lunes, 14 de diciembre de 2009

Egipto (provincia romana)

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Aegyptus
Provincia del Imperio romano
OctavioyMarcoAntonio.jpg
Información
Fundación Anexionado en 31 a. C.
Fronteras *Cirenaica (oeste)
*Arabia Pétrea (este)
Administración
Emperador Creada bajo Augusto
Correspondencia actual Actual Egipto

Egipto, tras la invasión romana, fue una provincia del Imperio Romano, que comprendía la mayor parte del Egipto actual, exceptuando la península del Sinaí. La provincia de Cirenaica al oeste, y Canaán al este, tenían frontera con Egipto. El área pasó a estar bajo el dominio romano en el año 30 a. C., tras la derrota de Cleopatra y Marco Antonio por Octavio (el futuro emperador César Augusto). Sirvió como el principal proveedor de trigo para el Imperio.

Contenido


Los gobernantes romanos de Egipto (ÆGYPTOS) [editar]

El Impero Romano bajo César Augusto
(31 a. C. - 6 d. C.)

El primer procónsul de Egipto fue Cayo Cornelio Galo, quien conquistó el Alto Egipto con la fuerza de las armas, y estableció un protectorado bajo control romano sobre la zona meridional de la frontera, que había sido abandonada por los últimos ptoloméos. El segundo prefecto, Aelius Gallus, hizo una expedición, fracasada, para conquistar Arabia Petraea e incluso Arabia Felix; sin embargo, la costa del mar Rojo de Egipto no cayó bajo control romano hasta el reinado de Claudio. El tercer prefecto, Gaius Petronius, despejó los descuidados canales de irrigación, estimulando un resurgimiento de la agricultura.

Del reinado de Nerón en adelante, Egipto gozó una época de prosperidad que duró un siglo. Surgieron muchos problemas a causa de los conflictos religiosos entre griegos y judíos, especialmente en Alejandría, que después que la destrucción de Jerusalén en los años 70 llegó a ser el centro mundial de la religión y la cultura judías. Bajo Trajano ocurrió una rebelión judía, teniendo como resultado la expulsión de los judíos de Alejandría y la pérdida de todos sus privilegios, aunque volvieron pronto. Adriano, que visitó dos veces Egipto, fundó Antinoópolis en memoria de su amante Antínoo, muerto ahogado. Desde la época de su reinado en adelante se erigieron edificios en estilo grecorromano en todo el país.

Bajo Marco Aurelio, sin embargo, los abusivos impuestos originaron una rebelión (139) de los egipcios nativos, que sólo se suprimió después de varios años de lucha. Esta guerra causó gran daño a la economía y marcó el principio del descenso económico de Egipto. Avidius Casio, que dirigió las fuerzas romanas en la guerra, se proclamó emperador, y fue reconocido por los ejércitos de Siria y Egipto. Pero Marco Aurelio, sin embargo, lo depuso y asesinó, y por la clemencia del emperador fue restaurada la paz. Una rebelión semejante estalló en 193, cuando Pescenio Níger se proclamó emperador a la muerte de Pertinax. El emperador Septimio Severo dio una constitución a Alejandría y a las capitales provinciales en 202.

Moneda de "Adrianvs" inscrita con "AEGYPTOS"

Caracalla (211-217) otorgó la ciudadanía romana a todos egipcios, en común con otras provincias, pero esto debía arrastrar principalmente más impuestos, que crecieron cada vez más, como las onerosas necesidades de los emperadores. Hubo una serie de rebeliones, militares y civiles, en el siglo III.

Bajo Decio, en 250, otra vez los cristianos sufrieron persecución, pero su religión continuó propagándose. El prefecto de Egipto, en 260, Mussius Aemilianus, sostuvo primero a los Macrianos, usurpadores de Gallieno, y posteriormente (261) llegó a ser él mismo usurpador, pero fue derrotado por Gallieno.

En 272 Zenobia, la reina de Palmira, conquistó momentáneamente Egipto, pero lo perdió cuando Aureliano aplastó su rebelión contra Roma.

Dos generales se asentaron en Egipto, Probus y Domitius Domitianus, que dirigieron rebeliones triunfantes y se nombraron a sí mismos emperadores. Diocleciano capturó la Alejandría de Domitius, en 296, y reorganizó toda la provincia. Su edicto de 303, contra los cristianos, inició una nueva época de persecución. Pero esta fue la última gran tentativa de impedir el constante crecimiento del cristianismo en Egipto.

