Letters from the Zenon Archive

(2)   254-239 B.C.

Many letters from the Zenon Archive are already available in translation via Some more translations have been collected here. They include documents in letter format, such as petitions and declarations, as well as private letters.

The numbers in brackets are the dates (years B.C.).

← Previous years (259-255 B.C.)


Greek text:   PCairZen_59499   L.85-102
Date:   January 254 B.C.
Translated by: T.Evans, in 'Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds', p. 107

The writer of this memorandum did not find it easy to express himself in Greek, and he made several corrections to his draft.

Memorandum from Petosiris to Zenon greetings. Pais the weigher, the farmer, now this place inhabits now inhabits. It is not his, but belongs to the crown. He borrowed from me for several months until he built his own place, and you have given him and his brother 20 drachmas for the building of this house, this house of which he has sold half to Phanesis the oil-seller for 64 drachmas, but the other half Koroibides he (?) is going to buy. And he has another place from the treasury {i.e. from crown funds?}, and this he sold to Horos, the one in charge of the castor, and he has by no means sold built a house, other than the ones which he has now sold.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59195
Date:   January 254 B.C.
Translated by:   R. Salama, 'Apollonios the Dioiketes as a Woolen Textiles Dealer'

For Apollonios' interest in Milesian wool, see also PCairZen_59142.

Apollonios to Zenon and Panakestor greeting. I sent you Maron to be responsible for the Milesian sheep. Therefore hand over to him the sheep and the sheep enclosure and any other material. Introduce him to the shepherds to work under his orders. Give him also four boys to train. Farewell. Year 31, Apellaios ...


Greek text:   PCairZen_59199
Date:   April 254 B.C.
Translated by: (C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.19, no. 32)

We have little definite information about the conditions under which the manufacture and sale of beer were carried on. We may infer from this letter that the brewery was Government property, and that probably the monopoly of beer in Philadelphia was leased to the brewer who made the most satisfactory offer.

Apollonios to Zenon greeting. . . ., one of the brewers from the Arsinoite nome, has undertaken to take over the beer-shop in Philadelphia, paying 12 artabas of barley per day to the royal treasury. Therefore, draw up a contract with him, and after receiving a written declaration hand over the brewery to him. But you should also instal a reliable collector to exercise control over the work. And the present brewer must settle up for the period during which he has run the business. Farewell. Year 31, intercalary Peritios 28, Phamenoth 6.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.

{Docketed}   Concerning the brewer (?) Pais.


Greek text:   PLond_1973
Date:   September 254 B.C.
Translation at: SelPap_1.90A


Greek text:   PCairZen_59220
Date:   December 254 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.24, no. 101

It seems certain that irrigation work on Apollonios' estate were given out by him to contractors and paid for out of his private purse. But the relations between Apollonios, as a landed proprietor, and the Irrigation Service remain to me rather obscure.

Apollonios to Zenon greeting. Give out to contractors the work on the canal to the west of the ten thousand arourai. Farewell. Year 32, Hyperberetaios 13, Phaophi 13.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.

{Docketed}   [Year 32, Phaophi] . . . Apollonios concerning contractors [for the canal].


Greek text:   PCairZen_59223
Date:   December 254 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.24, no. 103

This is evidently not a private transaction , as the receipts are made out to Python the royal banker in Krokodilopolis and to Philiskos the oikonomos of the Arsinoite nome. We may assume that the price of the crops was put to the credit of Zenon or Apollonios in the royal bank. Thrasymedes , who is not mentioned elsewhere in our papyri , I take to be a representative of the oil monopoly.

Thrasymedes to Zenon greeting. According to what you wrote to us about the 100 artabas of sesame which you measured out on the . . . of M... in the 31st year, Etearchos having come to us , we wrote the receipt to Python , as well as for the 105 artabas of cnecus which you measured out on the 10th of Epeiph in the 32nd year. As for the poppy seed , if a note be given us of the amount , we will write a receipt to Philiskos , together with one for the 300 artabas of sesame , if you will write or instruct us accordingly, in order that the sesame may be used for the oil-factory. Farewell. Year 32, Phaophi 26.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.

{Docketed}   Year 32, Phaophi. Thrasymedes . . .


Greek text:   PCairZen_59225
Date:   January 253 B.C.
Translated by: T.Evans, in 'Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds', p. 121

Artemidoros to Zenon, greetings. If you are well, it would be good; and I am well too, and Apollonios was well, and the rest was according to our wishes. The sons of Leptines, Nikandros and Myrikon, have a stallion in Pharbaithos, a black one, which has large swellings [on its legs] and is useful for nothing else apart from impregnating [the mares]. And I learn that the young men are very well known to you. So would you please make a particular effort to buy me the stallion from them for impregnating [the mares], if it is possible to get it cheaply; but if it is not for sale, borrow it for me for the mounting impregnating [of the mares] - for if you are keen, they will certainly not oppose you - and it will receive every attention. And in whichever way you manage the business, you will gratify me by writing as quickly as possible, in order that I may know if it is mine. For since the stallion at my place is now rather old he does not lord it over the mares. And I sent word to you also about the sesame crop which I have in the holding, in order that you should be attentive about the harvest, so that it should be harvested in a certain manner, and you should write to me how much there is. So would you please send me word also about these matters. Farewell. Year 32, Apellaios 5.

{Addressed}   To Philadelphia. To Zenon.

