess who does not comply with the rules introduced in IG II2 1328, lines 11–14. In Roman Athens, in the association of Herakliastai en Limnais it is the assembly’s duty to decide how they are going to exact an imposed fine (SEG 31:122, ll. 8–9), while in the Bakcheion of IG II2 1368, the assembly convened by the priest decided cases of injury (ll. 84–94). The assembly usually exercises some, at least, discretionary power, although the extent of this authority may be delineated by an earlier decision of the group.
San Nicolò Reference San Nicolò1927 regards the judicial function of the assembly and of certain magistrates as similar to arbitration and therefore as an adequate basis for a right of appeal against verdicts of arbitrators to a polis court. However, this approach is deeply problematic since it presumes arbitration in cases that are far from what we know about the mechanics of arbitration in the Athenian jurisdiction (statement about the dispute, selection of arbitrators, decision and binding character). One could have argued that by joining an association, member(s) implicitly adhered to the rules of dispute resolution operative in this structure. Nevertheless, by joining an association, members were not stripped of their legal rights; they retained the right to use the polis legal machinery, be it for cases of insult, injury, defamation, property relations and so on. San Nicolò advocated, rather unconvincingly, a division between summary and ordinary procedure without defining their salient features; by implication, he considered as summary any procedure involving the assembly of members.Footnote 29 Rubinstein Reference Rubinstein, Legras and Thür2012 explores the role and the characteristic features of collective liabilities on boards of officials outside Athens in the late classical and Hellenistic periods. However, this concept is rarely employed by cult associations in late classical and Hellenistic Athens; in particular, I could find only one case, IG II2 1292 (215/4 BC), in which the association of Sarapiastai imposes a fine on hieropoioi. Nevertheless, we do not know their number, whether they were acting as a board when failing to proclaim the names of the honoured individuals after the sacrifice (crime of omission). There are, however, two cases (IG II2 1263 and 1297) in which the wording suggests a board but in fact it is a pseudo-collective since it refers to officials of consecutive years.
We usually assume that individual magistrates were responsible for imposing and collecting fines on recalcitrant members, especially those prescribed and fixed in a group’s regulations. However, I found only weak indications in the Athenian ‘corporate’ epigraphy; in IG II2 1368, the priest is to decide whether a member has paid his contributions or not and therefore may participate in the celebrations (ll. 67–72), or in another case the treasurer may prohibit the entry to the association’s premises to a member who has not paid a fine (ll. 99–102). San Nicolò Reference San Nicolò1927: 260 claims that the head of the group (Vereinsvorstand) had disciplinary authority policing the meetings and the festivals. This is not confirmed by Athenian evidence; only the archeranistes of SEG 31:122 seems to yield unfettered authority, but even he has to refer important questions to the assembly.Footnote 30 Equally difficult to answer is the question whether associations’ magistrates had the authority to proceed to exacting the penalties. The parallel provided by other Greek poleis, thoroughly investigated by Lene Rubinstein, cannot shed any light, since only in IG II2 1273 and 1328 is there a hint about a similar grant of authority, with the substantial difference that no officials are authorised but only the association as a whole. The expression in IG II2 1273, lines 24–5 – ἡ δ’εἴσπραξις ἔστω τοῖς θιασώταις καθάπερ καὶ τἄλλα ὀφειλήματα ‘the thiasotai shall exact (sc. the fines) as they do with other debts’ – suggest that the fine imposed on a magistrate would have been dealt with exactly in the same way as debts for other reasons.Footnote 31 But this neat, modern picture of associations suing members over non-payment of subscriptions and fines defies realities. Recourse to the official channel of adjudication was only one option, perhaps the costliest; associations could have used other means to enforce their decisions, such as temporary expulsion from communal activities, social pressure (e.g. inscribing the name of debtors on a stele, Agora 16 161), marginalisation of the individual, withdrawal of support by other members and so on. San Nicolò Reference San Nicolò1927: 291–2 and Boak Reference Boak1937b: 214 underline the power of the head of an association in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (attested in Greek and Demotic documents) to compel the payment of arrears or dues by seizing pledges at the expense of a recalcitrant member (in one case even the member himself), an authority not attested in Hellenistic or Roman Athens.Footnote 32
In principle, associations could impose one or a combination of the following three different legal sanctions on the members in enforcing their rules:Footnote 33
i. a monetary fine, most often, of 50 dr., sometimes consecrated to the worshipped deity and some other time payable to the treasury of the association.Footnote 34 Penalties were fixed either by a statute or, less often, were left at the discretion of the assembly of the members;Footnote 35
ii. expulsion or ejection from the activities of the group or the premises of the association;Footnote 36 and
iii. striking out a member from the ranks of the group.Footnote 37
Two particularities require attention.
