A gift of one eunuch and four slave boys: P.Cair.Zen. i 59076 and historical construction

Anna Krautbauer*, Stephen Llewelyn, Blake Wassell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

P.Cair.Zen. I 59076 is a letter sent by Toubias, the head of an influential Jewish family in the Transjordan, to Apollonios, an important official of the Ptolemaic king. It concerns the dispatch of a eunuch and four boys to him. The article focuses on the role of the eunuch. It critiques the accepted view that he was the boys' tutor arguing instead that he was of value in his own right as a personal attendant in an elite household. The role of eunuchs more generally is discussed to bolster the argument. If correct, there must have been a perceived demand for such persons in royal and elite households. This in turn has implications for the possible fate of the four boys, who are all prepubescent. Though the papyrus illustrates the means by which the Tobiad family was able to maintain its powerful position in the Ptolemaic territory of Coele-Syria, the article highlights two responsibilities of modern historiography, both to appreciate the great worth of the Zenon archive and to carefully remember the marginalized of antiquity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-325
Number of pages21
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Tobiad family
  • Zenon
  • eunuch
  • papyrology
  • slavery

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A gift of one eunuch and four slave boys: P.Cair.Zen. i 59076 and historical construction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this