Cover

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pp. 1-1

Violence in Roman Egypt

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pp. i-vi

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction: The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life

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pp. 1-10

...Pain may be a human universal; writing about one’s own pain is not. When historians see individuals transforming pain into narratives that complain about neighbors, local officials, or family members, we would do well to pay attention. These narratives about pain and injury invite a series of questions: What can we learn from the ways that people experience, describe, and complain about violation, pain, and injury? In what ways, and under what circumstances, can we use a narrative...

Part I. The Texture of the Problem

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Chapter 1. Ptolemaios Complains

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pp. 13-25

...(“sailor-divers”)—apparently (since we only know the term from Ptolemaios’ complaint) a group of people in charge of the administration of water in the Fayyum—no unimportant task in an area where careful management of water could mean the difference between security and starvation. In recompense for this important service, Ptolemaios goes on to explain, Isidoros and his fellow nautokolymbetai were excused from liturgies (compulsory public services—a redistributive...

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Chapter 2. Violent Egypt

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pp. 26-50

...The Romans took over Egypt from the preceding Ptolemaic monarchy in 30 B.C., inheriting a developed and legally plural society with a strong bureaucratic infrastructure. They held Egypt as a province—or a group of provinces— until the Arab conquest in A.D. 640. The question that guides this chapter is, “What precisely does that mean, and what does the fact of empire contribute to a history of violence?” This question can be answered...

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Chapter 3. Violence, Modern and Ancient

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pp. 51-86

...At the end of the previous chapter I raised the question of the links between violence and conceptual apparatuses that purport to measure violence— crime rates, for example. The question of what can be learned through the study of something like a “crime rate” leads in turn to another problem: for better or for worse (probably for worse), we inhabit a world that exhibits a strong tendency to criminalize things that are unpleasant, to make political...

Part II. From the Language of Pain to the Language of Law

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Chapter 4. Narrating Injury

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pp. 89-125

...In the course of a fight, aim counts. This is a purely practical matter, especially in cases where your opponent has a chance at hurting you, too. Luckily, there are certain parts of the human body that are tenderer than others. In the heat of combat it sometimes pays to aim directly at those parts. Eyes are good, as are noses, throats, and genitals. Fists are good implements because it is relatively straightforward to aim a hand; hands have the added advantage...

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Chapter 5. The Work of Law

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pp. 126-164

...Writing a petition meant asking for something; as such, it was undoubtedly an experience fraught with tension. It is perhaps easy for us to forget this, living as we do in modern societies where the divisions between ruler and ruled are not so pronounced, and where a sense of rights has been so richly cultivated and carefully articulated that these rights can be taken for granted—so much so that...

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Chapter 6. Fission and Fusion

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pp. 165-202

...In previous chapters I sought to build models of violence from the individual level outward, asking how violent experiences were perceived, and how these experiences were translated into legally actionable issues. As such, it was salutary to treat individuals and their narratives as the core of the analysis. Such a method, however, overlooks what is almost certainly the key factor in an act...

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Conclusion: Nomos and Its Narratives

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pp. 203-208

...Two types of conclusions can be drawn from the preceding essay. The first set of conclusions pertains primarily to the Roman world; the second to the relationship between violence, law, and society. Papyri are a remarkable resource for writing the history of the Roman Empire. Though all ancient historians are likely to concede this point, there remains a paucity of studies using the papyri as sources for social history—sources...

Appendix A: The Papyrus on the Page

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pp. 209-212

Appendix B: Translations of Petitions Concerning Violence

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pp. 213-280

List of Papyri in Checklist Order

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pp. 281-286

Notes

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pp. 287-326

Bibliography

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pp. 327-344

Index

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pp. 345-360

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 361-366

...This book has its origins in an all-too-rare act of generosity and good faith at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association. Perhaps too late at night I approached a relatively senior scholar in my field who had co-authored an important book on the anthropology of disputes and settlements in Roman Egypt. I liked and respected the book, and in fact it has served as the main point...