THE BUREAUCRACY OF
68. APPOINTMENT OF A KOMOGRAMMATEUS
P. Tebt. I 9-10 119
These documents are (a) a memorandum from Menches undertaking to pay a large amount of produce on a one-time basis in return for renewal of his appointment as village scribe, and (b) a notification from a higher official to the topogrammateus of Menches' reappointment on condition of his cultivating some unproductive land and paying an annual rent. The latter promise was a frequent condition of holding office, but the former was not, and these payments may well have been illegal bribes. The role of Dorion is particularly odd, as he is known elsewhere to be a high-status person probably living in Alexandria. What he got in return for subsidizing Menches’ payments is unknown
From Menches, komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris. On being appointed to the post of komogrammateus previously held by me I will pay at the village 50 artabas of wheat and 50 artabas of pulse, namely 20 artabas of lentils, 10 of bruised beans, 10 of peas, 6 of mixed seeds, 3 of mustard, I of parched pulse, total 50; total, 100 artabas. Year 5 1, Pachon 6. And Dorion will pay 50 artabas of wheat and 10 of pulse, namely 3 of bruised beans, 3 of peas, 3 of mixed seeds, I of mustard, total 10, total 60.
Asklepiades to Marres, greeting. Menches having been appointed komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris by the dioiketes on the understanding that he shall cultivate at his own expense 10 arouras of the land in the neighborhood of the village which has been reported as unproductive at a rent of 50 artabas, which he shall pay annually from the 52nd year onwards to the crown in full or shall measure out the deficiency from his private means, give to him the papers of his office and take care that the terms of his agreement are fulfilled. Farewell. Year 51, Mesore 3. (Address) To Marres, topogrammateus.
On Menches, whose papers figure elsewhere in this collection, see the study of G.M. Harper, Aegyptus 14 (1934) 14-32 and more fully A. Verhoogt, Menches, Komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris (Leiden 1998); on this transaction, 54 ff.
On the village, see D.J. Crawford, Kerkeosiris (Cambridge 1971).
Pulses: edible seeds of various leguminous plants.
Unproductive land: largely a result of the disorganization of the civil administration in charge of irrigation, by the wars of the second century, particularly the civil wars.
69. OATH OF OFFICE
This oath of the Egyptian assistant to the agent of a royal banker stationed in the chief town of a subdivision of the Herakleopolite Nome, which survives in two copies, shows both the typical form of an oath by the gods, the sovereigns and others, and the duties of his office, which consist of keeping accurate records of his receipts and depositing them in the bank unless he is ordered specifically to make a disbursement on the spot. As is typical, the bureaucrat is to be personally responsible for any financial losses to the crown through his actions. Noteworthy also is the pledge to refrain from the not uncommon practice of seeking sanctuary from justice.
In the reign of Ptolemy the son of Ptolemy and Arsinoe, the Brother and Sister Gods, year. . ., Epeiph 28. The oath which Semtheus son of Teos, of Herakleopolis, one of the assistants, who is also called Herakleodoros, swore and recorded in writing:
I swear by King Ptolemy, the son of King Ptolemy, and by Queen Berenike and by the Brother and Sister Gods and by the Benefactor Gods their ancestors and by Isis and Sarapis and all the other gods and goddesses of the country: to perform my official duties under Klitarchos the agent of Asklepiades the banker in charge of the accounting office in Phebichis of the Koite (toparchy); and to report correctly and justly all payments to the crown treasury and the cash which I receive from Klitarchos separately from what I receive myself; and to deposit these in the bank in Herakleopolis unless I am instructed to disburse any outlay locally; and to give to Klitarchos an account of all payments, both of income and of expense, and the receipts for whatever I disburse.
If I keep this oath, may it be well with me, but if I break it I am to be guilty of impiety.
Year …: The reading is uncertain in both copies, and the date is thus not determined without doubt; the reign is that of Euergetes I and Klitarchos is elsewhere known in the 220's. A possible reading of the year numeral would point to 229 as the date.
The Benefactor Gods were not “their ancestors,” and either this is an error for the Savior Gods (Ptolemy I and Berenike) or the phrase has been misplaced and should stand immediately after the names of the current king and queen.
