Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.12.24

Mario Capasso (ed.), Studi di Egittologia e di Papirologia. Rivista internazionale. 2, 2005.   Pisa/Roma:  Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 2005.  Pp. 134.  ISBN ISSN 1724-6156.  Annual subscription for institutions with online access: Italy: €445.00; abroad: €545.00.  

Reviewed by Carlos Sánchez-Moreno Ellart, Department of Roman Law, University of Valencia-Spain; and Columbia University (;
Word count: 1942 words

The second issue of Studi di Egittologia e di Papirologia. comprises 15 papers, some of which (marked *) were presented as abstracts at the XXIV International Congress of Papyrology in Helsinki.

In the first contribution, Francesca Angiò ("Il nuovo Posidippo" 9-32) examines the newest developments concerning P. Mil Vogli VIII 309 that appeared during 2004.1 This document is commonly attributed to Posidippus of Pela, and with this paper Angiò continues her contribution published in P. Lup 12 (2003) 7-68, with an accurate review that offers an overview of the principal problems.

The next paper, "A Coptic Letter from Two Women", by Roger Bagnall, Raffaella Cribiore and Timothy Renner, deals with P. Alex. inv. 675, probably from the 8th century, which is particularly badly preserved. It was first published by L. S. B. Mac Coull in Aegyptus 66 (1986) 190 ff. This article follows the approach taken by Bagnall and Cribiore in their Women's Letters from Ancient Egypt, 300 BC-AD 800 (Ann Arbor 2006, in press at that time), and offers a new text, translation and notes for P. Alex. inv. 675. The possible reference in l. 12 to Psalm 144.15 and to Psalm 109.1 or perhaps Corinthians 15.25 is really curious. The recipient of the letter, entitled 'papas,' was possibly a bishop, since this title -- as the authors point out -- was common for bishops in post-4th century Greek papyri (36).

Next, there is a paper by Marco Bergamasco, "La DIDASKALIKH di PSI X 1132" (37-41), in which the author presents new readings and a new translation of this education and training contract in ll. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. In fact, in l. 10 the author turns to P. Tebt II 385, ll. 9-11, another case of these contracts, in order to reconstruct the formulary. The date, 26 August 60 AD, is based on the article about the sacral years of Nero by Geraci.2

Stamatis Bussès' "Lista di oggetti" (43-46) is an edition of P. Heid inv. G 695, dated to the 3rd century BC -- an interpretation based on palaeographical grounds -- and drawn up in Heracleopolis.

The first of Mario Capasso's contributions*, "L'intelettuale e il suo re" (Filodemo, L'Adulazione, P. Herc 1675, col. V 21-32) (46-52) deals with Philodemus of Gadara, whose presence in the papyri of Herculanum offers a great insight into Epicureanism at that time, i.e. the first half of the 1st century BC. In fact, there are substantial fragments of Philodemus left, because this philosopher spent his later years in Herculanum. Here Capasso analyses a fragment of a book about vices and virtues, in which Philodemus refers to the famous debate between Anaxarchus of Abdera and Callisthenes of Olynthus on flattery about the divine nature of Alexander the Great. Capasso studies this topic starting from Gomperz's unfavourable view of Callisthenes. As it is commonly known, Callisthenes worshipped Alexander as a son of Zeus, but, for doubtful reasons, he opposed the introduction of the ritual of proskynesis. Later, he was executed for his alleged involvement in the Pages' conspiracy. We must bear the context in mind: there is a topos in antiquity that presents Anaxarchus and Callisthenes as flatterers of Alexander and which is normally considered by scholars as peripatetic prejudice. This fragment is one of the most significant used to evaluate and understand Callisthenes' attitude and it had been taken into account earlier by Luisa Prandi3 to reconstruct the personality of the historian. In short, Capasso proposes new readings which demonstrate that the term philosophos, considered by Prandi as an ironic assessment, is not even present in the text.

