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Last Updated on 05 Jan 2019

Author: Mario C.D. Paganini

CAPInv. 1335: to politeuma ton Kreton


i. Geographical area Egypt
ii. Nome Arsinoites (00)


i. Full name (original language) τὸ πολίτευμα τῶν Κρητῶν (P.Tebt. I 32, l. 17)
ii. Full name (transliterated) to politeuma ton Kreton


i. Date(s) 145 BC


ii. Name elements
Ethnic:Kretes, Cretans
iii. Descriptive terms πολίτευμα, politeuma
Note politeuma: P.Tebt. I 32, ll. 9, 17.


i. Source(s) P.Tebt. I 32 (Pauni = 26 June – 25 July 145 BC)
Note The text is also published in Chrest.Wilck. 448.
Online Resources P.Tebt. I 32
TM 45139
AGRW ID 20345
i.a. Source type(s) Papyrological source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Greek correspondence regarding the inclusion of a new catoec into the fifth hipparchy. The man, Asklepiades, was member of the politeuma of the Cretans.
i.c. Physical format(s) Papyrus
ii. Source(s) provenance Found in mummy-cartonnage of crocodile 23.6 from the cemetery in Tebtynis.


iii. Members The members of the politeuma are collectively called ἄνδρες, andres, and (at least 500 of them) are said to have been granted membership or assigned (epichoreo) to the politeuma: ἀπὸ τῶν ἐπικεχωρημένω[ν] | τῶι πολιτεύματι τῶν Κρητῶν ἀνδρῶν φ, apo ton epikechoremenon toi politeumati ton Kreton andron 500 (ll. 16-17).
iv. Officials The two men, Soso and Aigyptos, who wrote to the responsible for the assignment of land to the cavalry catoecs in order to have the new catoec Asklepiades registered, are said to have been chosen by the politeuma: παρὰ Σώσου κ[αὶ] Α̣[ἰ]γ[ύπ]του τῶν δ̣ ̣[ ̣] ̣[ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣]ν̣ | [- ca.9 - προ]χειρισθέντων ὑπὸ τ[ο]ῦ̣ πολιτε̣ύ̣ματ[ος τῶν Κρητῶν], para Sosou kai Aigyptou ton d... procheiristhenton hypo tou politeumatos ton Kreton (ll. 8-9). It is unknown what their exact office within the politeuma was or whether they had been appointed ad hoc or were regular officials of the politeuma.


i. Number The politeuma had at least 500 members (l. 17), possibly more if we are to interpret the passage as indicating that 500 new members had been assigned to the politeuma (on top of its other members).
ii. Gender Men
Note The term ἄνδρες, andres (l. 17) to define their (newly welcomed) 500 members, the male names of the known members (Sosos, Aigyptos, and Asklepiades), and the military character of the group suggest that the members proper of the politeuma were men.
iii. Age Adults
Note The military character that the politeuma displays suggests that the members were adults. The five months old son of the new catoec Asklepiades is mentioned at the end of the text alongside his father: this is in order that he may be included into the cavalry catoecs (and possibly politeuma?) once his time comes.
iv. Status Asklepiades, the man newly entered into the catoecic cavalrymen of the Arsinoite and member of the politeuma of the Cretans, is said to be a Macedonian of the ephodoi (a sort of elite police-force: Clarysse and Thompson 2006: II 174-5) of the division of the nome (l. 18: Μακεδὼν τῶν κατὰ μερίδα ἐφόδων, Makedon ton kata merida ephodon): this was a military indication, not a real ethnic designation (anymore). Upon being included in the catoecic cavalrymen, Asklepiades relinquished his status and duties of ephodos. The man owned a parcel of (at least) 24 arourai of land around the village of Kerkeosiris (Ars.). The members of the politeuma of the Cretans seem to belong to the army. Some of them were also probably active in the Ptolemaic administration or at all events they appear to be very well connected with local officials, especially those involved with military men (Sosos and Aigyptos seem to have had a saying in the affairs of the catoecic cavalrymen (ll. 13-14), they were in familiar terms with their episates and grammateus and wrote to their man responsible for the assignment of land – unlike Honigman 2003: 74, I do not think that they had administrative powers, by right of being officials of the politeuma).
vi. Proper names and physical features Σῶσος] καὶ Α̣[ἴ]γ̣υπτος
Ἀσκληπιάδην Πτολεμαίου Μακεδόνα τῶν κατὰ μερίδα ἐφόδων ... ἔστιν δὲ ὡς (ἐτῶν) κβ βραχὺς μελίχρ(ως) κλαστὸς


i. Comments As the present papyrus was found in Tebtynis and Asklepiades, the newly-appointed catoecic cavarlyman, had his land around the village of Kerkeosiris, it seems certain that politeuma of the Cretans was based in the Arsinoite nome. The exact location, however, is difficult to establish. On this politeuma, see (with caution) Launey 1949-50: II 1068-72.
iii. Bibliography Clarysse, W., and Thompson, D. J. (2006), Counting the People in Hellenistic Egypt. Cambridge.
Honigman, S. (2003), 'Politeumata and ethnicity in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt', AncSoc 33: 61-102.
Launey, M. (1949-50), Recherches sur les armées hellénistiques. Paris.


i. Private association Probable
Note The politeuma of the Cretans shows a well-organised structure, with the appointment of officials or representatives who can take care of the interests of the group and of its members collectively and individually in front of the authority and the administration. It could welcome new members into its ranks and was locally based in the Arsinoite. The politeuma gathered men of army, originally presumably of Cretan origin (how this ethnic base remained unchanged over time is difficult to say in the present case). In this case the politeuma does not show signs of having powers beyond its membership, as it is the case for other politeumata (cf. CAPInv. 1370). It is probable that this politeuma was and functioned as a private association; however, a more official character of the group in the social structure of the catoecs cannot be excluded.