a. Striking out is very rarely invoked (and I suppose even more rarely was imposed); in SEG 31:122, lines 42–5 it is provided by the statute,Footnote 38 while in IG II2 1368 there is no provision imposing a similar penalty; in IG II2 1369 it is not clear whether the verb ekballestho (ἐκβαλλέσθω) signifies the removal or the expulsion, as it is accompanied by a fine.Footnote 39 SEG 31:122, lines 5–9, stipulates the following: ἐάν τις ἐν τῇ συνόδῳ | μάχην ποιήσῃ, τῇ ἐχομένῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀποτινέτω προστείμ|ου ὁ μὲν ἀρξάμενος δραχμὰς δέκα ὁ δὲ ἐξακολουθ|ήσας δραχμὰς πέντε καὶ ἐξάνανκα πραττέσθω τῶν σ̣|[υ]νερανιστῶν ψῆφον λαβόντων ἐκβιβάσαι ‘If someone in the assembly should cause a fight, on the following day let him pay a fine. The one who initiated the fight should pay ten drachmas and whoever joined in should pay five drachmas. After his fellow eranistai have taken a vote to expel him …’ (tr. Ascough, Harland and Kloppenborg Reference Ascough, Harland and Kloppenborg2012: 18). Although this has been rendered by the first editor of the document as imposing the expulsion of the unruly member, the meaning of the term ekbibasai (ἐκβιβάσαι) is not that unambiguous. In particular, the rationale of imposing a monetary fine does not fit well with the compulsory decision to expel a member. Ekbibasai could also mean ‘to satisfy a person’s claim’ (P.Tebt. II 398, l. 18, AD 142). Therefore, the passage could be interpreted as ‘his fellow-members shall compulsorily, after a vote, force him to satisfy (the claim of paying the fine)’. In IG II2 1339, lines 12–15: ἐὰν δὲ μὴ διδ[ῶσι | τὴν φοράν, ἔ]δοξεν μὴ μετέχειν αὐτο[ὺς | τοῦ ἐράν]ου ἐὰν μή τινι συμβῆι διὰ πέ[ν|θος ἢ διὰ ἀ]σθένειαν ἀπολειφθῆναι ‘and if they do not pay the fee, it has been decided that they should not participate in the eranos (?), unless mourning or illness hindered anyone’, the restoration eranos instead of koinon is adventurous. In the former case, it is conceivable that the defaulting member may be exempted from the benefits of an eranos-fund and not excluded from an eranos-association, as it would have been the case when restoring koinon. Foucart Reference Foucart1873: 41–2 has already doubted whether the phrase μὴ μετέστω αὐτῶι τῶν κοινῶν ‘he will not have a share in the common activites’ in IG II2 1361, line 14 could mean a definite exclusion, ‘une exclusion définitive’; however, the expression is preceded by a monetary fine, something that would not make sense if the heavier penalty of exclusion was provided.
b. There is no indication of corporal punishment provided for, with the exception of IG II2 1369.Footnote 40
The associations’ judicial competence is delimited, rather exclusively, by the place in which the infringement took place (that is to say, premises of the association) and on the identity of the involved parties; I do not know any case of a non-member prosecuting or being prosecuted in front of ‘corporate’ judicial organs. To illustrate the above point, consider the following case: Two members of a cult association had a commercial dispute, and one punched the other in the agora. Which judicial organ would have been competent to hear the case? Assuming that the ban on approaching public judicial agents provided in IG II2 1368, lines 90–4, was a persistent feature of Athenian associations, then prima facie there was concurring jurisdiction of both association and polis and therefore the victim of the attack could choose the course of action. However, it is more likely that the dispute would have been resolved by the polis’ judiciary and not by the association’s, since the provisions of SEG 31:122, lines 5–6, IG II2 1368, lines 72–4 and 94–5, clearly specify the location of the infringement as ἐν τῇ συνόδῳ ‘on the premises of the association’ or similar expressions.
