| | | Document | Initial Research Q's | Overview & Analysis | Lingering Q's | Link Choices | Works Cited


PKron. 50 (BL VII 74)
Tebtynis, 13 June 138 CE

In the twenty-second year of Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, Pauni 19, in Tebtynis of the Polemon division of the Arsinoite nome. Kronion, son of Cheos, son of Harmiysis, his mother being Taorsenouphis, from the village of Tebtynis, about seventy-five years old, with a scar on his right hand, acknowledges that after his death he had ceded to three heirs(*), both those born to him from his deceased wife Thenapynchis, daughter of Patynis - his sons Harmiysis and Harphaesis - and also to the daughter of other children of Kronion himself, namely of Kronion (the younger) and Taorsenouphis (the younger) - Tephorsais (the younger), underage - all the things of any kind that he, Kronion the father, might leave behind him, the property, furniture, implements, household goods, and other properties, as well as all the debts owed to him and anything else in any way, to each of them equally a third part. To the other three children of Kronion - Kronion (the younger) and Taorsenouphis (the younger) and Tephorsais: (he acknowledges) to have designated for Kronion the younger only forty drachmas of silver because of the fact that he has been wronged by him in many matters over the course of his lifetime, as Kronion the father affirms; to the two daughters Taorsenouphis (the younger) and Tephorsais, apart from the gold and silver jewelry and clothing which he affirms to have prepared for them as gifts, he gives as a present to each .... drachmas of silver. The funeral of Kronion the declarant and the preparation of his mummy are the responsibility of the three heirs, Harmiysis and Harphaesis and his granddaughter Tephorsais (the younger), being under-age, and also the paying out of the aforementioned legacies and of other debts, public or private, that he seems to owe. From the time that Kronion the declarant lives on, he is to hold total authority over all his possessions to manage as he chooses. He who wrote the subscriptions was Onnophris, son of Th...xosis, about sixty-two years old, with a scar on his forehead.

Witnesses: Hippalos, son of Chrates, about sixty-eight years old, with a scar on his right forearm; Soterichos, son of Eutychos, about forty years old, with a scar on each eyebrow; Kronion, son of Tyrannos, about thirty-two years old, with a scar on his left calf; Zoilos alias Tyrannos, son of Kronion, about 30 years old, with a scar on his right knee; Aretion, son of Ision, about 40 years old, with a scar on his right foot; Diogenes, son of Horion, about 26 years old, with a scar on his forehead. These are the 6 witnesses to this cession.

(2nd hand) I Kronion, son of Cheos, acknowledge to have ceded after my death to my children Harmiysis and Harphaesis and to my granddaughter Tephorsais, my three heirs in common, equally, all things of any kind whatsoever I may leave behind - property, all household goods, et cetera - but to my son Kronion to have designated only forty drachmas, because he wronged me, and to my two daughters Taoresnouphis and Tephorsais, to each .... drachmas, and in regard to the other specifications as aforementioned. And I seal with a carving of Isis and Harpokrates. I, Onnophris, son of Th.....xosis, wrote for him, because he does not know letters.

(3rd hand) I, Hippalos, son of Chrates, am a witness and I seal with a carving of Harpokrates.
(4th hand) I, Soterichos, son of Eutychos, am a witness and I seal with a carving of Serapis.
(5th hand) I, Kronion, son of Tyrannosm am a witness and I seal with a carving of Athene.
(6th hand) I, Zoilos alias Tyrannos, son of Kronion, am a witness and I seal with a carving of Hermes.
(7th hand) I, Aretion, son of Ision, am a witness and I seal with a carving of Serapammon.
(8th hand) I, Diogenes, son of Horion, am a witness and I seal with a carving of Isis and Serapis.
(9th hand) Twenty-second year of Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, Pauni 19. This was registered through the registry office in Tebtynis.

Trans: Rowlandson, Jane, ed. 1998. Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt. Cambridge.

(*) Scroll to top of pg. 126 of link for a family tree

Initial Research Q's

1) What is the significance of scars in the presentation of one’s will?

2) Why are so many witnesses needed for the will? (There are 6)

3) Kronion mentions that Kronion (the younger) wronged him, and leaves him “only forty drachmas”. What kind of betrayal would cause a Roman father to do this? Kronion is very vague (“wronged by him in many matters over the course of his lifetime”)

4) Why is the preparation of the mummy left to the two favored sons and a granddaughter?

5) What type of status would Kronion have? I’d like to look at other Roman wills from the time period and compare.

