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OGIS: 168


LETTERS FROM KLEOPATRA III AND PTOLEMAIOS IX TO ELEPHANTINE

Greek text:   OGIS_168
Date:   115 B.C.
Format:   see key to translations

Although the king went in person to the southernmost regions of Egypt in the second year of his reign, the unusual order of names in these letters, with the queen mother's name coming before the king's name, shows where the real power lay. The translation is adapted from F.Piejko, "The Relations of Ptolemies VIII and IX with the Temple of Chnum at Elephantine" ( BASP, 1992 ).


[A]   [Whereas king Ptolemaios] great god Philometor [Soter having arrived with friends and troops on . . . of] Mesore in the second year, since which day, as he [entered the localities in our region, the priests of the greatest god Chnoubo Nebieb and] all [others from] the places [in the vicinity of Syene] met him, having moved [from the temples into the country for the advent of the king.] [And when we have assembled on this day in the] (?) newly founded city of Elephantine, first [the king] made the proper sacrifices and [libations . . . Whereupon he sailed upstream where] the great god Nile wells up, and came [to . . . and offered at the altar which he had] set up [a sacrifice] to the greatest goddess Hera Teleia [and to . . .]. Then he took his kinsmen and his [friends and . . .], in which it is said [the reputed] source of the Nile [is to be found] . . . and rendered to the Nile the prescribed [rites] . . . feasting at the sanctuary of Hera . . . [Therefore we have petitioned him to provide . . . and other] benefits, and concerning this to allow us to set up [a stele, on which will be inscribed the previous grants as well as those bestowed by the ever-living and victorious kings, so that] his and queen [Kleopatra's] name, [gods Philometores Soteres], should be remembered perpetually [by the present and future generations] for all time, and that they may obtain dominion . . .

[B]   [Queen Kleopatra and king] Ptolemaios to the priests in Elephantine of [Chnoubo Nebieb, and of the gods Adelphoi, and of the gods Euergetai, and of the gods Philopatores, and of the gods] Epiphaneis, and of the god Eupator, and of the gods [Philometores, and of the god New Philopator, and of the god Euergetes, and of the gods Philometores Soteres], greetings. Having arrived in your [parts and always desirous to be as far as possible gracious to all people, now as we stand] at the confines of the Ethiopians and having [the most pious attitude towards divinity, we have decided, especially since our public affairs are] going well, to perform to the gods due [rites of thanksgiving for the successes, and] to perform [other ceremonies] tending to [the honour and glory of the said gods]. [Therefore we] have directed [Phommous, our kinsman and strategos and epistrategos, to make available to you the] below specified endowment. Accordingly we give each year . . . [artabas of wheat without payment . . . and] two hundred artabas [of . . .] without payment. We also permit [you the dedication of the stele, which you had asked, in our own and that of queen] Kleopatra the sister's [name], in the sanctuaries of Chnoubis and Satis [located in Elephantine. This we do in recognition of your] good will toward us, and especially [because it is our constant policy to make evident our] high-minded [desire to increase honours of the gods. Farewell].   In the second year, Hyperberetaios . . ., which is Mesore . . .

[C]   [Queen Kleopatra and king Ptolemaios] to our brother Phommous, greetings. We are well; [if you are well and everything else is in order, that would be as we wish]. [We are submitting to you a transcript] of [our] letter [written] to Elephantine to the priests [of Chnoubo Nebieb, of the gods Adelphoi, of the gods Euergetai, of the gods Philopatores, of the gods] Epiphaneis, of the god Eupator, of the gods Philometores, [of the god New Philopator, of the god Euergetes, and of the gods Philometores Soteres]. Therefore you will do well giving orders [to the effect that this should be inscribed on a stone stele and exhibited in the sanctuary. Be sure to take care] of your health. Farewell.   In the second year, Hyperberetaios . . . [which is Mesore . . .]   Subjoined: the preceding [letter].

