THE surviving evidence for the cults of Ptolemaic Alexandria is in some respects abundant as compared with that at our disposal in other fields, but certain caveats must be entered concerning the general use of the material.1 First, the evidence on which we draw for any particular cult must be confined to the Ptolemaic period, unless there is very good reason for going outside it; deities did not necessarily have the same attributes in the Roman as in the Ptolemaic period. Second, we must distinguish, even though we cannot wholly exclude Erom our consideration, material from the chora of Egypt, for although there was no hard-and-fast line of demarcation in religious, as there was in constitutional matters, between Alexandria and the rest of Egypt, the religious evolution of the chora, in which Greeks, Egyptians, and other races mingled rapidly, was very different from that of Alexandria, particularly in the third century, when the population of the capital still consisted of identifiable racial elements. The only exception in this respect lies in the few documents from the Fayyum concerning members of the pure Greek population, which may reasonably be taken to represent the same religious outlook as that of the Greeks of Alexandria; though even so each of these cases must be considered individually on its merits.
One particular aspect of the racial distinction demands preliminary consideration. Although Alexandria had a large native population, this has left virtually no trace in the field of religion. It is, of course, true that part of this population became closely assimilated to the Greek element, and, as it did so, used Greek as the language in which to express itself, but nevertheless there must have been a considerable Egyptian-speaking population, particularly in the earlier period. Apart, however, from a few statues and cult-objects of the Egyptian gods, which cannot always be classed as necessarily emanating from the native population, we know nothing of the religious life of the Egyptians; no dedicated plaques with representations of Egyptian deities with hieroglyphic inscriptions survive, as they do in large numbers from cult-centres such as Thebes, Abydus, and Memphis. It seems probable that this silence corresponds to a lack of religious activity on the part of the Egyptian population. To this various factors no doubt contributed; one, of
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Publication information: Book title: Ptolemaic Alexandria. Contributors: P. M. Fraser - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1972. Page number: 189.