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The Emperor as Pharaoh: Provincial Dynamics and Visual Representations of Imperial Authority in Roman Egypt, 30 B.C. - A.D. 69

A dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Cincinnati in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate of Philosophy in the Department of Classics of the College of Arts and Sciences by Sean Joseph O’Neill June, 2011

B.A., University of Michigan, 1996 M.A., University of Cincinnati, 1999

Committee Chair: Peter van Minnen, Ph.D.


Octavian’s capture of Egypt in 30 B.C. brought an end to Ptolemaic rule and marked the beginning of Roman control of a province which would become one of the most important sources of grain and other material goods within the empire. As in other provinces, Roman officials tried to incorporate their own ideological constructs regarding imperial authority into long-standing local traditions (which, in postPtolemaic Egypt, included a distinctly indigenous Egyptian mode of ethnic and religious expression, as well as a Greek and an increasingly syncretized Greco-Egyptian one). The present work focuses on the reflections both of their efforts and of how they were received, primarily through the examination of visual media created within two realms: namely, the body of coin-types produced at the Roman mint in Alexandria and the vast range of pharaonic-style reliefs carved on, within, or near the indigenous temples. These two distinct media have been selected for their informative value vis-àvis the Roman attempts to shape provincial perceptions and the Egyptian religious views of the emperor’s legitimacy as an inheritor of the pharaonic mantle. The present analysis of the images produced in these two realms centers on the imperial reigns comprising the first century of Roman rule over the Egyptian province (30 B.C. – A.D. 69). This time-frame allows for a close examination of the full array of socio-economic, religious, artistic, and archaeological effects related to the transition from Ptolemaic rule. While many of these effects are already observable during the reign of Augustus, the inclusion of the entire line of Julio-Claudian emperors in this study allows for the analysis of a wider and even more illustrative range of images (including potential “dynastic” examples).


The Alexandrian coins were by far the most widely circulated material products of Roman agency in Egypt. Although the degree of intervention in type-selection from Rome itself is a matter of debate (one also treated in the present work), the exclusive representation of Roman interests in the full range of Alexandrian types can be readily demonstrated.

On the other hand, the creation of pharaonic-style relief images

remained under the direct control of the Egyptian clergy, far removed from the possibility of consistent intervention on the part of Roman authorities. As the priests were directly responsible for the propagation of notions of the ritual role played by the emperor as pharaoh, the reliefs and their associated texts constitute faithful sources regarding the probable religious perceptions of the Roman ruler among ethnic Egyptians. Along these lines, an analysis of the reliefs and of the context of their creation present the opportunity to gain insight on two levels: first and foremost, they facilitate an evaluation of the impact of the novel nature of Roman rule, Roman economic policies, and the various “messages� issued by provincial officials on the Egyptian priests and temples; in addition, they offer a glimpse into the conception of Roman authority as it was formulated within the culture embraced by the majority of provincials.


© Copyright 2011 Sean Joseph O’Neill v


A project of this scope cannot be completed without vast amounts of input and support from advisors, mentors, instructors, friends, family members, and multiple institutions. I am grateful to have this forum to express my deep appreciation to the many individuals, schools, centers of research, and foundations which have made this study possible. From 1996 until 2002, and again from 2003 until 2004, I was fortunate enough to receive a Louise Taft Semple Fellowship from the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Classics. Without this generous fellowship, I would not have been able to learn and to perform research within one of our county’s top Classics programs without perpetual concerns over financial support. Once granted admission into the Cincinnati program, I had the privilege of performing my studies under the guidance of a top-notch faculty with a wonderful range of scholarly interests; I would not have a career without the academic and professional guidance offered by these individuals. Special mention should be made of all those who actively directed my coursework during my first three years in the program: Archie Christopherson, C. Brian Rose, Barbara Burrell, Michael Sage, Jack Davis, Gisela Walberg, Harold Gotoff, Diane HarrisCline, Getzel Cohen, Holt Parker, and Pedar Foss. I am particularly indebted to Archie Christopherson for his wonderful instruction in a wide variety of sub-fields (philology, history, and archaeology), for his on-the-mark advice regarding my graduate studies and long-term career goals, and for his lasting friendship. Much of this dissertation was composed with assistance from the works located in or obtained by the unrivaled Burnam Classics Library at the University of Cincinnati. Its collection is overshadowed only by its excellent staff, headed during the beginning of my graduate career by Jean Wellington and later by Jacqueline W. Riley. They were vi

assisted by two of the best in the business: Michael Braunlin and David Ball. Without the help provided by this magnificent library staff, I would undoubtedly have been lost at sea while trying to navigate the vast ocean of publications on my chosen topic. Other collections which served me well over the course of my dissertation research include those at the following institutions: Franklin & Marshall College, the American Research Center in Egypt, the American University at Cairo, Gettysburg College, RandolphMacon College, the College of Charleston, and the University of Michigan. In matters of technology, my infallible guru has been John Wallrodt, Senior Research Associate in the Classics Department at the University of Cincinnati. My own familiarity with the increasingly useful and widely employed technologies within the field of Classics owes a great deal to the advice of this “I.T. virtuoso.” He is also the driving force behind the creation and maintenance of the Iris Lightbox image database, which has been an invaluable tool for my teaching and research. The “glue which holds a department together” is always to be found in the front office, and U.C. Classics is no exception. Within this all-important zone, the assistance, support, and friendship of Gayle McGarrahan, Kenneth Gottorff, and Laura Deller have been consistent and crucial components of my graduate career. More recently, Deema Maghathe has provided wonderfully useful guidance to me and appears to be a morethan-worthy successor to the throne occupied by her illustrious predecessors. The financial and logistical support of the Binational Fulbright Commission and the American Research Center in Egypt, both based in Cairo, made the academic year 2002-2003 the most important of this dissertation’s “infancy.” Many seeds of later work on this project were sown during that wonderful year in Egypt, and my Fulbright Fellowship and support from A.R.C.E. were the elements which made the experience possible. Key associates in Egypt included Aladin Morsy and Dr. Hassan Amer. vii

No less important to my dissertation research were the two months which I spent working at the American Numismatic Society in 2001 (with support from a Summer Seminar fellowship granted through that same institution).

The Society’s

collection of coins minted at Alexandria is unmatched by any on this side of the globe. The staff at the ANS has always been exceptionally helpful and full of keen knowledge, and the leadership provided by their director, Dr. Ute Wartenberg, was and is inspiring. Among the staff members at the ANS, my dear friend and former Classical Archaeology graduate instructor Sebastian Heath is deserving of special mention for his consistent encouragement and always-entertaining conversation. Among the many other friends and “consistent encouragers” I have had during my graduate career, Elizabeth Riorden stands out like a beacon akin to the wondrous Pharos lighthouse in ancient Alexandria. Liz, the long-time head architect on the Troia Project (one of my favorite graduate experiences, to be sure) and a tenured professor of architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, has been a very dear friend for many years. She has managed to keep me focused, entertained, and well fed during every one of those many years, and for that she deserves more than the verbal reflections of gratitude offered here. I have had too many close friends among the graduate-student population of UC Classics to list them all here. Among those who offered direct support, encouragement, and opportunities for enjoyment and relaxation during the key dissertation-writing phase of my career, Christina Kolb and Elizabeth McNearney should be singled out as a dynamic duo (equally energetic in their encouragement and in their insistence upon interjecting good, old-fashioned fun into the life of their fellow grad students). My first year in the program would have been impossible to negotiate without my “aunties”: Susann Lusnia and Christine Panas. I would be remiss, however, if I were to omit a viii

“group thank-you” to my entire graduate cohort: Kathleen Quinn, Carrie Galsworthy, Julie Hruby, John Lahti, Alexandra Lesk, and Aaron Wolpert. Each one of them has been a friend and supporter from the very beginning of my career at UC. Among this distinguished sextet, Aaron Wolpert can and should be singled out for his invaluable assistance in the design and methodological framing of this dissertation, especially during the shaping of the project within the “proposal phase.” From the accepted proposal to the final draft, the persistent guidance of members of my dissertation committee nurtured the dissertation (and its author) in ways which allowed it to survive, to grow, and to find a finished form that could satisfy all involved. Each former and current position on my committee was filled by individuals who were generous human beings and brilliant scholars; I was certainly fortunate, in this regard. Former committee member Michael Sage was joined by C. Brian Rose (now at the University of Pennsylvania) and Barbara Burrell (now at Brock University), and for several years this trio took up the burden of developing my research, occasionally carrying it (and me) on their shoulders during what was often an arduous journey. The later addition of Peter van Minnen made my “Dream Team” complete and represented the tying together of all strands of my research under the helpful hands of a scholar who lives and breaths the study of “Egypt after the pharaohs.” Without his kind agreement to join the crew after the formation of the original ship’s complement, this dissertation may have contained more than a few blunders and embarrassing missteps (all of my own creation) which would have detracted from the finished product.

His keen knowledge of the relevant bibliography is as thorough as it is

discriminating, and his editorial eye misses nothing. In short, his joining of the UC faculty and subsequent joining of the committee while work was already in progress stands as one of the most wonderfully fortuitous occurrences of my graduate career. ix

Before Dr. van Minnen came on board, Michael Sage had lent his considerable expertise in the realm of ancient history to the orientation of this dissertation’s various diachronic perspectives. He added another careful editorial eye, and his contribution to the first two chapters is truly immeasurable. His retirement from the faculty and from all associated committees meant that he would be missed, but it certainly did not mean that his influence on the present work would be any less enduring. Every ship needs a sound, steady crew-member at the rudder, and on my own committee that post has been overseen by Barbara Burrell. Her experience in and close familiarity with a vast array of sub-fields within our mother discipline produced several invaluable contributions to each and every chapter within the present work. Poor Barbara was often the recipient of “initial drafts” – that is, before the eyes and editing of the other committee members had helped to weed out the thorns and thistles – and she was unfailingly patient and generous in her many comments and suggestions in response to those drafts.

Indeed, her comments on these first, raw drafts were

invariably helpful and always seemed to contain one or two thoughts which were nothing short of revelatory. Last but certainly not least, there is the ebullient C. Brian Rose. The basic ideas spurring the creation of the dissertation itself were the products of a pair of brainstorming sessions with Brian, who has been the driving force of this vessel from the journey’s outset. He has always been one to deliver insightful advice and strong encouragement with a broad and genuine smile – and for that he deserves not only my own gratitude, but also the cementing of his well-earned reputation as “nicest fellow in the field.” In this sense, one could not ask for a better “Doktorvater.” He has been unfailingly kind and generous (despite being a most busy and in-demand scholar), and his sense of when to press hard and when to ease the sails has been infallible. x

The lion’s share of gratitude, however, I reserve for my own family. Indeed, without their endorsement of my secondary and university educations, my hopes to enter a graduate program in Classics, and all of my choices along the way, the journey would have been finished before it had a chance to begin. My parents, Gerald and Elaine O’Neill, have never questioned my desire to pursue the highest degree in a field which I love, never allowed their concern about my travels to international “hot spots” to detract from their support, and never voiced major reservations about long-term opportunities for employment. I have been blessed. The support of my siblings, Patrick O’Neill and Kate Brown, has not once been in doubt but has instead been consistently demonstrated and reiterated. My extended family has also been a key presence during my graduate career, as all of my mother’s siblings (and their children) live in the Cincinnati area. My aunts, uncles, and cousins are all part of the “network of strong encouragement,” and their role in my propulsion along a graduate career cannot be overstated. They, like me, have been guided by the light provided by the now-departed matriarch of the family: my grandmother, Mabel Salem. This dissertation is dedicated to her memory.


Table of Contents





List of Figures




Chapter I: Egypt under Roman Rule, 30 B.C. – A.D. 69


A.) The Transition in Ruling Authority and the Nature of Roman Rule


B.) The Administrative Hierarchy and Organization of the Province


C.) Rome’s Interactions with Alexandria and Egypt


D.) Geography and Demography of Alexandria and Egypt


E.) The Wealth of Egypt and Rome's Extraction of Resources


F.) Roman Attitudes toward Egypt & the Relationship between Ruler and Subject


G.) The Worship of Gods and Emperors in Roman Egypt


Chapter II: The Creation of Images of the Ruling Authority in Egypt


A.) The Ptolemaic Precedents


B.) The Egyptian Priesthood and Temples under Roman Rule


C.) Administration and Production at the Roman Mint in Alexandria Chapter III: Images Created during the Reign of Augustus

103 110

A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types


Chapter IV: Images Created during the Reign of Tiberius


A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types



Chapter V: Images Created during the Reign of Gaius


A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types


Chapter VI: Images Created during the Reign of Claudius


A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types


Chapter VII: Images Created during the Reign of Nero


A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types


Chapter VIII: Images Created under Galba, Otho, and Vitellius


A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types


Chapter IX: Diachronic Trends & Features of Roman Imperial Images in Egypt


A.) The Extent of External Influence on Type-selection at the Alexandrian Mint


B.) Variations in Divine Attributes and Assimilation in Representations of Emperors and Empresses on the Alexandrian Coinage


C.) Religious Iconography on Alexandrian Coin Types


D.) Restriction of Select Alexandrian Coin Types to Billon or Bronze Issues


E.) Distinguishing Features of Roman-era Reliefs Carved in Pharaonic Style


F.) Sacred Images and Structures as Evidence for the Development of the Religious Conception of the Julio-Claudians among Ethnic Egyptians


Chapter X: Conclusions


Catalogue: Reliefs in Pharaonic Style, 30 B.C. – A.D. 69


Relief Images Featuring Augustus


Relief Images Featuring Tiberius


Relief Images Featuring Gaius (Caligula)

271 xiii

Relief Images Featuring Claudius


Relief Images Featuring Nero


Relief Images Featuring Galba and Otho




Appendix I: Julio-Claudian Figures Found among Freestanding Sculptural Images in Egypt


Appendix II: Denominations of the Aes Coinage Produced at Alexandria during the Julio-Claudian Era


Plates (Figures 1-48)



List of Figures Fig. 1.

Map of Egypt during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras (Bowman 1986, 10).

Fig. 2.

Augustus before deities at Deir el-Medina (Hölbl 2000, 59, Abb. 56).

Fig. 3.

Augustus before Nut on Opet temple at Karnak (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 4.

Augustus on eastern wall of birth house in court beyond first pylon of Isis temple, Philae (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 5.

Augustus crowned by Buto and Nekhbet on eastern wall of Isis temple, Philae (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 6.

Earliest Augustan aes issue with reused Ptolemaic reverse (Burnet et al. 1992, no. 5001).

Fig. 7.

Second Series issue with Mars Ultor temple on reverse (Burnett et al. 1992, no. 5003).

Fig. 8.

Augustan Second Series issue with triumphal arch reverse type (Burnett et al. 1992, no. 5004).

Fig. 9.

Augustan Fourth Series aes issue with Gaius Caesar on reverse (Burnett et al. 1992, no. 5019).

Fig. 10.

Fifth Augustan Series type-pairs with grain-ear reverses (Burnett et al. 1992, nos. 5026 and 5028).

Fig. 11.

Tiberius offering crowns to Harpokrates (Hölbl 2004, 68, Abb. 88a).

Fig. 12.

Tiberius offering crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt to Harpokrates; relief carved on birth house within Isis temple complex, Philae (Hölbl 2004, 68, Abb. 88b).

Fig. 13.

Tiberius presents bouquets to Isis in relief on birth house at Philae (Hölbl 2004, 67, Abb. 87b).

Fig. 14.

Tiberius as smiting pharaoh; west exterior wall, Temple of Isis, Philae (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 15.

Tiberius purified, crowned, and adored; Arsenuphis temple, Philae (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 16.

Tiberian hippopotamus type (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 17.

Claudian hippopotamus type (photo by S. O’Neill). xv

Fig. 18.

Tiberian tetradrachm series featuring laureate Tiberius obverse types and radiate Divus Augustus reverse types (Burnett et al. 1992, nos. 5089, 5090, 5091/1, and 5091/2).

Fig. 19.

Gaius standing behind Thoth in adoration before Hathor and Harsiesis; entrance to outer hypostyle, Temple of Hathor, Dendera (Hölbl 2000, 79, Abb. 89).

Fig. 20.

Claudius offers bouquet to Osiris and Geb, with inscription in Greek beneath the dais on which the two deities are seated; Hathor temple, Dendera (Hölbl 2000, 82, Abb. 93).

Fig. 21.

Tiberius offers heh; west colonnade, Philae (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 22.

Claudian tetradrachm featuring reverse type with Messalina as Demeter (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 23.

Claudian tetradrachm with bust of Antonia occupying reverse type (Burnett et al. 1992, no. 5117).

Fig. 24.

Claudian aes issue; obverse type featuring Agrippina II (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 25.

Claudian billon drachm; reverse type featuring Serapis (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 26.

Claudian billon didrachm with reverse type featuring family members (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 27.

Nero offering a pair of uzat eyes in relief on west colonnade at Philae (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 28.

Tetradrachm issued during reign of Nero with bust of Octavia featured on reverse type (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 29.

Neronian tetradrachm featuring bust of Agrippina the Younger on reverse type (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 30.

Neronian tetradrachm reverse type with enthroned emperor (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 31.

Neronian tetradrachm type-pair with agathodaimon reverse (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 32.

Nero in radiate crown on obverse type (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 33.

Nero in radiate crown and aegis on obverse type (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 34.

Neronian tetradrachm featuring sebastophoros ship (photo by S. O’Neill). xvi

Fig. 35.

