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Ch. V § 2
This webpage reproduces part of
The House of Ptolemy

by E. R. Bevan

published by Methuen Publishing, London,

The text is in the public domain.

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Chapter VI


The System of Government

 p144  § 3. The Departments of State

The main object, as was said just now, of the Ptolemaic administration was to make Egypt a profitable estate for the king. It was an immense business enterprise. This alluvial land, fertile beyond other lands, must pour year after year into its master's storehouses the vast quantities of cornº which it produced, over and above what was required for the feeding of its seven or eight millions of inhabitants, to be consulted as the king pleased, or turned by means of commerce into money for his treasury; others of its products must be converted by Greeks, Asiatics, or Egyptians, working in royal factories, into goods which the king might sell remuneratively to his subjects or to foreigners — its grapes into wine, its sesame and castor into oil, its flax into linen, its papyrus-reeds into paper; its river rolling down the products of inner Africa, of Sabaea and India to Alexandria, innumerable merchant ships dropping into the great Alexandrine harbour with wares from all coasts of the Mediterranean, must swell Ptolemy's riches with customs and harbour dues. The Greek king of Egypt was himself the greatest farmer, industrialist, merchant of them all. Of the working of this huge business we shall have to look at the main outlines, as they can be learnt from the papyri; but, of course, in order that it might be successfully carried on, the Ptolemaic king had to give the mass of his subjects, who worked for him, two things — inner and outer security. He had to provide for the repression of crime and settlement of disputes within the kingdom by a judicial and police system, and he had to provide for the defence of the kingdom against outside powers by a military and naval force at his own disposal. Finally he had to establish his relations with the representatives of a power which, whether the Greek king himself believed it to be based on reality or on delusion, he had to take account of as a power actually governing the thoughts and actions of men in Egypt — religion. He found a native priesthood established in the land, strong in its prescriptive privileges and in its influence upon the minds of men. We may then at this point survey (i) the economic system of the Ptolemies,  p145  (ii) the judicial and police arrangements, (iii) the army and navy, and (iv) the position of the native priesthood.

i. The Economic System

(a) The Land.— All the soil of Egypt was the king's.​17 It was the business of his manager to see that every plot of arable land throughout the country was being cultivated to its full capacity and that fresh areas were reclaimed, by irrigation or by draining, wherever that was possible. But some of the land the king cultivated more directly himself, through royal officials — the basilikē gē, "Royal Land" — some the king "let go" or "relinquished" to others, who cultivated it at their own discretion as his tenants — the gē en aphesei, "Land in Relinquishments." The actual work on the basilikē gē was done by people called basilikoi geōrgoi, "Royal Cultivators" — mostly native fellahîn — but not on the wage system. The land was divided into small plots, and the right to cultivate each plot was leased by officials to the highest bidder, or association of bidders, for a period of years, long or short, according to circumstances. Some leases were made out so as to be hereditary (eis to patrikon), making the connexion of the cultivator with his plot almost equivalent to owner­ship; for such leases the cultivator had to give substantial security.​18 The State determined what crop was to be sown and the State supplied the grain; the "cultivator" undertook to deliver in return at harvest-time on the threshing-floor, to the royal officials, a specified number of artabai (called the ekphorion), and had to make certain other minor payments;​19 what remained over and above (the epigenēma), the "cultivator" might keep as his own profit in the transaction.

In theory the "Royal Cultivators" were free men. While slaves were employed for domestic service, slave-labour upon the land (so extensive in some countries of the time) was practically unknown in Ptolemaic Egypt. Yet the free fellahîn were in some respects in scarcely a better position than serfs. During the time of agricultural operations, it was a punishable offence for the "Royal Cultivator" to leave his plot. In exceptional circumstances, when voluntary bidders for a piece of "Royal Land" could not be found, the  p146 State might resort to compulsion. The State was not bound by any contract with the "cultivator"; if at any moment it desired to dismiss one "cultivator" and replace him by another, it could do so. The cattle belonging to the "cultivator" could at any time be re­quisitioned by the State. The method of forced labour upon the dykes and canals (corvée), common in Egypt under the Khedives till it was abolished by the English, was regularly resorted to in Ptolemaic Egypt. The life of the country did indeed depend upon the proper distribution and control of the Nile-water, and the Ptolemaic government had no scruple in calling up the native population — and especially the "Royal Cultivators" — to do any work necessary in order to make the country give its full agricultural return — digging and repairing canals, planting trees to provide timber, sowing and reaping lands which had been neglected. Forced labour was not, as a rule, imposed upon Greeks, nor upon officials, though they had to pay an equivalent tax (called naubion).​20 We have no precise information as to the extent of "Royal Land" in Ptolemaic Egypt, as compared with "Land in Relinquishment"; we only know that in a particular village of the Fayûm in 120 B.C., out of 4700 aruras, 2427 were "Royal Land."21

The "Land in Relinquishment" fell into different categories: (1) "Sacred Land," i.e. land assigned to the temples; (2) kleruchic land, i.e. land occupied by military colonists, mostly Greek; (3) land "in gift" (ἐν δωρεᾷ), i.e. land given by royal favour to some eminent courtier or official; (4) landº in private possession (gē idioktētos). It is to be noted that none of this land was private property in the strict sense; the occupiers had no freehold. It was merely land "granted to individuals for continuous and sometimes perpetual use." This right of occupation and utilization could be sold, given, or mortgaged by one individual to another, and could descend from father to son, so that in practice the perpetual occupation may often have come to something like owner­ship; the conditions may well have differed in different regions.​22 Corn-land the government seems to have kept more carefully  p147 under its own control. The land granted as idioktetos was apparently, as a rule, land used for gardens, palm-plantations, and vineyards, and this would explain why the word ktēma ("possession") came in Ptolemaic Egypt specially to signify land of this kind; the word was never applied to corn-land. In the case of the lands attached to Alexandria and to Ptolemais, something more like the ordinary Greek laws of property may have been applied.

Even the land "in gift" was not held by the possessor as a freehold, though these large estates — we have seen the extent of that assigned to Apollonius — had certain privileges not belonging to ordinary "land in private possession." They were held tax-free, and they included corn-land. The work of cultivation was done by peasants who acquired by contract the right to cultivate small plots, like the "Royal Cultivators" on the "Royal Land," and delivered at each harvest a fixed quantity of the produce to the possessor of the "gift." But he had no personal jurisdiction over them. In the case of one peasant wishing to sue another, it was to the king, not to the possessor of the "gift," that he appealed.23

It was necessary not only to get vegetable products out of the Egyptian soil, but to rear a certain quantity of live stock — cattle, sheep, swine,​24 geese — for consumption as food: sheep for the supply of wool, oxen and asses for agricultural work and transport, horses for war, animals for sacrifice. Here, too, the king had his hand upon everything. Of all the pasture-land (nomai) in the country he was not only owner but occupier. No private owners of live stock could feed their flocks or herds upon this land without paying the king a tax for its use (the tax called ennomion). The king had large herds of his own, and the geese and swine required by the court for its consumption were bred by "goose-herds" and "swineherds" analogous to the "Royal Cultivators" in the matter of corn-production. Even if the occupier of a certain plot of corn-land grew green stuff upon it after the corn had been reaped (as is commonly done to‑day in Egypt), he could not use the green stuff for his own cattle except on condition of paying the king a tax, and he could, even so, use no more of it than was required for his own cattle: the king claimed all the rest.

 p148  Of the "Sacred Land" it will be best to speak when we come to survey the position of the priesthood, and of the "Kleruchic Land" in connexion with the Army. Apart from these categories of land and the "Land in gift," it was from the "Royal Land" that the king obtained the lion's share of the corn produced in Egypt. But when the private occupiers of ktemata used them for the production of certain things of general use — wine or oil or linen or honey or beeswax — here, too, the king exacted a substantial part of the profits.

If a man turned the land in his occupation into a vineyard and made wine, he had, in the first instance, to pay a tax to the king in money of so many drachmas, the arura (phoros tōn ampelōnōn) differing according to the quality of the land and the last rise of the Nile; and he had, when he had made his wine, to make over one-sixth of it to the farmers of the State taxes — the so‑called apomoira ("deducted share"). This tax, however, since it was paid to the temples, had best be spoken of when we come to the section dealing with the priesthood.

(b) Taxes and Monopolies.— It has been indicated how any one using the soil of Egypt to draw from it vegetable products or the food for live stock had to make over a proportion of everything to the king. But there seems to have been no uniform land-tax, like the tithe in the Seleucid realm; the bureaucratic system of Egypt made it possible to determine different kinds of dues to be paid by different kinds of soil, according to the minute government survey, classifying plots of land according to their quality and their relation to the annual rise of the Nile. The taxes, other than taxes in land, made a formidable whole in the great estate of king Ptolemy. The native population had to pay a poll-tax (men only), from which native priests were exempt. There seems to have been a general tax on house-property, and a tax on slaves.25

From the industries carried on in the land, Ptolemy drew profit in two ways. Some industries were royal monopolies. Those which Wilcken gives as proved for the Ptolemaic period are: (1) certain kinds of oil; (2) textiles (linen, wool, hemp); (3) dyeing; (4) fulling; (5) goldsmith's work; (6) brewing (beer was the common drink of the natives); (7) manufacture of paper from the papyrus, probably a royal  p149 monopoly; (8) banking; (9) salt; (10) spices and perfumes; (11) natron; (12) timber (it was illegal for any one to fell a tree on the land he occupied without leave of the government); (13) mining and quarrying. Besides those industries which were definitely monopolies, there were others in which the king took a large part, side by side with private enterprise. Tanning perhaps comes into this category. Apiculture certainly does: there were royal, as well as private, bee-farms. It must be remembered that apiculture was a far more important industry then than now. Honey took the place in daily life now taken by sugar, and beeswax was required for a number of purposes — medical, industrial, and artistic. Hunting and fishing were royal prerogatives. Fisheries might be taken over from the king by lessees who undertook to pay 25 per cent of the profits.26

The quarrying of stones, mining for gold and emeralds, were important monopolies of the king. Gold and emeralds were found in Upper Egypt in the hills to the east of the Nile. In one wady of this region can still be seen the remains of 1320 huts inhabited by the men who worked here under Ptolemy III. Gold was also found in the hills of Nubia above the first cataract. We have an extract from Agatharchides, who wrote in the 2nd century B.C., giving a frightful description of the life of the condemned criminals and prisoners of war who were used by the government to work these gold-mines in the far-away south.27

The monopoly we know most about is the oil monopoly, for which we have an important document in the great "Revenue Papyrus" of Ptolemy II, edited by B. P. Grenfell in 1896. The oil produced in the Nile Valley and the Delta was not olive oil, but made from sesame, croton, saffron, pumpkins, or linseed.​28 The government determined how many aruras in each nome were to be devoted to the cultivation of these plants, basing its figure on a calculation of the requirements of the Greek cities and of the nomes.