{Docketed}   Year 32. Artemidoros, doctor.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59224
Date:   January 253 B.C.
Translation at:   by J. Bauschatz


Greek text:   PLond_1976
Date:   March 253 B.C.
Translated by:   Bagnall & Cribiore, 'Women's Letters from Ancient Egypt', p. 102

Haynchis to Zenon greeting. Taking beer from the large beer shop I dispose of 4 drachmas' worth daily and pay regularly. But Demetrios the vine dresser has deceived my daughter and taken her away; he keeps her in hiding, saying that he is going to live with her without me. But she was managing the store with me and supported me, since I am old. Now, therefore, I sustain loss since she is gone, and I myself do not have the necessities. But he also has another wife and children so that he cannot live with the woman he deceived. I ask you then to help me because of my old age and give her back to me. Farewell.

{Docketed}   Year 32, Mecheir. From Haynchis.


Greek text:   PSI_352
Date:   May 253 B.C.
Translated by: A.C.Smith

Another papyrus ( PCairZen_59763 ) contains details of payments made to Artemidoros and others for encaustic work.

Sell off the encaustic works that are available, so that you can make a profit . . . for an obol a day is sufficient for me . . . They are forever in prostitutes and wine; and recently, during the allocation of the work, when they noticed that I wanted to do something more for you, the three of them subjected me to drunken abuse and brought me into the same state. Therefore I beg you, if you agree, to come to my aid, so that it does not happen again that I suffer drunken abuse while applying for work. Farewell.

{Docketed}   Year 32, Phamenoth 22. From Artemidoros the encaustic painter.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59240
Date:   July 253 B.C.
Translated by: Meijer & van Nijf, 'Trade, Transport and Society in the Ancient World', no. 94

Kleonax to Zenon greeting. Re: the mules for which I sent slaves to you, so that they might buy them for us, hand them over to you, and send them off with those of Apollonios to the estate of Apollonios in Memphis. It would be good if you had already taken care of the matter, but if you have not, see to it that they send them off safely, with yours as if they belonged to Apollonios, to prevent them being troubled in any way with taxes. And it would be good if you had already informed us, otherwise, write to us about them to say whether they have arrived, and whether they have been sent off and what steps you have taken to let us know that they are at our disposal, and that they are safe and well. But, if they have not yet arrived, please order your men, as we have asked you to do. Farewell. Year 33, Daisios 13.

{Docketed}   Year 33, Pauni 19. Kleonax to Zenon.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59241
Date:   September 253 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.24, no. 108

This is one of a few letters from Zenon himself which by some chance have been preserved in his archives. Krotos was a commercial agent , and Peisikles a rather important person , a sort of paymaster , in the service of Apollonios.

Zenon to Krotos greeting. As soon as you get my letter, get twenty-five minas of wool from Pasis the Jew and contract with Artemidoros for the making of a mattress , long enough for a seat for two , or a little longer, and double-fronted : for it is required for Peisikles ; and as soon as you get the wool , send it to Memphis to Artemidoros and try to have it finished in fifteen days. We have written also to Pasis to give you the wool. Farewell. Year 33 , Epeiph 28.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59243
Date:   February 252 B.C.
Translated by:   D.Thompson, 'New and Old in the Ptolemaic Fayyum', p. 136

Horos to Zenon greeting. By 12 Choiak there will be 130 arourai sown with poppy. Please, do come and visit so you may feast your eyes on the sight. Farewell. Year 33, Choiak 12.

{On the back}   We have an allotment to the north which give us 20 arourai on which to plant castor-oil {kiki}. Zenon, take the two parts and the owner can keep the third part.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59245
Date:   February 252 B.C.
Translated by: (C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.19, no. 40)

The peasants mentioned in line 1 probably cultivated the land, by agreement with the land-holders, under certain conditions. Being dissatisfied with their treatment they had fled to a place of refuge, the ancient equivalent to going on strike.

Kollouthes to Zenon greeting. After leaving you, I found that the peasants belonging to the land which has been portioned out among the soldiers have fled to the temple of Isis in the Memphite nome. So at the time when I received your letter, I was setting out for Krokodilopolis to ask Maimachos to rout them out. As soon as this is done I will come to you; for Maimachos was not staying in the village. Farewell. Year 33, Choiak ..

{Docketed}   Year 33, Tybi 2. From Kollouthes.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59251
Date:   April 252 B.C.
Translation at: SelPap_1.93


Greek text:   PCairZen_59254
Date:   July 252 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.24, no. 109

Phanias was a secretary of the cavalry. One of his duties was to inspect the troops in his district and see that they were properly mounted and equipped. In the present case he was coming to Philadelphia to review all the cadets in the Arsinoite nome and to administer an oath , which was perhaps required before they could be definitely confirmed in the possession of their allotments.

Phanias to Zenon greeting. I have decided to review all the cadets who have received allotments in the Arsinoite nome and to administer the oath to them in Philadelphia. Will you kindly then prepare me a lodging , for I am not very well at present and also I wish to be with you as long as possible. Farewell .

{Addressed}   To Zenon.

{Docketed}   Year 34 , Pachons 22. From Phanias , about his visit to Philadelphia.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59379
Date:   254-251 B.C.
Translation at:   by J. Bauschatz


Greek text:   PCairZen_59256
Date:   252/1 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.24, no. 110

The title of Philiskos has not yet been found in writing , but there is little doubt that he was at this time the chief oikonomos of the Arsinoite province. It is interesting to see that the complaint of the villagers was sent straight to the chief oikonomos and that he in turn ordered the nomarch to do what was necessary.

Philiskos to Zenon greeting. Before your letters arrived the people in Tanis wrote to me that the water . . . I therefore sent to Maimachos and ordered him to make haste to repair the mouth of the canal at Psenuris. So I have written to you to let you know. Farewell. Year 34 . . .


