C. Ord. Ptol. 21-22                                                                                                260

These royal prostagmata exemplify the workings of the Ptolemaic administration in Syria and Phoenicia, one of the Ptolemies' possessions outside Egypt which they controlled throughout the third century. The main lines are similar to those in Egypt: a dioiketes (chief finance minister), oikonomoi (district financial officers), komarchs, tax-farmers, hyparchies in place of nomes. Similar, too, is the emphasis on registration: livestock are to be registered by a set date and taxes up to that date are remitted, provided that registration is made. If it is not, severe penalties await the violators. The pasture tax on livestock was a major source of tax revenue, and was based on the number of animals. The second part of the papyrus deals with registering slaves; the acquisition of Syrian natives as slaves (through debt, for example) is strictly limited to certain cases connected with government exactions. The Ptolemies in general tried to minimize the Greek tendency to enslave non-Greek peoples, since in Syria and in Egypt the latter formed a class of peasants producing rent and taxes on royal land and private estates, and the loss of their manpower was a serious threat.

- - - [The possessors of herds shall declare] to the oikonomos assigned in each hyparchy, within 60 days from the day on which the [ordinance] was published, the taxable and tax-free [livestock] ... and take a receipt. And if any [do not do as] has been written above, [they shall be deprived of] the livestock and shall be [subject to the penalties] in the schedule. [Whatever] of the livestock was unregistered up to the proclamation of [the ordinance shall be free of taxes] for former years, of the pasture tax and crown tax and the other penalties, but from the 2[5]th year they shall pay the sum owing by villages ... As for those... who make a declaration in the name of another, the king will judge concerning them and their belongings shall be confiscated. Likewise, - -

Those holding the tax contracts for the villages and the komarchs shall register at the same time the taxable and tax-free livestock in the villages, and their owners with fathers' names and place of origin, and by whom the livestock are managed. Likewise they shall declare whatever livestock they know to be unregistered and in existence up to Dystros of the 25th year in written statements on royal oath.

And they shall make each year at the same time declarations and shall pay the sums due as it is set out in the letter from the king, in the proper months according to the schedule. If any do not carry out something of the aforesaid, they shall be liable to the same penalties as those registering their own cattle under other names.

Anyone who wishes may inform (on violations), in which case he shall receive a portion of the penalties exacted acccording to the schedule, as is announced in the schedule, and of the goods confiscated to the crown he shall receive a third part.

By order of the king: If anyone in Syria and Phoenicia has bought a free native person or has seized and held one or acquired one in any other manner - - - to the oikonomos in charge in each hyparchy within 20 days from the day of the publication of the ordinance. If anyone does not declare or present him he shall be deprived of the slave and there shall in addition be exacted for the crown 6000 drachmas per head, and the king shall judge about him. To the informer shall be given... drachmas per head. If they show that any of the registered and presented persons were already slaves when bought, they shall be returned to them. As for those persons purchased in royal auctions, even if some of them claim to be free, the sales shall be valid for the purchasers.

Whoever of the soldiers on active duty and the other military settlers in Syria and Phoenicia are living with native wives whom they have captured need not declare them.

And for the future no one shall be allowed to buy or accept as security native free persons on any pretext, except for those handed over by the superintendent of the revenues in Syria and Phoenicia for execution, for whom the execution is properly on the person, as it is written in the law governing farming contracts. Otherwise, they shall be liable to the same penalties, both sellers and mortgagors. Informers shall be given 300 drachmas per head from the sums exacted.


The papyrus was first published by H. Liebesny in Aegyptus 16 (1936) 257-291, with a full commentary; the text was reprinted as SB V 8008. A new edition appears as C.Ptol.Sklav. 3 (text unchanged, but substantial commentary).

Former years: The proclamation is evidently intended by this "amnesty" to persuade fearful defaulters to clear their record at no cost.

Already slaves: Household slaves, that is.

Execution on the person: The Crown thus reserves the right, denied to individuals, of collecting debts by enslaving the debtors.


P. Cair. Zen. I 59076, 59075                                                                               257

These two letters record gifts made by Toubias, the wealthy head of the powerful Toubiad family in the Transjordan, which was under Ptolemaic rule at the time, to the dioiketes Apollonios and to the king. Toubias, like many rulers who operated as vassals of the Ptolemaic kings, retained very considerable local autonomy within the framework of royal rule, and if he is not the king's equal, neither is he quite an ordinary subject; his gifts are, even if suggested by Apollonios, those of one ruler to another. Both letters were written by a well-trained Greek scribe in Toubias' employ.


Toubias to Apollonios [greeting]. If you and all your affairs are flourishing, and everything else is [as you wish it], many thanks to the gods. I too have been well, and have been remembering you at all times, as was right.