70. LETTER OF MARRES TO MENCHES
P. Tebt. I 23 ca. 119-111
Marres, who as topogrammateus was officially Menches' superior, complains to him here that one of the higher official's relatives has been harmed by Menches' conduct; worse, Marres has lost face by the relative’s getting help from someone else. He orders the village official to remember his place. The lack of any specifics suggests that this is a personal rather than an official matter. For Menches, see 68.
Marres to Menches, greeting. My kinsman Melas has appealed to me concerning an alleged injury from you obliging him to complain to Demetrios. son of Niboitas. I am exceedingly vexed that he should have gained no special consideration from you on my account and should therefore have asked assistance from Demetrios; and I consider that you have acted badly in not having been careful that he should be independent of others owing to my superior rank. Therefore will you now please endeavor more earnestly to correct your behavior towards him, abandoning your previous state of ignorance. If you have any grievance against him apply together with him to me. Farewell.
(Address) To Menches, komogrammateus.
71. ACCOUNT OF A POSTAL STATION
P. Hib. I 110 verso ca. 255
This account contains eight days' entries from the daybook of the operator of a royal postal station, recording the arrival and dispatch of rolls (of accounts and official documents, probably) and letters to and from the king, the dioiketes Apollonios, and other persons in Alexandria and in the country. It appears that courtiers stayed mostly near their home bases, shuttling back and forth between that station and the next in either direction, where a new person took the mail. See F. Preisigke, Klio 7 (1907) 241-277, and W. Chr. 435, introduction, with the remarks of E. Van 't Dack, CdÉ 37 (1962) 338-341. The station was perhaps located in the Memphite nome.
The 16th, - - - [delivered] to Alexander 6 [rolls]; of these 1 roll was for King Ptolemy, 1 roll for Apollonios the dioiketes and two letters which were received in addition to the roll, 1 roll for Antiochos the Cretan, 1 roll for Menodoros, 1 roll contained in another (?) for Chel. . ., and Alexander delivered them to Nikodemos.
The 17th, at dawn, Phoinix the younger, son of Herakleitos, Macedonian holding 100 arouras, delivered to Aminon 1 roll and the price (?) for Phanias; and Aminon delivered it to Theochrestos.
The 18th, 1st hour, Theochrestos delivered to Dinias 3 rolls from upriver, of which 2 rolls were for King Ptolemy and 1 for Apollonios the dioiketes, and Dinias delivered them to Hippolysos.
The 18th, 6th hour, Phoinix the elder, son of Herakleitos, Macedonian holding 100 arouras in the Herakleopolite Nome, one of the first company of E..., delivered 1 roll for Phanias, and Aminon delivered it to Timokrates.
The 19th, 11th hour, Nikodemos delivered from downriver to Alexander [ - ] rolls, from King Ptolemy for Antiochos in the Herakleopolite Nome 1 roll, for Demetrios, the officer in charge of supplies for the elephants, in the Thebaid 1 roll, for Hippoteles the agent of Antiochos (against?) Andronikos (?) at Apollonopolis Magna, 1 roll, from King Ptolemy to Theogenes the money-carrier 1 roll, for Herakleodoros in the Thebaid [1 roll] for Zoilos, banker of the Hermopolite Nome, , for Dionysios, oikonomos in the Arsinoite Nome, 1 [roll].
The 20th,. . hour, Lykokles delivered to Aminon 3 rolls, of which 1 roll was for King Ptolemy from the elephant-country below Th..., 1 roll for Apollonios the dioiketes, 1 roll for Hermippos, member of the staff of workmen (?), and Aminon delivered them to Hippolysos.
The 21st, 6th hour,. . delivered two letters from downriver for Phanias... and Horos delivered them to Dionysios - -
The 22nd, 1st hour, A ... delivered [to Dinias] 16 rolls, of which [-] rolls were for King Ptolemy from the elephant-country below Th. . ., 4 rolls for Apollonios the dioiketes, 4 rolls for Antiochos the Cretan, and Dinias delivered them to Nikodemos.
The 22nd, 12th hour, Leon delivered to Aminon from upriver [- rolls] for King Ptolemy, and Aminon delivered them to Hippolysos.
