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This webpage reproduces part of
The House of Ptolemy

by E. R. Bevan

published by Methuen Publishing, London,
1927

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

p385 Corrections and Additions

Page 8 ff.— A reviewer of Victor Ehrenberg's book (Alexander und Aegypten, Leipzig, 1926), in the Journal of Hellenic Studies for 1926, has put forward the view that the motive of Alexander's expedition to Siwah was military. He was afraid of Libyan tribes raiding Egypt from the west and using the Oasis as a place for concentration. Hence he made a personal reconnaissance, and his alleged religious motive was all camouflage. A precisely similar theory was stated in The Times of January 7, 1927, by an anonymous correspondent. It may well be that the correspondent and the reviewer were the same person. The view, in any case, does not seem to me at all a happy thought. Mr. Hogarth pointed out in a letter to The Times of January 12 that the view "has not only unanimous ancient authority, but the probabilities, to contend with. The strategic significance of Siwah has never been serious, and, so far as we know, Alexander left no garrison there; not did he make it any sort of post of observation or defence."

If the motive of Alexander had been the one suggested, there is no reason why Ptolemy (whose account Arrian follows) should not have indicated it. There is no hint of it in our ancient authorities, and the theory of the reviewer and The Times contributor seems to exemplify a common weakness of scholars — the wish to be clever by reading between the lines of our texts all sorts of things which they do not say, especially where it is a case of attributing to men of the ancient world motives which would be natural in a man of the 20th century. A modern man might not be moved to make an expedition to the Oasis for a reason of imaginative religion, but it was like an ancient Greek, and exceedingly like Alexander, to do so. Alexander was obviously inclined to play the part of a hero of the epic age (as he did at Troy), and the motive which is attributed to him by the contemporary Callisthenes — of doing what his ancestor Perseus had done at the outset of his adventure — has really far more inherent probability than the would‑be clever rationalization offered by the reviewer and The Times contributor. One may notice that the assertion of The Times contributor, that the oracle of Ammon had lost its prestige in the Greek world in the 4th century, is flatly opposed to the evidence, as a reference to Pauly-Wissowa, art. "Ammoneion," would show. Plato, in the Laws 738B (written about twenty years before Alexander's visit to the Oasis), speaks of the oracles of Delphi, Dodona, and Ammon as the three chief oracular shrines which Greeks in his time would naturally consult in matters requiring divine guidance. We may say, indeed, that, so far as Alexander was a typical ancient Greek, it would have been odd if he had not consulted p386the oracle of Ammon, being as near to it as Egypt, before an adventure of such magnitude.

Pages 55, 65, 129.— Mr. W. W. Tarn questions the validity of Ernst Meyer's calculations in his review of Untersuchungen zur Chronologie der ersten Ptolemäer in the Classical Review, XL (1926) page 86. Mr. Tarn points out that there is no other evidence for the joint-kingship of Euergetes from November 247 to January 245, which Ernst Meyer infers. According to Mr. Tarn, E. Meyer has got his dates for the reign of Ptolemy II a year too late: thus the ordinary dating was right: Ptolemy II became co-regent in 285, not in 284; Ptolemy I died in 283, Arsinoe Philadelphius in 270, and Ptolemy II in 246. With regard to the argument on page 129 — that a worship of the Theoi Adelphoi appears before Arsinoe's death — this would still hold good, if the document in question (Hibeh, 99) belongs to Phamenoth or Pharmuthi in 270 B.C., and Arsinoe died in the following Pachon, in the same year; only the interval between the first appearance of the cult and the death of Arsinoe would be reduced from the thirteen months supposed by Ernst Meyer to about one month.

