W.Chr. 50                                                                                                 third century

A considerable number of Egyptians—certainly all who wanted economic or political advancement—learned Greek well enough to get along. Fewer Greeks learned Egyptian, but many of those who married Egyptian women must have done so. Here we apparently have one such Greek writing to another and recording his dream in Egyptian, for whatever reason (Wilcken thinks there is a religious motivation; certainly interpretation of such dreams was a specialty of Egyptian religion). The dream concerned the Taunchis mentioned in the letter.

Ptolemaios to Achilleus, greeting. After writing about the . . ., it seemed good to me to inform you also about the dream, so that you may know in what way the gods know you. I have written below in Egyptian, so that you may understand correctly. Just before I was about to go to sleep, I wrote two letters, one about Taunchis the daughter of Thermouthis, and one about Tetimouthis the daughter of Taues, who is the daughter of Ptolemaios, and - - -  (a long gap) anoint yourself, in which manner I myself passed a fine day. Farewell. Year 2, Phaophi 25. (Here follows a Demotic Egyptian description of the dream.)


Cf. BL II, 2.



P.Col.Zen. I 66                                                                               ca. 256-255

The writer of this letter was not a Greek (the editors suggest he was an Arab). As a former subordinate of Zenon during the latter’s stay in Syria, he had been left behind to work for other agents of Zenon, who did not, however, pay him his promised salary after Zenon left. The reason, the writer alleges, was that the Greeks despised him as a barbarian who could not “hellenizein.” Whether this means simply “to speak Greek” (as it normally does) or rather “to act like a Greek” has been debated. The worst feature of this treatment seems to have been the attempt to pay him in local wine.

…dab… to Zenon, greeting. You do well if you are healthy. I too am well. You know that you left me in Syria with Krotos and I did everything that was ordered in respect to the camels and was blameless toward you. When you sent an order to give me pay, he gve nothing of what you ordered. When I asked repeatedly that he give me what you ordered and Krotos gave me nothing, but kept telling me to remove myself, I held out for a long time waiting for you; but when I was in want of necessities and could not get anything anywhere, I was compelled to run away into Syria so that I might not perish of hunger. So I wrote you that you might know that Krotos was the cause of it. When you sent me again to Philadelphia to Jason, although I do everything that is ordered, for nine months now he gives me nothing of what you ordered me to have, neither oil nor grain, except at two month periods when he also pays the clothing (allowance). And I am in difficulty both summer and winter. And he orders me to accept ordinary wine for salary. Well, they have treated me with scorn because I am a "barbarian". I beg you therefore, if it seems good to you, to give them orders that I am to obtain what is owing and that in future they pay me in full, in order that I may not perish of hunger because I do not know how to act the Hellene. You, therefore, give attention to me, if you please. I pray to all the gods and to the guardian divinity of the king that you remain well and come to us soon so that you may yourself see that I am blameless. Farewell. (Address) To Zenon.


UPZ I 8                                                                                                                       161

In the second century, with the increasing tide of Egyptian nationalism and resentment of the superior position of the Greeks, it was sometimes dangerous to be a Greek among Egyptians. An episode of Ptolemaios' stay in the Serapeum of Memphis (cf. introduction to nos. 142-144) illustrates this problem.

To Dionysios one of the friends and strategos, from Ptolemaios son of Glaukias, Macedonian, one of those in katoche in the great Serapeum in Memphis in my 12th year. Being outrageously wronged and often put in danger of my life by the below-listed cleaners from the sanctuary, I am seeking refuge with you thinking that I shall thus particularly receive justice. For in the 21st year, on Phaophi 8, they came to the Astartieion in the sanctuary, in which I have been in katoche for the aforesaid years, some of them holding stones in their hands, others sticks, and tried to force their way in, so that with this opportunity they might plunder the temple and kill me because I am a Greek, attacking me in concerted fashion. And when I made it to the door of the temple before them and shut it with a great crash, and ordered them to go away quietly, they did not depart; but they struck Diphilos, one of the servants compelled to remain by Sarapis, who showed his indignation at the way they were behaving in the sanctuary, robbing him outrageously and attacking him violently and beating him, so that their illegal violence was made obvious to everybody. When the same men did the same things to me in Phaophi of the 19th year, I petitioned you at that time, but because I had no one to wait on you it happened that when they went unwarned they conceived an even greater scorn for me. I ask you, therefore, if it seems good to you, to order them brought before you, so that they may get the proper punishment for all these things. Farewell.