The second of Mario Capasso's contributions* "Settant' anni dopo 'Mr. Michigan': Nuovi ritrovamenti di papiri e ostraka a Soknopaiou Nesos" (53-55) presents the new findings of documents from the excavations conducted by the University of Lecce there. Soknopaiou Nesos is possibly one of the best preserved sites in the whole of Fayyum, largely unexplored as the excavation in the Ptolemaic area conducted by Grenfell and Hunt in 1900-1901 had actually only looked for papyri, cartonnages and ostraka. As Bagnall and Rathbone explain, the site suffered "sporadic destructive diggings for papyri, other antiquities, stone and sebakh".4 Capasso summarises the two campaigns: the first lasted from February to March 2003 (conducted by the University of Lecce and the University of Bologna, also under Mario Capasso and Paola Davoli), and the second (conducted by the University of Lecce only, under Capasso) from November to December 2004. With respect to the first, following some references to the modification of the temenos or temple enclosure in the Roman age -- according to Davoli's theories -- Capasso deals with papyrological material, in Greek and Demotic. He focuses particularly on some magical papyri and amulets related in some way to the material published by Brashear a few years ago.5 According to Capasso, the doubt about the nature of these objects (real amulets or simply models to make amulets or magic gems) makes no sense in the light of this discovery, and there is confirmation that they are amulets, as Brashear had pointed out. The second campaign is very briefly commented upon.

Sergio Daris' "Note per la historia dell' esercito romano in Egitto III" (57-74) is devoted to the author's main speciality, the Roman army in Egypt. Starting from the fact that the new discoveries in this field offer very little to discussion of the general framework, Daris presents a summary of the most recent studies, seeking to distinguish between plausible and merely hypothetical interpretations. Among the latter, he includes the actual presence of the legio XII Fulminata in Egypt (F. Bertrandy) and the identification of the two legions quoted by Tacitus (Ann. IV.5), proposed by Richard Alston. In the prosopographical field it is worth quoting the case of the legions which were in charge of controlling the epikrisis (59). As for problems of enrolment (63-64), Daris points out cases of complex casuistry with regard to the status of legionaries: Ch LA XLVI 1364 (=CPL 102) P. Mich. VII 432 and P. Ryl. IV 611. In the first case, it is obvious (ll. 7-15) that citizenship was essential, but in the other two cases citizenship is gained after being licensed. The following pages explore matters such as salary, service and activities, and distribution of the legions. The author divides his material into four parts: legiones (65-71), alae (71-72), cohortes (72-74) and singulars (74).

Didier Devauchelle ("Écrire le nom des jours épagomènes et du premier jour de l'an [O. Dem Delm 4-1"] 75-81) devotes the next paper to this ostrakon in Demotic of Deir el Madinah, which has a list of epagomenal days with five different expressions to designate the first day of the year. He refers, of course, to the additional five days inserted into the 360-day Egyptian calendar, times of great feasting and celebration in ancient Egypt and consecrated to the births of some gods. These were necessary to complete the 365 days, and P. Leyden I 346 is the basic document about this tradition, known at least since the Early Middle Kingdom, especially in the Pyramid Texts. This document is in the early stages of publication by the author, whose paper on the subject was read at the 8ème Congrès Internationale des Démotisants (Würzburg). According to Devauchelle, this is probably a school exercise, not only because of the handwriting -- for example, 'ms' for 'birth' is written differently -- but also because we do not have a similar case among the documentation available to date. The author states (80-81) that one of the names for the first day on this document is that of the snake goddess Renenutet and observes that she is normally considered to be the mother of Nehebkau, an agricultural god usually linked with the first day of the first month of the season of Peret. On this basis, the author rightly proposes that it could be the reason why Renenutet is the name used on l.4 col. II.

Georges Nachtergael´s article entitled "Trois lettres d´une famille de Philadelphie" (83-88) focuses on two documents included in the University of Michigan collection (P. Mich III 201 and P. Mich inv. 188 = SB V 7572) and one belonging to the University of Wisconsin: P. Wisc II 69. As we can see, they were published independently and over a relatively long period of time, from 1933 to 1977. They were acquired in March or April 1920 and they were probably together when they were discovered. Nachtergael calls the documents letter A (P. Mich. III 201), letter B (P. Wisc. II 69) and letter C (P. Mich inv. 188), and offers accurate editions and translations of them, with the aid of photographs and recourse to prior editions. In essence, they are letters concerned with the acquisition of clothes; they provide an insight into the trade of clothing during Hadrian's reign in Philadelphia and, as the author points out, they offer interesting information about the psychological profile of the people involved and the relationship between the two families.

