Matters of Trust: Associations and Social Capital in Roman Egypt
|September 27, 2013||Posted by Philip Venticinque under E-journal, History, Research Symposium Papers|
Citation with persistent identifier:
Venticinque, Philip F. “Matters of Trust: Associations and Social Capital in Roman Egypt.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 2 (2013).http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:VenticinqueP.Matters_of_Trust_Associations_and_Social_Capital.2013
§1 Concerns regarding the untrustworthy nature of merchants and craftsmen commonly expressed by classical authors, who instead championed agriculture for its security and as a pursuit conducive to developing proper decorum, have helped frame our understanding of ancient economic history. Cicero’s often quoted opinions on craftsmen, merchants, and acceptable economic activity outlined in his De Officiis have proven particularly influential.
Now in regard to trades and employments, which are to be considered liberal and which mean, this is the more or less accepted view. First, those employments are condemned which incur ill-will, as those of collectors of harbor taxes and money lenders. Illiberal, too, and mean are the employments of all who work for wages, whom we pay for their labor and not for their art; for in their case their very wages are the warrant of their slavery. We must consider mean those who buy from merchants in order to re-sell immediately, for they would make no profit without much outright lying…And all craftsmen are engaged in mean trades, for no workshop can have any quality appropriate to a free man. Least worthy of all are those trades which cater to the sensual pleasures: ‘fishmongers, butchers, cooks, poulterers and fishermen’ as Terrence says; to whom you may add if you please, perfumers, dancers, and all performers in low grade music halls.
§2 Cicero was not alone. Authors echoed these sentiments into late antiquity in a variety of genres. Libanius, for instance, followed his literary predecessors when he described the virtues of farming and the vices of trade in rhetorical manuals. Moses Finley considered the elite ideology espoused in texts like these as the proper framework through which to understand and interpret economic activity at all levels of society. Cicero’s observations served as a cornerstone of Finley’s analysis, and debate regarding all aspects of the ancient economy has raged ever since.
§3 Apuleius and Petronius deployed these stereotypes for comedic effect when describing market scenes in the Roman world. Apuleius’ audience would perhaps not have been surprised to find merchants preying upon hapless travelers like Lucius and selling poor quality goods at exorbitant prices, as they are alleged to have done by Lucius’ old friend Pythias in the Metamorphoses. Lucius encountered his former colleague Pythias, now an aedile, after what Lucius himself had thought was a successful shopping trip upon arriving in Thessaly. Lucius believed he had found a bargain on the fish he purchased for dinner after negotiating to pay somewhat less than the initial asking price. Pythias disagreed.
When he heard this, he [Pythias] grabbed my hand and led me straight back into the market square. “And from which of these men,” he said, “did you buy this stuff?” I pointed to a little old man, who was sitting in the corner. Pythias, by the power vested in him as public works official, began right then to berate him harshly, shouting “So now, now you lot don’t even spare our friends, or any strangers whatsoever, since you advertise your trashy little fishes at such a high price, and make the jewel of the region of Thessaly out to be some desert on a cliff, by the cost of its edibles? But you won’t get away with it! I shall see to it that you learn right now how evildoers are to be treated when I’m in charge,” and, emptying the basket out in the middle of the market, he ordered his officer to jump on top of the fish and to mash them all up with his feet. My Pythias was satisfied with this sternness of his character, and urged me to leave: “This great insult to the little old man,” he said, “is good enough for me, Lucius.” When this was over, I went on to the baths, confused and bewildered. My wise friend’s clever plan had deprived me at once of both my money and my dinner, and after I had washed, I returned to my host Milo’s and from there to bed.
§4 In Petronius’ Satyricon on the other hand, Encolpius and Ascyltos encountered different, but related, issues while trying to sell stolen goods in Puteoli. When both men realized that someone else was selling a cloak that had been stolen from them, they had to decide whether to take legal action or simply purchase their own garment back.
I was against any roundabout methods. I thought we should proceed openly by civil process, and obtain a decision in the courts if they refused to give up other people’s property to the rightful owners. But Ascyltos was afraid of the law: “Nobody knows us in this place,” he said, “and nobody will believe what we say. I should certainly like to buy the thing, although it is ours and we know it. It is better to get back our savings cheaply than to embark upon the perils of a lawsuit.”
