O. Merrill Pearl, Professor of Greek, University of Michigan The Mary J. Pearl Lecture in Ancient Classical Culture December 13, 1967 Published by Sweet Briar College, November 1968
In the Spring of 1965 as our former dean, Miss Mary Pearl, was approaching her retirement from Sweet Briar, A Lectureship in Ancient Classical Culture was established in her honor through the generosity of a benefactor who preferred to remain anonymous. Friends and former colleagues quickly made substantial gifts to this initial fund in expression of their affection and esteem for Dean Pearl who had indeed served the College devotedly for thirty-seven years, sixteen of those in the capacity of the dean. As a teacher of the Classical languages and literature, as administrator and friend, she made truly remarkable and lasting contributions.
It was felt that Miss Pearl herself would most fittingly inaugurate the new lectureship, but unfortunately this was not to be realized, for to our great sorrow she died early in 1966.
This lectureship will bring to the College various aspects of the ancient culture, not the least important of which are its values and modes of thought which will exert great influence today whether for good or ill. Without some knowledge of this tradition, despite what other attainments we may have achieved, culturally speaking we are like men sitting in chairs that have no legs. Cicero, the Roman orator and statesman, who grasped well the idea of the continuity of the past into the present, wrote very perceptively that "never to know what happened before one's own day is to remain forever a child."
For this first lecture we are indeed priveleged to have with us today another Pearl--a rare one, on that I can speak from personal experience; a versatile and sound teacher, at home in various Classical disciplines; a scholar who has done much painstaking work in the demanding field of papyrology, bringing to light important administrational, financial, and social aspects of Greco-Roman Egypt.
Professor Pearl, no stranger to Sweet Briar, taught in the Classics department here in 1936-7 (making it possible for his sister, Miss Pearl, to complete her studies for the doctorate). He is most welcome on his return.
Professor Pearl will speak on the daily life of a peasant in Greco-Roman Egypt in the second century A.D. Reynold Z. Burrows Chairman, Department of Greek and Latin Ptolemy, The Son of Kastor: An Egyptian Peasant's Year
We intend, this evening, to make aquaintance with a man and his family who lived in Greco-Roman Egypt nineteen hundred years ago. His customs and concerns, his work and worries, become visible, sometimes dimly in Greek texts which name his neighbors, sometimes sharply in documents which refer directly to him. To some extent, therefore, he is characterized as an individual, and in a degree also as a person typical of his time and place.
In the room in which the most informative text concerning him was found, there were numerous and varied objects. We cannot by any means be assured that these belonged to our subject, but utensils and objects like thses were certainly among his possessions. The list includes: rope sandals and sandal soles; a rope muzzle; wooden toggles; wicker and palm leaf baskets; wooden table legs; lamps; pieces of crockery and pots; beads; bronze rings; a comb; glass and wooden spindle whorls; a small lion in cream glaze; another in blue glaze; coins; part of a mortar; a fine terra cotta camel with pack bags, perhaps a toy; a broken pottery wheel from a child's toy; a potsherd with a child's drawing, and 47 pieces of papyrus large enough to be reckoned with. Of particular interest, as our account will show, was the presence of two excellently styled blue ceramic ink-wells--notable items in a peasant's dwelling.
This man lived in a village called Karanis on the northern verge of the Egyptian Fayum, closed by the escarpment beyond which lay the Libyan desert. The Fayum itself is a geological anomaly. It resembles the nearby Wadi Rayan and the extensive Qattara depression near the Mediterranean coast, since it, like them, is a deep, irregular basin, with its lower areas well below sea-level, and far below the barren rock and sand of the adjacent desert. The Fayum is unique in its proximity to the Nile, which, during the Stone Age and up to the time of the 12th dynasty of the Egyptian kings, at flood time flowed in and out uncontrolled over the rocky threshold near the river. This natural barrier, at present almost 57 feet above sea level, barred the water at low stages of the river. The Pharaohs of the 12th dynasty and their successors introduced artificial control by dikes and sluices, and gradually reclaimed from the water more and more of the area occupied by the primeval lake and made it availabe for tillage. The Fayum became by degrees a veritable garden.