Any one growing the plants was bound to sell them to the king at prices fixed by the government. Both the sowing  p150 and the ingathering were closely watched by royal officials. The oil was next prepared in royal factories, and the hands engaged were "free" men, like the "Royal Cultivators," but not allowed to leave their work for the season. A percentage of the profits, fixed in the contract of each year, was allotted to the workers, in addition to their wages. The right to conduct the manufacture and to sell the finished article to the retail dealers was granted by the government to the highest bidder in each nome; the retail dealers sold it at a price fixed by the government to the general public, and paid over what was realized by the sale to the oikonomos of the nome, retaining, it would seem, some percentage as their own remuneration in the business. All this monopoly system would have been useless, if foreign oil had been allowed to compete in Egypt with that made in the royal factories. The import of foreign oil was therefore forbidden or made subject to heavy duties. It is a difficult question where the contractor could look for his remuneration. Certain indications lead Wilcken to believe that an additional oil-tax was paid by those who purchased the oil from the retail dealers, and he suggests doubtfully that those who obtained the contract to manufacture the oil for the government had also the right to collect this oil-tax from the public, and thus recouped themselves as tax-farmers for work which they did with little or no profit as oil-manufacturers.

The monopoly we know most about, after the oil monopoly, is that in textiles — chiefly linen, but also woollen and hemp goods. It seems to have been arranged very much on the same lines as the oil monopoly, with certain differences. The temples had a right to go on manufacturing the finer sort of linen cloth (byssus) according to their ancient tradition, not for sale, but for their own needs, especially for the robing of idols, with the obligation to deliver a certain quantity of linen fabrics (othonia) yearly to the king. Also the manufacture of textiles for sale to the public was carried out to some extent (perhaps altogether) not in royal factories, as in the case of oil, but in private factories, and the products sold at fixed prices to the king.

The great "Revenue Papyrus" of Ptolemy II sheds also some broken light upon the banking monopoly. Beside the "Royal Bank" in the capital of each nome, there were local banks affiliated to it in many of the smaller towns and in some of the villages. No one, except a person who had leased a  p151 bank from the king, had the right to buy, sell, or exchange specie in Ptolemaic Egypt. It must be remembered that one great economic change brought about by Greek rule in Egypt was that coined money became the medium of exchange and the standard of wealth in a country whose economic conditions had hitherto shown a much more primitive type than those of the Greek world.

From industries which were not monopolies the king drew profit by way of taxation — and that, apparently, in a double way. The person desirous of exercising some craft — thick-cloth maker (kassopoios), dyer, leather-worker, carrier, goldsmith — had to purchase in the first instance a licence from the government. Sometimes, it would seem, an industry was carried on concurrently by the government itself and by private individuals, who had purchased a licence; there are indications that this was so in the case of dyeing. Then, secondly, the craftsman had to pay a tax on the proceeds of his industry.

Transactions by which property passed, by way of sale, division, or gift, from one person to another involved the payment of a tax, fixed at 10 per cent on the price or value of the property (a tax lowered temporarily from about 200 B.C. till some time in the reign of Euergetes II, to 5 per cent). The Greeks called the tax the enkyklion (tax on "circulation"). It was an ancient tax introduced by Psamtek I in the 7th century B.C., maintained in Ptolemaic, and later on in Roman, Egypt.

In the matter of customs, not only had duties to be paid in the ports or frontier towns on goods imported into Egypt or goods exported, but we learn from Agatharchides that there was a customs-house at Hermopolis, between Upper and Lower Egypt, and a papyrus shows internal traffic even between one nome and another burdened by customs.29

For the king to draw wealth from Egypt on this elaborate scale, innumerable volumes of papyrus records had to be kept at the government offices — registers of population, registers of land, registers of house property, registers of temple property — and continually brought up to date by fresh registration and fresh surveys. The scraps recovered in recent times of this enormous mass of writing serve to give an idea what its extent was, and what huge bureaucratic activity Greek rule in Egypt implied. In no other country,  p152 as has been said, are the geographical conditions more favourable for bureaucracy; Egypt was also the country which supplied paper to the ancient world.

With regard to the collection of taxes we have to distinguish those which were paid in kind — taxes on corn-land, paid in corn — and those paid in money — practically all taxes except those on corn-land. For the receipt of both kinds of tax the king had offices all over the country. For the corn there were royal storehouses (thēsauroi) in the towns and villages to which the corn was carried from the threshing-floor, and whence it was sent by boat to Alexandria. These storehouses were presided over by officials called "corn-collectors" (sitologoi). Many potsherds have been found on which are written receipts given by sitologoi to taxpayers who had made their due delivery of corn to the thesauros. A service of boats and punts belonging to the king on the Nile and canals provided for the transport of the corn to Alexandria.​30 For the receipt of money-payments the royal banks (trapezai) were the appointed organ. The head bank in Alexandria — the main receiving office of the kingdom — had its local branch in the capital of each nome, and smaller branches in the smaller towns and villages. Each bank was presided over by an official with the title "banker" (trapezites). Upon this system of banks the whole financial administration of the kingdom was based. They served not only as organs by which the state drew in money, but also as the organs through which the state paid out money for any local purpose for which the banker was authorized by a competent authority to make a payment in the king's service. Papyri and potsherds show us how closely all this business was checked and controlled.

Taxes other than those paid in corn were not collected and paid into the royal banks by salaried officials, as in a modern state. The Ptolemies resorted to a method for which they had a precedent in the older Greek city-states — the method of putting up to auction each year the right to collect taxes and receiving lump sums from the contractor, who had to  p153 hope to recoup himself by the balance left over in his hands (the epigenēma) at the end of the year. Whilst, however, this method was taken over by the Ptolemies from the Greek free state, it assumed in bureaucratic Egypt a new character owing to the elaborate supervision and control of the tax-farmer at every turn by royal officials. The farming out of taxes was by nomes, and the oikonomos of the nome acted for the government in the matter. He appointed a controller (antigrapheus) to watch the tax-farmer in all his activities; the tax-farmer had to make his payments monthly into the royal bank, and every month he had to go over his accounts with the oikonomos. So far as the system worked normally, and was not interfered with by corruption, the taxpayer was well protected against illegal demands on the part of the tax-farmer. The nomos telōnikos — containing the official regulations in regard to each tax — was publicly hung up at the tax-farmer's office for ten days after his appointment, not only in Greek, but in Egyptian. But from the tax-farmer's point of view the business — apart from the possibilities of corruption — cannot have offered much attraction. It became apparently increasingly difficult for the government to find persons who would bid for it. In the 3rd century B.C. it had to offer a 5 per cent remuneration (called an opsōnion) to the tax-farmer over and above the epigenēma, and in the 2nd century this had risen to a 10 per cent remuneration. The tax-farmers were usually not single individuals, but companies of partners (koinōnes) formed for the purpose.

(c) Extraordinary Charges.— Under the head of extraordinary additions to the government revenue comes the payment of fines for offences of various kinds. These were collected by the oikonomos of the nome through the agency of an official called a praktor. A form of extraordinary exaction, which might become a grievous burden on the population, was the obligation to entertain the kings or high officials at each place to which they came on their progresses through the land.​31 Chrysippus, who is dioiketes under Ptolemy III when he comes to the Fayûm, has bread boat for him at a forced price, quantities of geese and other birds provided for his table and that of his suite, forty asses provided for his luggage.​32 In 112 a Roman noble who comes to visit the sights of Egypt has to be entertained at the population's  p154 expense.​33 Even the priests of Isis have left on an obelisk in Philae their bitter cry at what was put upon them for the entertainment of officials and troops travelling through the upper country.

(d) Trade.— The riches of the house of Ptolemy came not only from the products of Egypt but from the great stream of merchandise flowing into the country and flowing through it. The chief exports of Egypt — corn, paper, glass, and linen — were native products, but Egypt was also the chief channel through which the products of India and South Arabia reached the Mediterranean. The goods which Egypt imported from the Mediterranean (timber, copper, purple dye, marble, wine) were considerably less than the goods exported into the Mediterranean from Egypt.​34 Of the products of the South exported from Alexandria to the Mediterranean lands, the chief were spices and aromatics (myrrh, frankincense, nard, cinnamon, etc.), and they were exported largely not in the form of raw materials, but already worked up in Egypt into unguents and perfumes.​35 In exchange, Egypt sent her textiles, oil, metal goods (armour and weapons), glass, and Mediterranean wine to the peoples of India and South Arabia, of Abyssinia and the Sudân, and we find that Egypt actually manufactured stuffs to meet "barbarian" taste. It may be believed that the Arabian and Indian trade was one reason which made the house of Ptolemy so desirous of possessing Palestine; for the land trade-route between Syria and the Persian Gulf might become a rival to the route by the Red Sea and the Nile, if it was in other hands than theirs, and indeed, after the Ptolemies had lost Palestine for good, we find this alternative route become important in the hands of the Nabataeans of Petra.

There were two ways in which merchandise brought up the Red Sea might reach Alexandria.​36 It might be carried in ships all the way to the extremity of the Red Sea near Heroönpolis, and then go, still by ship, through the canal dug by Ptolemy II to connect the Red Sea with the Nile;37  p155 or it might be unladen at one of the ports farther south, Berenice or Myos-hormos or Philotera, and conveyed by camels across the desert hills to Coptos, to be there put on river boats and carried to Alexandria down the Nile. Of these two routes the second seems to have become the established one, since there is an indication that the canal between the Nile and Red Sea had ceased to be practicable before the end of the dynasty. The caravan road between Berenice and Coptos was also made, or remade, by the second Ptolemy, and stations constructed on it at appropriate intervals. Later kings continued to look carefully after it. Wells were dug on it and reservoirs made for such rain-water as fell. Beside serving the purpose of the Indian and Arabian trade, the road went by the smaragdus quarries, which were worked for the king. We have an inscription by some one who in 130 B.C. was appointed by the strategos of the Thebaïd to supervise the quarries and to safeguard the caravans coming down from the hills to Coptos.38

We hear of a Greek called Dionysius being sent by Ptolemy II as ambassador to India; he wrote a book about the country, from which two insignificant quotations have come down.​39 How far there were continuous voyages between India and the Red Sea ports, how far the Greek-Egyptian ships confined themselves to the Red Sea and picked up the Indian merchandise in South Arabia, is doubtful. Strabo says that "formerly not twenty ships [a year?] ventured outside the Red Sea,"​40 and his "formerly" in this passage seems to correspond with "under the Ptolemaic kings" in another passage.​41 But he may be speaking only of the last degenerate days of the dynasty. The date when the sea-captain Hippalus discovered the monsoon and so facilitated direct voyages to India is quite uncertain.​42 In an inscription of the late Ptolemaic period from the Thebaïd, the dedicator is "Sophon an Indian,"​43 which indicates some direct connexion between Egypt and India at as early a date as that, and Sir Flinders Petrie infers from Indian figures found at Memphis, together with modelled heads of foreigners, that already in the middle of the 3rd century Buddhist festivals were celebrated in Egypt.44

 p156  Two papyri from the archive of Zeno​45 recently published have brought fresh information about the customs levied on imports under Ptolemy II at Pelusium and at Alexandria. Goods are divided into four categories which have to pay a duty of 50, 33½,º 25, and 20 per cent respectively. To the first category belongs oil: any one importing foreign oil has, in addition to paying the duty of 50 per cent, to sell it immediately to the king at 46 drachmas the metretes, the king afterwards selling it to the public at 52 drachmas the metretes. (That is to say, the importer, in order to make a profit, would have had to have bought the oil in Syria at a price below 23 drachmas the metretes.) The second category includes Greek wines, from Chios and Thasos, and fresh figs. The third, honey (Attic, Rhodian, Lycian, etc.), wild-pig flesh, venison, pickles, nuts from the Black Sea, sponges. The fourth, wool. Various additional minor dues are levied — one in Alexandria called euploia, which Edgar conjectures to have gone to the upkeep of the Pharos Lighthouse.

