New texts on athletes and shows in Roman Egypt

“Training, Cheating, Winning, Praising: Athletes and Shows in Papyri from Roman Egypt

6.00pm – 7.15pm, followed by a drinks reception
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

Three Short Lectures on the ‘Olympic’ tradition in Roman and Byzantine Egypt as revealed by new and old texts from Oxyrhynchus

In the second and third centuries AD the cities of the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire developed a mania for grand public competitions in athletics, musical performance and chariot-racing. This exuberant tradition, which was explictly based on the original Olympic games and designed to proclaim the cultural Greekness of the competing cities, is best attested to us from documents on papyrus preserved in the detritus of the ancient cities of Oxyrhynchus and Hermopolis.

To mark the London Olympics (for related Classical events see the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies website:, a volume of new texts on this theme, ranging from literary works to a contract to throw a wrestling match, is being prepared for The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, published by the Egypt Exploration Society with the support of the British Academy and the AHRC. The lectures will present the most exciting of the new texts in the context of previous discoveries among the papyri.

About the Speakers:
Chair: Dominic Rathbone, Professor of Ancient History, King’s College London
Christopher Carey, Professor of Greek at University College London, is an expert on the victory odes of Pindar: Celebrations in the sand: victory songs and other texts from Oxyrhynchus
William J. Slater, Emeritus Professor of Classics at McMaster University, Canada, is a
scholar of Pindar turned auditor of the finances of ancient festivals and competitors: Fame and especially fortune: the dark side of Olympia
Margaret Mountford, erstwhile corporate lawyer and adviser on BBC TV’s The Apprentice, has just completed a PhD in papyrology at University College London including the edition of some Byzantine circus programmes: The Oxyrhynchus papyri: because they’re worth it

Attendance is free, but registration is required for this event. Please click here to register or visit our website:”

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Economic historian and numismatic consultant

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