Death of a Slave Boy

Jennifer Cromwell Cymbals struck as festival performers wound their way through the village’s streets . But then tragedy struck. Leaning over the balcony to view the players below, a young slave boy Epaphroditos fell and died. Was it an accident? Was it murder?This tragic event took place in year 23 of the reign of the emperor CommodusContinue reading “Death of a Slave Boy”

Music for the Masses

Mark de Kreij In this time of social distancing, enjoying music in public seems a distant memory, and since social get-togethers and musical events are all currently off the table, the study of song and festival in the ancient world can at least provide us with vicarious cultural experiences! The following texts all offer glimpsesContinue reading “Music for the Masses”

“… like he’s somebody …”: Runaway Slaves in Roman Egypt

Jennifer Cromwell At some point during the third century CE, a slave-owner wrote a notice of a runaway enslaved man. The tall, thin Egyptian man in his early thirties – a weaver by trade – had gone missing and a reward was out for his return. The description of him, given by his owners, is particularly unflattering:Continue reading ““… like he’s somebody …”: Runaway Slaves in Roman Egypt”

Student Life in the 2nd Century CE

Some time around the turn of the 2nd century CE, a student – probably in Alexandria – wrote back to his father Theon to complain about various parts of student life. Unfortunately, the name of the student isn’t mentioned, so he remains anonymous. But his litany of complaints nevertheless will almost certainly strike a chord with manyContinue reading “Student Life in the 2nd Century CE”

Baby Exposed, Baby Snatched, Roman Egypt-Style

Katherine Blouin Babies being abandoned by or snatched from their family is, sadly, not a recent phenomenon. One papyrus from 1st-century CE Oxyrhynchus offers a glimpse into how these scenarios were legally dealt with when Egypt was ruled by the Romans. The document contains extracts from the court proceedings of Tiberius Claudius Pasion, who wasContinue reading “Baby Exposed, Baby Snatched, Roman Egypt-Style”