Don’t Even Say it–Little Atthis, Eight Years Old

SEG 15:174  = IG II² 13124 (Attica, 2nd Century BCE)

“Don’t say it, if you look upon here,
The little Atthis…
Woe for the muse whose fine gifts she knew—
Her soul went to heaven when she was eight years old.

She left tears and moans of grief for her dear parents
Who, terribly, made her this monument instead of a marriage
When she went down to deep Acheron and Hades’ home,
All their hopes were poured into the fire and ash.”

1 [μ]ὴ̣ φῆτ’, ἢν̣ [ἐσίδητε ⏑–⏑⏑–⏑⏑–⏑]
Ἀτθίδα τὴν ὀλ[ίγην –⏑⏑–⏑⏑–]
αἰαῖ τῆς Μούσης [ἤδη καλὰ δῶρ’ εἰδυῖαν]
ὀκταέτιν· ψυχ[ὴ δ’ οὐρανὸν εἰσανέβη].
5 δάκρυα δὲ στον[αχάς τε φίλοις λείπουσα γονεῦσιν]
ἀντὶ γάμων οἴμ[οι τοῦτο τὸ σῆμ’ ἔλαχον],
τὸμ βαθὺν <ε>ἰς Ἀχ[έροντα μολοῦσ’ Ἀΐδαό τε δῶμα]·
εἰς πῦρ δὲ σπ[οδιάν τ’ ἐλπίδες ἐξεχύθεν].

Some liberties taken here

“Instead of a Bed, a Tomb; Instead of a Bride, A Stone”

CIRB 125 [Corpus Inscriptionum Regni Bosporani ]c. 50-1 BCE

“Mênodorus and Hêlodôros, the sons of Hêliodôros, greet you
Traveler, beneath me, the words—dear Heliodôros,
Eighteen years old, he had his father’s name.
With him lies his brother on the edge of adulthood,
Mênodorus, who has earned all the pity on Aeida.

Instead of a lovely marriage bed, they get a tomb;
Instead of a bride, a stone, and instead of a wedding, terrible grief for their parents.
I grieve for the pitiable mother who put her hands over their eyes.”

1    Μηνόδωρε καὶ
Ἡλιόδωρε
οἱ Ἡλιοδώρου,
χαίρετε.
5 ὧθ’ ὑπ’ ἐμοὶ παροδεῖτα, λόγων φίλος Ἡλιόδωρος
ὀκτωκαιδεχέτης, πατρὸς ἔχων ὄνομα·
σὺν τῶι Μηνεόδωρος ὁ μελλυμέναιος ἀδελφὸς
κέκλιται εἰν Ἀείδῃ πάντα λαχὼν ἐλέου·
ἀντὶ μὲν ἱμερτοῦ θαλάμου τάφον, ἀντὶ δὲ νύμφης′
στήλην, ἀντὶ γάμου δ’ αἰνὸν ἄχος γενέταις.
ματέρα τὰν δύστανον ὀδύρομαι, ἃ δυσὶ τέκνοις
θῆκεν ἀνυμφεύτοις χῖρας {²⁶χεῖρας}²⁶ ἐπὶ βλέφαρα.

Image result for ancient greek epitaph
A Different epitaph

A Husband Writes Home with a Packing List

P.Mich. 3 214

“Paniskos [writes] to my spouse, Ploutogenia, mother of my daughter, many greetings.

Above all, I pray for your good fortune every day from the paternal gods. I want you to know, sister, that we have been staying in Koptos near your sister and her children, so do not feel any annoyance at coming to Koptos, since your relatives are here. And just as you wholly desire to embrace her much and you pray to the gods each day, so too does she long to embrace you with your mother.

As soon as you receive this letter, make ready so that you may come immediately if I send for you. And, when you come, bring with you: ten skins of wool, six jars of olives, four of honey, my shield—only the unused one—and my helmet. Oh, bring my lances too. Bring also all the parts for the tent. If you find the occasion, come here with good people. Have Nonnos come too. Bring all of our clothing when you come. Also bring your golden jewelry when you come, but don’t wear those things openly on the boat.

Greetings to my lady and my daughter Heliodôra. Hermias says hello.

On the other side: “Give this to my wife and my daughter. From their father Paniskos.”

