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Translations of Hellenistic Inscriptions: 10


STELE OF PTOLEMY VIII AT HERACLEION


Date:   c. 118 B.C.
Format:   see key to translations

This colossal stele, which was originally over 6 metres tall, was discovered by underwater archaeologists at Thonis-Heracleion. The inscription has been badly damaged, but the general sense of the hieroglyphic text is clear enough. It seems to be related to the Amnesty Decree ( SelPap_2.210 ), which was issued in 118 B.C.

A section referring to the history of the 2nd century B.C. is shown here. The translation is adapted from the French translation by C.Thiers, La stèle de Ptolémée VIII Évergète II à Héracléion, which should be consulted for more details about all aspects of the stele. The translator's summary is shown in green before each line of the text.

The photograph shows the largest surviving fragment of the stele, containing the hieroglyphic text.




[17]   Gift of land; benefaction of building for the temple of (?) Mut; and during a royal visit of year 26 (July/August 144 B.C.), the priests of Heracleion present a petition concerning . . .

He has offered you the field . . . of eternity with alacrity, which is beautiful to see. He has placed his mother (?) Mut in his new temple; nothing like it has been made since the beginning of time. In the 26th year, in the month of Epiphi . . . his majesty came for . . . [the house] of rejoicing, [increasing] the great offering made by his [father], the child {Khonsu}, in accordance with his ritual of annual need . . . the gods. A report was made for the (?) royal . . . in front of his majesty . . .

[18]   Mention of a tax (allowance) granted in the reign of Ptolemy Philopator.

. . . the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ptolemy the god Philopator, about the agricultural land at the (?) edge of the borders of the land, called the Temple of Acacia, so as to give an allowance to [those] who live there . . . Khonsu and the gods and goddesses who are in [(?) city/temple] of the north . . . except that he would not have gone to his land in the presence of the rebel who had the (?) trust of the officials. [He] has offered . . .

[19]   Mention of a revolt or violation of a decree (?) of asylia, issued in the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes.

. . . slanders against their master, and seizing his property violently, they violated the decree which your father had promulgated, (?) not realising the power of your majesty . . . O our master, protector of everything that exists, the favour of Horus belongs to you in the confines of the nomes; you are victorious for his father Osiris . . . with orders [(?) to perform] your massacre amongst them. Your father has offered you his property until the end . . .

[20]   A delegation of Egyptian dignitaries goes to Alexandria to meet the king.

. . . the great , the notable, the members of the Thirty, the elders of the palace, the members of the body of officials and the great men of Egypt, [went] to the privileged place of the palace to take counsel concerning . . . they took an oath before him. His majesty said to them: "O ... the speeches. Ensure (?) that I examine all your grievances." Then . . .

[21]   Reference to ancient writings, in order to prove a land allocation up to year 44 of the Pharaoh Amasis; existence of a deed of sale proving ownership of it, preserved at Heliopolis in the time of Darius I; judgment.

. . . Harsiesis, the gods and the goddesses who are in the house of rejoicing, in accordance with the ancient writings. They established these donations of land from the time of our ancestors until year 44 of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Amasis; and there was an act of sale (?) concerning them with the guardians of the temple of Heliopolis at the time of the [king of Upper and Lower Egypt], Darius. It was judged at the gate on behalf [of] . . .

[22]   Royal benefaction, and petition concerning exactions committed by officials against ‘humble persons’; acceptance of petition by Ptolemy Euergetes II, who presents the statements of the petitioners before Amun-Gereb, looking probably to confirm an ancient right of asylia; appeal to the royal scribe [(?) for a decree].

. . . a large . . of silver in his name in the temples . . . and all the decisions were (?) available for him. Behold, he is there against them today, for these officials have violently oppressed these humble persons,who love their master. His majesty says to them, "How perfect are your statements! I am going to place them in the presence of {Amun} the master of Gereb, the god who takes them in triumph." Then, she says to the scribe of the [royal] palette: "That [we send the royal decree] . . . "

[23]   Public joy following (?) the promulgation of the royal decree.

. . . in celebration, because there exists this decree, which his majesty has promulgated . . .

[24]   Dispatch of the decree (the text of the stele), to enable its application and its (?) publication by the Egyptian judicial authorities in Heracleion.

. . . [the gods Adelphi, the gods Euergetae, the gods Philopatores,] the gods Epiphaneis, the god Eupator, the god Philometor, the two gods Euergetae, saying: "Behold, I have accomplished that we bring you the royal decree, to ensure that you [(?) attach it to the gate for rendering] justice, in order to impose the sentences. With the members of the council of the royal residence at my side, I have ordained . . ."


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