Enteuxis (ἔντευξις)


  1. Structure
  2. Format
  3. Layout

An enteuxis is a petition in an epistolary form addressed to the king, or to the king and queen, and as such is found only in the Ptolemaic period. There are more than two hundred and fifty examples from many nomes; the latest securely dated on papyrus are from the Herakleopolite nome [3994 88-81 BCE; 5541 93-70 BCE]; see [Baetens 2020 : 22-23] for a complete list.


In the III BCE the enteuxis was also used for petitioning other, non-royal, authorities – most of these are from the Zenon archive [Baetens 2020 :  53-54 (list)]. From the II BCE onwards a non-royal petition was drawn up as a ὑπόμνημα, see [petition]. Petitions in the form of an enteuxis differ typologically from petitions in the form of a ὑπόμνημα, and from the II BCE were reserved only for petitioning the king.


Petitions to the king cover a wide range of issues including, e.g. a request to load a ship with grain [3302 222 BCE, Magdola], appeals to force the payment of debts [3310 222 BCE; 3311 221 BCE; 3319 221 BCE, all Magdola], contract disputes [3334 222 BCE, Magdola], land and building issues [121855 221 BCE; 121857 220 BCE, both Muchis; 3401 160 BCE, Memphis], and reports of violence [3358 221 BCE, Magdola; 121859 219 BCE, Muchis]; [Baetens 2020 : 43-45]. The petitioner usually requests some form of redress - a punishment, request for justice, or other form of support [Baetens 2020 : 45-50].


Petitions to other authorities are mostly addressed to Zenon, but some are addressed to the dioiketes [1517 257 BCE; 881 253-252 BCE, both Philadelphia], oikonomos [2085 III BCE, Philadelphia] or architekton [2611 256 BCE, Arsinoite nome]. They are similarly wide ranging in subject matter, e.g. theft [793 256 BCE, Philadelphia], and mistreatment [935 251 BCE, Philadelphia].


As well as royal and non-royal petitioning enteuxeis, there are documents which are drawn up as enteuxeis but which are not petitions. These documents usually make a report or request and are concerned with day-to-day business, e.g. a request to buy equipment [1121 III BCE, Philadelphia], or a brief agricultural report [888 252 BCE, Philadelphia]; they come mainly from the Zenon archive [Baetens 2020 : 60-63 (list)]. These enteuxeis do not appear to differ in content from ordinary [business letters] apart from their distinctive opening address. The distinction between a non-petitioning enteuxis and a business letter in III BCE is often blurred – as it is with other document types, such as [petition] and [prosangelma] in the II BCE. On this see [Bickermann 1930 : 179] who suggests that the difference lies in the delivery method, and [Ferretti Fort]. On the former categorisation of non-royal enteuxeis as letters see [Baetens 2020 : 20-21, and n.63].



The opening address, as with all epistolary sub-types, contains the greeting χαίρειν, but in an enteuxis it is placed between the addressee and addressor:


[to king <dat>][χαίρειν][from name <nom>] [994 243 BCE, Philadelphia].


This simple address is found throughout the III BCE, but by the early II BCE a more elaborate address to both king and queen was established e.g. [3401]: Βασιλεῖ Πτολεμαίωι καὶ Βασιλίσσηι Κλεοπάτραι τῆι ἀδελφῆι θεοῖς Φιλομήτορσι. On the evolution of the regnal address [Baetens 2020 : 39-42].


Non-royal enteuxeis have the same simple opening address:


[to name <dat>][χαίρειν][from name <nom>] [1739 257 BCE, Philadelphia].


All enteuxeis may have additional information such as the patronymic and origin of the addressor [3289 244 BCE, Sebennytos; 3401] and the addressor can be one person or a group e.g. [1105 III BCE, Arsinoite nome] where a group of bee-keepers admonish Zenon for keeping their donkeys.


Petitions to the king begin the main text with an accusatory ἀδικοῦμαι ὑπό [name <gen>] ‘I am wronged by N ’ [994; 3286 218 BCE, Magdola]. Non-regnal petitions may have δέομαι ‘I ask’, e.g. the swineherds in [1133 III BCE, Philadelphia] δεόμεθα οὖν σου, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς, ‘we ask you, have mercy on us’; but usually these non-regnal enteuxeis begin with an immediate explanation of the issue [935].


