Police Brutality in Ptolemaic Egypt

Papyrus Stories

On 14 September 194 BCE, the chief of police of the Polemon district and several other men raided the workshop of Petermouthis son of Peteësis. Forcibly removing him from his workshop, they dragged him through his village, Oxyrhyncha, physically abusing him and ultimately taking from him money and even the shirt off his back. After receiving the money (4 silver drachmas and 1,300 bronze drachmas, plus an additional 44 silver drachmas placed in the bank in his name), the officers released Petermouthis. Upon his release, the cobbler wrote a petition to the most senior official of his district, the stratêgos Ptolemaios, recounting his mistreatment and requesting succour.

To Ptolemaios, syngenêsand stratêgos, from Petermouthis son of Peteësis, 7-aroura machimosof those under Chomenis, also a crippled cobbler of those from Tebtynis of the Polemon district, but living in Oxyrhyncha of the same district. 

On the first of the intercalary days…

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