Re: "Royal" We

From: S. M. Baugh (
Date: Wed Apr 16 1997 - 13:56:08 EDT


Some time ago, someone inquired about the "royal we" in the NT. I was
nosing around the Loeb "Select Papyri" volumes this morning and came
across an interesting specimen. In the 3d cent. B.C. correspondence to
Zenon, the standard greeting (CAIREIN) is followed by polite inquiry
about Zenon's health. Then we find (all translations are from Hunt and
Edgar in the Loeb edition):

hUGIAINOMEN DE KAI hHMEIS "I too am in good health"; Hierocles to Zenon
(P. Cairo Zen. 59060; LCL #88).

hUGIAINOMEN DE KAI AUT[OI] "I myself am well"; Promethion to Zenon
(P.S.I. 333; LCL #89).

Nothing remarkable (assuming the emmendation AUT[OI] is correct and the
original is not AUT[OS]), but then, interestingly we find:

ERRWMEQA DE KAI AUTOS, "I too am well"; Dromon to Zenon (P. Cairo Zen.
59426; LCL 91). Obviously Dromon could not keep up the "royal we" long
enough to use AUTOI in agreement with plural ERRWMEQA! (Cf. LCL #93
where we find singular: ERRWMAI DE KAI EGW and LCL #96 hUGIAINON DE KAI

We :) just thought you might find this interesting.


S. M. Baugh
New Testament
Westminster Theological Seminary
1725 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92027

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