Landscapes and Cities: Rural Settlement and Civic Transformation in Early Imperial Italy

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Log out of ReadCube. In the western half of the Roman Empire, cities founded by Rome or aspiring to the form of urbanism generally associated with Rome were usually designed around a central meeting place known as the forum. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account.

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Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. View Preview. Learn more Check out. How did the activities of the collegia fit into this context?

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The collegia. Since the monumental study of Waltzing at the beginning of this century, the collegia have received comparatively little scholarly attention, and this has meant that their importance in civic life has been somewhat neglected. Finley famously observed that 'in no senses were they guilds trying to foster or protect the economic interests of their members, nor did they reveal a trace of the hierarchical pattern of apprentice, journeyman and master that characterised the mediaeval or early modern guilds';" here the key phrase is, I think, 'did they reveal', which is a function of the type of evidence we have available.

By contrast to the Republican collegia, which are known primarily from literary writers outraged by their activities in the chaotic years of the late republic, in particular under the leadership of Clodius,38 our knowledge of the imperial collegia comes almost entirely from the legal codes and inscriptions : statue-bases, tomb-monuments, decrees conferring the office of patron, or regulations for their administration. The fact that the clubs stood on the margins of legality, with serious restrictions placed on their activities by the Senate from the 60's BC onwards,39 has necessarily meant that only the most respectable activities are commemorated in this way : most specifically, conviviality, religious observance, funeral provision, and acts of patronage and reciprocation.

Some collegia derived their identity primarily from their feasting or funeral activities. These were not necessarily exclusive, however : the convictores of Fanum, 'who were accustomed to dine together' had their own place of burial. The most detailed account of these is provided by an inscription dating to AD , which preserves the regulation of the collegium.

This quotes the senatorial decree allowing authorised clubs to meet regularly for ritual purposes and to collect subscriptions for a burial fund, laying down fees payable by members of the collegium, provisions to be made in case of a member's death, and rules for the day-to-day activities of the club including the dates of the annual dinners, and fines payable in the event of members behaving badly at table.

The lanarii of Brixellum, for example, had their own cemetery. This is illustrated by the level of generosity shown to collegia members as part of formal distributions or banquets. Thus an inscription dated to the reign of Commodus records that during a distribution at Urvinum Mataurense organised by C. In many ways the organisation of the collegia reflected that of the urban communities, and this is illustrated by the terminology they used : the clubs had decuriones and annual officers known as aediles, curatores, magistri, or quaestores, supported by scribae or viatores; the rank-and-file members of the club were known as the plebs or populus.

In order to finance their various activities, the dinners, funerals and other ceremonies, and also the maintenance of the clubs' premises, the schola or templum, the collegia needed regular sources of funds. Often these were supplied by the members in the form of monthly fees;46 but clubs regularly needed to draw on additional resources, and in particular acts of benefaction from well- wishers. Just as the towns appointed patrons who might it was hoped contribute generously to civic finances,47 so the clubs too appointed patrons;.

In many ways, then, the activities of the collegia parallel on a smaller scale those of the civic community. But their association with civic government was not only indirect.

Collegia were closely associated with a particular community : often the name of the town formed an element in the formal title of the collegium. Although the decuriones continued to have the greatest prestige within the city, and it was on their shoulders that most obligations fell, the Augustales had also established themselves as an important body in public life in the first century. As Zanker has shown, in this period town centres were transformed by buildings honouring the members of the imperial house,52 and membership of the Augustales provided an opportunity for advancement in the life of the town for an otherwise unrepresented category, wealthy freedmen.

As well as engaging in their normal festive and funeral activities, we thus find the collegia playing an increasingly important role in civic life; setting up statues to the emperors and benefactors, for example, and thus acting on behalf of the populace as a whole; thus at Ariminum, we find the fabri builders and centonarii rag-makers joining with the vicani of the urban vici to honour C. Sentius Valerius Faustinianus, Ilvir, 'because he satisified all the desires of the plebs'.

Interamna Lirenas

Their importance was such that in some towns they were referred to collectively as the 'three collegia' ',56 as at Cemenelum, or the collegia principalia, as at Sentinum. It is striking that this widespread activity on the part of the collegia in the. Italian towns is attested primarily in the second and early third centuries AD. One element in the increased level of activity attested may well be the increasing level of financial independence the collegia acquired in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, who allowed them to hold funds in common, receive legacies, and manumit slaves. As the cities sought to broaden the base from which they obtained financial contributions, the collegia too - now increasingly respectable - were directly integrated into the civic life of the towns.

Clearly, such a generalised hypothesis needs to be examined in more detail.