Natascia Pellé's first contribution, "A proposito di P. Köln 126, col. I 1-4" (89-93), examines a mythographic text in prose currently attributed to Peri Theon, by Apollodorus of Athens. The text is especially interesting because it includes some poetic quotations (col. II 1-8 trochaic tetrameters by Epicharmus; col. II 37-40: Meropide, an anonymous poem about the foundation of Cos dated the 6th century BC). The author highlights bibliographical and textual aspects, proposing some new readings and, based on these, a reliable new edition and translation.

The second contribution by this author ("Per un bilancio della fortuna di Senofonte in Egitto" 96-106) studies which works by Xenophon were more popular in this area. Pellé constructs her hypothesis on the basis of one statistic from documents dated the 1st-4th centuries AD, the majority of which were found during the excavations conducted by the Exploration Society and the Società Italiana per la Ricerca dei Papiri Greci e Latini. Having made an accurate study, Pellé states that the most read works of Xenophon were probably the Cyropedia and Anabasis; in other words, the narrator was more appreciated than the historian.

The next article, "La Funzione della regina Madre nella Investitura dei Sovrani in Epoca Napatea" by Amarillis Pompei, considers some iconographic material related to this event during the reign of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt (780-653 BC). I allude to the steles representing the coronations of some kings of the Nubian dynasty, especially that of Tantamani (664-656 BC). The inscriptions also provide evidence of the presence of the queen mother, and we can state that this presence could be especially significant to understanding that her function meant a link between the god and the king. Recently, Korysheva has pointed out this function, but in the context of the temples. The illustrations are available on pages 114 to 121.

"Platone e l' ospite caldeo" (123-127) is the title of the paper by Enzo Puglia. The author offers some new readings on P. Herc 1021, coll. III 39-V 19. The text includes the History of the Academy by Philodemus, and the author discusses some readings of Dorandi's edition. The same author publishes a letter in French by Gomperz to Minervini concerning his edition of peri orges by Philodemus (129-132).

Puglia is the author of the last paper included in this review: "Una proposta per l'epigramma 37 A-B di Posidippo" (133-134). Curiously, the review opens with an article about the latest proposals on editing this Hellenistic poet and it also closes with an article about him. Puglia proposes new readings of P Mil. Vogl 309, col. VI 18-25 = 37 A-B, the last edition of which was by Francesca d'Angiò.


1.   See the review by B. Acosta-Hughes and T. Renner in BASP 39 (2002) 165 ff.
2.   G. Geraci, "Gli anni settimo e ottavo di Nerone in Egitto: un' ipotesi", Aegyptus 70 (1990) 106 ff. This hypothesis develops an article by O. Montevecchi Ετους εβδομου ιερου νερωνος (Aegyptus 51 (1971) 212 ff.), who proposed that hieros referred to the year (etos) and not to Nero, and also that, perhaps under the influence of some counsellors -- probably Seneca and the former prefect of Egypt T. Claudius Balsiellus -- Nero decided to celebrate the jubilee year every seven years instead of every ten, as Roman tradition dictated. Therefore, the papyri dated on the epagomenoi of the seventh year can be situated in 60/61 AD.
3.   cf. L. Prandi, Callistene. Uno storico tra Aristotele e i re macedoni, Milan 1985. This author comments (114 ff.) on the different sources about Callisthenes: Aristotle, Timaeus, the Peripatetics and the Stoics.
4.   R. S. Bagnall and D. W. Rathbone, Egypt from Alexander to the Early Christians, Los Angeles 2004 137.
5.  W. M. Brashear & A. Bülow-Jacobsen, Magica Varia, Brussels 1991, 74 ff.

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