Ptolemaic Kingdom


Ptolemaic Kingdom

Infobox Former Country
conventional_long_name = Ptolemaic Kingdom
common_name = Ptolemaic Kingdom
continent = Africa
region = Mediterranean
country = Egypt
government_type = Monarchy
p1 = Macedon
s1 = History of Roman Egypt
year_start = 305 BC
event_start =
year_end = 30 BC
event_end =



image_map_caption = Ptolemaic Kingdom, in blue.
capital = Alexandria
common_languages = Greek, Egyptian
religion = Ancient Greek religion, Ancient Egyptian religion
leader1 = Ptolemy I Soter

The Ptolemaic Kingdom in and around Egypt began following Alexander the Great's conquest in 332 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. It was founded when Ptolemy I Soter declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt, creating a powerful Hellenistic state stretching from southern Syria to Cyrene and south to Nubia. Alexandria became the capital city and a center of Greek culture and trade. To gain recognition by the native Egyptian populace, they named themselves as the successors to the Pharaohs. The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions by marrying their siblings, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life. Hellenistic culture thrived in Egypt until the Muslim conquest. The Ptolemies had to fight native rebellions and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome.

Alexander the Great

In 332 BC, Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, conquered Egypt, with little resistance from the Persians. He was welcomed by the Egyptians as a deliverer. He visited Memphis, and went on pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun at the Oasis of Siwa. The oracle declared him to be the son of Amun. He conciliated the Egyptians by the respect which he showed for their religion, but he appointed Greeks to virtually all the senior posts in the country, and founded a new Greek city, Alexandria, to be the new capital. The wealth of Egypt could now be harnessed for Alexander's conquest of the rest of the Persian Empire. Early in 331 BC he was ready to depart, and led his forces away to Phoenicia. He left Cleomenes as the ruling nomarch to control Egypt in his absence. Alexander never returned to Egypt while he was still alive.

Establishment of the Ptolemaic Kingdom

Following Alexander's death in Babylon in 323 BC, a succession crisis erupted among his generals. Initially, Perdiccas ruled the empire as regent for Alexander's half-brother Arrhidaeus, who became Philip III of Macedon, and then as regent for both Philip III and Alexander's infant son Alexander IV of Macedon, who had not been born at the time of his father's death. Perdiccas appointed Ptolemy, one of Alexander's closest companions, to be satrap of Egypt. Ptolemy ruled Egypt from 323 BC, nominally in the name of the joint kings Philip III and Alexander IV. However, as Alexander the Great's empire disintegrated, Ptolemy soon established himself as ruler in his own right. Ptolemy successfully defended Egypt against an invasion by Perdiccas in 321 BCE, and consolidated his position in Egypt and the surrounding areas during the Wars of the Diadochi (322 BC-301 BC). In 305 BC, Ptolemy took the title of King. As Ptolemy I Soter ("Saviour"), he founded the Ptolemaic dynasty that was to rule Egypt for nearly 300 years.

All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name "Ptolemy", while princesses and queens preferred the names Cleopatra and Berenice. Because the Ptolemaic kings adopted the Egyptian custom of marrying their sisters, many of the kings ruled jointly with their spouses, who were also of the royal house. This custom made Ptolemaic politics confusingly incestuous, and the later Ptolemies were increasingly feeble. The only Ptolemaic Queens to officially rule on their own were Berenice III and Berenice IV. Cleopatra V did co-rule, but it was with another female, Berenice IV. Cleopatra VII officially co-ruled with Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, Ptolemy XIV, and Ptolemy XV, but effectively, she ruled Egypt alone.

