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The Cult of the Theoi Soteres and the Date of Some Papyri from the Reign

The Cult of the Theoi Soteres and the Date of Some Papyri from the Reign of Ptolemy V Epiphanes Author(s): E. Lanciers

Source: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, Bd. 66 (1986), pp. 61-63

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Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik

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In the 7th year of the reign of Ptolemy V (199/8 B.C.) some changes were

made in the dynastic cult at Alexandria and Ptolemais. In the capital a se

parate eponymous priesthood for the cult of Arsinoe III Philopator was es

tablished, while Ptolemy V himself was incorporated in the worship of Alex

ander and the deified Ptolemies. 1) The cult of Soter and the reigning king at

Ptolemais, probably interrupted in the 16th year of Philopator (207/6) by the

secession of the Thebaid, reappeared in 199/8 as the cult of Soter and Epi

phanes. 2)

From that same year the Theoi Soteres are frequently omitted from the

titulature of the priest of Alexander and the deified Ptolemies. ) This phe

nomenon is first attested in the demotic papyri: the only exception hitherto is P.Berlin dem. 13593, which dates from Thoth of the 8th year but mentions

the eponymous priests of the 7th year.4) A shortage of texts makes the situa

tionless clear for the Greek papyri. P.Tebt. III 816 from year 13 (193/2),

the only Greek papyrus with a preserved protocol for the period 199/8-193/2,

still includes the Theoi Soteres. From year 14 (192/1) until the end of

Epiphanes' reign (181/0) no (published) Greek or demotic papyrus mentions

the deified Ptolemy I and Berenice I.5)

It is not my intention here to explain the changes in the cult of the

Soteres,6) but rather to show that the evolution sketched above can be used

*) With thanks to Mr. P. Van Dessel who translated the Dutch text. 1) See P.Dublin dem. 1659: Pr-C3 Ptrwms ntj ir md-nfr.t; P.Berl. dem. 13593: Pr-C3 Ptlwmjs p3 ntr ntj pr. I was unable to consult P.Hamb. dem.

ined. + P.Cairo dem. III 50132.

2) P.Louvre dem. 2435: Pr-C3 Ptlwmjs ntj pr; P.Dublin dem. 1659: Pr- C3

Ptrwms p3 ntr ntj pr; P.Berl. dem. 13593: Pr- 3 Ptlwmjs p3 ntr ntj pr.

3) Due to a lack of evidence, J.F.Oates (Theoi Soteres, in Et.Pap. 9,1971,

pp.55-72), who undertook a thorough study of the problem, was unable to pro nounce a verdict on the situation in 200/199. P.M.Fraser (Ptolemaic Alex andria, Oxford 1972, II, p.369 n.237), on the other hand, concluded that the Theoi Soteres are already missing from some sources from 200. However, in the only usable source from that year, P.Mich. dem. 4526 A ( = E.Luddeckens, Ehe

vertrage nos. 4D and 4Z), the Theoi Soteres are mentioned.

4) The Theoi Soteres do appear in the Greek and demotic versions of the Memphis decree of 197/6, but the trilingual sacerdotal decrees are in this respect a highly individual category of evidence: cf. J.Caimi, Aegyptus 57

(1977), pp.128-131.

5) This also obtains for all documents published after Oates's study: 192/1

BGU XIV 2388; 191/0 PUG inv. DR 49 (ZPE 49,1982, pp.67-68); 188/7 P. dem.

P.Berl. dem. 3114 and 3140.

Tur. Botti I; 185/4 P. dem Mainz 6 + 6 ( = K.-Th. Zauzich, Schreibertradition

nos. 30, 115); 184/3 P. dem. BM 10789 (Serapis 6, 1980, pp.121-123); 183/2

6) J.F.Oates's view (l.c., p. 66) that the disappearance of the cult of

the Theoi Soteres from Alexandria was connected with the removal of the re mains of Ptolemy I to Ptolemais in 199/8 is quite righly dismissed by P.M.

Fraser (o.c., II, p.369 n.237).

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62 E.Lanciers

to date documentary sources. Although the scarcity of material does not per

mit any firm conclusions for the period 199/8-193/2, the complete disap

pearance of the Theoi Soteres from the protocols after 193/2 would seem to

provide a reliable terminus ante quem for those papyri that mention the dei

fied couple.