I have sent to you Aineias bringing a [eunuch] and four boys, alert and of good breeding, two of whom are uncircumcised. I append descriptions of the boys for your information. Farewell. Year 29, Xandikos 10.

Haimos. About 10. Dark skin. Curly hair. Black eyes. Rather big jaws with moles on the right jaw. Uncircumcised.

Okaimos. About 7. Round face. Nose flat. Gray eyes. Fiery complexion. Long straight hair. Scar on forehead above the right eyebrow. Circumcised.

Atikos. about 8. Light skin. Curly hair. Nose somewhat flat Black eyes, scar below the right eye. Uncircumcised.

Audomos. About 10. Black eyes. Curly hair. Nose flat. Protruding lips. Scar near the right eyebrow. Circumcised.

(Address) To Apollonios. (Docket) Toubias, about a eunuch and four boys he has sent to him (Apollonios). Year 29, Arternision 16, at Alexandria.


Toubias to Apollonios, greeting. As you wrote to me to send [gifts for the king in the] month of [Xandikos], I have sent on the tenth of Xandikos [Aineias] our agent [bringing] two horses, six dogs, one wild mule bred from an ass, two white Arab donkeys, two wild mules' foals, one wild ass's foal. They are all tame. I have also sent you the letter which I have written to the king about the gifts, together with a copy for your information. Farewell. Year 29, Xandikos 10.

To King Ptolemy from Toubias, greeting. I have sent you two horses, six dogs, one wild mule bred from an ass, two white Arab donkeys, two wild mules' foals and one wild ass's foal. Farewell. (Address) To Apollonios. (Docket) Toubias, about the items sent to the king, and the copy of his letter to the king. Year 29, Arternisios 16, at Alexandria.


The translations are mainly those of CPJud. 4-5, using Tcherikover's additional restorations. Cf. also C.Ptol.Sklav. 48.


PSI IV 324                                                                                                         261

The marketing of wheat surpluses was one of the Ptolemies' largest sources of foreign revenue, and very tight controls were put on it to safeguard the royal interest. It is clear here that Syria was regulated much as was Egypt, with the crown maintaining if not a monopoly at least a large-scale export business handled through private merchants.

Apollonios to Apollodotos, greeting. If anyone exporting grain from Syria pays you either the price or a deposit, receive it from them through the bank and give us double sealed receipts, writing the name of the payer and the amount of money and whether he is paying on behalf of another. Farewell. Year 25, Artemisios 12. (Address) To Apollodotos.


PSI IV 325 is a duplicate addressed to another official.

Apollodotos: A royal financial official outside Egypt, later active in Caria. PSI IV 325 is addressed to Hikesios, another such official.


P. Cair. Zen. I 59037                                                                                          258/7

The author of this memorandum to Zenon was evidently one of his Carian friends (he came from Kaunos), who gives him news about the latest problems in a large financial scandal in Halikarnassos. The late Danaos had been involved in some transaction (a tax-farming contract, perhaps) with the crown, but had defaulted; his son has reached an agreement with the chief Ptolemaic financial official in the area for the settlement of the problem, but Halikarnassian and Alexandrian politics are delaying the settlement. Zenon is asked to cut the red tape.

-- that... was sent from the son of Danaos and (letters) were written to him (Apollonios) in Xandikos of the 28th year from Apollodotos and Kratinos the son of Danaos to the effect that (the affair) should be settled with payment of twenty talents to the king; but the emissary has not delivered the letters to him, but is living in Alexandria in the house of Aristoboulos, following evil ways. His name is Hedylos.

(Know) also that Pankris, the associate of Danaos, is trying to get the office of nomophylax through Epikydes, but that the latter is referring it to him (Apollonios). Therefore (take care) that he obtains no favors, for he is hostile and spreading the word that the trouble about Danaos happened because of him (Apollonios).

Get for me letters from him (Apollonios) to Apollodotos and Laagos and Hikesios, and let them be favorable about me, and you write yourself. And get (a letter) also to Iason the banker saying that he (Apollonios) is reconciled to him by my intercession, for he has already written to Apollodotos.


This translation is based on that of Edgar in Annales Service Antiq. 22 (1922) 218, where a lengthy discussion is to be found.

Apollodotos and Hikesios: royal financial officials outside Egypt, perhaps oikonomoi.

Aristoboulos: A political opponent of Apollonios, perhaps dioiketes and eponymous priest in the next reign after the death and disgrace of Apollonios.

Epikydes: A Halikarnassian city official mentioned also in 99.


