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274                       The Greek Papyri
as applied by the Ptolemies and adopted from them and made
more rigorous by their Roman successors is beyond the scope
of this essay; it has been justly described from the evidence of
the papyri in a pregnant phrase as P exploitation pratiquee sous
le signs de Pabsolutisms. Countless papyri show how the prin-
ciple that the subject existed for the benefit of the State was
ruthlessly applied in every department of life; the position of
the king in the Ptolemaic age as in theory the sole owner of all
land in the country is but one instance of a principle of almost
universal application. Individual kings or prefects might pro-
fess, and sincerely, their desire to see the taxpayer meet with
fair treatment, but the system was too strong for them, nor did
any remedy, such as, e.g., setting one official to watch another,
materially change the situation. A Tebtunis papyrus has pre-
served for us a memorandum with detailed instructions on the
management of certain departments of the royal revenue; it
was probably intended for the oeconomi, treasury officials sta-
tioned in each nome, and had we not the evidence of petitions,
letters, and legal reports we might take it that the following
quotation was typical of the administration:
*In your tours of inspection try in going from place to place to cheer
everybody up and to put them in better heart; and not only should
you do this by words but also, if any of them complain of the village
scribes or the comarchs about any matter touching agricultural work,
you should make enquiry and put a stop to such doings as far as
Such handbooks of official instructions appear in the Greek
world for the first time in the Hellenistic kingdoms, and the
editors of this text point out that they were the model for the
Roman mandata prindpis; in this, as in other matters, Rome
built up the structure of her empire on Hellenistic foundations.
A similar document of the Roman period is the Gnomon of the
Idios Logos, regulations for the department of the Special
Account originally drawn up by Augustus and preserved in an