Later, still under the reign of Ptolemy Soter (or the early reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus), the body was transferred in a second tomb, this time in Alexandria known as Sema or Soma, while later during the reign of Ptolemy IV (around 250 BC), it was finally transferred to a third tomb. This was to be a collective royal tomb, including Alexander the Great and the dead Ptolemaic kings. It had a pyramidal superstructure and was located in the Palace precinct in Alexandria89. Although Alexander never saw Alexandria during his lifetime, he became the city’s “Daimon”, once his tomb was located there, and would be venerated as the founder of the city and of its ruling dynasty. The latter were the Ptolemies, the dynasty, which succeeded Alexander in the crown of Egypt after his death and the subsequent fragmentation of this empire. This memory was preserved in the city throughout the Hellenistic period through the establishment of his cult but also with the promotion of his image in various types of media. Already since the reign of Ptolemy Soter, Alexander received a cult as imperial god, while he further appears as god in written sources of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It seems this cult was to serve as the manifestation of the fictitious relationship between the Ptolemies and Alexander and of the fact that the Ptolemaic capital was Alexander’s foundation. The cult was to be developed in a collective dynastic cult, incorporating gradually the cults of other Ptolemies such as Theoi Euergetai (Ptolemy III and his wife Berenike) and later during the reign of Ptolemy IV, Theoi Soteres, incorporating an originally separated cult, this of the first Ptolemaic couple. The body of Alexander provided the natural center for the cult. Probably the Sema, the tomb of Alexander, remained the center of the dynastic cult for several generations. The image and the memory of Alexander could several had several uses, contributing among others in the formation of the Alexandrian consciousness. For the Greek-Alexandrians, Alexandria and Egypt were their new country, Alexander the divine founder of their state and Ptolemies were the ruling dynasty, the continuers of Alexander’s saga. This combination ideas and messages could provide to the city the proper ideological background for a proud ancestry, a prestigious present and a potentially promising future in Egypt. At the same time, within they newly formed map of the Hellenistic kingdoms, through the procession of Alexander’s body and the promotion of this image and memory, Ptolemies could promote their supremacy among the rest of the kingdoms as well as their aspiration to create a new empire. In coinage, Alexander the Great is presented wearing the scalp of an elephant, bearing also the horns of Ammon on his temples, while Alexander Romance, a Ptolemaic period legendary story 89
Fraser, 1972, 16; Hölb, 2001, 89-90.
Published on Feb 12, 2014