ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010) 185-204 Pammachon, A New Sport1 Sofie Remijsen Leuven University Abstract Reconsideration of SB 3.6222, a Greek letter from Alexandria mentioning a poorly attested sport, pammachon, here performed in the presence of the emperor Diocletian. Introduction Greek athletics has been a popular topic since the nineteenth century. For about a century and a half, the archaic and classical period were most intensively studied,2 but since the 1980s attention has shifted toward the imperial period.3 Scholarship presently covers the history of Greek athletics from the dark ages until the third century AD, with only the Hellenistic period studied somewhat less thoroughly. Late Antiquity, however, is still largely neglected. The period between the disappearance of honorific inscriptions in the late third century and the end of ancient athletics in the late fourth, or perhaps even early fifth, century is rarely treated more than fleetingly. Although there are few sources for late antique athletics, some of them still offer surprising new insights. One of them is the papyrus letter SB 3.6222. In this letter to his sister Sophrone, a certain Dios writes the colorful story of how he competed in athletic games in Alexandria. He may have penned the letter himself, as it is written in a near-literary hand. He uses capital let1 I am grateful to Willy Clarysse and the anonymous referees of BASP for their interesting comments, in particular for the suggestions of readings for SB 3.6222, and to Herbert Verreth for references on topography. I also thank Fabian Reiter of the Agyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preuf3ischer Kulturbesitz, for the high quality photograph of the papyrus and the permission to publish it. The research was funded by a fellowship of the Research Foundation Flanders ("Aspirant van het FWO"). 2 One of the first studies on ancient athletics was J.H. Krause, Olympia, oder Darstellung der grossen olympischen Spiele und der damit verbundenen Festlichkeiten (Vienna 1838). 3 To name just two examples: M. Laimmer (ed.), Colloquium Agonistik in der romischen Kaiserzeit = Stadion 24.1 (Sankt Augustin 1998); Z. Newby, Greek Athletics in the Roman World: Victory and Virtue (Oxford 2005).
Top of page Top of page