Macedonian Imperialism and the Hellenization of the East

By Pierre Jouguet; M. R. Dobie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE ORGANIZATION OF POWER IN PTOLEMAIC
EGYPT

I

THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CENTRAL POWER

BEING the masters of Egypt by conquest, the Ptolemies looked to the doctrine of divine right for a legitimate foundation of their power. So they entered on the road opened by Alexander, and followed the traditions of the country quite naturally. For, since the earliest days of her history, Egypt had worshipped her Kings. In the Middle Kingdom ( 2160-1660 B.C.), the dogmas of the royal religion, probably formed chiefly under the preponderant influence of the priests of Heliopolis, were established, and were handed down from generation to generation almost unchanged, to the very end of Paganism. These dogmas have already been set forth and analysed in this series with perfect precision and clarity.1 Here it will be sufficient to show to what extent they were adopted by the Lagids.

In Egypt, Pharaoh was King because he was a god, the son of a god, "established heir" by "his father". According to the Heliopolitan teaching, this father of Pharaoh was naturally Ra, the Sun God of Heliopolis, who, so tradition said, was the first of all the Kings and their ancestor. But the solar religion of Ra was in the course of time amalgamated with that of other gods, who likewise conquered the whole of Egypt, some for political reasons, like Amon of Thebes, who became Amon-Ra, and others by the attraction of their divine personality, like Osiris of Mendes, with whom all the dead gods and lords of the next life came in the end to be identified. Moreover, the Egyptian kingship had a complex origin, and was born in regions and times when the worship of Ra was not preponderant. We shall not

____________________
1
CLXXIV, pp. 131 ff.; [ Moret, The Nile, passim. TRS]; CLXXV.

-286-

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