§5 Law and a predictable (and enforceable) legal process lend security to economic transactions and reduce transaction costs. Our heroes had fewer concerns about the legal process, recourse to which the text suggests was common; their worries related to the public officials and other merchants involved in the dispute. Had they pursued an interdict as Encolpius suggested, a legal instrument by which to assert ownership of an item, the goods in question would have remained in a third party’s possession until the case was decided. An official and a merchant volunteered their services for this purpose, but Ascyltos and Encolpius asserted that this would amount to leaving the cloak among thieves (deposita vestis inter praedones) and assure that the garment would never be returned to them.
§6 Beyond satire, the authors raise questions about the uncertain nature of economic transactions, marketplace dynamics, and the perceived unpredictable impact of law. Both episodes also illustrate the problems caused by asymmetric information between buyers and sellers about the items for sale, those involved in a transaction, and even public officials charged with interpreting and enforcing the law. In particular, the difficulty our heroes had in completing their transactions and achieving their aims points to the important role that information about individuals, goods, services, and the institutions that govern transactions played in an economic context.
§7 Trust, reputation, and esteem and the ways individuals acquire and use these kinds of social capital to overcome asymmetric information have become a focus of intense analysis among economists, sociologists, anthropologists, and historians. Brennan and Pettit have dubbed esteem the “intangible hand” and propose that it functions alongside the invisible hand of the market and the iron hand of the state. Its importance was not lost on ancient commentators either. In the second book of his De Officiis, after describing proper economic pursuits, Cicero went on to acknowledge that there was indeed a sense of honor among thieves, so to speak, who understood the importance of developing trust and maintaining a certain reputation within their own circles. More importantly, craftsmen and merchants themselves realized the importance of trust, reputation, and esteem. They affirmed it in the charters that governed the operations of their craft and merchant associations and they celebrated members that displayed generosity toward colleagues.
§8 While trust in institutions such as law, reliable coinage, and systems of weights and measures reduces uncertainty and facilitates transactions, other problems of trust and asymmetric information persist between individuals. Membership in an association was among the strategies craftsmen and merchants employed to deal with reputation-based information and establish interpersonal trust. In what follows, I consider the role association membership played in bridging gaps in information and rendering the outcomes of transactions more secure and predictable by examining several association charters from Egypt dating to the first century CE. These charters reveal how individuals could establish a trustworthy reputation within a group by abiding by an association’s stated norms: by offering support to those in need, not slandering others, and not violating agreements. Associations encouraged compliance, and could disseminate information about members, not only by punishing rule breakers and exposing them as such, but also by honoring those who worked on behalf of their colleagues and the group. Using this information strategically allowed individual members to manage some of the uncertainties and risks associated with asymmetrical information faced by merchants, craftsmen, and farmers in Egypt, as well as by the colorful cast of characters encountered in hypothetical market scenes in Puteoli and Thessaly described by Petronius and Apuleius and throughout the Roman world.
Associations and Social Capital
§9 Associations of craftsmen and merchants, such as the collegium of centonarii at Rome, the plethos of bakers or the sunodos of weavers in the Fayum, the sunergasia of silversmiths in Ephesos, or the koinon of spice merchants in Oxyrhynchus, thrived throughout the ancient world. Sometimes thought to be primarily an urban phenomenon, even smaller communities such as Tebtunis, a Fayum village of several thousand inhabitants, were home to many associations: cattle herders, salt merchants, farmers, dyers, fullers, wool-merchants, weavers, builders, and goldsmiths. Membership in these groups averaged between 10 and 25 men, although associations could include women, slaves, and freedmen; groups could even number in the several hundreds, as was the case for the builders in Ostia during the second century CE. While many associations organized themselves around a common trade, others identified or affiliated themselves with deities or deified individuals like the collegium of Diana and Antinous in Lanuvium outside of Rome, the Iobacchoi in Athens, or the association of Harpocrates in Egypt. In groups such as these, the line between economics and religion quickly blurs. Evidence reveals that associations engaged in a range of economic, social, religious, and political activities. Associations possessed scholae or meeting houses in many communities. Besides owning and managing property, associations procured market stalls and workshops (for which they thanked local officials or patrons), forged ties with local elites, and managed endowments and a common fund into which monthly dues were paid that helped meet their expenses. Associations even helped defray burial costs and performed commemorative activities for members, their families, and patrons.