Page 68.— Mr. W. W. Tarn urged in the JHS XLIV (1924), p146, note 29, that Rehm's dating of the Miletus inscription could not stand. See his further note in JHS XLVI (1926), p158. It had also been questioned independently by Rostagni in his Poeti Alessandrini in 1916. I ought to have noticed this before writing page 68. Mr. Tarn argues that Ptolemy II's letter to Miletus probably belongs to the year 275 B.C. This complicates the question regarding the "son" mentioned in the letter. Ptolemy II, who was born himself in 308, cannot, as Mr. Tarn truly says, have had a son, legitimate or illegitimate, old enough in 275 to govern Miletus. If the "son" was a son of Arsinoe I, born before Ptolemy III, as I suggested on page 69, he might conceivably, supposing Ptolemy II's marriage with Arsinoe, the daughter of Lysimachus, took place as early as 290, when the future Ptolemy II was eighteen, have been fourteen in 275 — too young certainly to govern Miletus, but perhaps not too young to be sent round as crown prince, to visit the oversea dependencies in charge of Callicrates. But to put the marriage of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe I as early as 290 may seem hazardous. [The age given for Euergetes (pp189, 205) was based on the supposition that his parents were married (as Bouché-Leclercq supposes) about 284; if the marriage took place in 290, and Euergetes was the second son, then Euergetes may have been forty-one at his accession, in 247, and sixty-seven at his death in 221.] Mr. Tarn, then, ruling out on the score of youth the possibility that the "son" of the inscription is a real son of Ptolemy II, says that he "can only be the son of Lysimachus and Arsinoe II," adopted by Ptolemy II, according to the Beloch hypothesis. But it must be remembered that hypothesis was built on a number of pillars, one of which was the supposition that the supposed son of Arsinoe II adopted by Ptolemy II was the joint-king of the Papyri from 266 to 258, another of which was his identification with the Telmessian "Ptolemy son of Lysimachus." These two main pillars are knocked away. I have p387shown the insuperable difficulty of supposing that the joint-king was a son of Arsinoe II, and Mr. Tarn himself rejects the identification of Arsinoe II's son with the Telmessian Ptolemy. The adventurous hypothesis of this supposed son of Arsinoe II adopted by Ptolemy II would thus remain, on Mr. Tarn's presentation, resting upon the single pillar that some one called a "son" of Ptolemy II's is mentioned in a single document of 275. I cannot think that, unless the Beloch hypothesis had been already in Mr. Tarn's mind, it would have occurred to him to construct it on the strength of this document alone. If Mr. Tarn is right regarding the early date of the letter to Miletus, that does unquestionably make the "son" a puzzle, and I cannot suggest any explanation of him with confidence. It still seems to me possible that he may have been a son of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II sent round, very young, to visit the dominions. Ptolemy V came officially of age, and was crowned in Memphis, when he was only twelve.

But it has to be noted that Mr. Tarn's argument for the early date of the letter to Miletus rests upon the assumption that when Callicrates went with the "son" to Miletus he was nauarchos. This assumption seems to me far from certain. Granted that Callicrates ceased to be high-admiral in the Aegean after 266 B.C., as Mr. Tarn infers, the termination of his command need not necessarily mean that he had died. He might surely have continued to be a person of great consideration at the Ptolemaic court — just the sort of person who would be chosen to take charge of the heir apparent, if he was sent round to visit the dependencies. There is nothing in the Miletus inscription to show that Callicrates was nauarchos at the time when he was in Miletus with the son. The fact that the report on the loyalty of the Milesians had been sent to the king not by the "son" in his own name alone, but by the "son" in conjunction with Callicrates and the other "friends" of his escort, rather indicates, I think, that the "son" was at the time young. The real author of the report will have been the old courtier in charge of the "son," though, as a matter of form, the "son" himself is regarded as making the report in association with Callicrates and the rest. If Callicrates was no longer nauarchos at the time, Rehm's dating of the letter may perhaps be right after all, and "son" may be a young man over twenty.

Page 75.— Fresh light has come on the history of the Cyrenaica in the latter years of Ptolemy II from an inscription published by S. Ferri in the Abhandlungen der Akad. der Wissensch. zu Berlin for 1926. Wilamowitz supposes that the inscription gives an edict (diagramma) of Ptolemy II or Ptolemy III regulating the constitution of Cyrene after the slaying of Demetrius and the return of the Cyrenaica, under the young queen Berenice, to dependence on Ptolemy. It is odd that Ptolemy does not appear in the character of king, but in that of strategos of Cyrene for life, with five colleagues elected for limited terms. The citizen body is increased from a thousand to ten thousand, and established on a property qualification. These nominated by Ptolemy amongst (democratic?) exiles who had taken refuge in Egypt were to be included in the new citizen-body provided they possessed the necessary amount of property. We are also shown a boule of 500, and a gerusia of 101, members. The p388gerontes are all nominated by Ptolemy; the members of the boule are chosen by lot, and half the boule renewed every other year. We have therefore, as at Ptolemais in Egypt, or as at Pergamon, republican forms controlled in reality by the king.

Pages 79 to 188, Chapters IV and V.— A notable addition to the literature bearing on the subjects treated in these chapters has been made by P. Jouget in his volume, L'Impérialisme Macédonien et l'Hellénisation de l'Orient (1926), in the series "L'Evolution de l'Humanité." The book unfortunately did not come into my hands in time to use it in writing mine, but I am gratified to find that its judgments correspond generally with those expressed in this volume.