Πανίσκο[ς] τῇ σοιμβ[ί]ῳ μου Πλουτογενίᾳ μητρὶ τῆς θυγατρός μου πλῖστα χαίρειν. πρὸ μὲν <πάντων> εὔχομέ σοι τὴν ὁλοκληρία[ν] καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν παρὰ τοῖς θεοῖς πᾶ⟦τρ⟧σι. γινώσκειν σε οὖν θέλω, ἀδελφή, ὅτι ἐν Κόπτωι αἰ⟦ε⟧μίναμεν ἐνγὺς τῆς ἀδελφῆς ⟦μου⟧ σου καὶ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς, ὅπως μὴ λυπηθῇς ἐρχομένη ἐν τῇ Κόπτῳ· εἰσὶ γὰρ ἐνθάδε οἱ ἀδελφοί σου. ὅπερ καὶ σὺ πάντως βούλῃ αὐτὴν ἀσπάσαστε {αὐτὴν} πολλά, τοῖς θεοῖς εὔχετ[ε] καθ᾿ ἡμέραν βουλομένη σε ἀσπάζε[σ]θαι μετὰ τῆς μητρός σου. δ[ε]ξαμ[έ]νη οὖν μου τὰ γράμ <μα>-τα ταῦτα ποίησόν σου τὰ <κατὰ> χέρα, ὅπως, ἐὰν πέμψω ἐπὶ σέν, ταχέως ἔλθῃς. καὶ ἔνεγκον ἐρχομένη ποκάρια ἐριδίων δέκα, ἐλεῶν κεράμια ἕξ, στά⟦υ⟧γματος κεράμια τέσσερα, καὶ τὸ ὅπλον μου τὸ κενὸν μόνον, τὸ κασίδιόν μου. φέρε καὶ τὰ λογχία μου. φέρε καὶ τὰ τοῦ παπυλίωνος σκεύη. ἐὰν εὕρητε εὐκερίαν, μετὰ ἀνθρώπων καλῶν δεῦτε. ἐρχέστω μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν Νόννος. ἔνεγκον ἡμῶν πάντα τὰ ἡμάτια ἐρχομένη. ἔνεγκον ἐρχομένη σου τὰ χρυσία, ἀλλὰ μὴ αὐτὰ φορέσῃς ἐν τῷ πλο[ί]ῳ. ἀσπάζεμε τὴν κυρίαν μου θυγατέραν Ἡλιοδώραν. ἀσπάζετε ὑμᾶς Ἑρμίας.

pap
From APIS

A Contract for a Slave Purchase

For more non-elite Latin, go to the list here.

AE 1922, 0135. 151 (CE, Fayoum, Egypt)

This is a contract written on a wax tablet for the sale of a Marmarian slave girl to Titus Memmius Montanus, a sailor in the praetorian fleet stationed at Ravenna. The girl is described as ‘veteranae’ (βετρανε), meaning she has been enslaved for some time. We don’t know what happened to her after this moment, but, as this contract was found in Egypt, there is good reason to believe that Titus Memmius was there at some point.

The writer of the contract was likely a native Greek speaker who was unfamiliar with the Latin alphabet, employing Greek morphology (nominative -ος, , genitive -ου/-ης, accusative -ους, etc.), phonetic tendencies (-αρουν for -arum), and vocabulary (πεντηρω) in an otherwise formulaic document. It also displays several spellings reflective of Latin speech, such as the merging of /b/ and /w/ to /β/, and the monophthongization of /ae/ to /ɛ/.

For more on the language, see Adams (2003) Bilingualism and the Latin Language.

BC 1
Enslaved captives. (image: The History Project)

ΓΑΙΩ ΚΟΥΡΤΙΩ ΙΟΥΣΤΩ ΙΟΥΛΙΩ ΝΑΥΤΩΝΕ
ΚΩΝΣΟΥΛΙΒΟΥΣ ΣΕΞΣΤΟΥΜ ΝΩΝΑΣ ΟΚΤΩΒΡΗΣ
ΑΙΣΧΙΝΗΣ ΑΙΣΧΙΝΟΥ ΦΛΑΟΥΙΑΝΟΣ ΜΙΛΗΣΙΟΣ ΣΚΡΙ
ΨΙ ΜΗ ΑΚΚΕΠΙΣΣΕ Α ΤΙΤΩ ΜΕΜΜΙΩ ΜΟΝΤΑΝΩ
ΜΙΛΙΤΕ ΠΕΝΤΗΡΩ ΑΥΓΙΣΤΙ ΔΗΝΑΡΙΟΥΣ ΣΕΣΚΕΝ
ΤΟΥΣ ΒΙΓΕΝΤΙ ΚΙΝΚΥΕ ΠΡΕΤΙΟΥΜ ΠΟΥΕΛΛΑΙ ΜΑΡ
ΜΑΡΙΑΙ ΒΕΤΡΑΝΕ ΚΟΥΑΜ ΕΙ ΔΟΥΠΛΑ ΟΠΤΙΜΙΣ ΚΟΝ
ΔΙΚΙΩΝΙΒΟΥΣ ΒΕΝΔΙΔΙΤ ΕΤ ΤΡΑΔΙΔΙ ΕΞ ΕΝΤΕΡΡΟ
ΓΑΤΙΩΝΕ ΦΑΚΤΑ ΤΑΒΕΛΛΑΡΟΥΝ ΣΙΓΝΑΤΑΡΟΥΜ
ΑΚΤΟΥΜ ΚΑΣΤΡΙΣ ΚΛΑΣΣΗΣ ΠΡΑΙΤΩΡΙΑΙ ΡΑΒΕΝ
ΝΑΤΟΥΣ