Greek text:   PCairZen_59263
Date:   April 251 B.C.
Translated by: (C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.19, no. 44)

This letter may have been written in Alexandria, though Greeks living in the capital seem as a rule to have used the Macedonian calendar. It may be assumed that the Apollonios mentioned in the letter is the well-known dioiketes. ln that case, as we know that he was dioiketes both before and after year 34 , the writer probably means that he had resumed office after a temporary absence.

Philon to Zenon greeting. If you yourself are well, and the rest of your affairs are satisfactory, that would be as I wish. I too am well. Maiandria has written to me about a cloak which you ordered her to weave. At present she is ill, but as soon as she is better you shall have the garment. Know that Apollonios has taken over the direction of public affairs and that Dionysodoros is acting as chief accountant. I have written this for your information. Farewell. Year 34, Mecheir 9.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.

{Docketed}   Year 30 {sic}, Mecheir 27. From Philon, concerning a cloak.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59270
Date:   July 251 B.C.
Translated by:   L.Casson, in 'The Philosophy of Shipbuilding', p. 97

Sōsos to Zenon greeting. You wrote to me to send you sycamore wood to Kersat. As soon as the mules arrive, we'll load and send it off. They {? the shipwrights} told you that Palous had said there was no acacia wood. On the 15th {of Pachons} the muleteers brought some from Mea, while on the the 16th, when they didn't show up, he brought some in a cart. I had written to you to let you know that they're not short of acacia wood, they have enough, but there will be a need for sycamore, since what has been cut and brought won't be enough. The ibis-feeders, the ones from Mea, approached me yesterday willing to sell rather cheaply. Send Theopompos to buy, so that the shipwrights won't have an excuse for not working. For they're scoundrels and always looking for an excuse. Farewell. Year 35, Pachons 17.

{Docketed}   Year 35, Pachons 17. From Spondates, concerning wood.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59426
Date:   260-250 B.C.
Translation at: SelPap_1.91


Greek text:   PSI_362
Date:   January 250 B.C.
Translated by: N.Lewis, 'Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt', p. 54

Sosos was a commercial agent of Apollonios and Zenon; see also PCairZen_59270.

Sōsos to Zenon greeting. Sailing down to Mendes, I delivered your letter and Iatrokles' to Dionysios and Promethion. As luck would have it, Apollonios the tax collector was there, so that Dionysios had that excuse for delay, and as I stayed there ten days Promethion, excellent gentleman that he is, seeing me wasting several days there, gave me a letter to Diodotos in Alexandria to pay me 2,000 copper drachmas, and he said he had given Limnaios 1,200. So we are on the point of getting all the money. Farewell. Year 35, Choiak 1.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59481
Date:   June 250 B.C.
Translated by: T.Evans, in 'Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds', p. 119

To Zenon greetings, Paēsis. So that it doesn't turn out that the potters who coat jars with pitch make a hash of it in some of the jars and by recoating them again use up too much pitch without reason, if it seems good to you I shall manage the coating, together with Lysimachos and Nephoreites and Herieus; for if this happens, more jars will be coated with pitch, and in the right way, and the pitch will be conserved. And know too that I am being slandered by the potters; for they say that I am always writing something damaging against them to you. So I take no notice of them; for I would never stop reporting what is useful for you. For also, while I have given Anosis 2,000 jar-lids, the rest of the potters have not given any, but even cast angry glances at me. Be fortunate.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59308
Date:   October 250 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.19, no. 47

Apparently the temple of Thoeris in Philadelphia received a small contribution towards its upkeep from a more important temple of the same goddess in another town. We may perhaps picture it as one of a number of newly founded and poorly endowed little temples , in which Zenon took a paternal interest as the representative of Apollonios , who was the real creator of Philadelphia.

Zenon to Axates greeting. We wrote to you once before about Kollythes the priest of Thoēris of Philadelphia, requesting that the amount due from the priest of Thoēris for the temple in Philadelphia should be paid to him regularly, and you replied that he is entitled to 12 drachmas for the year. But the fact is nobody ever pays anything. So please give an order yourself that the whole amount now owing shall he paid to him , for they depend on this subsidy for performing the sacrifices. Farewell. Year 36, Mesore.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59317
Date:   November 250 B.C.
Translated by: J.Kloppenborg, 'The Tenants in the Vineyard', p. 401

Horos to Zenon, greetings. From the month of Choiak until Mesore is nine months. I must apportion the work, and there are many things to be done. Now I will use four papyrus rolls on these things, three for the construction account and one for the work of the vine-dressers. Therefore please arrange to give me more so that I can apportion the work quickly. Farewell.

Now in regard to my monthly salary: from the months of Pachons to Mesore is four months, making 40 drachmas. In payment I have received from Kallon 10 dr., leaving 30 dr. From this you should deduct the 15 dr. that I still owe you. This leaves 15 drachmas. It would be good if you could give this to me so that I will be conscientious in regard to my job.

{Docketed}   Year 36, Thoth 30. Horos, regarding papyrus scrolls and his monthly salary.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59322
Date:   March 249 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 50

The persons named in this letter are not known to us from papyri hitherto published. As Philokles was a toparch, Moschion must have been either a nomarch or an official of still higher rank. Philokles seems to have claimed the wheat as rent or taxes on some land in his district, but the circumstances of the case can only be guessed at. Seeing that the letter was found in Zenon's archives, we may suppose that he had been consulted about it.

Kriton to Moschion greeting. Demokrates the bearer of the letter has begged my aid, saying that he is being wronged by Philokles who is serving under you as toparch and that he {Philokles} has taken from him fifty artabas of wheat, though he owes nothing to the king nor has farmed any land under his control, but has merely bought a quantity of corn from the harvesters. Will you kindly see to it then that he recovers the said amount and is not wronged. He says that he is being wronged too by some of your other subordinates. Forbid them to treat him thus, I beg of you, for he is an agent of mine. Farewell. Year 36, Tubi 15.