In form the Fayum resembles an irregular leaf; the stem, pointing north -northwest, is the central and principal channel of water flow into the area; the ribs are subordinate water-courses; the perimeter is marked by the high-level canals skirting the desert to the north and south of the gateway. The west-northwest section of the Fayum is occupied by the lake which is the perennial residue of the waters admitted to the area. In extent, the habitable part measures about 30 miles across, and 25 miles in its northwestern dimension; the general slope is from the Nile and from the perimeter to the lake. In many of its features, the Fayum is comparable to our own Imperial Valley with its Stalton Sea, and the problems of exploitation are similar; for example, desalinization, and control of sub-soil chemicals and water-logging by careful drainage. Although the Fayum became a prosperous farming area under the 12th and succeding dynasties (from about 2200 B.C.), the major development for agriculture occurred after Alexander's conquest, in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphos (285-246 B.C.). The village on which our attention is focused had its beginnings when the high level canal skirting the desert to the north was planned and constructed by the engineers of Ptolemy Philadelphos. This canal maintained a generally adequate water-supply for the northern Fayum for that time until the period of neglect in the late 3rd century after Christ.
The name of our Egyptian villager was Ptolemy, son of Kastor and Kastorous, and when we first catch sight of him he is 50 years of age. He has a wife, Tasoucharion, of age unknown; they have two sons who bear names which betray more filial piety than invention, for both are called Kastor, after their grandfather. One of them is 20 years of age; the other, Kastor also called Ptolemy, 4 years old. Four daughters round out the immediate family, the two eldest about 29 and 28, the two younger about 8 and 5 years old. In the household, however, we must include Ptolemy's brother Achillas, 33 years of age; his wife Aphrodous, 41; their two sons--two more Kastors--Kastor, aged 18, and Kastor the younger, aged 4, as well as two daughters, one 15 and the other probably older. What the living quarters were, we can only conjecture; but the probability is that this group--people of some means--occupied an entire swelling unit, although fractions of houses, down to, for example, "the fourteenth part of a house and courtyard" were a common result of the Egyptian customs of inheritance, which normally divided property in equitable shares among the children. The eldest son received a double share; the others, male and female, participated equally, except when a daughter had had a dowry in lieu of inheritance.
From a variety of sources, we may reckon roughly what were living costs for Ptolemy and his own family. These sources range from Diodorus Siculus (1st century B.C.) and Rufinus (5th century A.D.), to the hundreds of scattered notices on the papyri--private and public accounts, bills of sale, orders for payment, arrangements for maintenance of dependents, contracts for alimentation, alimony in divorce settlements, and wills providing for living expenses. We will cast up our reckoning in drachmas, the standard unit in Greco-Roman Egypt. We can put forward as a precarious basis for cost comparison the figure of 8 or 9 drachmas as equalling the price of a bushel of wheat of 60 English pounds.
Food for Ptolemy and his adult son would amount to 96 drachmas per annum for cereals, 40 drachmas for supplementary foods, such as oil, fish, beer, and any vegetables they could not grow for their own use. The total is 136 drachmas each. For the women, the food expenditure would be less--probably about 100 drachmas each. For the younger children, even less, for, although Diodorus Siculus gives the incredibly low figure of 2 drachmas Ptolemaic silver per annum for the first 12 years, 30 drachmas per annum seems a more reasonable subsistence cost in the mid-second century A.D. We will guess at 60 drachmas for the two. The smallest child, who may even have been breast fed to five years, of age, would incur minimal food expenditure-say 12 drachmas. These are costs reckoned at peasant standards for a rather monotonous but sustaining diet, and the family's total cost for food rounds out to 272 dr. for the men, 300 for the women, 72 for the children, or 664 drachmas. Clothing needs would be minimal--a breech clout the normal working garb of the men, a simple shift for the women, and the family's total cost need not have exceeded 60 drachmas yearly. Food and clothing come to 704 drachmas.