§10 In addition, associations also offered an environment in which members could cultivate a trustworthy reputation among their colleagues. The institutional framework groups put in place to achieve these aims and within which they carried out their activities was articulated in group charters. Charters outline membership obligations and reveal what qualities associations considered important in members and the activities thought to promote trust and group cohesion. The fact that associations displayed charters in meeting places, and that copies appear to have been kept on file in public and private archives in Egypt, implies their public and contractual nature as far as the members were concerned, the same people who would be monitoring the behavior of colleagues.
§11 Examples from a variety of groups active during the Hellenistic and Roman periods detail relatively common organizational structures: payment of dues, election of officers, attendance at meetings and feasts, provisions for funerals, pledges of financial assistance, behavioral and ethical precepts, and fines for non-compliance. Three charters from first-century CE Tebtunis preserved on papyrus and written in Greek show the importance attached to cultivating a trustworthy reputation by a range of non-elite individuals: an unidentified group assumed to be cattle or sheep herders (P.Mich. V 243, 14-37 CE); the so called apolusimoi (P. Mich V 244, 43 CE), tenants of an imperial estate who included a craftsman and a former slave; and a group of salt merchants (P. Mich. V 245, 47 CE). The combination of pledges and fines detailed in these documents produces a road map of what constituted acceptable behavior in relationships with colleagues and their families and with those outside the group.
§12 The cattle herders, a group of 17 members, apparently had dealings not only in Tebtunis but also Arsinoe, the nome’s metropolis and the polis mentioned in the charter, located about 25 km away. The group apparently held ad hoc meetings in Tebtunis and Arsinoe, where members may have attended markets. Besides attendance at meetings, the association expected attendance at a monthly banquet and contributions upon births of children, the purchase of property, and the acquisition of livestock – something perhaps peculiar to their own trade. The association also aimed to play a role in funerals. Attendance at funerals was expected, and the group intended that members would purchase a wreath and contribute a small amount of money (one drachma per member) to help the association or the family offset the significant cost of a funeral. The charter quoted in full below provides more details of their organization and activities.
…have chosen as president for the x year of Tiberius Caesar Augustus Heron, son of Orseus, in whose company they shall hold a banquet each month on the twelfth, each one contributing for his monthly dues the twelve silver drachmas assigned equally to each. If anyone fails to meet his obligations in these or the other matters, the president has the right to exact pledges. If anyone misconducts himself, let him be fined whatever the society may decide. If anyone receives notice of a meeting and does not attend, let him be fined one drachma in the village, but in the city four drachmas. If anyone marries, let him pay two drachmas, for the birth of a male child two drachmas, for a female child one drachma, for the purchase of property four drachmas, for a flock of sheep four drachmas, for cattle one drachma. If anyone neglects another in trouble and does not give aid to release him from his trouble, let him pay eight drachmas. And each one who in taking seats at the banquets shoves in front of another shall pay an extra three obols for his own place. If anyone prosecutes another or defames him, let him be fined eight drachmas. If anyone intrigues against another or corrupts his home, let him be fined sixty drachmas. If anyone is given into custody for a private debt, let them go to bail for him up to one hundred silver drachmas for thirty days, within which he will release the men. May health prevail! If one of the members dies, let all be shaved and let them hold a feast for one day, each bringing at once one drachma and two loaves, and in the case of other bereavements, let them hold a feast for one day. Let him who is not shaven in case of a death be fined four drachmas. Whoever has taken no part in the funeral and has not placed a wreath on the tomb shall be fined four drachmas. And let the other matters be as the society may decide. Let the law be valid when subscribed by the majority. When validated let it be returned to the president.
§13 Additionally, the cattle herders also pledged support for a member who had fallen into debt and promised to provide surety or a loan up to the substantial sum of 100 drachmas. Some associations used the common fund as a source of credit for members, and this group may have been no different. Providing surety for an acquaintance, whether for a loan, for security leading up to a legal hearing, or as a testament to their good faith in fulfilling professional or personal obligation was common. It would not be surprising for association members to use their social and financial capital for colleagues in such a manner, and that certainly appears to have been their hope.
§14 The 24 members of the apolusimoi had similar expectations. Like the cattle herders, they also expected assistance in time of need by providing surety up to 100 drachmas for 60 days. The group held monthly feasts ostensibly to honor Augustus, but meetings also took place in Tebtunis, Arsinoe, and perhaps surrounding villages. Funerary support, along with required public displays of grief, extended beyond the death of a member; individuals were also supposed to attend funerals of a member’s father, mother, child, brother, or sister.