Greek text:   PSI_369
Date:   March 249 B.C.
Translated by: S. von Reden, 'Money in Ptolemaic Egypt', p. 167   (first half)

Dorion to Zenon greeting. I have found out since when the cups and jewellery which Charmos has pledged have been deposited. The principal is 600 drachmas in silver, and the interest ... drachmas per month in silver, and the duration has been 2 years and 11 months. Similarly for the other items: the principal is 900 drachmas, of which the people of Petalis received 600 drachmas in silver, and Kallon received in Memphis 300 silver drachmas. This is together 900 drachmas, and the duration has been 1 year and 5 months. About the interest for the 900 drachmas you do not have to worry, but I shall arrange as you wish. Please arrange with Sostratos that the 32 drachmas of silver, which I have through the bank on behalf of Dionysios, are sent to me. He agreed that one talent should be paid in Memphis, which he instructed should be given to Pais and Phalous as salary, and another two talents, in total three talents. He wrote for me a letter to Thrason, that he should take account of the items for which no-one has given the price. Farewell. Year 36, Mecheir 2.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.

{Docketed}   Year 36, Mecheir 12. From Dorion concerning the cups, and the 32 silver drachmas of Sostratos.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59329
Date:   April 249 B.C.
Translated by: J.Kloppenborg, 'The Tenants in the Vineyard', p. 404

Apollonios and Menippos, vine-dressers, to Zenon, greetings. Please pay attention to us and remind Metrodorus to pay us the wages for the night guarding, whatever wage seems to you to be appropriate. For be assured that we . . . in the work. We went also to Bacchias and we conducted an inspection. You should know, then, that the fruit is beginning to develop nicely. We discovered that Atpheus had fled after a fine (?) was imposed on him in regard to some vegetables. Farewell. Year 37, Mecheir 28.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59330
Date:   June 248 B.C.
Translated by:   T.Evans, 'Oral Performance and Its Context', p. 200

Pemnas to Zenon greeting. Concerning the debts among the swineherds from the previous periods together with the rent for the 37th year, Herakleides acted in collusion with Thoteus and they themselves calculated the amounts without our consent and we are not able to follow closely what they have done up to now, and although they were asked for the account they did not have the courage to give it to us. And so concerning these things I appealed to Iason several times to the effect that being in collusion they were not acting in an upright manner. And Herakleides also holds all the contracts made with the swineherds. Therefore, I have written to you in order that you should know. Farewell. Year 38, Pachons 10.


Greek text:   PSI_382
Date:   August 248 B.C.
Translated by:   L.Casson, in 'The Philosophy of Shipbuilding', pp. 96-7

Pais to Zenon greeting. You know that I arranged with you to repair the prow of the boat. But it's turned out to involve dismantling and reconstructing the whole boat. We've searched for wood everywhere. We've located with great diffulty one piece of acacia on which Demetrios, collector of the grain-tax, put down a deposit of 50 drachmas. Please write to him to let us have it. It's worth 80 drachmas. Otherwise write to Hermolaos about the acacia in Kerke during these ten days to give orders to cut it for us. They value it at 28 drachmas. If you write to Hermolaos, they will give 20 drachmas. Let's keep moving until we get enough wood and keep the shipwrights from hanging around doing nothing. So write to me about this. I received 60 copper drachmas from Spondates. Farewell. Year 38, Pauni 24.

{Docketed}   Year 38, Epeiph .. From Pais to Zenon.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59337
Date:   October 248 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 52

We do not know what Leon's official title was, but in the present case he acts as if he were a praktor collecting arrears. The vineyard and orchard in which Iason is interested had apparently not paid the eparourion or ground-tax for five years, and Leon was about to exact the amount due to Government by seizing and selling the wine of the recent vintage, the season being now late autumn.

Iason to Zenon greeting. I went over to Moithymis . . . to see Leon about the ground-tax which he is trying to exact on the vineyard and orchard, for five years past, at the rate of three drachmas for each aroura. I asked him then to wait and not sell the wine until I wrote to you. So he has given us three days in which he is prepared to receive a settlement of accounts. Metrodoros also wrote to Hermolaos to stop proceedings until you had been written to. Farewell. Year 38, Mesore 19.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59470
Date:   256-246 B.C.
Translated by:   R.J.Forbes, 'Studies in Ancient Technology', vol. 4. p. 39

Molossos was a travelling agent, used by Zenon to sell the produce of the estate at Philadelphia.

Molossos to Zenon, greetings. When I had written to you the first letter which Horos our agent has handed to you, Theogenes arrived at Mendes on the 23rd . . . with the three . . . sealed parcels of flax stalks which you gave him as samples. They sell at . . . we have asked the merchants whether they could sell 10,000 parcels. They say yes. Therefore send quickly as many parcels as seems advantageous and the agent who will sell them. Give orders that they be sold at the highest price; and write to Promethion the banker, asking him to stay and assist with these transactions.

We have written to you about the papyri rolls . . . and when I met Kriton in the Delta I asked him to inform you. Therefore after finding out from him, write and tell me what to do, so that it may be done. Also write to me about yourself, to let me know whether you are well. Farewell. Year 3., . . .


Greek text:   PCairZen_59341
Date:   247/6 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 54

For parts A and B of this papyrus, see BD_57. In part C Zenon made a rough draft for a letter or memorandum, in compliance with Neon's request. The person for whom the memorandum was intended can scarcely be anyone but Apollonios the dioiketes. It is another illustration of how he could interfere between the Government and the citizens of a subject state, either by a direct order or at any rate by a request which the local authorities would not venture to disregard. In spite of what Neon says in his letter, it is doubtful if official etiquette would have permitted Zenon to write directly to the council and people. The natural intermediary in such a case was his patron Apollonios.