The 23rd, at dawn, Timokrates delivered to [Alexander -] rolls, of which [-] rolls were for King Ptolemy, 1 roll for [Apollonios] the dioiketes, 1 roll for P... the money-carrier, [-] roll for Par. . ., and Alexander delivered them to - -.
17th, price for Phanias: This transaction is somewhat obscure, since there is no mention of charges for official correspondence and no evidence that the system handled anything else.
72. ANNOUNCEMENT OF A GOVERNMENT AUCTION
P. Eleph. 14 ca. 223
The regulations governing an auction of property, probably mostly confiscated by the crown for default, are set out here, including priestly offices with their privileges and incomes, vineyards, and ordinary arable farmland. The regulations for each class of property differ somewhat, mainly in the type of ownership conferred.
We offer (the properties) for sale on the following terms. The successful bidders shall pay annually to the Crown in the case of the vineyards the appropriate money taxes and the apomoira due to (Arsinoe) Philadelphos, and for the arable land the rents in kind which have been imposed upon it and [whatever other payment is required] in respect of such land. They shall pay the price of that which [is due to] the crown to the royal bank, and of that which concerns any of the [temples (?) to its own (?)] banker, within 3 years, the 4th part of the whole price of the priestly offices in gold or silver of the new coinage and the remainder in bronze with the customary discount at the rate of 10 drachmas, 2 1/3 obols on the mina and the price of the other landed property in bronze with the customary exchange charge and they shall pay in addition the transport charge (for the bronze) of three obols per mina and the proper 1/60th and as crier's fee on the whole purchase 1/1000th. The purchaser shall receive the due revenues of the priestly offices as soon as the first instalment has been paid to the Crown, and he shall be owner of the land and of its produce, if it has been sown by the former owners, and if it has been leased, those who cultivated it shall pay the rent to the purchaser in accordance with the contracts made with the cultivators. The purchasers shall pay the fourth part of the price immediately and the remainder in 3 years beginning from year 25, paying annually in Epeiph and Mesore the amount which falls due, and on cattle and implements they shall pay immediately the taxes of... and 1/90th. They shall own the properties in the same way as those who formerly possessed them. Whoever wishes shall be permitted to overbid, by as much as he pleases while the auction-ring is still open, but only by ten per cent after the auction is ended and until the 1st instalment has been paid; and (if there is no purchaser) the objects offered shall be classed as unsold after the 6(?) days prescribed by the ordinance.
Translation essentially that of Sel.Pap. 233.
Such land: Held by continuing leases rather than ownership.
Bronze money: This was accepted in place of silver money, but only at less than face value, a discount of almost 11 per cent when the transportation charge is included.
73. AVOIDING A LITURGY
P. Mich. I 23 257
In this letter a citizen of an unnamed Greek city asks Zenon to assist his messenger in getting to see Apollonios to ask the latter to intervene to secure cancellation of the author's nomination for liturgical service as his city's commissary in charge of securing a grain supply. Edgar suggests that the city is probably Alexandria, but it seems to us that the tone of the letter and the relative locations of the persons (Zenon in Arsinoe is to help gain admittance to Apollonios, probably in Alexandria) suggest rather an overseas location for the author, Aristeides. The supply of grain to Greek cities was often uncertain and fluctuating, and numerous inscriptions of the period display the gratitude of a city to a prominent citizen who has secured grain for it. Cf. for the grain supply 2, 3, 63, and 64.
Aristeides to Zenon, greeting. If you are well and everything else is to your mind, I would give many thanks to the gods. I too am well. I have had the misfortune to be proposed by the citizens as grain-buyer though I am not yet of the right age nor due for that burden, but [have been proposed by] certain persons out of jealousy. I and my brother Theronides have therefore sent Dromon to explain these things to Apollonios, in order that he may help us and release me from that commission. You would do me a favor then by immediately admitting Dromon to Apollonios' presence and assisting him to speak with Apollonios as soon as possible and seeing that he sends him back to us immediately after settling everything. And write yourself if ever you need anything from here, in order that we may do all that you want. Farewell.
(Address) To Zenon. (Docket) Aristeides about himself and the charge of supplying grain. Year 29, Panemos 1, in Arsinoe.
