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Last Updated on 12 Jul 2019

Author: Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

CAPInv. GR-41: eranoi


i. Geographical area Eastern Asia Minor
ii. Region Pontus
iii. Site Amisus


i.a. Full reference (original language) ἔρανοι (Plin. Ep. 10.92-93)
i.b. Full reference (transliterated) eranoi
ii. Reference context Pliny forwarded to Trajan a petition handed to him by citizens of Amisus regarding the function of private associations designated as eranoi (In hac datum mihi libellum ad ἐράνους pertinentem his litteris subieci). Pliny asked for instructions as to whether such associations should be permitted to function or not (Plin. Ep. 10.92). Trajan’s reply (Plin. Ep. 10.93) associated the issue with Amisus’ status as a free city: eranoi should be permitted if this was in accordance with Amisus’ laws (see Sherwin-White 1966: 686-689; Cotter 1996: 82; Van Nijf 1997: 21 n. 84).


i. Date(s) 109 - 111 AD


i. Descriptive terms ἔρανοι, eranoi


i. Source(s) Plin. Ep. 10.92-93 (109-111 AD).
i.a. Source type(s) Literary source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Correspondence in Latin between Trajan and Pliny.


i. Local interaction The petition handed to Pliny and forwarded to Trajan was the work of citizens of Amisos (Plin. Ep. 10.93.1: Amisenos, quorum libellum epistulae tuae iunxeras). If the petitioner were the local civic authorities, as Pliny’s correspondence implies, this presupposes prior contacts and negotiations with association(s) under formation. On another possibility see below under field VII.ii: Interaction abroad.
ii. Interaction abroad The petition initiating Pliny’s letter and Trajan’s reply may have been the work of association(s) under formation that wished to acquire official approval and communicated directly with the governor.


i. Comments On the date see Sherwin-White 1966: 80-1.
In his reply, Trajan mentioned contributions paid by the members of the eranoi as a regular feature of such associations’ internal organization and went on to associate such payments with the relief of poor from hardship. According to Sherwin-White (1966: 688-689) Trajan conceived the eranoi in question as groups equivalent to the collegia tenuiorum, dedicated to providing meals and funerals to their members, recruited among the poor urban population. However, such a strict definition of the eranoi at Amisus is not to be taken for granted since:
a) The so-called collegia tenuiorum had neither necessarily nor solely funerary purposes (see Kloppenborg 1996: 20-22 with further bibliography).
b) The Greek term eranos could be applied to religious associations as well (see Arnaoutoglou 2003: 70-87).
It should be finally noted that Trajan explicitly forbade the function of similar associations in other cities of Pliny’s province not enjoying free status, as Amisus did. A ban on associations is also mentioned in Plin. Ep. 96.7 which makes it clear that the prohibition derived from an edict issued by Pliny following Trajan’s instructions. This was surely a new measure but it did not last for long (see Van Nijf 1997: 21 note 84 and 180; de Ligt 2000: 245; Arnaoutoglou 2002).
Cf. CAPInv 975, GR-42 and GR-66.
iii. Bibliography Arnaoutoglou, I. (2002), ‘Roman Law and Collegia in Asia Minor’, RIDA 49: 27-44.
Arnaoutoglou, I. (2003), Thusias heneka kai sunousias. Private Religious Associations in Hellenistic Athens. Athens
Cotter, W. (1996), ‘The Collegian ad Roman Law: State Restrictions on Voluntary Associations’, in J.S. Kloppenborg and S.G. Wilson (eds.), Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World. London, New York: 74-89.
de Ligt, L. (2000) ‘Governmental Attitudes towards Markets and Collegia’ in E. Lo Cascio (ed.), Mercati permanenti e mercati periodici nel Mondo Romano. Bari: 237–52.
Kloppenborg, J.S. (1996), ‘Collegia and Thiasoi: Issues in Function, Taxonomy and Mmebership’, in J.S. Kloppenborg and S.G. Wilson (eds.), Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World. London, New York: 16-30.
Poland, F. (1909), Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens. Leipzig.
Sherwin-White, A.N. (1966), The Letters of Pliny. A Historical and Social Commentary. Oxford.
Van Nijf, O. (1997), The Civic World of Professional Associations in the Roman East. Amsterdam.


i. Private associations Certain
Note The term eranos at least from the 1st century B.C. onwards is used to denote private associations (cf. Poland 1909: 30-2; Arnaoutoglou 2003: 70-87).