Mys the clothing seller, Psosnaus the yoke-bearer, Imouthes the baker, Harembasnis the grain-seller, Stotoetis the porter, Harchebis the doucher, Po... os the carpet-weaver, and others with them, whose names I do not know.


Textual corrections from BL III, 45 by Welles are incorporated here; the editors' reading in line 16 is preferred to that of Préaux cited in the BL.

Compelled to remain: In katoche, like Ptolemaios (see 142-144).

Phaophi of the 19th year: This petition is extant (UPZ I 7), with the instructions of the strategos to Menedemos to see that Ptolemaios got justice. The remark here apparently means that there was no one to perform the errands from one bureaucrat to another that fell upon a petitioner, and that the instructions thus went unexecuted.


UPZ  I 148                                                                                                   second century

This fragment of a letter, from a wife to her husband (on the interpretation of Rémondon) apparently deals with a man who has learned Egyptian in order to be able to teach it to Greek slave-boys learning the Egyptian medical skill of iatroklysteria from an Egyptian master of the specialty. To Rémondon, such a system indicates a Greek wish to use this Egyptian knowledge for economic gain, rather than any deep-seated growth of social interaction of the races: cf. Chronique d'Egypte 39 (1964) 126-46.

Discovering that you are learning Egyptian writing, I am happy for you and for myself, because now when you come to the city you will teach the slave-boys in the establishment of Phalou... the enema-doctor, and you will have a means of support for old age.


Egyptian writing: Demotic, that is.

Enema-doctor: A medical specialty attested in this form only here.


P.Enteux. 82                                                                                                          221

The baths were an important feature of life for the Greeks, but the Egyptian employees of the baths were perhaps not always experienced or adept in handling their jobs. Here one has scalded the petitioner by bringing excessively hot water; she demands his punishment.

To King Ptolemy, greeting from Philista daughter of Lysias, resident in Trikomia. I am wronged by Petechon. For as I was bathing in the baths of the aforesaid village on Tybi 7 of year 1, and had stepped out to soap myself, he being bathman in the women's rotunda and having brought in the jugs of hot water, emptied one (?) over me and scalded my belly and my left thigh down to the knee, so that my life was in danger. On finding him, I gave him into the custody of Nechthosiris the chief policeman of the village in the presence of Simon the epistates. I beg you, therefore, O king, if it please you, as a suppliant who has sought your protection, not to suffer me, who am a working woman, to be thus lawlessly treated, but to order Diophanes to write to Simon the epistates and Nechthosiris the Police that they are to bring Petechon before him in order that Diophanes, inquire into the case, hoping that having sought the protection of you, king, the common benefactor of all, I may obtain justice. Farewell. (Response) To Simon, send the accused. Year 1, Gorpiaios 28, Tybi -1, (Docket) Year 1, Gorpiaios 28, Tybi 12. Philista vs. Petechon, bathman about having been scalded.


Translation is that of Sel.Pap. 269.


P. Col. I (Inv. 480)                                                                                       ca. 198-197

This papyrus provides extracts from a diagramma on the sums due on sales of various sorts involving slaves. The first three paragraphs (according to the interpretation of F. Pringsheim, Journal of Juristic Papyrology 5 [1951] 115-20) with the various cases of the sale of a slave through a private auction, while the remainder deal with various forms of legally forced sale.

From the ordinance about slaves:

The contractor of the tax on slaves and the checking-clerk shall collect for the slaves whose sales are recorded before the agoranomoi, on the price at which they are recorded, in silver (the following): from the seller, including the one per cent tax formerly collected for the grant to Dikaiarchos, 9 drachmas, 2 ½ obols per mina, and from the buyer 8 drachmas, 2 [½] obols, making a total of 17 drachmas, 5 obols per mina; and for the city a guarantee-fee from the seller of 4 drachmas, I obol per head.

