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A Happiness index for antiquity? Hellenistic Egypt as a case-study

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S^ak^V 7jhh^!Premessa 9
EVig^o^VE^VXZci^c^, Introduzione alla giornata dedicata all’Egitto faraonico e
copto 11
S^ak^V 7jhh^, Introduzione alle giornate ellenistica, romana e tardoantica 13
EYYV 7gZhX^Vc^!Presentazione 15
EVhXVa KZgcjh! L’acte fondamental du pouvoir dans l’Égypte pharaonique :
l’‘ordre royal’ (oudj-nesou) 21
EVig^o^VE^VXZci^c^!Beginning, Continuity and Transformations of the
Egyptian Administration in the
th Millennium
the Scribal Titles 37
HiZe]ZcFj^g`Z!Fragment Epistemology ? Proling the Society and Economy
of Late Middle Kingdom Lahun 47
Venite a me, voi che desiderate vedere Amon
: Amenhotep
glio di Hapu negli Archivi di Egittologia dell’Università degli Studi di Milano
L^aan8aVgnhhZ!The Use of Demotic in the Ptolemaic Administration 69
6ccZ":bVcjZaaZKZhhZ!L’expression de l’identité dans les pétitions d’époque
ptolémaïque. Étude préliminaire 81
@ViZa^_cKVcYdgeZ!A Happiness Index for Antiquity ? Hellenistic Egypt as a
Case-Study 91
<^aaZh<dggZ!Hnak^Z=dc^\bVc!Kings, Taxes and High Priests : Compar-
ing the Ptolemaic and Seleukid Policies 105
S^ak^V 7jhh^, Fiscalità e templi nell’Egitto tolemaico 121
8]ViVg^cZAdgWZg!The Grand Mutation : Ptolemaic Bronze Currency in the
Second Century
7ZgcVgYAZ\gVh!Autour du papyrus dit de Cléopâtre
: les prostagmata lagides
et les interactions romano-égyptiennes 159
Aj^\^<Vaad!Aspetti demograci dell»Egitto greco-romano 173
7VgWVgV6cV\cdhidj"8VcVh!Les prêtres de Bacchias face à l’administration
romaine 183
KV^ Gj[[^c\!The Trade with India and the Problem of Agency in the Economy
of the Roman Empire 199
BVg^V ;ZYZg^XV EZigVXX^V! Il ruolo dell’esercito in occasione dello scisma
donatista e il trattato contro i Donatisti di Optatus Milevitanus 211
I^idDgaVcY^!La copticità dell’Egitto copto 229
BVgXd9^ 7gVcXd!Alla conquista del passato
: la storia dell’antico Egitto
vista dagli Arabi 241
9Vc^ZaZ;dgVWdhX]^!Conclusioni 251
Recapiti dei collaboratori del volume 259
Titos Flavios Demetrios (Ipswick Museum).
« Nike to Berenike her lady sister, many greetings. Before all I pray that you are well, and I
constantly perform your obeisance before the gods here, praying that you may have life’s
good things ».
;]Z introduction of this private letter from Roman Egypt highlights a simple
but telling paraphrase of happiness : ‘life’s good things (WD HMQ ELYZ DMJDTDY)’.
How happy were people in Antiquity ? Can such a question be answered ? For
Greco-Roman Egypt we have exceptional material at our disposal. Papyri are like
instantaneous photographs, which allow us to take an honest glance at people’s
private lives, but there is more : people’s private archives present a coherent lm
of a person’s or family’s lives over a longer period. Papyrologists discuss in great
detail their names, habits, professions, taxes, the contents of their archives, but
they hardly ask themselves : were these people happy ?
To discover whether people were happy is not an easy task, but we hope to
reach some conclusions by making use of the current happiness index. The rst
World Happiness Report, counting almost  pages and launched at the United
Nations Conference on Happiness in , is most instructive. It has been pub-
lished by the Earth Institute of the Columbia University in collaboration with
scholars of the London School of economics. It describes the causes of happi-
ness and misery and discusses, as case studies, happiness in Bhutan and the United
Kingdom. The ndings are based on the most recent scientic research : since the
I should like to thank W. Clarysse and S. Waebens for their helpful comments.
P. Mert.^^ , translation in G#H#7V\cVaa!G#8g^W^dgZ! Women’s Letters from Ancient Egypt : 300
800, Ann Arbor, , p. .
On archival research in papyrology, see most recently K. KVcYdgeZ, Archives and Dossiers, in R. S.
Bagnall (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Papyrology, Oxford, , chapter , pp. -, and the archives website
<http ://>.
For an exception, we refer to the archive of Saturnila and her sons, called the ‘Happy family archive’
because of the ‘civilized and aectionate relationship between mother and adult sons’ (H. I. 7Zaa, A Happy
Family, in Aus Antike und Orient. Festschrift Wilhelm Schubart zum 75. Geburtstag, Leipzig, , pp. -).
But this happy family also had its moments of unhappiness, notably when a next of kin deceased, see P.
J. H^_eZhiZ^_c, A Happy Family ?, « oeZ »,  (), pp. -. For a recent description of the archive, see
<http :// ?tm=&i=>.
J. Helliwell, R. Layard, J. Sachs (edd.), World Happiness Report, The Earth Institute, Columbia Univer-
sity, , with bibliography pp. -. The report is downloadable at
<http ://Writing//World%Happiness%Re-
late th century, happiness has become a popular subject in a range of elds and
has evolved into independent subdisciplines like the ‘economics of happiness’,
combining economics with elds such as psychology and sociology. The quest for
happiness is intimately linked to the quest for ‘sustainable development’, a term
referring to the combination of human well-being and environmental sustain-
ability. Hence, the happiness index is in some countries an organizing principle for
governance and policy and will undoubtedly become so in other countries.
According to the current generation of psychologists, economists, sociologists,
pollsters and other scholars, happiness, though a subjective experience, can be
objectively measured through questionnaires. A distinction should be made be-
tween :
Aective Happiness, determined by the ups and downs of daily emotions :
‘how happy were you yesterday’ ?
