Approval of nomination to liturgy



  1. Structure
  2. Format
  3. Layout

For each task in the liturgical system, village officials had to prepare a [nomination to liturgy], by which they designated one or several individuals for the fulfilment of a specific task. A confirmation of the nomination was then issued by the strategos through an approval of nomination, called πρόγραμμα ‘public statement’ [Stroppa 2004]. The original approval was posted publicly in the villages, for all to see, including the nominee himself.


[Stroppa 2017 : 9] lists 18 items, but most of them are either copies [8942 169 CE, Arsinoite nome], or abstracts from registers [110156 185 CE, Kynopolite nome], or parts of a τόμος συγκολλήσιμος where copies were pasted together for official registration [23526 165 CE, Hermopolite nome]. Only two preserved approvals of nomination may be identified – hesitantly – as documents intended for public posting [21792 260 CE, Oxyrhynchus; 11612 186 CE, Arsinoite nome]. The former starts with an explicit mention of public posting (lines 2-10: ‘A copy of the memorandum handed to me (...) is publicly exhibited, in order that every one may know and the person nominated may enter his duties.’ (transl. Grenfell & Hunt).


In the last stage of the process, every nominee to a liturgy also had to swear a [liturgical oath], stating that he would undertake the liturgy to which he had been appointed.



In spite of the lack of secure cases of original approvals, the structure of such documents appears in the copies or abstracts [Stroppa 2017 : 13-26]:

  • Heading, found only in those approvals which are copies, ἀντίγραφον προγράμματος [8942], or which come from a register ἐκ προγραμμάτων + date, [110156], or from a τόμος συγκολλήσιμος ρμε = 145, number of the sheet/roll [23526].
  • Name of the strategos, marking the start of the original approval.
  • Specification of the liturgical task, e.g. to serve as toparch [23526], or to transport grain [21792].
  • Reference to the original nomination document [nomination to liturgy], e.g. τοῦ δοθέντος μοι προσαγγέλματος ὑπὸ κωμαρχῶν κώμ[ης ‘the nomination given to me by the komarch of the village’ [23531 265 CE, Hermopolis].
  • Order to take up a given liturgy (with a verb such as παραγγέλλω or προτίθημι).
  • Signature of the strategos.
  • [date@end]
  • List of nominees.
  • Subscription of an assistant (ὑπηρέτης).


To those regular elements, the scribe may occasionally add the following:

  • If applicable, motivation for proposing a substitute, e.g. the incumbant is substituted because of infirmity διὰ γῆρα[ς] ἀσθενοῦς τῷ σώματι ‘weak in body through old age’ [14600 l.29, 136 CE, Arsinoite nome].
  • Reference to instructions issued by the central administration, e.g. ἐπιστρατήγου γράψαντός μοι ‘the epistrategos wrote to me’ [14600 l.27-28].
  • The quotation of the original nomination, periculum nominatoris, by which the strategos had made the nominating official responsible for a proper enforcement of the nomination.



The lack of secure cases of original approvals makes it difficult to determine the possible format of the original documents.


[21792] is made of a long vertical strip of papyrus (H. 27 x W. 9.2 cm), in the demotic style format. This document was found in Oxyrhynchus, but it comes from the Kynopolite nome. Its possible identification as an approval prepared for public posting rests on the fact that it was apparently not pasted into a roll for recording in an archive [Stroppa 2017 : 74].


Only the top part of [11612] is preserved (H. 11 x W. 20.5 cm), with presumably half of the document missing [Stroppa 2017 : 11]; if this is correct, the whole sheet would have had a squarish shape of ca. 20.5 cm in width and height. The written side of the sheet displays fibres of good quality, and the writing is perpendicular to the fibres; this suggests that the text was written transversa charta. This unusual format may indicate that the document was intended for public posting [Stroppa 2017 : 11-12]. It is noteworthy that the text starts with the mention ἐκ προγρ(αμμάτων) Ἱέρακος (...) στρ(ατηγοῦ): this would imply that the public posting was made on the basis of a series of public statements (προγράμματα) corresponding to the approval of nominations to liturgy issued by the strategos. This initial statement is placed at the top of the sheet, with a space separating it from the main text, which contains the statement itself.



[21792] was prepared in several stages. A first hand wrote the original nomination document in the centre (l.14-30), placing it on the sheet so as to leave an ample margin at the top and bottom. Starting as a nomination, it became an approval of nomination when: a) the village chiefs (κωμάρχαι) inserted a transmission docket at the bottom of the sheet (l.31-34); b) the strategos added his approval, ordering that it be posted publicly [Schubert 2022c : 74].


The layout of [21792] corresponds to the completed procedure. In another instance [16587 256 CE, Oxyrhynchus], a [nomination to liturgy] preserves only the first stage of the procedure, before some additional data would have been inserted, turning the nomination into an approval.


How to Cite

Ferretti, L., Fogarty, S., Nury, E., Schubert, P. Description of Greek Documentary Papyri: Approval of Nomination to Liturgy. grammateus project. DOI: 10.26037/yareta:7bgm3zcp55fvhbgzo3ish27bhi