Neronian tetradrachm featuring Olympian Zeus reverse (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 36.

Neronian tetradrachm featuring Nemean Zeus reverse type (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 37.

Neronian tetradrachm featuring Hera Argeia reverse (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 38.

Tetradrachm with Isthmian Poseidon reverse type (Burnett et al. 1992, no. 5300).

Fig. 39.

Actian Apollo reverse type on Neronian tetradrachm (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 40.

Pythian Apollo reverse on Neronian tetradrachm (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 41.

Relief scenes featuring Galba on propylon of Isis temple complex at Deir el-Shelwît (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 42.

Otho spears tortoise and offers incense on propylon at Deir el-Shelwît (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 43.

Otho offers crowns of Lower and Upper Egypt on propylon at Deir el-Shelwît (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 44.

Otho pours a libation before Isis and Osiris on propylon at Deir el-Shelwît (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 45.

Galban tetradrachm with reverse type featuring Alexandria(?) in elephant headdress (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 46.

Galban tetradrachm with reverse type featuring Eleutheria with wreath and scepter (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 47.

Galban tetradrachm with reverse type featuring Kratesis (photo by S. O’Neill).

Fig. 48.

Galban tetradrachm with reverse featuring Roma (photo by S. O’Neill).



The issues surrounding the precise nature and practical operation of Roman rule in Egypt have frequently been glossed over in publications which treat the functioning of Rome’s empire in the provinces. The image usually painted by these works is one of a Hellenistic kingdom’s administration being largely maintained and of a unique, wellprotected province which was consistently exploited for its ample resources by the government installed after the Octavianic conquest. On a certain level, in fact, this basic evaluation presents an accurate summary of Egypt’s condition under Roman rule; on the other hand, it ignores a wealth of detail pertaining to several of the distinctly “Roman” elements of the new administration and many other traces of the occasional refinement of the structure and functioning of the provincial government. Curiously, despite the publication of a vast number of papyri, synthetic studies aimed at moving beyond this initial view into the complexities of urban and rural life in Egypt during the era of Roman rule had been fairly rare until the early 1980s. This circumstance can be explained to some degree by the temporal and geographic settings of Roman Egypt, which had long been viewed as encompassing too late a period for the attention of Egyptologists and as comprising too isolated and exceptional a province for the specialized study of Classicists. Attempts to gauge the ways in which or the extent to which Roman rule affected the population groups residing within Egypt’s borders had been even more rare. Even the seminal Life in Egypt under Roman Rule by famed papyrologist Naphtali Lewis, a work which offered a thorough examination of the importance of prayer and private religion within the province, its societal structure, and its day-to-day economic workings as reflected by the surviving papyri, gave sparse treatment to the actual 1

perspectives and perceptions of the Egyptian provincials in regard to the ruling regime. The tide began to turn when, in 1983, Françoise Dunand examined the diverse religious perceptions of the transition from Ptolemaic rule in her article “Culte royal et culte impérial en Égypte: continuités et ruptures.” The pendulum had clearly swung farther in this same direction with the publication of Alan K. Bowman’s Egypt after the Pharaohs in 1986, from which point there followed a flurry of works – including some coauthored by Bowman himself – on Rome’s treatment of the distinct social and ethnic classes in Alexandria and Egypt, on the demography of these populations, and on the sources for and challenges of gauging provincial reactions to imperial rule (including issues related to political integration and to social and economic mobility). Bowman himself argued that while the Alexandrian citizens and other Hellenized segments of the urban population perceived the installation of Roman ruling authority from the perspective of the political opportunities and economic advantages which they enjoyed after Egypt’s annexation, the transition from Ptolemaic rule passed “largely unnoticed and probably unmourned” for most ethnic Egyptians living in the Nile Valley.1 Dunand, for her part, had already made a similar case regarding alterations in the practice of ruler cult among Hellenized provincials and what she perceived to be, in stark contrast, a fairly discreet and unobtrusive continuity in the religious conception of the Roman emperor as “semi-divine pharaoh” among ethnic Egyptians.2 The present study is intended, to a certain extent, to test these assertions. On another level, the focused examination undertaken here is designed to investigate Roman attempts to shape public opinion and to influence the provincial conception of 1

Bowman 1986, 37; he adds that “for [a majority of those in the Nile Valley] the replacement of a Macedonian monarch by a Roman emperor heralded no obvious or dramatic change.” 2

Dunand 1983 (esp. p. 50). Along the way, she effectively cast doubt on conclusions offered in Nock 1930 regarding the treatment of imperial figures as synnaoi theoi in Egyptian temples.


the new ruling authority. Essentially, then, the following work constitutes an analysis of particular elements of propaganda issued via the Roman administration – whether these presented the new ruling authority as following in the footsteps of the Ptolemaic regime or as breaking away from it in various ways – and of the byproducts and general effectiveness of these elements. The term “propaganda” is often viewed only through the many accretions to its basic meaning which it acquired over the first half of the previous century, but it will be used here merely in its Latin sense of “material which is to be spread or circulated,” without an instant connotation of “false information intended to deceive” or calculated misinformation. This study is particularly concerned with constructs, effects, and reactions associated with the system of vertical, integrative propaganda at work in Alexandria and throughout the Egyptian province.3 Rather surprisingly, Egypt’s large body of Greek and Demotic papyri – usually an invaluable source of evidence in an already information-rich province – shines few rays of light on this realm. Despite scattered records of administrative communication, oaths, prayers, and personal letters and recollections, the papyri simply do not contain direct references to the ways in which the transition to Roman rule was perceived in 3

The adjectives used here to describe this particular sort of propaganda stem from Jacques Ellul’s landmark study, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (Ellul 1965). Ellul’s overarching categories are political propaganda, which has the limited goal of changing the behavior of a particular sub-group, and sociological propaganda, which is less organized and aims primarily at the conformity of individuals within the social setting desired by the issuing authority; the latter category, then, applies to almost all propaganda at work in the provinces. Overlapping subdivisions are made between “horizontal” (referring to the modern-age development of propaganda being used by leading figures acting as discussion leaders among a powerful, all-important group) and “vertical” (used by leaders/ruling authorities seeking to influence a general audience), between “agitating” (visible, subversive, propaganda used to stir a population or forces of opposition) and “integrative” (propaganda aimed toward stability and conformity), and between “rational” (circulated material based on factual information, statistics, figures, etc.) and “irrational” (propaganda appealing to emotions); see 71-82. Regarding the latter, it should be noted that the label “irrational” does not indicate a total absence of truth, only that the intent of the creators of this mode of propaganda is to appeal to feelings, memories, and impressions (see esp. 84-86). For a detailed (but succinct) outline of the range of propagandistic applications, see Evans 1992, 1-4. The seminal work for all propaganda studies along these lines – one which remains a valuable source of insight – is Doob 1935.


Egypt, nor do they mention any specific efforts made to influence these perceptions. While the papyrological record is filled with many tax records from cities and villages throughout the Nile Valley, for example, and although these records often reflect burdensome tax requirements, no ties between Roman taxation and early (isolated) revolts can be found within the surviving corpus. In addition, while reflections of the transition in power can be found within inscriptions and papyri (e.g., dating formulae), such sources do not treat the ways in which the emperor and his family were conceived of in the Hellenized or indigenous religious spheres. Thus, in order to address certain questions regarding the views of Roman authority which were propagated and either held or rejected among the province’s diverse population groups, one is forced to rely rather heavily on artistic, numismatic, and archaeological evidence. Within these realms, images associated with the emperor are the most instructive sources on both the creative and the receptive sides of the issue. As in so many other provinces – and particularly in the Greek East – the figures at the head of the imperial hierarchy were portrayed as embodiments of the entire administrative structure and its imperium, both in Roman visual media and in works created among the provincial population. The evolution of the relationship between representations of the person of the monarch, king, or emperor and the authority to rule which is embodied in his own physical form has been explored by Ernst Kantorowicz in his landmark study treating the Middle Ages.4 This same relationship, as it pertains to Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, is (somewhat surprisingly) most sharply delineated in the non-literary realms of evidence singled out above. The person of the emperor-pharaoh, however, was far from being the only anthropomorphic symbol of ruling authority in the Roman 4

Kantorowicz 1957.


Egyptian sphere, as the Ptolemaic era had witnessed an elevation of the status of royal women, potential heirs, and deceased ancestors through the establishment of novel modes of dynastic commemoration. In addition, figural representations of the goddess Roma and of personified forms such as Kratesis or the Demos Romaion could be circulated in a variety of formats with similar symbolic effect. The present work will focus primarily on visual media created within two realms, each of which features images which were drawn from a distinct iconographic repertoire and paired with formulaic, abbreviated textual elements: namely, the body of coin-types produced at the Roman mint in Alexandria and the vast range of pharaonicstyle reliefs carved on, within, or near the indigenous temples. These two distinct media have been selected for their informative value vis-à-vis the Roman attempts to shape provincial perceptions and the Egyptian religious views of the emperor’s legitimacy as an inheritor of the pharaonic mantle. The Alexandrian coins were by far the most widely circulated material products of Roman agency in Egypt, and the diversity of distinct type-images on this coinage was not matched by any of those issued in the other provinces. Although the degree of intervention in type-selection from Rome itself is a matter of debate (treated below at Chapter II.C and Chapter IX.A), the exclusive representation of Roman interests in the full range of Alexandrian types is readily apparent. On the other hand, the creation of pharaonic-style relief images remained entirely under the control of the Egyptian clergy, far removed from the possibility of consistent intervention on the part of Roman authorities. As the priests were directly responsible for the propagation of the religious conception of the emperor as pharaoh, the reliefs and their associated texts constitute our “purest” extant sources regarding the religious conception of the Roman ruler among ethnic Egyptians.


This “disconnect” in agency (i.e., the creation of the coins by representatives of the central authority and the carving of the reliefs by a provincial clergy) appears, at first glance, to negate the informative value of any apparent contrasting elements; nevertheless, these same elements may offer a rare view of the balance (or lack thereof) between two distinct ideological constructs and the degree to which they competed against one another. Along these lines, an analysis of the reliefs and of the context of their creation present the opportunity to gain insight on two levels: first, they offer a chance to evaluate the impact of the novel nature of Roman rule, Roman economic policies, and the various “messages” issued by provincial officials on the Egyptian priests and temples; second, they offer a glimpse into the conception of Roman authority as it was formulated within the indigenous culture (as opposed to that which was shaped – or attempted to be shaped – by the provincial administration). The analysis presented throughout the following chapters focuses on the images produced in these realms during the first century of Roman rule over the Egyptian province (i.e., 30 B.C. – A.D. 69). This time-frame allows for a close examination of the full array of socio-economic, religious, artistic, and archaeological effects related to the transition from Ptolemaic rule. While many of these same effects are already observable during the reign of Augustus, the inclusion of the entire line of Julio-Claudian emperors allows for the analysis of a wider and even more illustrative range of images (including potential “dynastic” examples). The addition of 69 A.D., the infamous “Year of Four Emperors,” presents an opportunity to observe the degree to which the creation of imperial images was a priority – even in uncertain and unstable times – for Roman officials and for the Egyptian priests themselves. Although the Flavians are not treated in this study, Vespasian’s initial proclamation as emperor in Egypt provides a tidy endpoint and demonstrates the strategically significant position held by this province. 6

The following examination begins with an overview of the nature of Roman rule in Egypt, the various components of the Alexandrian and provincial populations, and the broad effects of Roman administration and organization. This first chapter, beyond offering an analysis of the political and economic conditions of the distinct social groups scattered throughout Egypt’s cities and villages, also addresses the subject of religious belief and traditional religious institutions (including practice of the imperial cult) in the capital and the province. After this outline of the composition and varied perspectives of the provincial “audience,” the second chapter investigates the issues surrounding the creation of images of ruling figures in post-pharaonic Egypt. Chapter II.A looks back to the images produced under the Ptolemies, as an overview of the precedents set by their dynasty is a firm prerequisite for understanding the traditions which informed all postPtolemaic examples and for highlighting the ways in which both the Roman images and their corresponding legends/texts were unique. Subsections II.B and II.C address the status and roles of the Egyptian clergy under Roman rule (including factors which may have affected the creation of temple-reliefs) and issues surrounding the production of coins at the Roman mint in Alexandria, respectively. Chapters III through VIII offer a reign-by-reign survey of the Alexandrian coins and the reliefs on indigenous temples which were produced during the first century of Roman rule in Egypt. Unlike the previous five chapters, each devoted to a single emperor, Chapter VIII treats the reigns of three emperors (Galba, Otho, and Vitellius) whose coinage bears similar type-imagery and whose names appear on Egyptian reliefs only rarely, with Galba appearing at two sites and Otho at only one.5 These six chapters


The issues surrounding the extent of preservation of the temple reliefs are not treated in great detail below, nor are the effects of defacement by Coptic Christians. Nevertheless, an emperor’s presence at – or absence from – sites with reliefs dating to several reigns can be instructive, despite variable states of preservation.


represent the first presentation of systematic examinations of the images and texts/legends found on the indigenous temples and issued on the Alexandrian coins as part of a synthetic study. Somewhat surprisingly, these two diachronic lines of analysis have yet to appear in published scholarship even as separate, self-contained surveys.6 In spite of the fact that the Greek legends on the Alexandrian coinage enter into several of the discussions on individual coin-types, one subject that is not treated in great detail throughout the following chapters is the issue of literacy among the various population groups in Roman Egypt. Since an attempt to pinpoint precise numbers or percentages would be rather futile, it is perhaps sufficient – for the purposes of the current work, at least – to note that functional literacy in Greek was more common in the larger towns and metropoleis than it was in the villages, where Demotic Egyptian remained the dominant spoken language and Late Demotic the dominant written language.7 We must not forget, however, that although villagers were undoubtedly less


Extensive catalogues exist for each of these classes of visual media. The earliest of the nearcomplete catalogues of the Alexandrian coinage is Vogt 1924. Burnett et al. 1992, which encompasses the precise period under discussion, documents all known Alexandrian coin-types and legends issued during the first century of Roman rule in Egypt; its analysis of certain problematic types is thorough, but this level of focus is sporadic. More recently, Gölitzer 2004 has provided cataloguing and other statistical data for the Julio-Claudian issues from the mint. The revised Porter and Moss catalogues for the temple reliefs (see the introduction to the reignby-reign catalogue appended to the present study), which are organized by site, are admirably thorough and lack only the reliefs which have come to light through work conducted during the last four decades. These publications, however, do not attempt to delve into the interpretation or significance of the images and texts themselves, nor were they intended to do so. Only a few isolated publications have offered analyses of individual type-categories within the Alexandrian coinage, and each of these works has been cited below. For the realm of the indigenous temples and their numerous reliefs, a more comprehensive and unified series has been composed by Gunther Hölbl (Hölbl 2000, Hölbl 2004, and Hölbl 2005); nevertheless, the extremely wide geographic and chronological scope of this particular series – designed to address broader questions regarding temple ritual, decoration, and construction – prevents Hölbl from offering a focused, systematic study of the reliefs themselves. 7

See Bowman 1986, 159-61. The extent to which Greek might have “filtered down” to the villages by the start of the Julio-Claudian age is not a topic which is directly addressed by Bowman. Evidence is scarce, as one might imagine. Evidence for Greek literacy among the priests of native temples is another matter altogether; see van Minnen 1998.


literate on average, there must have existed a class of individuals in smaller towns and throughout all of the cities who had achieved a degree of semi-literacy in Greek; these individuals could recognize letters of the alphabet and, in theory, were able to interpret basic words or phrases (adequately enough, for example, to decipher a name or epithet in a brief legend).8 Chapter IX makes use of the long-term perspective offered by the previous six chapters and presents an analysis of the trends common to Alexandrian coinage and pharaonic-style reliefs from several imperial reigns. This course of inquiry is intended not only to outline the distinguishing features of imperial images in Egypt, but also to determine the degree of continuity with comparable images from prior ruling regimes. The indigenous temple sites represent a unique prospect, in this latter regard, as they are the only unified complexes in the ancient Mediterranean world which preserved visible (and often large-scale) images of several distinct ruling authorities. While the following work is designed to take advantage of this exceptional opportunity, it also attempts to place the images at these complexes into a broader provincial context – one which takes into account the potential effects of the Roman emperor’s rule from abroad and of the various policies enforced by the provincial administration. As outlined in Chapter IX, several of these same policies were reflected in patterns of selection and circulation of the coin-types minted at Alexandria. Ultimately, then, this study aims to tie discernable aspects of stability (or variability) among Egypt’s imperial images to the evolving dynamics associated with the presentation and reception of ruling power in Alexandria and throughout the province.


Bowman 1986, 159.


Chapter I: Egypt under Roman Rule, 30 B.C. – A.D. 69


The Transition in Ruling Authority & the Nature of Roman Rule

During the first days of August 30 B.C., eleven months after the defeat of the naval forces of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, Octavian and his troops swept into the Nile delta and claimed Alexandria and Egypt. The infamous pair of lovers, for their part, had been dealt a devastating blow in the decisive conflict at Actium, but had nevertheless managed to return to Egypt and rule for nearly a year. With the landing of Octavian’s forces, however, both faced equally impossible prospects. Antony chose death by suicide as a means to avoid leaving his fate in the hands of his rival; Cleopatra, unwilling to spend any portion of her remaining days in Roman captivity, followed suit only eleven days later. The lands that had been jointly ruled by them were now left entirely to Octavian and to Rome. The victorious leader of the invading forces, a man recognized as the son of Caesar (even if not yet recognized as “Augustus” at the Roman capital), was accepted as the new ruler of Egypt. While Octavian remained in the country, his troops encountered little organized resistance from any corner of Alexandria or Egypt. Over the course of the following weeks, he finalized the organization of these territories as a region subject to the rule of Rome. With the first vestiges of the new provincial government in place, the Ptolemaic regime that had ruled over Alexandria and all Egypt for nearly three centuries was formally supplanted. Over the following years, this storied land – a land which had endured the rule of non-native authorities for a half-millennium prior to Octavian’s arrival – would be forced once again to endure a phase of transition stemming from the


demise of one line of rulers and the ushering in of another.