The most onerous cash expenditure must have been the taxes exacted from the men. The poll tax was imposed on every adult Egyptian commoner, 14 to 60 years of age, and it amounted to more than 44 drachmas annually; with associated charges (dike tax, collection fees, fees for receipts) an amount close to 68 drachmas each would be collected from Ptolemy and his son; total 136 drachmas. In terms of cash or equivalents, therefore, the family's expenses could scarcely have been less than 704 plus 136 drachmas, or 840 drachmas. Life would hardly have been tolerable, nor could religious needs be met, without participation in several holidays and festivals; we must add at least 50 drachmas for these, and our total is now 890 drachmas.
To estimate income available, we have only one solid basis for reckoning, and this for only a part of the resources. We know that Ptolemy was a lessee of government land and had a stable leasehold on more land than the average peasant could hope for. The typical lessee of government land--and 90% or more of the land was government property--tilled less than 4 aruras, equivalent to 2.68 acres. Ptolemy farmed seven and a half aruras of land. Ptolemy's 7 1/2 aruras would have paid about 5 1/2 artabas of wheat per arura in rental. According to Julien Barois, secretary of public works of Egypt in the 1880's, the average yield for all of Egypt was about 19 bushels to the acre, with the best lands producing up to 32 bu. If we regard the unsophisticated agronomy of 19th century Egypt as comparable to ancient practice and strike a level slightly less than the mean of these figures (perhaps a generous estimate for Roman Egypt) we arrive at about 24 bushels for the acre as an estimated yield. Ptolemy's 7 1/2 aruras amounted to five acres; his harvest may therefore have been as much as 120 bushels. The "public dry measure" in which he paid his rents was about 59 lbs, or approximately one bushel. At 5 1/2 artabs per arura he would pay 41 bushels of his harvest leaving 79 bushels, or artabas, of wheat for his own use or for sale. Reckoned at 8 dr. per artaba, his take-home crop was worth 632 drachmas.
If Ptolemy and the adults in his family were able to find work during the seasons when day labor was in demand, he, his son Kastor, his wife, and two of his daughters amount to a sizable work force. If we reckon that he and Kastor could be free from their own field work to labor for 60 days each, their combined wages, at about 5 obols, or 5/7 drachmas a day, would have amounted to slightly more than 85 drachmas. The wife and two daughters would work at a lower wage, perhaps 4 obols a day, but may have worked for a longer period in the year--say 100 days, or 1200 obols, or about 170 drachmas.
These amounts may have been augmented by anouther and unusual factor: Ptolemy himself had a skill remarkable for one of his class--he was literate, and could write in a rough but legible hand. A papyrus in the British Museum (an offer to lease one arura of vineyard) testifies to this fact, for it was written by Ptolemy for two persons who could not read or write. Ptolemy could fairly ask compensation for such service; the rarity of his accomplishment may have enabled him to pick up twenty-five, or conservatively, twenty drachmas per annum, at a fee conjecturally between 4 obols and one drachma per text, undercutting that charged by the professional public scribes. He may perhaps have used the inkwells found on the premises in his activities as a scribe.
Ptolemy's wife Tasoucharion was the owner of considerable improved property. We read in the census register for 160 A.D. the following: "and there belong to Tasoucharion in the same village house and courtyard, and in another location a house and a courtyard and a half of a house and a courtyard." This was doubtless rented out; in the absence or evidence as to size and condition of the premises, we can settle on a moderate figure of 50 drachmas per annum for an entire unit, and add 125 drachmas yearly to the family income.