El cristianismo [editar]

Icono donde se representa a San Mercurio matando al emperador romano Flavio Claudio Juliano. Iglesia de San Mercurio. El Cairo.

Los cristianos egipcios creen que el Patriarcado de Alejandría fue fundado por el evangelista Marcos en torno al año 33, pero apenas se conoce cómo surgió el cristianismo Egipto. El historiador Helmut Koester ha propuesto, aportando algunas pruebas, que en Egipto los cristianos originalmente estaban predominantemente influenciados por el gnosticismo, aunque los esfuerzos de Demetrio de Alejandría consigueron armonizar gradualmente las creencias de la mayoría en con el resto de la cristiandad.

La antigua religión de Egipto, sorprendentemente, opuso poca resistencia a la expansión del cristianismo. Posiblemente, la larga historia de colaboración del clero con los gobernantes griegos y romanos de Egipto les había despojado de su autoridad. Además, la vital religión nativa pudo haber comenzado a perder su interés entre las clases más bajas por la carga de impuestos y servicios litúrgicos instituidos por los emperadores romanos, que empobreció su economía.

Alejandría fue uno de los grandes centros cristianos hacia finales del segundo siglo. Los apologistas cristianos Clemente de Alejandría y Orígenes vivieron gran parte de su vida en esa ciudad, donde escribieron y enseñaron.

Constantino I puso fin a la persecución de los cristianos con el Edicto de Milán en 312. En el transcurso del siglo IV fue prohibido el paganismo, y casi desapareció en el siglo siguiente, según señaló amargamente el poeta Palladius. Permaneció oculto durante muchas décadas: el último edicto contra el paganismo fue publicado en 390, aunque un graffiti en File muestra que el culto a Isis aun persistía en los templos del Alto Egipto en el siglo quinto. Muchos judios de Egipto también se convirtieron al cristianismo, pero bastantes se negaron a hacerlo, lo que les dejó como la única minoría religiosa importante en un país cristiano.

La Iglesia de Egipto logró la libertad y la supremacía, sin embargo pronto surgió el tema del cisma y conflictos prolongados que a veces desembocaron en guerra civil. Alejandría se convirtió en el centro de la primera gran división en el mundo cristiano, entre los arrianos, llamados así por el sacerdote de Alejandría Arrio, y sus adversarios, representados por Atanasio, que llegó a ser arzobispo de Alejandría en 326 después de que el Primer Concilio de Nicea rechazara las opiniones de Arrio. Atanasio fue expulsado de Alejandría y alternativamente reintegrado como arzobispo más de cinco veces. La controversia provocó años de disturbios y rebeliones durante la mayor parte del siglo IV. En el curso de uno de estos, fue destruido el gran templo de Serapis el Serapeo de Alejandría, la fortaleza del paganismo, en el año 385 que tras el decreto de Teodosio I, marcó el declive final del paganismo en todo el Imperio romano.

En Egipto había una antigua tradición de especulación religiosa, lo que permitió prosperar las polémicas religiosas. No sólo florece el arrianismo, sino otras doctrinas, como el gnosticismo y maniqueísmo, ya sea nativo o importado, que encuentra muchos seguidores.

Una práctica religiosa surgida en Egipto fue el monasticismo de los Padres del Desierto, quienes renunciaban al mundo material con el fin de seguir una vida de pobreza y devoción a la Iglesia. Los cristianos de Egipto asumieron el monasticismo con tanto entusiasmo que el emperador Valente tuvo que limitar el número de hombres que podría convertirse en monjes. El monasticismo fue exportado de Egipto al resto del mundo cristiano.

Otra novedad de este período fue el desarrollo de copto, una forma del idioma egipcio antiguo escrito con el alfabeto griego complementado por varios signos para representar los sonidos presentes en Egipto, que no existían en griego. El copto se inventó como un medio para garantizar la correcta pronunciación de palabras mágicas y los nombres de los textos "paganos", los llamados Papiros Mágicos griegos. El copto fue pronto adoptado por los primeros cristianos para difundir la palabra del Evangelio a los nativos egipcios y se convirtió en la lengua litúrgica del cristianismo egipcio y sigue siéndolo hasta el día de hoy.

Titulatura egipcia de los emperadores romanos [editar]

Los sacerdotes egipcios grabaron, en escritura jeroglífica, los títulos de los emperadores romanos que ornamentaron o ampliaron sus templos, como los situados en Dendera, Esna y la isla de File.

