Marriage contracts and deeds of divorce are recorded in the Greek papyri that survive from Egypt, although the union and separation were often informal and remained unwritten. In some of the surviving marriage agreements, a clause occurs concerning the financial duties of the spouses in case of separation.
This deed of divorce, dated to the early fourth century, concerns two funerary workers from Kysis (now Doush), in the southern part of the Kharga Oasis. The text does not reveal the reason for their separation, which took place by mutual consent. However, it does describe the actions the former spouses undertook after the divorce to settle their financial matters. The document confirms that the ex-husband, Aurelius Soulis, received back all of the gifts he had given Senpais, his ex-wife, and renounces all claims in the future, agreeing that she can marry whomever she wishes. From her side, Senpais acknowledges that her dowry has been returned in full.
The document was in a double copy, and would have been given to each party. We can tell that this papyrus was addressed to the woman, because it states her freedom to remarry.
- Article by:
- Matthew Nicholls
- Scholarship, The makers of Greek manuscripts, Papyri
How were books stored and accessed in the ancient world? Matthew Nicholls explores what the surviving evidence of ancient books can tell us about libraries in antiquity.