Women and Men

Papyri from Greek and Roman Egypt provide much information about family life. Women and men were married, divorced, and made legal provisions to take care of each other after death. In Egyptian (but not Greek or Roman) law, women had the same legal rights as men. Husbands and wives (and other family members) also wrote letters to each other when business or family circumstances brought one of the family members to another place in Egypt (or abroad).

image of letter from Rome Letter from Rome. P. Mich. inv. 4528 (SB IV 7353). Greek. – Written in Rome (Italy), found in Karanis (Kom Aushim), Fayum, Egypt. 2nd cent. C.E.

A private letter from a young recruit of the Roman fleet to his mother in Karanis. He informs his mother that he has arrived in Rome in good health, and asks her not to worry about him because he has "come to a beautiful place."

image of a marriage agreement Marriage agreement. P. Mich. inv. 3172 (SB XVI 12334). Greek. – Philadelphia, Fayum, Egypt. – Late 2nd cent. C.E.

The first eight lines of this clearly written text are the end of a marriage agreement between the mother of Gaius Iulius Isidorus (a Roman citizen) and the mother of Kronous. The remainder of the text is a property settlement to take effect after the death of the donor, in this case the mother of the bride, thus establishing the bride's share in her mother's estate (largely landed property around the village of Philadelphia).

image of a birth certificate Birth Certificate. P. Mich. inv. 2952 (SB XII 11103). Greek. – Written in Antinoopolis, found in Karanis (Kom Aushim), Fayum, Egypt. – June 4, 155 C.E.

A certificate attesting to the birth of a son, named Gaius Iulius Longinus, to the Roman veteran Gaius Iulius Niger, an inhabitant of Karanis.

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