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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: A Millennium of Documents

Latin letter: Syneros to Chius: Reign of Augustus (30 BC - AD 14)

Latin is comparatively rare in papyri from Egypt. Most commonly it is used in documents concerned with Roman citizenship or the army. Chius, the recipient of this letter, is named in the address on its back as Chio Caesaris, ‘to Chius (slave) of Caesar’. Imperial slaves played an important part in the civil service of the Empire, particularly in financial matters.

Words are separated by dots, a common practice. Lines 4-5 run crede . mihi . nimia . bonitas | pernicies . hominibus est

‘Believe me, excessive goodness is a disaster for mankind’, and then the scribe has added above the line vel . maxsuma (= maxima) ‘even the biggest’.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol.XLIV, no. 3208