Skip to comments.Ancient Egyptian Soldier's Letter Home Deciphered
Posted on 03/07/2014 12:05:46 PM PST by Red Badger
A newly deciphered letter home dating back around 1,800 years reveals the pleas of a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who was serving, probably as a volunteer, in a Roman legion in Europe.
In the letter, written mainly in Greek, Polion tells his family that he is desperate to hear from them and that he is going to request leave to make the long journey home to see them.
Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: "I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind," it reads. [In Photos: Gladiators of the Roman Empire]
"I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you ..." (Part of the letter hasn't survived.)
Polion says he has written six letters to his family without response, suggesting some sort of family tensions.
"While away in Pannonia I sent (letters) to you, but you treat me so as a stranger," he writes. "I shall obtain leave from the consular (commander), and I shall come to you so that you may know that I am your brother "
Found in an ancient Egyptian town
The letter was found outside a temple in the Egyptian town of Tebtunis more than a century ago by an archaeological expedition led by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. They found numerous papyri in the town and did not have time to translate all of them.
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
Dating back about 1,800 years, this letter was written, mainly in Greek, by Aurelius Polion, an Egyptian man who served with the legio II Adiutrix legion around modern-day Hungary. In the letter, discovered more than a century ago in the Egyptian town of Tebunis and only recently translated, Polion pleads with his family to respond. Credit: Image courtesy Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley
The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion's family. Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it, entrusting the veteran instead. Credit: Image courtesy Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley
Seen that article the other day, didn’t think anyone would be interested in it but me. Thanks for posting it.
Touching and very sad. Not a native Egyptian but one of the descendants of Alexander’s army that conquered Egypt.
Love is so overrated... even 1800 years ago.
Poor guy. You have to wonder what was going on. Since his letter survived, he probably was very loved by someone.
I don’t think so. The article calls him an Egyptian soldier, but he wrote in Greek, and was serving in the Roman army. 1800 years ago woul put this letter around the year 214 AD, well into the Christian era. He was apparently Greek and serving overseas..................
Pannonia largely corresponds to what today called Hungary. This was in the 3rd Century, a time of crisis for the Roman Empire. It isn’t surprising it was not a happy time for people alive then.
And this guy is homesick serving far from his land and every one he knew. Human nature hasn’t changed since then.
...and the Postal Service has only just delivered it. :-)
It sounds like it could have been written yesterday................things haven’t changed for military serving overseas in 1800 years..................
“Since his letter survived, he probably was very loved by someone.”
Either that or they wrapped the cat’s mummy with it.
It never made it out of Egypt.................
Thanks for posting.
Especially relevant to me due to recently educating self about the pyramids, sphinx, and generally lots of archeology and the antiquities.
I see what you did there............
Rome did not become Christian until a century later. He believes in the gods but he does not feel confident the situation was going to improve. On the eastern frontier, things were tense with the barbarians menacing it.
What it really is all about is that people haven’t changed in two millenia................
Being in Egypt, he would have met Coptic Christians, I’m sure...................They are still there...................
Maybe he should have tried the military postal service instead.
I wonder who the first soldier was to get a Dear John letter from his girl back home.Dear Aurilious, it has been so long since we have been together and Joesephus has asked me to marry him so many times that I finally had to say yes. I hope you find some nice Roman girl and have lots of chidren. P.S.If you don’t need the sandals I sent you last year since your last letter said you were up to your knees in snow, please return them. It is as you know very warm here.