§15 Besides managing trade taxes and a common fund into which members contributed, the salt merchants, a group of no less than seven members but potentially more, met at least once a month. The salt merchants also met in Tebtunis and Arsinoe and appear to have sold salt and gypsum, a material used in construction, throughout the area. The members took advantage of the structures provided by association membership to manage their collective and individual trading activities.
…(they have decided) that all alike shall sell salt in the aforesaid village of Tebtunis, and that Orseus alone has obtained by lot the sole right to sell gypsum in the aforesaid village of Tebtunis and in the adjacent villages, for which he shall pay, apart from the share of the public taxes which falls to him, an additional sixty-six drachmas in silver; and that the said Orseus has likewise obtained by lot Kerkesis, alone to sell salt therein, for which he shall likewise pay an additional eight drachmas in silver. And that Harmiusis also called Belles, son of Harmiusis, has obtained by lot the sole right to sell salt and gypsum in the village of Tristomos also called Boukolos, for which he shall contribute, apart from the share of the public taxes which falls to him, five additional drachmas in silver; upon condition that they shall sell the good salt at the rate of two and one-half obols, the light salt at two obols, and the lighter salt at one and one-half obol, by our measure or that of the warehouse.
§16 Sharing market related information necessary to carry out and coordinate their activities at some distance from Tebtunis presumably was part of their membership responsibilities – and one way of acquiring social capital and building a trustworthy reputation in this group, no less than attending funerals or offering support in a time of need. The information they had gathered before, and would continue to gather, could be used to set the parameters the salt merchants imposed on themselves including trading areas (which they valued at specific rates) and the prices for certain types of salt.
§17 Fines attached to infractions reveal that the cattle herders, apolusimoi, and the salt merchants expected individuals to follow these guidelines and would attempt to penalize rule-breakers. More than an intention to limit free-riding or other abuses within the group, the fines imposed by associations provide a negative image of what was considered proper decorum in relationships between members. Obligations to and relationships with non-members also were considered important. The salt merchants sought to punish members who failed to fulfill public obligations or resolve claims made against them, which could have included any number of arrangements with non-members or the local community. Such clauses contained in charters suggest that groups understood the importance of trust and reputation in the public sphere and the need to establish and maintain a specific reputation beyond the confines of their meeting halls.
§18 Some infractions, however, were apparently considered more harmful to the group, and therefore to one’s reputation, than others. The cattle herders and apolusimoi assigned fines ranging from 1 to 4 drachmas for missing meetings and pushing or shoving at a banquet received smaller fines. Failing to attend a funeral presumably damaged one’s standing within the group. The cattle herders assigned a fine of 4 drachmas for missing a funeral, similar to the penalty for missing a meeting in the city. The apolusimoi punished not only failing to attend a funeral but also disregarding social norms that required outward signs of grief with separate fines of 4 drachmas for each offense. Missing a funeral harmed your standing in the group, but not adopting a public grieving posture sent the wrong message about you and your colleagues to the community, something the groups seemed keen on managing.
§19 Lack of attendance at meetings denied the absentee access to market and reputation-based information and at the same time exposed individuals as free-riders to their peers. This in turn revealed someone to be a less than reliable business partner going forward. Repeated absences hindered group efforts to gather and disseminate information individual members could have contributed, the sort of information groups like the salt merchants used to set prices.
§20 Yet missing meetings or funerals were not the most damaging infractions. Steeper fines resulted from what can best be described as significant breaches of trust. Certain infractions, including misconduct bordering on drunken violence, which might go beyond disruptions at banquets based on the language used in the charter, appear to have been subject to ad hoc penalties decided on by the group and presiding officials. Structuring fines in this way allowed the group some strategic latitude. There would be less negotiation and wiggle room for other missteps. Failing to help members in need (ἐν ἀηδίᾳ), which might allude to sickness or physical infirmity, entailed a fine of 8 drachmas, two-thirds of the monthly dues each member paid. The cattle herders assigned the same fine of 8 drachmas for prosecuting or slandering another member – two infractions that would have amounted to an attack on a colleague’s reputation. It seems members risked a fine even if complaints were valid. The most exorbitant fines, however, were reserved for offenses described as intrigue or destruction of the home, which carried a penalty of 60 drachmas – five times the monthly dues.