If anyone buys on condition that he will pay all the taxes they shall collect 20 drachmas 1 obol per mina, and for the city, 4 drachmas [1 obol] per head.

If anyone gets possession of a slave through an overbid or counterbid he shall pay to the city another guarantee fee.

Upon those sold through the praktor xenikon'll the purchaser shall pay 19 drachmas per mina, and a one per cent crier's fee of 1 drachma (per mina) and a clerical fee to the grant of 1 drachma per head.

Upon those sold in consequence of debts to the crown, the purchasers shall be charged 16 drachmas 5 obols per mina, and a one per cent crier's fee of I drachma (per mina), and a clerical fee to the grant of Dikaiarchos of 1 drachma per head.

Upon debtors who being still free [mortgage (?)) their persons [against] the debt there shall be collected from the lender 5 drachmas 1 obol [per mina] and from the borrowers 5 drachmas 1 obol, [making a total of] 10 drachmas 2 obols per mina, and a clerical fee of I drachma per head.

[And if they are sold (?)] to meet the debt, there shall be collected from [the purchaser... drachmas,. . .] 5 obols, and a one per cent tax of 1 drachma per mina, and a clerical fee of 1 drachma per head (?).


Dikaiarchos: An Aetolian mercenary who rose to high rank in the confused years of the minority of Ptolemy V; he receives a concession of a tax here as a source of income.

Pay all the taxes: Presumably the price would be lower to compensate the buyer for this added expense.

Guarantee fee: See Pringsheim's discussion of this term and procedure as well as the editor's discussion. The procedure involved the prolongation of the auction process.

Praktor xenikon: See above on ###.

Upon debtors: The sense of this passage is uncertain. We follow the interpretation of Edgar and Hunt in Sel.Pap. II, p. 41 here and in line 27, in preference to that of E. Schonbauer in Archiv für Papyrusforschung 10 (1932) 185. On the interpretation adopted, the penultimate paragraph involves a tax on the contract of pledging the person, the last paragraph a further tax on the eventual execution of the pledge.


P. Lille 29                                                                                                      third century

The laws of a Greek city of Egypt concerning slaves in legal proceedings are in part preserved in this text. The city is not Alexandria, where procedures were different (cf. 104). Both Ptolemais and Naukratis have found proponents; the reference to export seems to favor the latter and is itself a significant indication of the Ptolemaic opposition to allowing the slave trade to be as extensive as the Greeks would have liked. For discussion see P.Hal., pp. 109-117, and H.J. Wolff, Die Justizwesen der Ptolemäer (München 1962) 31-2, n. 2.

If anyone brings suit against the slave of another person because of an injury, as against a free man, and succeeds in convicting him, the master shall be allowed to appeal within 5 days from that on which the judgment is executed, and if he is worsted in his suit, the master shall pay the extra tenth or fifteenth, and the execution shall be carried out according to the laws about slaves, except where the ordinance is in effect.

No one shall be allowed to sell persons for export nor to mark them nor to flog them  It shall also be permitted for slaves to testify.

When slaves have given evidence the judges shall apply torture to their bodies in the presence of the parties to the suit, unless they are able to render judgment from the proof-texts submitted to them.

Summoning of slaves and execution for those convicting them. Whoever claims to be wronged by a male or female slave shall, announcing the injury to the master in the presence of not fewer than two witnesses, make a written declaration to the nomophylakes. He shall be forbidden---.


Only Column I is translated, since all of Column II is damaged and much is heavily restored. Text also as M. Chr. 370, but cf. BL 1, 203.

Where the ordinance is in effect: That is, where a royal ordinance has superseded the city law.

Flog them: This passage probably allowed such actions only with court order.


P. Cair. Zen. I 59003                                                                                                259

Phoenicia was one of the chief sources of imported slaves for Greek residents of Egypt. Here Zenon purchases a young girl (who may be later attested spinning wool in the Fayum) from an agent of the powerful Toubiad chieftain of the Transjordan (cf.  54), who was on close terms with Apollonios.