The early Ptolemies did not disturb the religion or the customs of the Egyptians, and indeed built magnificent new temples for the Egyptian gods and soon adopted the outward display of the Pharaohs of old. During the reign of Ptolemies II and III thousands of Greek veterans were rewarded with grants of farm lands, and Greeks were planted in colonies and garrisons or settled themselves in the villages throughout the country. Upper Egypt, farthest from the centre of government, was less immediately affected, though Ptolemy I established the Greek colony of Ptolemais Hermiou to be its capital, but within a century Greek influence had spread through the country and intermarriage had produced a large Greco-Egyptian educated class. Nevertheless, the Greeks always remained a privileged minority in Ptolemaic Egypt. They lived under Greek law, received a Greek education, were tried in Greek courts, and were citizens of Greek cities. The Egyptians were rarely admitted to the higher levels of Greek culture, in which most Egyptians were not in any case interested.

Ptolemy I

The first part of Ptolemy I's reign was dominated by the Wars of the Diadochi between the various successor states to the empire of Alexander. His first object was to hold his position in Egypt securely, and secondly to increase his domain. Within a few years he had gained control of Libya, Coele-Syria (with Judea), and Cyprus. When Antigonus, ruler of Syria, tried to reunite Alexander's empire, Ptolemy joined the coalition against him. In 312 BC, allied with Seleucus, the ruler of Babylonia, he defeated Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, in the battle of Gaza.

In 311 BC, a peace was concluded between the combatants, but in 309 BC war broke out again, and Ptolemy occupied Corinth and other parts of Greece, although he lost Cyprus after a sea-battle in 306 BC. Antigonus then tried to invade Egypt but Ptolemy held the frontier against him. When the coalition was renewed against Antigonus in 302 BC, Ptolemy joined it, and when Antigonus was defeated and killed at Ipsus in 301 BC Ptolemy secured Palestine in the resulting settlement. Thereafter Ptolemy tried to stay out of land wars, but he retook Cyprus in 295 BC.

Feeling the kingdom was now secure, Ptolemy shared rule with his son Ptolemy II by Queen Berenice in 285 BC. He then may have devoted his retirement to writing a history of the campaigns of Alexander, which is unfortunately lost but was the principal source for the later work of Arrian. Ptolemy I died in 283 BC at the age of 84. He left a stable and well-governed kingdom to his son.

Ptolemy II

Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who succeeded his father as King of Egypt in 283 BC, was a peaceable and cultured king, and no great warrior. He did not need to be, because his father had left Egypt strong and prosperous. Three years of campaigning at the start of his reign (called the First Syrian War) left Ptolemy the master of the eastern Mediterranean, controlling the Aegean islands and the coastal districts of Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia and Caria. However, some of these territories were lost near the end of his reign as a result of the Second Syrian War.

Ptolemy's first wife, Arsinoe I, daughter of Lysimachus, was the mother of his legitimate children. After her repudiation he followed Egyptian custom and married his sister, Arsinoë II, beginning a practice which, while pleasing to the Egyptian population, was to have serious consequences in later reigns. The material and literary splendour of the Alexandrian court was at its height under Ptolemy II. Callimachus, keeper of the Library of Alexandria, Theocritus and a host of other poets, glorified the Ptolemaic family. Ptolemy himself was eager to increase the library and to patronise scientific research. He spent lavishly on making Alexandria the economic, artistic and intellectual capital of the Hellenistic Greek world. It is to the academies and libraries of Alexandria that we owe the preservation of so much Greek literary heritage.

Ptolemy III

Ptolemy III Euergetes ("the benefactor") succeeded his father in 246 BC. He abandoned his predecessors' policy of keeping out of the wars of the other Greek kingdoms, and plunged into the Third Syrian War with the Seleucids of Syria, when his sister, Queen Berenice, and her son were murdered in a dynastic dispute. Ptolemy marched triumphantly into the heart of the Seleucid realm, as far as Babylonia, while his fleets in the Aegean made fresh conquests as far north as Thrace.

This victory marked the zenith of the Ptolemaic power. Seleucus II Callinicus kept his throne, but Egyptian fleets controlled most of the coasts of Asia Minor and Greece. After this triumph Ptolemy no longer engaged actively in war, although he supported the enemies of Macedon in Greek politics. His domestic policy differed from his father's in that he patronised the native Egyptian religion more liberally: he has left larger traces among the Egyptian monuments. In this his reign marks the gradual "Egyptianisation" of the Ptolemies.