– Evaluative Happiness, which measures the overall evaluation of life : ‘Taking
all things together, how happy would you say you are’ ?
These two types of happiness have predictable causes.
Aective Happiness (‘how happy were you yesterday’ ?) is connected to the day-
to-day joys of friendship, time with family, etc., and the causes of Aective Happi-
ness are the same across the world. Wherever they live, people dislike bad weather
or like good food. So the causes of Aective happiness are not regional, they are
universal in space and maybe also in time. We may therefore nd the same causes
of Aective Happiness in ancient Egypt.
How to measure Aective Happiness in ancient Egypt ? Polls are not possible,
but fortunately we have numerous private letters, where emotions are shown
in an outspoken, honest way and testify to (un)happiness. Demotic letters only
casually display emotions, contrary to the Greek and Coptic letters of Greco-
Roman Egypt. Apparently, women show their emotions more easily than men :
the prominence of women’s emotions is « no doubt due to the role of mothers
and wives as persons of trust within the family ».  A provisional exploration of
E.g., M. ;aZjgWVZn, E. HX]d``VZgi, K. 9ZXVcXf, What Good is Happiness ?, in
Discussion Pa-
pers 2009017, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (XdgZ),
, discussing whether and how welfare economics should incorporate the insights from happiness and
satisfaction studies.
E.g., T. Gjc\l^idd, Suciency Economy and Gross National Happiness : Integrated Value for Sustainable
Development, in The Meaning of Suciency Economy International Conference. Proceedings, Bangkok, , pp.
In Demotic letters, emotions are implied rather than stated and are displayed in a controlled way, see
J. IV^i, in C. Kotsifou (ed.), Emotional Display, Persuasion and Rhetoric in Papyri (forthcoming). For expres-
sions of emotions such as pain, sorrow, irritation, joy and pleasure in Demotic letters, see M. 9ZeVjl,
The Demotic Letter : A Study of Epistolographic Scribal Traditions against their Intra- and Intercultural Background
Demotische Studien », ), Sommerhausen, , pp. -.
On Coptic letters of daily life, see e.g., A. 7djY»]dgh, in C. Kotsifou (ed.), Emotional Display, cit.
 See W. 8aVgnhhZ, Emotions in private papyrus letters, in C. Kotsifou (ed.), Emotional Display, cit. ; for
women’s letters, see G#H#7V\cVaa!G#8g^W^dgZ! Women’s letters, cit.
V]Vee^cZhh^cYZm[dgVci^fj^in4 .(
the Greek letters  shows that indeed the same things of life lead to a feeling of
happiness or unhappiness. The rst cause of happiness that comes to mind is
love. But love letters are rare, which may seem strange ; many women, however,
were not able to write or read, so their love letters had to be written down or read
by someone else. This privacy problem may explain the lack of love letters. 
Other causes of happiness or deep grief were, among others, friendship, parental
and lial love, the death of a next of kin or friend,  seriously ill children,  or the
proverbial mother-in-law. 
These letters are like instantaneous photographs, but if we bring together all
these photographs, we have a broad range of causes that lead to strong emo-
tions, witnessing happiness or unhappiness, and the causes are quite similar to the
causes of happiness in our st century society.
The search for Aective Happiness is closely related to the research into emo-
tions, which has become popular in papyrology over the last decade. The 
Papyrological Congress of Geneva had a session on emotions  and a large proj-
ect on emotions in Antiquity has a subsection on emotions in the papyri.  Like
research on Aective Happiness, studies on emotions  discuss the causes of
emotions, but emotion research is broader, discussing also what kind of emo-
tions are possible (anger, …), which emotions are linked to which causes, which
words are used to express emotions (lexicographical aspects). Another dimension
is emotion-as-a-strategy : people can manipulate other people by using emotions.
 The Trismegistos database contains about  Greek private letters. For an exploration of Greek
letters, see the anthologies of B. Dahhdc, Papyrusbriefe aus der frühesten Römerzeit, Uppsala, , disser-
tation, Select Papyri ^ and G#H#7V\cVaa!G#8g^W^dgZ!Women’s letters, cit.
; for an analysis of letters of
condolence, see J. 8]VeV, Letters of Condolence in Greek Papyri
Papyrologica Florentina
», ), Florence,
 See W. 8aVgnhhZ, Emotions in private papyrus letters, in C. Kotsifou (ed.), Emotional Display, cit. ; for
examples of love letters, see e.g., P. Oxy. ma^^  (translation in G#H# 7V\cVaa!G#8g^W^dgZ! Women’s
letters, cit., p. ) and P. Oxy. ^^^  = Select Papyri ^! .
 E.g., P. Oxy. ^ , translation in G#H#7V\cVaa!G#8g^W^dgZ! Women’s letters, cit., p. .
 E.g.,
^^^ , translation in G#H#7V\cVaa!G#8g^W^dgZ! Women’s letters, cit., p. .
 E.g., P. Petaus , translation in G#H#7V\cVaa!G#8g^W^dgZ! Women’s letters, cit., p. .
 The panel ‘Emotions and Papyri’ in the th International Congress of Papyrology, Geneva, - Au-
gust  was organised by C. Kotsifou, see http ://
The papers will be published in 8#@otsifou (ed.), Emotional Display, cit.
 The project « The Social and Cultural Construction of Emotions : The Greek Paradigm » is funded by
the European Research Council with an Advanced Investigator Grant (-) and is aliated with the
Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and the Classics Faculty of the University of Oxford.
 See e.g., C. @dih^[dj, Papyrological Perspectives on Orphans in the World of Late Ancient Christianity, in
C. Horn, R. R. Phenix (edd.), Children in Late Ancient Christianity, Tübingen, , pp. -
; >Y#, Emo-
tions and Papyri
: Insights into the Theatre of Human Experience in Antiquity, in A. Chaniotis (ed.), Unveiling
: Sources and Methods for the Study of Emotions in the Greek World, Stuttgart, , pp. -
; >Y#,
A Glimpse into the World of Petitions
: The Case of Aurelia Artemis and her Orphaned Children, in A. Chani-
otis (ed.), Unveiling Emotions, cit., pp. -
; >Y#, ‘Being Unable to Come to You and Lament and Weep with
: Grief and Condolence Letters on Papyrus, in A. Chaniotis (ed.), Unveiling Emotions, cit., pp. -
>Y#, Appealing for Justice, Praying for Revenge
: The Papyrological Evidence, in A. Chaniotis, P. Ducrey (edd.),
Emotions in Greece and Rome
: Texts, Images, Material Culture, Stuttgart, forthcoming
; >Y#(ed.), Emotional
Display, cit.
