Lege et consuetudine : Voluntary cult associations in the Greek law

Véronique Dasen (Editor), Marcel Piérart (Editor), Yulia Ustinova

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Ancient Greek voluntary associations were groups deliberately founded by private persons for a common aim. They were joined by the members of their own free will. Whatever the focus of their activities, most of these groups had some cultic aspects. They differ from the subdivisions of the polis, to which a person belonged by force of his being a citizen.

2Voluntary associations for various purposes emerged early in the Greek history. By the beginning of the sixth century, they had already existed long enough to be treated by a lawgiver. However, voluntary associations did not receive much attention in the Greek legislation, their presence in the polis usually taken for granted.

1 P. Vinogradoff, Outlines of Historical Jurisprudence, v. 2, Jurisprudence of the Greek City, Oxfor (...)
3No Pan-Hellenic law has ever existed, although the process of law-making in various Greek cities developed to a certain degree on similar lines and resulted in the fundamental unity of the Greek law. Legal status of voluntary associations differed from polis to polis.1 Since most evidence comes from Attica, the situation there may be reconstructed at least in general lines, whereas the state of affairs in other poleis remains little known.

4The purposes of the present paper are to examine the legal status of voluntary cult associations in the Greek world, and to consider formal interactions between these groups and the state. In conclusion, the applicability of the notions “private” and “public” to Greek voluntary associations will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish GB
Title of host publicationIdia kai dèmosia
PublisherPresses universitaires de Liège
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2013


  • Religion
  • History


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