ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 59-68
Letter from Simades to Pynas'
Athanassios Vergados Franklin and Marshall College
Edition of a fourth-century Greek papyrus in the collection of the
University of Michigan (P.Mich. inv. 1715) mentioning Skithis.
The papyrus was acquired in 1924 and is complete. H. x W. = 28.5 x 10.5
cm. K6XXgotq at 3.5 cm from the left. The left margin ranges from 0.5 to 1 cm.
Lines 34 and 35 begin at 4 and 4.5 cm from the left edge respectively (e'o6eot).
The letter is written in the "vertical" format2 and was first rolled horizontally,
then pressed flat, and finally folded vertically. The names of the sender and the
addressee were written on the outside, with Kup[) hoD kaeXqXp on the one half
and HIvva tc6qg on the other. It should be noted that the composer of the
letter had originally written something at the beginning of the second line (perhaps Xapetv?) and then erased it with a sponge to allow some space between
the addressee's and his own name. The document can be approximately dated
to the fourth century AD on paleographical grounds; for the hand compare
P.Oxy. 24.2415 and 48.3398.
In this letter Simades mentions a hollokotinos (solidus) which was owed
to Pynas and which will be given to him through two mutual friends, Strenion
and Apollos, so as to avoid any dispute about it, which we may surmise had
occurred in the past. He instructs Pynas to provide these two men with any aid
they may need, including fodder for their fowl, from which we may gather that
these two men were merchants. He further asks for two female donkeys to be
bought on his behalf (these are described in some detail). He finally mentions
that a lame camel of his fled from Skithis; this should be sought and if found be
given to Strenion. From Simades' emphasis on such animals as donkeys and a
1 I would like to thank the editor of BASP and the anonymous reviewers for their
helpful comments which greatly improved this paper.
2 On the "vertical" vs. the "horizontal" format of letters, see J.-L. Fournet. "Esquisse d'une anatomie de la lettre antique tardive d'aprds les papyrus," in R. Delmaire,
J. Desmulliez, and P.-L. Gatier (eds.), Correspondances. Documents pour l'histoire de
l'Antiquite tardive (Lyon 2009) esp. 26-32.