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A New Military Strength Report on Papyrus

  • J. D. Thomas (a1) and R. W. Davies (a2)


The document which forms the subject of this article is from the collection of papyri in the Brooklyn Museum, New York. It is published here by kind permission of the Museum authorities in advance of its appearance as no. 24 in the Catalogue of Brooklyn Museum Papyri, which is being prepared by Dr. John Shelton. We are very grateful to Dr. Shelton for drawing our attention to this papyrus and for generously allowing us, because of its exceptional importance, to publish it separately in this article.

The papyrus contains a Latin document relating to a unit of the Roman army stationed in Egypt. It is written in three columns on the recto of a piece of papyrus measuring approximately 27 × 18 cm. The verso, which according to Dr. Shelton contains a Greek private letter, has no apparent connection. Although the papyrus shows damage on all four sides, it is probable that the right-hand edge is preserved in lines 12 f. of the third column (see the notes ad loc). As it can be demonstrated that not much is lost at the left of the first column, what survives is likely to be the greater part of the original width. All three columns are incomplete at both top and bottom, and the loss here is much harder to estimate. Format and date are discussed in detail in section iv. It is here sufficient to say that it belongs in or near the year A.D. 215, and that in content it closely resembles two known papyri classed as pridiana, which have recently been re-edited as RMR 63 and 64.



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1 Sections I and II are by Thomas, IV and V by Davies; we are jointly responsible for III. Abbreviations follow the usual patterns with the following exceptions:

Davies = Davies, R. W., ‘The Daily Life of the Roman Soldier under the Principate’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II. I (1974), 299338.

Lesquier = Lesquier, J., L'Armée romaine d'Égypte d'Auguste à Dioclétien (1918).

RMR = Fink, R. O., Roman Military Records on Papyrus (1971).

2 The closest parallels I have noted in Seider, R., Paläographie der lateinischen Papyri I (1972) are both from Dura: nos. 39 (post 217) and 46 (c. 233); for Egypt cf. no. 42 (237). Also very similar are the few lines in Latin in P. Flor. 278 (P. Flor. II, pp. 267–77), likewise early third century.

3 The description of such hands in Mallon, J., Paléographie romaine (1952), para. 86 as ‘l'écriture commune classique’ seems to me less misleading.

4 Since the above was written Dr. Alan Bowman has visited the Brooklyn Museum, rearranged the fragments of the papyrus, and ensured that it was more adequately flattened out. As a result I have been supplied by the Museum with a second photograph which, although inferior in quality to the first (Pl. VIII), has helped in places to overcome the difficulties listed as (1) and (2) above, and this is indicated where appropriate in the notes. I am very grateful to Dr. Bowman for having taken this trouble on my behalf, and to Dr. John Rea for checking my transcript.

5 RMR 63 = P. Land. 2851 = ChLA 219; for the date JRS LXII (1972), 191.

6 RMR 64 = BGU 696.

7 cf. RMR p. 220 s.v. for examples of tunc, to which add 66 a ii 2.

8 ZPE XVII (1975), 306–7; BASP IV (1967), 110–11; JRS LXV (1975), 126–7, 147.

9 cf. the discussions of Gilliam, J. F. in Collection Latomus LVIII (1962), 747 f., especially 748–9, 752–4, and R. O. Fink in RMR, pp. 181–2.

10 cf. Fink's comments on RMR 47 i, 1 and 64 ii, 1.

11 As presumably with Cohors XX Palmyrenorum; cf. Epigr. Stud. IV (1967), 109; VIII (1969), 63 f. especially 64–5, 67–9; Historia XIV (1965), 7481. For units aucta by Caracalla, , CIL III, 1378; AE 1958, 231.

12 Syria XLIV (1967), 339 f.; AE 1968, 513; CIL XVI, 29, 184; cf. Aegyptus XXXVI (1956), 235 f.; L (1970), 310–13.

13 I Ulpia Afrorum, I Apamenorum, I Flavia Cilicum, I Augusta Lusitanorum, II Ituraeorum, II Thracum; Lesquier, 83–96.

14 cf. Fink's remarks (201–2) on RMR 52 c, 6, and (311, confirmed by AE 1968, 513) on RMR 78, receipts 48 and 49; Aegyptus LIV (1974), 179–80.