This aspect is clearly present in numerous petitions, where the petitioner tries to
arouse pity by putting the accused in a bad light, like : « he detests me because I
am old and have a bad sight », or « because I am minor ». Finally, some researchers
approach emotions in an anthropological way and assess whether ancient people
lived in a shame- or a guilt-culture.
With this short overview of real and manipulated emotions and their causes,
we can end the rst section on Aective Happiness with the conclusion that Aec-
tive Happiness is dealt with in papyrological research thanks to the recent interest
into emotions.
. . The indicators of Evaluative Happiness
The second section on Evaluative Happiness (‘Taking all things together, how
happy would you say you are’ ?) is still unexplored in papyrological research and is
the actual subject we are interested in. Here too, the causes of Evaluative Happi-
ness have been detected and contrary to Aective happiness, the results are very
dierent according to the region where one lives. The least happy countries are to
be found in Sub-Saharan Africa (e.g., Togo, Benin), while the happiest countries
nowadays are in northern Europe. In recent years, Denmark has been topping the
list. The four happiest countries have incomes that are  times higher than the
four unhappiest countries and people can expect to live  years longer. Freedom,
strong social networks and trust in government are also crucial factors in happi-
ness. At the individual level, mental and physical health, job security and a stable
family life are important.
Economic growth does not necessarily drive up happiness : « the world’s eco-
nomic superpower, the United States », for instance, « has achieved striking eco-
nomic and technological progress over the past half century », yet average hap-
piness has not changed. Instead, « uncertainties and anxieties are high, social and
economic inequalities have widened considerably, social trust is in decline, and
condence in government is at an all-time low. Perhaps for these reasons, life
satisfaction has remained nearly constant during decades of rising Gross National
Product (\ce) per capita ».  Hence the indicators for the happiness index or \c]
(Gross National Happiness) are much more than economic parameters, which
are at the core of the \ce (Gross National Product) and more varied than those
of the ]Y^ (Human Development Index), which focuses on health, education and
living standards.
The happiness index categorizes  indicators of happiness under nine domains,
which are equally weighted.  Respecting the limitation of the material available
 The World Happiness Report, cit., p. .
 The nine domains are : Health, Psychological well-being, Education, Cultural diversity and resilience,
Community vitality, Living standards, Ecological diversity and resilience, Good governance, Time use.
V]Vee^cZhh^cYZm[dgVci^fj^in4 .*
for Greco-Roman Egypt, we have classied the indicators into the following pil-
lars or domains (see also below) :
the physical and mental pillar with parameters such as physical and mental
health, the possibility to show emotions ;
– the social and cultural pillar with parameters such as the absence or presence
of familial or social networks to which one can turn, education and literacy ;
– the economic pillar, including income, employment ;
– the environmental pillar, with ecological parameters ; for Antiquity these may
be ‘damage by animals’, the consequences of urbanisation, and for Egypt the Nile
inundations ;
– the governmental pillar, that is, good governance largely contributes to peo-
ple’s happiness.
. . Signicant indicators of Evaluative Happiness for People
of Greco-Roman Egypt
For Antiquity we cannot evaluate the happiness indicators through question-
naires. But a voice can be given to the people of Greco-Roman Egypt by turning
to their oracle questions, letters and complaints to the government. These types
of texts may, to some degree, help us to retrieve which parameters were signi-
cant for the Evaluative Happiness of people in Greco-Roman Egypt.
It is inherent to petitions that they deal with criminal facts and hence most
complaints mention problems with assets, safety or corruption issues. But also
oracle questions and letters pay much attention to rather materialistic matters,
like people’s assets and problems concerning these assets, and only to a lesser de-
gree to, for instance, health.  Here you nd the top  of topics dealt with in the
Egyptian and Greek oracle questions (‘Ticket-Orakel’)  and in the do-it-yourself
oracle of Astrampsychus : 
 For the topics dealt with in Demotic letters, see B#9ZeVjl, The Demotic Letter, cit., pp. -.
 The top is based on W. 8aVgnhhZ, Als het mij niet gegeven is te huwen, geef me dan dit briefje, and
Doe-het-zelforakels. Van Astrampsychus tot Napoleon, in K. Vandorpe, H. Verreth (edd.), Grieken en Romeinen
bewegen hemel en aarde. Voorspellen in de Oudheid Aulos »), Leuven, , pp. - (oracle questions) and
p.  (oracle of Astrampsychus), and on F. CVZi]Zg, Die Sortes Astrampsychi. Problemlösungsstrategien du-
rch Orakel im römischen Ägypten Orientalische Religionen in der Antike », ), Tübingen, , pp. -
(oracle questions) and pp. - (oracle of Astrampsychus).
 Egypt’s oracle questions have a particular characteristic : two alternatives were formulated, a posi-
tive and a negative, of which the god had to choose the right answer. The Greeks in Egypt continued
this Egyptian custom of oracle questions, see D. KVaWZaaZ, G. =jhhdc, Les questions oraculaires d’Égypte :
histoire de la recherche, nouveautés et perspectives, in W. Clarysse, A. Schoors, H. Willems (edd.), Egyptian
Religion. The Last Thousand Years. Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jan Quaegebeur Orientalia Lovaniensia
Analecta », ), Leuven, , ^^, pp. - ; ;#CVZi]Zg! Sortes Astrampsychi, cit.