The extent of this

“transition” as it occurred after the Roman conquest, however, has been the focus of contention in the scholarship for some time.

The matter is hardly a trivial one, as it

carries with it ramifications extending from the top of the administrative hierarchy to the operations of daily life at the most basic levels. Indeed, arguments raised for and against each of the various positions on this issue have necessarily formed the crux of several analyses of the very nature of Roman dominion over Alexandria and Egypt. The view championed early on by a large majority of modern writers centered on what appeared at the time to be an extensive range of examples of organizational continuity from the Ptolemaic era in the social and administrative realms. According to the proponents of this “traditional view,” these examples were to be interpreted as sound evidence that the Romans, in an attempt to ease the transition for both ruler and subject, made few far-reaching changes and chose instead to follow the Ptolemaic model for the governance of Egypt rather closely.1 At the risk of unjustly oversimplifying the rationale behind these arguments, one might conclude that this group of scholars had reacted primarily to the titles and basic structures of both the administrative hierarchy (especially at the regional and local levels) and the broad social organization that had been carried over from the previous regime.


perception was combined with their knowledge of Rome’s tendency to alter preexisting social and administrative structures in new provinces only when they appeared to be


This same overall picture was almost universally advocated in the scholarship, but it was stated most succinctly by A.H.M. Jones (1971, 309): “The fall of the Ptolemaic dynasty and the annexation of Egypt by Rome did not produce any revolution in the administrative system. Egypt as a Roman province continued to be governed on the same general lines as it had been as a kingdom.” Jones performs a more thorough job than most in outlining the “additions,” “innovations,” and “modifications” made by Roman officials, but his overriding emphasis is on the maintenance of Ptolemaic administrative structures and policies.



Together these factors formed what seemed to be a sound basis for the

widely shared opinion that the Roman era in Egypt witnessed little change to the legal, governmental, and social institutions of the Ptolemies. As research on the topic progressed, the analysis of relevant documents preserved on papyri and the publication of increasingly detailed studies on these issues led to a growing acknowledgement of the distinctly “Roman” character of several general aspects of Egypt’s organization. The principal elements of the administrative structure of Early Roman Alexandria and Egypt, along with the significant Roman innovations in the treatment of individual social and cultural groups within these territories, will be examined immediately below.2 At this point, it is perhaps sufficient for our purposes to note that the past four decades have witnessed the efforts of a number of scholars to promote an awareness of the Romanitas of Egypt during the Principate;3 and while the results of their attempts have failed to initiate a change of outlook in some circles, these authors have succeeded broadly enough to initiate some consideration of the novel aspects of “Roman” Egypt. A less productive point of contention over the nature of Roman rule in Egypt has roots reaching into the earliest publications on the province. This particular debate focuses on the degree to which Egypt was an “irregular” or “atypical” territory in relation to other provinces of the Roman Empire. Discussions on the matter have tended to focus on the commonly held notion that the Egyptian lands formally taken over by Rome in 30 B.C. were treated more as a personal domain of the emperor than as


See the full discussion at Chapter I.B, as well as the treatment of additional elements in sections of Chapter II.B and II.C (focusing on the Romans’ handling of the Egyptian priesthood and the organization of the mint at Alexandria, respectively). 3

See, for example, Lewis 1970, Lewis 1984, and Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 107-8.


a province of the Roman senate and people.

This view found immediate backing

among the first scholars to contend with the complexities of Roman Egypt. Their adherence to the idea appeared to draw support from the accounts of several ancient authors. Chief among these was Tacitus, who recorded that “it was seen as expedient to keep under the control of the imperial house a province that is so difficult of access, productive of grain, unruly and restless due to the superstition and licentiousness of its inhabitants, unknowing of laws, and ignorant of civil magistrates.”4 This passage lists all of the peculiar features of the province; yet, only the first two characteristics mentioned by Tacitus (i.e., Egypt’s geographic isolation and prolific harvests) can be regarded without hesitation as facts rather than as spurious products of hearsay. These two unique aspects of the region nevertheless provided adequate incentive for Octavian to deal with Egypt in an exceptional manner.

Indeed, it would be

irresponsible to ignore the decisive measures taken by Octavian and his officials to ensure the region’s security, loyalty, and consistent productivity.

The Egyptian

province was, by the will of its conqueror, to be governed at its head by an administrator of equestrian rank who, after being handpicked by the princeps himself, would be granted the title of Prefect of Alexandria and Egypt.5 Insofar as this head of provincial administration was to be chosen by the emperor in lieu of the Roman Senate, 4

Hist. 1.11. Cf. Ann. 2.59: “For Augustus, among other secrets of his imperial rule, specially set aside Egypt…lest anyone hold this province with the smallest of forces against the mightiest army and distress Italy with famine by means of this key to land and sea.” 5 Goodman

(1997, 265-6) suggests that the first prefect of the new province, C. Cornelius Gallus, was chosen less for his equestrian rank than for his being a capable “man on the spot.” He admits, however, that the continuation of this policy in later years was likely to have been entirely intentional. Lewis (1983, 15-6) contends that from its initial designation as a prefecture, the post reflected Octavian’s conscious desire to ensure “that [the governorship] would always be filled by a member of the equestrian order, the class of his own origin, the class that from the start of his career formed the solid backbone and bulwark of his support.” See below, Chapter I.B, on the prefect’s administrative scope and formal title (esp. n. 17).


Egypt was not at all dissimilar to any other territory that would come to be classified as an “imperial” province.

On the other hand, Egypt was atypical when viewed in

relation to previously established “major” provinces, since regions of primary status and importance – and particularly areas that contained legions – had been governed without exception by individuals of senatorial rank. This last aspect of the new province was heightened by the fact that after the Roman conquest, entry into Alexandria and Egypt was forbidden to all senators. The ban was extended, either from the outset or shortly afterwards, to include notable equestrians, thereby rendering it virtually impossible for any high-ranking figure of prominence to land in Egypt without the express permission of the emperor himself. Modern authors have suggested a variety of factors that could have served as secondary catalysts for the establishment of this sort of restriction, but it is universally agreed that the primary concern was that yet another ambitious, prominent figure might take hold of this highly defensible territory and use it as a base of military opposition to the current regime in Rome.6

Whatever the impetus for this policy had been, its

ramifications included at least one precedent-setting condition: from this point on, the highest official in the vitally important Nile valley would be an equestrian governor whose own authority was derived not from the Roman Senate, but from a single man. 6

See, for example, Bowman 1986, 38. See also West and Johnson 1944, 5; Lewis 1983, 16; Goodman 1997, 266. Many of the authors who discuss the ban on senators and leading equestrians emphasize the inexhaustible reserve of wealth and resources available to an insurgent leader in Egypt; Vespasian would demonstrate in A.D. 69 that control of Egypt was indeed a stepping stone to Rome itself. Bell (1948, 66) ascribes the choice of an equestrian governor (i.e., as opposed to a senatorial candidate; see above, n. 5) to these inherent dangers, noting that since “an ambitious commander, maintaining himself [in Egypt], could hold up the corn-supply of Rome and at the same time cut one of the main commercial routes between the Empire and the East…[Octavian] decided that it would be unsafe to put such opportunities into the hands of a senator.” Among a wide variety of plausible secondary motives, a creative suggestion has been added by Lewis (1983, 16): “to be outranked repeatedly by visiting dignitaries from Rome could have diminished the prefect in the eyes of those he had been sent to rule, and Augustus may well have been concerned to preclude that embarrassment.”


It is, in fact, this very condition and the maneuvers behind it that form the basis for the comments of Tacitus and other ancient authors who choose to focus on the unique aspects of Roman Egypt or its close ties to the imperial house.7 Any attempt to use these primary sources as evidence that Egypt operated as the private property of the emperor faces a steep challenge, since at no point do these writers imply that the whole of Egypt was directly “owned” by Augustus or any subsequent Roman ruler (and since the same sources grant that Egypt was not formally within Augustus’ provincia). If certain plots of land and other valuable areas of the new province were later held exclusively by the imperial house,8 it is simply because Octavian had established a trend early on by claiming parts of Egypt and holding them in the names of his own family members. Octavian was under no pressure to provide any sort of justification to the senate (i.e., beyond the natural right to spoils awarded to all conquering generals), since from the end of the conflict at Actium he had enjoyed a monopoly on military power in the Roman sphere. With the landmark settlement of 27 B.C., Octavian was officially recognized as “Augustus,” ostensibly a magistrate of the Roman state who had been granted authority over selected spheres, but in actuality the new emperor of Rome and of all areas ruled by Rome. These arrangements had a profound impact on the government of the provinces, whether they required the presence of legions or not.9


At no time after this settlement would it have been

For the relevant passages contributed by Tacitus, see above, n. 4.


The post-Augustan quarry at Mons Claudianus in the Eastern Desert appears to have been one such area (like several other quarries and mines outside of Egypt); see Peacock 2000, 432. For a discussion of the Ptolemaic model for “royal land” in Egypt, see below, Chapter I.E. 9

For an analysis of these developments as they related to the new acquisitions in Egypt, see Bell 1948, 65; also, Capponi 2005, 10-2. The emperor was, of course, granted ostensible “control” of certain provinces (including most that were endowed with a military presence), but both he and the Senate had a hand in the workings of all provinces, imperial and public; see Millar 1966.


conceivable for Augustus to surrender the properties held under his friends’ and relatives’ names in Egypt; no one had the authority to require him to do so, and the massive revenues they generated for the imperial household provided sufficient incentive to keep them firmly in hand.10

From the first transmission of imperial

authority and assets to Tiberius, the understanding that the emperor would hold indirect possession over certain parts of Egypt became increasingly accepted among Roman and provincial officials alike. In no way, then, does the nature of the equestrian governorship, the restrictions placed on senators, or the existence of imperial land in Egypt detract from the notion that in 30 B.C. Egypt became a “province of Rome” in the traditional sense of the phrase. Most of the grain exported from the province was given to the people of Rome, and a majority of the material and mineral resources exported from the province was intended for use at Rome. Augustus himself boasted that he “added Egypt to the empire of the Roman people,”11 and although Egyptian resources were kept within the imperial sphere and well beyond the reach of senatorial hands, the emperor’s own propagandistic testimony does in fact convey the simple truth of the matter.


For details on the growth of the emperor’s patrimonium in Egypt, see below, I.B, I.E, and II.C.


Res Gestae Divi Augusti 27.1: “Aegyptum imperio populi Romani adieci.”



The Administrative Hierarchy & Organization of the Province

If Cleopatra had succeeded, to some extent, in creating the illusion that the Egyptian nation provided her with unwavering and wide-ranging support, perceptions of a uniformly loyal kingdom only served to cloud the extent to which Ptolemaic royal authority had been deteriorating over the previous half-century.12 For Octavian and the officials who were to help devise the configuration of Egypt’s administrative structure, the underlying goals were clear: stability was to be brought about and upheld in all areas of the province, and a sound, effective government designed to serve the best interests of Rome was to be installed at all necessary levels.

The presence of a

disproportionately large military force stationed throughout Alexandria and Egypt was established from the beginning of Roman rule in order to maintain calm and order, which it achieved only at certain times and in certain regions.13 The mechanisms of provincial government and the overall organizational scheme instituted by the new regime, on the other hand, could be classified as complete triumphs if we are permitted to judge them vis-à-vis the extent to which they served “the best interests of Rome.” A select group of Ptolemaic structures was left in place, and several administrative titles were reused; nevertheless, Roman alterations and additions were sufficiently farreaching to transform Egypt from an isolated, self-contained kingdom into a reliable, tribute-producing component of a broad imperial network.


See Bell 1948, 67. Bell insists that signs of weakness in the hold the Ptolemaic rulers had on Egypt had been appearing over the last century before the Roman conquest, noting that “at times the Thebaid had been virtually independent.” In reality, however, telltale indications of this governmental incapacity had not arisen until approximately six decades prior to the death of Cleopatra, beginning with the revolt that persisted in Upper Egypt during 88 B.C. (the first such uprising since the nationalist rebellion of 205-186). 13

For an overview of this aspect of Roman rule, see the detailed examination at Chapter I.F.


One of the most important byproducts of this transformation was that the collective group of lands taken over by Rome was no longer controlled and administered as a kingdom. Ironically, this distinctive aspect of Roman Alexandria and Egypt was one of the least observable, at first glance. The Ptolemaic court based at Alexandria was entirely replaced by the Roman officials who comprised the equestrian administration.14 This particular shift was, no doubt, noticeable enough to all of the city’s inhabitants, although the fact that the prefect and his staff occupied the old palace of the Ptolemies may have seemed, in the eyes of an outsider, to project a regal character onto the Roman administration.15 Perhaps the most substantial difference from the Ptolemaic royal regime, however, was that the ruler himself no longer maintained a residence at Alexandria, but instead presided over Egypt in absentia while remaining at Rome or traveling abroad. Within the province, the highest administrative authority was the equestrian prefect, assigned to govern the region on Rome’s behalf. Among members of the Alexandrian and Egyptian populations, this station could only have been perceived as a lesser,


As a further break in the year-to-year continuity that had preceded Roman rule (at least as far the administrative presence in Alexandria was concerned), these officials were usually outsiders who were appointed on a short-term basis; see the illustrative comments on this significant development offered by Bowman and Rathbone (1992, 110). 15

Alexandrians would have known better. Aside from recognizing the significant changes in the realm of policy-making (and, for that matter, the impact of Roman policy on the city itself), the urban population could see firsthand that the Roman administrators who resided in the palace did so “without the same pomp and circumstance as Ptolemaic kings” (Goodman 1997, 267). The lack of true regal status accorded to the prefect would, of course, have far-reaching effects on the religious reception of this resident “ruler” by the native Egyptians; see below, Chapter I.G. The precedent for this avoidance of regal immoderation was established from the outset by the prefects appointed by Octavian/Augustus, who undoubtedly had made it clear that they should embody a clear contrast with the excesses of Antony and Cleopatra; when Cornelius Gallus violated this ideal, he was disgraced, recalled, and driven to suicide (Dio Cassius 53.23). On the propaganda war waged against Cleopatra and Roman perceptions of the extravagance of the last Ptolemies, see Becher 1966 and Chauveau 1997, 58-60. For several examples and illustrations of the anti-Egyptian propaganda as it was expressed during the reign of Augustus, see Zanker 1988, passim.


diluted post when compared with the position of the resident kings and queens who ruled before the conquest. In fact, other than his residence in the old palace, the only vestige of royalty transferred to the Roman prefect was the taboo that prohibited a ruler of Egypt from sailing the Nile during the annual flood. While this particular holdover from the Pharaonic and Ptolemaic eras might seem at first to be a rather curious one, its explanation is likely tied to the facts that the Egyptian populace was perpetually concerned about the Nile flood – almost stubbornly so, in fact – and that the person of the prefect embodied the most readily available representation of the ruler himself.16 On the other hand, this Prefect of Alexandria and Egypt was by no means a viceroy; officially, he was a great deal more than a simple representative of the emperor, as his post was explicitly endowed with the formal juridical status of a magistratus Romanus.17 It was declared throughout the Roman world that the prefect’s authority and judgments were to be considered “as having equal force” as those of any senatorial governor. The ramifications of the terminology employed in this general directive are fairly significant, “for [the formula] had the effect of obscuring the issue of the prefect’s accountability to the state.”18 The broad powers wielded by the prefect in Alexandria and Egypt (as formal overseer and direct appointee of the emperor himself) were rather less obscure.

Serving as the head of the several nominal branches of provincial

government (mixed and overlapped as they were, in reality), he was recognized as


On Romans’ perception of the pervasive superstition of the Egyptians, see the comments of Tacitus cited above, n. 4; see also below, Chapter I.F. 17

Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 110 (contra Lewis 1983, 16; Bell 1948, 67). These same authors offer the astute observation that “in practice [the prefect] operated like a legatus Augusti.” The formal title associated with the position is well attested: for example, C. Cornelius Gallus, the first man installed as prefect by Octavian (see above, n. 5), is referred to in an inscription from Philae as praefectus Alexandriae et Aegypti primus (ILS 8995). 18

Bowman 1986, 38.


having the final dictum on all legal, financial, military, and administrative matters within the region. With this wide-ranging authority, however, came a heavy responsibility, and the assertion that “the task of the prefect of Egypt, even with his staff of subordinates, was daunting” is fully justifiable given the evidence we possess. 19 Our knowledge of the duties associated with the Egyptian prefecture can be summarized as follows: ultimately, all critical decisions regarding grain collection and finance within the Egyptian province (including the revenues generated within its borders), despite the existence of subordinate officials who specialized in these realms, rested on the will of the prefect; as the governor of a province that contained Roman military personnel, he was capable of maneuvering troops and was expected to resolve any problems that might face the tens of thousands of soldiers stationed there; finally, he represented the final recourse for “civil justice,” handling lawsuits and petitions from Alexandria and traveling annually throughout Egypt, from assize center to assize center, in order to consult with local officials and issue decisive rulings on a variety of legal matters.20 One can safely assume that the prefect intermittently (though frequently) consulted directly with the emperor on crucial points arising within the first two realms. It is apparently, though, this last area of authority – the issuing of legal verdicts, the handling of petitions, and the interpretation of various codes of law as they applied to different status groups – that was handled most exclusively by the prefect (i.e., without habitual consultation of the emperor).