74. A LETTER TO ZENON FROM KAUNIANS SEEKING HELP
P. Col. Zen. I 11 257
Zenon was a native of Kaunos in Caria, and after his entry into Ptolemaic service he maintained his family and social ties to this city and others in Caria, all of which were under Ptolemaic control at this period. Three Kaunians, in Egypt on some unofficial political errand, solicit Zenon's help in getting the assistance of his master Apollonios, who - whatever official power he had over Caria - was the most influential royal official of the time. The informal. nature of the inner workings of the Ptolemaic bureaucracy is shown clearly here.
Zenon, Protogenes and Apollonides to Zenon, greeting. Hearing of the good-will which you have towards all your fellow-citizens, we commend you; and we would gladly have met you beforehand, desiring to chat with you concerning matters of advantage to the city and about ourselves. Since it has not come about that you were able to (receive?) the three of us, believing that it behooves you as it does the rest of our citizens whose public life is on a high plane to give thought to these things, we beg you, along with Pyrrhias and Apollonides, to present to Apollonios the letter which we have given to Apollonides, [a letter] which is useful to us all. And if you are in any other way able to work with us so that we may obtain consideration, (please do so) with the full knowledge that when we return to our own city we shall not be unmindful of these things, but will in turn disclose them to the assembly so that it is clear to you [that we are not unmindful]. And we will also personally try to return the favor. Farewell. (Address) To Zenon.
(Docket) Zenon, Protogenes, Apollonides. Year 29, Xandikos. In Memphis.
75. LETTER TO ZENON ABOUT A PETITIONER
P. Ryl. IV 563 249
A functionary attempts to enlist the services of Zenon and of Apollonios' interpreter (obviously a man of importance to such a petitioner) to foil the plans of an Egyptian soldier to complain in person to Apollonios about a situation that is not explained in much detail. The solidarity of the Greek subordinates of the dioiketes against this Egyptian is interesting.
Pataikion to Zenon, greeting. I assigned to the account of Aristodemos a house of Sokeus son of Nechauis, a native soldier, in Aueris, and I have heard that he has sailed down to present a petition to Apollonios about me, ignoring both the seller and the buyer, with the idea that he will discomfit me if he petitions Apollonios. If, therefore, you have an opportunity and if it be practicable, will you please take action against the fellow, in order that I may not be discredited by the rest of them. I have written also to Apollonios the interpreter about these matters, requesting him also to do the man as much damage as he can. Farewell. Year 36, Pharmouthi 1. (Addressed) To Zenon. (Docketed by sender) The one from Philadelphia.
Date: We do not follow the editor's assumption that the financial year was in use here (and the date thus 250), since it is generally agreed that in the reign of Ptolemy II the regnal year was in use in ordinary correspondence; there is no evidence here that this is not the case. (P.Mich. I, p. 55, to which the editor refers, indicates only Edgar's opinion that in the next reign the financial year was more widely used. Cf. also Samuel, Ptolemaic Chronology [München 1962] 77).
Pataikion: The name is for some reason erased.
76. ZENON PETITIONS THE KING
P. Cair. Zen.V 59832 ca. 246-240
Soon after the beginning of the reign of Ptolemy III, the new king removed from office Apollonios, who had served Ptolemy 11 as finance minister for many years. Apollonios lost his "gift" estate at Philadelphia in the Fayum and very possibly his life. This petition from Zenon, Apollonios' former manager on this estate, forms a part of what was obviously a complex process, the winding up of the affairs of the estate. Zenon had been dismissed by Apollonios just before the end of Philadelphos' reign, and unlike his former master he survived and prospered well into the next reign. For this period of Zenon's life, see M. Rostovtzeff, A Large Estate in Egypt (Madison 1922) 158-64, and R.S. Bagnall in Greek, Roman and Byz. Studies 15 (1974) 215-220. ORRIEUX
To King Ptolemy from Zenon, greeting. I was in charge of the gift-estate in Philadelphia belonging to Apollonios the former dioiketes, until year 38, when I was dismissed by him. I was included in the announcement concerning the rendering of accounts, because I owed... the produce of the fields in my charge and that of my assistants... Therefore, because it has been announced that if anyone owes anything to Apollonios or those who managed his property he should make a declaration, I ask that everything that I demonstrate to have been received by the agents of Apollonios with respect to the crops in my charge and that of my assistants be deducted from what I still owe; and likewise all that my own debtors have been able to declare; so that I may be able to settle the debt and that it may not happen to me to fall under the proclamation for want of being able to pay the debt because these sums were not credited to me.