 F. A. J. =dd\ZcY^_`, W. 8aVgnhhZ, De Sortes van Astrampsychus. Een orakelboek uit de Oudheid bewerkt
voor het Middelbaar Onderwijs, « Kleio », . () ; G. M. 7gdlcZ, Sortes Astrampsychi Bibliotheca Scrip-
torum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana »), Leipzig,  ; G. M. 7gdlcZ, The Sortes Astrampsychi
and the Egyptian Oracle, in J. Dummer (ed.), Texte und Textkritik. Eine Aufsatzsammlung Texte und Unter-
suchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur », ), Berlin, , pp. - ; ;# CVZi]Zg!Sortes
Astrampsychi, cit.
. questions about assets (sale, loan, inherit-
ance, theft, …) and profession,
. travel or stay home,
. health and illness,
. love and marital issues,
. cult.
. questions about assets (sale, loan, inherit-
ance, …) and profession,
. love and marital issues,
. politics or oce,
. travel or stay home,
. health and illness.
People are mainly concerned about their assets and profession, which is part of the
economic pillar, but also about their health (physical pillar), safety when they travel
(government pillar) and family life (social pillar). These are signicant indicators,
contrary to the situation of slaves, which is hardly present in oracle texts :  in Antiq-
uity, fundamental human rights (part of the government pillar) were not an issue.
At the same time, the fact that these people write about their problems shows
that they have a social safety net (indicator
: social network, part of the social and
cultural pillar)
: according to the happiness index, it is important that people can
turn to someone with whatever problem they have. In Egypt, people could write
about their little or big problems to family or friends, or they could turn to the gods
through their oracle questions, and in case of irregularities or criminal facts, they
could hand in petitions to the government. People could easily turn to the govern-
ment with all kinds of problems and their case was quickly dealt with. This is a sign of
good governance, also one of the pillars of the happiness index, dealt with below.
. . The Evaluative Happiness indicators applied to Hellenistic Egypt
Another approach to discover whether people in Antiquity were happy or not,
complementary to the one discussed in .., is to evaluate the happiness indica-
tors one by one, a life time project, but a provisional evaluation may show the
possibilities and advantages of this approach. The evaluation will be conned to
Hellenistic Egypt. Papyri are suitable to study the private life of people in Antiq-
uity, but if you put the happiness index alongside the papyrological research in
general, several topics appear to be subject of papyrological research, but there is
sometimes a discrepancy : modern papyrological research still departs too often
from institutions or abstract topics, and not always from the people themselves.
For instance, when employment, one of the economic parameters, is discussed
in papyrological research, questions such as ‘which professions are there, what is
 ;#CVZi]Zg! Sortes Astrampsychi, cit., p.  : « Sklaventhemen kommen so gut wie gar nicht vor » ;
see also J.A. HigVjh, L’achat et la vente des esclaves dans l’Égypte romaine. Contribution papyrologique à l’étude
de l’esclavage dans une province orientale de l’Empire romain ArchPF. Beiheft », ), München-Leipzig, ,
pp. -.
 The Hellenistic period is dealt with below, for the Roman period, see 7#@Zaan! Petitions, Litigation,
and Social Control in Roman Egypt, Oxford, , who takes a new approach to reading the evidence : he
discusses the social role of petitioning and litigation in Roman Egypt, rather than merely examining how
the legal system was used to resolve particular disputes.
V]Vee^cZhh^cYZm[dgVci^fj^in4 .,
the average income of these professions, which taxes were linked to these profes-
sions, etc.’, are answered, but we do not ask ourselves, like the happiness index
does : ‘did people always have a job, were they happy with their jobs, etc.’ Such
questions depart from the people and not from abstract topics or institutions.
Here follows an overview of the happiness indicators which may be applied to
the sources of Hellenistic Egypt ; gender, age and occupational categories aect
several parameters. The indicators are partly covered in the current papyrological
research, as shown in the second column. Those indicators which may be evalu-
ated in a positive way for Hellenistic Egypt are marked by an asterisk. Indicators
which were probably not signicant in Antiquity are marked by //.
The physical and mental pillar and its indicators : 
^cY^XVidgh]Vee^cZhh^cYZm XjggZcieVengdad\^XVagZhZVgX]
– physical health (including life expectancy
and disability)
– psychological well-being :
– *possibility to express emotions, negative
and positive
– *Access to spirituality and/or religious
– average life expectancy ; illnesses
– emotion-research
– religion (gods and temples) ; religious fes-
tivals ; magical texts
The social and cultural pillar and its indicators : 
^cY^XVidgh]Vee^cZhh^cYZm XjggZcieVengdad\^XVagZhZVgX]
– *familial and social networks to which
people can turn (e.g. in case of pregnan-
cy, nancial problems, ...). How do these
networks work ?
social support (time and money, volun-
teer work, pro-social behaviour, dona-
tions to a community, …)
– *social and cultural freedom (to have the
possibility to continue own habits, native
language, ...)
– level of education, literacy, knowledge of
local myths, traditions, …
– artisan skills
*notion of values (distinction good -
bad…), cf. petitions and letters
– composition of families, types of associa-
tions, social network analysis, ...
– donations to temples
ethnic groups and tolerance towards
these groups
– education, literacy
– art products and artists
 Compare the domains and indicators of the\c] : domain ‘Health’ (indicators : Mental health, Self
reported health, healthy days, disability), domain ‘Psychological well-being’ (indicators : life satisfaction,
Positive emotions, Negative emotions, Spirituality) and domain ‘Time use’ (indicators : Work, Sleep).
 Compare the domains and indicators of the \c] : domain ‘Community Vitality’ (indicators : Dona-
tions (time & money), Community relationship, Family, Safety), domain ‘Cultural diversity and resilience’
(indicators : Native language, Cultural participation, Artisan skills, Conduct), domain ‘Education’ (indica-
tors : Literacy, Educational level, Knowledge, Values).
