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Document Details :
Title: Playing Monopoly on the Nile
Subtitle: Captain Païs in his Dealings with Zenon (249-248 BC)
Author(s): HAUBEN, Hans
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 50 Date: 2020
Païs was one of the last river captains of Zenon in his capacity as manager of Apollonios’ gift estate near Philadelpheia in Middle Egypt (256-248/247 BC). Five papyri from the Zenon Archive provide a glimpse of Païs’ personality, his duties as skipper, and his shifting contractual relationship with his patron. Confronting the different calendar and time reckoning systems and comparing the evidence of the documents, I have tried to establish an absolute and relative chronology, assigning the dated pieces to the Julian years 249 and 248 BC, in any event before Zenon’s dismissal. Due attention is paid to Païs’ recurrent contacts with the Memphis region (where the minister had still other estates) and to the status of the boat, whose legal owner probably was Apollonios. The main focus is on P. Mich. Zen. 60, an intriguing, somewhat impulsively written document, yielding almost unique, yet ambiguous and disconnected information, especially on Païs’ intention to lease the boat and sail 'for the monopolies' or, rather, 'for monopoly (trading)'. Despite attempts to make sense of it, a number of my conclusions will inevitably display a somewhat speculative and provisional character.