The decline of the Ptolemies

In 221 BC, Ptolemy III died and was succeeded by his son Ptolemy IV Philopator, a weak and corrupt king under whom the decline of the Ptolemaic kingdom began. His reign was inaugurated by the murder of his mother, and he was always under the influence of favourites, male and female, who controlled the government. Nevertheless his ministers were able to make serious preparations to meet the attacks of Antiochus III the Great on Coele-Syria, and the great Egyptian victory of Raphia in 217 BC secured the kingdom. A sign of the domestic weakness of his reign was rebellions by the native Egyptians. Philopator was devoted to orgiastic religions and to literature. He married his sister Arsinoë, but was ruled by his mistress Agathoclea.

Ptolemy V Epiphanes, son of Philopator and Arsinoë, was a child when he came to the throne, and a series of regents ran the kingdom. Antiochus III of The Seleucid Empire and Philip V of Macedon made a compact to seize the Ptolemaic possessions. Philip seized several islands and places in Caria and Thrace, while the battle of Panium in 198 BC transferred Coele-Syria from Ptolemeic to Seleucid control. After this defeat Egypt formed an alliance with the rising power in the Mediterranean, Rome. Once he reached adulthood Epiphanes became a tyrant, before his early death in 180 BC. He was succeeded by his infant son Ptolemy VI Philometor.

In 170 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Egypt and deposed Philometor, and his younger brother (later Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II) was installed as a puppet king. When Antiochus withdrew, the brothers agreed to reign jointly with their sister Cleopatra II. They soon fell out, however, and quarrels between the two brothers allowed Rome to interfere and to steadily increase its influence in Egypt. Eventually Philometor regained the throne. In 145 BC he was killed in the Battle of Antioch.

The later Ptolemies

Philometor was succeeded by yet another infant, his son Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator. But Euergetes soon returned, killed his young nephew, seized the throne and as Ptolemy VIII soon proved himself a cruel tyrant. On his death in 116 BC he left the kingdom to his wife Cleopatra III and her son Ptolemy IX Philometor Soter II. The young king was driven out by his mother in 107 BC, who reigned jointly with Euergetes's younger brother Ptolemy X Alexander I. In 88 BC Ptolemy IX again returned to the throne, and retained it until his death in 80 BC. He was succeeded by Ptolemy XI Alexander II, the son of Ptolemy X. He was lynched by the Alexandrian mob after murdering his mother. These sordid dynastic quarrels left Egypt so weakened that the country became a "de facto" protectorate of Rome, which had by now absorbed most of the Greek world.

Ptolemy XI was succeeded by a son of Ptolemy IX, Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos, nicknamed Auletes, the flute-player. By now Rome was the arbiter of Egyptian affairs, and annexed both Libya and Cyprus. In 58 BC Auletes was driven out by the Alexandrian mob, but the Romans restored him to power three years later. He died in 51 BC, leaving the kingdom to his ten-year-old son, Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, who reigned jointly with his 17-year-old sister and wife, Cleopatra VII.

Cleopatra

When Cleopatra VII ascended the Egyptian throne, she was only seventeen. She reigned as Queen "Philopator" and Pharaoh between 51 and 30 BC, and died at the age of 39.

The demise of the Ptolemies power coincided with the rise of the Roman Empire. Having little choice, and seeing one city after another falling to Macedon and the Seleucid Empire, the Ptolemies decided to ally with the Romans, a pact that lasted over 150 years. During the rule of the later Ptolemies, Rome gained more and more power over Egypt, and was even declared guardian of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Cleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII had to pay tribute to the Romans to keep them away from his Kingdom. Upon his death, the fall of the Dynasty seemed even closer.

As children, Cleopatra and her siblings witnessed the defeat of their guardian, Pompey, by Julius Caesar through civil war. Meanwhile, Cleopatra and her brother/husband Ptolemy XIII were both attempting to gain control of Egypt's throne.