The environmental pillar and its indicators : 
^cY^XVidgh]Vee^cZhh^cYZm XjggZcieVengdad\^XVagZhZVgX]
– ecological issues (aspects of climate : sun,
heat, …, nowadays : pollution, …)
– *urbanization issues (nowadays : trac
congestion, inadequate green spaces,
– *wildlife damage to crops (rural-specic)
– social consequences of urbanization
The governmental pillar and its indicators (‘good governance’) : 
^cY^XVidgh]Vee^cZhh^cYZm XjggZcieVengdad\^XVagZhZVgX]
– *government performance
– *services and infrastructure (water supply,
health services, roads, …)
– political participation
– //fundamental human rights
– *(perceived) safety
– law, institutions and administration
– social mobility, status
– situation of slaves
– army and police
The economic pillar and its indicators : 
^cY^XVidgh]Vee^cZhh^cYZm XjggZcieVengdad\^XVagZhZVgX]
– *housing (room-ratio, roong)
– *assets (land, housing, livestock, now-
adays also : mobile phone, TV, computer
– income per capita & tax burden
*(un)employment (did people have a
job ?)
types of houses, fragmentation of houses,
– types of land or houses, landowners
– average income, tax system, types of
– types of professions
By way of example, we focus here on the economic and government pillar. Assets
are one of the parameters within the economic pillar : which assets are important
in a society ? Nowadays, for instance, it is important for young people to have a
mobile phone. Within the economic pillar the comparing aspect is crucial : people
always compare to what other people in their family or neighbourhood have.
So, when we deal with assets in a society, we have to take account of the classes
 Compare the domain and indicators of the \c] : domain ‘Ecological diversity and resilience (in-
dicators : Ecological issues, Responsibility towards environment, Wildlife damage (rural), Urbanization
 Compare the domain and indicators of the \c] : domain ‘Good governance’ (indicators : Govern-
ment performance, Fundamental rights, Services, Political participation).
 Compare the domain and indicators of the \c] : domain ‘Living standards’ (indicators : Assets, Hous-
ing, Household per capita income).
V]Vee^cZhh^cYZm[dgVci^fj^in4 ..
to which people belong. For Hellenistic Egypt, land and houses are well studied
in relation to social classes,  but other assets are not. For women, it is easier to
study their usual assets because we dispose of women’s lists in marriage con-
tracts, for instance. These show that for the Egyptian middle class, the bridal veil
was the most important asset, followed by gold or silver ornaments. 
Also for men, assets which were important to them and on which they spent
their money may be retrieved : inventories of goods (e.g., P. Dryton ) or lists of
stolen objects, often part of petitions (e.g., P. Cair. Zen. ^k ), usually mention
in case of more precious objects the value in money or the weight. P. Dryton ,
an inventory of a Greek cavalryman, lists a woolen mattress made of  eeces
(pokoi, l. ). One pokos is the eece provided by one sheep every eight months,
thus a mattress of  eeces weighs almost  kilogram, which is a heavy and
expensive mattress. In the same list (ll. -) we nd turned bed legs (podes klines
torneutoi) with a value of , drachmas, a quite expensive bed frame for the
woolen mattress.  A study of assets on which people spent money other than
land and houses should be possible.
Another parameter within the economic pillar is employment. A lot of research
has been done about all kinds of professions and their income, taxes or status. 
But did people always have a job ? A notable dierence with the situation nowadays
is that people often had more than one job, because professions were not as spe-
cialized as they are nowadays, and people were more enterprising, probably out
of necessity. The Egyptian Horos son of Nechouthes,  for instance, who lived in
the south of Egypt, served part-time as a military or was a reservist. He owned
a lot of land, grain bearing land and vineyards, which he cultivated himself or
leased out, sold or purchased. He was able to lend out money or consumables at
high rates, xed by law. He owned pigeon houses ; pigeons were considered a deli-
cacy. In politically unstable times, he was employed by the local temple as a herds-
man. The role played here by the local temple is signicant. Another, well-known
example of a Greek with dierent sources of income is Zenon, who left us a large
archive of almost  texts.  But there are many more examples, which should
 See, e.g., most recently A. Bdchdc, From the Ptolemies to the Romans : political and economic change
in Egypt, Cambridge, , pp. - and - ; S. HX]ZjWaZ"GZ^iZg, Die Katökenreiter im ptolemäischen
Ägypten Vestigia. Beiträge zur alten Geschichte », ), München, , pp. -.
 P. Eheverträge, pp. - ; P.W. EZhibVc, Marriage and Matrimonial Property in Ancient Egypt. A contri-
bution to establishing the legal position of the woman (« Pap. Lugd. Bat. », ), Leiden, , pp. - ; K. KVc"
YdgeZ, Inventories and Private Archives in Greco-Roman Egypt, in K. Vandorpe, W. Clarysse (edd.), Archives and
Inventories in the Eastern Mediterranean (23-24 January 2004), Brussels, , pp. - ; for examples of Greek
women’s assets, see e.g., U. N^[iVX]";^gVc`d, Marriage and Marital Arrangements : a History of the Greek
Marriage Document in Egypt, 4th century
-4th century
Münchener Beiträge zur Papyrusforschung und
Antiken Rechtsgeschichte », ), München, , pp. - ; @#KVcYdgeZ! Inventories, cit., pp. -.
 P. Dryton, pp. -.
 E.g., W. 8aVgnhhZ, D.J. I]dbehdc, Counting the people in Hellenistic Egypt, Cambridge, .
 P. Adler ; J. =ZggbVcc, Sachteilung und Wertteilung bei Grundstücken. Zu den griechischen Kaufurkunden
des Horus-Archivs, in H. Hübner e.a. (edd.), Festschrift für Erwin Seidl. Zum 70. Geburtstag, Cologne, , pp.
- ; K. KVcYdgeZ, S. LVZWZch, Reconstructing Pathyris’ Archives. A Multicultural Community in Hellenistic
Egypt Collectanea Hellenistica », ), Brussels, , pp. -, §.
 Ca. Dgg^Zjm, Zénon de Caunos, parépidèmos, et le destin grec Centre de Recherches d’Histoire Ancien-
ne »,  = « Annales Littéraires de l’Université de Besançon », ), Paris, .
be discussed in our search of employment strategies in Hellenistic Egypt. Appar-
ently, a combination of jobs, a spirit of enterprise, part-time employment by the
government in the army or administration and the role of the temple were key fac-
tors in the employment of people in Hellenistic Egypt,  at least for healthy men.