(e) Finance and Money.— The central treasury into which the revenues of the kingdom flowed was the basilikon. But side by side with this we find a "Private Account" (Idios Logos) of the king, administered by a special official (ὁ πρὸς τῷ ἰδίῳ λόγῳ), and treated as separate by the local Royal Banks which received payments on its behalf. In the two cases which papyri give of payments made to the Idios Logos they are a fine for encroachment on Royal Land​46 and preliminary payment made by the lessee of a piece of land confiscated by the king.47

Economically, the establishment of Greek rule in Egypt was a great advance — not necessarily an advance in happiness, for the centralized state-control of all industry presents an unquestionably dreary picture, which the great Russian archaeologist, Rostovtzeff, describes with an obvious glance at the present state of things in the country from which he is an exile. But it was an advance in so far as there was a brisker production and exchange of commodities all over the land of the Nile. This went with the introduction of coined money, to supersede the more primitive methods of exchange in Pharaonic Egypt. The supersession did not take place all at once; indeed, barter and payments in kind were never  p157 entirely superseded (especially in the country districts); but gradually the coined money of the Ptolemies established itself as the ordinary medium of payment and exchange. Taxes, as we have seen, were paid both in money and in kind, though payment in money predominated. We can trace the extension of the money system in the pay of soldiers. In the 2nd century we find the epigonoi at Memphis, whose pay was fixed at 150 copper drachmas and 3 artabai of wheat a month, receiving actually only one artabe of wheat, the other two artabai having been commuted for an additional 200 drachmas a month (called a sitōnion, money paid in lieu of sitos, corn).

The money coined by Ptolemy I for his kingdom did not follow, like the coinage of Alexander and his other successors, the Attic standard, but at first the Rhodian standard, and ultimately the Phoenician. It was a bimetallic coinage, the gold piece of 8 drachmas being taken as equivalent to a silver mina (i.e. gold to silver as 12.5 to 1). Ptolemy probably chose this standard in order to facilitate trade with the older Phoenician cities (Tyre, Sidon, etc.) and with his neighbour Carthage.48

ii. Judicial and Police Arrangements

The Egypt into which the Greeks came was a land which had its native system of laws and customs, going back to a remote antiquity;​49 the Greeks brought with them another system of laws and customs of their own. Both Egyptians and Greeks were subject to a despotic master, who might send out from Alexandria, according to his pleasure, laws (nomoi) — that is, general ordinances intended to be permanent till repealed — or rescripts (diagrammata), edicts (prostagmata), declarations of the royal will in regard to some particular circumstance, or modifying existing law in some particular point. It was the policy of the Ptolemies to allow the Egyptians, so far as was compatible with the new government, to go on living under their traditional laws and customs — what the Greeks called "the laws of the country" (οἳ τῆς χώρας νόμοι) in contrast with the politikoi nomoi ("Civic  p158 Laws") ordained by the king for those who had the status of "citizens," i.e. the Greeks.​50 For the Greeks, in their relations to each other, only the "Civic Laws" of the king would come into consideration; in framing them the new ruler would be mainly guided by Greek ideas.

There were thus two systems of law in operation in Ptolemaic Egypt, side by side. It could hardly be, but that, as time went on, each to some extent modified the other — especially as mixture of blood between the two peoples took place, and in many disputes one party was Greek and the other party Egyptian. Such mutual modification can be traced, for instance, in marriage-law. The Egyptian marriage-law contrasted with the Greek: (1) in its permission of brother-and‑sister marriage;​51 (2) in the greater independence it gave to the woman, who might choose her husband freely, as a person sui juris (not, as in Greek law, under legal guardian­ship), and separate from him whenever she liked, or, if he divorced her, might claim for herself the sum stipulated by the husband, as her dowry, in the marriage contract; (3) in the recognition of various grades of marriage, one form being a trial union (called, strangely, by the Greeks an agraphos gamos) in which the parties fix by contract on what terms they will cohabit for a limited period.

Probably brother-and‑sister marriage to some extent spread to the Greeks in Egypt (apart from the royal family), but it is hard to get data on this point from the papyri for two reasons: (1) because Greek names, as we have seen, cease from the 2nd century B.C. to be a sure indication of Greek race; (2) because the term "sister" may be applied in our documents by a conventional form of speech to a wife who was not really a sister. The form of speech at any rate would in that case have been borrowed from the Egyptians.​52 On the other hand, a prostagma, apparently, issued by Ptolemy IV, deprived Egyptian women of their independent legal status; like Greek women they were to be, for all legal transactions, under the guardian­ship of their husbands,  p159 if married, or under a guardian (kyrios), if unmarried.​53 Under Ptolemy Philometor a Macedonian family, settled at a small town in the Heracleopolite nome, are found still observing Greek forms, not Egyptian, in contracting marriages; yet in one document​54 we find a Greek contract for a trial marriage for a year, which may show an influence of Egyptian customs upon the Greeks.55

For their legal dealings with each other the Egyptians continued to have the requisite documents (contracts, etc.) drawn up in Egyptian ("demotic"), according to the cumbrous traditional formulas. The business of drawing up these documents belonged to a class of professional priestly scribes whom the Greeks called (we do not know why) monographoi. Numbers of demotic deeds have been found, which furnish important data for native life under Greek rule, though the difficulty of ascertaining their meaning is often greater — at any rate in the present stage of demotic studies — than the difficulties offered by Greek papyri. The Greeks, in their legal dealings with each other, do not seem to have employed the service of professional notaries, during the first century of Ptolemaic rule. One of those who sign a document as witnesses was apparently, as a rule, given the charge of keeping it (as syngraphophylax) and of producing it when necessary.

If there was a double system of law, Egyptian and Greek, there was also a double system administering justice. The Egyptians could bring their civil disputes before native judges (called by the Greeks laokritai, "judges of the laoi"), who decided them according to the Pharaonic tradition. But for criminal justice, and for suits between Greeks, those deputed by the king to represent him — or, in the last resort, the king himself — constituted the judicial authority. It must be said that no part of the Ptolemaic system in Egypt presents such an appearance of elaborate confusion — so far as we trace it from the papyri — as the judicial arrangements. A meaning  p160 commonly attached to the Greek verb chrēmatizein was the delivery of judgment on the part of the king, and it was theoretically open to every subject of the king to make an appeal for judgment to the king direct. (An appeal to the king was called an enteuxis.)​56 One of the portals of the palace at Alexandria was designated the chrēmatistikōs pylon,​57 the approach to the king for judgment. When the king visited the Serapeum near Memphis, we find that the chamber he occupied had a special window (thyris), through which written appeals for justice might be thrown in and the replies communicated. Since, however, it was physically impossible for the seven or eight millions of people in Egypt to come into direct relations with the sovereign, we find the institution of a Greek judicial body for particular nomes or groups of nomes,​58 called chrēmatistai, who went on circuit and delivered judgment in the king's name. The first institution of these chrematistai is attributed in the letter of Aristeas to Ptolemy II. When, however, we try to ascertain what the competence of this ambulatory court was, as against that of other official authorities, everything seems confusion. It looks as if in practice any one who desired justice might appeal to any official authority near at hand, to the strategos of the nome, to the chief of police (epistates). "We see the chrematistai intervene concurrently with the officials, sometimes before the officials, sometimes after them, sometimes sitting together with them; we see them issue summonses which are not obeyed, and pronounce decisions which leave the matter submitted to them as unsettled as ever."​59 We may suppose that baksheesh (in Greek, stephanoi, "crowns") and personal interest played a part in most of these transactions which we can only very occasionally trace in the written documents. An Egyptian called Horus has been imprisoned for debt by  p161 the komogrammateus and the praktor. An official gives it to be understood that Horus is under the protection of a great personage and must be set free​60 (about 100 B.C.). A burglar who has been caught red-handed gets off by paying 200 drachmas to the police agent.61

In the middle of the 3rd century we find on occasion a single chrematistes functioning by himself, deputed by the dioiketes to try a case, which he has no time to try himself. On the report of the chrematistes the dioiketes passes sentence.​62 Strangely, the chrematistes has an Egyptian name.

Our principalº source of information for the working of the judicial system in Ptolemaic Egypt are the papyri relating to the Hermias case, now celebrated amongst students in this field. It belongs to the Thebaïd in the reign of Ptolemy VII (the years from 125‑117 B.C.), and procedure may, of course, have differed materially in other parts of Egypt and under the earlier Ptolemies. The papyri give us a series of actions brought by a cavalry officer, Hermias, son of Ptolemy, described as a "Persian," against a corporation of native choachytai (funeral undertakers) to recover from them a piece of ground with a house upon it near Thebes, which he claimed to be his by inheritance. The complicated story of the affair is well told by Bouché-Leclercq (IV pp218‑233), and can hardly be compressed into any short summary. The last, and apparently final, judgment recorded in the dossier is given by the epistates against Hermias (December 11, 117 B.C.). "The fact which comes out most clearly in the Hermias case is that, in the Thebaïd, at any rate — a region under military government and, so to speak, in a permanent state of siege — the chrematistai seem limited to the office of jurisconsults. Executive decisions are given by the epistates, sitting with assessors" (Bouché-Leclercq).

An important document relating to the delimitation of the province of the native laokritai, as against that of the Greek authorities, is the law of Ptolemy VII (118 B.C.) rehearsed in one papyrus.​63 The law lays down that in cases where one party is Greek and the other party Egyptian, the question of the proper court is to be decided by the language of the documents with which the dispute is concerned. If they are in demotic, the case is to go before the laokritai, to be decided  p162 according to Egyptian law; if they are in Greek the case is to go before the chrematistai. Where both parties are Egyptian, the case is to go before the laokritai. Such cases the chrematistai are not to draw into their sphere — an indication that there had actually been a tendency for the Greek judges to encroach upon the sphere of the native judges. Sir Flinders Petrie points out that in Pharaonic Egypt a defendant had a choice as to the code by which he was to be tried (Social Life in Ancient Egypt, p90).

An exceptional phenomenon in the Fayûm under Ptolemy III is a board of dikastai who try cases mainly between soldiers — one is the case of a Jew belonging to the epigonē against a Jewess who has as her kyrios an Athenian. Bouché-Leclercq supposes that this was a "special commission vaguely analogous to a conseil de guerre judging without appeal," appointed to dispose of an accumulation of disputes between soldiers in this region which had got into arrears. It suggests, at any rate, that the Ptolemaic system of justice may have had all kinds of temporary and local varieties of which we know nothing.

Commonly, as we have seen, those desiring justice appeal to some one in official position, whose functions were not primarily or principally judicial, and, if the verdict is adverse, they can try to get it upset by appealing to a yet higher authority. Thotortaeus in the Thebaïd (190 B.C.) appeals first to the oikonomos, then, when decision is given against him, to the strategos, who refers the matter to the epistates.​64 A kleruch of the cavalry (about 86 B.C.) appeals to his superior officer, the hipparch, who has apparently authority to summon the defendants before him.​65 A "royal cultivator" appeals to the komogrammateus of his village.​66 A man who has been insulted and beaten appeals to the oikonomos (245 B.C.).​67 See some admirable remarks of Jouget's on the undefined powers which officials as such would have in a country like Egypt (Revue Belge de Philol. et d'Histoire (1923), pp433 ff.).