From Zenon.   On behalf of Therarchos who married my father's sister, who lives in Kalynda, you wrote that he was not to have soldiers quartered on him and that he was to be exempted from providing hay and green fodder. But now that Therarchos is dead his family has to lodge soldiers and is compelled to provide hay and green fodder. Will you kindly therefore write to Diodotos the oikonomos and to the council and people to see that Neon enjoys the same privileges as his father.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59344
Date:   April 246 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 55

The letter has no address on the back, but was probably intended for Zenon. Iason, Theopompos and Sostratos are familiar names in his circle. The restoration of line 4, and consequently the meaning, is uncertain.

Greetings. Will you kindly write to Iason to let the stathmos of Theopompos be given to me to serve as a dwelling-place. For the one in which I am living used to belong to Phileas who was formerly scribe for the Arsinoite nome, and as he has recovered his property from the dioiketes they are ordering me to leave it. If it is not possible to obtain that of Theopompos, get a letter from Sostratos to his people requesting them to let his house be put at my disposal. Farewell. Year 1, Mecheir 11.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59351
Date:   244/3 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 58

The petition is carefully written out, without corrections, and does not seem to be merely a draft. Nevertheless, as it was found among Zenon's papers and as it bears no date or annotation, it is doubtful whether it was really laid before Agenor in its present form; perhaps it is only a copy of the original. The writer uses the ordinary formulae of petitions addressed to the king, though really intended for the local strategos, but the diction is somewhat curt. He does not describe himself by his full name and title, nor does he give any details about his opponent Herakleides. The 400 drachmas which Zenon owed to the Government were probably a tax of some sort.

To king Ptolemy greeting from Zenon. I am being wronged by Herakleides. For in year 3 I gave him through Demeas 400 drachmas in gold, requesting him to pay into the Treasury on my account 400 drachmas in copper, on condition that on receiving from me the said amount in copper he should give me back the gold; and though I have been offering him the copper and demanding the gold from him, he has not given it back but has put me off up till now. I beg you therefore, if it seems good to you, to order Agenor the strategos to summon him and, if my story he found true, to force him to accept the 400 drachmas of copper and give me back the four hundred drachmas of gold, and so by your grace may I obtain justice. Farewell.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59362
Date:   November 243 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 60

Zenon appears here as a person of influence, but not necessarily of any official standing; indeed I suspect it was merely as a sheep-owner that he was interested in the question.

. . . to Zenon greeting. You wrote . . . [That they should tell you lies?] is not surprising, but it is surprising that they should have prevailed on you to write bidding me act fairly as Demetrios is according them justice. Yet I had given them not only the place which they leased, but an additional piece at the request of Ammonios, not allowing myself to accept a price from others. But so senseless are these people that they want me next to hand over to them the land which I have let to others by contract. The land I speak of is scattered through all the plains, for in each basin there are six or seven arourai of it, sometimes ten. Land of this sort I have not given up to anyone, but after you wrote I gave them the untilled land which lies in a single plain, comprising 200 arourai. I will inform you more fully when I am on the spot. Farewell. Year 5, Thoth 14.

{P.S.}   If any goads or spears are to be had cheap, buy me two for guarding the wild cattle and give them to Straton and Peromin (?).


Greek text:   PLond_2017
Date:   242-241 B.C.
Translated by:   J.Muir, 'Life and Letters in the Ancient Greek World', pp. 79-80

Memo from Herakleotes to Zenon and Nestos, my appointed guardians. I have given you previously a memo about the instrument which was left to me in his will by Demeas, my teacher, and, when it vanished from his quarters, asking that you should either find it and give it to me, or give me another not inferior one on which I can practise and compete, so that I am not left behind by many of my fellows through being out of practice.

I sent you another memo about the instrument asking that, since Hieron agreed he was keeping the lost instrument at his place as security for a loan of one hundred and five drachmas, you should get it back and give it to me or else buy me another one not inferior so that I can practise and compete and not be left behind by many of my fellows because I am out of practice. You have not bothered about any of these matters.

And I sent you a third memo asking that since Demeas, my teacher, left in his will that I should be supported with all that a free man should and must have who is being trained in lyre-playing up to the stage of entering a competition; and since you are providing me every month with three drachmas four and a half obols for meat, three drachmas and three choes for oil, two drachmas and a half-obol for fish and seven and a half measures of wine; and since I said these were not enough for my training, I asked you for Demeas' sake and for the sake of not making a fuss to give me a monthly allowance of: for meat, seven drachmas three obols; for oil, six drachmas, six choes; for fish, seven drachmas three obols; and fifteen choes of wine. You have done none of what I asked in my memos.

So I ask you once again that either my instrument should be given back to me, the one that Hieron says he has and that was left to me in the will, or that another, not inferior, should be bought and given to me so that I may practise and enter the competition and should not be left behind by many of my fellows for the reason that I do not have an instrument. And I ask that you provide me with the necessaries specified in my letter to you according to the requirements of the will that I should be provided with all that a free man should and must have who is to be trained in lyre-playing up to the stage of entering a competition.

If it is not your choice to make this provision, I ask you to give me the monthly monetary equivalent for two years so that, looking after myself and finding a manager, I may enter the competition proclaimed by the King and not rot here - but be able to help myself. Farewell. Year 6, in the month . . .


Greek text:   PCairZen_59367
Date:   January 241 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 62a

The text fills one column of a papyrus which originally contained a number of drafts, not copies, of letters on various subjects. The first letter is addressed to Sostratos, a partner or agent of Zenon.