The tax burden is another important aspect of the economic pillar. Taxes in Hel-
lenistic Egypt received much attention, although one usually focuses on the taxes
themselves or on the lengthy list of taxes and we too easily conclude that people
in Hellenistic Egypt had to bear a heavy tax burden.  But the happiness index
allows a more nuanced view. If we want to measure the tax burden, we should
not only depart from the taxes themselves, but from the people who paid them.
How many taxes did someone actually have to pay ? . People paid xed taxes on
their person and on their animals :  these were low-level taxes ; . they paid xed
taxes per aroura or per cubit on some assets like pigeon-houses, on vineyards, the
cleruchs on their land :  these were also rather low taxes ; . the higher taxes were
percentage-taxes, levied on the yield of grain-bearing land and of vineyards, 
or on the prot of other types of income, like on the earnings of a bathhouse. 
The taxes levied in these cases varies between / to half of the prot. But the
taxes were always in balance with the prot, which was estimated every year in
case of land on the basis of a survey. . A large number of small, again very low-
level taxes was to be paid but in exchange for services, like the guard and dike tax
or the naubion tax/corvée for people who gained prot from land and had to pay
for the protection and maintenance of the irrigation system,  or the herald tax
(kerukeion) for people who bought land at a public auction.  When in politically
unstable times people had a smaller income or no income, royal ordinances often
acquitted the debt of their subjects. 
Hence, the tax burden should be nuanced, although one cannot deny that peo-
ple in Hellenistic Egypt paid a lot of taxes. But let us compare this situation to that
 For herdsmen in Ptolemaic Upper Egypt, partly employed in the Ptolemaic army, see ?#<#BVcc^c\,
Land and Status in Ptolemaic Egypt : the Status Designation “Occupation title + b3k + Divine Name”, in S. Allam
(ed.), Grund und Boden in Altägypten (rechtliche und sozio-ökonomische Verhältnisse) (Akten des internationalen
Symposions, Tübingen, .-. Juni ), Tübingen, , pp. - ; K. KVcYdgeZ, Persian Soldiers and
Persians of the Epigone. Social Mobility of Soldiers-herdsmen in Upper Egypt, « AfP »,  (), pp. - .
 E.g., the monumental study by 8a# EgVjm, L’économie royale des Lagides, Bruxelles,  : « l’impression
du lecteur est sans doute dominée par le souvenir du nombre comme de la variété des prélèvements roy-
aux et par la complication des méthodes de perception » (p. ) ; « l’économie royale des Lagides était tout
entière coordonnée en vue d’enrichir le roi » (p. ).
 L#8aVgnhhZ!9#?#I]dbehdc! P. Count, cit., pp. -, on the salt tax (a poll tax) levied on adult
men, women and on livestock.  6#Bdchdc! From the Ptolemies, cit., pp. -.
 @#KVcYdgeZ! The Ptolemaic Epigraphe or Harvest tax (shemu), « AfP »,  (), pp. - ; 6#Bdc"
hdc!From the Ptolemies, cit., pp. -.
 B. GZYdc, Statut, revenus et scalité des édices de bain en Égypte. . Époque ptolémaïque, « W^[Vd », 
(), pp. - : the Ptolemies taxed the bath house business in two ways : by taxing owners with the
‘tax of the third’ (on their revenues) and by taxing bath house managers with a special charge (balaneiou or
balaneion), proportional to their income.
 8a# EgVjm, L’économie royale, cit., pp. - ; for these taxes on cleruchic land, see S. HX]ZjWaZ,
Katökenreiter, cit., see index s.v. QDXYELRQ IXODNLWLNRYQ FZPDWLNRYQ.
 8a# EgVjm, L’économie royale, cit., p. .
 E.g., the prostagma of  WX : P. Tebt. I = C. Ord. Ptol. .
V]Vee^cZhh^cYZm[dgVci^fj^in4 &%&
in modern Europe. No-one pays more taxes than people in Denmark and they ap-
pear to be the happiest people in the world. The taxes are fair and people get some-
thing in return that is : good governance. And this may be, to a certain degree at
least, also the case in Hellenistic Egypt. This brings us to the last pillar : the govern-
ment pillar, of which the most important parameter is that of good governance.
Good governance invests in the other pillars : were the Ptolemaic kings concerned
about the other pillars ? The government largely invested in religion, even in the
second century WX, that is in the restoration and building of temples, in existing
and new cults, as a result of the good relationship they had – on the whole – with
the Egyptian priestly elite.  The king was part of the religious life of Greeks
and Egyptians  and the highest ocials took part not only in Greek, but also in
Egyptian religious festivals. 
The investment in health may have been more limited, but doctors were paid
at public expense and a doctor’s tax may have been imposed on the Greek part of
the population. Doctors had a privileged tax status,  which shows that the gov-
ernment stimulated the profession.
The government largely invested in social and cultural well-being of the peo-
ple : Greek and Egyptian people could continue their own religion and their own
habits, but boundaries between Greek and Egyptian groups became blurred and
numerous customs were fused or were integrated in one system.  The impor-
tance of intellectual and physical education are shown by the privileged position
of teachers, athletic coaches and victors in Alexandrian games.  The Ptolemies
were also interested in Egyptian culture and in Egypt’s past. 
Within the economic pillar, the government protected the assets of private
people by controlling the private transactions in a high degree. Lending, selling,
inheriting, all these private aairs were well guarded by law : for instance, xed
rates for interest in loans (% for consumables,  % for money loans) were es-
tablished, Greek and Egyptian transactions were registered  and people could
easily hand in their (even small) complaints to the government and were heard
within short notice.
 J.G. BVcc^c\, The last Pharaohs. Egypt under the Ptolemies, 305-30
, Princeton, , passim.
 The Ptolemaic king was successfully worshipped in a Greek and an Egyptian version of the dynastic
cult, see S. E[Z^[[Zg, Herrscher- und Dynastiekulte im Ptolemäerreich : Systematik und Einordnung der Kultformen
Münchener Beiträge zur Papyrusforschung und antiken Rechtsgeschichte », ), München, .
