EPILOGUE

THIS study of Ptolemaic Alexandria would be incomplete in one important respect if it did not include, by way of epilogue, a brief sketch of some at least of the consequences of the incorporation of the old capital of the Ptolemies in the Roman Empire.1 I cannot discuss the complex Roman administrative machinery, or the social, economic, and juridical consequences, immediate and ultimate, of the incorporation for the population of the towns and villages of the chora. All that, like so many other topics, must be taken for granted. The story will then be contained mainly within the period of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, with particular reference to the reign of Augustus. We do well to remember that even in the reign of Tiberius, the older Alexandrians had been born Ptolemaic subjects, and had childhood memories stretching back as far as Caesar's Alexandrine War, and had perhaps participated in, or witnessed, the splendid displays of wealth and luxury which marked the years in which Antony and Cleopatra held court in Alexandria.

To Strabo, a resident of the city only a few years after the conquest, and a historian no less than a geographer, the Roman occupation marked a general turning-point in more than a purely political sense. The victory of Augustus had not only put an end to a dynasty which had proved itself unable to rule effectively, but it had also ushered in an era of peace and prosperity, of which he gives some brief indications.

His picture is in fact an an over-simplification.2 To him, the process of demoralization and disorganization, which began with the reign of Euergetes II, as portrayed in the passage of Polybius which he quotes, continued with increased momentum under the later kings. He had in mind largely the mob rule and insurrections which form a continuous part of the history of Alexandria until the end of the dynasty. This picture probably needs some adjustment, for neither under Auletes nor under Cleopatra VII does the populace seem to have forced its will on the Crown in the way that it had repeatedly done in the previous two generations. In the reign of Auletes the main focus of fury seems to have been less the ineptitude or corruption of the members of the royal house than one particular aspect of the policy of the king, his subservience to Rome. In this the Alexandrians were remarkably united against him, in spite of the presence from the beginning of his reign of an influential body of Roman sympathizers centred round the philosophers from the

-794-

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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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