Ideals Behind the Rules
Corporate rulings aim to ensure first and above all the preservation and the prosperity of the group along with solidarity and concord among its members. Officials are singled out and honoured when they contribute substantial amounts from their own purse to major refurbishment or reconstruction of dilapidating buildings, provide cash in cases of emergency or perform their duties irreproachably.Footnote 41 Solidarity among fellow-members is promoted and enhanced with prescriptions such as participation in processions (IG II2 1283) or other festivities, in the mourning for a deceased member and in his funeral or mutual help in cases of legal disputes (IG II2 1275 and 1258). This sense of community is elaborated, extended and further strengthened in Roman times when Iobacchoi are threatened with a monetary fine in case they circumvent the association and appeal to the polis’ mechanism or the Roman authorities for justice.Footnote 42 The honorary vocabulary of Athenian cult associations includes values and predominantly civic qualities such as ἀρετή ‘virtue’, εὔνοια ‘benevolence’, εὐσέβεια ‘piety towards the gods’, δικαιοσύνη ‘righteousness’ and φιλοτιμία ‘love of honour, zeal’.Footnote 43 These five qualities appear in every possible combination, with only two standard parameters; piety appears in cases the honoured person had a sacral or cultic activity, righteousness in cases of successfully administering the affairs of the group. The remaining three usually designate a substantial financial contribution to the group. Only in the imperial era will eukosmia (clauses barring ill-talk, hubristic behaviour, fights and wounding) penetrate into the normative world of associations.Footnote 44 In this respect, associations do not innovate, do not cut through their own path; they follow the lead of the Athenian polis when it granted certain privileges (proxenia, politeia, etc.). What changes is the beneficiary; instead of the Athenian polis, it is the associations themselves who capitalise and channel the outcome of their members’ activities.Footnote 45 As a consequence, associations appear to have been very well integrated into the social fabric of the Athenian polis.
Rules Reflecting Realities or Realities Shaping Rules?
It is a commonplace that in Athens, to a large extent, associations’ rules reflect long-established strategies, inspired by what happens at the polis level, especially, and as far as controlling the powers of magistrates and channelling the competitive edge of members to the service of the association were concerned.Footnote 46 In organisational affairs, they follow the language of the polis, for example, the designation of the main assembly as agora kyria (in almost all the honorary decrees), ekklesia kai syllogon poiein (in IG II2 1361),Footnote 47 accountability procedures followed for magistrates leaving office (SEG 2:9 and I.Rhamnous 167, ll. 25–7) and perhaps in IG II2 1275 initiating what looks like a trial with no fixed penalty (atimetos agon). They use, though rarely, entrenchment clauses similar to that of the polis decrees,Footnote 48 but not in the documents of the Roman era, in which the only similar reference (or rather exhortation) occurs in IG II2 1368, lines 30–1: εὐτονήσουσι γὰρ οἱ προεστῶτες τοῦ μηδὲν αὐτῶν λυθῆναι ‘for the presiding officers shall be empowered to prevent any of those decrees from being violated’ (tr. Ascough, Harland and Kloppenborg Reference Ascough, Harland and Kloppenborg2012: 13). In the numerous honorary decrees, associations usually penalise the non-performance of the ritual announcement of honours (anagoreusis), as in IG II2 1263, lines 43–5 (thiasotai, 300/299 BC); 1273, lines 21–6 (thiasotai, 265-263 BC); 1297, lines 17–18 (thiasotai, 236/5 BC); 1292, lines 15–17 (Sarapiastai, 215/4 BC).Footnote 49
Cult associations do not seem to have had any impact outside their immediate surroundings; instead, they are influenced, at least in Hellenistic times, by the reigning civic and legal culture, as they adopt and use the mechanisms of dispute resolution, civic values and organisational details provided by the polis.Footnote 50 In a sense, associations orbit around the organisational model of planet Polis. The situation does not significantly change once the centre of the ‘political’ universe shifts to Rome. Associations are sticking to the old ways of doing things, therefore their relation to the polis is not altered; however, they still have to respond to the challenges posed by the new administration, they have to acknowledge, even tacitly, the possibility of intervention by the Roman authority. This is the reason they proceed to an unprecedented introduction of rules concerning the punishment of their members for fighting one another. In order to stay clear of the Romans, the group of Iobacchoi went a step further and decided not to allow recourse to dispute resolution mechanisms other than those provided by the group itself.