In the middle of all this turmoil, Julius Caesar left Rome for Alexandria in 48 BC. During his stay in the Palace, he received 22 year old Cleopatra, allegedly wrapped in rug. She counted on Caesar's support to alienate Ptolemy XIII. With the arrival of Roman reinforcements, and after a few battles in Alexandria, Ptolemy XIII was defeated. He later drowned in the Nile, although the circumstances of his death are unclear.

In the summer of 47 BC, having married her younger brother Ptolemy XIV, Cleopatra and Caesar embarked for a two month on a trip along the Nile. Together, they visited Dendara, where Cleopatra was being worshiped as Pharaoh, an honor beyond Caesar's reach. They became lovers, and she bore him a son, Caesarion. In 45 BC, Cleopatra and Caesarion left Alexandria for Rome, where they stayed in a palace built by Caesar in their honor.

In 44 BC, Caesar was murdered in Rome by several Senators. With his death, Rome split between supporters of Mark Antony and Octavian. Cleopatra was watching in silence, and when Mark Antony seemed to prevail, she supported him and, shortly after, they too became lovers.

Mark Antony's alliance with Cleopatra angered Rome even more. The senators called her a sorceress, and accused her of all sorts of evil. The Romans became even more furious as Antony was giving away parts of their Empire - Tarsus, Cyrene, Crete, Cyprus, and Palestine - one after the other to Cleopatra and her children. Octavian was able to somehow gain possession of Mark Antony's will, which expressed his desire to be buried in Alexandria, rather than taken to Rome in the event of his death.

It was the boiling point when Octavian declared war on the "Foreign Queen", and off the coast of Greece in the Adriatic Sea they met in at Actium, where the forces of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa defeated the Navy of Cleopatra and Antony.

Octavian waited for a year before he claimed Egypt as a Roman province. He arrived in Alexandria and easily defeated Mark Antony outside the city, near present day Camp César. Following this defeat, and facing certain death at the hands of Octavian, Antony committed suicide by falling on his own sword.

Octavian entered Alexandria in 30 BC. Cleopatra was captured and taken to him, but Octavian had no interest in any relation, reconciliation, or even negotiation with the Egyptian Queen. Realizing that her end is close, she decided to put an end to her life. It is not known for sure how she killed herself, but many believe she used a poisonous snake as her death instrument.

With the death of Cleopatra, the dynasty of Ptolemies came to an end. Alexandria remained capital of Egypt, but Egypt became a Roman province.

Art During the Ptolemies

Hellenistic art is richly diverse in subject matter and in stylistic development. It was created during an age characterized by a strong sense of history. For the first time, there were museums and great libraries, such as those at Alexandria and Pergamon. Hellenistic artists copied and adapted earlier styles, and also made great innovations. Representations of Greek gods took on new forms. The popular image of a nude Aphrodite, for example, reflects the increased secularization of traditional religion. Also prominent in Hellenistic art are representations of Dionysos, the god of wine and legendary conqueror of the East, as well as those of Hermes, the god of commerce. In strikingly tender depictions, Eros, the Greek personification of love, is portrayed as a young child.

Greek culture had a long but minor presence in Egypt long before Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria. It began when Greek colonists, encouraged by the many Pharaohs, set up the trading post of Naucratis, which became an important link between the Greek world and Egypt's grain. As Egypt came under foreign domination and decline, the Pharaohs depended on the Greeks as mercenaries and even advisors. When the Persians took over Egypt, Naucratis remained an important Greek port and the colonist population were used as mercenaries by both the rebel Egyptian princes and the Persian kings, who later gave them land grants, spreading the Greek culture into the valley of the Nile. When Alexander the Great arrived, he established Alexandria on the site of the Persian fort of Rhakortis. Following Alexander's death, control passed into the hands of the Lagid (Ptolemaic) dynasty; they built Greek cities across their empire and gave land grants across Egypt to the veterans of their many military conflicts. Hellenistic continued to thrive even after Rome annexed Egypt after the battle of Actium and did not decline until the Islamic conquests.

