Petitions surviving on papyrus shed light on everyday problems in the ancient world. Many of the complaints recorded concern issues, which are still familiar to us centuries later. Disputes over inheritance, debts, thefts, violence, and property damage are often the subject of complaints addressed to the authorities by ordinary people.
Originating from the city of Hermopolis in Egypt, this papyrus contains a petition dated to 20 April 363 that was filed by Aurelius Dios against his wife Hermione. The text accuses her of ‘illegal exit’ and theft. Allegedly, Hermione waited for Dios to leave their house, and then slipped away, taking some of his valuables and important documents with her. Among these records were deeds concerning the sale of Dios’ house property. As a result, Dios states that he was not able ‘to sit in peace’, and asks that his wife be kept in custody until the civil governor returns, so that Dios can petition him. At the end of the text, the signature of the petitioner appears in a different hand: because Dios was illiterate, someone else wrote it on his behalf.