Hellenistic cult associations in Athens do not seem to be concerned with providing a model of a well-ordered association. Despite the predominance of eukosmia in the world of Hellenistic gymnasia, Hellenistic associations seem very little concerned (if at all!) with the stability and orderly behaviour of their membership. This concern will emerge and predominate in Roman times. IG II2 1368 preserves two key terms, εὐστάθεια and εὐκοσμία, which roughly correspond to the modern notion of a ‘well-ordered society’. My guess is that the drive to pursue similar aims was initiated by the heavy shadow of the Roman administration. Roman magistrates were inculcated with the fear that associations were the hotbed of unrest. There are numerous testimonies to that; in the first-century Ephesus (Paul, Acts, 19.23–41), Philo’s description of the tense atmosphere in Alexandria (Philo, Against Flaccus, 135–8), the decision of a pro-consul (I.Ephesos 215) in second-century Ephesus about the bakers, the correspondence of Pliny with Trajan (Plin. Ep. 10.33–4 and 92–3).Footnote 51 At the bottom of this phobia lies the perception that deliberation and other forms of public consultation involving a certain amount of noise, murmuring (approving or disapproving), shouting, heckling and reaction to the speaker may quickly develop into challenges to the orderly life of a polis and to the Roman interests.Footnote 52 However, people’s participation in deliberation and consultation, even in this form, was probably an everyday practice in the Greek cities; thorybos was present in the council, the assembly, the lawcourts and other venues. Therefore, a certain amount of it was acceptable, even normal. One may observe that thorybos appears also in IG II2 1368, in the acclamation of the members in support of the inscription of the rules. But this acclamation has nothing spontaneous; it sounds like a well-rehearsed performance – at least that is how the text presents it. It is this fundamental perception of people’s participation in the process of deliberation and consultation as inherently destabilising that led to the adoption of disciplinary rules against each association’s members, despite the Athenian long tradition of peaceful co-existence.
Therefore, one can observe a gradual modification in the deployment of legal sanctions and regulations between the Hellenistic era and Roman times in Athenian associations, a qualitative shift to purely disciplinary measures. This shift of focus may be due to the differing qualities of the epigraphic habit; many more associations’ honorary decrees survive from Hellenistic than from Roman Athens. It does not mean, however, that legal sanctions against ‘corporate’ officials disappear.Footnote 53 They are taken as granted, as part of the wider trend towards stability.
Nevertheless, even a well-intentioned reader would not fail to point out that, this being the case, we should have had more evidence from the western part of the empire. And, I am afraid, this evidence is not forthcoming … What to make of the lack of disciplinary measures in Roman collegia, with the sole exception of the Lanuvian cultores Salutaris Dianae et Antinoi (CIL XIV 2112, II ll. 26–8)? Is it due to a tighter administrative control on the municipal life? Or were the disciplinary rules an invention of the associates in the Roman East to shed suspicion and prejudice? Finally, is what attested in the Iobacchoi inscription (IG II2 1368) but an isolated instance in which the figure of Claudius Herodes Atticus, priest of the Sebastoi,Footnote 54 played a pivotal role thanks to his social rank and status?
What remains to be answered is how Hellenistic and perhaps classical Athenian associations dealt with questions of animosity, instability, strife and fight in their ranks. To be more precise, how were members of associations restrained and made to abstain from insulting, fighting and injuring? It would have been naïve to assume that there were not any such worries; sporadic references to homonoia allude to such a concern. Since we do not hear anything in their numerous decrees and regulations, this suggests that associations did not aim to provide a sanitised context of common activities. There are several factors that, when combined, provide an explanation; first, associations in Hellenistic Athens were mainly cult groups, so there was little room for disagreements. Second, by tolerating thorybos and integrating it into the assembly business, they had at their disposal a mechanism to let off steam and avoid escalation. Third, there were informal channels of dealing with rowdy and recalcitrant members, such as peer pressure, competition for prestige and honour, withdrawal of support and/or contacts, marginalisation of the offending party and the ‘name and shame’ strategy mentioned in IG II2 1361 and Agora 16 161.
Thus, the toleration of thorybos and the integration of thorybountes into the ‘corporate’ business may have provided an alternative method of dealing with competition, dissension and strife. If, however, things got out of control, associates could always rely on the judicial system of the polis.Footnote 55