3
CITY AND SOVEREIGN

THE first part of this chapter aims at establishing the outline of the constitution of Alexandria as a Greek citizen-body, ὁ δη + ̑μος ὁ ̓Αλεξανδρέων, and also at giving a sketch of the type of person who constituted the king's entourage and served the Crown by personal service. The second part examines the constitutional and juridical links between Crown and City (both the citizen-body as such, and the population as a whole), and the third narrates in chronological sequence the de facto relationship between the two elements throughout the three centuries of Ptolemaic Alexandria.


I

Our ignorance of the organization of the Alexandrian citizen-body is matched by our ignorance about the constitution by which that body was governed. Just as in the first case we have a framework with little or no knowledge of the principles according to which the various groups were organized, so the principles underlying the constitution are unknown, although from a surviving decree we know something for the third century about the assemblies, magistrates, and other organs of government, and the procedure for moving and passing a decree. It is possible to enlarge a little on this meagre evidence by consideration both of the analogy provided by the practice of the Hellenistic monarchies in general and of Alexander's own notions of civic government. These considerations are of considerable importance as raising possibilities regarding the spirit of the constitution, but in the absence of a detailed background they obviously cannot be accepted as a substitute for direct evidence.

The theoretical basis of the constitution of an old Greek city was not altered when, in the Hellenistic age, it became subject to a king, either as a simple subject city or as a capital, and similarly the new cities of the Hellenistic world did not lack the traditional organs of government, even though these might be manipulated or restricted to suit the ruler.1 The principle of the constitutional existence of a Greek city at this time is typified by Alexander's order concerning Chios, for which we possess documentary evidence: 'The constitution shall be a democracy.'2 Such

-93-

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Ptolemaic Alexandria
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publisher's Note (1984) vi
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Corrigenda xvi
  • Part I - The Frame Work 1
  • 1 - Foundation and Topography 3
  • 2 - The Population, its Organization and Composition 38
  • 3 - City and Sovereign 93
  • 4 - Industry and Trade 132
  • 5 - Religious Life 189
  • Part II - The Achievement 303
  • 6 - Ptolemaic Patronage: the Mouseion and Library 305
  • 7 - Alexandrian Science 336
  • 8 - Alexandrian Scholarship 447
  • 9 - Alexandrian Philosophy: the Main Phases 480
  • 10 - Aspects of Alexandrian Literature 495
  • 11 - The Horizon of Callimachus 717
  • Epilogue 794
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