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A New Text from the Dossier of the Descendants of Flavius Eulogius

C. Michael Sampson

The majority of the texts constituting the modest archive of Flavius Eulogius (PLRE 2.421 [10]) were excavated in Grenfell and Hunt’s first season at Bahnasa and published in P.Oxy. XVI. As additional texts were identified (in P.Oxy I, P.Iand. III, PSI V, and, most recently, P.Lond. V) and subsequently published (in P.Oxy. LXVIII and P.Mich. XV), the relationship of the texts and the nature of the archive became increasingly complex: not only did the documents span several generations—from Eulogius’ rise from Aurelius to Flavius as well as the careers of his sons Apphous and Martyrius, to those of the latter’s sons Serenus and Hatres—but the dispersal of the texts made it necessary to distinguish between the family archive proper and a dossier of related documents (Martin; Hickey and Keenan 1996-1997).

This paper has two goals. I begin by presenting an edition of P.Mich. inv. 476, in the course of which I will establish that it belongs to the dossier of texts related to the descendants of Flavius Eulogius. Its close affinities to P.Oxy. I 140 in palaeography, titulature and boilerplate in the document’s epistolary prescript all guarantee the connection, and its date—March 30, 557 CE—makes it the last known member of the dossier. The second goal of the presentation is the elucidation of the text’s contents. Unlike many other texts from the archive and dossier, it is no straightforward lease of property, and the process of understanding its contents and contextualizing the agreement requires that the various kinds of documents towards which it gestures be first distinguished and identified. I will argue that the document is unique, and that it combines the legalizing language of a loan (ὁμολοκοῦμεν [sic]... ἐσχηκέναι) with that of a contract for labor. For the terms of repayment (if there were any) are unclear, and the text otherwise appears to bind four individuals to Eulogius’ grandson Serenus, under mutual obligation (ἐξ ἀλληλεγγύης), regarding an irrigated plot (μηχανή) belonging to Serenus. The signatories acknowledge receipt of several solidi, but the text is obscure when it comes to the irrigated plot and the job to be conducted, and the papyrus breaks off before its full extent is clear. Nevertheless, the fact that the money appears to be their wages (τοῦ ἡμῶν μισθοῦ) positions the document less as a loan and more as a contract for labor, paid in advance.

Session/Panel Title

Culture and Society in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Egypt

Session/Paper Number

63.6

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