[In the reign of] Ptolemy son of Ptolemy and of his son Ptolemy, year 27, [the priest] of Alexander and of the Brother and Sister Gods and the canephore of Arsinoe Philadelphos being those in office in Alexandria, in the month Xandikos, at Birta of the Ammanitis: Nikanor son of Xenokles, Knidian, in the service of Toubias, sold to Zenon son of Agreophon, Kaunian, in the service of Apollonios the dioiketes, a Sidonian (?) [slave girl] named Sphragis, about seven years of age, for fifty drachmas. [Guarantor... ] son of Ananias, Persian, of the troop of Toubias, cleruch. Witnesses:. . ., judge; Polemon son of Straton, Macedonian, of the cavalrymen of Toubias, cleruch; Timopolis son of Botes, Milesian, Herakleitos son of Philippos, Athenian, Zenon son of Timarchos, Kolophonian, Demostratos son of Dionysios, Aspendian, all four in the service of Apollonios the dioiketes. (Docket) Deed of sale of a slave girl.


Translation as in CPJud. 1; also Sel. Pap. 31. Two copies are written on the papyrus, and restorations are bracketed here only when neither copy has the words in question.

Those in office in Alexandria: The names were probably unknown this early in the year in Syria.

Sidonian:  Or Babylonian, less likely.


UPZ I 121                                                                                                                         156

This papyrus is an offer of rewards for two slaves who escaped together, one belonging to a Carian ambassador in Alexandria, the other to an Alexandrian court official (the host of the ambassador?). The amount offered had evidently not led to the capture of the slaves, for a second hand has corrected the papyrus, raising the rewards. The organs of the state issued this proclamation and are prepared to act for the owners, an unusual occurrence in Greek legal procedure.

Year 25, Epeiph 16. A slave of Aristogenes son of Chrysippos, of Alabanda, ambassador, has escaped in Alexandria, by name Hermon also called Neilos, by birth a Syrian from Bambyke, about 18 years old, of medium stature, beardless, with good legs, a dimple on the chin, a mole by the left side of the nose, a scar above the left corner of the mouth, tattooed on the right wrist with two barbaric letters. He has taken with him 3 octadrachmas of coined gold, 10 pearls, an iron ring on which an oil-flask and strigils are represented, and is wearing a cloak and a loincloth. Whoever brings back this slave shall receive 3 talents of copper; but if he has pointed out in a temple, 2 talents; if in the house of a substantial and actionable man, 5 talents. Whoever wishes to give information shall do so to the agents of the strategos.

There is also another who has escaped with him, Bion, a slave of Kallikrates, one of the chief stewards at court, short of stature, broad at the shoulders, stout-legged, bright-eyed, who has gone off with an outer garment and a slave's wrap and a woman's dress (?) worth 6 talents 5000 drachmas of copper. Whoever brings back this slave shall receive the same rewards as for the above-mentioned one. Information about this one also is to be given to the agents of the strategos.


Bambyke: The native name of Hierapolis.

Barbaric letters: These letters were symbols of consecration to the gods of Hierapolis, Hadad and Atargatis, and probably were the first letters of those divinities' names in Aramaic.

2 talents:  This and the next provision refer to special cases of the preceding ("whoever brings back. . . ") rather than to different situations where the slave is not returned.


P.Eleph. 1                                                                                                             311

This is the earliest dated papyrus in Greek from Ptolemaic Egypt, coming from the years in which Ptolemy I still called himself a satrap for Alexander IV. It is the contract of marriage between two Greeks, Herakleides of Temnos and Demetria of Kos, drawn up in the traditional and purely Greek form of a marriage in which the bride is given by her parents; her father in fact is to have a say in choosing the residence of the couple. These were recent immigrants, and the developments (whether or not under Egyptian influence) that led to the centrality of the dowry and the making of provisions for voluntary divorce are yet to come.