[D]   [Queen Kleopatra and king Ptolemaios] to the priests in Elephantine of Chnoubo Nebieb and of the gods [Adelphoi, and of the gods Euergetai, and of the gods Philopatores, and of the gods Epiphaneis and of the god Eupator, and of the gods Philometores, and of the god New Philopator, and of the god [Euergetes, and of the gods Philometores Soteres, greetings]. [We have instructed Hermokrates, our kinsman] and strategos and epistrategos, concerning the priests on the [island signified in their petition, who are cultivating the sacred land, to do as you have asked. Farewell].   In the second year, Daisios 3, which is Pharmouthi 3.

[E]   [Queen Kleopatra and king Ptolemaios] to our brother Hermokrates, greetings. [We have subjoined the transcript of the petition addressed to us from the vicinity of Syene by the priests of Chnoubo Nebieb, those who] reside [in Elephantine, and who . . . had] rendered services [at the court]. Let it then be done as they ask. Farewell . . .

[F]   [To Queen Kleopatra and king Ptolemaios], gods Philometores Soteres, greetings (?) from the vicinity [of Syene from the priests of Chnoubo Nebieb, who reside in Elephantine] and in the mountain at Syene, [and who had rendered] services [at the court]. [Whereas the indicated temple has been renowned] already since ancient times, and inasmuch as it happens [to belong to the] first class [of temples venerated throughout the kingdom, and since to that island appertains] a sacred land on the island named Pso, which is dedicated [to the greatest god Chnoubo Nebieb and is farmed for the temple of Chnoubis in Elephantine, we, having] purchased through Pachnoubis [. . . the title to the] administration of the said [land, are petitioning for . . . for our own benefit] as well as for others who dwell in the place, [thus to enable us to] perform [the customary sacrifices to the gods in your and your ancestors' intention]. Also to set up in the most conspicuous [place a stele, in which will be inscribed] the favours [existing since the beginning and those] obtained additionally under your father, [as well as others granted by yourself. And that no one importune us contrary] to your father's ordinances and [against the regulations established since ancient times] about us [priests]. [Therefore we entreat you], the victory-bringing and ever-living gods, if it pleases, [to instruct . . ., your kinsman and letter-secretary, to write to Hermokrates, the] kinsman and strategos and epistrategos of the Thebaid, [to give us the requisite documents about these matters, so that] we [may forever remain under the] obligation of gratitude. Good fortune be with you.

[G]   [(?) Hermokrates to . . ., greeting. Subjoined is the copy of the] letter from the kings, so that you may follow [through with what is being conveyed. Farewell].   The preceding letter was appended.

[H]   [To king Ptolemaios and to queen Kleopatra the sister] and to queen Kleopatra the wife, the gods Euergetai, [greetings (?) from the priests in Elephantine of Chnoubo Nebieb and from] those at the mountain of Syene. Never do we cease [praying continually to all gods and goddesses that they grant to] you and to your children health, [comeliness], hale old age, [victory, power, and dominion . . . Whereas the aforementioned] temple [in] Elephantine has been renowned from remote and [ancient times, and is counted to the first class of temples venerated throughout the kingdom, we resident in the desolate] and rough places on the confines of Ethiopia . . . [have been] induced [to make some provision to render] more [conspicuous our gratitude and remembrance] of your magnificence. [Therefore we request] . . . [the land which appertains to the god] Chnoumo Nebieb, and which is farmed for the [temple] in Elephantine, [so that we may have means to perform the customary sacrifices on behalf of you and your children] . . .   [. . .] Mesore, in the [fifty-]third year.

[I]   [King Ptolemaios and queen Kleopatra the sister and queen Kleopatra the wife, to the priests] from the vicinity of Syene [cultivating the] hard [land] . . .

. . . in the fifty[-third year] . . .

[J]   . . . they have handed me the documents . . .

. . . Farewell.   In the second [year], on the ninth day of Mesore.

inscription 175


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