Not surprisingly, it is this same portion of his

responsibilities that came to consume most of his time and availability.


Ibid., 73.


On the extensive and essentially indivisible range of duties associated with the prefect’s position, see Jördens 2009; also, Reinmuth 1935 and Bowman 1986, 73-4.


The prefect was assisted in his duties by a subordinate tier of Roman officials, all of whom were equestrians likewise appointed by the imperial government.


military commanders stationed with the Egyptian legions should be counted among this class of Roman officials, as they held the appropriate rank and were expected to answer only to the prefect.21 We possess some evidence for the existence of three other equestrian positions of similar status during the Julio-Claudian era: the dikaiodotes, the idioslogos, and the epistrategos of the Thebaid.22 The dikaiodotes, holder of a new post that was introduced by the Romans as the equivalent of the (legatus) iuridicus, was expected to aid the prefect in his dealings with civil law. The title of “idioslogos” had been carried over from the Ptolemaic era, but the function of the office was immediately modified to embrace several of the duties usually held elsewhere by patrimonial procurators.23 At some point before 4 B.C., the position of epistrategos of the Thebaid was transformed into an equestrian appointment, as well.24 Other epistrategoi, all of whom were invariably drafted from the Roman citizen body, acted essentially as subgovernors and were expected to supervise all civil affairs in artificially demarcated regions of authority, including Middle Egypt and the Nile delta. This last region, however, did not officially include the polis of Alexandria. Although the city was universally recognized as the link between Egypt and the sea, Alexandria itself was not considered to be part of the Egyptian province and was

21 On

the legions stationed in Egypt, see below, Chapter I.F.


On the development of these offices from the Ptolemaic era, see Huzar 1988a, 355-6. For additional bibliography on each of these posts, see Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 110 n. 15. 23

For references on the dual nature of this position – that is, its subordination to the prefecture along with its independence in several aspects related to finance – see below, Chapter II.C. 24

Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 110; this alteration was made “presumably when the need was realized for an additional civil and judicial authority in distant Upper Egypt.”


administered most directly by the prefect himself (as well as civic magistrates appointed by the prefect).25 The governor’s official title – Prefect of Alexandria and Egypt – was one of many observable reflections of the wide gap in status between the city and the Egyptian province.26 Alexandria was divided into five main districts and several smaller (though well-defined) suburban areas, and each of these divisions was used to some degree for administrative and organizational purposes.27 These urban and suburban districts encompassed the entire resident population, which was likely to have totaled approximately 500,000 during the Julio-Claudian era.28


citizenship was theoretically exclusive, insofar as it possessed a rigidly enforced hereditary element (i.e., being almost exclusively granted to those with citizen parents on both sides) and was possibly capped off at a standing number of 180,000.29 Many descendants of Greeks and other Hellenized members of the population who were not counted among the elite citizen body were scattered throughout the city and lived alongside a few thousand Roman citizens, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, and many immigrants from Arabia, Syria, Libya, Spain, and Sicily.30 Supplementing this


Alexandria was ad Aegyptum and in many ways had been an administratively separate entity even under the rule of the Ptolemies; see Huzar 1988b, esp. 620-2. Notable ramifications for the prefecture: Grant 1946, 68-9. Civic magistrates: Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 115-9. 26

Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 115.


Fraser 1972, 34-5, 40; see also Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 114; Alston 2002, 157-65.


Bowman 1986, 208. For the broad range of population estimates for Alexandria (with accompanying bibliography), see Huzar 1988b, 631 n. 57. Some rather fanciful estimates have been proposed by authors asserting that the population approached 2,000,000, including up to 400,000 slaves. Recently, though, a figure of 500,000-600,000 has gained favor; see Delia 1988. 29

Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 114-5; see also the conclusions outlined at Delia 1991, 68-9. The privileges reserved for “citizens of Alexandria” are discussed in greater detail below. 30

On this extensive range of ethnicities and social identities, see Huzar 1988b, 630-8. For a close examination of these groups’ relations with the Roman authorities (as well as with one another), see below, Chapter I.F.


wide range of population groups was a massive contingent of Jews, who occupied almost two full districts of the city during the Ptolemaic and early Roman eras. Like several provincial governors before him, the prefect, while heavily weighed down by diverse obligations, had inherited some helpful elements from the preceding regime in governing the land outside of the administrative capital: in the case of Egypt, these included a general hierarchy and structure for organizing the numerous subordinate officials needed to help administer the full expanse of the Egyptian province (see Fig. 1), as well as a defined geographic framework for administration on a regional level. The latter feature, in fact, was one that the Ptolemies themselves had inherited, since it had been established long before the coming of Alexander: that is, the division of Egypt into more than forty districts, or “nomes,” of disparate population and size, with each possessing its own distinct local character. The first Roman officials in Egypt maintained this system with what appears to have been minimal alteration, although due to the absence of a full list of nomes from the end of the Ptolemaic era the true extent of any later modification is difficult to gauge.31 The nome capitals, or metropoleis, served as important regional hubs and were recognized as centers of both commerce and religion. With time, their significance in this regard would become paramount in the sphere of civic administration, as Roman officials set about instituting the process of municipalization in the Egyptian chora.32 The other structural feature inherited by the Romans – that is, the organizational apparatus which had shaped local administration under the Ptolemies – was not reused


Jones 1971, 312-4. Jones admirably attempts to create a detailed, plausible reconstruction of the nome list as it stood during the Roman era; in the process he succeeds in assembling a persuasive amount of supporting evidence for his proposed scheme. 32

See below, esp. n. 54 and n. 55.


without alteration.

The Romans retained the formal titles of the two key officials

operating at the nome level, the strategos and the basilikogrammateus. Yet, while in principle the duties of the latter (originally a “royal scribe” and deputy of the strategos) were left unchanged, the office of the former was noticeably tailored to accommodate the presence of the Roman legions and the new emphasis on the extraction of revenues. Toward these ends, the strategoi were slowly stripped of their military functions at the same time as they were endowed with greater authority in the realm of tax collection.33 In addition, the strategos, usually appointed from among the Alexandrian citizen body during the first century of Roman rule, developed into the primary agent for the enforcement of cooperation and competence on the part of local officials.34 Strategoi also appear to have played a significant judicial role; they were not recognized, however, as independent legal officials, and even in the provision of local justice they served in most cases only through the prefect’s direct designation.35 These heads of administration at the regional/nome level, like the individuals of equestrian rank serving in higher posts, were appointed for terms lasting only a few years and were paid a regular salary; in essence, they were short-term professional bureaucrats. Along with the local officials whom they appointed and supervised, they comprised “the broad base of the pyramid of career administrators upon whom the efficient functioning of the system depended.”36


On the evolution of this rather significant administrative post during the Julio-Claudian era, see Whitehorne 1988, 605-6. 34

On the functioning of the strategos as supervisor of local administration in towns and villages, see Goodman 1997, 266-7; also, Bowman 1986, 68. On the Alexandrian monopoly of the strategeia, see Whitehorne 1988, 606; also, Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 111 n. 17, 125. 35

Witt 1977.


Bowman 1986, 68.


Below the strategoi and basilikogrammateis were several unpaid subordinates, including the municipal magistrates of the metropoleis.

These officials, nominally

elected by present (and possibly past) officials of similar rank – though in fact appointed or confirmed by the strategos – were required to pay a fee upon their entrance into office and covered all other expenses related to their duties.37 Each of the notable metropolitan magistracies required membership in the gymnasial order; these posts included several civic priesthoods, officials handling metropolite and gymnasial registration, and the offices of gymnasiarch, kosmetes, agoranomos, and exegetes. 38 Among several other subordinate offices, special mention must be made of the numerous liturgical posts operating in the “complex system of compulsory public services whose origins can be identified in the Julio-Claudian period.”39 This system was quite unlike the loose network of personal service seen under the Ptolemies.40 With the full backing of the Roman authorities, who hoped to ease the burden of the central government in the areas of tax collection and internal administration of towns and


Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 122. In this sense, while there seems to have been no formal wealth qualification, the combined effect of these fees and expenses “acted in effect as a timocratic bar.” On the notion that these magistrates were not popularly elected, see 122 n. 83. 38

On the regulations and privileges associated with the gymnasial order at Alexandria and the metropoleis, see Goodman 1997, 267; also, Alston 1997a, 88. After A.D. 4/5, enrollment in this class was controlled by the mandatory requirement of a formal hearing (epikrisis) designed to determine gymnasial ancestry. On the development of “gymnasial class“ posts, see Hagedorn 2007; also, Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 122. I am largely convinced by the latter authors’ assessment of the official hierarchy for the metropoleis, especially in their identification of the exegetes as chief magistrate. This arrangement (contra Delia 1991, Huzar 1988a, Jones 1971, and several others who assert that this status was instead granted to the gymnasiarch) carries with it the dual benefits of being based on the model of the Alexandrian civic hierarchy and on strong support drawn from the primary sources; see esp. Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 122 n. 84. 39

Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 111.


Ibid. See also Bowman 1986, 69; Jones 1971, 315-6. Thomas 1983, an exemplary analysis of these various services as they developed throughout the Roman era, emphasizes the novelty of the class of services which he terms “Amtsliturgie,” or administrative positions with a liability related directly to a defined property qualification.


villages, liturgies were increasingly employed until they extended as far as possible into the lower levels of the economic and social hierarchies. Alexandrian citizens, however, were granted exemption from all liability to these liturgical posts in the Egyptian province. This was one of many reflections of the new sign of the times: as a direct result of Roman policy, citizens of Alexandria were granted relief from most financial burdens at the same time as they were given near-exclusive access to the highest non-equestrian magistracies. Indeed, from the first decades of Roman rule some Alexandrians of equestrian rank (after achieving Roman citizenship) were occasionally chosen for the higher central government posts, including the positions of idioslogos, iuridicus, and epistrategos of the Thebaid.41


citizens could own private landed property, were granted immunity from almost all land taxes, considered to be exempt from the poll-tax levied on adult males, and were asked to pay currency taxes and portoria only for craft-dues and various other commercial activities.42 Outside of the Alexandrian citizenry, financial benefits on this level could be found only among the citizens of the so-called “Greek” cities of Egypt: Naukratis, Paraetonium, and Ptolemais.43 Moreover, only Alexandrians enrolled as

41 See

Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 125 (esp. n. 98).


On these and other financial privileges, see Bowman 1986, 210; Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 115-6; Rathbone 1993, 83 n. 6. The full system of taxation in Roman Egypt is addressed below, Chapter I.E. 43

See Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 119-20; also, the extensive discussion at Jones 1971, 301-6. Antinoopolis, founded in A.D. 130, would eventually be counted among this elite group of cities, but only three (not counting Alexandria) were recognized during the Julio-Claudian era. These cities were granted several other privileges, including permission to organize their own town councils (boulai). The Alexandrians, on the other hand, had lost their boule during the Ptolemaic era and exerted great effort to request the renewal of this representation of “the independence and dignity of the Greek inhabitants” (Huzar 1988b, 667) throughout the first century of Roman rule. Until the reign of Septimius Severus, the Roman prefect and his emperor, possessing little faith in the abilities of a boule to serve as anything more than another outlet for feuding and rabble-rousing, denied these requests uniformly; see Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 118-9.


citizens could serve as civic magistrates or high-ranking officials – a condition of no small consequence, given the exceptional degree of self-administration afforded to the city.44

Beyond the government of the polis itself, citizens of Alexandria not only

monopolized the positions of strategos and basilikogrammateus in the Egyptian nomes during the first century A.D., but also frequently occupied several key positions in the central government.45

It hardly comes as a surprise, then, that the Alexandrian

citizenship was actively sought by all Hellenized inhabitants of the city and even by residents of the metropoleis who considered it to be within their reach. For some of these individuals, the Alexandrian citizenship was viewed as a worthy goal simply on the merits of its immediate political and financial advantages; for others, the achievement of this status was directly tied to the fact that for residents of Alexandria and the Egyptian metropoleis this status was a formal prerequisite for the granting of Roman citizenship.46 While the body of Alexandrian citizens appears to have experienced a significant increase in its numbers during the Roman era – presumably due to the incentives provided by Roman policies and by the sporadic (or perhaps not-so-sporadic) offering of a gymnasial education to those of non-citizen descent – entry into this class was 44

These officials were under close Roman scrutiny, of course (see Chapter I.F). Strabo (17.1.12) mentions four posts, all created under the Ptolemies (the archidikastes, the hypomnematographos, the strategos tes poleos, and the exegetes); he may have confused, however, the duties of certain civic and central government officials. The problematic nature of the entire range of evidence for these posts is treated at Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 116-7; see also, Delia 1991, 89-113. 45 On

Alexandrian citizens’ service in both spheres, see Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 125.


On the dynamic character of the widespread efforts to attain Alexandrian citizenship, see Huzar 1988b, 633-34. The civic officials who controlled access to this citizen status could grant it to non-residents when it was deemed appropriate; see Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 115. These same authors argue effectively (116 [esp. n. 48, contra Delia 1991, 39-45]) on behalf of the traditional view that Roman citizenship could be granted only to those already endowed with Alexandrian citizenship.


nevertheless well guarded.47 The strict limits between citizens and non-citizens were reflective both of the Romans’ desire to dole out the associated financial benefits only when warranted and of a general strategy geared toward making sharp distinctions between residents of one legal or social status and those of another. In the case of Alexandria this latter policy, applied so frequently in other provinces and starkly labeled by Chauveau as “l’une des obsessions des Romains,”48 primarily entailed a continuation and extension of the ranks that had existed under the Ptolemies. Although some Romans had been immigrating into Alexandria and living as undistinguished residents since the first decades of the third century B.C., it was with the reforms of Octavian that they (and, with time, the several thousand Roman citizens recruited from among the native population) were brought to the very top of the social hierarchy.49 Below this group stood the various types of resident Greek (representing notable social distinctions, but not legal or financial ones): gymnasial citizens, nongymnasial citizens, and Greek-speaking, non-citizen “Hellenes,” who might have ancestors of Thracian, Cretan, or Macedonian descent; this “Hellenic” group certainly could – and did – include individuals with Egyptian heritage.50 As a general class, these


Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 115; Fraser 1972, 77; see also above, n. 29. Overall, Roman officials could trust civic officials to be much more exclusive than inclusive and appear to have seen intervention as necessary only when these officials fell victim to corruption. Gymnasial status, however, was the key to entry into the ephebeia, which was in turn a means of acquiring de facto citizenship. It is unknown whether the Alexandrian gymnasia were available as educational options for any and all applicants who were “Hellenized” (i.e., could speak Greek). 48

Chauveau 1997, 259.


Huzar 1988b, 632-4. There were also sub-categories among the “Greek citizens” in the capital, as the Greeks of Alexandria were enrolled in tribes, demes, and phratries (with the demes perhaps reserved for those who could demonstrate descent from the earliest Greek residents). 50

See van Minnen 2002, 348-51. Intermarriage was rampant (due to an almost certain shortage of Greek women) during the Ptolemaic period. Even though the Romans would enforce their socio-economic and socio-political distinctions to a degree which curbed intermarriage, the impact on the bloodlines and households of publicly “Hellenic” individuals were irreversible.


Hellenic inhabitants formed the most powerful population group within in the city and (when unified, at least) comprised the dominant political force there. Among free residents, the native rural Egyptians and all other “non-Hellenes” occupied the lowest position on the social scale. From the first years of Roman rule, individuals assigned to this class were collectively classified in official records as Aigyptioi, “a term which now acquired connotations of administrative, fiscal, and cultural inferiority.”51 The Jewish population, for its part, was sizable enough and wielded sufficient influence to form its own politeuma and carve out a unique socio-political niche under Roman rule. The Jews were assured some of the coveted rights of citizenship and they maintained certain special privileges, including the freedom to worship in their synagogues and to apply Jewish law when addressing internal matters.52 Each of these distinct status levels, encompassing every free resident of Alexandria and Egypt from the Roman citizen to the native Egyptian, is recorded in extant fragments of the fortuitously well-preserved Gnomon of the Idios Logos, which dates to the mid-second century A.D., and appears to have existed from the beginning of Roman rule.53 For the most part, these different groups were scattered throughout the city and lived side-by-side in clusters of variable size, rendering the Alexandrian polis a variegated mosaic of ethnicities, cultures, and social ranks. 51 Bowman

and Rathbone 1992, 114.


On the history of the Alexandrian Jews in the Roman period, see Gruen 2002 (esp. 54-83). Also, Goodman 1997, 268-9; Huzar 1988b, 634-6; Bell 1953, 25-49; Kasher 1985. For views of the Jewish population during the Ptolemaic era, Fraser 1972 remains invaluable. 53

The Gnomon, published as BGU 5.1210, deals mainly with the various fines and property laws that could be applied to each of the official status groups, but it also treats the judicial problems these applications could create; see Goodman 1997, 266. The detailed and complex text of the Gnomon appears to embody the culmination of a long development of regulatory codes over nearly two centuries; thus, “it is surely inconceivable that the distinctions of status between Romans, Latins, Greeks, Alexandrians, and Egyptians which appear in the Gnomon were not present from the earliest period of Roman rule” (Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 113).