Ptolemaic military

Ptolemaic Egypt, along with the other Hellenistic states outside of the Greek mainland after Alexander the Great had their armies based on the Greek phalanx model and had Greek and native troops fighting side by side often resulting in conflict

Like the ethnic diversity and demographics of Egypt under the Ptolemies, their military was filled with diverse peoples from across their territories. At first, most of the military was made up of a pool of Greek settlers who in exchange for military service were given land grants across the countryside especially during the early Ptolemies and made up the most toughest portion of the army.

With the many wars the Ptolemies were very much involved in across the Hellenistic world, their pool of Greek troops got smaller and there was not as much Greek immigration from the mainland so they were kept in the royal bodyguard and as generals and officers. Native troops were looked down upon and distrusted due to their disloyalty and frequent tendency to aid in native revolts but with the Ptolemaic decline, they gained influence and became common in the military.

Egypt had much wealth, in which the Ptolemies used to their advantage hiring vast amounts of mercernaries from many of the world. Black Ethiopians are also known to have served in the military along with the Galatians, Mysians and others. Jews, especially were imported as military settlers and made up as much as 20 percent of the military.

With the vast amount of territory spread along the Eastern Mediterranean in far away places such as Cyprus, Crete, the islands of the Aegean as far as Thrace, the Ptolemies needed a large, and powerful navy to defend these far-flung strongholds from enemies like the Seleucids and Macedon in which they were mostly successful holding on to some of them far until the fall of the Ptolemies at 30 BCE.

Cities

During the period of Egypt under the Ptolemaic Dynasty, the construction of many Greek settlements throughout their Empire to either Hellenize new conquered peoples or reinforce the area. In Egypt, there were only three main Greek cities which were Alexandria, Naucratis, and Ptolemais.

Naucratis

Of the three Greek cities, Naucratis, although its commercial importance was reduced with the founding of Alexandria, continued in a quiet way its life as a Greek city-state. During the interval between the death of Alexander and Ptolemy's assumption of the style of king, it even issued an autonomous coinage. And the number of Greek men of letters during the Ptolemaic and Roman period, who were citizens of Naucratis, proves that in the sphere of Hellenic culture Naucratis held to its traditions. Ptolemy II bestowed his care upon Naucratis. He built a large structure of limestone, about convert|330|ft|m long and convert|60|ft|m wide, to fill up the broken entrance to the great Temenos; he strengthened the great block of chambers in the Temenos, and re-established them. At the time when Sir Flinders Petrie wrote the words just quoted the great Temenos was identified with p91the Hellenion. But Mr. Edgar has recently pointed out that the building connected with it was an Egyptian temple, not a Greek building. Naucratis, therefore, in spite of its general Hellenic character, had an Egyptian element. That the city flourished in Ptolemaic times "we may see by the quantity of imported amphorae, of which the handles stamped at Rhodes and elsewhere are found so abundantly. "The Zeno papyri show that it was the chief port of call on the inland voyage from Memphis to Alexandria, as well as a stopping-place on the land-route from Pelusium to the capital. It was attached, in the administrative system, to the Saïte nome.

Alexandria

A major Mediterranean port of Egypt, in ancient times and still today, Alexandria was founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, one of the many Eastern Greek cities that he established. Located convert|20|mi|km west of the Nile's westernmost mouth, the city was immune to the silt deposits that persistently choked harbors along the river. Alexandria became the capital of the Hellenized Egypt of King Ptolemy (1) I (reigned 323—283 BC). Under the wealthy Ptolemy dynasty, the city soon surpassed Athens as the cultural center of the Greek world.

