Proclamation of Nero's Succession
as Roman Emperor

Language: Greek
Medium: papyrus
Length: 20 lines of writing
Genre: Proclamation of Emperorship
Date: November 17, 54 CE
Place of Discovery: Oxyrhynchus
(modern Behnesa, Egypt)
Date of Discovery: c. 1900
Current Location: Cairo Museum?
Inventory Number: P.Oxy. 1021

(from Hunt & Edgar 1934:138)
(This is readable as Greek
if "Symbol" font is installed)
by K. C. Hanson
(Adapted from Hunt & Edgar)
O men ofeilomenoV toiV progonoiV kai enfanhV qeoV Kaisar eiV autouV kecwrhke o de thV oikoumenhV kai prosdokhqeiV kai elpisqeiV Autokratwr apodedeiktai agaqoV daimwn de thV oukoumenhV [ar]ch wn [megis]te pantwn agaqwn Nerwn Kaisar apodedeiktai dio panteV ofeilomen stefanhforountaV kai bouqutountaV qeoiV pasi eidenai caristaV (etouV) a NerwnoV Klaudiou KaisaroV Sebastou Germanikou mh(noV) Ne(ou) Seba(stou) ka
(Letters in square brackets are reconstructed; letters in parentheses fill out abbreviations in the text, or, in the case of "year," an implied word.)

The one who was owed to the ancestors, and god-made-manifest, Caesar1 , has gone to join them. And the Emperor2 whom the world anticipated and hoped for has been proclaimed; the good spirit 3 of the inhabited world and source of all goodness, Nero Caesar, has been proclaimed. Consequently, we should all wear garlands and with sacrifices of oxen give thanks to all the gods. (Year) one of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, the twenty-first of the month Neus Sabastus 4
1 Greek = Kaisar , referring to the Emperor Claudius (ruled 41-54 CE)

2 Greek = Autokrator

3 Greek = agathos daimôn

4 This is the name of the Latin month; the Egyptian month was Hathyr; in the modern calendar this was November 17 of 54 CE.

1. What does this document express about the relationship between the emperor and the realm of spirits and the divine?
2. What does this document express about the relationship of the emperor to the well-being of the empire? How does this compare with the ideologies of kingship elsewhere in the ancient world?
3. What significance would the coronation of a new Roman emperor have had to Egyptian elites? To Egyptian peasants?
4. What was the function of the "genius" of the pater familias (the "good spirit" here) in the Roman family? What would this mean for the Roman emperor, then, in relation to the empire?
5. Note the expression of the date at the end. To what was the calendar tied, and why was that significant?

Grant, Michael. Nero. 2d ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973.
Grant, Michael. "Nero." In The Twelve Caesars, 149-73. New York: Scribners, 1973.
Griffin, Miriam T. "Nero." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by D. N. Freedman, 4.1076-81. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
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.

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Last Modified: 15 May 2002