§21 Egyptian charters written in Greek and Demotic from the Ptolemaic period echo these sentiments. Charters adopted by associations of priests in Tebtunis during the second century BCE, for instance, ascribed the steepest penalties to false prosecution, defamation, adultery and violations of the home. The Greek rules of the association of Zeus Hypsistos prohibited accusations against other members and taking another man’s wife, but did not assign monetary penalties.
§22 The salt merchants penalized undercutting colleagues by selling below agreed upon prices with a total fine of 16 drachmas, twice the amount the cattle herders fined false accusations or slander and more than a month’s dues. Similar fines awaited members who did not share information about demand and potential customers, at least when dealing with significant quantities of salt.
…and if any of them shall be found to have sold more than a stater’s worth of salt to a merchant, let him be fined eight drachmas in silver for the common fund and the same for the public treasury; but if the merchant shall intend to buy more than four drachmas worth, all must sell to him jointly. And if anyone shall bring in gypsum and shall intend to sell it outside, it must be left on the premises of Orseus, son of Harmiusis, until he takes it outside and sells it.
§23 Those that operated outside the rules either by manipulating prices, misrepresenting the quality of goods, or withholding information would risk losing some standing in the group. Of course, while stipulations like these aimed to limit opportunistic behavior by members, they do indicate that the group acknowledged the tension between the individual and the group.
§24 Ideally, as the charter of the salt merchants suggests, association membership provided access to information about more than their colleagues. There were other merchants engaged in the trade of salt and gypsum not affiliated with this group, and the association in Tebtunis would have been interested in learning about them and the prices at which they sold their goods. Regional and long-distance trading activities presented merchants, craftsmen, and their agents with increased transaction costs. The salt merchants sought whatever competitive advantage they could obtain to reduce these costs – and relied on trust cultivated within the group over time to assure compliance with their norms and continued access to information about the salt trade.
§25 In iterative scenarios it benefits people to act in a trustworthy manner. By embedding relationships between colleagues in a number of contexts (economic, social, festive, religious, and legal), associations provided a framework for members to operate in order to strengthen bonds of trust across a network, creating the sort of “dense, multiplex ties” referred to by Ogilvie in discussions of medieval guilds or coalitions. Establishing a trustworthy reputation by following the rules and norms generated by associations, and working with reasonable expectations that colleagues would act in a similar manner, helps combat and overcome asymmetrical information. For merchants, craftsmen, and others involved with associations, relying on bonds of trust aided their efforts in the marketplace in Tebtunis, Arsinoe, or elsewhere. But membership also reduced risk and uncertainties in their private interactions by offering more reliable business partners, access to credit and loans, and legal support if necessary. Essentially, belonging to an association reduced a member’s own transaction costs by increasing access to a variety of information harnessed by organizations like associations which “produce and disseminate rules, information, and knowledge, perpetuate beliefs and norms, and influence the set of feasible beliefs in the central transaction” to borrow Greif’s formulation.
The Cost of Social Capital
§26 Access to market and reputation based information by way of association membership came at a steep price. Monthly fees for either the cattle herders or the apolusimoi would have amounted to 144 drachmas a year. Estimates suggest that somewhere between 140 and 320 drachmas worth of grain alone would have been necessary to support a hypothetical family of four. This is based on a calculation that assumes a requirement of 10 artabas per person at a cost of between 3.5 to 8 drachmas an artaba (depending on region and time of year), without accounting for variations in age or gender. Other documents from Tebtunis indicate that during September and October of 45/6 CE grain prices ranged from 4.4 to 8 drachmas per artaba. Members of the associations active in Tebtunis during roughly the same period would have incurred costs in the average range, with a slightly higher lower limit of 136 drachmas. At either estimate, the minimum cost for grain all but equals the annual financial output a member would expect for monthly fees.
§27 Even in rough terms, the sums paid to sustain membership in an association during the middle of the first century in Tebtunis would have been a substantial investment of financial resources each year. This calculation only takes into account grain requirements; real costs accounting for other nutritional requirements, taxes, clothing, and shelter would have put further strains on members’ finances. Recent estimates of wages and living costs in the Roman world by Scheidel, Friesen, and Allen suggest that membership expenses represented a large proportion of mean annual income and the resources necessary to keep people at or slightly above subsistence levels. The 144 drachmas the cattle herders and the apolusimoi spent on association dues amounted to just over 40% of the 354 drachmas Scheidel estimated it would cost to support a household at “bare bones subsistence,” or about half of the mean annual wages of an unskilled worker (estimated at between 250 and 288 drachmas at daily or monthly rates).
