There’s nothing new under the sun, including adolescent sass.
This letter from a boy named Theon to his father, which dates to 2nd- or 3rd-century Roman Egypt, is full of attitude.
The papyrus was discovered in the early 1900s at the site of city of Oxyrhynchos, 124 miles from present day-Cairo, and 250 miles from Alexandria, Roman Egypt’s cultural and administrative center. The letter is now part of Oxford’s Bodleian Library collection, and is translated as follows:
Theon to his father Theon greetings. It was so nice of you not to take me with you to the city. If you refuse to take me with you to Alexandria I won’t write you a letter or speak to you or wish you good health. So, if you go to Alexandria I won’t take your hand or greet you ever again. If you refuse to take me, this is what will happen. And my mother said to Archelaos that he is upsetting me, take him away! It was so nice of you, sending me these great presents, just rubbish. They put me off the track on the 12th, the day when you sailed. Well then, send for me, I beg you. If you don’t, I won’t eat, I won’t drink; there! I pray for your health. Tybi 18th.
Deliver to Theon from Theonas his son.
Some things never change.
What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
— Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1
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