All good questions; there are a number of other letters from this archive that may help you out here with some of them.

Overview & Analysis

This document gives us insight into the legal requirements of wills in 2nd century Roman Empire, including the complex issues of protocol and inheritance, and also the dynamics of family relationships in Rome.

This document is the will of an old man, a farmer and minor priest from Tebytnis, named Kronion. It is an official legal document that follows the protocol of Roman wills (requisite five witnesses and seals, registry, etc.). With that said, it also reveals some important family dynamics that help us understand how Roman families behaved and interacted (in particular, father-son and brother-sister dynamics).

The first areas I wanted to examine and dedicated pages to were simply the location and time period of Kronion’s will. The document is placed at the ancient city of Tebtynis (often spelled Tebtunis) in 138 CE. This site was an important area controlled at one time or another by Egypt, Greece, and Rome; a series of excavations in 1899-1900 have revealed a wonderful wealth of ancient texts and objects (for pictures and more about the excavations at Tebtynis, click here). 138 CE marks the last year of the reign of Hadrian, who was considered one of the “five good emperors” and famously led the building of Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britannia, which became the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Hadrian did considerable work traveling to various parts of the empire, and is known for consolidating and securing the land that his predecessors had conquered.

Next, we turn to the matter of who exactly Kronion was. The sourcebook that this document came from, Jane Rowlandson's Women and Society in Roman and Greek Egypt, was where I turned to for this information. Nearly seventy documents have been found on Kronion and his family. I added a subsidiary page on Kronion – essentially a mini-biography of what I could find on him and his family - that can be reached here. I believe Kronion's story is important because it demonstrates the lifestyle of a typical man (as he was a farmer and minor priest) who lived in the periphery of the Roman Empire at the height of its power.

This document gives us a tremendous amount of information on the legal requirements and protocol for the construction of wills in the Roman Empire. Kronion's will gives us a good picture of what an official will under the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire would have looked like; I added this link for a good outline of how Roman wills worked and what they looked like, written by classical scholar George Long in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Kronion registered this will at the record office in Tebytnis following the witnessing and sealing of six witnesses (Rowlandson 127). The issue of witnesses, a substantial portion of the will, is a topic I explore in this subsidiary page. It was required to have at least five witnesses for a will (the sourcebook also argues that it was a "requisite six witnesses" needed for a will). The mentioning of scars to distinguish the witnesses is also not a trivial element; scars were used as a standard means of identification in the ancient Roman world.

This document also highlights the topic of mummies in Roman Egypt. Kronion leaves the preparation of his mummy to two of his sons, Harmisyis and Harphaesis, and his granddaughter, Tephorsais (the younger). I was surprised to discover that mummification was more common in Greco-Roman Egypt than during the peak of Egyptian civilization. I added a link about Roman Egyptian mummies which explores this topic here.

Finally, another enlightening and more personal feature of this document is the father-son tension that it highlights. Kronion is bitter and dismissive of his son; on more than one occasion he laments the “wrongs” committed against him by his son Kronion the younger. I dedicated a page to this father son rivalry that explores the real reasons behind the tension, which can be found here. One of the wrongs committed by Kronion the younger was his conversion of his wife and sister Taorsenouphis' expensive dowry into cash for his own personal use (I added a discussion of that endogamous marriage between Kronion the younger and Taorsenouphis the younger here). Ultimately, Kronion wields his pater potestas in the most final way by leaving just forty drachmas to his eldest son.

Lingering Q's

I haven't found an answer to why the preparation of the mummy is left to the two favored sons and a granddaughter. I assume this was just a matter of preference for Kronion. It is not surprising that he does not want Kronion the younger to be a part of this preparation.

I received a great question from Ben about if Kronion the younger could have appealed his father's decision to leave him a lesser inheritance than Kronion's granddaughter. In my research up to this point I have not come across any texts that describe such an appeal.

Link Choices

1) I linked Kronion's Will to this document on illegitimate heirs. This is another will extracted from the same sourcebook as Kronion's will, Jane Rowlandson's Woman and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt. They each give us similar understandings into the protocol and requirements of Roman wills under the 2nd century Roman Empire. "Illegitimate Heirs" is fascinating because it explores the topic of how slaves could be incorporated into a will (the writer of the will, Gaius Longinus Kastor, not only orders the freedom of his slave Marcella after he dies but leaves her his estate/wealth).

