Square surrounded by colonnades, in which were placed the offices of the various collegia or guilds of boatmen, raftmen and others, which had a special importance at Ostia; the names of the guilds may still be read in inscriptions in the mosaic pavements of the chambers.
These Churches are collegia licita and come icai uris= within the liberty of association so freely conceded in modern times.
Some writers regard them as a continuation of the Roman collegia and sodalitates, but there is little evidence to prove the unbroken continuity of existence of the Roman and Germanic fraternities.
This, however, they had ceased to do as soon as Pliny had published a decree against collegia, in accordance with the emperor's edict.
Hardy, and still maintained by Professor Merrill) is hard to reconcile with Pliny's own statement that the Christians had promptly obeyed the emperor's decree against collegia (§ 7).
Already the members of this class show a strong tendency to bind themselves together in gilds (collegia, sodalitates), and the existence of countless associations of the kind is revealed by the inscriptions.
The ostensible objects of nearly all such collegia of which we have any knowledge were twofold, the maintenance of the worship of some god, and provision for the performance of proper funerary rights for its members.
"ambubaiarum collegia" in Horace, Satires, i.