The pronounced differentiation between select privileged classes and a much larger, tax-paying/revenue-producing portion of the population extended well beyond the borders of Alexandria.

As an innovation under Roman policy, individuals

registered as “metropolites” (i.e., full citizens of the metropoleis) were recognized as having a higher status than villagers and townspeople from other parts of the nome.54 Members of this metropolite group were granted some relief from the poll-tax and paid it at a discounted rate, and they appear to have had the upper hand in purchasing state land placed on the auction block, as well as in the ownership of private land in general; it is not clear, however, as to what other advantages were associated with this status.55 As with their Alexandrian citizen counterparts, the metropolite segment of the population included its own sub-class: namely, a gymnasial order with a strong hereditary exclusivity. In the case of the metropoleis, this classification was intended to distinguish the descendants of the Greek military settlers (katoikoi) of the Ptolemaic era and to heighten their power and privilege in the social and political realms.


Romans, in turn, would encourage the rigid qualifications for entry into this group in the same manner in which they attempted to sustain a system of select admission to the metropolite class after its initial establishment.56 Well in line with this general trend 54

See Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 120. The distinction between metropolites and nonmetropolites is attested in papyri and inscriptions dating to the middle of Augustus’ reign, but is certainly possible – and even probable – that it existed from the time of the first Roman census in Egypt, likely to have been taken shortly after annexation (but see below, Chapter I.D). 55

Ibid., 120-2. This status was intended from the outset to be hereditary and exclusive. The lower poll-tax rate is only first attested in P. Oxy. 2.288 (ca. A.D. 22-25), but like these authors I am convinced that “this privilege was intrinsic to the definition of the group” (120 n. 69). 56

But van Minnen (2002, 340-1) rightly asserts that membership in both groups was less strictly defined during the Julio-Claudian era; moreover, “metropolite” status was probably granted, initially, to all Hellenic and Hellenized residents of the nome capitals. See also Zucker 1961. At Alexandria, a system of registration for members of these privileged groups appears to have been installed during the first century A.D. (perhaps within one generation after the conquest).


was the closing of village gymnasia after the beginning of Roman rule, a point that is rarely given the emphasis it deserves. In effect, after Egypt’s annexation, only the Greek cities and the metropoleis could possess gymnasia (and, as a noteworthy development, it became mandatory that each metropolis possess one). Thus, although gymnasia had existed in the cities and towns of Egypt from the earliest decades of Ptolemaic rule, “the Romans changed their nature and function: gymnasia became the urban focus of Hellenization and local self-administration…[and consequently,] within the primary model of ‘Hellenic’ Alexandria above the ‘Egyptian’ chora they created in the chora an urban-based ‘Hellenic’ gymnasial group above the ‘Egyptian’ villagers (and the indeterminate or mixed other metropolites).”57 This formed the crux of what would prove to be the key innovation among many in the Romans’ administrative organization within Alexandria and Egypt, as well as within several other provinces under their control: namely, the delineation of a privileged urban sub-group intended to aid them in their rule.


Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 121. The latest attested village gymnasium mentioned in the extant records was located in the Heracleopolite nome and dates to A.D. 2. The relatively rapid disappearance of the village gymnasia and the development of an urban gymnasial class should be viewed as by-products of the same policy; see Alston 1997a, 88. When considering the metropoleis themselves, particularly the notion that the gymnasial citizens “hovered above” the other metropolites, the warnings of van Minnen (2002, esp. 339-41) loom large: the metropolite and gymnasial classes largely overlapped one another in membership and in the social and ethnic expressions of the individuals granted one status or the other (or both); the gymansial citizens were no more “Hellenic” in their lineage than other metropolites. Indeed, the only element of “higher status” accorded to them was their ability to hold certain magistracies.



Rome’s Interactions with Alexandria & Egypt

In the centuries preceding Octavian’s conquest, diplomatic ties between the Romans and the Egyptians had existed from as early as 273 B.C., the year in which Ptolemy II sent his kingdom’s first embassy to Rome.58 The Romans are generally considered to have been flattered by this gesture; at the time, Ptolemaic Egypt was surging in its unquestioned power and prestige among the eastern Mediterranean states, while Rome – having recently achieved an eye-opening victory over Pyrrhus of Epirus – was only beginning to extend its own sights beyond the borders of the Italian peninsula. Their relationship was mutually beneficial for several decades thereafter: new western trading markets were made available to the Ptolemies, while the Romans enjoyed the benefits of possessing an informal ally in the East, an advantage that was used to its fullest when requests for grain were made to Ptolemy IV during the Second Punic War.59

Over the course of the next century, as Rome developed into the

dominant (and widely acknowledged) superpower of the western Mediterranean, Ptolemaic Egypt slowly faltered under the burdens of costly wars, a struggling economy,








mismanagement. When the Romans began to look to the East in the early second century B.C., they observed a state of affairs in which their “informal ally” had fallen


The details surrounding the contacts between Rome and Egypt during the Ptolemaic era have been capably presented and thoroughly analyzed by several authors: see in particular Bowman 1986, 32-7; Huzar 1988a, 346-8; Fraser 1972; Versluys 2002, 4-6 (esp. 4 n. 3, with additional bibliography). For a complete overview of these contacts from 273 until 80 B.C., see Lampela 1998. The cursory chronological overview presented at the beginning of this section is intended only to highlight the positive diplomatic relationship between Egypt and Rome before the break with Antony and Cleopatra; an analysis of the most relevant self-contained topics will follow. 59

See Versluys 2002, 4; Huzar 1988a, 346.


from its former glory and could no longer be counted among the most influential powers of the Mediterranean.60 Rome’s meteoric rise and Egypt’s gradual (but steady) decline translated into a reversal of roles: Rome had developed into an expansive military power, whereas Egypt had slowly withdrawn into its own borders while searching for assurances of aid and protection. A well-publicized turning point in the relationship occurred in 168 B.C., when the Roman general Gaius Popilius Laenas, acting as envoy of the Senate, ordered the Seleucid king Antiochus IV out of Egypt. While this event did not initiate a change in the terms of the association between Rome and the Ptolemies, it nevertheless served to affirm the new reality of their relationship: namely, that Egypt had essentially developed into one of Rome’s client kingdoms.61 Bowman summarizes the resulting situation by indicating that “for the rest of the Ptolemaic period Egypt’s independence was exercised, in effect, at Rome’s discretion and under her protection.”62 The granting of this protection was viewed by the Romans as being economically beneficial, and it may have been this perception, above all other considerations, that bolstered their reluctance to reduce Egypt to complete dependence.63 The Romans became increasingly entangled in Ptolemaic affairs over the course of the first century B.C. At times they were drawn in by their own immediate aims and


Cf. Huzar 1988a, 346: “…[I]n the second century B.C., Egypt was already declining. She still had pretensions of greatness in Hellenistic diplomacy, but only to retain, not to expand her frontiers.” 61

On the expulsion of Antiochus, see Bowman 1986, 32; Versluys 2002, 4; Goodman 1997, 264.


Bowman 1986, 32. On the history of Egypt during the period from 168 to 80 B.C., with particular focus directed at the development of Rome’s involvement in Ptolemaic affairs, see Hölbl 2001, 181-221. 63

See Gruen 1984, 673-719.


long-term goals, but frequently Roman involvement stemmed from a direct request brought about by jealousies and struggles within the extended royal family. Dynastic competition was clearly the primary motivation behind Ptolemy X Alexander’s choice to designate Rome as his heir to the Egyptian throne in 88 B.C.64 Ptolemy XII Auletes, for his part, went so far as to purchase both Roman recognition and the military backing of the general Gabinius with borrowed money in order to regain the Egyptian kingship in 58 B.C.65 Providing a bit of motivation for Auletes’ flight from Egypt, which seems to have been necessitated primarily by an upsurge of volatile Alexandrian discontent, Rome had annexed Cyprus from his brother; sixteen years prior to this affair, in one of the most significant developments in this part of the world during the first century B.C., the Romans had formally incorporated Cyrene into their empire (after pressuring Ptolemy Apion to bequeath it to them years earlier).66 Rome appears to have had an active interest in Egypt’s holdings, then, several decades before the annexation under Octavian. The Roman state had been provided with sound justification for entry into Egypt after the publication of Ptolemy Alexander’s will. This fact in itself adds a degree of credibility to the notion that the only element that spared Egypt from full Roman occupation before 30 B.C. was “the jealous competition about controlling the rich land waged by the power hungry generals in Rome’s civil wars.”67 Indeed, it appears as though Caesar and Crassus had discussed the idea of incorporating Egypt as a province in 65 B.C., but the temporary


On Alexander’s vying for power with his brother Ptolemy IX Soter, see Chauveau 1997, 22-3.


See Huzar 1988a, 347 (with bibliography at n. 15); Chauveau 1997, 26-9.


Chauveau 1997, 23, 25; Huzar 1988a, 347.


Huzar 1988a, 347.


stability brought about by their cooperation could not alleviate all doubts about tossing such a valuable jewel into the mix, and the plan never materialized.68 Caesar’s designs for Egypt would evolve over time, especially in the wake of his emergence from the so-called “First Triumvirate” as sole survivor and victor. Only a few months after Pompey’s murder notoriously confirmed this status in 48 B.C.,69 Caesar traveled to Egypt, buried his former rival, and sided with Cleopatra in the dynastic struggle against her brother, Ptolemy XIII. With the force of his legions he narrowly put down a fierce and prolonged Alexandrian uprising – an expression of anti-Roman sentiment, precipitated by dynastic struggles, that may have gained strength due to his own interference in Egyptian affairs.70 Later he toured Egypt with Cleopatra at his side, and their union produced a son, whom she named Caesarion. Cleopatra came to Rome at Caesar’s request in September 46 B.C.; she promptly fled back to Alexandria upon hearing of his murder in March 44 B.C. The well-documented struggle for power that ensued would claim many lives, including those men responsible for Caesar’s death.

Despite brief periods of

involvement and interaction with M. Aemilius Lepidus and Sextus Pompeius, two individuals came to rest at the top of the military and governmental hierarchies: Antony and Octavian. While this pair was still working in joint efforts to consolidate power throughout the regions controlled by Rome, Antony’s efforts in the East necessitated his


See Bowman 1986, 33.


Pompey's death occurred at the hands of Egyptian agents immediately upon his arrival in Alexandria. The “treacherous” murder of Pompey would later come to play a significant role in the formation of (negative) Roman opinion regarding the Alexandrians and Egyptians; see the discussion below, Chapter I.F. 70

See Huzar 1988a, 347-48. A historically interesting (and contemporary) account is preserved in the Bellum Alexandrinum, a work generally attributed to Caesar's friend and lieutenant Aulus Hirtius.


summoning of Cleopatra to Tarsus in Cilicia.71 This meeting in 41 B.C. marked the beginning of an affair that would continue until their deaths eleven years later. After accounting for concerns over the validity of the relevant historical accounts (i.e., in light of possible coloring through anti-Egyptian propaganda),72 it appears that only after Antony’s return to Egypt in 35 B.C. did he decide to use Egypt as a base for extending his own influence and wresting power from Octavian. For five years, Antony stayed by the side of the Egyptian queen and remained in the Near East, hoping to amass wealth and power on the same scale as that achieved by Pompey in the wake of the eastern campaigns of 66-63 B.C.73 Although tales of his frequent portrayal in the guise of Osiris/Dionysos to complement Cleopatra’s nea Isis could merely be products of Octavianic









Ptolemaic/Pharaonic royal headdress are extant, and several among these have survived in a surprisingly well-preserved condition.75 Octavian’s only visit to Egypt occurred when he invaded and subjugated the country to Roman rule in 30 B.C.76 The defeat and suicides of Antony and Cleopatra, along with the incorporation of Egypt as a province, appear to have been sufficient recompense for the conquering general, as a majority of their supporters avoided subjection to harsh punishment. The city of Alexandria was spared; Ptolemy Caesarion,


Cleopatra’s infamous arrival on the Cydnus is described in detail by Plutarch (Vit. Ant. 26).


See esp. Huzar 1988a, 345; cf. Bowman 1986, 34-6; also, Syme 1960, 270-5.


Bowman 1986, 35.


Ibid., 35-6. Antony attempted to defend himself from the one-sidedness of this view (along with the similar views being expressed at Rome) by issuing his own pamphlet, De sua ebrietate. 75

On these examples (i.e., those executed in the Egyptian style), see Appendix I.


The associated events and their aftermath are discussed in greater detail at Chapter I.A.


whose existence was as embarrassing as it was incompatible with the new regime, could not be granted the same reprieve. One of Octavian’s closest personal ties to Alexandria was his dear friend Areios Didymos, who had been born and raised in the city; both Dio and Plutarch point to this friendship as one of the primary motives behind Octavian’s decision to leave the metropolis unharmed.77 After his departure from Egypt following the establishment of a provincial government, Octavian’s closest and most direct ties to Alexandria and Egypt were the equestrian officials whom he appointed to the top administrative posts. Questions regarding the extent to which the emperor communicated with these officials (and vice-versa) are necessarily thrust to the fore when addressing Rome’s interactions with Alexandria and Egypt.

Fortunately, the known cases of

correspondence between emperors and equestrian officials (as well as with legati in the provinces) are plentiful enough to justify the assumption that the prefect, idioslogos, and other high-ranking administrators occasionally exchanged letters with the princeps or his closest officials. For the prefect of Egypt, with whom the emperor usually had more intimate ties, frequent and direct communication with Rome may have been expected, or even formally required. In general, though, emperors only rarely sent out letters without first receiving direct questions or requests from provincial officials.78 There were notable exceptions, but as Millar points out, “in some cases where the actual


Ant. 80.1. Two other motives are mentioned: the great reputation of Alexandria’s legendary founder, and the city’s unique combination of massive size and stunning beauty. This last factor is replaced in Dio’s account by a “respect for the god Serapis” (51.16.4). Dundas (2002, 439-40) argues that these authors mask Octavian’s calculated conciliatory efforts. The reference to Serapis, if accurate, was certainly a political maneuver; see Reinhold 1980, 98 n. 20. A possible alternative to these suggestions is that Alexandria was considered the best available option among all possible administrative hubs (especially given its prime location). Naturally, none of these possibilities is mutually exclusive in relation to the others; cf. Harker 2008, 5. 78

Millar 1966, 158.


correspondence with [the official] was begun by the Emperor, this was stimulated by a communication from some other source in the province.”79 This latter phenomenon appears to have spurred the delivery of the well-known Letter to the Alexandrians issued by Claudius on 10 November, A.D. 41.80 The first part of the Letter outlines Claudius’ choices of acceptance or refusal for various honors proposed by the Alexandrian Greek community. The many tributes offered to the emperor include: the erection of statues depicting him and members of his family, an honor that he readily accepted; the appointment of a high priest to him, an act that would have directly implied the granting of divine honors; and finally, the construction of temples in his name, a proposal that was likewise laden with “divine” implications.81 The fact that Claudius resolutely declined these last two requests should not be interpreted as a reflection of an exceptional degree of modesty, especially since the polite refusal included in the Letter follows a conventional formula known to have been used by several other first-century Roman emperors facing similar circumstances.82 The Letter proceeds to address the matter of the reestablishment of an Alexandrian boule.

In this instance, however, “address” may not be an entirely

appropriate term; instead, Claudius deftly side-steps the question by stating that “this is a new matter now laid before [him] for the first time,” and that “[he had] written to 79

Ibid. The examples of imperial correspondence with Egypt cited by Millar involve either requests from or complaints about the Jews (cf. the discussion on Claudius’ Letter to the Alexandrians presented immediately below), one from the reign of Tiberius and another from the reign of Gaius. 80

P.Lond. 1912, edited with translation and commentary in Oliver 1989, 77-88; see also the summary at Huzar 1988b, 666 (with additional bibliography at n. 199). 81

See the commentary by Oliver (1989, 85), who also discusses the broad ramifications of the Alexandrians’ offer to construct a golden statue. 82

Béranger 1948. See also Chapter IX.A, n. 7, which outlines almost identical refusals made by Tiberius and Nero.


Aemilius Rectus [the prefect] to examine the question and report...whether the Council should be established.”83 It is clear, in light of the fact that Alexandria was not granted a council until the reign of Septimius Severus, that Claudius did not choose (or perhaps did not intend from the outset) to accommodate the request even after the prefect had made his report to him. The last major point of business that Claudius addresses in his Letter is the conflict between the Alexandrian Jews and Greeks. In a section rather pointedly aimed at the Greek contingent, Claudius indicates that he will not tolerate the stubborn and destructive enmity. He goes so far as to threaten them, claiming that “unless you stop this [conflict], I shall be forced to show what a benevolent ruler can be when he is turned to righteous indignation.”84 Claudius also gives the Jews a warning for sending a second embassy to appeal to him in the matter, “as though they lived in another city,” and the same group is admonished for disturbing the religious festivals of the Greeks.85 This conflict appears to have been the emperor’s primary concern as he drafted the Letter, and one is left to ponder the question of whether the other matters discussed therein would have been sufficient in themselves to necessitate direct correspondence. Clashes between the Jewish and Greek residents of Alexandria prompted the dispatch of delegations from each side of the conflict to Gaius (Caligula) during the winter of 38/39 or 39/40. The Alexandrian Greek contingent was led by an individual named Isidorus and the grammarian Apion.86 The Jewish contingent was led by Philo;


Oliver 1989, 82. On reluctance to reinstitute the boule, see above, I.B n. 43; see also below, I.F.