Page 110.— Regarding the "Persians," in addition to the literature referred to in the footnote, reference should have been made to two earlier articles by A. Segré in Aegyptus for 1922, pp143 ff., and in the Rivista di Filologia for 1924, pp86 ff.

Page 114.— On the subject of the Jews in Egypt a recent book (which I have not seen) is said to be valuable — Fuchs, Die Juden Aegyptens in ptolemäischer und römischer Zeit (Vienna, 1924).

Page 176.— The statement that recent attempts to train the African elephant have been unsuccessful must be modified in view of a report by Captain Keith Caldwell, of the Kenya Game Department (a résumé is given in The Times of April 9, 1927), regarding the experiments made by the Belgians at Api, in the Congo. Seven Indian mahouts were employed at the outset to instruct the native mahouts of the Azande tribe. The results of the experiment seem to have been very encouraging. "Once they are sufficiently grown, the elephants work willingly and well, and show intelligence in their careful use of the plough in difficult land. The cotton crop around Api was, at the time of the report, being shifted by elephants to Titule. . . . The average value of the Api elephants is said to be £500. Captain Caldwell declares his belief that, if it were decided to train elephants in Uganda, results equal to those in the Congo would be obtained" (The Times). The elephants do not attempt to breed in captivity. This would explain why the Ptolemies had always to keep up their supply by fresh captures.

Page 232.— A complete translation into German of the new Pithom stele, with commentary, is given by W. Spiegelberg in the Sitzungsberichte der bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosoph.-philolog. und histor. Klasse for 1925 (published as a separate pamphlet at Munich in the same year). Since translations of similar documents have been given in this volume, and it may not be easy for a student to come by a translation of this one, it seems worth while to give an English version of it here:

"On the 1st of Artemisius, which, according to the Egyptian calendar, is the 1st of Phaophi, in the 6th year of the youthful Horus, the strong one, whom his father caused to be manifested as King, Lord of the asp-crowns, him whose strength is great, whose heart is pious towards the gods, who is a protector of men, superior to his p389foes, who maketh Egypt happy, who giveth radiance to the temples, who firmly establisheth the laws which have been proclaimed by Thoth the Great-great, Lord of the Thirty Years' Feasts, even as Ptah the Great, a King like the Sun, King of the Upper and Lower Countries, offspring of the Benefactor Gods, one whom Ptah hath approved, to whom the Sun hath given victory, the living image of Amen, king Ptolemy [Ptlumis], living-for‑ever, beloved of Isis, when Ptolemy son of Aeropus was priest of Alexander, and the Gods Adelphoi, and the Benefactor Gods, and <Rhoda?> daughter of <Pyrrhon?> was Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphius,

"Decree made this day:

"The chief priests and the prophets and the priests who enter the inner shrine for the robing of the gods, and the writers of the Divine Book [i.e. the 'feather-bearers'] and the sacred scribes, and the other priests who have come together to the king from the temples throughout Egypt to Memphis, at the time when he returned to Egypt, in order to present to him the flower-bunches and the amulets, . . . and to make the sacrifices, the burnt offerings and the libations, and perform the other things which are customary on such an occasion, being assembled in the temple in Memphis, declare:

"Whereas the beneficence of king Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy and queen Arsinoe,1 the Benefactor Gods, hath bestowed benefits onto service of the gods, by reason of the concern which he hath shown at all times for that which pertaineth unto their honour, it came to pass that all the gods of Egypt with their goddesses went before him and directed him in the way and protected him, what time he went forth into the land of the Assyrians and the land of the Phoenicians. They bestowed on him revelations, and declared unto him, and gave him an oracle through dream, saying that he would conquer his enemies, and that they themselves would not depart from him in hours of peril, but stand by him to protect him.