 The epistrategos (as the king’s representative) and the strategos of the Thebaid, for instance, were pres-
ent at the festival of the Valley in the Theban area, see P. W. EZhibVc, in P. Tor. Choach., p. mmk^.
 L#8aVgnhhZ!9#?#I]dbehdc! P. Count, cit., pp.  and -.
 For several examples, see K. KVcYdgeZ, History. Ptolemaic period, in A. B. Lloyd (ed.), The Blackwell
Companion to Ancient Egypt. . State and Society, Oxford, , chapter , pp. -.
 L#8aVgnhhZ!9#?#I]dbehdc!P. Count, cit., pp.  and -.
 ?#<#BVcc^c\, The last Pharaohs, cit., p. .
 U. N^[iVX]";^gVc`d, Who killed the Double Document in Ptolemaic Egypt ?, « AfP »,  (), pp. - ;
K. KVcYdgeZ, Greek and Demotic loan agreements in epistolary style. Formalisation and registration in the later
Ptolemaic period, in U. Yiftach (ed.), Legal Documents in Ancient Societies (
. The Letter : Law, State, Society
and the Epistolary Format in the Ancient World Philippika : Marburger Altertumskundliche Abhandlungen »,
, ), Wiesbaden, , pp. -.
One of the rst possibilities to settle a dispute in Hellenistic Egypt, an Egyptian
practice integrated in the Ptolemaic juridical system, was an amicable settlement
proposed by the village epistates, who acted as a kind of justice of the peace ; when
it was not clear who was right, a temple oath sworn by the accused had to end
the quarrel.  Such a temple oath had to be sworn at a chapel, such as the chapel
of the bull of Montu in Medinet Habu. Here oaths about smaller, often material
problems like the following one were sworn : « “I swear that this cow (…) is my
farmer’s cow, the one that was born in my (house)”. If Phatres swears the oath, he
can take his cow home, if not, he has to give the cow to Pachnum »,  or this oath
about a maltreated cow : « I swear that I do not know who maltreated the cow ». 
Probably the cow could no longer be used as a draught animal and the responsible
person should pay for it. Other oaths deal with marital problems, e.g. : « Since my
marriage with you, I have not robbed you (…). I have not gone to another man,
as long as I was married to you ».  The majority of the temple oaths have to end
quarrels about similar marital problems, inheritance discussions and exchange of
goods. 
When people did not agree, they could appeal to a higher court. The Erbstreit
archive, dealing with a dispute on inheritance in the second century WX, shows the
possibilities of the juridical apparatus in the chora :  after the Erbstreit case was
dealt with by the village epistates of Pathyris and the amicable settlement was not
accepted by the complaining party, an appeal was lodged with the strategos, sub-
sequently with the epistrategos who was also strategos of the Thebaid, and nally
with the chrematistai-judges, whose decision was nal. 
The government furthermore invested in employment : people, including Egyp-
tians, could work in the army or administration. People who owned or leased
land could prot from an irrigation system which was organised by the govern-
ment. The taxes were numerous, but they were linked to production, thus took
into account the actual income and were acquitted in dicult periods (see above).
Although several taxes were levied with a tax farming system, the tax collection
 See E. HZ^Ya, Der Eid im ptolemäischen Recht, München, , and the introduction to O. Tempeleide.
 O. Tempeleide . O. Tempeleide .  O. Tempeleide .
 See O. Tempeleide, pp. - (‘Der Inhalt der Tempeleide’).
 For the juridical apparatus in the Hellenistic chora, see <#HZbZ`V, Ptolemäisches Prozessrecht. Stu-
dien zur Ptolemäischen Gerichtsverfassung und zum Gerichtsverfahren, München,  ; :#HZ^Ya! Ptolemäische
Rechtsgeschichte Ägyptologische Forschungen », ), Glückstadt,  ; =#"?#Lda[[, Das Justizwesen der
Ptolemäer Münchener Beiträge zur Papyrusforschung und Antiken Rechtsgeschichte », ), Wien,  ;
J. BdYgoZ_Zlh`^, Chrématistes et laocrites, in J. Bingen, G. Cambier, G. Nachtegael (éds.), Le monde grec :
pensée, littérature, histoire, documents : hommages à Claire Préaux, Bruxelles, , pp. - ; =#"6#GjeegZ"
X]i, Griechen und Ägypter - Vielfalt des Rechtslebens nach den Papyri, in
Thür (ed.), Antike Rechtsgeschichte.
Einheit und Vielfalt Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-historische Klasse. Sit-
zungsberichte »,  = « Veröentlichungen der Kommission für antike Rechtsgeschichte », ), Wien, ,
pp. - ; >Y
, Recht und Rechtsleben im ptolemäischen und römischen Ägypten. An der Schnittstelle griechischen
und ägyptischen Rechts 332 a.C. - 212 p.C. Abhandlungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse
(Vb"\h) »,  Nr. ), Stuttgart, , p. .
 For the Erbstreit archive, see @#KVcYdgeZ! H#LVZWZch!Reconstructing Pathyris’ Archives, cit., pp.
-, §.
V]Vee^cZhh^cYZm[dgVci^fj^in4 &%(
was closely controlled by state ocials,  to avoid corruption or abuse.  Good
governance also allows people to take part in the government of the country. The
Ptolemaic kings not only worked with the Greek elite, but also bargained with
the local elites about privileges,  and for the middle and lower classes social mo-
bility gradually became an option.
One may raise objections to our positive approach, because later Ptolemaic rule
knew several troublesome periods.  Only one inland revolt, however, was, with
the assistance of Nubian troops, initiated by the people of Upper Egypt (-
WX), but that happened in a period when the Thebaid was not yet well organised
by the government. In the second century WX, the kings reorganised the Thebaid
and the region no longer initiated revolts : the troubles of the ’s were due to
the invasion of Antiochos IV of which a condant of the king took advantage
and carried out a putsch ; the civil war of - WX and the revolt of c. - WX
were due to dynastic strife and the subsequent unstable situation. Hence, revolts
originated in these short periods of bad governance, but most of these « intervals
of crisis functioned at the same time as driving forces of increasing state interven-
tion » and were followed by periods of good governance. 