Se han conservado los títulos de los siguientes gobernantes: César Augusto, Tiberio, Calígula, Claudio, Nerón, Galba, Otón, Vespasiano, Tito, Domiciano, Nerva, Trajano, Adriano, Antonino Pío, Marco Aurelio, Lucio Vero, Cómodo, Septimio Severo, Caracalla, Geta, Macrino, Diadumeniano, Filipo el Árabe, Decio, Valeriano, Probo, Diocleciano, Maximiano, Galerio y Maximino Daya.

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Titilatura común
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Dinastía Julia-Claudia [editar]

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Autocrator Kaysars
Emperador, César
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Tiberis Kaisars, anjdyet, mery Iset Ptah
Tibero César, sempiterno, amado de Isis y Ptah

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Cayo César Germánico, sempiterno
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Nota: Las letras representan el sonido de los jeroglíficos que no se encuentran en la base de datos del programa WikiHiero.

Cuatro Emperadores [editar]

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Galba
Saru Gelbes Autegretyr
Servio Galva Emperador
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César sempiterno
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Merks Autuns
Marco Otón
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Marco Otón
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Uayspasinis Netyju
Vespasiano Augusto
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Uspasyans
Vespasiano

Dinastía Flavia [editar]

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Tito
Uespasinis Netyju
Vespasiano Augusto
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Tito
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Domiciano Augusto
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Domiciano

Emperadores Antoninos [editar]

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Nerui Netyju
Nerva Augusto
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Draianis, jadyet
Trajano, sempiterno
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Trajano Augusto
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Trajano Hadriano, sempiterno
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Aurely Antonynys
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Lucio Aurelio
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Aurys Kemedes
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Dinastía de los Severos [editar]

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Septimio Severo
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Severo Augusto
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Antonino Augusto
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Geta Augusto
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Macrynus netyju
Macrino Augusto
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Diadumeniano
Netsytuymenys
Diadumeniano

Crisis del siglo III [editar]

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Filipo el Árabe
Philipera netyju
Filipo Augusto
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Tekes netyju
Decio Augusto
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Ualyryns
Valeriano

Ilirios [editar]

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Probo
Audegriutors Gesers
Emperador César
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Perup
Probo

Tetrarcas [editar]

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n
t
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Diocleciano
Netesengriutsyiun
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Maximiano
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Maximiano
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Maximino

Véase también [editar]

Referencias [editar]

Referencias digitales

Enlaces externos [editar]

Commons


Periodo precedente Periodo Época siguiente
Periodo helenístico Periodo Romano Edad Media (Bizancio)
Categorías: Historia de Egipto | Historia del Antiguo Egipto | Provincias romanas


Egypt (Roman province)OneRiotYahooAmazonTwitterdel.icio.us

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Ancient Egyptian History Ankh.svg

Dynasties of Ancient Egypt
Ægyptus redirects here. See Egypt Province for the province of the Ottoman Empire.

The Roman province of Egypt (Aegyptus) was established in 30 BC after Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) defeated his rival Mark Antony, deposed his lover Queen Cleopatra VII and annexed the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt to the Roman Empire. The province encompassed most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula. Aegyptus was bordered by the provinces of Creta et Cyrenaica to the West and Judaea (later Arabia Petraea) to the East. Egypt would come to serve as a major producer of grain for the empire.

Contents

[edit] Roman rule in Egypt

The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117-138 AD), showing, in northern Africa, the imperial province of Aegyptus (Egypt). 2 legions deployed in 125
Province of Aegyptus highlighted
Northern Africa under Roman rule.

The first prefect of Aegyptus, Gaius Cornelius Gallus, brought Upper Egypt under Roman control by force of arms, established a protectorate over the southern frontier district, which had been abandoned by the later Ptolemies. The second prefect, Aelius Gallus, made an unsuccessful expedition to conquer Arabia Petraea and even Arabia Felix; however, the Red Sea coast of Egypt was not brought under Roman control until the reign of Claudius. The third prefect, Gaius Petronius, cleared the neglected canals for irrigation, stimulating a revival of agriculture.

From the reign of Nero onward, Aegyptus enjoyed an era of prosperity which lasted a century. Much trouble was caused by religious conflicts between the Greeks and the Jews, particularly in Alexandria, which after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 became the world centre of Jewish religion and culture. Under Trajan a Jewish revolt occurred, resulting in the suppression of the Jews of Alexandria and the loss of all their privileges, although they soon returned. Hadrian, who twice visited Aegyptus, founded Antinoöpolis in memory of his drowned lover Antinous. From his reign onward buildings in the Greco-Roman style were erected throughout the country.