"In the year 5, on the 1st of Pachon, he moved out from Pelusium and fought with Antiochus at a city called Raphia, near the frontier of Egypt, to the east of Bethelea and Psinûfer (?). On the 10th of the aforesaid month he conquered him in great and noble fashion. Those of his enemies who were able to come near him in the battle, he stretched out dead before him, even as Harsiêsis slew his adversaries in old time. He compelled Antiochus to fling away his diadem and his royal hat. Antiochus fled with his escort — they being but few that yet abode with him — in pitiful and sorry fashion after his defeat. The most part of his troops endured grievous distress. He beheld the choice of his Friends perish miserably. They suffered hunger and thirst. All that he left behind was taken for spoil. <Only hard bestead> was he able to regain his home, sore grieved at heart. Then the king took as prey much people and all the elephants. He took possession of very much gold and silver and other precious things, which were found in the several places, which Antiochus had held, brought thither under his dominion. He caused them all to be conveyed to Egypt. He made a progress through the other places which were in his kingdom. He went into the temples p390which were there.2 He offered burnt offerings and libations, and all the inhabitants of the cities received him with gladness of heart, keeping holiday, and standing in expectation of his advent with the shrines of the gods (in whose heart is strength), crowned with wreaths, bringing burnt offerings and meal offerings. Many caused a wreath of gold to be made for him, undertaking to set up a royal statue in his honour and to build temples. It came to pass that the king went on his ways as a man divine. As for the images of the gods which were in the temples, which Antiochus had defaced,3 the king commanded that others should be made in their stead and set up in their place. He gave much gold, silver, and precious stones for them, and also to replace the vessels in the temples which those men had carried away. He took thought to replace them. The treasure which had aforetime been given to the temples and which had been diminished, he ordered that it should be restored to its former quantity. In order that nothing might be wanting of that which it is proper to do for the gods, so soon as he heard that much injury had been done to the images of the Egyptian gods, he issued a beautiful rescript to the regions whereof he was lord outside Egypt, ordering that no man should do them further injury, desiring that all foreigners should understand the greatness of the concern which he had in his heart for the gods of Egypt. The mummies of the sacred animals which were found [in Palestine] he caused to be transported to Egypt and caused them to have an honourable funeral and be laid to rest in their sepulchres. Likewise those which were found injured he caused to be brought back to Egypt in honourable wise and conveyed to their temples. He took earnest thought for the divine images which had been carried away out of Egypt into the land of the Assyrians and the land of the Phoenicians, at the time when the Medes devastated the temple so Egypt. He commanded that they should be diligently sought out. Those which were found, over and above those which his father had brought back to Egypt, he caused to be brought back to Egypt, celebrating a feast in their honour and offering a burnt offering before them. He caused them to be restored to the temples whence aforetime they had been carried away.

"He had a fortified camp made for his troops and abode therein, so long as there was a desire . . . <his adversaries> to come and fight against him. When they were good again4 (?), he let his troops go. They plundered their cities. Since they could not protect themselves, they destroyed them, whereby he made evident to all men that the might of the god <had wrought it> and that it profited not to fight against him. He moved out of those regions when he had taken possession of all their places in 21 days.

p391 "After the treachery (?) which the commanders of the troops perpetrated,5 he made an agreement with Antiochus for two years and two months. He arrived again in Egypt on the Feast of Lamps, the birthday of Horus [i.e. October 12], after the course of four months. The inhabitants of Egypt welcomed him, being glad, because he had kept the temples safe and delivered all men who were in Egypt. They did all things needful for his reception, sumptuously and splendidly, as matched with his heroic deeds. The inmates of the temples awaited him at the landing-stages [of the River] with the proper appurtenances and the other things, which it is customary to use for such a reception, wearing wreaths and keeping holiday and bringing burnt offerings and libations and many gifts. He went into the temples and offered burnt offerings and assigned them many revenues, beside those assigned to them before. The divine images which were wanting of old time, amongst those in the inner shrines, and also those which needed repairing, he renewed, even as they were before. He gave much gold and precious stones for this and all other things which were needful. He caused much temple furniture to be fashioned out of gold and silver, notwithstanding that he had already taken on him huge expense for his military expedition, giving golden wreaths to his army to the amount of 300,000 gold pieces. He bestowed many benefits upon the priests, the temple-inmates, and all the people who are in the whole of Egypt, rendering thanks to the gods that they had brought everything which they promised him to fulfilment.

"Therefore [be it decreed] with propitious fortune:

"It has come into the hearts of the priests of the temples of Egypt: to increase the afore-existing honours rendered in the temples to king Ptolemy, the ever-living, the beloved of Isis, and to his Sister, queen Arsinoe, the Father-loving Gods, and those rendered to their parents, the Benefactor Gods, and those rendered to their forefathers, the Gods Adelphoi and the Saviour Gods.

"Also a royal statue shall be put up of king Ptolemy, the ever-living, the beloved of Isis, which shall be called the statue of 'Ptolemy, the Avenger of his father, him whose victory is beautiful,'6 and a statue of his Sister, Arsinoe, the Father-loving Goddess, in the temples of Egypt, in every several temple, in the most conspicuous place in the temple, fashioned according to Egyptian art.