15 RMR 64 i 17 adds at the end of the breakdown pedites and numeral; the format of the rest of our document suggests it did not follow this practice.

16 RMR 63 ii, 41; cf. 62, 4.

17 cf. RMR 52 b, 7–10; c, 2–5; Pliny, Ep. X, 20 and 22. I discuss this term in greater length in Aegyptus LVII (1977).

18 cf. RMR 47 with 50.

19 e.g. RMR 66 (strength report); 10 (viritim detachment record).

20 cf. RMR, p. 550 s.v. to which add 2 xii, 18; see our commentary on III 16.

21 RMR 50 i 5–6 and 11–2; ii 5–6.

22 BGU 362 vii 8–9 and 21; H. Musurillo, Acta Alexandrinorum (1961), XVIII = SB 9213; see above, n. 8. Heraclitus may have taken the additional Aurelius to honour Caracalla in 212, cf. Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt IV (1974), 355–8; Historia XIV (1965), 8192.

23 Herodian IV 8, 6–9, 8; Dio LXXVIII, 22–3; Suda s.v. ‘Antoninus’; SHA, Caracalla 6, 23. Cf. Lesquier, 31–2.

24 For the chronology see n. 26; the commentary of C. R. Whittaker in the Loeb Herodian; Syria XXXIV (1957), 297302; Chron. d'Ég. XXXIV (1959), 120–3; P. Oxy. 3090.

25 P. Giess. 40 II 16–29 = W. Chr. 22.

26 Ét. de Pap. VII (1948), 1733; SB 9213.

27 Starr, C. G., Roman Imperial Navy2 (1960), 192 cites AE 1934, 64 for transfer of personnel of Egyptian fleet to Syrian at this time. RMR, 89, 39 (recently confirmed by R. Marichal in ChLA 321MM) seems to show personnel of the Egyptian ala Herculiana in Syria in 216. For Egyptian soldiers requisitioning camels at this time for imperial use, Lesquier, 371, cf. P. Oxy. 3091.

28 P. Ross.-Georg. III I and 2 are private letters written by doctors and are dated palaeographically to the early third century; they record heavy military casualties and an oblique reference to a military command; they may be contemporary with our document; cf. Epigr. Stud. VIII (1969), 93–4.

29 Davies, 321–2, 331; see also our commentary on II 13–15. RMR 5 ii (originally dated by Fink to July A.D. 215 but perhaps two years later) seems to record the absence of various Egyptian infantrymen with a pref(ectus) castri ante [.].ruticia.

30 Suetonius, Gaius 46; Galba 6; ILS 9134. Cf. Historia XV (1966), 127.

31 Dio LXXVIII, 24, 1.

32 CIL III, 1378; AE 1958, 231. For Caracalla and money given to troops cf. PBSR XVIII (1950), 58–9; Historia VIII (1959), 479–83; Latomus XXX (1971), 687–95.

33 Unfortunately, however, RMR can cite no example of princeps in this meaning. Perhaps note P. Paris 69 = W. Chr. 41 (cf. Neue Heidelberger Jahrb. IX (1899), 159–62) for special celebrations held by commanding officer, centurions, beneficiarii and principales of Cohors I Flavia Cilicum in the Caesareum and unit's principia on the emperor's birthday in 232, when the troops received a congiarium; there also seems to have been a special parade (decur(sores) xxxi) on the emperor's birthday at Dura (RMR 62); cf. R. Marichal in ChLA 309 and 347.

34 Davies, 328.

35 An unpublished papyrus shows that by December A.D. 216 our praefectus alae had been replaced as Acting-Epistrategus by a praefectus montis Berenicidis.

36 Dio LXXVIII, 21, 4; H.-G. Pflaum, Les carriéres procuratoriennes équestres sous le Haut-Empire romain (1960–1), 1085.

A New Military Strength Report on Papyrus

  • J. D. Thomas (a1) and R. W. Davies (a2)


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