Laid out on a grid pattern, Alexandria occupied a stretch of land between the sea to the north and Lake Mareotis to the south; a man-made causeway, over three-quarters of a mile long, extended north to the sheltering island of Pharos, thus forming a double harbor, east and west. On the east was the main harbor, called the Great Harbor; it faced the city's chief buildings, including the royal palace and the famous Library and Museum. At the Great Harbor's mouth, on an outcropping of Pharos, stood the lighthouse, built ca. 280 BC. Now vanished, the lighthouse was reckoned as one of the Seven Wonders of the World for its unsurpassed height (perhaps 460 feet); it was a square, fenestrated tower, topped with a metal fire basket and a statue of Zeus the Savior.

The Library, at that time the largest in the world, contained several hundred thousand volumes and housed and employed scholars and poets. A similar scholarly complex was the Museum (Mouseion, "hall of the Muses"). During Alexandria's brief literary golden period, ca. 280–240 BC, the Library subsidized three poets—Callimachus, Apollonius, and Theocritus—whose work now represents the best of Hellenistic literature. Among other thinkers associated with the Library or other Alexandrian patronage were the mathematician Euclid (ca. 300 BC), the inventor Ctesibius (ca. 270 BC), and the polymath Eratosthenes (ca. 225 BC).

Cosmopolitan and flourishing, Alexandria possessed a varied population of Greeks and Orientals, including a sizable minority of Jews, who had their own city quarter. Periodic conflicts occurred between Jews and ethnic Greeks.

The city enjoyed a calm political history under the Ptolemies. It passed, with the rest of Egypt, into Roman hands in 30 BC, and became the second city of the Roman Empire.

Ptolemais

The second Greek city founded after the conquest in Egypt was Ptolemais, convert|400|mi|km up the Nile, where there was a native village called Psoï, in the nome called after the ancient Egyptian city of Thinis. If Alexandria perpetuated the name and cult of the great Alexander, Ptolemais was to perpetuate the name and cult of the founder of the Ptolemaic time. Framed in by the barren hills of the Nile Valley and the Egyptian sky, here a Greek city arose, with its public buildings and temples and theatre, no doubt exhibiting the regular architectural forms associated with Greek culture, with a citizen-body Greek in blood, and the institutions of a Greek city. If there is some doubt whether Alexandria possessed a council and assembly, there is none in regard to Ptolemais. It was more possible for the kings to allow a measure of self-government to a people removed at that distance from the ordinary residence of the court. We have still, inscribed on stone, decrees passed in the assembly of the people of Ptolemais, couched in the regular forms of Greek political tradition: It seemed good to the boule and to the demos: Hermas son of Doreon, of the deme Megisteus, was the proposer: Whereas the prytaneis who were colleagues with Dionysius the son of Musaeus in the 8th year, etc.

Demographics

The Ptolemaic kingdom was diverse in the people who settled and made Egypt their home on this time. During this period, Greek troops under Ptolemy I Soter were given land grants and brought their families encouraging tens of thousands of Greeks to settle the country making themselves the new ruling class. Native Egyptians continued having a role, yet a small one in the Ptolemaic government mostly in lower posts and outnumbered the foreigners. During the reign of the Ptolemaic Pharoahs, many Jews were imported from neighboring Palestine by the hundred thousands for being renowned fighters and established an important presence there. Other foreign groups settled during this time and even Galatian mercernaries were invited. Of the aliens who had come to settle in Egypt, the ruling race, Greeks, were the most important element. They were partly spread as allotment-holders over the country, forming social groups, in the country towns and villages, side by side with the native population, partly gathered in the three Greek cities — the old Naucratis, founded before 600 BC (in the interval of Egyptian independence after the expulsion of the Assyrians and before the coming of the Persians), and the two new cities, Alexandria by the sea, and Ptolemais in Upper Egypt. Alexander and his Seleucid successors were great as the founders of Greek cities all over their dominions; Greek culture was so much bound up with the life of the city-state that any king who wanted to present himself to the world as a genuine champion of Hellenism had to do something in this direction, but the king of Egypt, whilst he was as ambitious as any to shine as a Hellene, would find Greek cities, with their republican tradition and aspirations to independence, inconvenient elements in a country which lent itself, as no other did, to bureaucratic centralization. The Ptolemies therefore limited the number of Greek city-states in Egypt to those three — Alexandria, Ptolemais, Naucratis. Outside Egypt, as we have seen, they had Greek cities under their dominion — the old Greek cities in the Cyrenaica, in Cyprus, on the coasts and islands of the Aegean — but in Egypt no more than the three. There were indeed country towns with names such as Ptolemais, Arsinoe, and Berenice, in which Greek communities existed with a certain social life; there were similar groups of Greeks in many of the old Egyptian towns, but they were not communities with the political forms of a city-state. Yet if they had no place of political assembly, they would have their gymnasium, the essential sign of Hellenism, serving something of the purpose of a university for the young men. Far up the Nile at Ombi we find in 136‑135 B.C. a gymnasium of the local Greeks, which passes resolutions and corresponds with the king. And in 123 B.C., when there is trouble in Upper Egypt between the towns of Crocodilopolis and Hermonthis, the negotiators sent from Crocodilopolis are the young men attached to the gymnasium, who, according to the Greek tradition, eat bread and salt with the negotiators from the other town. All the Greek dialects of the Greek world gradually became asimilated in the Koine Greek dialect which was the common language of the Hellenistic world. Generally the Greeks of the Ptolemaic Egypt felt like a representative of a higher civilization yet were curious about the native culture of Egypt.