A significant law of Ptolemy II (259‑258 B.C.) ordained that in cases where the Treasury was concerned, those brought before a court on the charge of having acted in some way prejudicial to the king's revenues, might not be defended by advocates. Any advocate pleading against the king's interests was liable to have all his possessions confiscated.68

 p163  Where the wrong complained of is oppression or injustice perpetrated by an official abusing his powers, the appeal may naturally lie to the official's superior — to the strategos, for instance; and the superior can judge and punish his subordinates at his discretion, without the intervention of any judicial court. Cases, however, where the collection of king's revenues were involved, stood in a special category. According to a law probably to be ascribed to Ptolemy II, they had to be tried by the nomarch acting with the strategos.​69 Later on the rule was that all charges of oppression brought against tax-farmers or tax-collectors had to be addressed to the supreme dioiketes at Alexandria.​70 A rescript of Ptolemy VIII (Soter II), dated April 11, 114 B.C., specially forbade any ordinary judicial authority to try such charges, which must be reserved for the dioiketes alone.71

For the enforcement of judicial decisions and the suppression of violence and crime, there was an elaborate police organization. Ptolemaic policemen were called phylakitai. We hear of special kinds of policemen. There was the chersephippos, the "dry land mounted" policeman, who had to patrol the barren land above the reach of the Nile water on the borders of the cultivated land; the ermophylax, the "desert guard" of lower grade; the ephodoi, who were attached to the tax-collectors; the machairophoroi ("sword-bearers"),​72 rhabdophoroi ("rod-bearers"), mastigophoroi ("whip-bearers") attached to the high officials. In the higher grades of the police force the Greeks and Macedonians seem to have predominated; the ordinary phylakitai were recruited mainly from natives.​73 The police officers were usually Greeks, perhaps exclusively in the 3rd century, though here, too, there was an advance of the native element under the later kings. In every larger village there was an archiphylakites, commander of the local force; his superior was the commander of the force of the toparchy; and above him again was the epistates, the commander of the force for the whole nome. This epistates of the police must not be confounded with the epistates of the nome, concerned as the latter  p164 also was with the administration of justice. The phylakitai generally were often used by the government for purposes which lie outside the duties of the police, as we understand them to‑day — to collect taxes, to purchase textiles for the state, to inspect crops on the gē basilikē. Crimes of violence were probably pretty common, and the papyri sometimes show us the police getting the worst of it in encounters. Where the desert and the papyrus-swamps were so close at hand brigandage was hard to suppress, and probably grew worse as the central government became disorganized in the last days of the house of Ptolemy. We hear of soldiers who have turned brigands, and of the inhabitants of one village raiding the sheep of the next village. Curiously enough, we seldom hear of ordinary criminals in the country being punished with death (in Alexandria, of course, executions were numerous in certain reigns; most of the Ptolemies killed remorselessly); but the ordinary criminal seems to have been punished by the confiscation of his goods. Yet Apollonius, the dioiketes, declares that if a certain man in the Fayûm is convicted of having said what his accusers allege that he said (something treasonable, one supposes) he will be "led round and hanged."​74 It was punishable with death to make a false statement as to one's name or nationality.​75 We never hear of anything like crucifixion, so appallingly common in the sphere of Roman and Carthaginian rule. Nor was imprisonment ordinarily used in antiquity as a punishment for crime. Debtors were imprisoned, and there are many bitter appeals in the papyri from debtors (debtors often to the king) who declare that they are like to die in confinement. We hear of something very unpleasant called "forcible persuasion," peithananke, used to induce confession from people suspected of defrauding the treasury. Of the details of the police procedure "we know almost nothing. One would hardly go wrong in believing that it was brutal and summary for people of no importance, violent especially where the king's revenues were concerned" (Bouché-Leclercq, who thinks it probable that the distinction made in Roman Law between honestiores and humiliores was suggested to the Romans by what they found in Egypt, where a privileged white race and a subject native race were living side by side).

The phylakitai were remunerated partly by pay (opsonion), partly by allotments of land like the military kleruchs. They  p165 may indeed be regarded as a kind of soldiers. Only the scale on which their kleroi were allotted was lower than that followed for Graeco-Macedonian soldiers in the army proper, though higher than that followed for machimoi. The normal kleros for a private in the police seems to have been 10 aruras; for an ephodos, 25 aruras. A man might be promoted from the police to a post in the army proper; we hear of an ephodos (a "Macedonian") who becomes a cavalry trooper with a kleros of 24 aruras (145 B.C.?).76

There seems to have been a special body of river police who patrolled the Nile, the main line of communication for all Egypt above the Delta, in guard boats (phylakides), but we have only one scrap of papyrus of the Ptolemaic period referring to them.77

iii. The Army and Navy​78

The native military caste, whom the Greeks called machimoi, still, as we have seen, existed as a distinct body, when Ptolemy set up his rule in Egypt. It is still doubtful to what extent native Egyptian soldiers were used in the Ptolemaic armies before Philopator. On the one hand, Polybius speaks as if the arming of Egyptians as combatants by Philopator in 217 was a momentous innovation; on the other hand, we have the statement of Diodorus that at the battle of Gaza (312), the army of Ptolemy included "a large body of Egyptians, some employed in the transport service, and others armed and serviceable for fighting." It may be, of course, that Ptolemy Soter had at first — or in the special emergency of 312 — used native troops, but afterwards given up the experiment, so that a century later it seemed an absolute departure from Ptolemaic tradition when Philopator put native soldiers in the field. Or the innovation may have consisted in natives being then for the first time given Macedonian armour and organized as a regular phalanx, whereas before they had been only lightly armed, perhaps in the ineffective old Egyptian way, and used for subordinate operations, scouting, etc.  p166 Lesquier's theory is that native machimoi were employed as combatants from Ptolemy I onwards, and that the innovation of Philopator consisted in his now arming Egyptians indiscriminately, not machimoi only. But this theory hardly fits in with the account of Polybius. In any case, even in the earlier days of the dynasty, machimoi were employed as policemen, and apparently as marines on board the war-fleet.79

Of the native troops we have a few sporadic notices in documents belonging to the later days of the dynasty. They were organized in corps called laarchiai, each under a commander called a laarchēs.​80 (The Greek word for "peoples," laoi, was ordinarily used to denote the native population.) The machimoi, who are found as military allotment-holders in the Fayûm under Euergetes II, have native names.​81 If Lesquier is right, the term machimoi had come in the last century B.C. to change its meaning. Instead of denoting a native military caste, it now meant all those soldiers whose allotments were, like the allotments of the irrigate machimoi, of 30 aruras or under — including even Greek machimoi.​82 This was one sign of that process which, under the later Ptolemies, seemed to be going some day to fuse Greeks and natives into one Egyptian people — had the process not been checked by Rome.

The armies with which the first Ptolemy fought against rival chiefs consisted mainly, as we have seen, of Macedonian troops got together from the soldiery which had been far-flung, since Alexander, over the Nearer East. A large number of these he settled, as military colonists, upon the soil of Egypt, and the process of military colonization extended further under Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III. Even after Raphia, the strength of a Ptolemaic army was still in its European troops.

We must distinguish between the regular and the mercenary troops. The regular army, as a whole, was always nominally "Macedonian," but it came, as a matter of fact, to be composed of many elements beside the Macedonian. Some of it was recruited from among the Graeco-Macedonian citizens of Alexandria or Ptolemais. The great majority of regular  p167 soldiers, other than those of Macedonian blood, were Greeks or men of the Balkan hill-country. The Thracians were seemingly the largest element after the Macedonians,​83 and, amongst the Greeks, the Cretans. There was a small proportion of Asiatics, including Jews.84

The cavalry had rank above the infantry, as may be seen by the fact that cavalry soldiers had larger allotments of land. A cavalry corps (hipparchia) is sometimes described by a number — the Second, Third, Fourth, etc. — sometimes by a special nationality — "the hipparchy of the Mysians," "the hipparchy of the Thracians," and so on. As early as the beginning of the reign of Philopator the hipparchies with racial names had come to include soldiers of all races indiscriminately,​85 but they may have retained the armour and manner of fighting characteristic of the race from which they had originallyº been recruited.

The regular infantry (pezoi, "foot-soldiers"), armed in the Macedonian way with the long pike (sarissa), constituted the heavy phalanx in a Ptolemaic line of battle. (At Raphia the phalanx numbers 20,000 men.) It was organized in chiliarchies, denoted by numbers. The Greek word for "officer" (hēgēmōn) came to be specially used of infantry officers in contrast with cavalry commanders, hipparchoi. One of the problems of papyrology is what the words ep' andrōn ("over men"), which sometimes follow the title hipparch or hegemon, mean. The prevalent opinion to‑day is that it means "on active service."86

The generals who held the supreme commands in the Ptolemaic army were often soldiers of fortune from the Greek lands overseas — not condottieri exactly in this case, because they command the king's troops, not bands they had levied themselves and brought with them. In 218 the men who take the chief part in reorganizing the Ptolemaic army are Greeks from the old Greek lands — a Magnesian, a Boeotian, an Achaean, an Argive, a Thessalian, two Cretans;  p168 and in the next reign we find as chief of the army the Aetolian Scopas, who had taken a leading part in his own country before he came to Egypt.

Beside their regular army, formed of men settled in Egypt (Macedonians, Greeks, etc.), and of native troops, the Ptolemies used mercenary soldiers on a large scale. The mercenaries consisted of troops recruited by some condottiere at one of the soldier-markets of the Greek world — Taenarum in the Peloponnesus, or Aspendus in Asia Minor — as a speculation on his own account; having formed his band, he would take service with it under any king or city who might offer him the most profitable terms. The wealth of the house of Ptolemy made it possible to hire soldiers of this kind from oversea in large numbers. For certain kinds of troops, expert in the use of a particular arm, required generally in the warfare of those days, the Ptolemies had regularly to resort to mercenary corps, recruited, in the first instance at any rate, from the peoples after which they were called — Cretan bowmen, Thracians with their large shields and straight double-edged swords (rhomphaiai), Gauls, tall fair-haired men of the North, with long narrow shields and swords of an extraordinary length, dreaded more than any other people as fighters, but liable to be a danger to their employer no less than to his enemies. At Raphia, Ptolemy IV has 10,000 mercenaries (horse and foot), of whom 3000 are Cretan and 6000 Thracians and Gauls. Mercenary soldiers in these days might often be retained by the king who hired them for periods of years. Of the 6000 mercenary foot-soldiers who fought for Ptolemy at Raphia, no less than 4000 had plots of land assigned them in Egypt, like soldiers of the regular army.

Certain regiments of picked men constituted the Royal Guard, and were stationed regularly near the king's person — usually, that is, at Alexandria. The Guard seems to have consisted both of cavalry — the Horse Guards (οἱ περὶ τὴν αὐλὴν ἱππεῖς), 700 at Raphia — and of infantry, both regulars ("Macedonians") and mercenaries. The term agēma, used in Alexander's army for a picked corps comprising both cavalry and infantry, seems in the Ptolemaic kingdom to have been applied to the regular infantry of the Guard alone. At Raphia its numbers are given as 3000 men. We hear, later on, of a special corps of native Egyptian soldiers amongst the king's household troops (the ἐπίλεκτοι μάχιμοι περὶ τὴν  p169 αὐλήν).​87 They were armed, doubtless, like the native phalanx at Raphia, in the Macedonian, not in the old Egyptian, manner. But it seems likely, as Lesquier thinks, that the native guards did not exist till after Ptolemy IV. The soldiers who thronged the streets of Alexandria in the days of the first three Ptolemies​88 would have been all Greeks and Macedonians.