The estimates are then 32 drachmas for grain; 275 for labor and writing, and 125 drachmas rental--a total of 1032 drachmas. Since expenses amount to 890 drachmas, Ptolemy has a margin of 142 drachmas of income over expenditure. He ought to have considered himself fortunate, and probably did so, since his family included an abnormal plurality of daughters. Throughout the pagan world, family planning took the form of limitation after the fact by the simple procedure of casting out the unwanted or superfluous newborn. No infant had status in the family until the father had accepted the child, and those most frequently eliminated were the girls.
Let us now see what work and worries Ptolemy might have had during a specific year. We shall choose the third year of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, or to be accurate, the third regnal year of the joint reign of the Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus and the Emperor Caesar Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus. The Egyptian regnal year began with the month Thoth--that is, August 29, 162 A.D. The central concern of Ptolemy and his neighbors was the availability of water, conditional on the height to which the Nile would rise. Already the river had been rising since the end of June; by the end of August, it had reached three-fourths of its total increase in height and volume, or about 60 feet at the Fayum gate, 3 or 4 feet above the rock threshold. It would not yet have reached a level sufficient to give abundant supply to the canal, called "desert canal", which ran northward along the edge of the cultivated area at a contour close to 57 feet above sea-level; in a good year, a further six feet of water might be expected. Ptolemy and his fellows await the evidence of rising water at their sluices, hoping for an early opportunity to flood their fields, within the compartments formed by the criss-crossing dikes. Their hopes are not fully realized, for this year the flood is below the norm; some fields are left unwatered. As autumn comes on, the circular of a proclamation issued by the prefect of Egypt reaches Karanis, directing all whose fields were without water to report the fact to the officials of the village and the district. The prefect had been apprised of the deficiency well in advance of any evidence of it in the reaches opposite the Fayum, sixty miles above Cairo. An efficient series of a score or more of Nilometers measured the height of the water at stations spaced along the river to a point 680 miles above Cairo, and 90 miles above the first cataract at Elephantine, the modern Assuan, where the most noted of the up-river Nilometers was located. Some of the Nilometers were no more than a succession of pegs or posts driven into sloping river banks. Others were permanent masonry structures--wells, steps, or walls with inset measuring scales. The crest of the flood reached the measuring points farthest up the river twenty-five to thirty days before it arrived at Cairo, at the apex of the Delta. Couriers carried the tidings down the river with all speed, and from the records of past Nile floods at corresponding dates, the prefect and his staff could accurately forecast the extent and the sufficiency of the inundating waters.
Ptolemy's worries are acute. His holding lies in Patsontis, an area administered from Karanis and lying so close to the high level canal that a section of it was called "desert canal of Patsontis". The higher the land lay, the less chance for thorough flooding of the fields and effective deposit of Nile silt. Ptolemy was, we trust, spared the calamity of a non-productive leasehold, and the nuisance of preparing declarations in triplicate, specifying the class, extent, and location of his parcel, and requesting remission of his rent. Others, we know, were not so fortunate, for their declarations are extant.
Whatever the supply of water was--abundant or deficient--it was incumbent on Ptolemy and his fellow-members of the local organization of farmers who were lessees of governemnt land to see to it that the water-guards, the sluice keepers, and the superintendent of irrigation gave to the various parcels their fair share of the supply. After the water stood over the fields for a period of 60 days or more, it was drained off, often into a lower basin to irrigate another in the series on the descending slope. With ten days to two weeks to dry and settle, the soil was ready to till and sow.
November, the Egyptian month Hathyr, was the normal sowing season. The year 161 had been a normal year, with adequate crops. Ptolemy, therefore, had in readiness his own seed grain--7 1/2 bushels for his holding, since one bushel per arura was the norm. Had he lacked seed, he would have borrowed from the state granary. By administrative order from Alexandria, the local sitologoi--collectors and keepers of the grain--would have been empowered to lend sed to the demosioi georgoi--lessees of public land--to the extent of one artaba per arura, and to recover from the next crop the amount of the loan, plus 6%.
