The athletic guild

In hellenistic cities many associations of people with the same profession were established. Usually, these were local, but artists and athletes, who travelled around the Greek world, were the only two groups to organize international guilds as umbrella organizations for the local associations. The athletic guild is first attested in the first century BC. In the second century AD this association received head quarters in Rome.

The guild promoted the interests of the athletes and lobbied for privileges with the highest authorities, even with the emperor. The guild also organized its own games with money-prizes and set up statues and offered other honours to its most successful members.

Every athlete could become member provided he paid the - not inconsiderable - membership fee. As proof of their membership they received an official diploma. Trainers could also become members. The guild was directed by a whole series of officials, mostly former athletes: high-priests, directors, presidents, a treasurer and a secretary. The patron of the guild was the hero Herakles.

© KU Leuven, 2012