Poets contemporary with Ptolemy II make us see how the prospects of military service under the rich Greek king of Egypt drew young men of adventurous temper from all over the Greek world. Here is an imaginary conversation between two of them in Cos. One has been crossed in love, and says he will go and serve as a soldier overseas. And the other: "Would that things had gone to your mind, Aeschines! But if, in good earnest, you are thus set on going into exile, Ptolemy is the free man's best paymaster!" "And in other respects what kind of man?" "The free man's best paymaster! Indulgent, too, the Muses' darling, a true lover, the top of good company, knows his friends, and still better knows his enemies. A great giver to many, refuses nothing that he is asked which to give may beseem a king; but, Aeschines, we must not always be asking. Thus if you are minded to pin up the top corner of your cloak over the right shoulder, and if you have the heart to stand steady on both feet, and bide the brunt of a hardy targeteer, off instantly to Egypt!"89

Here again is some one talking to a young wife whose husband has gone to Alexandria: "From the day that Mandris left for Egypt it is ten months now, and he has not written you a line. He has forgotten you, you may be bound, and drunk of another spring of joy! Egypt! There, think, is the temple of the Goddess [Arsinoe]. Everything that is, or can be anywhere, is in Egypt — riches, gymnasiums, power, comfort, glory, shows, philosophers, gold, young men, the precinct of the Brother-and‑Sister Gods, the king, a liberal man, the Museum, wine, all good things heart can possibly desire — women, too, more in number than the stars, and as beauti­ful as the goddesses who went to Paris for judgment."90

 p170  We have seen how Ptolemy I created an artificial Macedonia in Egypt by settling Macedonian and Greek soldiers upon the land. Possibly this system of allotment-holders (klērūchoi) was not fully developed till the reign of Ptolemy III, after whose reign our data in papyri become more plenti­ful. Their name suggests that the klērūchoi established by the Athenian state on territories belonging to Athens overseas may have served to some extent as a model, yet the position of the Greek kleruchs in Egypt was more like that of the machimoi of Pharaonic times. At Raphia the regular troops (Graeco-Macedonian) were 28,700 strong. Lesquier calculates that, according to the scale of allotment which we find followed, this — supposing all the soldiers of the regular army to have been kleruchs — would suppose that some two million aruras of the soil of Egypt had been made over in the 3rd century to these foreign military settlers. Herodotus says that in the 5th century the machimoi numbered 410,000, the allotment to each man being of 12 aruras. This would make a total of 4,920,000 aruras for the land then occupied by the machimoi. Since nothing like this amount of land can have been occupied by the reduced machimoi, when Greek rule was set up in Egypt, the amount supposed for the Graeco-Macedonian kleruchs does not seem excessive. The numbers of the native machimoi themselves in Ptolemaic Egypt was probably below the figure given for 5th‑century Egypt by Herodotus; but, besides, the normal holding of a machimos infantry private was now only 5, instead of 12, aruras. Some proportion of the new Graeco-Macedonian kleruchs may have been settled on lands which had been assigned to machimoi in former days, but they were no doubt in large part settled on land newly won by irrigation from the desert, especially in the Fayûm. Sometimes, as when Ptolemy III brought great numbers of captive soldiers from his campaigns in Asia, there must have been an allotment en masse in Egypt to new kleruchs; at other times the process of allotting bits of "Royal Land" here and there to this or the other soldier, or group of soldiers, went on as a regular part of everyday administration.

The plot of land (the klēros) was assigned to the soldier for his lifetime, unless, for any failure of duty on his part, the king was pleased to confiscate it, that is, reabsorb it into the "Royal Land." One of the kleruch's chief duties was to maintain the plot in a proper state of cultivation. The plot  p171 was not the kleruch's to bequeath; at his death it fell again to the king, to be retained as "Royal Land," or allotted afresh. Beside the plot of cultivatable land the soldier was given his lodging (stathmos). In Egypt, cultivatable land is, as a rule, too precious to be built upon. Houses are built on higher land not reached by the inundation. Some house-holder in the neighbourhood of the kleros — in the village close by — was compelled to put half his house at the disposal of the kleruch. Naturally the system of quartering the Graeco-Macedonian soldiers in this way upon the population led to continual friction and trouble. Sometimes apparently a kleruch who already had a stathmos would try to get another one in another house. That was specially forbidden by a law of Ptolemy II.​91 A kleruch was also forbidden by the same law to "draw money" from his stathmos, which probably means to let it. On the other hand, he was — certainly from the reign of Ptolemy III and perhaps from the beginning — allowed to let the kleros; it was to the interest of the state, that when a kleruch was called up for active service, there should be some one to go on cultivating his plot.

The State had a double object: (1) to have a soldier, upon whom it could lay its hand whenever there was need for his military services; (2) to have this bit of Egyptian soil properly cultivated. It was important that when the kleruch died, a younger soldier should be ready to take his place. The most natural person to take his place was his son, if he had one. When, at the kleruch's death, the plot returned to the king, to be allotted again, the king would, in ordinary circumstances, allot it to the late kleruch's able-bodied son, if he had one. In this way, although the plot never became hereditary in strict law, it tended to become hereditary in practice — provided always that the dead kleruch left a son who could be of real use to the king as a soldier. At some date between the ninth year of Euergetes I and the fifth year of Philopator, the practice changed. At the death of a kleruch, if he left a son, the son was allowed to enter upon possession of the plot immediately, but, till he had had himself registered according to law, as the new kleruch, he was not allowed to appropriate the produce of the kleros; that went, during the interval, to the king. Plots, whose produce was "retained" in this way by the king, were described as katōchimoi klēroi (from katechein, "to retain"). A third  p172 change occurred, probably in the 1st century B.C. Inheritance was now not confined to the kleruch's issue; it was extended to his next of kin.92

The question what is meant by the terms epigonos ("after-born") and the epigonē is another stock problem of papyrology. It seems now to have been definitely established that the plural epigonoi is not synonymous with "the epigone." The epigonoi were definitely organized in corps of a military character under the command of the army authorities. Lesquier's suggestion seems to be generally accepted — that it was normally obligatory for the sons of a kleruch to serve for a period of years in one of these corps. It was to the king's interest that when a kleruch died, the son who took his place should have had military training, and the government might select out of the number of his sons (if he had more than one), not necessarily the eldest, but the son who, after training in the epigonoi, seemed the most efficient. One papyrus of the time of Ptolemy II shows us men already occupying allotments of 20 aruras, whilst they are still epigonoi.​93 On the other hand, the people described as "of the epigone" do not appear to be attached to any military corps. Lesquier supposed that those who had served their time as epigonoi were afterwards described as "of the epigone." The idea, held at one time, that the son of a kleruch who might expect to succeed to his kleros was described as "of the epigone" till he had become a kleruch himself, is disproved by a papyrus​94 in which some one "of the epigone" has already been allotted a kleros. It has now been made probable by Griffith​95 that the essential point in the term epigone was the contrast of non-Egyptian with native. The term "of the epigone" is translated in Egyptian "born in Egypt amongst the descendants of stratiotai," i.e. the children and descendants of soldiers, settled in Egypt, not of Egyptian race — Greeks, Persians, Thracians, etc. When a man who had been "of the epigone" entered the army, he became himself a soldier, and ceased to be "of the epigone."

As time went on, the kleruchs came to feel that the plot they cultivated and the stathmos they lived in were really theirs. As early as the reign of Ptolemy III we have wills  p173 of kleruchs in which the stathmos is bequeathed to their wives. Whether they had any legal right to bequeath what they held from the king is doubtful. But, by the end of the 2nd century, the kleruchs have acquired a limited right of testation. "If any of them die intestate, their allotments are to go to their next of kin," says a law of Ptolemy VII (118 B.C.).​96 But no doubt the kleruch's choice of an heir was limited to some one who could take his place as a soldier; he might not, for instance, leave his kleros to a woman.

The size of the kleros corresponded to the rank of the kleruch. The kleroi of officers were something above 100 aruras; we hear of one (a hipparch?) whose kleros was of 1306 aruras. In the 3rd century the normal kleros of a trooper in a numbered hipparchy was 100 aruras; of a troop in a racial hipparchy, 70; of a private in the regular infantry, 30; of a native Egyptian machimos, 5. We do not know the size of the kleroi in the case of soldiers of the Royal Guard. A man's rank might be described by the size of his holding — a "hundred-arura man" (hekatontarūros), a "thirty-arura-man" (triakontarūros), etc. In the 2nd century there is a much greater variety in the size of kleroi. Troopers in the cavalry are now "hundred-arura-men" or "eighty-arura-men" (no more any "seventy-arura-men"). There are native troopers machimoi hippeis) who are "twenty-arura-men," and the kleros of native infantry-men has in some cases gone up from 5 to 7 aruras. But the apparent increase in the size of kleroi may be delusive. The terms "hundred-arura-man," etc., had come to denote a certain rank, and they went on being given to soldiers of that rank even when the real size of their allotments was something quite different. Under Ptolemy VI none of the "hundred-arura-men" in the village of Kerkeosiris in the Fayûm) have more than 50 aruras, none of the "eighty-arura-men" more than 40. But we find some machimoi now who are "thirty-arura-men," and that, whatever the actual size of their plots may have been, means a step towards assimilation, in rank, of native soldiers to Graeco-Macedonian soldiers — one indication amongst others of the rise of the native Egyptian element in power and importance towards the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

From the end of the 3rd century there is a change of terminology which has to be explained. The term katoikoi  p174 ("settlers") comes into use, instead of klērūchoi, to describe Graeco-Macedonian military allotment-holders. Probably this word connoted generally, in the Greek of the time, the settlement in some place of people not natives, and it was now used in Egypt of the Graeco-Macedonian allotment-holders, after the term "kleruchs" had come to include a large number of native Egyptians, who had been granted kleroi, either as soldiers or as policemen. Yet the use of the term "kleruchs" for Graeco-Macedonian allotment-holders went on to some extent, side by side with the term katoikoi, as late as the end of the 2nd century.97

Mercenary soldiers, employed by the king, received pay (opsōnion), paid in kind — corn, forage, etc. So also did young men during their service as epigonoi. But for kleruchs, the allotment and the stathmos were in lieu of pay — except, perhaps, when they were called up for active service.​98 Their armour was furnished to all soldiers, regular and mercenary, out of the royal armouries; their horses to the cavalry-men from the royal studs (hippotropheia). But, in the case of kleruchs, both armour and horses, once given, seem to have become the property of the holder; kleruchs are found bequeathing their armour and their horses in their wills.