2) I linked Kronion's Will to the document, Officer's Memorial. This document, dated at 106 CE, comes from a similar period (the High Empire). While this is not a will, this document is another example of an important kind of record from the final chapter of one's life. Instead of reporting the actions to be done after his death, this document chronicles the achievements and accolades that he (Tiberius Claudius Maximus) earned during his life as a military officer. It gives us a glimpse into how people of the time wished to be remembered; in fact, Tiberius Claudius Maximus himself undertook construction of this monument to his life's work.

3) I also linked Kronion's Will to the document, Oath of allegiance. This document is a region-wide oath of allegiance to Caesar Augustus which was inscribed in Neapolis in 3 BCE. I draw a connection between these two documents because though the format is different, they each follow an apparently strict format that indicates the organization and formality of official Roman docuemtns. With Kronion's Will we saw the formal noting of date and time, listing of witnesses/seals, the mentioning of scars as a means of identification of the witnesses. Similarly, this oath includes the same kind of formal noting of date and time, as well as an explicit promise to the divine ("I swear to Zeus, Earth, Sun, all the gods and goddesses").


Anti-gladiator laws- Henock Dory

Works Cited

"Ancient Lives: The Tebtunis Papyri in Context." Bancroft Library Gallery, Berkeley, 2000. Web. 12 May 2011.<http://tebtunis.berkeley.edu/ancientlives/introduction1.html>.

Bagnall, Roger S., and Peter Derow. "Enslavement During A Native Revolt." The Hellenistic Period: historical sources in translation. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 1981.

"Drachma". Pro-Researcher UK. 2011. <http://www.pro-researcher.co.uk/encyclopaedia/english/drachma>.

"Hadrian." Wikipedia. 2011. Wikimedia Foundation. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadrian>

Long, George. "Testamentum." A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1875): 1113-1118. Web. 12 May 2011.<http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Testamentum.html>.

Monet, Jefferson. "An Overview of Mummification in Ancient Egypt." Tour Egypt. Tour Egypt, 2011. Web. 22 May 2011. <http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/mummification.htm>.

Rowlandson, Jane, ed. 1998. Women And Society in Greek and Roman Egypt. Cambridge.

This is a really cool document, and I like your research into who Kronion and his family were. One thing I find interesting is that Kronion, who theoretically has the power of life and death over Kronion the younger, uses his will to spite his son by not giving him any money. To me, this hints that perhaps part of Kronion's fury is that his son is not abiding by patria potestas, or that his power was proving impotent. According to Grubbs' Women and the Law in the Roman Empire (pg 195), fathers could force their children to get a divorce, and at least theoretically needed to give their consent (or lack of dissent) for a divorce. By divorcing without the his father's permission, younger Kronion could very well have raised is father's ire. This passage also highlights the importance of property in Roman society. How does Kronion get back at his wayward son? He gives him no inheritance. -Leander Love-Anderegg

Hey, I really like your work on this document; it's interesting to get acquainted with some of these characters on a personal level. My favorite part of your work was explaining the frequent mention of scars - I've always wondered how legal systems dealt with the problem of identity during antiquity, and sure enough a scar is a pretty permanent and unique reference to who somebody might be even after several years pass. I think your presentation would benefit from a little elaboration on the implications of a woman - especially a granddaughter - receiving a larger portion of the inheritance than the eldest son. Was there no process by which Kronion the younger could appeal? I ask only because the privilege of the eldest son is so prominent across eras and cultures that I was shocked to read this. Furthermore, wouldn't Kronion the elder have some sort of authority over his own underage daughter's finances, or does a legal will transcend that authority? Great job overall - Ben P.

Greetings, presentation partner - I'm quite pleased to see that you obviously put as much time and effort into your analysis here as you did into our work on Britannia! Consequently, I don't have much to suggest in terms of content revision - and the things I would suggest have been covered by Ben and Leander above - so I'll confine myself to stylistic or structural features that I think could be cleaned up a bit. First, it would definitely have helped me to have your "Overview" section come before the document. I would have liked to know a bit about the document's background before launching into it; as it stands now, I had to wade through a pile of long-winded Roman legal jargon before arriving at your excellent overview section, which finally clarified things. If you wanted to, it wouldn't hurt (in my opinion) to separate the "Overview" from the "Analysis," meaning that the reader would have a basic understanding of the document before reading it, and then arrive at your more complex interpretation of it after a solid grounding in both the text and your accompanying information.

Whatever you decide to do, I was definitely impressed - great job once again!

Miles Unterreiner