IDEM COSVLVBVS AEADEM DIEM DOMITIVS THE
OPHILVS SCRISI ME IN VEDITIONEM PVELLAE MARMA
RIAE SVPRA SCRIPTAE PRO AESCINE AESCINE PHI
LIVM FLAVIANVM SECVNDVM AVCTOREM EX
STITISE [ ]
[ ] ACCTVM

Γαιω Κουρτιω Ιουστω Ιουλιω Ναυτωνε / κωνσουλιβους σεξστουμ νωνας οκτωβρης / Αισχινης Αισχινου Φλαουιανος Μιλησιος σκρι/ψι μη ακκεπισσε α Τιτω Μεμμιω Μοντανω / μιλιτε πεντηρω Αυγιστι δηναριους σεσκεν/τους βιγεντι κινκυε πρετιουμ πουελλαι Μαρ/μαριαι βετρανε κουαμ ει δουπλα οπτιμισ κον/δικιωνιβους βενδιδιτ ετ τραδιδι εξ εντερρο/γατιωνε φακτα ταβελλαρουν σιγναταρουμ / ακτουμ καστρις κλασσης πραιτωριαι Ραβεν/νατους

Idem cosulubus aeadem diem Domitius The/ophilus scrisi me in veditionem puellae Marma/riae supra scriptae pro Aescine Aescine phi/lium Flavianum secundum auctorem ex/stitise acctum

“In the consulships of Gaius Curtius Iustus and Julius Nauto (151 CE), October 2nd. I, Aeschines Flavianus, a Milesian, son of Aeschines, wrote that I received from Titus Memmius Montanus, soldier on the quinquireme Augustus, 625 denarii as the price of the Marmarian girl, a long-serving (‘veteran’) slave, whom I sold to him at double repayment (i.e. on default) under the best terms and handed over after the finished inspection of the signed tablets. Completed at the camp of the praetorian fleet at Ravenna.

In the same consulships and on the same day, I, Domitius Theophilus, wrote that I was present as a witness on behalf of Aeschines Flavianus, son of Aeschines, for the sale of the Marmarian girl, described above. Completed.”

Should anyone else want to use this in a Latin class (I’m incorporating it into a course reading), I’ve adapted a somewhat standardized version in the Latin alphabet:

Gaio Curtio Iusto (et) Iulio Nautone consulibus, sextum nonas Octobres, Aeschines Aeschinae (filius) Flavianus Milesius scripsi me accepisse a Tito Memmio Montano, milite quinquiremis Augusti, denarios sescentos viginti quinque pretium puellae Marmariae veteranae, quam ei dupla optimis condicionibus vendidit (vendidi) et tradidi ex interrogatione facta tabellarum signatarum, actum castris classis praetoriae Ravennae.

Idem consulibus eadem die, Domitius Theophilus scripsi me in venditione puellae Marmariae, supra scriptae, pro Aeschine Aeschinae filio Flaviano secundum auctorem exstitisse. Actum.

Roman Slave Collar
Roman slave collar (image: University of Colorado-Boulder)

“Greetings to My Sister”: A Letter Home

This is from the Loeb collection of private papyri. Thanks to .@graham_claytor, here’s a link to the text on line

B.G.U. 7.1680 (CE 2nd Century?=Trismegistos 30955)

“Isis sends her mother the most greetings. I make a prayer for you each day before lord Sarapis and the gods who are with him.

I want to tell you that I made it safely and well to Alexandria in four days. I send greetings to my sister and her children, and Elouath and his wife, as well as Diokorous and her husband and son and Tamalis and her husband and son, and Hêron and Ammonarion and her children and her husband and Sanpat and her children. If Aiôn wants to join the army, have him come. For everyone is joining the army.

I pray for you and everyone in the house to be well.

Your daughter, Isis

Ἶσεις Θερμουθίῳ τῇ μητρὶ πλεῖστα χαίρειν. τὸ προσκύνημά σου ποιῶ καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν παρὰ τῷ κυρίῳ [Σ]αράπιδι καὶ τοῖς συννάοις θεοῖς. γεινώσκειν σε θέλω ὅτι εὖ καὶ καλῶς γέγονα εἰς Ἀλεξάνδρειαν ἐν τέσσαρσι ἡμέραις. ἀσπάζομαι τὴν ἀδε[λ]φήν μο[υ] καὶ τὰ παιδία καὶ Ἐλουᾶθ καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ Διοσκοροῦν καὶ τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς καὶ τὰ παιδία καὶ Τ[ά]μαλιν καὶ τὸν 7ἄνδρα αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν υἱὸν καὶ Ἥρωνα καὶ Ἀμμωνάριον καὶ τὰ παιδία αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν ἄνδρα καὶ Σανπὰτ καὶ τὰ παιδία αὐτῆς. καὶ ἐὰν θελήσῃ Ἀΐων στρατεύσασθαι, ἐρχέσθω· στρατεύονται γὰρ πάντες. ἐρρῶσθαι ⟦σε⟧ ὑμᾶς εὔχομαι πανοικί.
Verso: – – – π](αρὰ) Ἴσειτος θυγατρός.