Preparation of the soil was primitive and laborious. Ptolemy's five acres lies on the border line between an area feasible for preparation by hand, with a hoe-like mattock, and the larger parcels where use of draught animals--owned by the state and available for hire--would have been essential. Plows were made in their crudest form by cutting a forked acacia, olive, or sycamore, using one trunk as the beam, shortening and sharpening the other to form a rude share. More sophisticated implements were made by dowelling several sections of tough wood together, and, in the most efficient form, armoring the share with a blade of iron. Sizes varied, from those manageable with one donkey (or a donkey and the farmer's wife) to larger and heavier types requiring a yoke of bullocks or oxen as power.
Ptolemy's work force--two men and three women--would have been equal to the task of hand tillage. Six days of back-breaking, dawn-to-dusk hand labor would have stirred the soil sufficiently to receive the broadcast seed. In larger areas, cattle were driven back and forth over the seeded acreage in order to pound the seed into the soil; Ptolemy and his people may have had to be content with treading their seed bed. Prudently, thereafter, they would have guarded the field for a few days to minimize the gleaning and scratching of the birds, both wild and domestic. Each village had several dovecotes--massive block or cones built up with 12 to 25 courses of securely mortared large-mouthed jugs; these provided nesting places for flocks of hundreds of doves or pigeons. The government had its interest--1/3 of the increase, converted to sizeable monthly payments; the farmers protected their cereal crops as best they could; as bird-chasers, small boys and women were particularly useful and available.
After the grain sprouted, the inspectors of the sowing made their rounds to verify the amounts of land under cultivation, to see that wheat land was not converted to other uses (for example, to vegetable gardens), and to make sure that tillage and seeding were adequate. A detailed record, parcel by parcel, became a part of the village archives. The village secretary despatched a summary of the local findings to the strategos, who was the governor of the district, and the royal scribe, who was its secretary. Their bureaus in turn summarized the records and sent the information to Alexandria. The purpose of this complex activity was to provide an advance crop report essential to the administration of Egypt. It was also highly necessary to the imperial government at Rome, since Egypt and North Africa were the principal suppliers of Rome's food. From them came the bulk of the annona, the annual grain supply, which was used to pacify the Roman mob, and to maintain the army and the fleet.
During the time his crop was growing, Ptolemy's labor in his fields was minimal. If his acreage was infected with darnel or tares, he would attempt to control them. If he were fortunate enough to have even a few square yards for a kitchen garden, it received the most intensive care, with hand irrigation from cistern or well. Favored plantings were onions, garlic, radishes, green herbs and melons. A tax, the geometria, was levied, but it was not excessive. Ptolemy may have possessed or rented an acreage of paradeisos (that is, orchard, vineyard, or date or olive land); we know that his nephew Kastor had such a property ten years later. The most reliable fruit was the date; the least, the grape, for the climate was unfavorable and the general quality of Egyptian wine was so low as to encourage the national taste for beer. Vineyards and orchards paid a high rate of money taxes, in five different categories, with extra charges (an anachronishm carried over from make-weights on payments in kind) and also a charge on a fictitious money exchange. The last charge illuminates Egyptian economy, and demonstrates the Roman bureaucracy's ability to capitalize on every profitable occasion. The "exchange" was theoretical; it was a book-keeper's conversion from a non-existent copper coinage, to an actual coinage called "silver", but so debased with copper or brass as scarcely to have a trace of the more precious metal. However grudgingly these onerous imposts were paid, they were paid--under pain of confiscation of the property--for garden land was one of two or three categories of land which was private property.
Much of the time between sowing and harvest was free for work for hire. Ptolemy and his family might find work in the papyrus marshes around the Fayum lake. The papyrus plant had numerous uses. Best known is the manufacture of papyrus--the writing material--from its stalk. The fronds were useful for thatch; stalks were put into service as poles, canes, pickets, and were found suitable for light boats; the root was edible. Another opportunity might be offered by the building trade, which was always in need of labor for making mud bricks, stripping palms for ribs and thatch, and working with wood, so scarce that none of it could be wasted. Whether or not Ptolemy hired himself out to others, his own quarters--the mud walls, palm rib roof sealed with mud or thatch, the courtyard, its mud oven and cooking shelf--all these required considerable maintenance. Four centuries had passed since the village was first settled and Ptolemy's house already stood on 6 to 10 feet of rubbish--the crumbled bricks and detritus or its constantly renewed predecessors. His own dwelling added perceptibly year by year to the substrate, and a portion of his efforts was expended on essential repairs.