In the reign of Alexander son of Alexander, in the seventh year, in the satrapship of Ptolemy in the fourteenth year, in the month of Daisios. Marriage contract of Herakleides and Demetria. Herakleides (the Temnitan) takes as his lawful wife Demetria the Koan, both being freeborn, from her father Leptines, Koan, and her mother Philotis, bringing clothing and ornaments to the value of 1000 drachmas, and Herakleides shall supply to Demetria all that is proper for a freeborn wife, and we shall live together wherever it seems best to Leptines and Herakleides consulting in common. If Demetria is discovered doing any evil to the shame of her husband Herakleides, she shall be deprived of all that she brought, but Herakleides shall prove whatever he alleges against Demetria before three men whom they both accept. It shall not be lawful for Herakleides to bring home another wife in insult of Demetria nor to have children by another woman nor to do evil against Demetria on any pretext. If Herakleides is discovered doing any of these things and Demetria proves it before three men whom they both accept, Herakleides shall give back to Demetria the dowry of 1000 drachmas which she brought and shall moreover forfeit 1000 drachmas of the silver coinage of Alexander. Demetria and those aiding Demetria to exact payment shall have the right of execution, as derived from a legally decided action, upon the person of Herakleides and upon all the property of Herakleides both on land and on water. This contract shall be valid in every respect, wherever Herakleides may produce it against Demetria, or Demetria and those aiding Demetria to exact payment may produce it against Herakleides, as if the agreement had been made in the place. Herakleides and Demetria shall have the right to keep the contracts severally in their own custody and to produce them against each other. Witnesses: Kleon, Gelan; Antikrates, Temnitan; Lysis, Temnitan; Dionysios, Temnitan; Aristomachos, Cyrenaean; Aristodikos, Koan.


Translation in Sel.Pap. 1; cf. BL V, 27. Discussion by H.J. Wolff, Written and Unwritten Marriages, 10-21.


P.Enteux. 22                                                                                                           218

Greek women normally acted in legal transactions through kyrioi, guardians. These were typically male relatives or husbands, but circumstances might dispose otherwise. Here a widow, having lost not only her husband but also his son, asks for the appointment of her late husband's brother-in- law.

To King Ptolemy greeting from Nikaia daughter of Nikias, Persian. My husband Pausanias died in the 23rd year, leaving a will of the same year, of the month of Panemos [... in which] he designated ... naios his son as my guardian. It has now happened that he has died in the 4th year, in the month of Daisios which is Hathyr of the Egyptians, and I have no relative who can be registered as my [guardian. Therefore, so that] the legacy to me from my husband may not be dissipated for that reason, [since I have] no guardian with whom I can make arrangements about these things, I ask you, O king, to order Diophanes the strategos to give me as guardian Demetrios the Thracian, a 60-aroura holder of the troop of Ptolemaios son of Eteoneus of the... th hipparchy, to whom Pausanias married his sister, and for the strategos to make written records about these things, so that this may be in the official register; and since, being old and getting infirm, I am not able to make the trip to Crocodilopolis, I have sent the aforesaid Demetrios to deliver the petition, for Diophanes to write to Dioskourides the epistates, to make a description of me and of the guardian whom I am requesting, and to send them to Diophanes. If this is done, I shall have benefited, O king, from your kindness. Farewell. (Response) To Dioskourides. Taking some of the elders of the village go to Nikaia and if---, their descriptions, and send me a report. Year 4, Daisios 27, Hathyr 29. (Docket) Year 4, Daisios 27, Hathyr 29. Nikaia, daughter of Nikias, Persian, about a request.

124. WILL

P.Eleph. 2                                                                                                               284

This will was made by two Temnitans living in Elephantine; the man was a witness in no. 122 (311 B.C.), and by 284 their children were clearly of adult age. Like the marriage contract, this document from the first generation of Greek settlers in Egypt is purely Greek in character, particularly in the strong provisions about the support of the parents by the children (cf. no. 126).

