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Following the overarching theme of associations’ regulations, the chapters of this book have provided the reader with different insights into a large variety of ancient associations that were embedded in as many local realities, in an attempt on the one hand to highlight similar patterns but on the other hand also to stress the vivacity and diversity of the fenomeno associativo, ‘associational phenomenon’: although common traits certainly emerge, one should in no way expect uniformity. The world of associations was in fact a complex one: this book has mainly explored associations active in the Greek-speaking world, but even in this ‘common cultural sphere’ one sees a great variety of different options at play, which mirror the character of their various societies. The ways in which associations operated were a result of the strategies adopted by them on the basis of the different challenges they encountered and the way in which they appear to us is also linked to the contingent production and preservation of the sources, which varied depending on location and time. It is therefore not surprising that the picture we have gained from late Hellenistic and early Roman Athens is a different one from that of contemporary Mantinea, for instance: in Athens, as we have seen in the discussion by Arnaoutoglou in Chapter 6, associations made full use of the polis’ general directions, trends and mechanisms in the regulation of members’ behaviour so as to enhance their profile and foster their autonomy, room of action or survival, by providing an image that matched the expectations of the public administration.
Private Associations in the Ancient Greek World investigates the rules and regulations produced by ancient private associations in an attempt to show why and how associations were creating a system of well-ordered groups within their communities. Regulations represent, in fact, an understudied aspect of ancient associative life: this book aims to fill this gap by approaching the well-known phenomenon of ancient associations from a new angle. It analyses the organisational structures, legislative mechanisms and features of associations, while at the same time investigating the potential models from – and interrelations with – the habits and strategies of political institutions. It also provides an assessment of the associations’ impact on the broader socio-cultural and physical environment and of their role in local societies, thanks to the establishment of such regulations. The book explores the ideology, values, ideas and aspects of identity embedded in the regulations as ways adopted by associations to create a specific profile to present to the outside world, as well as to members (both existing and future).
Private associations abounded in the ancient Greek world and beyond, and this volume provides the first large-scale study of the strategies of governance which they employed. Emphasis is placed on the values fostered by the regulations of associations, the complexities of the private-public divide (and that divide's impact on polis institutions) and the dynamics of regional and global networks and group identity. The attested links between rules and religious sanctions also illuminate the relationship between legal history and religion. Moreover, possible links between ancient associations and the early Christian churches will prove particularly valuable for scholars of the New Testament. The book concludes by using the regulations of associations to explore a novel and revealing aspect of the interaction between the Mediterranean world, India and China.