With mid-April, the wheat harvest began, and once more the need was for hand labor. The stalks of grain were cut with the sickle, gathered into sheaves, and transported to the communal threshing floor. If the distance was considerable, public animals were available to transport the crop on payment of a charge, the so-called dragmategia, or sheaf carriage. At the threshing floor, the wheat was beaten with flails, or torn from the husks with a toothed sledge dragged by donkeys or oxen. The rough straw was picked up with wooden pitchforks, and the grain winnowed from the chaff by tossing it in the wind or fanning it with the winnowing fans. These operations were conducted under the vigilance of a local sitologos, the collector and keeper of the grain, to assure efficiency in the threshing and the expeditious collection of all appropriate charges. Ptolemy paid his rent--41 bushels--at the threshing floor, after an especially careful sifting and screening of the wheat, most of which was later sent down the river to Alexandria, and probably overseas to Rome.
Ptolemy's harvest may have required a week's work. The sequel--the gleaning and the clearing away of weeds and trash--would occupy a few more days.
At any time between December and August, but probably in the period of low water between May and July, Ptolemy and his twenty year old son were called out for the corvee, the uncompensted labor on the dikes and canals. Each Egyptian man was required to work for five days, in exceptional circumstance ten days, each year for the maintenance of the public irrigation system. The dikes and sluices wich served his own buildings were his own responsibility. Since the irrigation water was drained off the land by breaking a dike, rather than with a sluice, a section had to be restored each season, and the labor was considerable. In contrast, all the principal canals in the Fayum, as well as the great dikes and sluices at the Fayum gateway, were a public concern. The work forces could be disposed as the needs required; men from Karanis, 27 miles away, might be employed at the Fayum gate, or on the great central canal which ran direct to the district capital, Arsinoe, or on the branch canals which supplied other villages. Usually the villagers were more fortunate, and the texts reveal that most of the men from Karanis worked on canals nearby. We hear most frequently of the "desert canal"; "the desert canal of Patsontis", and "the canal of Epagathos". All of these were main supply canals near Karanis.
The work was hard, hand labor--digging, loading baskets, and carrying the excavated soil to the dike top, or to whatever piont it was needed. Sometimes it was even more literally hand labor, for extremely soggy silt was best scooped up with the hands, squeezed against the chest, and scraped or flung into the basket. The average or standard stint was one naubion of excavated soil per day. The naubion was 1 1/2 cu. meters, that is 53 cu. ft., or very close to two cubic yards. The weight of this amount of soil might vary between 2500 and 3200 pounds, and the task was accordingly never a sinecure. Nevertheless, Ptolemy and his contemporaries might have taken comfort from similar impositions in modern times. In the nineteenth century, one fourth of the male population worked 45 days annually, up to 1883, when machinery and contract labor took over the job.
Throughout the year, Ptolemy and his son were beset by the praktors of the money taxes--men of some means on whom was imposed, as a liturgy, an uncompensted public service, the duty to collect the moneys due the government. Since the praktor was held to make good, in whole or part, the amounts by which collections fell short of the estimates based on census, he was diligent or even ruthless in his procedures. Normally he exacted payments in units of 4 drachmas--the tetradrachmas--and from Karanis, records of hundreds of payments of 4, 8, and 16 drachmas survive. From poorer individuals the praktor squeezed as many as 16 of the minimum 4 drachma instalments, testifying to the unremitting pressures he applied.