Under Antoninus Pius, however, oppressive taxation led to a revolt in 139, of the native Egyptians, which was suppressed only after several years of fighting. This Bucolic War, led by one Isidorus, caused great damage to the economy and marked the beginning of Aegyptus's economic decline. Avidius Cassius, who led the Roman forces in the war, declared himself emperor in 175, and was acknowledged by the armies of Syria and Aegyptus. On the approach of Marcus Aurelius, however, he was deposed and killed and the clemency of the emperor restored peace. A similar revolt broke out in 193, when Pescennius Niger was proclaimed emperor on the death of Pertinax. The Emperor Septimius Severus gave a constitution to Alexandria and the provincial capitals in 202.

Funerary masks uncovered in Fayoum, 1st century

Caracalla (211-217) granted Roman citizenship to all Egyptians, in common with the other provincials, but this was mainly to extort more taxes, which grew increasingly onerous as the needs of the emperors for more revenue grew more desperate.

There was a series of revolts, both military and civilian, through the third century. Under Decius, in 250, the Christians again suffered from persecution, but their religion continued to spread. The prefect of Aegyptus in 260, Mussius Aemilianus, first supported the Macriani, Gallienus usurpers, and later, in 261, become a usurper himself, but was defeated by Gallienus.

Hadrian coin celebrating the Aegyptus province, struck c. 135, the obverse shows Egypt reclining while she holds the Sistrum of Hathor and resting on a basket of grain, as well as an ibis atop the column at her feet
Zenobia coin reporting her title as queen of Egypt, Augusta and showing her diademed and draped bust on a crescent with the obverse showing a standing figure of Ivno Regina, Juno, holding a patera in her right hand, a sceptre in her left, a peacock at her feet, and a brilliant star to the left

Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, took the country away from the Romans when she conquered Aegyptus in 269, declaring herself the Queen of Egypt also. This warrior queen claimed that Egypt was an ancestral home of hers through a familial tie to Cleopatra VII. She was well educated and familiar with the culture of Egypt, its religion, and its language. She lost it later when the Roman emperor, Aurelian, severed amicable relations between the two countries and retook Egypt in 274—following an unsuccessful four month siege of the defenses of Zenobia—and only by waiting until her food supplies became exhausted.

Two generals based in Egypt, Probus and Domitius Domitianus, led successful revolts and made themselves emperors. Diocletian captured Alexandria from Domitius in 298 and reorganised the whole province. His edict of 303 against the Christians began a new era of persecution. This was the last serious attempt to stem the steady growth of Christianity in Egypt, however.

[edit] Roman government in Egypt

The Diocese of Egypt, ca. 400 AD

As Rome overtook the Ptolemaic system in place for areas of Egypt, they made many changes. The effect of the Roman conquest was at first to strengthen the position of the Greeks and of Hellenism against Egyptian influences. Some of the previous offices and names of offices under the Hellenistic Ptolemaic rule were kept, some were changed, and some names would have remained but the function and administration would have changed. The Romans introduced important changes in the administrative system, aimed at achieving a high level of efficiency and maximizing revenue. The duties of the prefect of Egypt combined responsibility for military security through command of the legions and cohorts, for the organization of finance and taxation, and for the administration of justice.

The reforms of the early fourth century had established the basis for another 250 years of comparative prosperity in Egypt, at a cost of perhaps greater rigidity and more oppressive state control. Egypt was subdivided for administrative purposes into a number of smaller provinces, and separate civil and military officials were established; the praeses and the dux. By the middle of the sixth century the emperor Justinian was eventually forced to recognize the failure of this policy and to combine civil and military power in the hands of the dux with a civil deputy (the praeses) as a counterweight to the power of the church authorities. All pretense of local autonomy had by then vanished. The presence of the soldiery was more noticeable, its power and influence more pervasive in the routine of town and village life.

[edit] Economy

Roman trade with India started from Egypt according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, first century
History of Egypt
Coat of Arms of Egypt
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Ancient Egypt
Persian Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Roman Egypt
Christian Egypt
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The economic resources that this imperial government existed to exploit had not changed since the Ptolemaic period, but the development of a much more complex and sophisticated taxation system was a hallmark of Roman rule. Taxes in both cash and kind were assessed on land, and a bewildering variety of small taxes in cash, as well as customs dues and the like, was collected by appointed officials. A massive amount of Egypt's grain was shipped downriver both to feed the population of Alexandria and for export to Rome. Despite frequent complaints of oppression and extortion from the taxpayers, it is not obvious that official tax rates were very high. In fact the Roman government had actively encouraged the privatization of land and the increase of private enterprise in manufacture, commerce, and trade, and low tax rates favoured private owners and entrepreneurs. The poorer people gained their livelihood as tenants of state-owned land or of property belonging to the emperor or to wealthy private landlords, and they were relatively much more heavily burdened by rentals, which tended to remain at a fairly high level.

