Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Aurelius Polion Writes Home

The newly translated letter is from an Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion while he served as a volunteer Roman legion in Europe.A Rice University graduate student has deciphered a letter found in 1899 in Egypt, written by a lonely Roman legionnaire to his family (story via Rogue Classicism).  The soldier, Aurelius Polion, was born in an Egyptian village and volunteered for the Roman army.  The letter is likely to have been written sometime between the late second century and mid-third century AD and illustrates the vastness of the Roman Empire.  Born in a remote village on the Nile River, Polion was likely stationed in Pannonia, an area that included most of modern-day Hungary west of the Danube River.

The letter, written to his mother, sister and brother conveys his annoyance at their failure to respond to earlier letters:

“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. But I do my part writing to you always and do not cease bearing you (in mind) and having you in my heart. But you never wrote to me concerning your health, how you are doing. 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.

This video shows the graduate student, Grant Adamson, explaining his work on the letter.

And here is Adamson's scholarly paper published in The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists.

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