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Legal Status in the Roman World


148. Marriage and inheritance. Alexandria, 2nd cent. A.D. (Berlin papyrus 1210. Tr. J.G. Winter. G)

The idiologus, the chief financial officer of Roman Egypt, administered the imperial account, which consisted of funds acquired form means of than taxation (fines and confiscations, for example). The papyrus from which these extracts are taken contains a summary of the rules by which the idiologus carried out his duties. This document reveals fiscal oppressions not only of women but of an entire province.

6. An Alexandrian, having no children by his wife, may not bequeath to her more than one quarter of his estate; if he does have children by her, her share may not exceed those of each son.

23. It is not permitted to Romans to marry their sisters or their aunts; it is permitted in the case of the daughter of brothers. [The idiologus] Pardalas, however, confiscated the property when brothers and sisters married.

24. After death, the fiscus [40] takes the dowry given by a Roman woman over 50 to a Roman man under 60.

26. And when a Latina [41] over 50 gives something to one over 60 it is likewise confiscated.

27. What is inherited by a Roman of 60 years, who was neither child nor wife, is confiscated. If he have a wife but no children and register himself, the half is conceded to him.

28. If a woman is 50 years old, she does not inherit; if she is younger and has three children, she inherits;[42] but if she is a freedwoman, she inherits if she has four children.

29. A free-born Roman woman who has an estate of 20,000 sesterces, so long as she is unmarried, pays a hundredth part annually; and a freedwoman who has an estate of 20,000 sesterces pays the same until she marries.

30. The inheritances left to Roman women possessing 50,000 sesterces, who are unmarried and childless, are confiscated.

31. It is permitted a Roman woman to leave her husband a tenth of her property; if she leaves more, it is confiscated.

32. Romans who have more than 100,000 sesterces, and are unmarried and childless, do not inherit; those who have less, do.

33. It is not permitted to a Roman woman to dispose of her property by will without a stipulated clause of the so-called coemptio fiduciaria. [43] A legacy by a Roman woman to a Roman woman who is a minor is confiscated.

38. The children of a woman who is a citizen of Alexandria and an Egyptian man remains Egyptians, but inherit from both parents.

39. When a Roman man or a Roman woman marries a citizen of Alexandria or an Egyptian, without knowledge (of the true status), the children follow the lower class.

46. To Roman men and citizens of Alexandria who married Egyptian women without knowledge (of their true status) it was granted, in addition to freedom from responsibility, also that the children follow the father's station.

52. It is permitted Roman men to marry Egyptian women.

53. Egyptian women married to ex-soldiers come under the clause of misrepresentation if they characterise themselves in business transactions as Roman women.

54. Ursus [44] did not allow an ex-soldier's daughter who had become a Roman citizen to inherit from her mother if the latter was an Egyptian.


Notes

40. I.e. the exchequer.

41. I.e. a woman possessing Latin rights, halfway between those of aliens and those of citizens.

42. Cf. no. 154.

43. 'As to making a will … women not only had to have guardian's authorisation but, until Hadrian, also had to go through a complicated rigmarole of changing guardians by coemptio.' (Crook 1967, p. 120).

44. Prefect of Egypt ca. A.D. 84-5.