Overall, the degree of monetarization and complexity in the economy, even at the village level, was intense. Goods were moved around and exchanged through the medium of coin on a large scale and, in the towns and the larger villages, a high level of industrial and commercial activity developed in close conjunction with the exploitation of the predominant agricultural base. The volume of trade, both internal and external, reached its peak in the first and second centuries. But by the end of the third century, major problems were evident. A series of debasements of the imperial currency had undermined confidence in the coinage, and even the government itself was contributing to this by demanding more and more irregular tax payments in kind, which it channeled directly to the main consumers, the army personnel. Local administration by the councils was careless, recalcitrant, and inefficient; the evident need for firm and purposeful reform had to be squarely faced in the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine I.

[edit] Military

This wealthiest of provinces could be held militarily by a very small force; and the threat implicit in an embargo on the export of grain supplies, vital to the provisioning of the city of Rome and its populace, was obvious. Internal security was guaranteed by the presence of three Roman legions (later reduced to two), each about 6,000 strong, and several cohorts of auxiliaries. In the first decade of Roman rule the spirit of Augustan imperialism looked farther afield, attempting expansion to the east and to the south. Most of the early Roman troops stationed there were Greco-Macedonians and native Egyptians once part of the dissolved Ptolemaic army finding service for Rome. Eventually Romans were a majority.

[edit] Social Structure in Early Roman Egypt

The social structure in Egypt under the Romans was both unique and complicated. On the one hand, the Romans continued to use many of the same organizational tactics that were in place under the Ptolemies. At the same time, the Romans saw the Greeks in Egypt as “Egyptians”, an idea that both the native Egyptians and Greeks would have rejected.[1] To further compound the whole situation, Jews, who themselves were a very Hellenized overall, had their own communities, separate from both Greeks and native Egyptians.[2] The Romans began a system of social hierarchy that revolved around ethnicity and place of residence. Other than Roman citizens, a Greek citizen of one of the Greek cities had the highest status, and a rural Egyptian would be in the lowest class.[3] In between those classes was the metropolite, who was almost certainly of Hellenic origin. Gaining citizenship and moving up in ranks was very difficult and there were not many available options for ascendancy.[4] One of the routes that many followed to ascend to another caste was through enlistment in the army. Although only Romans citizens could serve in the legions, many Greeks found their way in. The native Egyptians could join the auxiliary forces and attain citizenship upon discharge.[5] The different groups had different rates of taxation based on their social class. The Greeks were exempt from the poll tax, while Hellenized inhabitants of the nome capitals were taxed at a lower rate than the native Egyptians, who could not enter the army and paid the full poll tax.[6]

The social structure in Egypt is very closely linked to the governing administration. Elements of centralized rule that were derived from the Ptolemaic period lasted into the fourth century CE. One element in particular was the appointment of strategoi to govern the ‘nomes’, the traditional administrative divisions of Egypt. Boulai, or town councils, in Egypt were only formally constituted by Septimius Severus. It was only under Diocletian later in the third-century that these boulai and their officers acquired important administrative responsibilities for their nomes. The Augustan takeover introduced a system of compulsory public service, which was based on poros (property or income qualification), which was wholly based on social status and power. The Romans also introduced the poll tax which was similar to tax rates that the Ptolemies levied, but the Romans gave special low rates to citizens of metropolises.[7] The city of Oxyrhynchus had many papyri remains that contain much information on the subject of social structure in these cities. This city, along with Alexandria, shows the diverse set-up of various institutions that the Romans continued to use after their takeover of Egypt.