In the reign of Ptolemy, year 40, in the month of Gorpiaios, in the priesthood of Menelaos son of Lagos. Contract and agreement. Dionysios, Temnitan, has made this testamentary pact with his wife Kallista, Temnitan. Should anything happen to Dionysios, he shall leave all his property to Kallista and she shall be owner of all the property so long as she lives. Should anything happen to Kallista while Dionysios is alive, Dionysios shall be owner of the property; and should anything happen to Dionysios, he shall leave the property to all his sons. In like manner Kallista, should anything happen to her, shall leave the property to all the sons, except the portions which Bacchios, Herakleides, and Metrodoros may receive from Dionysios and Kallista for their labors in the lifetime of their father and mother; but if Bacchios, Herakleides and Metrodoros are married and settled, the property of Dionysios and Kallista shall be shared in common by all the sons. If in their lifetime Dionysios or Kallista is in need or in debt, all the sons in common shall support them and contribute to pay their debts. If any one of them refuses to support them or contribute or does not help to bury them, he shall forfeit a thousand drachmas of silver and there shall be right of execution on him who is insubordinate and does not act in the manner stated. If Dionysios or Kallista leaves any debt, it shall be permissible for their sons not to take up the inheritance if they do not wish to after the death of Dionysios and Kallista. This document shall be valid in every respect wherever it is produced, as if the compact had been made there. They have of their own free will placed the contract in the keeping of Herakleitos. Witnesses: Polykrates, Arcadian; Androsthenes, Koan; Noumenios, Cretan; Simonides, Maroneian; Lysis and Herakleitos, Temnitans.


Sel.Pap. 82.


P.Petr. (2nd ed.) I 13                                                                                               238/7

We possess a dossier of wills from military settlers in the Fayyum; the following is one of the best preserved of this group. It shows the testator, who was probably an officer (his exact title is lost) to have been a man of some means, with property in both Alexandria (where he owned an apartment house) and in a Fayyum village and at least five slaves, all from Syria (see ## and ## for this region as a source of slaves). The estate is divided between the testator’s son from his first marriage and his second wife. The family clearly lived mainly in Boubastos rather than in Alexandria. The list of Axiothea’s dowry, which was strictly not necessary in the will, is of considerable interest as an indication of what a well-to-do woman might own.

Peisias, a Lycian belonging to the unit of Leontiskos, … cleruch, belonging to those who are allotted land in the Arsinoite nome, about n years old, with honey-colored (?) skin, his hair brushed up, of medium height, long-faced, with a scar under his chin, being of sound mind and rational, has made his will as follows:

May I enjoy good health and manage my own affairs. But if I suffer the mortal fate, I bequeath my possessions in Alexandria to Pisikrates, my son from Niko: a tenement-house and all the furniture belonging to me there and my Syrian slaves Dionysios and Eutychos and my female slave Absila and her daughter Eirene, both of them from Syria. To Axiothea, daughter of Hippias, from Lycia, my wife, (I bequeath) a Syrian slave-girl Libyseion and the house belonging to me in the village of Boubastos in the Arsinoite nome. The remaining furniture in Boubastos (I bequeath) jointly to Pisikrates and Axiothea.

All things that Axiothea brought with her as a dowry and which are still intact, she is to keep, and Pisikrates is to have no right to them. For anything that has not survived or is worn, Pisikrates is to pay to Axiothea the value as stated below, so far as they are determined to have diminished in value: for a woollen woman’s tunic, 40 drachmas; for a summer dress, 6 dr.; for a man’s tunic, 12 dr.; for a worn summer dress, 10 dr.; for a new tunic, 10 dr. 2 obols; for a man’s belt, 1 dr.; for a new summer dress, 32 dr.; for a single garment, 8 dr.; for a bedspread, 12 dr.; for a bronze bowl, 4 dr.; for a bronze wine-cooler, 6 dr.; for 2 clothes, 4 dr.; for woman’s sandals, 4 dr.; for …, 30 dr.; for a knife and a roasting-spit, 1 dr.; for soft flocks of wool, -- dr.; for …; for an armlet, 18 dr.; earrings, 12 dr.; for a gold bracelet (?), 20 dr.; for flocks of wool …

(The papyrus becomes too fragmentary to translate at this point; another 20 lines or so of provisions follow.)