The letter is much corrected and is certainly a first draft.
Year 38: Philadelphos died during his 39th regnal year, 247/6.
Fall under the proclamation: I.e., to incur the penalties provided by this proclamation, whether it be a general one or the announcement referred to above.
77. PETITION ABOUT ASSESSMENT
P. Cair. Zen. II 59236 254-253
This petition tells us that the basis for taxation on vineyards was a three-year average; the officials had excluded the earliest of the last three years on Stratippos, vineyard on the grounds that the vineyard was not fully in production then, and the latter two years yielded a higher average. The owner's son seeks to have this perfectly reasonable decision overruled, probably with Zenon's intercession. On the wine trade and production see J.A.S. Evans, Journal of Juristic Papyrology 7-8 (1953-54) 53-70; on this document, p. 63, n. 69.
To Diotimos the dioiketes from Neoptolemos, Macedonian of the cleruchs in Philadelphia, greeting. My father Stratippos is wronged by Theokles, the former oikonomos of the Aphroditopolite Nome and by Petosiris the basilikos grammateus. For in making an assessment-list for vineyards, taking (as a base) the produce from the (last) three years, they assessed it at a third of the amount; but for my father they made an assessment from two years, claiming that it was newly planted. I therefore ask you, if it seems right to you, to lock into this matter, and if these things are true, since they also made the assessment for the others from three years, to give an order for my benefit to Hermolaos and Petosiris that they should make the assessment for my father too from three years, whether they wish to make it from the twenty-ninth year or from the thirtieth year, for we have already made wine from it for four years; and to have credited to him (my father) the silver paid into the bank by the retail wine-sellers from the wine which they brought from the vineyard, so that he may receive justice from you. Farewell. (Docket) Neoptolemos, a petition to Diotimos about a vineyard.
Dioiketes: In reality no doubt a hypodioiketes under Apollonios, but the circumscription of his authority is uncertain.
Silver paid into the bank: The tax was paid in money, and all receipts were doubtless frozen until taxes were settled.
77A. THE BUREAUCRATS OPEN A SLUICE-GATE
P.Köln VIII 342 232
Dionysodoros, a subordinate of the oikonomos, and Sokmenis write to Inaros, evidently an official in charge of the desert canal, asking him to to open one of the sluices, presumably because the water is now needed for irrigation; Inaros declines to act without the approval of Theudoros, whose position we do not know, but who may have been chief engineer of the Fayyum.
Sokmenis (and) Dionysodoros to Inaros, greetings. As soon as you receive this letter, open the second sluice of the desert canal. Farewell. Year 15, Mesore 18.
(In Demotic) Written by Sokmenis to Inaros.
(Reply on the reverse) Inarous to Dionysodoros (and) Sokmenis, greetings. Please write to Theudoros to write to me to follow your instructions. For I cannot open anything without his permission. Farewell. (Address) To Inaros.
Desert canal: The canal along the edge between the cultivated land and the desert, thus the the high-level canal. The ancient predecessor of today's Bahr Gharaq is probably meant.
77B. OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE:
DON’T MOVE THE HIVES; SEND CALVES
P.Heid. VI 362 226
The outward form of these letters is the typical chain-letter structure: First the cover letter (from the oikonomos), then the substantive letter (from the basilikos grammateus); the latter in at least the second case in turn refers to instructions in a letter, also appended, from an official in Alexandria. These fragments seem to come from the in-box of a police station. The first reiterates the prohibition against transporting bee-hives from one nome to another (because it confuses the taxation system), already known from P.Cair.Zen. III 59368; this rule caused constant trouble for the beekeepers, who needed to move their hives seasonally (see Bingen …). The second order concerns finding more calves needed for the great Ptolemaieia, the quadrennial festival that must have been going on or imminent when these letters were written in February, 226.
Year 21, Choiak 20. Copy of orders.