Beside their land army, the Ptolemies maintained a war-navy; under Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III, when Egypt was generally the predominant sea-power in the Levant, this must have been very considerable. According to Callixenus​99 the warships under Ptolemy II numbered 336. But we know next to nothing about its organization. The Chief Admiral had the title of nauarchos, but the same title was probably also borne by the commanders of divisions of the fleet.​100 In the 2nd century the Governor (strategos) of Cyprus combines the office of nauarchos with his governor­ship. One papyrus of 159 B.C. shows us men of the Greek islands serving as marines.​101 The rowers and crews were recruited from  p175 native fellahîn, "Royal Cultivators," and the like. Probably the privilege conceded to the priests when they were relieved (according to the Rosetta Stone) from the σύλληψις τῶν εἰς τὴν ναυτείαν, was that fellahîn working on the temple lands should not be pressed for service in the fleet. Native Egyptians, as has been said, also probably served as marines on board the war-vessels, but Egyptians of the class of machimoi; these native marines may be meant by a term found in a papyrus of the reign of Ptolemy VI,​102 nauklēro-machimoi; they would be "five-arura-men." A tax for the support of the navy called triērarchēma is mentioned.103

One arm used in the Hellenistic armies after Alexander was the Elephant Corps — an arm first known to the Greeks when Alexander invaded India. Seleucus, at the end of the 4th century, brought by land back from the East a large supply of Indian elephants, which were stabled at Apamea in the Orontes valley. To have brought elephants from India by sea would have an impossible undertaking even for kings so rich as the Ptolemies. But, as a substitute, Ptolemy II made it a regular business of his government to organize the capture of African elephants in the regions of the South — the lands of the "Cave-dwellers," Trogodytai, as the Greeks called the primitive black tribes of that part of the world. Expeditions (Satyrus and Eumedes are mentioned as two of the commanders under Ptolemy II) were sent out to the farther coasts of the Red Sea or to Somaliland, and the captured elephants were put on board specially constructed boats called elephantēgoi ("elephant-carriers"), and brought by sea to Berenice, "Berenice of the Trogodytes" (in the bay south of Ras Benas), whence they were driven across the desert hills to Coptos, or Ombi. Here they were taken over by an official called "the superintendent of the supply of elephants" (ὁ ἐπὶ τῇ χορηγίᾲ τῶν ἐλεφάντων).​104 There was a temporary elephant depot in the Thebaïd: the chief stable was at Memphis.​105 The Adulis inscription mentions the procuring of elephants from the South amongst the great deeds of Ptolemy III, and Agatharchides says that he showed special interest in this direction. Permanent military stations appear along the Red Sea coast — Ptolemais Thērōn ("of the Elephants"), fortified by Eumedes, near Suakin; Berenice Panchrysos, "All-golden" (Massowah); Arsinoe, near the  p176 Straits of Bab-el‑Mandeb; Berenice epi Dires, just outside the Straits — and, further, along the Somaliland coast, points called after commanders who directed the elephant-hunting in the interior, and often left memorials of themselves in the shape of steles and altars — "Pythangelus' Chase," "Lichas' Chase," Cape of Pitholaus, Leon's Watchtower, Pythangelus' Haven. The soldiers detached for the elephant-hunting were called kynēgoi, "Huntsmen," and we hear of the quartermaster of one such corps with the title "grammateus of the Huntsmen." The document (223 B.C.) which gives it to us is an order to the Royal Banker at Apollinopolis (Edfu) to hand over to the grammateus the pay of the men who are going with Pitholaus to the Somaliland coast — 4 silver obols a day, apparently quite good pay. Another document in this connexion is a letter (in Greek) from some Egyptians in Berenice to some fellow-countrymen in a station away to the south (224 B.C.). We learn from this that an elephant-carrier, having discharged its animal freight, normally returned laden with corn from Egypt for the maintenance of the garrisons in the outlying coast stations. In this case the elephant-carrier has sunk on its return journey, and the letter is written to keep up the spirits of the men in the southern station by assuring them that a new elephant-carrier has almost reached completion in Berenice and will be dispatched shortly with a fresh supply of corn.106

The African elephant is zoologically quite a different animal from the Indian, and recent attempts to train the African elephant, as the Indian is trained, have not led to great success. It accords with this that the experiment of the Ptolemies to use African elephants in war against the Indian elephants of the rival dynasty proved a failure. The African elephants would not stand against the Indian elephants in battle. After the battle of Raphia the elephant-hunting was not immediately given up, but it seems to have been gradually abandoned in the later days of the house of Ptolemy. The ancient authors note the inferiority of the African elephant to the Indian, but they wrongly state that it is inferior in size. This is not true. The normal height at the shoulder of the full-grown Indian male elephant is from 8 to 10 feet, whereas the African full-grown male often reaches 12 feet. It may be that the African elephants which ran away from the Indian  p177 elephants at Raphia were not full grown; that would account both for the idea getting abroad that the African elephant was a smaller animal, and for their timidity. One may conjecture that the difficulties of transport by sea made it preferable to bring immature animals. Yet in 217 there must have been numbers of African elephants in the royal stables which, even if immature when originally brought, had grown up to their full size in the interval.

iv. The King and the Native Religion

In very early times those who served the Egyptian gods as priests do not seem to have been separated as a distinct order from the mass of the people. But many centuries before the Greeks came to Egypt such a priestly order had come into existence, in which the offices were normally filled from those who were children of priests.​107 The priesthood had come to be distinguished by a special dress, and, in virtue of the sacred lore which they possessed and of the riches which had been acquired by their corporations, to play a predominant part in the life of the country. And when the Greeks came to rule in Egypt, there these men were to be seen everywhere, with their shaven heads and faces and their white linen robes, carrying on in the great temples, which then stood in their ancient majesty, strange traditional rituals in a language the Greeks could not understand. Everywhere alike, the higher priesthood was organized into four groups, or, as the Greeks called them, phylai ("tribes"), or ethnē ("nations") — out of which, as we shall see, the Greek king was later on to have a new fifth "tribe" formed. We do not know whether the four (or five) tribes were distinguished by any difference of dignity or function, but apparently priestly duties at the temples were assigned to each tribe for a month in rotation, so that the division had its practical use. Quite different from the division into tribes was the division of the priesthood into grades according to function. The highest grade was that of high priests, the next was described by the Greeks as that of "prophets," though why the Greeks gave Egyptian priests of the second grade this name nobody knows, since they had nothing specially to do with the deliverance  p178 of oracles, and their title in Egyptian means simply "ministers of the god." The Third grade was (still to use the Greek terminology) that of "robers" (stolistai), whose duties centred round the dressing and undressing and painting of the idols. Then came, fourth, the "sacred scribes" (hierogrammateis), part of whose business it would be to supervise the putting up of new hieroglyphic inscriptions. The "feather-wearers" (pterophoroi), spoken of as a grade of priests in the Greek version of the Canopus and Rosetta decrees, is shown by Otto to be probably a sub-class of the "sacred scribes," one of whose insignia was a feather worn  p179 upon the head. Then came a miscellaneous number of priests who, although not belonging to any of the four highest grades, had the title, in Egyptian, of wē‑ʽeb, which marked them as belonging to the higher priesthood, and who were consequently members of one or other of the four (later, five) sacred tribes.

Below the four tribes came the multitude of those who might be called "priests" (hiereis), in so far as their work was subsidiary to the offices of religion, but who were not hiereis, if that word was used to translate wē‑ʽeb — ministers like the Levites in the Jerusalem temple — those who swept out the temples, those who carried the little chapels of the idols in the processions (pastophoroi), those who performed the work of mummifying the bodies of men and sacred animals (taricheutai), those who poured libations for the dead (choachytai). There were also numbers of priestesses or women attached for some purpose to the temples — like the famous Twins at the Memphis Serapeum, whose duty it was to wail for the dead Apis and to pour libations to Imhotep.

The Greeks found this organized body of men, a sacred corporation, a great ecclesiastical interest, established all over the land of Egypt in ancient prestige and power. How far it was subject to any central ecclesiastical authority is hard to say. Egyptian religion was far from being a unity, the theology and practices of one nome differing sensibly from those of another. We never hear of any president or head of the Egyptian priesthood as a whole, though at each of the larger temples a "High Priest," holding normally office for a year and elected probably by the priests themselves,​108 presided over the whole body of priests and ministers attached to it, and we find sometimes a group of smaller temples under a single ruler of the grade of "Prophet."​109 In the management of the temple the high priest was assisted by a council of priests (boulautai hiereis) chosen annually — five from each of the  p180 priestly tribes, and numbering therefore 20, or, when the tribes were increased to five, 25. Sometimes the priests from all over Egypt sent representatives to a general synod, which might make regulations binding upon the temples of Egypt as a whole. In the time of Ptolemy III we find such a pan-Egyptian synod meeting at Canopus. Later on, synods meet at Memphis.

It seems to me doubtful whether Otto is right in connecting the "yearly descent to Alexandria," from which Ptolemy V "relieved" the priesthood, with the synods. Wilcken doubts even whether the synods were spontaneous and regular assemblies of the Egyptian priesthood, and not rather summoned by the king on special occasions in order to extort an expression of loyalty.

The temples were not only places for the practice of religion. They were occupiers of land on a large scale and industrial concerns. The "Sacred Land" (hiera gē) was, as we have seen, one of the main categories of land in Ptolemaic Egypt, though it can hardly have extended to a third of the whole cultivated area, as Diodorus says it did, referring, probably, to Pharaonic days. The greater part of the "Sacred Land" was turned to account agriculturally — cornfields, vineyards, vegetable-gardens, palm-groves; some of it was occupied by towns or villages, and furnished the temples with an income from house property. Further, it included the actual precincts of the temples, and we have to think of these as places of busy merchandise, where vendors of food and clothes and household stuff had their stalls, and, no doubt, paid dues to the god for their business. Brothels (aphrodisia) seem also to have been part of the sacred establishment and swelled the revenue of the god.​110 In the great industrial development which followed the taking over of Egypt by Greeks the temples had a prominent share. The chief industry carried on by the temples was the manufacture of linen, already alluded to. Perhaps none of the linen manufactured was for sale, but (except for the quantity which had to be delivered to the king) for the use of the temples and their personnel. The same thing may have been true of other temple-industries — mills, bakeries, breweries (important  p181 in Egypt where beer was the national drink), stone-cutting, brickmaking. Even, however, if the temples did not sell the products of their industry to the general public, it was a great economic advantage to them not to have to buy the articles in question at the prevailing prices.​111 The distribution of corn-rations to the personnel of the temple was in the hands of the temple stewards (called by the Greeks oikonomoi) whose office at the Memphian Serapeum appears to be annual.112

Confronted with this ancient religious system in the land which he took over to govern for his own profit, the alien was moved by a double desire. He desired, in the first place, to enlist its influence on his side, to prevent it becoming a prompter of nationalist revolt, to use it, in fact, to damp down such flames of nationalism as might only too easily break out in a people which still cherished the memories of its former greatness; he desired, in the second place, to hold it as firmly as possible under his own control. Between these two desires he would sway according to the circumstances of the moment.

On the one hand, Ptolemy's hand was tight upon the Egyptian priesthood. They were subject, like every other class in Egypt, to close supervision and control by royal officials. Attached to the high priest of each temple was the overseer (epistates) of the temple put in by the king.​113 Although the agricultural produce of the "Sacred Land," over and above what was retained by the cultivators, went presumably, for the most part, to the temples, the management of the Sacred Land is proved from about 170 B.C. to have been in the hands of the State, and had very possibly been so from the first years of the dynasty. It was leased out, just like the Royal Land, to small cultivators, and the produce was delivered, not directly to the temples, but to the royal thesauroi.​114 A small amount of land described as gē anhierōmenē,  p182 "consecrated land," was, at any rate, after 118 B.C., immune from taxation and administered by the priests themselves. The king drew in a certain amount from the priesthood in the way of taxation, though here they were less burdened than the mass of the native population. Priests — or possibly, as in Roman times, a definite number of priests fixed by the government for each temple — were immune, as we have seen, from the poll-tax. The temples had to pay the king a land-tax in kind on the "Sacred Land," and, although this is remitted in the Rosetta inscription (196 B.C.), it is doubtful whether the remission was more than temporary. The amount of the tax is given as an artabe for every arura of cropland and a keramion of wine for every arura of vineyard. This was lighter than the ordinary land-taxes.​115 They had also, as we have seen, to deliver the king annually a tale of fine-linen cloth. Every priest of the four tribes when "initiated" into the priestly office had to pay the king an "initiation-tax" (telestikon). We also hear of a tax called epistatikon hiereōn, which seems to have been paid by bodies of priests connected with different temples for the privilege of choosing their epistates.

