Select Papyri, 1.198A


  Greek text:   see below     ( UPZ 1.1 )
Date:   Late 4th cent. B.C. 

This is one of the earliest surviving Greek papyri.  It was found in the Serapeum near Memphis; see H.S.Versnel, in "Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion", pp. 68-69 ( Google Books ).   For some examples of curses from elsewhere in the Greek world, see the list in topics in Hellenistic inscriptions.  

The translation of this 'prayer for justice', which was not included in the original collection, is adapted from  J.Rowlandson, "Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt", page 63 ( Google Books ).  

O lord Oserapis and the gods who sit with Oserapis, I Artemisia the daughter of Amasis [direct a prayer?] to you, against the father of my daughter, who has deprived her of her funeral rites and burial. So if he has not treated me and his children rightly, indeed has treated me and his children wrongly, may Oserapis and the gods grant him that he does not receive burial from his children, and that he does not bury his own parents. While the cry for help lies here, may he and what is his be destroyed evilly on land and on sea by Oserapis and the gods who sit in the house of Oserapis, and may he not receive the favour of Oserapis or of the gods who sit with Oserapis. 

Artemisia has deposited this appeal, begging Oserapis and the gods who sit with Oserapis to give judgement. While the appeal lies here, may the father of the young girl receive no favours at all from the gods. If anyone [removes] this document and wrongs Artemisia, may the god inflict punishment on him . . .


Greek text:   (from Papyri Magicae Graecae, XL)

  Ὦ δέσποτ' Ὀσερᾶπι κὰ θεοὶ οἱ μετὰ τοῦ Ὀσερ[άπιο]ς κα[θήμενοι, εὔχομ]αι ὑμῖν, Ἀρτεμισίη 
ἥδ', Ἀμάσιος θυγάτηρ, κατὰ το͂ πατρὸς τῆς θυγατρός, [ὃς αὐτὴν τ]ῶ[ν] κτ[ερ]έων ἀπεστέρησε 
καὶ τῆς θήκης.  εἰ μὲν οὖν δίκαια μὲ ἐποίησε ἐμὲ καὶ τὰ τέκνα ταὐτοσαυτο͂,
ὧσπερ μὲν οὖν ἄδικα ἐμὲ καὶ τὰ τέκνα τὐτοσαυτο͂ ἐποίησε, δόη δέ οἱ Ὀσερᾶπις καὶ οἱ θεοὶ
5   μὴ τυχεῖν ἐκ παίδων θήκης μ[η]δὲ αὐτὸν γονέας τοὺ<ς> αὐτοσαυτοῦ θάψαι.  τῆς δὲ 
καταβοιῆς ἐνθῦτα κειμένης, κακῶς ἀπολλύοιτο κἐγ γῆι κἐν θαλάσσηι καὐτὸς 
καὶ τὰ αὐτοῦ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ὀσερ[ά]πιος καὶ τῶν θεῶν τῶν ἀμπ' Ὀσερᾶπι καθημένων,
μηδὲ ἱλάονος τυχάνοι Ὀσεράπιος μηδὲ τῶν θε[ῶ]ν [τῶ]ν μετὰ τοῦ Ὀσεράπιος 
κα[θ]ημένων.      κατέθηκεν Ἀρτεμισίη τὴν ἱκετηρίην τα[ύ]την, ἱκετύουσα τὸν 
10   Ὀσ[ε]ρᾶπιν τὴν δίκην δικά[σαι καὶ το]ὺς θεοὺς τοὺς μετὰ τοῦ Ὀσεράπιος καθημένους,
τῆ[ς] δ' ἱκετηρίας ἐνθαῦ[τα κει]μένης, μηδαμῶ[ς] ἱλαόν[ω]ν [τ]ῶν θεῶν τυγχάνοι
ὁ πατὴρ τῆς παιδίσκης. [ὃ]ς δ' ἂ[ν ἕλοι] τὰ γράμματα ταῦτα [κα]ὶ ἀδικοῖ Ἀρτεμισίην, 
ὁ θεὸς αὐτῶι τὴ<ν> δίκην ἐπιθ[είη μ]ηδενὶ..θεραπυο[........]βοντι, ὅτι μὴ
τοὺς Ἀρτεμισίη κελύει, ὅτι[...] τοδε[] ὥσπερ 
15   κοὐκ ἐπαρκέσαι []
με περιεῖδε ἐπιδ[εῆ...]
κἀμοὶ τῆι ζώσηι []
περιεῖδε ἐπιδε[ῆ...]. 

papyrus 198B

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