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Last Updated on 12 Jul 2019

Author: Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

CAPInv. GR-42: hetaeriae


i. Geographical area Eastern Asia Minor
ii. Region Pontus


i.a. Full reference (original language) hetaeriae (Plin. Ep. 10.96.7)
i.b. Full reference (transliterated) hetaeriae
ii. Reference context In his well-know correspondence with Trajan regarding the proper handling of Christians, Pliny mentions an edict of his own which in accordance with the emperor’s instructions prohibited the function of hetaeriai (Plin. Ep. 10.96.7: post edictum meum, quo secundum mandata tua hetaerias esse vetueram). See Sherwin-White 1966: 608-9 and 709 (with further bibliography) and Cotter 1996: 83.


i. Date(s) 109 - 111 AD


i. Descriptive terms hetaeriae
Note ἑταιρείαι, hetaireiai in Greek


i. Source(s) Plin. Ep. 10.96.7 (109-111 AD)
i.a. Source type(s) Literary source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Letter in Latin addressed by Pliny to Trajan.


i. Comments On the date see Sherwin-White 1966: 80-81.
The term hetaeriai used by Pliny does not necessarily concern purely political clubs, since on this specific occasion it obviously applies to the Christians as well. Trajan refused to authorize the creation of a collegium fabrorum in Nikomedeia fearing that it might evolve into a dangerous hetaeria (Plin. Ep. 10.34). The same word in Plin. Ep. 10.96.7 is apparently a generic term covering various kinds of associations which were perceived as potentially dangerous, i.e. keen to turn into hetairiai, in the literary sense of political clubs involved in civil strife.
Trajan’s policy regarding prohibitions and/or restrictions on associations in the province of Pontus-Bithynia is also mentioned in Plin. Ep. 10.33-34 and 92-93. Internal strife potentially provoked by such associations constituted the grounds for Pliny’s edict. However, this measure, which recalls a more general, but sporadically and conditionally enforced, imperial policy with respect to associations (cf. Sherwin-White 1966: 608-609; Cotter 1996: 78-88; Liu 2008: 55-56), was rather short-lived, at least as far as Bithynia and Pontus is concerned (see Van Nijf 1997: 21 note 84 and 180; de Ligt 2000: 245; Arnaoutoglou 2002).
Cf. cf. CAPInv 975, GR-41 and GR-66.
iii. Bibliography Arnaoutoglou, I. (2002), ‘Roman Law and Collegia in Asia Minor’, RIDA 49: 27-44.
Cotter, W. (1996), ‘The Collegia and 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: 237–252.
Liu, J. (2008), ‘Pompeii and collegia: a new appraisal of the evidence’, ΑΗΒ 22: 53-69.
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 hetaeriae refers to private associations (see above under field VIII.i: Comments).