What was Zenon's connection with the farming of this tax? I can see no indication that he was acting as a Government official. One possible explanation is that though Dionysodoros was the nominal surety, Zenon stood behind him and was ultimately responsible for the money. But I am more inclined to think that Zenon was in reality a partner in the farming of the apomoira. As for the general meaning of the text I take it that the guarantee had not yet been definitely exacted from Dionysodoros and that if the order of the dioiketes arrived in time no farther steps would be taken about it, but that if it was exacted before the order arrived it would be difficult to obtain restitution from the Treasury.

Year 6, Choiak 1. To Sostratos. When Demetrios, who is engaged in farming the apomoira, was starting down the river to see Zenodoros about the farm and to ask that an order be sent to Hermaphilos and the accountants to make inquiry and, if it should appear that in year 5 not only the sums due for that year but also the arrears of year 4 are being paid up, to let the . . . be returned to the sureties, I wrote to you also to attend to this question and ask Kraton the praktor to deal indulgently with Dionysodoros about the 3000 drachmas for which he guaranteed the firm of Hippokrates and Demetrios. But I hear that Zenodoros has sailed up to Sebennytos and I suspect that Demetrios has not found him in the capital. If then you have spoken to Kraton and he has agreed, it will be all right; but if not, do so even now without delay, for fear that while the deficit is being paid up the guarantee be exacted from Dionysodoros and we lose 3000 drachmas, for you know well that it is not easy to recover money from the Treasury.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59367.b
Date:   January 241 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 62b

The second letter is to Kraton the praktor.

To Kraton. Demetrios and Hippokrates, who have been engaged in farming the apomoira of Philadelphos for the Arsinoite nome, and for whom Dionysodoros is surety for year 4 , having made up in year 5 the arrears of year 4 as well, have sailed down to see Zenodoros . . .


Greek text:   PSI_4.393
Date:   March 241 B.C.
Translated by: Tcherikover & Fuks, C.Pap.Jud. I 14

Year 6, Tybi 17. Declaration made to Andromachos, the chief of police of Philadelphia, by Samoēlis and Alexandros, vine-dressers, the tenants of the vineyard belonging to Zenon and Sostratos.

On the night of the 15th, thirty thousand reed canes disappeared from the vineyard of Zenon and Sostratos. On the 16th we reported the matter to you, to who was also sent out from among those under the control of Agenor the strategos, and to Theopompos the policeman; there were others present too in Keleēsis' vineyard. We value them at 14 copper drachmas per ten thousand, making 42 copper drachmas altogether.

Year 6, Tybi 17. Declaration made to Andromachos the chief of police of Philadelphia, by Samoēlis and Alexandros, vine-dressers, the tenants of the vineyard belonging to Zenon and Sostratos.

On Tybi 16th, at night, thieves got into the 60-arourai vineyard at Philadelphia belonging to Zenon and Sostratos and made off with [reed canes] worth 14 drachmas per ten thousand. On the 16th [we reported the matter to you, to who was sent out as well from among those under the control of] Agenor [the strategos] and to Theopompos the policeman; there were others present too in Keleēsis' vineyard. We value them at 14 copper drachmas per ten thousand, making 42 copper drachmas altogether.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59368
Date:   July 241 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 63

P.S.I. 524 is another letter on the same subject , written a week later. It appears from this that the messenger had not delivered the letter of Sosibios to Zenodoros. Sostratos therefore asks Zenon and Xenophon , as soon as they get the letter, to send it back to him in order that it may be given to Zenodoros , who was apparently staying in his neighbourhood , and also to write to the bee-keepers to send a delegate with a statement of their grievances against Ammonios.

Sostratos to Zenon and Xenophon greeting. I have subjoined a copy of the letter that Sosibios wrote to Zenodoros about the bee-hives . . . the memorandum from us . . . If even now Ammonios does not admit your claim and . . . the bee-hives, send the bee-keepers and Rodon to us, bringing all the justificatory documents, so that the case may be judged for us here, as we have requested. We have also written to Zenodoros about these matters and about the house of Patis. Farewell. Year 7, Pauni 8.

Sosibios to Zenodoros greeting. I have sent to you a copy of the memorandum that was given to us by Kleon son of Iason and Sostratos his brother, concerning the matters in which they say they were wronged by Ammonios the oikonomos. Therefore act promptly so that they receive justice as they request.

A memorandum to Sosibios from Kleon and Sostratos. We own one thousand beehives, which have belonged to us from the time of the king's father and which had been leased to Horos and sons by a contract passed in the office of Simaristos. Some of them were in the Herakleopolite nome, and for these Tou . . . . . . . has duly settled up to year 6. Others were in the Memphite nome under the management of Pames and Amenneus , and now we hear they have transferred them to the Herakleopolite nome without asking our leave , and Ammonios the oikonomos has sent them to prison and is ruining the hives by obstructing their work. Therefore , seeing that he was by force depriving the bee-keepers of a hundred hives , Sostratos who happened to be staying there , having gone up the river to see to the extraction of vegetable juice , spoke to Dionysios the agent of Zenodoros and explained the matter, and Ammonios getting alarmed released the bee-keepers. The same individual , at the time when we were abroad with the king and had 150,000 sheaves ( ? ) of hay lying at Bousiris in the Herakleopolite nome , sent Rodon the hay-guard to prison , bound him in fetters and kept him in custody for eight months , and in the meantime 120,000 sheaves disappeared , stolen by the natives. About this affair a preliminary inquiry has been made , and he more than once promised to exact the price and pay it back to us. Another result is that we have had a claim for freight presented against us for Kriton's boat , which was hired for carrying hay down to Alexandria for 1200 drachmas. For when the boat arrived at the port , his people interfered and it went away empty. We beg you therefore , since it is not convenient either for us to leave home or for him to come here , to write to him to send the bee-keepers and a delegate to represent him at the trial , in order that we may not be overborne by him in his own district ; and from the facts of our case you will learn how he treats the other people belonging to the nome.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59371
Date:   March 239 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.20, no. 64

Ariston appears to have attended an auction in order to bid on Zenon's behalf. But finding that the baths were being let without the expected deductions ( for upkeep etc. ? ) he does not know how much to offer and asks Zenon to come himself and make his calculations on the new basis.   Ammonios may be the oikonomos of no. 63.