Let us first take a look at BGU X 1967, which displays the following


[BamXA iG:kvTo cfl-O.-epaou -xo0 rl]-roeAo ou xxi Ao[asv;3cr

?tXfwromTpor; vrTo'u; .X ] 7. LUXTOU ) Et]9 w;L5 TOI

svf,o Av 'z[Eavpt'a 'A-Mpow xa&]

LrOoz6 x-, ee& 'A3r_Xqi&v xl Oz&v E'ept[z.3rv xxi O3s&v

9{7t[W 1St,pWV xoct 0s7]v 'E4[L]Qpcv8v

This document can be dated between the marriage of Ptolemy V and Cleopatra

in year 12 = 194/3 (1.2: 5665]v Emn[L]qxxvCv) and the beginning of year 20

]cLu6Vx&Tou). For no obvious reason the editor considered

only two possible restorations for the date in 1.1: nvTEX]QL6sX&ToU (1

and evvECox]acL6cX&Tou (187/6).7) However, as the length of the lacuna in

187/6 (1.1:

makes it quite clear that the Theoi Soteres must have been mentioned, it is

far more likely that the text was written before year 14. Since the restor

ation 6w6ex&Tou is impossible, TpeLCh]cLL6ExGLTou becomes the only alternative.

Consequently, BGU X 1967 is to be dated to 193/2 B.C.

In 1984 W.Brunsch published the demotic papyrus Hamburg D 35 which he

dates between 194 and 180 B.C.8) The prescript of this document has been

restored to read as follows:

[h3.t-sp x+12 ibt x

sw x n Pr-C3 Ptlwmjs s3 Ptlwmjs irm 3rsjn3 n3

ntr.w mr-it=w wCb n 31gsntrws irm n3 ntr.w ntj] 'nhm M n3 ntr.w sn.w

n3 ntr.w mnh.w n3 ntr.w mr-it=w n3 'ntr.w' [ntj pr

[Year x+12, month x of the

season, day x, of King Ptolemy, son of

Ptolemy and Arsinoe, the gods Philopatores, the priest of Alexander and

of the gods] rSoteres', the gods Adelphoi, the gods Euergetai, the gods

Philopatores and the 'gods' [Epiphaneis being

The element n3 rntr.w7 [nti pr shows that the papyrus was indeed written in

or after 194/3. Although the group ntr.w ntj] rnhm7 is only partially pre


served, this is without doubt the only possible reading. It must therefore be

granted that P.Hamb. D 35 must date from year 12 or 13 (194/3 or 193/2 B.C.).

7) P. 88 ad 1. 1.

8) Ein demotischer Ehevertrag aus der Sammlung der Staats- und Uni tatsbibliothek Hamburg, in Grammata demotika. Festschrift fur E.Liidd

zum 15. Juni 1983 (edd. H.J.Thissen-K.-Th.Zauzich), Wurzburg 1984,

and P1. 3.

or wCb n 31gsn

n3 ntr.w sn.w might be considered, but the surviving sign does not see fit neither as a determinative of the name of Alexander, nor as an elem of irm. Compare on the other hand the orthography of nhm in W.Eric

9) The restoration wCb n 31gsntrws] n3 ntr.w

motisches Glossar, Kopenhagen, 1954, p.223, s.v.

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The Cult of the Theoi Soteres 63

Together with B.Berl. dem. 13593 it forms an exception to the rule that from

199/8 onwards the Theoi Soteres were omitted from the demotic papyri.10)

The situation is less clear for the Greek papyri from which the Theoi

Soteres are absent. In Greek texts too - notwithstanding the testimony of

P.Tebt. III 816 - there may well have been a tendency to omit the Soteres

even before 192/1. Therefore, it cannot be stated with certainty whether the

dating margin for P.Tebt. III 968 - a papyrus unjustly left out of the most

recent inventory of eponymous priests11) - may be restricted to the period

192/1-181/0. As to P.Tebt. III 975, which on the basis of the eponymous

priests can be dated to year 12, 16 or 17,12) the appearance or omission of

the Theoi Soteres would entail the first or either of the latter years, re

spectively. However, since the text has not (yet) been edited in full, a

final decision is at present impossible.



10) In

P. dem. BM




here a formula wit

11) Cf. W.Clarysse

Egypt (Papyrologi

text the name of

is still clearly legible.

12) See W.Clarysse-Griet van der Veken, o.c., p.21 E.

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