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  5. However, it is worth sketching in outline ways in which this process may have worked. Two potential models can be suggested. In those communities where the traditional elites became increasingly unenthusiastic about performing civic duties, and the recruitment of councillors became more difficult, the collegia, together with the Augustales, were able to play an important part in civic life, helping to mediate between people and benefactors. Active collegia are attested even in some of the smallest towns : the dendrophoroi at Antinum in the territory of the Marsi, for example, who are found honouring patrons of the town as well as their own patron.

    A rather different pattern can be identified in the larger towns, most clearly in the great cities of Gallia Cisalpina, which were on a much more impressive scale than those of peninsular Italy. The collegium of the fabri at Mediolanum may have had members,67 and MacMullen estimates that up to a third of a town's population may have been members of collegia. It is instructive to draw a parallel with the rapid development of towns in 18th century England.

    Peter Clark wrote : 'economic expansion Part of this additional wealth financed the development of collegia. The same would have been true of the cities of Cisalpina, or indeed any cities where substantial urban growth took place; urban prosperity brought greater wealth to social groupings just below the traditional elite, and this was reflected in the increasingly active role of bodies like the fabri, centonarii and dendrophoroi, as well as the Augustales. This higher profile, however, was ultimately to have serious repercussions for the collegia : as time went on they became increasingly liable for civic rnunera fabri and centonarii seem to have been involved in firefighting in cities in the second century AD ,73 and by the end of the fourth century the emperors laid down severe penalties for both decuriones and members of collegia who defaulted on their obligations.

    Analysis of patterns of benefaction, and of the role of the collegia in the Italian towns, enables us to see the developments of the second century as a significant transformation in the urban structures of Roman Italy. The smaller scale of benefactions attested by the epigraphy of the period suggests that in some areas a decreasing enthusiasm for civic munificence among the curial class was in part balanced by the generosity of those further down the social scale; this led to a broadening of the class involved in maintaining the urban framework, but also a reinforcement of the civic ideology.

    The increasingly significant contribution of the collegia was an important element in this general tendency. Of course, the differing urban traditions in different parts of Italy, the variety of agricultural resources and potential markets, and many other factors all played their part in determining how far this broadening of civic responsibility succeeded in staving off decline in individual cities.

    Elsewhere, particularly in the cities of northern Italy, the liveliness of the collegia can instead be seen as a symptom of urban growth and prosperity. A complex picture : but perhaps ultimately more reliable than the polarity of crisis and continuity on which the debate on the second century has traditionally focused.

    Landscapes and Cities: Rural Settlement and Civic Transformation in Early Imperial Italy

    Millar, Italy and the Roman Empire, in Phoenix, 40, , p. I am very grateful to Michael Crawford, Peter Garnsey, Justin Goddard and Henrik Mouritsen for their comments on drafts of this paper; and to Onno van Nijf for discussions on the collegia. Responsibility for errors remains my own.

    Freely available

    Gabba, Urbanizzazione e rinnovamenti urbanistici nell'Italia centro-meridionale del I sec. C, in SCO, 21, , p. Rome, Building and social mobility : M. Patterson, Settlement, city and elite in Samnium and Lycia, in J. Rich and A. Wallace-Hadrill, City and country in the ancient world, London, , p. Hopkins, Death and Renewal, Cambridge, , p. Coa- relli, L'Urbs e il suburbio, in A. Jouffroy, La construction publique en Italie et dans l'Afrique romaine, Strasbourg, , p. See also B. Ward-Perkins, From classical antiquity to the middle ages : urban public building in northern and central Italy AD , Oxford, , p.

    De Ruyt, Macellum, Louvain, , p. Nielsen, Thermae et balnea, Aarhus, , i, p. The role of baths in the civic space of the towns of Italy in the high empire is discussed by P. Zanker in this volume. Mrozek, Les distributions d'argent el de nourriture dans les villes italiennes du Haut-Empire romain, Brussels, ; Id. Duncan-Jones, The economy of the Roman Empire. Goddard, The distribution of money and food in the towns of Italy in the early Empire, in P.

    Garnsey ed. Garnsey in JRS, 79, , p.

    Woolf, Food, poverty and patronage; the significance of the epigraphy of the Roman alimentary schemes in early imperial Italy, in PBSR, 58, , p. We now know that there were 63 decuriones at Irni : Lex Irnitana 31, in J. See also J. Nicols, On the standard size of the ordo decurionum, in ZSS, , , p. Giardina and A. Tchernia, Le vin de l'Italie romaine, Rome, , p. Actes du colloque de Sienne, mai , Rome, , p. Arthur, Romans in Northern Campania, London, , p.

    Bossu, M'. For large- scale distribution of agricultural products to clients, see C. Whittaker, Trade and the aristocracy in the Roman Empire, in Opus, 4, , p. Duncan-Jones, Structure and scale in the Roman economy, Cambridge, , p. See also the useful articles in the Dizionario epigrafico ed. De Ruggiero s. Collegium by Waltzing : vol. II, 1, , p.