"Also they shall cause an image of the local God to be shown in the temple and set it up at the table of offerings at which the image of the king stands, the god giving the king a sword of victory. The priests who are in the temples shall offer homage to the images three times each day and set the temple-furniture before them and perform the other things for them, which it is proper to do, as is done for the other gods on their festivals and processions and special days. The figure of the king painted upon the stele <above the inscription> <shall show him mounted upon a horse>, dressed in a coat of mail and wearing the royal diadem. It shall be so designed that he shall be in act to slay one kneeling, figured as a king, with the long spear in his hand, like the spear which the victorious king carried in the battle.

p392 "There shall be celebrated a festival and a procession in all the temples throughout Egypt for king Ptolemy, the ever-living, the beloved of Isis, from the 10th of Pachon, the day whereon the king conquered his adversary, for five days each year, with wearing of wreaths and offering of burnt offerings and libations and all the other things which it is proper to do, and it shall be done according to the beautiful command. . . .

"The shrines of the Father-loving Gods shall be brought out on this daysº and a bunch of flowers shall be presented to the king in the temple on the aforesaid. . . .

"Also the first ten days in each month shall be kept as a festival in the temples, with burnt offerings and libations and <the other things which it is proper to do in other festivals> on this day in every month. That which is prepared for burnt offering shall be distributed to all who do service in the temple. . . ."

[What follows is too fragmentary to make translation here worth while.]

Page 274.— It should have been noted that the decree of a synod of Egyptians assembled at Alexandria in the September of 186 indicates that the nationalist leader Anchmachis had been taken prisoner by a Greek officer on August 27 (Sethe, Zeitschrift für ägypt. Sprache u. Altertumsurkunde for 1917, pp35 ff.).

Page 327.— In connexion with Cleopatra III it ought to have been noted that further priesthoods in her honour were added to the eponymous priesthoods of the state-cult in Alexandria. These are hardly traceable in our Greek documents because scribes after the time of Ptolemy VI took to a short formula which omitted the names of the eponymous priests of the year at Alexandria just as they did those at Ptolemais (see p10).º A demotic document, however, of the year 112‑111 shows us four eponymous priests, all apparently of Cleopatra III. In the case of the first priesthood she is not called by her own name but "Isis, Great Mother of the Gods." The name may have been chosen because Cleopatra was queen-mother of the two god-kings, Soter II and Alexander I. The priest has the odd name of the hieros pōlos, "Holy Foal." Otto points out that pōlos is found in Greece as a name given to a priestess of Demeter, and may have been chosen for this Alexandrine priest because Isis was often identified by the Greeks with Demeter.

In the case of the other three priesthoods Cleopatra is called by her own name with her official surnames (Cleopatra Philometer Soteira), and is served by priestesses, the first being called stephanephoros, "Wreath-wearer," the second pyrphoros, "Fire-bearer," and the third simply hiereia, "Priestess."

Yet a fifth priesthood of Cleopatra III is shown in Pap. Reinach, 9, 10, 14‑16, 20 (112‑108 B.C.), with the name phōsphoros, "Light-bearer."

The splendour and picturesqueness of the processions of the ministers of the state-cult through the streets of Alexandria may have been increased when with the Basket-bearer of Arsinoe Philadelphius and the Prize-bearer of Berenice Euergetis there walked the Holy Foal of Isis, no doubt in some quaint habit representative of his p393name, and the four priestesses of the reigning queen, each with her particular emblem, a wreath, a blazing torch, and so on. When the real power of the house of Ptolemy had shrunk so pitifully, it was still easy to multiply its pomps and displays. Under the earlier kings new priesthood was only now and again at long intervals added to the state-cult, and no queen had more than one; now Cleopatra III has five added all at once for herself alone. Just so the later queens of the house, instead of one grandiloquent surname, have two or three.


The Author's Notes:

1 This should, of course, be Berenice: the priestly scribe has carelessly followed the forms of the previous reign.

2 An odd confirmation of the story in 3 Maccabees, though I still think that the attempt of Philopator cannot have been seriously pressed or we should have heard about it in Daniel xi.

3 Antiochus would never have defaced images of the ancient Greek gods. Unless the priestly phrase is a merely conventional attribution of wickedness to the enemy, the images in question must be statues of kings and queens of the house of Ptolemy which Antiochus had found in the Syrian cities.

4 The meaning of the Egyptian phrase here seems doubtful. The whole of this section is very obscure.

5 Spiegelberg understands this of the revolt of the nationalist Egyptian commanders, which necessitated Philopator's return to Egypt.

6 A literal Egyptian translation of the Greek kallinikos.


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