CHAPTER 11 EGYPT AND ROMEZ

IF one of the emperors had been asked what were the principal contributions of Egypt to the Roman Empire, he would undoubtedly have answered: corn and money. Egypt furnished few recruits to fight in the Roman armies; the natives were assessed so low in the social scale that they were even forbidden to enlist in the legions. It contributed yet fewer members to the governing aristocracy of the empire: the Egyptians were excluded from the Roman citizenship and a fortiori from the equestrian and senatorial orders, from which were selected the officials who ruled the empire; and even Alexandrians were, until the third century A.D., debarred from the senate. Apart from the three Greek cities which were in Egypt but not of it, it produced very few men of learning and culture, such as were the pride of Greece and Asia Minor. In religion its influence was on the whole regarded as pernicious: for though the Romans were awed by the immense antiquity of the Egyptian gods and cherished a belief that their priests were the guardians of a profound esoteric philosophy, they were moved to contempt by the superstition of the natives, particularly by the worship of sacred animals. They frequently repressed the magicians and astrologers who were the chief representatives of Egyptian religion abroad, and even regarded with suspicion the widespread cult of Serapis and Isis. In the eyes of the Roman government Egypt had no intellectual or spiritual contribution to make to the life of the empire--or none that the empire would not be better without--and its people were unfitted to fight for Rome, much more to take any share in its government. The value of Egypt was purely material; its rich soil, watered and fertilized each year with unfailing regularity by the Nile and laboriously tilled by its docile inhabitants, provided an

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The Legacy of Egypt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Note v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1 - The Calendars and Chronology 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Political Approach to the Classical World 17
  • Chapter 3 - Writing and Literature 53
  • Chapter 4 - Egyptian Art 80
  • Chapter 5 - Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials 120
  • Chapter 6 - Science 160
  • Chapter 7 - Medicine 179
  • Chapter 8 - Law 198
  • Chapter 9 - Egypt and Israel 218
  • Chapter 10 - The Greek Papyri 249
  • Chapter 11 - Egypt and Romez 283
  • Chapter 12 - The Egyptian Contribution to Christianity 300
  • Chapter 13 - Egypt and the Byzantine Empire 332
  • Chapter 14 - The Contribution to Islam 348
  • Select Bibliography 368
  • Chapter 15 - The Legacy to Modern Egypt 369
  • Index 395
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