Ariston to Zenon greeting. On the 8th of Mecheir Ammonios began to put the farms up to auction , and you must know that the baths are now being let without deduction of any sort. I thought it best therefore to make no bid until you came. Come and join me then , if it be convenient for you , in order that we may bid according to what you decide. Farewell. Year 8, Mecheir 9.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59451
Date:   247-240 B.C.
Translated by:   J.Muir, 'Life and Letters in the Ancient Greek World', pp. 63-64

To Zenon, greetings from the temple slaves at Boubastis who feed the cats. The king acted properly in giving our profession exemption from compulsory work throughout the land, and so did Apollonios too; we are from Sophthis. Leontiskos, forcing us to go, sent us to the harvest, and, so that we should not bother you, we finished the work given to us. But now for the second time Leontiskos has sent us out to make bricks - there are two of us. He is just looking after the brick-makers in Sophthis, Amerōis and Bēsas, who should be doing this work - for his own advantage. Would you oblige us by proceeding to follow the instructions of the king and Apollonios, his finance minister. Apart from you we have no-one to complain to. Farewell.


Greek text:   PLond_7.2052
Date:   245-240 B.C.
Translated by: S.R.Llewelyn, 'New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity', vol. 8, p. 17

Memorandum to Zenon from Sosikrates concerning those {slaves} formerly belonging to Apollonios, the ex-dioiketes, but now belonging to Paideas. If anyone encounters them, let him arrest them and write to us.

Pindaros, Lycian, about 29 years of age, medium height, honey-complexion, with meeting eyebrows, hook-nosed, scar under left knee.

Philonides, who is called Beltenouris, about 24 years of age, medium height, honey-complexion, scar on left eyebrow and under lip on right.

And those belonging to Alexandros who was a hostage:

Philinos, Babylonian, shampooer, about 44 years of age, short, black-skinned, hook-nosed, with meeting eyebrows, having a mole on the left temple.

Amyntas, Mede, coachman, about 34 years of age, medium height, black-skinned, scar to forehead and nose.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59300
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: J.Kloppenborg, 'The Tenants in the Vineyard', p. 398

Euempelos to Zenon, greetings. After the farmers of the district had seeded the vineyards {with vegetables} for the 25th year {sic} I asked Herakleides to give me an assistant to make the rounds of inspection, so that I could register the cucumbers that had been planted and the gourds and the shallots and anything else, so that they can pay the one-half rent after the valuation, just as happened before. Herakleides gave me an assistant and asked him to do his job well. Although none of the other tenants objected, Apollonides said that he would not allow me to come into his vineyard. Knowing how crazy he is and that he would hinder me, I ordered the assistant to be present when I made my rounds.

Now Apollonides is really playing the fool. For if, as you once said, the money from farming out a 100 arourai vineyard to various tenants had been collected, he would not now be such a fool. For while I farmed out not even 5 arourai belonging to Python for 20 drachmas and 7 arourai belonging to Neoptolemos for at most 41 drachmas and did this by auction with Anosis' help (as you had ordered), Apollonides, without the assistance of anyone, not even Anosis, said that by going to anyone he wanted and making an agreement on his own with them he had negotiated 50 drachmas; he did not even keep back the new grapes for the Isieia, telling them all (?) to take as much as they wanted of what belongs to you.

But concerning the other matters, you yourself will investigate when you come. No one is preparing the wine vats nor are they building new ones and harvest time is near. For last year we began to gather the grapes on Pachons 28; but they are not even ready to catch mice. Thus unless you come in a hurry and start giving orders in regard to all these matters, by spending the time on other matters you will lose a great deal. Year 25 {sic}, Pachons 2.

{Addressed}   To Zenon.

{Docketed}   Year 36, Pachons 6. Euempelos, concerning the harvest.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59519
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.23, no. 87

In this short letter we have another picture of a sitometrēs in trouble. Phaneisis , though he writes Greek with perfect fluency, was an Egyptian from up the river and knew nobody in Alexandria except Zenon. Evidently he had not come down for a holiday, but to appear before Dionysodoros and explain some fault in his accounts . Dionysodoros was the chief accountant of Finance , a person of great authority.

Phaneisis the corn-measurer to Zenon greeting. It is now three days since Dionysodoros saw me and ordered me to be taken to prison. Will you kindly then send one of your people to me along with the messenger who hands you this letter, because I have no friend in the city, and send me a cloak or some money, as much as you please , to serve until one of my folk sails down. Farewell.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59467
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: C.C.Edgar, ASAE vol.24, no. 106

The text is interesting for the light it throws on the methods of the beekeepers. At the honey-making season the bee-keepers were accustomed to carry the bees to their feeding-grounds in portable hives. It appears that the donkeys belonged to the bee-keepers , and though Zenon used them rather freely ( many donkeys being required at this season for the transport of wine-jars) , it is to be presumed that he paid for their hire .

