Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Journey of Theophanes

The Journey of Theophanes: Travel, Business, and Daily Life in the Roman East

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Journey of Theophanes
    Book Description:

    In the early fourth century, a lawyer and public figure from the Nile valley city of Hermopolis made a six-month business related journey to Antioch. The day to day details are preserved on papyrus documents and offer a remarkable record of this journey, covering everything from distances traveled to daily food purchases, from medicinal supplies to fees paid for services.In this book, the classicist and historian John Matthews translates these important documents and places them in the wider context of the social history of the Graeco-Roman world. The memoranda relating to Theophanes' journey are presented within a historical narrative that offers an array of revelations on diet, travel, social relations, and other fascinating topics. This book creates an unprecedented account of daily life in the years preceding Emperor Constantine's rise to power in the eastern provinces of the Roman empire.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13524-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. The Contents of the Theophanes Archive
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Egyptian Months
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    THE COLLECTION OF EARLY FOURTH-CENTURY PAPYRUS documents known as the Archive of Theophanes was published by C.H. Roberts in 1952, in volume IV of theCatalogue of the Greek and Latin Papyri in the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester(hence its standard abbreviation asP.Ryl.616–51). It consists of a variety of texts concerning the activities of Theophanes as a wealthy gentleman of Hermopolis in the Egyptian province of the Thebaid, as a head of family and owner of property, and as a public figure. We find there financial and tax records, household inventories, wine accounts...

  9. 2 Hermopolis: Theophanes and Friends
    (pp. 12-40)

    AS I EXPLAINED IN CHAPTER 1, the Theophanes Archive, enhanced by the later publications of Rees and Moscadi, contains a number of letters addressed to Theophanes or entrusted to him by their writers for delivery to others. These letters connect Theophanes with other notables of Hermopolis and with devotees of the god known as Trismegistos, or “Thrice-Greatest,” Hermes, after whom the city was named.¹ Taken with the other evidence, they tell us much about Theophanes and the social and cultural background from which he came. In one letter, for instance, written by Anatolius to Sarapion, to be delivered by “my...

  10. 3 The Road to Antioch
    (pp. 41-61)

    THE MEMORANDA of Theophanes’ journey fall into four sections, beginning late in the Egyptian month Phamenoth, when Theophanes made his preparations for departure, and ending in Mesorē, when he returned to Egypt. This corresponds to the period from mid-March to early August in the Roman calendar; on either count, Egyptian or Roman, his journey extended into six months of the calendar year. The first section (P.Ryl.627) records the preparations for the journey and its early stages, including a complete itinerary from Nikiu in the Nile delta to Antioch and various transactions en route. The second section (P.Ryl.639)...

  11. 4 Interlude: Travel and Topography
    (pp. 62-88)

    AS WE SAW IN CHAPTER 3, certain aspects of Theophanes’ journey to Antioch, in particular the high rate of progress he was able to maintain throughout the duration of the journey, are best explained if he had access to the resources of the imperial transport service,or cursus publicus. This privilege is often claimed for the Bordeaux pilgrim whose journey forms a valuable counterpart to that of Theophanes, but it cannot be taken for granted. The mere coincidence of a journey with routes covered by the cursus publicus proves little more than the commonsense of the traveler in choosing roads...

  12. 5 At Antioch
    (pp. 89-121)

    AFTER TAKING OVER A MONTH to reach Antioch, Theophanes spent two and a half months there, in pursuit of what was evidently complicated and protracted business. A long but fragmentary papyrus,P.Ryl.639, preserves a record of expenditures for the major part of a month Pachon, which, I shall argue below, are almost certainly draft accounts for Theophanes’ stay in Antioch during the first period after his arrival. Despite its fragmentary state, the papyrus supports the better-preserved material for the following months and contributes to our understanding of Theophanes’ pattern of life during the first part of his stay at...

  13. 6 Homeward Bound
    (pp. 122-137)

    THE LATER PARTS OFP.Ryl.630*, over three hundred lines of text, offer a much more closely documented picture of Theophanes’ return to Egypt than the rough outline of the outward journey that we saw in chapter 3. We follow Theophanes’ progress south through the cities and way stations along the coasts of Syria, Phoenice, and Palestine to Egypt and get quite a vivid impression of what it was like to undertake such a journey. Travelers tend for company and safety to congregate in groups along the road, and so we find various individuals with whom Theophanes shared his journey...

  14. 7 Costs and Prices
    (pp. 138-162)

    THE MASS OF EVIDENCE ABOUT costs and prices contained in the Theophanes memoranda is remarkable for its range and variety and for its connection to a specific period and geographical area. It is still more remarkable that, from a time just twenty years before Theophanes’ journey, we possess what is probably the most important single item of evidence for the economic history of the Roman empire at large, theEdict on Maximum Pricespromulgated by the emperor Diocletian in late November or early December 301.¹ Though pronounced ineffective by Christian opponents of the persecuting emperor (a verdict with which, for...

  15. 8 Food and Diet
    (pp. 163-180)

    THE INFORMATION ABOUT food costs and diet contained in the Theophanes memoranda is rich and detailed. It offers endless possibilities for the increasing numbers of historians who are interested in these topics, though its interpretation is not perfectly straightforward. We must, in the first instance, take account of context and of the social distinctions that existed within his party. We can see at once from the daily purchases of bread in its two qualities that different elements in the party were treated differently in the dietary provision made for them, but we do not know how great the differences were,...

  16. Appendix 1 P.Ryl. 627: Summary of Contents
    (pp. 181-184)
  17. Appendix 2 Notes on the Text
    (pp. 185-202)
  18. Appendix 3 Costs and Prices in the Memoranda
    (pp. 203-232)
  19. Appendix 4 Kemia and Kemoraphanos
    (pp. 233-236)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 237-240)
  21. Index
    (pp. 241-244)