Arabs during the Ptolemies

Arab nomads of the eastern desert penetrated in small bodies into the cultivated land of the Nile, as they do today. The Greeks called all the land on the eastern side of the Nile "Arabia", and villages were really to be found here and there with a population of Arabs who had exchanged the life of tent-dwellers for that of settled agriculturists. Apollonius tells of one such village, Poïs, in the Memphite nome, two of whose inhabitants send a letter on September 20, 152 B.C. The letter is in Greek; it had to be written for the two Arabs by the young Macedonian Apollonius, the Arabs being unable apparently to write. Apollonius writes their names as Myrullas and Chalbas, the first probably, and the second certainly, Semitic. A century earlier Arabs farther west, in the Fayûm, organized under a leader of their own, and working mainly as herdsmen on the dorea of Apollonius the dioiketes; but these Arabs bear Greek and Egyptian names.

Ptolemaic Coinage

Ptolemaic Egypt was noted for its extensive series of coinage in gold, silver and bronze. It was especially noted for its issues of large coins in all three metals, most notably gold "pentadrachm" and "octadrachm", and silver "tetradrachm", "decadrachm" and "pentakaidecadrachm". This was especially noteworthy as it would not be until the introduction of the Guldengroschen in 1486 that coins of substantial size (particularly in silver) would be minted in significant quantities.

Further reading

* Bingen, Jean. "Hellenistic Egypt". Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007 (hardcover, ISBN 0748615784; paperback, ISBN 0748615792). "Hellenistic Egypt: Monarchy, Society, Economy, Culture". Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007 (hardcover, ISBN 0520251415; paperback, ISBN 0520251423).
* Bowman, Alan Keir. 1996. "Egypt After the Pharaohs: 332 BC–AD 642; From Alexander to the Arab Conquest". 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press
* Chauveau, Michel. 2000. "Egypt in the Age of Cleopatra: History and Society under the Ptolemies". Translated by David Lorton. Ithaca: Cornell University Press
* Ellis, Simon P. 1992. "Graeco-Roman Egypt". Shire Egyptology 17, ser. ed. Barbara G. Adams. Aylesbury: Shire Publications, ltd.
* Hölbl, Günther. 2001. "A History of the Ptolemaic Empire". Translated by Tina Saavedra. London: Routledge Ltd.
* Lloyd, Alan Brian. 2000. "The Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BC)". In "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt", edited by Ian Shaw. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 395–421

External links

* [http://www.unc.edu/awmc/downloads/aegyptusPtolSml.jpgMap of Ptolemaic Egypt]

ee also

Hellenistic period
Hellenistic civilisation
Ptolemaic dynasty
History of Egypt


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