Besides what the priests had to pay the alien king in money or in kind, it was required of them to give continual expressions of loyalty. Every year (till Ptolemy V dispensed them) they had to send deputations to Alexandria to do homage. In each temple the king was given the status of an associated god (synnaos theos) with the Egyptian deities to whom the temple was consecrated. The priests had to engrave on the temple walls representations of their Macedonian kings and queens in the garb and posture of Egyptian Pharaohs, as actual gods, and accompany them with hieroglyphic inscriptions, in which the consecrated titles belonging to the old native kings were heaped upon them, and their piety and benevolence were declared in stone for eternity. Thus the figure which stands for a Ptolemy upon an Egyptian temple is simply the conventional type of a Pharaoh drawn according to the priestly tradition of sacred art; there is no attempt at portraiture, and we can make no guess from such monuments regarding what a Ptolemy or a Cleopatra looked like, or the way they dressed, in real life.

Whilst the Ptolemies subjected the native priesthood to such control and such burdens, they were ready on the other  p183 side to bestow much upon them. It was part of their policy to show honour to the gods of the land. On the very moment of his first coming to Egypt as satrap, Ptolemy Soter lent 50 talents towards the funeral expenses of an Apis bull​116 — a loan, the repayment of which, as Bouché-Leclercq says, he "no doubt had the good taste not to ask for"; and that the Ptolemaic court regularly made provision for the cult of the sacred animals may be gathered from what is said in inscriptions of Ptolemy II (Pithom stele), Ptolemy III (Canopus Decree), and Ptolemy V (Rosetta Stone). Whether, beside offerings made by the king to the gods of Egypt on special occasions, there were fixed contributions made by the king to the services in the great temples, we are not told, but the language of the Canopus and Rosetta decrees, and even more that of the Pithom stele,​117 seems to imply it.

Some of the highest dignitaries in the priesthood were ceremonially installed by the king, alien as he was, in person — at any rate, in the later days of the dynasty. We have a number of inscriptions referring to a great priestly family, members of whom filled the office of high priest of Ptah at Memphis right through the Ptolemaic epoch. One of them, Petubast, has the glory of having been installed, as a boy of ten years, by Ptolemy Alexander I. "King Ptolemy, who is called Alexandros, the Mother-loving God, caused him to enter into the house of the god. He drank before the king. The king gave him the . . . of gold, the fillet and skin-mantle, as Priest of Ptah at the . . . feast. He set the golden adornment upon his head, as had been done to his fathers, in his tenth year even to his eight-and‑twentieth year."118

On the Rosetta Stone, where the Greek has simply "those who have been made priests from the first year," the hieroglyphic version has "the priests whom the king has instituted in the temples from the first year."

One is here brought to the question of the apomoira, about which there is a well-known division of opinion amongst scholars. The facts which one may take as established are as follows. When Ptolemy II came to the throne, the Egyptian temples had the right of levying upon the occupiers of vineyards, orchards, and kitchen-gardens, a tax, fixed at a proportion of the produce (called by the Greeks the apomoira) for the service of the Egyptian gods. This right had probably  p184 come down to them from Pharaonic times. In 264 B.C. Ptolemy made a notable change. The apomoira now, if not before, fixed at a sixth of the produce (hektē), to be paid in kind (i.e. in so many amphorae of wine) on vineyards, and to be paid in money on paradeisoi (orchards and kitchen-gardens), was assigned, by a new law of the king's, to the cult of Arsinoe, the "goddess Philadelphus," "for the sacrifice and the libation"; and the levying of the tax was, from 264‑263 onwards, to be no longer in the hands of the priests, but in those of the State. So much is agreed; but two contradictory views are taken as to the significance of the measure. (1) It is regarded as a "disendowment of the State religion, for the benefit of the Crown," an "act of spoliation" (M.). It was Ptolemaic statecraft which camouflaged this seizure of sacred revenues by the king as an act of religious endowment. The whole of the apomoira was now diverted into the king's treasuries, and he merely made over to the temples, as a substitute, whatever he chose, in the way of benevolences or yearly subventions. The view that the measure was to the disadvantage of the temples and to the advantage of the king is taken, not only by Mahaffy, but by Bouché-Leclercq, Rostovtzeff, and Schubart. On the other hand: (2) Otto maintains that it was a measure in favour of the temples. The apomoira levied by the State was made over in full to the temples for the purposes of religious worship. It really was used "for the sacrifice and the libation." The State reaped an advantage only in so far as the priests might be attached by this, as by any other favour of the king's, to the established régime, and in so far as the goddess, to whose worship this particular revenue was destined, was a deceased queen of the reigning house. Wilcken has oscillated in his opinion. When he wrote page 158 of his Ostraka (vol. I 1899) he agreed with Mahaffy; when he reached page 615, he had, "after repeated examination," come to change his view, and he held a view similar to Otto's. In his Grundzüge (1912) he again takes the view that the measure of 264 was a "severe blow" to the Egyptian priesthood; the apomoira which had hitherto been consecrated to the Egyptian gods was diverted to the State (pp94, 95).

So far as I know, no evidence has been discovered that the produce of the apomoira was used by the State for any secular purpose, and, since unquestionably the Ptolemies did bestow large sums of money upon the native religion, there seems no  p185 reason to suppose that the apomoira was not devoted in full to the maintenance of the cult of Arsinoe in the Egyptian temples. If so, the temples can hardly be said to have suffered financially by the measure of 264. On the other hand, that measure did mean an increase of the State control of Egyptian religion and a new bending of that religion to the purposes of the dynasty. It seems to me incorrect to describe it as an act of "spoliation," though it might perhaps be called an act of enslavement. Such a view seems to me in accordance with what we can see of the policy of the Ptolemaic kings. They desired, not to impoverish the Egyptian temples, but to have the Egyptian priesthood firmly under their hand — not to diminish their revenues, but to make those revenues a benefaction bestowed by themselves. They were willing to spend upon the native religion, but only in order that the native religion might be an instrument for subjugating the minds of the native population to their rule.

In the same year in which the new law regarding the apomoira was promulgated (264 B.C.), the Pithom stele shows us Ptolemy making a gift of 750,000 deben (3125 silver talents) to the Egyptian temples. The stele seems to assert that hitherto the king had made an annual gift of 150,000 deben to the temples.

The special gifts made by the kings to the temples, besides money, took two main forms: (1) assignments of land, and (2) erection and adornment of buildings. With regard to the first we have a number of hieroglyphic inscriptions which record additions made to the "Sacred Land" attached to this or that temple by the gift of a Ptolemy. The Cairo stele given on p28 is one. It shows Ptolemy as satrap conciliating by his good works the deities and priests of Pe and Tep. He restores the gift of land made by the native king Khabbash in the 5th century and taken away by "the enemy Xerxes." A common memory of hostility to the Persians still binds together Greek and Egyptian. The Egyptian priesthood were fond of putting before their Macedonian rulers, with the suggestion that they might serve as models for imitation, the gifts made by ancient Egyptian kings. If the necessary precedent was wanting, it has been thought that the priests were capable of forging one.​119 Sethe, however, believes that  p186 the inscription in question was really the copy of an older genuine one. Against the theory of forgery is the consideration that it would have been trouble thrown away, since neither the king nor his Greek ministers could read hieroglyphics, and had in any case to take on trust what the priests told them was written on the walls. If forgery there was, it can only have been Egyptians of priestly training in the king's service whom it was designed to deceive, and would such men have been deceived by it?

Another principal document for the gifts of land made by Ptolemies to the temples is the great inscription on the temple of Horus at Apollinopolis (Edfu). At the end of the reign of Euergetes II the temple held land in four different nomes, amounting to about 14¼ square miles in all; and 5½ square miles were added to it by the donations of Ptolemy Soter II and Alexander I.

How much the Ptolemies did in building, enlarging, decorating Egyptian temples we shall never know, because the temples of Lower Egypt, with their engraved records, have perished. But from the inscriptions which still remain on temples farther up the Nile, we can trace the benefactions of one king or another of this house. Ptolemy II, so great a builder of Greek temples, seems to have done little, as compared with later kings, in the way of restoring or building Egyptian temples. The naos of the temple of Isis at Philae, a temple of Isis at Hebt in Lower Egypt of Aswan granite, and the Egyptian temple at Naucratis can be ascribed to him. What his successors did in this line will be noted in connexion with each king later on. The temples put up by the Ptolemies in Egypt are indistinguishable in general appearance from the buildings of the Pharaohs. No doubt the designing and building of them was left to the priests and native architects, and the part of the alien king in the matter was limited to his issuing an order in Greek from his palace, in Alexandria or Memphis, in which he commissioned the priests to execute work of a specified kind and to his paying the expenses.120  p187 The court could be satisfied by its agents that the loyalty and gratitude of the priests were sufficiently manifested in the hieroglyphic inscriptions. Occasionally, even on temples of Egyptian style, an inscription recording the dedication by the king, or the king and queen, is found in Greek.

Lastly, there was a mode of benefiting temples which was highly prized — the conferring upon them the privilege of asylia, "sanctuary." It was not the privilege of all temples that those who had committed some offence against the State, or fugitive slaves, could take refuge in them and be safe from arrest. Any ruler solicitous for public order could hardly desire to see many such sanctuaries in his dominions. The privilege was conferred by a special grant of the king, and perhaps the larger and more important temples all over Egypt possessed it from the early days of the dynasty. When the privilege is conferred upon the temple at Athribis in 95 B.C., it is described as similar to that possessed already "by the temple in Memphis and the temple in Busiris and sundry other temples."​121 In the Serapeum, near Memphis, only part of the precinct had the privilege attached to it. It is ominous that a station of police seems commonly to have been established in close neighbourhood to the larger temples. In the latter days of the dynasty, when internal disorders had weakened the central authority, the court felt itself obliged to make more and more concessions to the demands of the native priesthood, and quite small village temples are found possessing the privilege of sanctuary. We may still read a copy in stone of the letter which the priests of Theadelphia in the Fayûm wrote on papyrus in Greek to queen Berenice, who ruled Egypt during the flight of her father Auletes, begging her to grant asylia to their temple, and of the queen's answer — the command she had written with her royal hand upon the papyrus petition instructing the strategos of the nome — "To Dioscurides: Let it be done," and the date, corresponding with our October 23, 57 B.C.122

An important contribution made from the royal treasury was the stipend (syntaxis) paid annually to each individual priest attached to the Egyptian temples. The syntaxis was paid both in money and in kind (bread, oil), not directly by the State to each priest, but by the State to the temples,  p188 which had the duty of distributing it, according to a fixed scale, to their personnel. It is noteworthy that there seems to have been no Egyptian term for this syntaxis; in Egyptian inscriptions the Greek word is simply transcribed in Egyptian script. Possibly this indicates that it was an innovation of the Graeco-Macedonian régime.