Herakleides to the chiefs of police and the policemen in the Herakleopolite, greeting. I have appended a copy for you of the letter from Peteimouthes the basilikos grammateus. Do not allow any of the beekeepers to export hives from the nome until further instructions from me. Farewell. Year 21, Choiak 19.
Peteimouthes to Herakleides, greeting. Because it happens that the beekeepers transfer their hives to the Arsinoite (nome) and thus mix up the hives from the Herakleopolite so that it is not possible…
Herakleides to the chiefs of police and the policemen in the Herakleopolite, greeting. I have appended a copy for you of the letter from Peteimouthes the basilikos grammateus. (rest of letter mostly lost)
Peteimouthes to Herakleides, greeting. I have appended a copy of the letter from Artemon, the superintendent of affairs in the countryside. Please write to the policemen in each locality not to allow anyone to export calves from the nome for any reason, informing them as well if any of the topogrammateis are designating people exporting calves…and branded, older than the age of nursing…to Herakleopolis under guard…keep them. Year 21, Choiak [
Artemon to Peteimouthes, greeting. As there is need for still additional calves for the pentheterikon, see to it that …
pentheterikon: Literally, “Held every five years”; as the Greeks reckoned inclusively, this means every fourth year in our terms. This is the great Ptolemaieia, the major dynastic festival of the Ptolemies.
78. DECLARATION OF HOUSE-PROPERTY
W. Chr. 221 (UPZ 116) 210-183
The mechanics of declaration for purposes of tax assessment are shown by this document, in which a resident of Memphis declares his home and bakery, which were apparently located across a street from one another at a T-intersection of that street with another (diagram in UPZ I, p. 539).
To Metrodoros, epimeletes, from Apynchis son of Inarous, Hellenomemphite. I declare, in accordance with the proclamation that has been issued, the house and courtyard belonging to me in the Hellenion in the place Imensthotieion, of which the dimensions of the house are 21 cubits by 13 cubits, and of the courtyard 4 cubits by 13 cubits, the boundaries being on the south the house of Tampsois daughter of Phanos, on the north that of Pasis son of Arianis, and a road between, on the west my bakery and a road between, on the east (the house of) Pokaus son of Petemounis. I value this at 4000 drachmas. And another house, in which they make bread, and a courtyard, of which the measurements are, for the house, 21 cubits by 13 cubits and of the courtyard 4 cubits by 13 cubits, the boundaries being (on the south) the house of Onnophris son of Horos, on the north that of Pasis son of Arianis, and a street between, on the west (the house of) Nephergeris son of Pachrates, on the east the aforementioned house and street between. This I value at 2000 bronze drachmas. Total, 1 talent.
Date: See Reekmans, cf. BL 111, 251 (Préaux thinks early second century).
Hellenomemphite: Greek of Memphis, probably from pre-Alexander residents. Cf. PSI V 531.
Hellenion: The "Greek quarter".
Dimensions: The cubit being ca. 21 inches, the house and bakery would be each 36'9" x 22'9", their courtyards 22"9" x 7'.
79. LETTER ABOUT COLLECTION OF TAXES
P. Hib. I 66 228
The tax-farmer here requests the banker in part of the Herakleopolite Nome to collect a tax for which he has contracted, stating that he will make it worth his while.
Protarchos to Kleitarchos, greeting. I have contracted for the 1 ½ per cent (tax) with the managers of the dorea. Since the 5 per cent tax is paid to you in your district, please order your agents to collect the other taxes too, as Asklepiades has also written to you; and as soon as I arrive from the collection (?) of the bronze I will have a conversation with you, so that you shall not oblige me to no purpose. Farewell. Year 19, Pachons 14.
(Address) To Kleitarchos, banker of the Koite (district).
Dorea: In all probability this term here refers to the grant of the proceeds of a tax as a concession to an individual (as in 118). The banker is the same as in 69.
80. LETTER ABOUT PROTECTION OF TAX-FARMER
P. Tebt. I 40 117
The development of a patron-client type of protection within the bureaucratic structure is well-illustrated by this text; see 68 for Menches' involvement in this pervasive and pernicious network.
(Docket of Menches) Received in the 53rd year, Tybi 15.