In all instances, the central bureaus in the districts and in Alexandria took care to be informed of the progress of the collection of grain, the performance of the work on the dikes, and the intake of money. Daybooks, ledgers, and thousands of individual receipts were written for each of these categories at the local level. Summaries, at least monthly, and sometimes at ten day intervals, were prepared and submitted to the district officials. In turn, the district officials sent comprehensive reports to Alexandria. The prefect of Egypt need never have been in doubt as to the state of the economy, or the resources which he could make available to Rome.
Egypt was a property which belonged to the Emperor personally, controlled directly and exclusively by him, without interference from, or accountability to, the feeble surviving Roman Senate. Thus, Egypt was a bulwark of the principate, and most emperors gave it the attention its resources and wealth required. In the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the time with which we are concerned, the administration was more than normally effective; prefects, district governors, and other officials appear to have functioned efficiently and conscientiously. The burdens on Ptolemy and his fellows, though heavy, were at least fairly distributed, and the peace prevailing in the Empire paid some dividends even to those of lowest status.
With the coming of July, the Egyptian month Epeiph, the Nile began its annual rise and forced renewed attention to the inspection and readying of irrigation works, public and private. Ptolemy and those who shared the land in his irrigation basin would verify the levels in the feeder canals, check sluices and dikes, and make all facilities ready to receive the water, which might reach a height feasible for irrigation by the end of the Egyptian year, i.e., at the close of the month Mesore, which was August.
One of the notable festivals in the year celebrated the rising waters of the Nile. Others in Ptolemy's village would be holidays and entertainments associated with the cult of Pnepheros and Petesouchos. These were local variants of the principal god of the region--Sobek, the Greek Souchos, the crocodile god of the Fayum. Another cult with a local temple was that of Sarapis, a syncretistic Hellenistic Deity partaking of the characteristics of the Egyptian Apis and the Greek Zeus. The holiday observance sometimes involved entertainments, even professional in character--dancers, musicians, actors in mimes, and jugglers might by hired from the city of Arsinoe, to perform for as long as six days in the village. At least in sacrifices to Sarapis, the monotonous diet of every day might be relieved by the pleasant Greek custom of sacrifice at a banquet, shared with the God. The human participants had much the best of such delicacies as meat--indelible portions were the tokens on the God's altars, the barbecue was for men's delectation.
We must break off our aquaintance with Ptolemy and his kindred on a somber note. The excerpted section of the census records wich gives us most of our information on this family shows, around the names of Ptolemy and his brother Achillas, two pairs of heavy brackets, indicating cancellation. These signify that at some time between 162 and 172 A.D., both Ptolemy and his brother had died. They laid down their burdens, and another generation took over the tillage of the fields and the precarious struggle for survival, under the handicap of exhausting toil and the interminable exactions of rents, forced labor, tolls and taxes.
The primary sources giving information about Ptolemy and his family are: P.Mich.Inventory No. 4716c, published in Chronique d'Egypte 28 (1953), pp. 346-352; P. London II, 168 (pp. 190-191); P.Mich.Inv. 5689 (unpublished) Col. 71, 9: 75, 12; 83, 5(?), and Tax Rolls from Karanis (P. Mich IV), pr. 2, pp. 158; 181, and 238. Secondary sources most valuable are: A.C. Johnson, Roman Egypt to the Reign of Diocletian (=Tenney Frank, Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, Vol. II), in which the bibliography gives access to the principal primary and secondary sources; S.L. Wallace, Taxation in Roman Egypt from Augustus to Diocletian (Princeton, 1936), and for agriculture, M. Schnebel, Die Landwirtschaft im hellenistischen Agypten (Münchener Beiträge fur Papyrusforschung, 25--Munich, 1925).
An interesting approach to me problem of wages and prices from data other than sales is set forth by J. Sschwartz, Les archives de Sarapion et de ses fils (Cairo, 1961), where, on the basis of land prices, rentals, and average yields, a much lower figure is obtained as the price per artaba of wheat.