SB XVIII 13168                                                                                      123

This will provides a glimpse of cultural interaction in Upper Egypt after two hundred years of Macedonian rule. The will is written in Greek, following Greek legal formulae and with six witnesses, by an official notary with a Greek name. The testator and his family are Egyptians. Pathyris, where the will was made, was a garrison town south of Thebes, with a largely Egyptian population. The witnesses are all soldiers, but only Esthladas son of Dryton (see ##) is evidently of foreign origin, being a citizen of the Greek city Ptolemais and of Cretan descent. The rest all have the ethnic “Persian,” commonly given to Egyptians who entered Ptolemaic service. The notary, despite his name, comes from an Egyptian family that got control of the local notariate; his use of the language is not entirely idiomatic. But an Egyptian evidently no longer found it attractive to have the will made in his own language.

Year 47, Phamenoth 2, in Pathyris, under Heliodoros the agoranomos of the upper toparchy of the Pathyrite nome. Pachnoubis son of Taskos made the following will: As long as I am in good health, may I have control of my property. But if I suffer anything mortal, I leave and give my property, real and movables and animals and whatever else I may acquire in addition, to Tathotes daughter of Haryotes, Persian, the wife with whom I live in accordance with the laws, except for one coverlet and 1 bed turned on a lathe to Pat…es and Petesorathes sons of Pachnoubis, my own sons born to me and another wife, but all the rest of the goods enumerated below today, in real property and animals, to the aforesaid Tathotes, eight sheep, two cattle, and their offspring, and a built and roofed house equipped with doors which is in Taumis of the Latopolite nome, its neighbors being on the south a house of Psennesis son of Paous, on the north a royal street, on the east a house of Thaesis daughter of Paous, on the west a house of Patkormis; and twelve arouras of grainbearing high land located in the west part of the village of Taunis, in which there are a … and cistern and upper construction of well-baked brick, the neighbors of the entire parcel of land being on the south the household of Psemminis son of Kallias, no the north the same, on the east the village mounds,on the west … called “of Ammon,” and from another parcel of Kalebelles son of …, a third share, the neighbors of the entire parcel being on the south (land?) of Harendotes, on the north …, on the east a road, on the west desert land, or whatever the boundaries may be on all sides.

No one else at all shall be allowed to challenge this will, or let it (the challenge) be invalid and let the person bringing it pay in addition later … at once – talents of bronze … and 1,200 drachmas of coined silver sacred to the king and queen. The testator was Pachnoubis, about 50 years old, of goodly height, honey-colored, with black hair, bald on his forehead, long-faced, straight-nosed with a scar.

The witnesses: Hermias son of Asklepiades, Persian of the mercenary cavalry, about 25 years old, of good height, honey-colored, curly-haired, long-faced, straight-nosed with a scar and his right ear pierced, and Ammonios son of Areios, Persian of the mercenary cavalry, about 30 years old, medium height, honey-colored, curly-haired, long-faced, straight-nosed with a scar on his forehead, and Esthladas son of Dryton, from Ptolemais, about 35 years old, of good height, honey-colored, curly-haired, long-faced, straight-nosed, and Ptolemaios son of Asklepiades, Persian of the mercenary cavalry, about 35 years old, medium height, honey-colored skin, long-faced, straight-nosed, and …etos son of Menekles, Persian of the infantry, about 35 years old, medium height, dark skin, curly-haired, long-faced, straight-nosed, the six being on the payroll.

Areios the agent of Heliodoros drew up the document.


On the notary, see P. W. Pestman in H. Maehler-V.M. Strocka, edd., Das ptolemäische Ägypten (Mainz 1978) 207.


P.Hib.  I 54                                                                                                      ca. 245

A letter of miscellaneous requests, mostly not apparently on official business, from an official to a subordinate. Prominent are the provisions for food and entertainment for a festival.

