Following the outbreak of civil war between Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra II in 132 B.C., the government clearly found it difficult to maintain law and order in southern Egypt. Some individuals and cities took this as an opportunity to settle their disputes by violence. The dispute reported here did at least end in a temporary act of reconciliation, which has been described as an 'agapē meal'; see C. Fischer-Bovet, "Army and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt", p. 286 ( Google Books ).
[The . . . in Crocodilo]polis to . . ., greetings; [if] . . ., [it would be] as we wish; we also are in good health . . . the inhabitants of Hermonthis gathered a crowd from the surrounding villages and assaulted our royal dyke on the north side of the city; they opened 9 sluices, with the intention of making our plains uncultivatable, and afflicting our city. 10 On the 3rd day of the same month, the same crowds came again with weapons against the dyke on the south side of the city, and they opened 15 sluices, making a total of 24 sluices. They then advanced against the city itself, and entered into armed battle with us; but to the good fortune of the kings and yourself, it happened that they were put to flight and the dykes . . . 20 [The] . . . from Hermonthis came [with weapons] and marched against the city . . . in difficulty, and our men embarked on ships and sailed against them . . . when our [infantry] and cavalry clashed with [their infantry] and cavalry, it happened . . . 30 of infantry about . . . men and of cavalry 40, and crossed over to the holy island of Souchos, surrounded by water, which was treated roughly by them; and we similarly gathered from our forces 500 infantrymen and 20 cavalrymen, and crossed over to the island. When we clashed with each other on the island, 40 it happened that the bandits were put to flight, and in disarray they jumped into the river, where not a few of them met their death . . . urging us also to send an equal number of 9 men to them in Hermonthis. When 9 youths had been chosen, 50 together with our commander Apollonius also called Phabi, just as they had previously done, they went together to Hermonthis, where they drank together and shared salt and a table . . .
Fr.A To Amphikles the kinsman and hypomnematographos from the priests of Souchus in Crocodilopolis in the Thebaid, and from the others there; on the 3rd day of Thoth in the 48th year, the men of Hermonthis took up [arms] and assaulted the royal dyke which is in the aforesaid city; they killed the men who had been sent by us to guard the dyke, and breeched the dyke with 24 sluices, so that as a result the land could not be cultivated, and a not inconsiderable loss was inflicted on the king and on the temple. Nevertheless they also attacked the city, and surrounded our citadel with a substantial force, including cavalry . . . some of our men made a sally . . .
Fr.B . . . to the 49th year . . . men who have done such things . . . receiving succour from you . . . Farewell.
→ papyrus 275
Attalus' home page | 13.07.20 | Any comments?