Just as under the Ptolemies, Alexandria and its citizens had their own special designations. The capital city enjoyed a higher status and more privileges than the rest of Egypt. Just as it was under the Ptolemies, the primary way of becoming a citizen of Roman Alexandria was through showing when registering for a deme that both parents were Alexandrian citizens. Alexandrians were the only Egyptians that could obtain Roman citizenship.[8] If a common Egyptian wanted to become a Roman citizen he would first have to become an Alexandrian citizen. The Augustan period in Egypt saw the creation of urban communities with “Hellenic” landowning elites. These landowning elites were put in a position of privilege and power and had more self-administration than the Egyptian population. Within the citizenry, there were gymnasiums that Greek citizens could enter if they showed that both parents were members of the gymnasium based on a list that was compiled by the government in 4-5 CE.[9] The candidate for the gymnasium would then be let into the ephebus. There was also the council of elders known as the gerousia. This council of elders did not have a boulai to answer to. All of this Greek organization was a vital part of the metropolis and the Greek institutions provided an elite group of citizens. The Romans looked to these elites to provide municipal officers and well-educated administrators.[10] These elites also paid lower poll-taxes than the local native Egyptians, fellahin. It is well documented that Alexandrians in particular were able to enjoy lower tax-rates on land.[11] Interestingly enough, these privileges even extended to corporal punishments. Romans were protected from this type of punishment while native Egyptians were whipped. Alexandrians, on the other hand, had the privilege of merely being beaten with a rod.[12] Although Alexandria enjoyed the greatest status of the Greek cities in Egypt, it is clear that the other Greek cities, such as Antinoopolis, enjoyed privileges very similar to the ones seen in Alexandria.[13] All of these changes amounted to the Greeks being treated as an ally in Egypt and the native Egyptians were treated as a conquered race.

The Gnomon of the Idios Logos shows the connection between law and status. It lays out the revenues it deals with, mainly fines and confiscation of property, to which only a few groups were apt. The Gnomon also confirms that a freed slave takes his former master’s social status. The Gnomon demonstrates the social controls that the Romans had in place through monetary means based on status and property.

[edit] Christian Egypt

Egyptian Christians believe that the Patriarchate of Alexandria was founded by Mark the Evangelist around 33, but little is known about how Christianity entered Egypt. The historian Helmut Koester has suggested, with some evidence, that originally the Christians in Egypt were predominantly influenced by gnosticism until the efforts of Demetrius of Alexandria gradually brought the beliefs of the majority into harmony with the rest of Christianity. While the collective embarrassment over their origins would explain the lack of details for the first centuries of Christianity in Egypt, there are too many gaps in the history of Roman times to claim that our ignorance in this situation is a special case.

The ancient religion of Egypt put up surprisingly little resistance to the spread of Christianity. Possibly its long history of collaboration with the Greek and Roman rulers of Egypt had robbed its religious leaders of authority. Alternatively, the life-affirming native religion may have begun to lose its appeal among the lower classes as a burden of taxation and liturgic services instituted by the Roman emperors reduced the quality of life. In a religious system which views earthly life as eternal, when earthly life becomes strained and miserable, the desire for such an everlasting life loses its appeal. Thus, the focus on poverty and meekness found a vacuum among the Egyptian population. In addition, many Christian tenets such as the concept of the trinity, a resurrection of deity and union with the deity after death had close similarities with the native religion of ancient Egypt[citation needed]. Or it may simply have been because branches of the native religion and Christianity had converged to a point where their similarities made the change a minor one.

By 200 it is clear that Alexandria was one of the great Christian centres. The Christian apologists Clement of Alexandria and Origen both lived part or all of their lives in that city, where they wrote, taught, and debated.

With the Edict of Milan in 312, Constantine I ended the persecution of Christians. Over the course of the fourth century, paganism was suppressed and lost its following, as the poet Palladius bitterly noted. It lingered underground for many decades: the final edict against paganism was issued in 390, but graffiti at Philae in Upper Egypt proves worship of Isis persisted at its temples into the fifth century. Many Egyptian Jews also became Christians, but many others refused to do so, leaving them as the only sizable religious minority in a Christian country.

No sooner had the Egyptian Church achieved freedom and supremacy, however, than it became subject to schism and prolonged conflict which at times descended into civil war. Alexandria became the centre of the first great split in the Christian world, between the Arians, named for the Alexandrian priest Arius, and their opponents, represented by Athanasius, who became Archbishop of Alexandria in 326 after the First Council of Nicaea rejected Arius's views. The Arian controversy caused years of riots and rebellions throughout most of the fourth century. In the course of one of these, the great temple of Serapis, the stronghold of paganism, was destroyed. Athanasius was alternately expelled from Alexandria and reinstated as its Archbishop between five and seven times.

Egypt had an ancient tradition of religious speculation, enabling a variety of controversial religious views to thrive there. Not only did Arianism flourish, but other doctrines, such as Gnosticism and Manichaeism, either native or imported, found many followers. Another religious development in Egypt was the monasticism of the Desert Fathers, who renounced the material world in order to live a life of poverty in devotion to the Church.