Demophon to Ptolemaios, greeting. Make every effort to send me the flute-player Petoüs with both the Phrygian flutes and the rest; and if any expense is necessary, pay it and you shall recover it from me. Send me also Zenobias the effeminate with a drum and cymbals and castanets, for he is wanted by the women for the sacrifice; and let him wear as fine clothes as possible. Get the kid also from Aristion and send it to me; and if you have arrested the slave, deliver him to Semphtheus to bring to me. Send me as many cheeses as you can, a new jar, vegetables of all kinds, and some delicacies if you have any. Farewell. Put them on board with the guards who will assist in bring the boat. (Address) To Ptolemaios.


CPR XVIII 1                                                                                                            231

This unique text shows two performing artists entering into a partnership for a year, but their partnership is unequal, for it is the female dancer who is the managing partner, who undoubtedly entered into contracts for performance and stood to make the profits if the enterprise flourished; the male flutist receives only a salary—but a very good salary. Olympias is also unusual in the papyri in being a purely Greek performer with her sights on high-level competitive contests, not an Egyptian dancer performing at village festivals.

Sosos son of Sosos, a Syracusan of the descent, has hired himself to Olympias (daughter of NN), an Athenian dancer, with her kyrios Zopyros son of Marikkos (?), Galatian of the descent, on the terms that he is to collaborate with her by playing the flute, from the month of Hyperberetaios of the 16th year for twelve months, at a monthly wage of forty-five bronze drachmas. Sosos is receiving on advance from Olympias fifty dr. of bronze. He is not to be absent from any contest or any other occasion at which Olympias is present, nor is he to perform for any other without Olympias’s consent. The keeper of the contract is Olympichos son of Herodotos, Kleopatreus …

Sosos is about 30 years old, of good height, honey-colored skin…Olympias is about 20 years old, short, white-skinned, round-faced. … Zopyros is about .. years old, honey-colored skin, long-faced. Olympichos is about 40 years old, medium height, honey-colored skin, long-faced, balding on the forehead.

Written in year 16, Hyperberetaios.


Galatian: This is the earliest Gaul attested in an Egyptian document.

Kleopatreus: It is not known if this is a deme name from Alexandria or the ethnic of a city that we cannot identify. Because the papyrus dates before the first Ptolemaic queen named Kleopatra, the deme or city in question must be named after an earlier member of the Macedonian royal house, perhaps Alexander the Great’s sister.


P.Enteux. 26                                                                                                        221

In both Egyptian and Greek laws there were obligations of support for aged parents laid on children who had been properly raised and educated; the wronged father here stresses that he had brought his daughter up properly.

To King Ptolemy greeting from Ktesikles. I am wronged by Dionysios and by Nike my daughter. For though I raised her, my own daughter, and educated her and brought her to maturity, when I was stricken with bodily ill-health and was losing my eyesight, she was not minded to furnish me with any of the necessities of life. When I sought to obtain justice from her in Alexandria, she begged my pardon, and in the 18th year she swore me a written royal oath in the temple of Arsinoe Aktia to give me each month twenty drachmas, which she was to earn by her own bodily labor. If she did not do this or transgressed any part of the provisions of the written oath she was to pay me 500 dr. or to be liable for the consequences of the oath. [But now seduced by] Dionysios, who is a kinaidos she does not do for me anything of what was in the written oath, despising [my weakness and] ill health. I beg [you], therefore, O king, not to allow me to be wronged by my daughter and by Dionysios the kinaidos who seduced her, but to order Diophanes the strategos to summon them and hear us out [and if I am speaking the truth (?)] for Diophanes to treat her seducer as [seems best to him, but] to compel [Nike] my daughter to do justice to me... [If this] is done I shall no longer be wronged but by fleeing to you, O king, [I shall obtain justice. Farewell]. (Note) Euphor ... has been sent---. (Docket) Year 1, Gorpiaios 30, Tybi 13. Ktesikles, vs. Dionysios and Nike his daughter about a written oath.


Cf. BL II.2, 53 and 111, 50. Translation partly based on Sel.Pap. 268.

Aktia: The epithet of a cult of Arsinoe Philadelphos, probably located on the sea-shore ("of the headland").

Kinaidos: A bawdy comedian.