Egyptian Prefect's
Order Concerning Bandits

Language: Greek
Medium: papyrus
Length: 11 lines of writing
Genre: Prefect's order
Date: October 25, 210—214 CE
Place of Discovery: Oxyrhynchus
(modern Behnesa, Egypt)
Date of Discovery: c. 1900
Current Location: Cairo Museum?
Inventory Number: P.Oxy. 1408
(Oxyrhynchus Papyri)

(Hunt & Edgar 1934:114, 116)

(Adapted from Hunt & Edgar 1934:115, 117)

BaibioV IougkinoV strathgoiV Epta nomwn kai Arsinoitou cairein. egw men umein kai di ' eterwn mou grammatwn prostaxaV pefrontismenwV thn twn lhstwn anazhthsin poihsasqai kindunon umein eparthsaV ei ameleite kai nun de diatagmati bebaiwsai mou thn gnwmhn hqelhsa ina panteV eidwsin oi kata thn Aigupton ouk ek parergou tiqemenon touto to creoV alla kai toiV sullhmyomenoiV umin gera protiqenta kindunon de toiV apeiqein proairoumenoiV epanteinomenon. oper diatagma boulomai en te taiV mhtropolesi kai toiV epishmotatoiV twn nomwn topoiV proteqhnai zhmiaV umin epikeimenhV meta kindunou ei tiV kakourgoV laqwn biazesqai dunatai. errwsqai umaV boulomai. (etouV . .) Fawfi kh.

*Some letters were reconstructed by the editors.

Baebius Juncinus to the stratêgoi of the Heptanomia and the Arsinoite nome , greeting.
I have already ordered you in an earlier letter to search out bandits with all care, warning you of the peril of neglect; and now I wish to confirm my resolve by an edict in order that all the inhabitants of Egypt may know that I am not treating this duty as an issue of secondary importance, but offer rewards to those of you who cooperate and threaten with punishment those who choose to disobey. This edict I want publicly displayed in both the capitals and the most conspicuous places of the nomes; penalties and peril are awaiting you if in the future any criminal is able to use violence without detection. I wish you good health.
(Year) ?, Phaophi 28.

"Stratêgoi" (singular: stratêgos) were the chief civil administrators in the nomes.

A "nome" was an Egyptian administrative district.

"Phaophi" was the name of an Egyptian month; since Phaophi 1 was September 28, Phaophi 28 would be October 25.

    1. How is "social banditry" different from common thievery? What social factors contributed to social banditry in the ancient Mediterranean? (See Hanson & Oakman 1998:86-91)
    2. Why would villagers protect bandits, as indicated by the prefect's comments?
    3. Compare this situation with the Galilean bandits at the beginning of Herod the Great's career (Josephus, War 1.304-313), Pilate and Barabbas (Matthew 27:15-26; John 18:38-40), and Severus and Claudius (Dio, Roman History 75).
    4. What role does Baebius expect the strategoi to play?


    Freyne, Seán. "Bandits in Galilee: A Contribution to the Study of Social Conditions in First-Century Palestine." In The Social World of Formative Christianity and Judaism: Essays in Tribute to Howard Clark Kee. Edited by J. Neusner et al., 50-68. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.

    Hanson, K. C. "Jesus and the Social Bandits." In The Social Setting of Jesus and the Gospels. Edited by W. Stegemann, B. J. Malina, and G. Theissen. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.
    Hanson, K. C., and Douglas E. Oakman. Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.
    Hobsbawm, Eric J. Bandits. Rev. ed. New York: Pantheon, 1981.
    Horsley, Richard A., and John S. Hanson. Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs: Popular Movements in the Time of Jesus. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.
    Hunt, A. S., and C. C. Edgar. Select Papyri. Vol. 2: Non-Literary Papyri Public Documents. Loeb Classical Library 282. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1934.
    Isaac, B. "Bandits in Judaea and Arabia." Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 88 (1984) 171-203.
    Shaw, Brent. "Bandits in the Roman Empire." Past and Present 102 (1984) 3-52.

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Last Modified: 15 May 2002