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Last Updated on 09 Aug 2019

Author: Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

CAPInv. 975: collegium fabrorum


i. Geographical area Western Asia Minor
ii. Region Bithynia
iii. Site Nikomedeia


i. Full name (original language) collegium fabrorum (Plin. Ep. 10.33)
ii. Full name (transliterated) collegium fabrorum


i. Date(s) 109 - 111 AD


ii. Name elements
iii. Descriptive terms collegium


i. Source(s) Plin. Ep. 10.33-34
Online Resources Plin. Ep. 10.33-34
i.a. Source type(s) Literary source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Letter in Latin addressed by Pliny (Ep. 10.33) to Trajan requesting permission to establish a collegium fabrorum in Nikomedeia, so as to provide this city with a mechanism to extinguish fires. In his response (Ep. 10.34) Trajan rejects this idea.


i. Founder(s) The collegium fabrorum of Nikomedeia was planned to be founded by the provincial governor.
iii. Members The term used for the members of the collegium under planning is faber (Plin. Ep. 10.33).
viii. Obligations The obligations of the members would be to put out fires.
ix. Privileges Pliny specifically refers to privileges that would be given to the members of the planned collegium. But their content remains unspecified (Plin. Ep. 10.33: Ego attendam, ne quis nisi faber recipiatur, neve iure concesso in aliud utatur). Cf. Cotter 1996: 82.


i. Number According to Pliny’s scheme the men recruited in the planned collegium would be no more than 150. Cf. Cotter 1996: 82.
iv. Status Pliny assures the emperor that only fabri would participate in the collegium he was planning to establish (Plin. Ep. 10.33: Ego attendam, ne quis nisi faber recipiatur…). Cf. Cotter 1996: 82.


ii. Interaction abroad The association would have been set up by the provincial Roman governor. On the supervisory role of the provincial governor in the whole scheme see below under field XII.i: Comments.


i. Comments Pliny claimed that he conceived the idea of forming a collegium fabrorum in Nikomedeia, because a great fire had destroyed private houses and public buildings, the city having no means to face this disaster. The assurances he gave to the emperor about the number, the privileges and the status of the persons that he would recruit obviously reflect Pliny’s knowledge of Trajan’s fears about the seditious character of private associations especially in Bithynia (cf. Sherwin-White 1966: 608), which are explicitly mentioned in the emperor’s negative reply (Plin. Ep. 10.34). This reply however should not be taken as an indication of a general and lasting ban on the function of private associations. On the various issues raised by Pliny’s letter see Sherwin-White 1966: 606-10; Cotter 1996: 82-3; Van Nijf 1997: 21-2 and 177-80; Arnaoutoglou 2002; de Ligt 2005: 245.
Cf. CAPInv. GR-41 , CAPInv. GR-42, CAPInv. GR-66.
iii. Bibliography Arnaoutoglou, I. (2002), ‘Roman Law and Collegia in Asia Minor’, RIDA 49: 27-44.
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.
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 association Possible
Note On the basis of the terminology employed, it is certain that the planned collegium was a private association. However, it is doubtful whether the association was actually founded, given Trajan's reply.