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Collegium (ancient Rome)

Inscription (CIL 14.374) from Ostia Antica commemorating a Marcus Licinius Privatus, who was magister of a college of carpenters

A collegium (plural collegia, "gathered together"; English "college") was any association in ancient Rome with a legal personality. Such associations had various functions, civil and religious.

Civil collegiaEdit

Collegia could function as guilds, social clubs, or burial societies; in practice, in ancient Rome, they sometimes became organized bodies of local businessmen and even criminals, who ran the mercantile/criminal activities in a given urban region, or rione. The organization of a collegium was often modeled on that of civic governing bodies, the Senate of Rome being the epitome. The meeting hall was often known as the curia, the same term as that applied to that of the Roman Senate.

By law, only three people were required in order to create a legal collegium;[citation needed] the only exception was the college of consuls, which included only the two consuls.

The Roman Emperor Aurelian imposed state control over collegia in the late 3rd Century AD.[1]

Religious collegiaEdit

There were four great religious colleges (quattuor amplissima collegia) of Roman priests, in descending order of importance:

Other minor religious collegia existed, including:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Boatwright, Mary T.; Gargola, Daniel J.; Lenski, Noel; Talbert, Richard J.A. (2012). The Romans: From Village to Empire. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 434. ISBN 978-0-19-973057-5.

External linksEdit