Ibid., 83.


See Gruen 2002, 79.


Ibid., 66.


not surprisingly, it is his own well-preserved account of the events before and during the meetings with the emperor that serves as our most detailed primary source.87 According to Philo, Gaius was rather impolite to both embassies, and the accusation that the Jews were opposed to worshipping the emperor generated a visible – and audible – resentment within him. Ultimately, the Jewish delegation was deemed to be composed of men who were “not wicked,” but rather “ill-fated and naive” in their doubts about the emperor’s divinity. Both groups were dismissed with very little having been resolved, and conflicts among the Alexandrian Jews and Greeks would continue to necessitate communication and interaction between Rome and Egypt throughout the Julio-Claudian era.88 The equestrian official who was most directly responsible for maintaining peace and order within Alexandria was the prefect himself. A general of equestrian rank (presumably a legatus legionis) was in charge of the troops stationed at Alexandria, but during the first years of Roman rule the prefect appears to have been able to take command of this legion or of any other, as he deemed fit. The first Egyptian prefect, Gaius Cornelius Gallus, led legionary troops to repel an attack by the kingdom of Meroe and established the southern frontier at the First Cataract, near modern-day Aswan. Another campaign was led by the second prefect, Aelius Gallus. Augustus had ordered an offensive directed at the heart of Arabia Felix, perhaps as a means of gaining access to trade routes with stopping points along the eastern coast of the Red Sea.89


The work in question is the Legatio ad Gaium; the passage from 349-67, recounting the Jewish delegation’s actual appearance before the emperor, is especially instructive. 88

On Philo’s embassy and the lack of a definitive response from Caligula, see Smallwood 1976, 242-5. Additional aspects of the Jewish-Greek relationship are examined below, Chapter I.F. 89

See Huzar 1988a, 364-5 (esp. n. 83, with bibliography on hypotheses regarding the motives of the emperor in ordering the invasion).


Whatever the emperor’s precise intentions may have been, Aelius Gallus failed to adequately prepare the troops for desert fighting, and the Romans were forced to settle for the capture of a few coastal towns and harbors extending to India; the prefect was likely recalled shortly thereafter. The third prefect, Gaius Petronius, was charged with the task of securing the Nubian frontier after their incursions into Roman territory in 25 B.C. had led to the capture of Philae and Elephantine. Petronius was victorious, and a thousand Nubian slaves were dispatched to Augustus. In 22 B.C., the Nubians attacked the Roman garrison that had been left at Primis, and Petronius again defeated their forces; peace was negotiated the following year when Augustus met with the ambassadors of Queen Candace at Samos.90 The campaigns of Petronius would be the last led by a prefect of Egypt, and military responsibilities came to rest in the hands of other generals.

Nonetheless, these early expeditions demonstrated that close

communication between the emperor and prefect could be necessitated by military activity within the province; a similar relationship likely existed between the emperor and later commanders on campaign, perhaps with little or no change in the measure of direct correspondence with the prefect. There exists no evidence for a face-to-face meeting between an emperor and a prefect of Egypt during the latter’s tenure in office. Imperial visits to Egypt simply did not occur during the Julio-Claudian era (and even Vespasian’s occupation of Egypt shortly after the fall of the dynasty scarcely qualifies, since he had not yet been installed at Rome).

Unfortunately, we cannot accurately gauge the probable reaction to an

emperor’s appearance in Egypt by examining the public response to the visit of


Strabo 17.1.54; Dio Cass. 54.5.4-5. It is unclear whether the queen herself was present at the meetings. The results of these negotiations are less blurred: the Dodecaschoenus was to serve as a neutral zone between Roman and Nubian territory, and all tribute claimed by the prefect was relinquished. These terms were honored, and the peace endured for two centuries.


Germanicus in A.D. 19. According to Tacitus, one of our most detailed primary sources on this episode, Germanicus was warmly received by the Alexandrians and widely acclaimed throughout the province by metropolites and Egyptians alike. He aided in the relief of widespread famine by opening state granaries, toured the Nile valley as far as Syene, and walked about the local populaces without a bodyguard and in Greek dress.91 Germanicus was well aware of the dangers of accepting too much adulation, and he appears to have felt it necessary to admonish the Alexandrians for saluting both him and his wife with titles usually reserved for Tiberius and Livia.92 The response of the emperor demonstrated that these concerns were entirely warranted: Tiberius criticized Germanicus mildly for his appearance and general manner (cultu habituque eius lenibus verbis perstricto) while in Egypt, but scolded him quite harshly (acerrime increpuit) for the fact that he had ignored the strict Augustan regulation that forbade entry into the province without direct imperial consent.93

Tiberius had perceived his nephew’s

actions as reflecting a lack of respect for Augustan precedent and for his own position as princeps, and Germanicus’ motives in traveling to Egypt – as well as his actions during his tour of the province – are certainly not above scrutiny.94 91

Ann. 2.59-61. Extant papyri support this account; see P. Lond. 1912 C, P. Oxy. 2435.


The edict expressing these reprimands is reproduced at Ehrenberg and Jones 1949, no. 320(b). See also Bowman 1986, 44. Cf. Seager 1972, 104: “The implication seems to be that in premature excitement the Alexandrians had acclaimed Germanicus not only as a god and their saviour, but also as Augustus.” 93

Tac. Ann. 2.59. On the prohibition against entry into Alexandria and Egypt for all individuals of senatorial rank, see above, Chapter I.B (esp. n. 6); see also, Weingärtner 1969, 29-33. 94

See Seager 1972, 103-4. Seager argues in favor of yielding the benefit of the doubt to the visiting dignitary: “...[I]n Germanicus’ estimation Egypt was simply one of the transmarine provinces, the affairs of which he had been sent by Tiberius to settle.” P. Oxy. 2435 lends some support to this notion and indicates that the visit was – at least initially – entirely official in nature.


More important for our purposes, however, is the overwhelmingly positive character of the reaction elicited from the Alexandrians and Egyptians. When viewed in its proper context this response becomes less surprising, despite the fact that it seems to represent a rather striking departure from the anti-Roman sentiment expressed to that point.95 The Alexandrians might have assumed that Germanicus was not far from accession to the throne; that is to say, they could have been seeking to gain the favor of an individual who could soon be in position to help raise them to their former independence and glory. At the same time, in acclaiming Germanicus the Alexandrians were, in a sense, “turning their backs” on Tiberius, the man who had rejected their most recent request to restore the town council and had done so little to bolster their declining economy.96 Germanicus’ opening of the granary certainly went a long way toward endearing him to all residents of the province, including the rural Egyptians, among whom Tiberius was held to be partially responsible for the famine (since as “pharaoh” he was “guardian of the annual harvest”). Given this setting, Germanicus could do no wrong. Among “Hellenic” residents, he was neither king nor governor, but was viewed as a generous benefactor (euergetes).97

He elicited adoration from the

Egyptian residents merely by returning a portion of their own grain to them – at no expense to himself, but at great cost to the reputation of his uncle and adoptive father, the emperor. It is in this light that the response to Germanicus’ visit should be viewed. Scholars can only speculate as to whether a Julio-Claudian emperor would have been received with equal enthusiasm, had one traveled to Egypt. It appears that Nero


See below, Chapter I.F.


The decision to deny Alexandria a town council and the possible motivations behind this maneuver are discussed below, Chapter I.F; see also Chapter I.B n. 43. 97

A record of the visit of (an unnamed) Germanicus is likely contained in P. Oxy. 25.2435.


was planning a trip to Alexandria and Egypt as early as 64, despite the fact that the extant primary sources have not offered a consensus opinion on his intended course of travel.98 Tacitus asserts that the original plans called for a visit to Greece, that the destination was later changed to Egypt, and that the entire trip was cancelled by Nero when he encountered inauspicious omens while walking about the Temple of Vesta. 99 Suetonius, on the other hand, mentions only the anticipated trip to Egypt; he proceeds to indicate that the emperor’s sudden refusal to travel came about on the intended day of departure itself.100 The same sequence of events is related by Dio Cassius, but the planned destination in his account is not Egypt, but rather Armenia.101 Nero would follow through on plans to visit Greece in 66, and there are some indications that he fully intended to expand his itinerary to include several other regions in the East, including Alexandria and Egypt.102 Other than the “inauspicious omens” perceived by the emperor at the Vesta temple, the literary sources provide no clues as to why his fairly well-attested intentions to undertake these visits – in 66, and earlier in 64 – were left unfulfilled. Nero was not the first Julio-Claudian emperor to cancel plans for an excursion to Alexandria abruptly, as Caligula had set the precedent decades earlier.103 98

For an evaluation of these primary sources and other evidence for a planned journey to Egypt, see Levy 1982-3, 108-9. 99

Ann. 15.33.2, 15.36.1.


Nero 19.1.




See Levy 1982-83, 108-9. Soldiers were gathered in Egypt, and a Nile expedition may have been on the horizon, along with a projected campaign in Ethiopia (Pliny, NH 6.181). An interesting coin type first issued in 66/7 by the Alexandrian mint (below, Chapter VII.B, NC7) might depict the freighter intended to transport Nero from Alexandria to his next destination. 103

Philo Leg. 250-1. Caligula chose to steer clear of the Egyptian capital, we are told, in order that “so great a general” might avoid the danger of traveling on the open sea and not incur the heavy cost of the large fleet that would necessarily accompany him.


It is tempting to ascribe the underlying anxiety associated with a potential tour of the province to the reputation of Alexandria as a hotbed for discontent and hostility toward Roman authorities.104 It appears, however, that Nero gave serious consideration to the idea of fleeing to Egypt during his final days in Rome; clearly, he possessed few doubts as to whether he would be assured of safety and relative security upon his arrival.105 Indeed, there developed a later tradition that Nero planned to move the capital of the empire from Rome to Alexandria.106 When weighed against these factors, the notion that fear of the Alexandrian mob may have deterred an earlier visit loses much of its persuasive force. Taken together, Nero’s various intentions concerning Egypt have spawned several ideas and assumptions regarding his seemingly close relationship with the province and with Alexandria. When combined with perceptions that the Alexandrians and Egyptians held a special affection for this emperor, these ideas have formed the basis of a model that has been termed “Nero’s Egyptian connection.”107 The premises on which this model rests can be summarized as follows: first, it is thought that individuals with Egyptian interests exerted a high degree of influence in the household of Nero and stimulated within the emperor a certain degree of empathy for Alexandria and Egypt; second, the literary evidence mentioned above is believed to support the notion that Egypt held a much greater appeal to Nero than any region outside of


See below, Chapter I.F.


For Nero’s plans to flee to Egypt, see Plutarch, Galba 2.1, 14.2; see also, Dio Cass. 63.27.2.


Moreover, after his death, it was rumored (outside of Rome) that he had successfully escaped to Egypt. On his plans for flight from Rome to Egypt, see Ball 1993, 157 (esp. n. 17). 107

See Schumann 1930, 7-21; Kaplan (1977, 29-32), who echoes Schumann’s opinions, was the originator of the “Egyptian connection” phrase. See also Cizek 1982, 85-86, 89-91, and 121-3.


Greece; finally, a full range of papyrological, numismatic, and epigraphic evidence is viewed as reflection of a wide range of unique distinctions bestowed upon Nero and a general warmth of feeling between him and the residents of Alexandria and Egypt.108 Each of these premises, however, faces its own significant hurdles, and it now appears that Nero’s relationship with the Egyptian province was not as exceptional as once thought. For example, Seneca, while clearly exerting great influence early on during Nero’s reign, had probably not developed a strong personal connection with Egypt, and other individuals associated with the emperor and possessing Egyptian ties likely held minimal sway over him.109 Moreover, in all but one of the primary sources discussing Nero’s desire to travel to Alexandria and Egypt, the proposed journeys to the capital (or up the Nile) are mentioned within the context of broader tours in the East or potential military campaigns in nearby regions.110

In addition, many “unique

distinctions” granted to Nero (e.g., the renaming of several months and Alexandrian tribes in his honor or the depiction of the imperial portrait with remarkable attributes) were commonly given to other Early Roman emperors at Alexandria and in Egypt; in fact, in those cases for which detailed testimony exists, such honors appear to have been initiated not by the Alexandrians and Egyptians, but rather by the Roman administration itself.111 After considering these reevaluations, it becomes apparent that there are, at present, few indications of an extraordinarily close rapport between Nero and the residents of Egypt. Indeed, the economic crisis that seems to have afflicted the


Much of this summary follows the outline presented at Ball 1993, 158.


Ibid., 160-6.


See above, n. 101.


Ball 1993, 166-86. On the attributes appearing on the coinage, see below, Chapter VII.B.


region for most of the reign might be taken to imply that their relationship was more tense.112

Ultimately, the character and degree of relations between Nero and the

residents of Alexandria and the Egyptian province – with the generally inconsistent and sporadic nature of the popularity of the Roman ruler, the role played by Egypt vis-à-vis broad imperial aims, and the personal interests of the emperor – could very well reflect the level of imperial interaction that existed throughout the Julio-Claudian era.


On the evidence for a Neronian economic crisis, see Bell 1938. On possible ramifications for Nero’s popularity in Alexandria and Egypt, see Ball 1993, 184-5. Regarding the sentiments of the provincial subjects, cf. Ball 1993, 187: “…[T]here is no evidence of a particular enthusiasm for Nero on the part of any element of the Egyptian population.”



Geography and Demography of Alexandria and Egypt

Although the Alexandrian polis was isolated from Egypt as a distinct entity in the realms of politics and provincial administration, the course of the Nile created an unbroken and direct geographic tie between the city and the province. Alexandria, which offered the province’s only sizable deep-water sea harbor, served to connect the towns and villages of the Nile valley with the whole of the Mediterranean Basin.113 The city’s southern border was defined by the northern shore of Lake Mareotis (see Fig. 1), which today is much shallower than it was in antiquity.

During the Roman era,

merchant ships could travel into the lake from the Canopic branch of the Nile by means of large canals; another canal was constructed to connect the lake to the harbor on the Mediterranean, thereby providing access from the Nile into the sea, and vice-versa.114 The town was enclosed by a wall encircling the urban area on three sides.


magnificence of the walled city and the extent of the suburbs sprawling out from them are discussed at great length by Strabo, who had visited in the 20s B.C.115


On archaeological work in the harbor, see Empereur 1998; also, Goddio et al. 1998 and Goddio et al. 2004. On the city of Alexandria as a link between Egyptian towns and the Roman capital, see Bowman 1992, 499-500. Huzar (1988b, 622-3) provides an excellent summary on the evolution and paramount importance of the harbor complex. The site (as “Pharos”) was known among sailors for its auspicious port as early as the written incarnation of the Homeric epics (Od. 4.351-592). During the Roman era, it was the only port from which large amounts of grain could be shipped out. The Heptastadion’s construction was a crucial stage in the harbor's history; cf. Huzar 1988b, 622: “The major harbor development was the building of a seveneighths mile long narrow mole,…which ran between the Pharos island and the shore, dividing the bay into two safer ports, the Eunostos Harbor on the east, the Great Harbor to the west.” 114

Strabo 17.7. The lake (as an intermediate passage) saw constant commercial traffic; cf. Huzar 1988b, 623: “...Alexandrian trade through Lake Mareotis exceeded that via the sea; and great ship docks and warehouses for the Egyptian goods lined the lake shore.” The lake also linked the city via the entrepôt of Coptos to the important Red Sea ports; see Bowman 1986, 219. 115

17.8-10. Strabo was a companion of the second Egyptian prefect, Marcus Aelius Gallus, and had the opportunity to tour both the city and province extensively with him. See the comments regarding these sections of Strabo’s account made by Bowman (1986, 205-6).


These areas, along with other major towns in the northern Nile delta, were tied to Syria and Asia Minor in the east and Africa Proconsularis in the west by means of an effective road system. This extensive inter-provincial network of overland passages enabled travelers leaving from Alexandria to arrive at Carthage by caravan in only a few weeks. The city of Rome could also be reached by land routes; the average trek would have required a full eight weeks, but special government riders, covering a distance of fifty miles per day, on average, could make the journey in two and a half weeks (presumably after traveling along the African coast to the port at Carthage).116 When departing from Italy, travel made entirely by sea was more efficient; given ideal conditions, the trip could be made in seven days, although ten to twenty days under sail appears to have been the norm. Passage by sea from Alexandria to Italy, however, was impeded by the Etesian winds; the voyage might require several weeks, even in fair weather. From October to May, poor visibility and rough seas severely restricted navigation; thus, the routes of overland transportation remained crucial, especially on those occasions when urgent correspondence was deemed necessary.117 Within the Egyptian province, of course (and despite the addition of several roads constructed under the Julio-Claudian emperors), the most efficient method of travel was transport by boat on the Nile. An overwhelming majority of towns and villages were located within the Nile valley and delta or in the Fayoum (see Fig. 2). Only a few major sites could be counted among the exceptions (e.g., Paraetonium, Taposiris, and Rhinokolura on the Mediterranean, as well as Berenike, Myos Hormos,


On these estimates for overland travel, see Casson 1974, 165, 168; see also, Huzar 1988b, 623.