Egyptian Christians took up monasticism with such enthusiasm that the Emperor Valens had to restrict the number of men who could become monks. Egypt exported monasticism to the rest of the Christian world. Another development of this period was the development of Coptic, a form of the Ancient Egyptian language written with the Greek alphabet supplemented by several signs to represent sounds present in Egyptian which were not present in Greek. Coptic is invented as a means to ensure correct pronunciation of magical words and names in "pagan" texts, the so-called Greek Magical Papyri. Coptic was soon adopted by early Christians to spread the word of the gospel to native Egyptians and it became the liturgical language of Egyptian Christianity and remains so to this day.

[edit] Byzantine Egypt

Near East in 565, showing Byzantine Egypt and its neighbors.

The reign of Constantine also saw the founding of Constantinople as a new capital for the Roman Empire, and in the course of the fourth century the Empire was divided in two, with Egypt finding itself in the Eastern Empire with its capital at Constantinople. Latin, never well established in Egypt, would play a declining role with Greek continuing to be the dominant language of government and scholarship. During the fifth and sixth centuries the Eastern Roman Empire, today known as the Byzantine Empire, gradually transformed itself into thoroughly Christian state whose culture differed significantly from its pagan past. The fall of the Western Empire in the fifth century further isolated the Egyptian Romans from Rome's culture and hastened the growth of Christianity. One consequence of the triumph of Christianity was the final oppression and demise of the Egypt's indigenous culture: with the disappearance of the Egyptian priests and priestesses who officiated at the temples, no-one could read the hieroglyphics of Pharaonic Egypt, and its temples were converted to churches or abandoned to the desert.

The Eastern Empire became increasingly "oriental" in style as its links with the old Græco-Roman world faded. The Greek system of local government by citizens had now entirely disappeared. Offices, with new Byzantine names, were almost hereditary in the wealthy land-owning families. Alexandria, the second city of the empire, continued to be a centre of religious controversy and violence. Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, convinced the city's governor to expel the Jews from the city in 415 with the aid of the mob, in response to the Jews' alleged nighttime massacre of many Christians.[citation needed] The murder of the philosopher Hypatia marked the final end of classical Hellenic culture in Egypt. Another schism in the Church produced a prolonged civil war and alienated Egypt from the Empire.

The new religious controversy was over the nature of Jesus of Nazareth. The issue was whether he had two natures, human and divine, or one. This may seem an arcane distinction, but in an intensely religious age it was enough to divide an empire. The Monophysite controversy arose after the First Council of Constantinople in 381 and continued until the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which ruled in favour of the position that Jesus was "In two natures". This belief was not held by the monophysites as they stated that Jesus was out of two natures in one nature called, the "Incarnate Logos of God". Many of the monophysites claimed that they were misunderstood, that there was really no difference between their position and the orthodox position, and that the Council of Chalcedon ruled against them because of political motivations alone. But Egypt and Syria remained hotbeds of Monophysite sentiment, and organised resistance to the orthodox view was not suppressed until the 570s.

Egypt nevertheless continued to be an important economic center for the Empire supplying much of its agriculture and manufacturing needs as well as continuing to be an important center of scholarship. It would supply the needs of Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean as a whole. The reign of Justinian (482565) saw the Empire recapture Rome and much of Italy from the barbarians, but these successes left the empire's eastern flank exposed. The Empire's "bread basket" now lacked for protection.

[edit] Persian invasion

The Byzantine Empire by 626 after Heraclius reconquered Syria, Palestine and Egypt from the Sassanids.

The Persian conquest of Egypt, beginning in 619 or 618, was one of the last Sassanid triumphs in the Roman-Persian Wars against Byzantium. Khosrow II Parvêz had begun this war in retaliation for the assassination of Emperor Maurice (582-602) and had achieved a series of early successes, culminating in the conquests of Jerusalem (614) and Alexandria (619). A Byzantine counteroffensive launched by Emperor Heraclius in the spring of 622 shifted the advantage, however, and the war was brought to an end by the fall of Khosrow on 25 February 628 (Frye, pp. 167–70). The Egyptians had no love of the emperor in Constantinople and put up little resistance. Khosrow's son and successor, Kavadh II Šêrôe (Šêrôy), who reigned until September, concluded a peace treaty returning territories conquered by the Sassanids to the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Persian conquest allowed Monophysitism to resurface in Egypt, and when imperial rule was restored by Emperor Heraclius in 629, the Monophysites were persecuted and their patriarch expelled. Egypt was thus in a state of both religious and political alienation from the Empire when a new invader appeared.