How far patronage of the native religion on the part of the alien kings was success­ful in attaching the Egyptians to their rule must remain doubtful. In Upper Egypt, at any rate, where revolts were recurrent during the latter reigns of the dynasty, the priesthood of Amen‑Ra at Thebes may well have remembered the days when they were supreme in Egypt and chafed under a rule which kept Thebes reduced to a position of relative unimportance. It is likely that the native revolts had a good proportion of the Theban priesthood behind them. At Memphis, on the other hand, the family in whom the high-priesthood was hereditary, and whose history can be traced by their sepulchral inscriptions from the time of Ptolemy I till the days of Augustus Caesar,​123 seems to have remained on the best of terms with the ruling dynasty — princes of the Egyptian Church who maintained their affluence and worldly state by smooth accommodation to the powers that be.

The Author's Notes:

17 For an account of the cultivators and their land in Pharaonic Egypt, see Sir F. Petrie, Ancient Egypt (1925), p105.

18 Tebtunis, 5, l.10 f.; cf. p32.

19 Bouché-Leclercq, III p298.

20 For the whole subject of forced labour in Ptolemaic Egypt, see F. Oertel, Die Liturgie (1917).

21 Rostovtzeff thinks it likely that "Royal Land" predominated in Lower Egypt and the Fayûm, and "Sacred Land" in Upper Egypt; he gives it as a mere conjecture (J. E. A. VI (1920), p165).

22 Lumbroso, Archiv, V p401.

23 Chrest., No. 338.

24 Swine-flesh was taboo, as food, for the native Egyptians, but was no doubt consumed by the Greeks, and at court.

25 But see Bouché-Leclercq, IV pp121 ff.

26 Wilcken, in Schmoller's Jahrbuch, Year 45 (1921), p93.

27 Müller, Geograph. Graec. Minores, I pp123 ff. For all that has to do with quarrying and mining in Ptolemaic Egypt, see Fitzler, Steinbrüche und Bergwerke im ptolemäischen und römischen Aegypten (Leipzig, 1910).

28 Olive trees grew in the Fayûm, but olive oil does not seem to have been included in the monopoly.

29 Hibeh, 80.

30 An order from one official to another to have a specified quantity of corn — perhaps sent from certain kleroi which had gone back to the State — put on board a kontōton basilikon, 265‑264 B.C. (Hibeh, 39). An acknowledgment by a nauklēros that he has received from government agents a quantity of corn and laded it on to a kerkūros (royal punt), 251‑250 B.C. Cf. Hibeh, 38.

31 Sir F. Petrie compares the "corn-rents" of Wales.

32 Chrest. 410, 411.

33 Chrest. 3.

34 Strabo, XVII 793.

35 P. S. I. 628. A special official is mentioned (under Ptolemy II), whose business it is to see that the king gets his revenue from the spice-trade (ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς λιβανωτικῆς).

36 For the southern trade of Ptolemaic Egypt generally, see Rostovtzeff, Archiv, IV pp304 ff. See also Sir F. Petrie, Social Life in Ancient Egypt, pp159 ff.

37 Sir F. Petrie, Social Life in Ancient Egypt, pp185 ff.

38 OGI I.132.

39 Plin. VI § 58.º

40 XVII 798.

41 II 118.

42 Otto (Pauly-Wissowa, "Hippalos") puts him conjecturally about 100 B.C.

43 Wilcken, Archiv, III p320.

44 The Status of the Jews in Egypt, p33.

45 Zeno Pap. 73 and 75. Cf. Wilcken, Archiv, VII pp293, 924.

46 Chrest. 161.

47 Chrest. 162.

48 For the financial system of Ptolemaic Egypt, see Rostovtzeff, J. E. A. VI (1920); Wilcken, "Alexander der Grosse und die hellenistiche Wirtschaft," in Schmoller's Jahrbuch (Year 45, 1921).

49 See Sir F. Petrie, Ancient Egypt, 1925, pp45 ff.

50 So Partsch explains the word (Archiv V (1913), p455).

51 Attic Law allowed marriage between children of the same father, provided that they had different mothers. Marriage between children of the same mother, even when not of the same father, was incestuous.

52 For a similar form of speech among the ancient Israelites, see Song of Songs, iv.9 etc., "My sister, my spouse."

53 See Bouché-Leclercq, IV p86. The prostagma is not itself preserved; that such a prostagma had been issued was inferred by Revillout from papyri later than 219‑218 B.C.

54 Louvre, No. 13. A document of a peculiar kind is P. S. I. 64, in which a woman called Thais engages herself by a written oath to live with a man "as lawful wife" (ὡς γνησία γαμετή).

55 Wilcken, U. d. Pt. I p232. For Egyptian civil law under the Ptolemies, see Mitteis, GrundzügeII; Partsch, in Abhand. d. sächs. Akad. d. Wiss., philolog.-hist. Klasse, vol. XXXII (1920).

56 The term was not confined to appeals to the king. Appeals to chrematistai, as representing the Greek, were enteuxeis, and in the 3rd century the use of such terms was less strictly technical than afterwards (Wilcken, in Archiv, VII p81).

57 Polyb. XV.31.

58 A single body of chrematistai serves for the whole Thebaid from Syene to the Panopolite nome inclusive, but this would not necessarily prove that in other parts of Egypt the authority of a body of chrematistai extended over several nomes, though it certainly did sometimes. An inscription is put up by three chrematistai, whose circuit had been the Prosopite "and other nomes assigned," in the years 174‑172 B.C. (OGI 106).

59 Bouché-Leclercq, IV p214.

60 Tebtunis, I.34.

61 Petrie, III.28.

62 Zeno Pap. 33‑35. Cf. Wilcken, Archiv, VI (1920), p451.

63 Tebtunis, I.5.

64 Grenfell (I), 11.

65 TebtunisI.54.

66 TebtunisI.50.

67 PetrieII.18 (1).

68 Amherst, II.33.

69 PetrieII.22; III.26.

70 Petrie, III.36.

71 Tebtunis, I.7.

72 At Memphis the machairophoroi appear organized as an association which has Apollo as its cult-deity — Idumaeans, probably (as Bouché-Leclercq thinks), who worship their native Palestinian god under a Greek name (217‑216 B.C.?).

73 HibehI No. 41, l. 18. TebtunisI No. 112, ll. 81, 86; No. 116, i.º57; No. 120, l. 128; No. 121. LilleI No. 25, ll. 45, 64.

74 Zeno Pap. 33.

75 B. G. U. 1250, l. 11 f.

76 Chrest. 448.

77 Louvre, 63, col. i l. 20.

78 The principal book on the Ptolemaic forces is Lesquier, Les Institutions Militaires de l'Egypte sous les Lagides (Paris, 1911). Paul Meyer's Das Heerwesen der Ptolemäer und Römer in Aegypten (1900) is now antiquated in many of its conclusions, though still useful for reference.

79 See p67.

80 Louvre, 63 (re-edited, PetrieIII pp18 ff.), col. i l. 20; col. vii l. 197; cf. col. iv l. 105. Lesquier, Rev. Philol., 1907, p297.

81 TebtunisI pp551 ff.

82 TebtunisI Nos. 120 and 139.

83 Thracian names, Archiv, VI.385.

84 See p112.

85 A Pergamene Greek belongs to "the Thracians," etc. (PetrieIII.112 f.).

86 For some subordinate titles, συνταγματάρχης, τακτόμισθος, see, besides Lesquier, H. I. Bell in Archiv, VII (1923), p24.

87 Bull. IV (1902), p94; cf. Strack, ArchivII No. 7.

88 παντῆ κρηπῖδες, παντῆ χλαμυδηφόροι ἄνδρες (Theoc. 4).

89 Theocritus, Idyll XIV (Andrew Lang's translation).

90 Herodas, I.23 ff.

91 PetrieIII.20, col. i.

92 See article, "Katoikoi," by Oertel, in Pauly-Wissowa.

93 LilleI No. 39; cf. ArchivVII p297.

94 Berlin Papyrus, No. 11773; cf. Wilcken in ArchivVI pp367 ff.

95 Rylands, III p150.

96 Lesquier, p224; cf. p232 from a Berlin papyrus not yet edited.

97 Tebtunis, No. 124 (about 118 B.C.); Pap. Reinach, 21.3 f. (end of 2nd century).

98 Wilcken, on the basis of B. G. U., 1226‑1230, conjectures that when kleruchs were absent on active service, their plots were cultivated by Royal Cultivators, as if they formed part of the gē basilikē (ArchivVII p291; cf. also p297).

99 Athenaeus, V.203D. See the discussion in Tarn, Antigonos Gonatas, pp454 ff.

100 If ναυαρχίαι is the right reading in Diod. XIX.85.4.

101 Klio, XV.376 ff.

102 Louvre, 63, l. 22.

103 Plaumann, P. Gradenwitz, p44.

104 Hibeh, 110.

105 PetrieII No. 20.

106 See Rostovtzeff in ArchivIV pp301 ff.; Oertel, Die Liturgie, p24; Chrest., Nos. 451, 452.

107 It was not a caste in the strict sense, since occasionally outsiders, and even Greeks, might be admitted into the order, and the children of priests did not necessarily follow the priestly vocation.

108 This is questioned by Rostovtzeff, but see Oertel, Liturgie, p407.

109 The temples of Philae, Elephantine, and Abaton, second half of the 2nd century B.C. (OGI, No. 111). Perhaps the fact that the annual revenue of the High Priest of Memphis under Ptolemy Auletes was drawn from the temples over the whole of Egypt (see p348) indicates that he had in some sense the position of a head of the Egyptian Church. But we do not know how far the position of Pshereni-ptah was due to a special ordinance of the king's, how far part of the established ecclesiastical system.

110 They were perhaps staffed with female slaves belonging to the temple (hierodūloi). In India to‑day, sacred prostitutes attached to temples (devadasis), often little girls assigned to the god from childhood, are a common institution of Hinduism.

111 The temples were allowed, during two months of the year, to manufacture sesame oil for their own needs, but strictly forbidden to sell it.

112 Wilcken, U. d. Pt. I p280.

113 Wilcken, Grundz. I p111. Sometimes apparently both the office of High Priest and epistates were combined in one person. Oertel, Liturgie, p44, questions whether the epistates was appointed by the king.

114 What happened to it after it had reached the thesauros is, according to Rostovtzeff, "a question of the first importance," and, according to Wilcken, a question still obscure.

115 Wilcken, Ostr. I pp147 ff., 194 ff.

116 Diod. I.84.

117 Otto, I p381.

118 Krall, Sitzungsb., Vienna cv. (1884), pp375, 376.

119 An inscription of Ptolemaic date put up by the priests of Khnumu in the island of Seheyl, purporting to record the gift of a Pharaoh of the IIIrd dynasty (C. A. de l'Acad. des Inscr., May 19, 1893, p156).

120 Sir Flinders Petrie questions whether the king paid for all the temple-building in which he is honoured and portrayed. He thinks that it was often done by the priests out of their own revenues, and the walls decorated with the royal cartouche and representations of the king as a divine Pharaoh, because this was necessitated by the relations between Church and State. He points out that the temple of Edfu was finished in grand style at the very time when Ptolemy Auletes was in desperate straits for money.

121 OGI, No. 761.

122 Chrest., No. 70. Cf. OGI II.736. On the subject of asylia, see Lefebvre, Annales, XIX pp38 ff.; XX pp249, 250.

123 Strack, pp158 ff.; Otto, I pp204 ff.

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