See Casson 1971, 283-4; also, Huzar 1988b, 623. On official communication between Rome and Alexandria, see Chapter I.C. On the seaborne grain transported annually from Egypt to Italy, see Chapter I.E.


and Clysma on the coast of the Red Sea), but these were linked to Alexandria by water or tied to the Nile valley by a major road. Thus, all major provincial settlements could be reached with relative ease by a combination of travel by river, by canal, and by land.118 As one would expect, the villages outnumbered the larger towns in the province by a wide margin. During the Roman period, there existed over forty of the latter, and by this time most had evolved into nome capitals; several thousand smaller settlements were interspersed among these towns throughout the provincial landscape. Among the larger towns, the two known best to us today are Hermopolis and Oxyrhynchus, which (at their respective peaks, at least) had populations totaling 30,000 or more.119 There seems to have been a great deal of variation in the size of the village populations. A large village such as Karanis might have reached a maximum population of ca. 4,000 (during the mid-second century A.D.), whereas the smallest villages could contain fewer than one hundred inhabitants.120 The metropoleis, of course, would have served as the economic and administrative hubs for the villages in their respective nomes.121 Each nome, in turn, contained many villages within its boundaries; the Oxyrhynchite


On the various means of travel within the Egyptian province, see Adams 2001.


Bowman 1986, 141.


Ibid., 142. Bowman highlights the fact that scholars have isolated certain fluctuations in the populations of individual villages, as well. Karanis is merely one example among many: “By 200 the population of Karanis was down by about 40 per cent, probably an effect of the devastating and widespread plague of the 160s...[and] by the fourth century it was perhaps as low as about 420.” Unfortunately, our range of data for localized population groups during the first century of Roman rule can be rather sparse, and these century-by-century fluctuations render it impossible to generate practical estimates. 121

See above, Chapter I.B; also, Bowman 1986, 154. While most villagers were likely to have been tied to their own settlements throughout the year, others traveled outside the village in order to sell locally produced goods; many “elite” villagers bought or leased property at the metropolis, and some even lived there on a temporary basis.


and Arsinoite nomes, for example, each contained over one hundred.122 To this extent, and with the full endorsement of the Roman authorities, the Nile valley remained bound together from the delta region to the Nubian border by adjacent nomehierarchies; and even as they evolved over time, these structures continued to frame the workings of administration, commerce, and daily life within the Egyptian province. Alexandria, of course, existed in its own realm beyond – and, in many respects, above – these regional structures. The scheme of Alexandria’s geographic districts and the basic composition of the city’s population have already been discussed in detail;123 nevertheless, it may be apt at this point to echo Huzar’s lament that “little is known for certain about the size and strength of the different groups within the city.”124 Even if we were fortunate enough to possess the census statistics for the urban population, the artificial “ethnic” divisions that were so rigidly maintained by Roman administrators cannot contribute to our knowledge of the actual composition of the city’s resident population. On this matter, we can express our conclusions only in general terms: it appears as though descendants of Greek settlers (with most possessing a “mixed” Greco-Egyptian background, supplemented by offspring of mixed marriages involving Syrians, Libyans, etc.) lived and worked alongside individuals who were descended from a wide variety of Mediterranean cultures; moreover, Italian and Sicilian “Romans” lived in the city, as did individuals with an Egyptian ancestry traced through both


See Bowman 1986, 142-3. All other settlements in the nome relied on the metropolis on one level or another, but Bowman warns against adopting the oversimplified model of a dominant town surrounded by smaller, directly dependent settlements: “The villages varied in size and importance and established interlocking central-place hierarchies of their own, the larger, with more facilities, serving as centres for the smaller in a microcosm of the relationship between the metropolis and the nome as a whole.” 123

Chapter I.B. (see esp. n. 27 and n. 30).


Huzar 1988b, 631.


parents.125 We know that the polis contained a substantial number of Jewish residents throughout the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, but it is impossible to calculate the precise proportion of total residents represented by this large and influential faction.126 Nevertheless, two broad statements regarding the population of Alexandria during the Roman era can be made with confidence: first, the disparity in wealth between the highest and lowest segments of the populace was greater here than in any part of the Egyptian province; and second, the overall quality of life for Greek and Jewish residents of Alexandria was, on average, superior to that enjoyed by Egyptian inhabitants of the city (and, one might add, of other towns and villages).127 In contrast with the virtual absence of specific data concerning the population of Alexandria, a selection of Roman census returns for the Egyptian province has survived intact. The information drawn from this body of source material, fragmentary though it may be, has helped to alleviate the otherwise extreme paucity of our evidence on the demography of Roman Egypt. The surviving census returns can be precisely dated to a wide variety of imperial reigns, and very few examples pertain to the Julio-Claudian


Ibid., 634. These Egyptians, in fact, “formed the broad base of the population...[and] performed much of the menial work of the city.” Some of the more determined members of this group sought to be included in the Hellenized segments of the population and to eventually gain the coveted Alexandrian citizenship. Few of them were able to penetrate what was, by design, a rather closed order, but intermarriage continued to create prime opportunities for entry into Hellenic society; for, even though “technically, a citizen could not legally marry an Egyptian, ...interbreeding of all ranks of society was so common that most Greeks had Egyptian blood, and only culture distinguished the two peoples.” 126

For discussion and bibliography on the Jews residing in the Alexandrian polis, see above, Chapter I.B (esp. n. 52). 127

On the quality of life in Roman Egypt, see Oates 1988. Even after accounting for differences in the frequency of infanticide and exposure – practiced habitually by families identifying themselves as “Greek,” but not by Egyptians – these factors could be expected to contribute to a longer average life expectancy for the Alexandrian Greeks and Jews. Most residents, however, were affected by poverty (including several thousand Greeks and Jews); cf. Huzar 1988b, 637, where it is stressed that “families of different generations and extended kinship lived close, probably pressured by poverty and the crowding of the city.”


era.128 Moreover, the administrative categories used by the Romans only serve to obscure our view of the social reality (as they do in the case of Alexandria). Many “Greek” residents of the province were not enrolled as metropolites, and these would have been classified by Roman administrators as “Egyptians” (Aigyptioi), “a conception that native Egyptian speakers, the fellahin and the priests, would have rejected out of hand.”129 The very composition of the “Greek” provincial population is difficult to define (as a parallel to the situation at Alexandria), since many members of this group were products or descendants of mixed marriages.130

Despite these shortcomings,

several broad conclusions can be drawn from the information provided by the extant census returns. In general, the information gleaned from this material demonstrates that many aspects of Egyptian demography could have been predicted by comparative analyses; that is to say, there is “very little that lies outside the boundaries of the normal for pre-modern Mediterranean populations.”131 There are, of course, some regional


The chronology of the Roman census in Egypt is not without its controversial elements. There are several conflicting ideas as to when the first formal census might have taken place; the most sound theories among these wide-ranging suggestions are voiced by Rathbone (1993), who places its introduction at 11/10 B.C., and by Bagnall and Frier (1994, 5), who date it to 9/8 B.C. The census was almost certainly taken at seven-year interval in its earliest incarnation(s), but it was probably changed later to conform to a fourteen-year cycle, possibly in A.D. 17 or A.D. 19 (see below, Chapter I.E, on the important role played by the Roman poll-tax in influencing these census intervals); cf. Alston 2002, 139 and Capponi 2005, 83-96. 129

Turner 1975, 3. The practices involved in the classification of individuals as citizens of the metropolis or as Aigyptioi (as well as the general effects of these determinations) are discussed above, Chapter I.B. 130

Bowman 1986, 125. It is possible, in fact, that marriages between Egyptians and Greeks were more common in the Egyptian province than they were in Alexandria, where status distinctions based upon ancestry were more rigid (i.e., from the first waves of importation of Greek soldiers and settlers during the Ptolemaic period). 131

Bagnall and Frier 1994, 170. After expressing mild surprise at the character of the results, these same authors note that these similarities are particularly explicit in the realm of “procreational and demographic criteria,” especially when one considers that “Roman Egypt had a relatively low female age at first marriage, a high (median) male age at first marriage, very high proportions of eventual marriage for both women and men, a wide average age gap


idiosyncrasies; of these, the incidence of consanguineous marriage among the native and “mixed” populations throughout the province undoubtedly stands out as the most distinctive.132 Unfortunately, without comparable data from the Ptolemaic era, it is extremely difficult to gauge the influence that the Roman annexation of Egypt might have had on these factors (or, for that matter, whether the Roman conquest had any bearing on them at all). The matter is complicated by the fact that “[demographic] characteristics were subject to considerable oscillation in the short term,...[with] hefty swings not only in death rates, but perhaps also in nuptiality and fertility.”133 Despite these fluctuations, one may safely conclude that in the short-term setting Rome’s impact on certain demographic elements was tempered by its laissez-faire administrative policies.134

As for the possible long-term effects that the cumulative economic

repercussions of Roman rule had on average life expectancy, the size of the provincial populace, and the movements and densities of distinct population groups, one is reduced by the surviving evidence to educated guesswork and speculation.

between spouses at first marriage, a low proportion of wives who are older than their husbands, and a low (perhaps even very low) proportion of widows or divorced women who remarry” (1994, 171). By gathering information from several selections of primary literary material, Huzar (1988b, 637) has reasonably surmised that marriage likewise occurred at an early age (at around 15 or 16, on average) for Alexandrian women, but at “c. 18 years” for their male counterparts. Fewer Egyptian men were married by the age of 25; see Peacock 2000, 445. 132

See Hopkins 1980; Shaw 1992; Bagnall and Frier 1994, 127-34, 170.


Bagnall and Frier 1994, 173. These variations are mentioned specifically in the context of periodic regional fluctuations in grain prices, but the point is valid on a wider scale, as well. 134

This is not to endorse the commonly held view that “the passing of Ptolemaic rule was probably unmourned, perhaps even largely unnoticed, by the majority of the inhabitants of the Nile valley” (Bowman 1986, 37). At the very least, the vigorous collection of taxes from all residents of the province (in marked contrast to the disorganized payment of goods and currency that characterized the previous era) would have served stern notice of the change in ruling authorities to this very segment of the population, and it may have even triggered some genuine grief over the imposition of Roman rule; see below, Chapter I.E.



The Wealth of Egypt & Rome's Extraction of Resources

As outlined in the preceding pages, Alexandria’s geographic setting rendered the city an ideal focal point for the export and redistribution of goods and currency that had been collected in the province. In order to supplement this inherited set of circumstances, the Romans added a broad and effective administrative infrastructure, including the establishment of several specially designed governmental bureaus.135 A large majority of these new offices, as well as most building projects carried out with official funds, were initiated primarily to facilitate the movement of grain, currency, and other valuable resources out of (or within) the Egyptian province.

The resulting

improvements in administrative efficiency enabled the Romans to convert Egypt into a consistently productive source of tribute, and the haphazard tax collection witnessed under the last Ptolemies quickly became a faint memory. For the first time in Egypt’s history, subjects in the metropoleis and inhabitants of the more remote areas in the countryside were accounted for equally, and both classes of resident were expected to pay taxes in kind and in currency. Given the strong emphasis placed by the Roman administration on the collection of grain, it is hardly surprising that most taxes on cultivated land were paid in kind.136 There were, however, some taxes on arable land that were expected to be paid out in coined money, and at least one of the taxes payable as currency (the naubion) appears to have been assessed on all classes of private land.137 The most significant implication for


On the full spectrum of fresh innovations placed alongside the (often modified) Ptolemaic posts, as well as their early development and evolution, see Chapter I.B. 136

Wallace 1969; Rathbone 1993, 82-6; Bowman 1986, 76.


See Wallace 1969, 47. On the various sorts of “small money taxes,” see Bowman 1986, 76.


the officials presiding over the Roman mint at Alexandria was the fact that this requirement of monetary taxes from the inhabitants of the countryside would put even rural farmers into contact with the diverse range of images struck on the Alexandrian coinage. Furthermore, it appears as though the payment of taxes in currency by a large majority (if not the entire population) of the Egyptian villagers during the summer months not only offered the means for the widest geographic circulation of the Alexandrian coin types, but also served as the primary catalyst for the production of new issues.138 The Roman authorities could afford confidence in the probability that taxes would spark a wide circulation of currency, since Egyptian tributum capitis took the familiar form of a poll-tax (laographia), which was paid in coin and levied on all men of the chora aged fourteen to sixty-two, including slaves.139 In essence, as a result of a rather paradoxical Roman proclamation, virtually all adult males living as inhabitants in the countryside (laoi) were expected to pay for the right to participate in an annual registration that had already been made mandatory by official decree. Poll-tax rates varied by nome and even within individual nomes. Moreover, the Roman authorities recognized select categories of immunity, many of which have already been mentioned: Alexandrian citizens and their slaves were granted a full exemption, as were Roman citizens, certain holders of official posts, and several (but not all) Egyptian priests; by virtue of the inherent privilege of their status, metropolites and their slaves were


Milne 1933, xix. The observation of this phenomenon (i.e., the peak in tax collection during the summer months) helped Milne to formulate the influential and innovative hypothesis that coin production at Alexandria was generally seasonal, with the direct implication that the mint was inactive for most of the year. 139

For general accounts of the evolution of the poll-tax assessed in Egypt, see Neesen 1980, 12530; Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 112-3. On its later development in Egypt and subsequent adoption in other provinces, see Rathbone 1993, 86-99.


entitled to pay the tax at a lower rate.140 These few exceptions to what was otherwise a broad and pervasive liability to the poll-tax must have been in place from its first collection, which likely occurred at least fifteen years before the introduction of the regular census.141 The broad distribution of Alexandrian coinage necessitated by the imposition of this tax served to cultivate the widespread exchange of coined money at the village level, even if the scale of monetary exchange in the larger towns would always remain larger.142 Over time, the poll-tax came to be perceived by some as a bitter reminder of Egypt’s subjugation to Rome. Indeed, throughout the Nile valley, prevailing attitudes toward the new imposition were (understandably) far from enthusiastic.143 Imperial officials were only mildly alarmed by these sentiments, since the suppression of the Thebaid revolt in 29 B.C. had demonstrated that the laoi could not form an organized, 140

See above, Chapter I.B; see also, Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 112: “Conceivably the exemption of women and of Alexandrian citizens...may have owed something to Ptolemaic fiscal practices, but the special low rates levied on metropolites must be related to the Roman invention of the status of ‘metropolites’.” Huzar (1988a, 377) lists the Alexandrian Jews as being among the exempt groups without providing detailed rationale. Gruen (2002, 75-7) offers a thorough investigation of the available evidence and concludes that the “reduction of the Jews to lower-class taxpayers” was hardly in keeping with their otherwise privileged status and that they were not, in fact, subject to the poll-tax. 141

Cf. Alston 2002, 138-9: “It seems very unlikely that there was a general census of the population in the years 30-26 B.C. and the new poll tax...must have depended on Ptolemaic systems of information-gathering.” On the attempts to pinpoint the date of the first formal census in Egypt, see above, Chapter I.D (esp. n. 128). 142

See Bowman 1986, 91. The variable rates for the poll-tax as applied regionally – or even subregionally – throughout the province raises the (currently unanswerable) question of whether degrees of monetization determined varying balances between assessments of the poll-tax and of taxes in kind. 143

Rathbone 1993, 86, 88. Rathbone convincingly demonstrates that the poll-tax, despite the absence of formal census data, was instituted within a few years of the Roman annexation; he proceeds to assert that the Thebaid revolt, attributed by Strabo (17.1.53) to a resentment toward Roman taxes, resulted from one of the early assessments of the poll-tax. The revolt was quickly put down by C. Cornelius Gallus, who served as the first Egyptian prefect before being ignominiously recalled in 26 B.C.; see above, n. 5 and n. 17.


concentrated base of resistance against Roman legions and auxiliary forces. Alexandria, on the other hand, was quite another case. Roman administrators displayed a perpetual concern over preventing rebellion in this crucially important city, which served both as a hub of inter-provincial commerce and as the center of operations for the grain trade.144 One need not go so far as to claim that Roman authorities felt it necessary to pacify Alexandrian citizens (i.e., the most influential members of the Hellenized community) by granting special concessions; these privileges were merely incentives used to recruit members of the local elite who might be engaged in service to the state, both formally and informally.145 Instead, the shrewd decision made by Roman officials to declare Alexandrian citizens exempt from the poll-tax – that is, as opposed to assessing it at a variably reduced rate, the same dispensation accorded to the citizens’ metropolite counterparts – should be viewed as a reflection of caution and awareness on the part of imperial authorities.

These preventive measures were taken initially to ensure a

smoother transition from Ptolemaic rule, but they were likely maintained in order to avoid transforming a perpetually tense situation into an utterly disastrous one.146 In addition to their exemption from the poll-tax – and beyond the desirable privilege of being free from all liturgical service in the Egyptian province – Alexandrian citizens were entitled to a grain-dole (siteresion).147 The grain for this allotment to the 144

See the discussion on Roman attitudes toward the Alexandrians outlined below, Chapter I.F.


Above, Chapter I.B. The Roman refusal to allow an Alexandrian boule surely played its part.