(Letter) To Ammeneus, basilikos grammateus, from Pnepheros son of Paous, contractor for the taxes on beer and natron at Kerkeosiris in the division of Polemon for the 53rd year. Having received certain information that the inhabitants of the village are with one accord claiming your protection, and being myself anxious to belong to your house because it devolves upon you before all others to watch over the interests of the crown, I beg you to order a letter to be sent to Demetrios the epistates of the village and Nikanor the chief of police and Menches the komogrammateus and the elders of the cultivators, with instructions to compel the inhabitants to follow the ancient traditions, in order that I may be enabled to pay what I owe punctually. Farewell.
(Order of Ammeneus) To Menches, komogrammateus. Let justice be done to the taxpayer in accordance with the traditions of the village. Year 53, Tybi 13. (Address) To Menches.
80A. A KOMARCH’S EXTORTION RACKET
SB XX 14708 151
This petition tells about an extreme, but probably not unusual, scheme for a local official to extract profit from his position, but adding to the regular royal taxes an extra amount that he and his cronies would pocket. The petitioner was evidently part of the racket but has run afoul of its leader and had to leave town. He tries herewith to turn state’s evidence and blow the whistle on the whole thing. His statements could be inflated or untrue, but it looks as if he is simply trying to minimize his own involvement and responsibility for clearly illegal behavior. The text is difficult to understand not only because of some minor damage but because the author’s syntax is often defective and the petition is corrected in several places.
(Archival notation) 475
To Dioskourides, chief bodyguard of the king and dioiketes, from Harmais son of Marres, royal cultivator from Theadelphia of the Themistos division of the Arsinoite nome. Because I am greatly wronged and chased from my home by Mesthasythmis the komarch of the village, I have fled to you to receive help. For in the 27th year, when I had been appointed by Mesthasythmis as dekanos of royal cultivators in the village, and he made a substantial paralogeia (unauthorized extra collection) each year from the same cultivators of ½ artaba of wheat per aroura and 90 drachmas of bronze, from which he was amassing it to be stolen. Appointing (?) along with me his own secretary, Pnepheros son of Petsouchos, for the paralogeia of the bronze, and Kollouthes son of Patis and Tothoes son of Papentpos his … for that of the wheat, to … everything in the month of Pachon to ship, namely the half-artaba of wheat per aroura and 85 drachmas of bronze.
And in the 28th year, a certain Seleukos who had made a complaint against him concerning the same paralogeiai and other taxes, was basely seized by Seleukos…their testimony from the documents which he had recovered. But when he fled to the Temple of Sarapis in the village because of his knowledge of these matters, the aforementioned Mesthasythmis did not … until … shook him down … all the documents concerning the affairs relating to Seleukos, 68 drachmas of silver. Similarly, in the payment which he made to the treasury … in the Temple of Sarapis in the village, from which were gathered a total of 500 artabas of wheat. And entering into the royal granary, he abstracted from the seed-grain on deposit there, from which … of mine alone 75 artabas, which he appropriated, with the rest of the remainder of the 500 artabas, which also had been exported for sale through Kollouthes and Thasos his mother and Kollouthis his wife.
Moreover, in the 29th year he compelled us to take charge of the same paralogeia, for a half-artaba and 50 dr. of bronze for each aroura, which was exacted illegally through us and Thothoes son of Papentpos by the six-choinix measure of the village, and the wheat was stored in the houses of Limnaios and Leontomenes the 80-aroura settler, and the bronze money was turned over to Mesthasytmis himself. After this… in the 30th year, when documents arrived locally … and I informed Mesthasytmis … but after I sailed down to the city so as to sell the (produce?) from the previous ( ? ), being bad by nature, he brought a charge against me and handed me over to the jail in Krokodilopolis … He did not release me until he compelled me to … execute a cession in his favor of the royal land which I farm, along with the crop on it, until I paid him. When he brought to the matter punishment and blows, and in addition he demanded sureties for the seed-grain lying in the royal granary to the amount of 150 artabas, in place of which laying hands on many shortfalls, for which I have my entire cultivation so that no loss would occur to the treasury. Entangled with an evil man, then, I set out for flight to the king and queen after explaining everything in writing. Taking policemen and his overseers with the same intention, he had the roads watched closely, wanting to drag me back to prison so that I could not sail down to the city and give testimony. Therefore, addressing … I ask that if you please you give orders to … my testimony about these things …and if this happens I shall have been helped. Farewell.