A request for redress follows, introduced by δέομαι, most favoured in the royal enteuxeis, [3401; 3334], or ἀξιῶ [3406 156 BCE, Memphis], or ἀξιῶ δεόμενος [121858 219 BCE, Muchis]; [Baetens 2020 : 36-37]. Non-royal petitioning enteuxeis also favour δέομαι [881; 1517], but some begin the request with καλῶς ... ποιήσεις or καλῶς ἂν ... ποιήσαις ‘please’ (lit. ‘you will do well’ / ‘you would do well’) [935; 2057 250-249 BCE, Philadelphia].


Non-royal enteuxeis, if making a request, can have the same verbs and phrases or they may have a simple imperative e.g. ἐξελοῦ με ‘release me’ [1130 III BCE, Philadelphia], or διδόσθω ἡμῖν ἔλαιον ‘give us oil’ [2153 III BCE, Philadelphia] often introduced by εἰ οὖν σοι δοκεῖ ‘if it seems good to you’; [Baetens 2020 : 36-37, 56, 64].


The closing salutation is usually εὐτύχει [1796 245-244BCE, Philadelphia] or εὐτυχεῖτε [3401], but non-petitioning enteuxeis sometimes close with ἔρρωσο [1051 III BCE; 1767 251-250 BCE, both Philadelphia], and may add a [date@end] [1739]. There is no closing salutation from the dekatarchoi in [7647 255 BCE Arsinoite nome], only a [date@end]. There may be a subscription from an official appended [3329 218 BCE, Magdola; 3679 117 BCE, Alexandria]; a royal enteuxis from a group of farmers carries a reply from the king in the form of a letter [8669 157 BCE, Soknopaiou Nesos].



Royal enteuxeis are predominantly in transversa charta format with the writing against vertical fibres [3325 221 BCE, Magdola] and many are quite wide and short [3289 H.11 x W.33.5cm; 121857 H.8.8 x W.33cm; 3311 H.7 x W.33cm]. Some are in pagina format with horizontal fibres [3401 H.32.6 x W.17.5cm; 8669 H.33 x W.19cm]. Non-royal enteuxeis are also written in transversa charta format and can be wide and short [881 H.10 x W.39cm; 994 H.7 x W.35cm; 1517 H.14 x W.42.5cm]; one example exceptionally so [2102 III BCE, Philadelphia, H.6.5 x W.39.5cm]. Some with this orientation have horizontal fibres [1601 III BCE, Philadelphia; 2085]. Others are in pagina format with horizontal fibres [1068 III BCE, Philadelphia] and some in the long and narrow demotic format [1119 III BCE, Philadelphia, H.37 x W.9cm; 1767 251-250 BCE Philadelphia, H.33 x W.6.7cm], see [Sarri 2018 : 95-97].



The text is displayed as a single block with only the final salutation separated and centred along the vertical axis of the sheet [935; 1136 III BCE, Philadelphia] or close to the right hand margin [770 256 BCE, Alexandria; 3329]. Some documents have a large space between the end of the main text and the closing [1136; 1603 III BCE, Philadelphia]. Royal enteuxeis may present the opening address in ekthesis to the rest of the writing [3401; 8669].


There are examples with more than one column [681 258 BCE, Alexandria; 1946 251 BCE, Arsinoite nome; 3679]. The writing can fill the whole sheet completely [2101 III BCE, Philadelphia; 121859], becoming cramped towards the end [2105 III BCE, Philadelphia] or there can be a large bottom margin [1136; 2209 III BCE, Philadelphia]. The scribe can be proficient [1796; 1517], or not as neat and practised [2220; 2097 both III BCE, Philadelphia]; [1090 III BCE, Philadelphia] is clearly a draft, judging from the corrections and supralinear additions.


How to Cite

Ferretti, L., Fogarty, S., Nury, E., Schubert, P. Description of Greek Documentary Papyri: Enteuxis. grammateus project. DOI: 10.26037/yareta:ki2rvn3n2fdrnpa5soncpgszw4