Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

266                        The Greek Papyri
small Egyptian village of Socnopaiou Nesus, perched up on a
rock above Lake Moeris and separated by miles of desert or
water from the next village, centring round and dominated by
the temple of the crocodile god Sobk, were found fragments of
the Rector of Astydamas and Plato's dpology, while among the
authors whom we know were read at the neighbouring Karanis
are Chariton, Isocrates, and a Latin grammarian (?Palaemon).
Taken together, the literary texts give us a fair idea of the extent
and variety of the literature available to the Greeks of Egypt
and constitute a kind of barometer of Hellenic culture in Egypt
which steadily sinks from the third century A.D. onwards. But of
the subjects and methods of education we learn far less from the
documents than we could wish or might expect. It was privately
organized (if we except the foundation of the Museum and
Library of Alexandria by the first Ptolemy and the official
recognition of the gymnasia in the Roman period), but it seems
likely that the Ptolemies were interested in the establishment of
the gymnasia both in towns and villages. Among the numerous
papers of Zenon, who was agent to Apollonius, Chancellor of
Egypt under the second Ptolemy, and in close touch with him,
are several references to the gymnasia; he is consulted about the
building of one at Philadelphia, where Apollonius had his
country estate, and on another occasion he writes to the trainer
Hierocles to ask whether a young protege of his is really worth
his keep and whether his athletic achievements justify Zenon
in taking him away from, his books. The trainer's answer is that
the boy is making excellent progress in his sport and in his other
studies—only he would like Zenon to send him some more
equipment. In another letter Zenon is informed that another
protege of his has been successful at the Ptolemaic games in the
little village of Holy Island; the trainer who writes the letter
improves the occasion by asking for a cloak 'thicker and of softer
wool' for the boy to use at the Arsinoeia (games in honour of
the late Queen Arsinoe). Here, though Zenon's interest is no