[edit] Arab conquest

The Mediterranean world in 650 by this time the Arabs had conquered Egyptus and Syria from the Byzantines

An army of 4,000 Arabs led by Amr Ibn Al-Aas was sent by the Caliph Umar, successor to Muhammad, to spread Islamic rule to the west. These Arabs crossed into Egypt from Palestine in December 639, and advanced rapidly into the Nile Delta. The Imperial garrisons retreated into the walled towns, where they successfully held out for a year or more. But the Arabs sent for reinforcements, and in April 641 they captured Alexandria. The Byzantines did assemble a fleet with the aim of recapturing Egypt, and won back Alexandria in 645, but the Muslims retook the city in 646, completing the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Thus ended 975 years of Græco-Roman rule over Egypt.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ E.G. Turner, "Oxyrhynchus and Rome," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology Vol. 79(1975), p.3
  2. ^ "Oxyrhynchus and Rome", p.3
  3. ^ Richard Alston, "Philo's In Flaccum: Ethnicity and Social Space in Roman Alexandria," Greece and Rome, Second Series Vol. 44, No. 2 (Oct. 1997), p. 166
  4. ^ Naphtali Lewis, "Greco-Roman Egypt: Fact or Fiction?," On Government and Law in Roman Egypt, (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), p.145
  5. ^ Idris H. Bell, "HEllenic Culture in Egypt," The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 8, No. 3/4 (Oct, 1992), p.148
  6. ^ Bell, p.148
  7. ^ Lewis, p.141
  8. ^ A.N. Sherwin-White, The Roman Citizenship, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), p.391
  9. ^ E.G. Turner, "Roman Oxyrhynchus," The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology Vol. 38, p. 84
  10. ^ "Roman Oxyrhynchus", p. 84
  11. ^ Diana Delia, Alexandrian Citizenship During the Roman Principate, (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991), p.31
  12. ^ Delia, pp.31-32
  13. ^ Delia, p.32

[edit] References

  • Alston, Richard. “Philo's In Flaccum: Ethnicity and Social Space in Roman Alexandria”. Greece and Rome. Second Series. Vol. 44. No. 2 (Oct. 1997). p. 166. http://www.jstor.org/stable/643058. Accessed October 27, 2008.
  • Angold, Michael. 2001. Byzantium : the bridge from antiquity to the Middle Ages. 1st US Edition. New York : St. Martin's Press
  • Bell, Idris H. “Hellenic Culture in Egypt.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 8, No. ¾ (Oct., 1922), pp. 139–155.
  • 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
  • Bowman, Alan K. and Dominic Rathbone. “Cities and Administration in Roman Egypt.” The Journal of Roman Studies 82 (1992): 107-127. Database on-line. JSTOR, GALILEO; accessed October 27, 2008
  • Chauveau, Michel. 2000. Egypt in the Age of Cleopatra: History and Society under the Ptolemies. Translated by David Lorton. Ithaca: Cornell University Press
  • Delia, Diana. "Alexandrian Citizenship During the Roman Principate." Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991.
  • El-Abbadi, M.A.H. “The Gerousia in Roman Egypt.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 50 (Dec., 1964): 164-169. Database on-line. JSTOR, GALILEO; accessed October 27, 2008.
  • Ellis, Simon P. 1992. Graeco-Roman Egypt. Shire Egyptology 17, ser. ed. Barbara G. Adams. Aylesbury: Shire Publications Ltd.
  • Hill, John E. 2003. "Annotated Translation of the Chapter on the Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu." 2nd Draft Edition. [1]
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE Draft annotated English translation. [2]
  • Hölbl, Günther. 2001. A History of the Ptolemaic Empire. Translated by Tina Saavedra. London: Routledge Ltd.
  • Lewis, Naphtali. “Greco-Roman Egypt”: Fact or Fiction?” On Government and Law in Roman Egypt, ed. Ann Ellis Hanson, 138-149. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995.
  • 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
  • Peacock, David. 2000. "The Roman Period (30 BC–AD 311)". In The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, edited by Ian Shaw. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 422–445
  • Sherwin-White, A.N. "The Roman Citizenship." Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973. p. 391.
  • Turner, E.G. “Oxyrhynchus and Rome.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 79 (1975): 1-24. Database on-line. JSTOR, GALILEO; accessed October 27, 2008.
  • Turner, E.G. “Roman Oxyrhynchus.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 38 (Dec., 1952): 78-93. Database on-line. JSTOR, GALILEO; accessed October 27, 2008.

[edit] External links

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