(Subscription) … let a written statement of the witnesses be sent from those present. Year 30, Choiak 22.
Dioskourides: See B. Kramer, APF 41 (1995) 298.
Dekanos: Head of a group of ten, literally, but apparently head of the entire group of cultivators in this case.
Paralogeia: A term used for collections beyond (para) the legal amount, with the usual sense of being collected for the benefit of the collector, not to enrich the treasury.
90 drachmas: At this date, the equivalent perhaps of a bit more than a third of an artaba of wheat. The total overcharge would thus amount to some 5/6 artaba, a considerable percentage of the total crop per aroura.
28th year: The editor’s text says 25th, but his marginal note shows that this is an error, printing epsilon for eta.
81. RECEIPT FOR MEDICAL AND POLICE TAXES
P. Hib. I 103 231
This receipt acknowledges payment of olyra for two taxes, one for medical services, one for police services; these taxes fell apparently on the military settlers in the country.
Year 17, Phaophi 2: 14 (artabas) of olyra. Apollophanes to Theophilos, greeting. We have had measured out to us by Stratios on behalf of Diodoros the Kephallenian, decurion of Zoilos' troop, through the komogrammateus Eupolis for the 17th year, 5 (artabas) of olyra as the medical-tax and nine (artabas) of olyra as the police-tax; total, 14 (artabas) of olyra. Farewell. Year 17, Phaophi 2.
Cf. BL III 84 and VII 69; this is an Oxyrhynchite document (Launey).
82. LETTER TO ZENON ABOUT WAX
P. Cair. Zen. V 59823 253
The author of this lively and well-written letter was a banker and businessman at Mendes in the Delta. It is interesting that the price of wax varied sufficiently that it was worth paying an internal customs charge to order some from another nome.
Promethion to Zenon, greeting. You wrote to me about the wax to say that the cost per talent, including the toll at Memphis, comes to 44 drachmas, whereas you are told that with us it costs 40 drachmas. Now do not listen to the babblers; for it is selling here at 48 drachmas. Please therefore send me as much as you can. Following your instructions I have given your agent Aigyptos 500 drachmas of silver towards the price of the wax, and the remainder, whatever it may be, I will pay immediately to whomever you tell me to. And of honey also let 5 metretai be procured for me. I appreciate the kindness and willingness which you always show to me, and if you yourself have need of anything here, do not hesitate to write. Farewell. Year 33, Pharmouthi 19. (Address) To Zenon.
A note on the reverse in a different hand, seemingly irrelevant to this document, says "to build the theater".
83. TAX-FARMER'S PETITION FOR RELIEF
P. Tebt. III 772 236
The contractor for the tax of a sixth on vineyards notifies the nomarch that damage from locusts had caused the owners of the vineyards to refuse to pay the tax to him from the meager remains. When he was in turn unable to pay it to the crown, he was arrested. He asks for an inquiry by all of the chief officials of the nome and for the crop of one vineyard to be impounded pending its outcome. On the sixth of Arsinoe, see 95.
To Asklepiades, nomarch, from Nechembes. After I had contracted for the tax of the sixth of Arsinoe Philadelphos in the division of Herakleides for the 10th year, an incursion of locusts fell (on the crop) and destroyed everything, what was saved being carried off by the owners without the payment of the sixth. I have consequently been wrongfully arrested for this. You will therefore do well, if it please you, to join in session Asklepiades and the antigrapheus and the strategos so that my case against the owners of the vineyards may be heard pending the arrival of Theodoros, for the sum of money is no small one, in order that nothing of this may be lost and that you may also instruct your agent Theokles to impound the crops of the vineyard of Dion which is in the possession of Teisikrates at Tanis. For I have previously taken this man before the strategos, and written instructions were issued by him: he wrote that all the produce of this vineyard was to be impounded, and it has been impounded up to now. I beg you, therefore, if it please you, to send written orders to impound the... in order that the king may suffer no loss. Farewell. Year 10, Pauni 5. To Asklepiades.
Arrested: We do not know why the loss was not simply covered by sureties.
Join in session Asklepiades: Not the same as the addressee of this letter; perhaps an oikonomos.