chapter  II
19 Pages


There had always existed in Greece a very considerable number of private societies. Between the great community which included all families and the small community which was the family itself, there were free associations of a utilitarian or sentimental character. Some had an aristocratic s tamp; others made their appeal to the lower classes. Since Homeric times certain warriors, and those the most illustrious, had been united by special bonds, took their meals together and considered it their duty to have the same friends and the same enemies: they were called among themselves hetairoi.1 Later the rich or the well born formed hetaireiai, clubs whose members gave each other mutual support in elections and law suits, 2 or else met together for festive banquets, to throw ridicule upon popular beliefs or to discuss philosophy and politics. 3 Completely different in recruitment as in purpose were certain fraternities, the oldest of which bore the name of thiasoi. These had united since pre-Hellenic days the humbler folk who wished to maintain the worship of divinities excluded from the official pantheon. In earlier times they had done much to spread belief in the mysteries, the dogma of the passion and the resurrection, the doctrine of personal survival and posthumous justice.