P. LONDON 1912




H. I. BellJews and Christians  in  Egypt, London , 1924 

 10 November 41


This is a translation from a papyrus copied out carefully by Nemesion in Philadelphia.  Nemesion and/or his source exhibited local and perhaps quite common variations in pronouncing Greek in the first century.  These variations appear widely in the orthography of the Greek text.  One serious problem for us  is the difficulty that Nemesion had in distinguishing Greek  "you" (h(mi=n) from "us" (u(mi=n).   For a rather pedantic rendition of these, for us, curious spellings have a look at: http://www.yorku.ca/pswarney/3131/P-JEWSa.htm

Sebastos is the Greek translation of Augustus.  L in line 11 is the symbol for "year." Columns 2-5 are numbered on the papyrus.   Letters between <.......>  were accidentally omitted by Nemosion. Letters between [....] are damaged in the papyrus.




Lucius Aemilius Rectus says:

Since all the city was not able to

be present at the revelation of the

most sacred and beneficial letter

5         to the city because of its size,

I thought it necessary to publish

the letter that man by man each

understanding the letter you may

wonder at the majesty of our god Caesar

10        and for his goodwill toward the city

be grateful. L 2 of Tiberius Claudius

Caesar Sebastos (=Augustus) Germanicus  autokrator (= imperator)

month of Neos Sebasto<s> (= New Augustus) 14.


(Column) 2


Tiberius Claudius Caesar Sebastos Germanicus autokrator archiereus (=Pontifex Maximus)

15        supreme, having the tribunician power, consul designate, to the city

of the Alexandrines, greeting. Tiberius Claudius Barbillus Apollonios son of Artimidoros,

Chairemon son of Leonidas, Marcus Iulius Asclepiades, Gaius Iulius Dionysio<s>,

Tiberius Claudius Phanias, Pasion son of Potamon, Dionysios son of Sabbion,

Tiberius Claudi<u>s, Apolloni<o>s son of Ariston, Gaius Iulius Apollonios, Herma´skos

20        son of Apollonios, tha ambassadors from you, after delivering the  decree to me,

went on extensively about the city drawing my attention to the goodwill

towards us, which for some time, as you should know well, has been held in

trust with me; for you are  respectful with regard to the Augusti, as has

become evident to me from many things, especially how  you are both eager about my

25        house and how eagerness is returned, of which ‑ I mention the lat‑


est, passing over others ‑ the greatest witness is my own brother,

Germanicus Caesar,  when he spoke to you publicly in his own voice.

Therefore, I did happily accept the honours granted me by you 

even though I am not prone to such things. First of all I leave it to you to

30        treat my birthday as august in the manner that you yourselves pro‑

posed, also to the erection in several places of statues of

me and my kin I agree; for I   see

you are eager to  establish everywhere reminders of  <y>our  pietas

towards my house. Of the twin g[old]en statues, however,

35        the one of the Claudian‑Augustan Peace, as was suggested

and as my most hon[our]ed friend Barbillus entrea[t]ed while I  demurred

on account of s[ee]min[g] too arrogant, shall be set up at Rome;



the other, moreover, in a manner you see fit shall process on  eponymous

days among you; moreover, a throne shall accompany  it

40        adorned with any decoration you wish. It might, then, perhaps be silly

after accepting such honours as these to refuse the establishment  of a Claudian tribe

and groves according to the custom of Egypt; therefore, I

also grant these things to you; moreover, if you wish

you may erect an equestrian statue of Vitrasius Pollio my procurator. Moreover, regarding the

45        erecti[o]n of the four horse chariots  <at the en>trance into the chora which you wish to set up for me,

I agreee to setting up one near the place called Taposiris  in Lybia,

another near Pharos in Alexandria, a third near Pelusium

in Egypt. But my own high priest and the building of a temple

I deprecate , not wishing to be arrogant to men of my own day,

50        for sacred things and the like are granted by every

age to the gods alone as special honours in my opini[o]n.

About the requests, however, which you have been eag

er to get from me I decide as follows: all who became epheboi  up to

my leadership I confirm, and I protect for them the   citizenship of the

55        Alexandrines with the privileges and indulgences of the polis,

to all except any who have escaped your notice  as born from slaves

while becoming epheboi; and no less with respect to other matters I wish to be

confirmed everything graciously granted you by leaders before my  time

and kings and prefects just as [the] god Sebastos(=Augustus) had confirmed.



60        The  neokoroi of the the temple in Alexandria which is of the god

Sebastos I wish to be chosen by lot in the manner as those in  Kanopos

of the same god Sebastos are chosen by lot. About the poli-

tical offices becoming triennial you seam to me  to have planned

quite well; for <ar>chons out of fear of rendering account of governing badly

65        will behave more moderately  with you for the duration of their

offices.  About the boule, however, whatever may have been your

 situation under the old kings, I would have nothing to say; that,  however, under the

 Sebastoi before me you had none you know clearly. As a novel

business now set before me for the first time  and as unclear whether it

70        will be useful to the polis or my affairs, I wrote to Aemilius  Rectus

to investigate and to inform me if it is necessary that the institution be established,

and, if it should be right to draw one together, the manner to do it.

But for the riot and uprising against the Judaeans (=Ioudaioi),  rather, if the truth be

told, the war, which of the two sides was responsible, even though

75        your envoys strove for great honour from the confrontation,

and especially Dionysios son of The[o]n, still

I did not want to have a strict investigation, while storing up in  me

unrepentant rage against the ones starting again.

But I announce frankly that, unless you put a stop to this  des

80        tructive, relentless rage against each other, I shall be forced

to show what a benevolent leader is when turned toward righteous rage.

For this I yet again still bear witness that  Alexandrines, on the one hand,

behave gently and kindly with the Judeans, the

inhabitants of the same city from a long time ago,



85        and not be disrespectful of the customs used in the ritual

of their god,  but let them use their customs

as in the time of the god Sebastos even as I myself, after hearing

both sides, have confirmed; to the Judeans

I give strict orders not to agitate for more than

90        they had before, nor as though dwel

ling in two cities to send in future two delegations,

which had not ever been  done before; nor intrude in the

gymnasiarchic or kosmetic contests

reaping the fruits of their households while enjoying

95        the abundance of benefits without envy in a foreign polis;

nor to introduce or bring in Judeans from Syria

or sailing down from Egypt, from which I shall

be forced to have serious suspicions; or else I

shall take vengeance on them in every way as though

100     rousing up some common plague on the world. If

after you stand aside from these things you both should

wish to live together with gentleness and kindness towards each other,

 I shall send forth to the highest degree providence for the city

as belonging to our household  from bygone times.

105     I bear witness to my companion Barbillus always showing  regar[d]

for us (you ?) before me, and who just now with complete zeal

for honour has consult[ed] about the contest about you,

and to Tiberius Claudius Archibios my compan[ion.]