§28 Membership in a group thus was a strategic decision that required significant baseline expenses. Officers were expected to contribute for feasts but so were ordinary members. The head of an association of weavers in Tebtunis in the first century, for instance, spent nearly 100 drachmas on beer and provisions for a single meeting. Given the costs, it would appear that members were not necessarily poor and destitute non-elites, but individuals with some disposable income, even if living at or slightly above subsistence. Membership in a group would have been a luxury not available to many and a luxury that allowed this segment of the population to strengthen and protect their own position in the community individually and as a group.
§29 While charters present ideal versions of business practices, there was no assurance that these mechanisms always worked. Ptolemaic period complaints alleging failure to pay out death benefits suggest that a gap existed between theory and practice, as do other complaints against “fellow workers” brought by association officers. Even the penalties outlined in charters would seem to acknowledge, and try to account for, opportunistic behavior by members. In the face of high financial and social costs of membership and rule breaking, individuals would have had to make a strategic decision to abide by the group’s regulations.
§30 Associations may have aimed for the benefits of membership to outweigh the gains of rule breaking. Belonging to an association and establishing a trustworthy reputation among professional associates helped reduce the transaction costs for people like the fishmonger Lucius encountered or the merchants in Puteoli. When doing business with colleagues, members would have had more information about each other, their business practices over time, and their reputations, as well as, perhaps, market related information. The salt merchants and cattle herders would have reasonably expected membership to pay off whether in Tebtunis or in Arsinoe by reducing transaction costs and alleviating principal-agent problems among other complications involved with conducting business at distances great or small. Members also expected the threat of legal action – such as the interdict to which Encolpius wanted to resort or the prosecution that the associations in Tebtunis tried to limit– to be less of a factor in their dealings. If problems arose with other merchants, a trusted colleague would have been expected to provide surety or assistance, reducing their own risks and uncertainties relative to others.
§31 Connections with local officials – the sort that the fishmonger in Apuleius’ tale clearly lacked but that others in Asia Minor had – also would have alleviated certain legal and economic uncertainties and risks for members. Associations, like the dyers of Thyatira among others, attempted to forge ties with local and imperial elites and their families with honorific statues and decrees, or by inviting them to banquets as a guest or to become affiliated with the group. Sustaining these relationships over time produced another form of social capital founded on trust and reputation that supported an association’s activities.
§32 Encolpius and Ascyltos lacked this sort of social capital in Puteoli, and Lucius, even though he knew an aedile, fared no better in Thessaly. What promoted honor among thieves and made it possible to defend their own interests, may have left customers at a comparative disadvantage. The salt merchants, it will be remembered, penalized practices that harmed one another, not potential customers or other merchants outside the group. The rules stipulated agreed upon minimum prices to prevent undercutting colleagues and costing them a chance at profits. Selling any of the salt for higher prices was not necessarily discouraged, provided it was done in accordance with the other regulations in order to further cement an individual merchant’s trustworthy reputation in the eyes of his colleagues.
Akerlof, G. A. 1970. “The Market for ‘Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 84:488-500.
Allen, R. C. 2009. “How Prosperous were the Romans? Evidence from Diocletian’s Price Edict (301 AD).” In Bowman and Wilson 2009:327-345.
Andreau. J. 2002. “Twenty Years after Moses I. Finley’s The Ancient Economy.” In Scheidel and Von Reden:33-49.
Arnaoutoglou, I. N. 2011. “Craftsmen Associations in Roman Lydia – A Tale of Two Cities?” Ancient Society 41:257-290.
Bollmann, B. 1998. Römische Vereinshäuser: Untersuchungen zu den Scholea der römischen Berufs-, Kult- und Augustalen-Kollegien in Italien. Mainz.
Bowman, A. K., and A. Wilson, eds. 2009. Quantifying the Roman Economy: Methods and Problems. Oxford.
Brennan, G., and P. Pettit. 2004. The Economy of Esteem. Oxford.
Coleman, J. S. 1988. “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital.” American Journal of Sociology 94: S95-S120.
Duncan-Jones, R. P. 1990. Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy. Cambridge.
Finley, M. I. 1973. The Ancient Economy. Berkeley. 2nd Edition 1999.
Frier, B. W., and D. P. Kehoe. 2007. “Law and Economic Institutions.” In Scheidel, Morris, and Saller 2007:113-143.