To Zenon greeting from the bee-keepers of the Arsinoite nome. You wrote about the donkeys , that they were to come to Philadelphia and work ten days. But it is now eighteen days that they have been working and the hives have been left in the fields , and it is time to bring them home and we have no donkeys to carry them back. Now it is no small impost that we pay the king. Unless then the donkeys are sent at once , the result will be that the hives will be ruined and the impost lost. Already the peasants are warning us , saying : "We are going to release the water and burn the brushwood. So unless you remove them , you will lose them." We beg you then , if it please you , to send us our donkeys , in order that we may remove them, and after removing them we will come back with the donkeys when you need them . May you prosper .


Greek text:   PCairZen_59475
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translation at:   by J. Bauschatz

FROM PAIS TO ZENON   ( undated )

Greek text:   PCairZen_59484
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by:   W.Clarysse & K.Geens, 'Textiles and Architecture in Graeco-Roman and Byzantine Egypt' ( PDF )

Memorandum from the carpet-weaver Pais to Zenon. Concerning the complaints I lodged concerning Nechtembes the carpet-weaver, who is a a constant troublemaker, it is now clear in truth that he has embezzled from the two-sided carpets {amphitapoi}. The carpet which was weighed yesterday was still wet and was too light by six minas. And he perpetrated things that were even more wicked. If you want to investigate about these, it is right to cut off his hands. For he made the length of the two-sided carpets too short by one cubit and the width by two palms, so that they do not fit the bed. And when they started to weigh the two-sided carpets, he put also his warp on the scales. It is not right to be like that. Besides such activities he also corrupts the other carpet-weavers. If you agree to let me give the samples to them, I will give you two extra carpets for every fourteen carpets. When he realized that he would be convicted by me, he wanted to run away yesterday. But I had him arrested and he is taken to the prison. I have made this clear to you so that nobody will defraud you and I will receive your attention. May you prosper.


Greek text:   PCairZen_59509
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translation at:   by J. Bauschatz


Greek text:   PLond_2026
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: N.Lewis, 'Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt', p. 16

Asklepiades to Zenon greeting. Philon, who will hand you this letter, has been known to me for some time. He is sailing up the Nile with a view to being employed in one or another department under Philiskos {an official in the nome}. Please, then, get to know him, and introduce him to other men of standing; assist him both for my sake and for the young man himself - he is deserving of your special consideration, as will be evident to you too if you receive him into your hands. Farewell.


Greek text:   PLond_2027
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: N.Lewis, 'Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt', p. 25

Asklepiades to Zenon greeting. Erasis, who will hand you this letter, happens to be a relative and friend of mine. He brings with him his newphew Erilochos, a candidate for a land assignment. Please, then, take care of the gentlemen, see that they obtain a suitable billet - preferably in Philadelphia, so as to be near to you, but at all events somewhere appropriate - and that in the land measurement they are not cheated. And if they have any other need of you, give them active assistance both for my sake and for that of the men themselves, for they are deserving of your special consideration. Farewell.


Greek text:   PLond_2045
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translation at:   by J. Bauschatz

FROM KRITON TO ZENON   ( undated )

Greek text:   PSI_411
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: M.Rostovtzeff, 'A Large Estate in Egypt in the Third Century B.C.', p. 31

Kriton to Zenon greeting. Apollonios has opened the treasury and has found that seven talents of silver are missing; and he has ordered the accounts of Aristeus and Artemidoros to be verified. I have written this to you so that you may accordingly make your own accounts ready. Apollonios was especially angry that the money was recorded as paid, without his order. Farewell.

FROM PYRON TO ZENON   ( undated )

Greek text:   PSI_418
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: A. Sarri, 'Material Aspects of Letter Writing in the Graeco-Roman World', p. 104

Pyron was the chief secretary of Zenon; for another letter from him, see P.Mich. 46.

To Zenon greeting from Pyron.   You will do well, as you promised when you were asked and agreed to do everything possible, to take care so that the child be dressed and be sent to the little palaestra. And after this, to take care of whatever food necessities, so that we are not in need of anything, even oil, and anything else that you find proper, so that we stop disgracing ourselves. And if you agree, order supplies - so that the gamblers, as they will be watching when we enter, will not dishonour us, as if being naked. But if you think our cheap clothing should more expensive, order linen cloth to be given us, until we acquire clothing. And in general, stop breaking your promises to us, so that we are not disheartened. And about Iason, write to us whatever seems fitting.   May you prosper.


Greek text:   PSI_423
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translation at:   by J. Bauschatz

FROM KLEON TO ZENON   ( undated )

Greek text:   PSI_528
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: J.Rowlandson, 'Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt', no. 76

As far as we know, Zenon was never married, and so the word 'father' in this letter is probably (though not certainly) just an expression of respect.

Memorandum to Zenon, his father, from Kleon. Please send to us the provisions that are for both me and my mother, totalling with the oil, 17 drachmas. A wine jar is also ours, containing six choes plus three kotylai, also the contribution for the festival of Hermes and of the Muses, for everyone else has already contributed. Also give thought concerning the water, for we have been buying it for many days past. I have forwarded on to you in addition the letter Demetrios and Hippokrates sent me concerning the fruit from the trees. At any rate, I replied to them, telling them, "Go directly to Zenon, my father." May you prosper.

{Addressed}   To my father.


Greek text:   PSI_599
Date:   261-239 B.C.
Translated by: S.B.Pomeroy, 'Women in Hellenistic Egypt', p.168

To Zenon, greeting from the weavers. We have come here to work. To be fair, we should be given one drachma for each talent that we wash and comb. Weaving costs 3 copper drachmas for one linen cloth and even that is not enough for us. Each cloth requires three men and one woman, and it is necessary to work for six straight days. If these conditions do not suit you, give each one 1½ obols and to the woman ½ obol. Give us an assistant at 5 drachmas 2 obols per month who can do the work, deducting this salary from our wages. May you prosper.

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