P. Cair. Zen. III 5934la-b                                                                                     248

The involvement of the central government in all manner of local financial affairs in the cities overseas (Caria, here) is nowhere better displayed than in this text, where help from the dioiketes is sought by a Kalyndian whose own city government has not paid what it owed him in connection with supplying wine for a festival. The second part concerns an attempt by another citizen of Kalynda to secure to himself the reconcession of his father's exemption from having troops quartered on him or furnishing supplies for these troops. In an appended note (not translated here), Zenon asked Apollonios to write to the oikonomos, council, and assembly to ask that the privilege be confirmed. It is noted that the man's mother was an aunt of Zenon.

To Apollonios the dioiketes, greeting from Theopropos, theoros from Kalynda. In year 38 my tenant farmer Theron purchased from the city a concession to supply wine for the festival which is held yearly in Kypranda, and I supplied the wine on his behalf, amounting to 84 metretai, at 10 drachmas the metretes, which makes 850 drachmas (borrowing at the legal rate of interest, as Theron had no private means and had made the purchase through me). And as the treasurers Diophantos and Akrisios had only given me 600 drachmas in payment of this sum and were withholding the balance of 250 drachmas because all the subscriptions had not been paid up, I brought the treasurers before the strategos Motes and the oikonomos Diodotos, claiming my 250 drachmas. The treasurers Diophantos and Akrisios demanded that a decree should be issued for them to act on, saying that without a decree it was beyond their authority to repay the money. But the prytaneis and the clerk procrastinated and had not written the decree up to the time when, having been appointed a theoros by the city, along with Diophantos one of the treasurers, I came here to the king. If therefore it seems good to you, kindly write to our city and to the strategos and the oikonomos that the 250 drachmas are to be paid to me (together with the interest whatever it may amount to from the time when I paid out money to buy the wine for the city, as I had myself to borrow from other people and am still incurring interest), (seeing that in former cases also other contractors have been paid by decree (?) owing to the subscriptions being insufficient to provide for the payment), in order that I may not suffer wrong but be one of the many that have experienced your benevolence. Farewell.

Neon to Damonikos, greeting. If you are well and other matters are going according to your desires, it would be well. I myself am well along with all the others.

Would you please speak to Zenon about the billeting and the hay and the green fodder for the sixty-days' obligation, asking that an order be given in my name; for at present we have people quartered on us and have also to provide hay and green fodder for the cavalryman, as they are paying no attention to the first letter. But let him write also to the same effect to the boule and demos. I am trying to come and join you myself at all costs. Until I come, then, speak to him yourself, taking along Ariston, Epharmostos, and Apollonios. I have written to Apollonios as well as Epharmostos, asking them to speak to Zenon on your behalf also. Farewell.


The translations are based on those of Edgar, Annales Service Antiq. 20 (1920) 33-35, where there is an extensive discussion.

Theoros:  Sacred ambassador from his city, in this case to the great Ptolemaia of 248.

850 drachmas: This should be 840.

Borrowing…: This passage, like others in this text enclosed in parentheses, was bracketed for deletion by the author on second thoughts.

Motes and Diodotos: These are royal officials.

Speak to Zenon: It is not clear if Zenon himself is to write to the officials, royal and civic, in Kalynda, as seems on the face of it to be the meaning, or if he is to get Apollonios to do these things (which he in fact apparently tried to do).

Epharmostos: A brother of Zenon.

Taking along … Apollonios:  Not the dioiketes, but evidently another Carian friend.


P. Tebt. I 33                                                                                                                112

By the time of this letter Egypt was no longer a power of the first rank, and Roman favor counted for a great deal. Roman visitors of senatorial rank, as here, were therefore naturally treated with the utmost deference.

Hermias to Horos, greeting. A copy of the letter to Asklepiades is appended. Take care that things take place accordingly. Farewell. Year 5, Xandikos 17, Mecheir 17.

To Asklepiades. Lucius Memmius, a Roman senator, who occupies a position of great dignity and honor, is making the voyage from the city [Alexandria] to the Arsinoite Nome to see the sights. Let him be received with special magnificence, and take care that at the proper spots the guest-chambers be prepared and the landing-places to them be got ready with great care, and that the gifts of hospitality mentioned below be presented to him at the landing-place, and that the furniture of the chamber, the customary bites of food for Petesouchos and the crocodiles, the necessaries for the view of the labyrinth, and the victims to be offered and the supply for the sacrifices be properly managed; in general take the utmost pains in everything that the visitor may be satisfied, and display the utmost zeal.


Also in Sel.Pap. 416; cf. BL III 240 for Ad. Wilhelm's restorations to the text.

Petesouchos: A crocodile god of the Fayum.

Labyrinth:  See 145 on this "sight".