Gibbs, M. 2008. “Professional and Trade Associations in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.” Oxford University Dissertation.
Greif, A. 1989. “Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders.” Journey of Economic History 49:857-882.
———. 1993. “Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: The Maghribi Traders’ Coalition.” The American Economic Review 83:525-548.
———. 2006. Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy. Lessons from Medieval Trade. Cambridge.
Harland, P. 2003. Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations: Claiming a Place in Ancient Mediterranean Society. Minneapolis.
Hermansen, G. 1982. Ostia: Aspects of Roman City Life. Edmonton.
Johnstone, S. 2011. A History of Trust in Ancient Greece. Chicago.
Klein, D. B., ed. 1997. Reputation: Studies in the Voluntary Elicitation of Good Conduct. Ann Arbor.
Kloppenborg, J. S., and R. S. Ascough, eds. 2011. Greco-Roman Associations: Texts, Translations, and Commentary. Volume I: Attica, Central Greece, Macedonia, and Thrace. De Gruyter.
Liu, J. 2008. “The Economy of Endowments: The Case of Roman Collegia.” In Verboven, Vandorpe, and Chankowski-Sable 2008:231-256.
———. 2009. Collegia Centonariorum: the Guilds of Textile Dealers in the Roman West. Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition 34. Leiden.
Manning, J. G., and I. Morris. 2005. “Introduction.” In Manning and Morris 2005:1-44.
———. 2005. The Ancient Economy Evidence and Models. Stanford.
Martinez, D., and M. Williams. 1997. “Records of Loan Receipts from a Guild Association.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 118:259-263.
Meiggs, R. 1973. Roman Ostia. Oxford.
Monson, A. 2006. “The Ethics and Economics of Ptolemaic Religious Associations.” Ancient Society 36:221-238.
Montevecchi, O. 1988. La Papirologia. Milan.
Muhs, B. 2001. “Membership in Private Associations in Ptolemaic Tebtunis.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 44:1-21.
Nicholas, B. 1962. An Introduction to Roman Law. Oxford.
Ogilvie, S. 2011. Institutions and European Trade: Merchant Guilds, 1000-1800. Cambridge.
Rea, J. R. 1982. “P. Lond. Inv. 1562 Verso: Market Taxes in Oxyrhynchus.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 46:191-209.
Scheidel, W. 2010. “Real Wages in Early Economies: Evidence for Living Standards from 1800 BCE to 1300 CE.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 53:425-462.
Scheidel, W., and S. J. Friesen. 2009. “The Size of the Economy and the Distribution of Income in the Roman Empire.” Journal of Roman Studies 99:61-91.
Scheidel, W., I. Morris, and R. P. Saller, eds. 2007. The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World. Cambridge.
Scheidel, W., and S. Von Reden, eds. 2002. The Ancient Economy. Edinburgh.
van Nijf, O. 1997. The Civic World of Professional Associations in the Roman East. Amsterdam.
Venticinque, P. F. 2009. “Common Causes: Guilds, Craftsmen and Merchants in the Economy and Society of Roman and Late Roman Egypt.” University of Chicago Dissertation.
Verboven, K., K. Vandorpe, and V. Chankowski-Sable, eds. 2008. Pistoi dia tèn technèn. Bankers, loans and archives in the Ancient World. Studies in honour of Raymond Bogaert. Studia Hellenistica 44 Leuven.
Waltzing, J.-P. 1895-1900. Étude Historique Sur Les Corporations Professionnelles Chez Les Romains Depuis Les Origines Jusqu’à La Chute De l’Empire d’Occident. Louvain.
 I presented an earlier version of this paper for the Classics Department of Loyola University Chicago in the fall of 2012. The article was completed during a leave supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and the Center for Hellenic Studies. In addition, I also must thank Paul Keen, Fanny Dolansky, Cameron Hawkins, and Christian Ammitzbøll Thomsen who read previous drafts and continue to help me think through issues related to associations and the ancient economy.
 For the centonarii, CIL VI 7861 = ILS 7243; bakers: I.Fayum III 212 (3 CE); weavers: I.Fayum II 122 (109 CE); silversmiths: I.Ephesos 444 (I-III CE); spice merchants: P. Oxy. XLV 3731 (310-311 CE) and 3733 (312 CE); on associations in the Roman world, Waltzing 1895-1900 remains a useful compendium of information; see also van Nijf 1997; Harland 2003; Gibbs 2008; Liu 2009; Venticinque 2009.