Diocese of Egypt (Late Antiquity)


Diocese of Egypt (Late Antiquity)
Dioecesis Aegypti
Διοίκησις Αἰγύπτου
Diocese of Egypt
Diocese of the Roman Empire
ca. 380 – ca. 642
Location of Diocese of Egypt
The Diocese of Egypt ca. 400.
Historical era Late Antiquity
 - Established 380
 - Muslim conquest of Egypt 642
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The Diocese of Egypt (Latin: Dioecesis Aegypti, Greek: Διοίκησις Αἰγύπτου) was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of Egypt and Cyrenaica. Its capital was at Alexandria, and its governor had the unique title of praefectus augustalis (Augustal Prefect, of the rank vir spectabilis) instead of the ordinary vicarius. The diocese was initially part of the Diocese of the East, but in the year 370, it became a separate entity, which lasted until its territories were finally overrun by the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the 640s.

The diocese was included in the Praetorian prefecture of the East and included originally five provinces:

  • Aegyptus Iovia, later renamed Aegyptus, comprised the western Nile Delta, and had Alexandria as its capital;
  • Aegyptus Herculia, later renamed Augustamnica, comprised the eastern Delta, with Pelusium as capital;
  • Thebais, which was bounded to the south by the First Cataract of the Nile, with Ptolemais Hermiou as capital;
  • Libya Inferior (or Interior), corresponding to Marmarica, with Paraetonium as capital;
  • Libya Superior (or Exterior), corresponding to Cyrenaica, with Ptolemais as capital.

Attributes Iovia and Herculia were related to the tetrarchs Diocletian and Maximian respectively, and were later changed to remove the pagan connotations.

By the early 6th century, the provinces had increased with the creation of:

  • Aegyptus I
  • Aegyptus II
  • Augustamnica I, with Pelusium as capital;
  • Augustamnica II
  • Thebais Superior
  • Thebais Inferior
  • Arcadia, with capital Oxyrhyncus

During the reforms of Justinian I in the late 530s, the administrative structure changed again. The post of Augustal Prefect (vicar of the diocese) was abolished, and five independent governors (duces), who combined military and civilian authority, were appointed instead. Two of them, the dux Alexandriae and the dux Thebaidos also held the title augustalis (dux et augustalis).[1]

List of Praefecti Augustalii

Taken from the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire (except for Theognostus):

  • Eutolmius Tatianus (367-370)
  • Olympius Palladius (370-371)
  • Aelius Palladius (371-374)
  • Publius (ca. 376)
  • Bassianus (ca. 379)
  • Hadrianus (ca. 379)
  • Iulianus (ca. 380)
  • Antoninus (381-382)
  • Palladius (382)
  • Hypatius (383)
  • Optatus (384)
  • Florentius (384-386)
  • Paulinus (386-387)
  • Eusebius (387)
  • Flavius Ulpius Erythrius (388)
  • Alexander (388-390)
  • Evagrius (391)
  • Hypatius (392)
  • Potamius (392)
  • Orestes (415)
  • Theognostus (ca. 482)[2]
  • Petrus Marcellinus Felix Liberius (ca. 539-542)

Notes

  1. ^ The Cambridge History of Africa, p. 447
  2. ^ Duchesne, Louis (1909): Early History of the Christian Church. From Its Foundation to the End of the Fifth Century. – Volume III: The Fifth Century – Read Books, 2008, p. 550. ISBN 978-1-44377-159-7


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