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Shocking behaviour in Roman Egypt.

Now concerning the insulting allegations he made about me: he shut up his own daughters and mine, along with my foster daughters and his agent and his son for seven whole days in his cellars, and treated his slaves and my slave Zoe violently, virtually killing them with blows. He stripped my foster-daughters naked and set fire to them, in complete violation of the law.

I'm really quite glad to hear that all of this was 'in violation of the law'.   At least, I'm assuming that the whole thing was contrary to the laws, not just the foster-daughter-roasting part of it. 

" And he kept on saying that 'a month from now I'm going to take a mistress for myself'"

You really would think that the mistress part of things would simply be a relief after the first paragraph. 

From here


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
3rd Oct, 2012 00:08 (UTC)
That reads as though there was an express "do not strip and burn foster daughters" law. From this, and from the way this guy is all "exactly ONE MONTH from now I'm going to take a mistress," one might infer that these people were a bit obsessed with being exceedingly specific. =D
3rd Oct, 2012 13:31 (UTC)
I'm not against precision in law, but having a seperate law for all the people you are not allowed to strip and burn seems like it would create filing problems...
3rd Oct, 2012 08:04 (UTC)
I agree. I don't know much about Roman domestic law, but this doesn't tell me that locking children in the cellar and nearly killing the slaves is illegal. Though I do think it might at least be considered anti-social - presumably the racket would have disturbed the neighbours.

What we clearly need here are robust laws against making too much noise by abusing your slaves, children and foster-children.
3rd Oct, 2012 13:35 (UTC)
I think if I were a neighbour I'd want to move even if his soundproofing was excellent!
3rd Oct, 2012 08:09 (UTC)
How would you set fire to someone? Especially after you'd stripped them? I wonder if he burned them with a candle or similar, rather than actually setting fire to them? Translations like this always seem so clunky and disjointed, it must be that we don't get the idioms-- like the 'in (precisely) one month' thing.

The other things that strike me are that they each have their own property (including foster-children) and that they're Christian! ETA: Or, at least she is...

And he really, really hates her!

The weekend was a bit of a washout as far as illustrations went, but I do have some bits and bobs I can build on...

Edited at 2012-10-03 08:12 (UTC)
3rd Oct, 2012 10:53 (UTC)
To 'set fire' to something has two meanings in English, let alone the original language. Maybe he surrounded them with faggots preparatory to burning - 'setting' a fire rather than actually torching them?

Not that this makes her complaint any less awful.
3rd Oct, 2012 11:20 (UTC)
That's a point. I was assuming that they were still in the cellars, but it doesn't explicitly say that. Though I suppose he might have been crazy enough to built a pyre under his own house!
3rd Oct, 2012 14:04 (UTC)
Well, this particular sample is 4th century, so yes, I think they'd mostly be Coptic Christians by then. I just stumbled over it looking for documentation about divorce and thought it needed a wider audience!

Arg, the story has now breached the 9000 word mark and I still have no idea how to end it!
(Deleted comment)
3rd Oct, 2012 14:05 (UTC)
I know. Toasting foster-daughters is bad enough but speaking through the nose!

The way she leaps from terrifying serious assault to her husband hiding his keys from her does make me wonder if there is a similar document from him, filled with similarly terrible accusations about awful things that SHE did.
11th Oct, 2012 18:00 (UTC)
Yeah, sometimes I really detest the Romans....
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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