Here’s a picture of the letter (again, thanks to @graham_claytor)

papyrus page with legible writing; tattered bottom edge
This is a different letter.

A Most Important Foundation For Thought: Student Proverbs

Literary Papyri 115 (LCL360 Collart, Les Papyrus Bouriant, Paris, 1926, no. 1, p. 17) This is from a list of proverbs copied over in a student’s hand.

“Letters are the most important foundation for thought.”
(1) ἀρχὴ μεγίστη τοῦ φρονεῖν τὰ γράμματα.

“Respect the elder, an image of a god.”
(2) γέροντα τίμα τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν εἰκόνα.

“Lust is the most ancient of all the gods.”
(3) ἔρως ἁπάντων τῶν θεῶν παλαίτατος.

“I say that possessions are the most beautiful of all things.”
(4) κάλλιστά φημι χρημάτων τὰ κτήματα.

“Give in return when you have received so that you may take whenever you want.”
(5) λαβὼν πάλιν δός, ἵνα λάβηις ὅταν θέληις.

“The mind in us is the most prophetic god.”
(6) ὁ νοῦς ἐν ἡμῖν μαντικώτατος θεός.

“Your father is the one who raised you not the one who gave you life.”
(7) πατὴρ ὁ θρέψας κοὐχ ὁ γεννήσας πατήρ.

“Rescue yourself from wicked affairs.”
(8) σῶσον σεαυτὸν ἐκ πονηρῶν πραγμάτω(ν).

“Return a favor to friends in a timely fashion.”
(9) χάριν φίλοις εὔκαιρον ἀπόδος ἐν μέρει.

“Gratitude, you are the greatest of all riches!”
(10) ὦ τῶν ἁπάντων χρημάτων πλείστη χάρις.

Manuscript illustration depicts King Henry II of England demanding that the Arthurian romances be written down. It is taken from the beginning of La mort au Roy Artus, in a 13th-century manuscript of Arthurian romances (Yale ms. 229, f. 272v, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
Image taken from here

A Downtrodden Man Writes To His Sister

Personal Letters, 4th Century CE Hermias (162)

“Hermias greets his sister. For the rest of it, I don’t know what I should write to you about—for I have talked myself to exhaustion again and again to you and you do not listen. It is right, when a man notices that he is in rough times, to retreat and not merely fight against what has been allotted him. Even though we are by birth from modest and ill-starred folk, should we not still yield and give some space to ourselves?

At this point, nothing has happened. Even so, if it is sweet to you, have someone come to me, either Gounthos or Ammonios who may remain until I know how my affairs are. Should I be slowed down or even cut off until God should pity us?”

Τῇ ἀδελφῇ Ἑρμείας χαίρειν. λοιπὸν τί σοι γράψω οὐκ οἶδα, ἀπαίκα-{κα}μον γάρ σοι αἵκαστον λέγων καὶ οὐκ αἰνακούεις. χρὴ γάρ τινα ὁρῶντα αἱαυτὸν ἐν δυστυχίᾳ κἂν ἀναχωρῖν καὶ μὴ ἁπλῶς μάχαισθαι τῷ δεδογμένῳ. μετρίων γὰρ καὶ δυστυχῶν γένεσιν αἴχοντες οὐδὲ οὕτω αἱαυτοῖς προσαίχομεν; τέως μὲν οὖν οὐδὲν οὐδέπω παίπρακται. κἂν ὥς, εἴπερ μέλι σοι, ἀπόστιλόν μοί τινα ἢ Γοῦνθον ἢ Ἀμμώνιον παραμένοντά μοι ἄχρις ἂν γνῶ πῶς τὰ κατ᾿ αἰμαὶ ἀποτίθαιται. μὴ ἄρα παρέλκομαι ἢ καὶ εἴργομαι ἔστ᾿ ἂν ὁ θεὸς ἡμᾶς αἰλαιήσῃ;

Margery Kempe (1373-1438) was a medieval housewife who, after a religious experience, left her husband and children to go on a great journey of travel and mysticism. She dictated 'The Book of Margery Kempe', a work considered by some to be the first autobiography in the English language. This book chronicles her extensive pilgrimages to various holy sites in Europe and Asia, as well as her mystical conversations with God. An illumination from M.S. Royal 15 D 1.
Image from here