In conclusion, the happiness index opens new perspectives on three levels : it
helps us to answer the question whether people in Hellenistic Egypt were happy ;
secondly, it opens a new range of questions to the old papyrological material,
questions which bring us closer to the ancient people, not only into their living
room, but also into their head and heart. We should not only discuss all types
of professions, but we should also try to answer a question like : what do we
know about the employment of people, did they always have work ? We do not
only have to deal with the numerous types of taxes, but we should ask ourselves
whether people had a problem with the tax burden : were they able to pay their
taxes and how come ? Maybe they were happy anyway, because they received in
turn good governance. And that is the third new perspective : the government of
the Ptolemies is according to the happiness index to be considered an example of
rather good governance, and in my view the idea of the Ptolemaic government
of being a bureaucratic one, which only wanted to levy as many taxes as possible,
should, if not adjusted, be at least nuanced. The Ptolemaic government invested
in several indicators of the happiness index and deserves a higher appreciation.
 J. 7^c\Zc, Le Papyrus Revenue Laws - Tradition grecque et adaptation hellénistique Rheinisch-Westfälis-
che Akademie der Wissenschaften. Geisteswissenschaften », ), Opladen, .
 It has long been acknowledged that corruption may have been problematic among o cials in Ptole-It has long been acknowledged that corruption may have been problematic among ocials in Ptole-
maic (and Roman) Egypt, as the petitions in particular seem to suggest, but the scale of corruption is still
much debated, see J. WVjhX]Vio! The Strong Arm of the Law ?, « X_ »,  (), pp. - ; >Y#, Law and Enforce-
ment in Ptolemaic Egypt, Cambridge, forthcoming.
 ?#<#BVcc^c\, The last Pharaohs, cit., passim.
 A.-E. KZhhZ, Les “révoltes égyptiennes”. Recherches sur les troubles intérieurs en Égypte du règne de Ptolémée
III à la conquête romaine Studia Hellenistica », ), Leuven-Paris-Dudley Mass., .
 @#KVcYdgeZ! History, cit., p.  and pp. -.
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... Petitions, which are preserved in thousands, in turn offer insight into the problems of all population groups, and how they expected their issues to be resolved. Private and official archives document the lives of families and officials working in government bureaus, and disclose information on matters such as laws of inheritance, marriage and other legal and private matters. 1 In contrast to the recent attention for scholarship examining the presence of instant happiness and other emotions in historical documents, happiness in the sense of quality of life has remained largely unexplored in papyrology and in other disciplines of the ancient world [Vandorpe 2013]. But before we proceed to an adapted index for quality of life in Hellenistic Egypt, a short overview of cross-cultural quality of life studies, and their low impact on the field of history Egypt will be presented. ...
... To compile a suitable list of determinants for quality of life in Ptolemaic Egypt, we will need to take both the human needs that are considered universal into account, as well as the geographical and temporal specifics. As for Victorian England or for Catholic France, an adapted index should be developed for Egypt, a preliminary version of which has already been proposed [Vandorpe 2013]. What perspectives does such quality of life research open? ...
... Taking into account the aforementioned studies and corpus of source material, creating a custom set of determinants for Hellenistic Egypt involved elements from both determinants with cross-cultural validity as determinants that hold meaning for our specific context. Vandorpe [2013] has made a start creating a framework that suits Hellenistic Egypt based on the determinants found in the World Happiness Report of 2012. Modernday determinants were adapted to fit the Hellenistic context. ...
Full-text available
The cross-cultural application of happiness studies has led to many interesting results over the last few decades. The merits of this field of research are widely recognized, resulting for instance in government strategies taking into account the scores of the World Happiness Index, rather than just Gross National Product and other economic parameters. However, not all fields of study related to sociology have completely caught up with recent developments, in particularly historical studies. Some pilot studies with a limited scope on applying happiness research to periods of time and regions in the past have already been executed with promising results. This paper proposes a happiness index for Hellenistic Egypt (332-30 BC), taking into account recent developments in the field of sociology and the specificity of the source material for this particular period and region. The goal is not to measure absolute happiness in a quantitative study involving scales, but studying government impact on the well-being of Egypt's inhabitants through predetermined parameters derived from studies on cross-cultural determinants of happiness.
This is the most comprehensive introduction to the ancient Greek economy available in English. A team of specialists provides in non-technical language cutting edge accounts of a wide range of key themes in economic history, explaining how ancient Greek economies functioned and changed, and why they were stable and successful over long periods of time. Through its wide geographical perspective, reaching from the Aegean and the Black Sea to the Near East and Egypt under Greek rule, it reflects on how economic behaviour and institutions were formed and transformed under different political, ecological and social circumstances, and how they interacted and communicated over large distances. With chapters on climate and the environment, market development, inequality and growth, it encourages comparison with other periods of time and cultures, thus being of interest not just to ancient historians but also to readers concerned with economic cultures and global economic issues.
Zu den griechischen Kaufurkunden des Horus-Archivs
  • P Adler
  • J Sachteilung Und Wertteilung Bei Grundstücken
P. Adler ; J., Sachteilung und Wertteilung bei Grundstücken. Zu den griechischen Kaufurkunden des Horus-Archivs, in H. Hübner e.a. (edd.), Festschrift für Erwin Seidl. Zum. Geburtstag, Cologne,, pp.-;
Zénon de Caunos, parépidèmos, et le destin grec (« Centre de Recherches d'Histoire Ancienne
  • S Brussels
K., S., Reconstructing Pathyris' Archives. A Multicultural Community in Hellenistic Egypt (« Collectanea Hellenistica », ), Brussels,, pp.-, §. C., Zénon de Caunos, parépidèmos, et le destin grec (« Centre de Recherches d'Histoire Ancienne », = « Annales Littéraires de l'Université de Besançon », ), Paris,.