Cf. the views expressed at Rathbone 1993, 83 n. 6. Under the Ptolemies, Alexandrians had been excused from a majority of the land taxes that were applied elsewhere, and they were accustomed to paying currency taxes and portoria only for craft-dues and various commercial activities; one can reasonably infer that the imposition of the poll-tax on Alexandrian citizens would have resulted in frequent, open expressions of hostility. 147

Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 120. On the exemption from provincial liturgies, see above, Chapter I.B.


polis was set aside annually – presumably during (or immediately after) the harvest in late May and early June – along with all grain intended for shipment to other provinces or for trade throughout the Mediterranean. Profits from trading state grain were, of course, funneled into imperial coffers, but under the Julio-Claudians this practice was used only as a secondary means of generating income by way of the Egyptian province. In fact, almost all of the surplus grain was reserved for rations to legionary soldiers and for the city of Rome itself. A considerable amount of time, resources, and effort was invested in the procurement and transportation of this surplus. Each year, a massive fleet composed of Alexandrian freighters and capable merchant vessels transported over 80,000 tons of grain from Egypt to Italy.148 The Roman state owned the freighters, but it was often necessary to requisition privately owned boats “from almost anywhere in the Mediterranean.”149 This hybrid navy navigated its way to Puteoli (later Ostia), where state grain officials received the grain, inspected it, and transported it by river barge to its final destination. On the Egyptian side, “this transfer required granaries, land, river, and sea transport, and was directed by the prefect.”150


Josephus (BJ 2.383, 2.386) states directly that Egypt fed Rome for one-third of the year, while Africa provided the other two-thirds; he appears to be referring to the amount of grain needed to feed the entire population (i.e., beyond those on the dole). If we were to take these estimates at face value – after combining them with reasonable calculations placing grain consumption in Rome at about 40 million modii (over 250,000 tons) per annum – we would generate a projected annual Egyptian export to Rome totaling just over 13 million modii (slightly more than 80,000 tons); see Rickman 1980, 263-4. It may be more than coincidental that Pavis d'Escurac’s (1976, 160) estimates for the grain needed annually to provide the dole after 2 B.C. amounted to precisely this figure. In other words, it is possible that the Roman emperor used Egypt as the lone source of “state” grain (i.e., grain reserved exclusively for government personnel and the frumentationes); see Casson 1980. Whatever the precise figures governing export from Alexandria may have been, it is clear that Huzar is fully justified in claiming that “without the annual transport of Egyptian grain, the population of Rome would starve” (1988b, 651). 149

Rickman 1980, 263.


Huzar 1988a, 373-4. The prefect was almost certainly aided by the procurator ad mercurium Alexandreae and/or the procurator Neaspoleos et Mausolei; cf. Huzar 1988b, 651. On the early stages of collection and transport to Alexandria, see Rickman 1980, 264-5.


The frequent assertion that the prefect’s primary responsibility was to ensure the security and abundance of revenue from Egypt contains more than a mere kernel of truth.151 In actuality, however, the grain harvested from the fertile Nile valley was only one component of a wide array of resources extracted from the Egyptian province throughout the Julio-Claudian era. In the immediate aftermath of the Roman conquest, Octavian and his troops removed large amounts of “war-spoils” and “plunder” in the form of raw precious metals (a large portion of which was melted down for the production of aurei and denarii), coined money that had been minted under the Ptolemies, and gemstones.152

Before leaving the province, however, Octavian had

installed the self-supported bureaucracy charged with Egypt’s administration, and (as outlined above) several of its offices were designed with the long-term extraction of taxes and resources foremost in mind. The range of items shipped off to Rome either as “state” property or as commodities intended for trade – in each case under the careful supervision of these offices – was positively astounding. Metals were in perpetually high demand, and (imported) iron, tin, and copper were all shipped out of the Alexandrian ports at one time or another. Nubian gold that had been funneled into Egypt in past ages was especially desirable and was transported to Rome at every available opportunity. After grain, paper derived from papyrus constituted Egypt’s second most valuable resource, and Alexandria served as the center of manufacture and export for the finished product. Glass from Egypt was among the finest in the Roman world, though we possess scant knowledge of its production and distribution.


Egypt was renowned for its textile

Cf. Huzar 1988a, 371: “The chief responsibility of...{the] prefect was to provide revenue, and most of the prefects were appointed with some experience in state finances.” 152

Dio Cass. 51.17.6-8.


manufacturing, and thousands of the finest examples of work in this industry found their way to Rome each year. In addition, numerous building materials were regularly removed from the province and transported to the capital or to other provinces; these included basalt, limestone, and sandstone.153 Within this last category, special mention should be made of the quarries at Mons Porphyrites. These quarries, located at modern Gebel Dokhan in the Red Sea mountains of Egypt’s Eastern Desert, were opened during the reign of Tiberius and continued to provide imperial porphyry well into the fourth century.154 Like their counterparts at Mons Claudianus, located about 50 km to the south and mined for a distinctive gray granodiorite, these quarries were state-owned and protected by military garrison.155 The precise nature of state ownership of these quarries – and, for that matter, of all other sources of goods, raw materials, or revenue in Egypt – can be a thorny issue, as it is closely associated with questions regarding the degree of personal control exercised by the Roman ruler in the province. To emphasize a crucial point made earlier, by no means should Roman Egypt be considered a personal possession of the emperor.156 All arguments to the contrary have tended to arise from the apparent inconsistency between the façade of the state’s exclusive management of Egyptian resources and the 153

Non-precious metals: Huzar 1988b, 650. Gold: Peacock 2000, 429-30. Paper from papyrus: Huzar 1988a, 374; 1988b, 647. Egyptian glass: Peacock 2000, 443; for a complete overview of the glass discovered at Karanis (in the Fayoum), see Harden 1936. Textiles: Huzar 1988b, 650; Peacock 2000, 444. Building materials: Huzar 1988b, 647-8. 154

On the range of dates for activity at the quarries, see Peacock 2000, 431. On the importance of Mons Porphyrites as a central hub for all quarrying efforts in Egypt’s Eastern Desert, see Maxfield 2001. 155

See Huzar 1988a, 374. The dating of the earliest activity at Mons Claudianus to the JulioClaudian era is rather tenuous, but its quarries were certainly in operation by the late first century A.D.; see Peacock 2000, 432. 156

See above, Chapter I.A; on imperial control of the Mons Claudianus quarries, see n. 8.


reality of their handling by the emperor’s officials.157 It must be granted that the department of the idioslogos existed as a safeguard for the emperor’s patrimonium in Egypt,158 and that this department quickly claimed rights to all lands that had been abandoned, left without heirs, or confiscated from criminals (i.e., bona vacantia, caduca, damnatorum, and all other lands that might be seized for reuse).159 One must keep in mind, however, that Augustus held none of these lands in his own name, and that he did not wield personal ownership over the remainder of the province. Of course, it would be naïve to assert that these circumstances prevented the emperor from reaping considerable profits in Egypt (as he did in several other provinces).160 Whether the bulk of these revenues remained within the imperial circle of family and friends or was somehow used to perpetuate the state’s reliance on the person of the emperor are other issues altogether.161 The removal of several funds and materials collected in the Egyptian province to Italy stands in sharp contrast with the practices of the preceding era, during which similar resources had gone only so far as the Alexandrian polis.162 Under the Ptolemies,


Cf. Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 111: “Egypt’s revenues, like those of other ‘imperial’ provinces, were from the start theoretically paid into the aerarium Saturni, the treasury of the res publica, but in practice were mostly handled by direct agents of the emperor (equestrian officials and imperial freedmen).” 158

See below, Chapter II.C (esp. n. 55 and n. 56).


Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 111.


See Oates 1988, 806. The properties held in the names of imperial friends and family members during the Julio-Claudian era were extensive by any standard, and the profits they generated were considered to be products of personal estates (i.e., non-governmental revenues). 161

Cf. Capponi 2005, 11. This possible (but entirely speculative) element of the application of profits from Egypt may have been tied to the changes in 27 B.C. to the position held by Octavian (now Augustus) and his “relinquished” powers and provinces. 162

Huzar 1988a, 371.


arable land in the Egyptian chora could not be privately owned, as all plots were officially classified as either sacred land (hiera ge) or royal land (ge basilike);163 rents and taxes on these lands flowed to the capital and metropoleis before “trickling down” into the countryside. Naturally, the effects of radically shifting the focal point of this system to the capital at Rome itself would have had severe effects on the economy of the Egyptian province. The fact that so few material and agricultural goods were reinvested in the chora during the Roman era has given rise to the prevailing stance that the principal features of Roman rule were consistent exploitation and progressive exhaustion of the province’s resources.164 Yet, although Ptolemaic “royal land” became state land under Rome,165 taxes in kind consumed only a certain percentage of the harvest (fixed annually with the assistance of the prefect), and the Nile valley’s arable land continued to support the provincial population. Moreover, tax money was steadily returned to circulation, both directly (e.g., through the purchase of additional grain for Italy or other Roman territories) and indirectly (e.g., through payments to resident legionary soldiers and auxiliaries). Thus, despite the fact that these factors did not reduce the range or amount of resources transported out of Egypt, taxation should not be viewed as a primary element of the “exploitation” of the province, even if this term has persisted in the face of recent doubts concerning its validity (at least as far as its


That is to say, “full private ownership” of these lands (i.e., in the sense of the Roman ager privatus) was not recognized during the Ptolemaic era; see Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 109. 164

Among early works, the most influential (and arguably the most infamous) expression of this view is Rostovtzeff 1929. 165

See Bowman and Rathbone 1992, 111-2. One of the results of this transfer was the right to remove to Italy all products and revenues generated by these plots of land. These revenues were considerable, since rents on state and imperial land were consistently high (ranging from 30 to 60 percent of the yield); see Bowman 1986, 77.


application to Roman Egypt is concerned).166 Of course, modern debates over the abusive management and persistent draining of Egypt’s resources can contribute very little to investigations into the social and political dynamics at work within the province. Indeed, for the purposes of the present examination, our ability to gauge the perceptions of the Egyptian subjects regarding these presumed “hardships of Roman rule,” as well as the measures taken by Roman authorities to influence these perceptions, is of far greater consequence.


See, for example, the comments made by Oates (1988, 109), who firmly objects to the term “exploitation” in this case, and especially in its application to the collection of taxes: “...[T]he level [of Roman taxation] seems pragmatically to have been set in accord with the rest of the economy and [to have been] essential to the functioning of the economy.” Cf. Bowman 1986, 94: “The longevity of Egypt’s general prosperity suggests the obvious conclusion that, despite the endemic complaints from the taxpayers, government control assured a revenue yield which was, in general, not so extortionate as to drive the producers to the wall.”



Roman Attitudes toward Egypt & the Relationship between Ruler and Subject

The paucity of detailed primary accounts regarding the Roman annexation of Alexandria and Egypt has made it difficult to evaluate the possible motives for Octavian’s unique treatment of these territories in the administrative and social realms.167 It is generally agreed, however, that long-term measures taken to hold the Alexandrians in check, as well as efforts to create and protect a rather closed “Greek” social elite to stand above the Egyptian segment of the population, were at least partially influenced by attitudes formed during the Ptolemaic era.168 The first measure stemmed from an antipathy toward the Alexandrian mob; the second measure was a response to attitudes regarding the native Egyptians (ideas primarily based upon word of mouth rather than actual experience). Negative perceptions regarding both of these classes, which had spread quickly among members of the Roman elite (and especially among politicians of senatorial rank), gained momentum during the conflict with Antony and Cleopatra. The barring of high-ranking individuals from the province only served to entrench these views, since it ensured that “few who wrote about Egypt had first-hand knowledge of the population, its thoughts, and psychology.”169 This distrust 167

On the social and administrative organization instituted in the wake of the Roman conquest, see above, Chapter I.B. 168

See, for example, the comments made by Reinhold (1980, 97), who rightly emphasizes that “the administrative, social, and fiscal arrangements of Octavian for Egypt were to some extent influenced by the experience of the Ptolemaic regime.” For an overview of the interactions between Republican Rome and Ptolemaic Egypt, see above, Chapter I.C. The tainting of Roman opinion was virtually unavoidable, given that political turmoil within the Ptolemaic regime had always featured prominently in the relationship between Egypt and Rome. 169

Reinhold 1980, 100. Cf. Huzar 1988a, 348: “The propaganda and war against Cleopatra had roused an hysterical xenophobia in Italy…[moreover,] few Romans had visited Egypt, still fewer had settled there, and remoteness added to the fear.” On the propaganda war waged against Antony and Cleopatra, see Chapter I.B n. 15.


of the Alexandrian mob and disdain for the native population stood in sharp contrast to more positive, receptive feelings existing throughout Italy for certain cultural, artistic, and religious exports from Egypt, including the cults of Isis and Serapis.170 Nevertheless, during the Julio-Claudian period, the unambiguously negative opinions maintained by several wealthy and influential individuals – the same views reflected in nearly all of the extant literary sources – held sway in the realm of policy-making and continued to influence the management of the province for centuries. The resulting treatment of Alexandria created an environment rife with internal conflict and demonstrations of anti-Roman sentiment; that is to say, it ultimately (and rather ironically) served as a catalyst for the perpetuation of equally negative perceptions.

The central element of Julio-Claudian policy regarding Alexandria

appears to have been a deliberate refusal to allow the establishment of a city council, or boule.171 The pre-existing council had likely been disbanded over a century prior to the Roman conquest, and Octavian was almost certainly following Late Ptolemaic precedent when he declined to institute a boule before his departure from Egypt.172 A formal request to reinstitute the council was sent for consideration by Augustus only ten years later,173 but it too did not succeed, seeing that the identical request was made to and denied by Claudius in his Letter to the Alexandrians. Not surprisingly, the Greek residents of Alexandria were filled with resentment over this “political downgrading of


Roullet 1972; Malaise 1972; Versluys 2002, 9-13.


The absence of a boule in Alexandria is briefly discussed above, Chapter I.B n. 43.; see also the discussion of the Claudian Letter to the Alexandrians at Chapter I.C. 172

Bowman 1986, 211; see also Reinhold 1980, 98. Dio Cassius (51.17.2-3) appears convinced that the Ptolemies strictly enforced a similar policy concerning Alexandrian government. 173

PSI 1160 (ca. 20/19 B.C.).


the city,” especially since the Romans’ policy contrasted so sharply with its architectural wonders, its crucial contributions to the economy, and its unrivaled intellectual life.174 This tense situation was exacerbated by the special concessions accorded to the Alexandrian Jews. This group had offered unambiguous support to the invading forces led by Octavian and persistently looked to maintain the favor of Roman officials in order to secure its unique, protected status.175 Despite the antagonism of the Hellenized segments of the population, this hoped-for security was assured under most prefects, though not under all. In response to Greek resentment, for example, the prefect A. Avillius Flaccus (A.D. 32-38) took formal measures to limit Jewish privileges. It is possible that the exclusion of the Jews from the donations of state grain made by Germanicus may likewise have been a “popular” maneuver made in deference to the non-Jewish majority.176 Tensions reached a head under Caligula, as isolated outbreaks of violence drove both the Hellenized and Jewish populations to send embassies to Rome in order to appeal to the emperor himself.177 Only a few years later, the protected status of the Alexandrian Jews and other Jewish communities was confirmed by Claudius, who guaranteed their religious and political rights on the condition that they tolerate Roman rule without revolt and cooperate with Roman officials.178 These formal 174

Goodman 1997, 267-8. Other cities had been deprived of their councils, but in these cases it was as a punishment for misdeeds and as a sign of subjugation to Rome. For example, we are informed by Livy (26.16) that Capua was not permitted to have a public council after 211 B.C. because it had previously defected to Hannibal during the Second Punic War. 175

Most of the elements associated with this privileged status, including the permission to form a distinct politeuma, to apply Jewish law (under Roman regulations), and to worship freely, have already been mentioned; see above, Chapter I.B. 176

Huzar 1988b, 664. On Germanicus’ opening of the state granaries, see above, Chapter I.C.


These two delegations, as well as their failure to manage a definitive resolution to their conflicts, are discussed above, Chapter I.C. 178

Joseph. Ant. Jud. 19.280-91.


guarantees were the primary means used by the Roman ruling authority to secure the loyalty of the Jewish contingent in Alexandria. The prefect, his subordinates, and his superiors in Rome had instantly recognized the futility of making appeals based on religion or on the opportunity for “integration” into the Roman world; understandably, then, none of the images created by Roman agents for dissemination in Alexandria and the province were designed with the Jews in mind, despite their sizable urban presence. The expressions of anti-Semitic attitudes held by the Hellenized segments of the populace often carried over into subtle demonstrations of anti-Roman sentiment, ostensibly arising from arrangements made on behalf of the Jews. The most instructive of the surviving texts that reflect the position of the Hellenized population are the Acta Alexandrinorum, intriguing pieces of “resistance literature” compiled over the span of several centuries. The earliest of these Acta, which are written in a form that seems to be based on reports of actual protocols before Roman officials, are tales that feature eminent Alexandrians who directly insult emperors who favor the Jews (e.g., Claudius) and are subsequently led off to trial and execution as heroic martyrs of Alexandrian autonomy.179 Indeed, Roman tyranny is as central a theme as Jewish privilege in these “martyr acts,” and one receives the impression that when the Jews are criticized in the Acta, it is “less for their own claims than because they are favored by the Romans.”180 The Romans, for their part, had an acute awareness of what can only be described as a consistent, palpable discontent within the urban mob, and this awareness greatly influenced their views of the city. During the Julio-Claudian era, there seems to have been a strong tendency to view the Alexandrian populace as Dio Chrysostom did


The seminal work on the Acta remains Musurillo 1954; see also Harker 2008.


Huzar 1988b, 666; see also Goodman 1997, 268.


several decades later: namely, as a frivolous, pleasure-seeking, reckless people, teeming with toadies, deceivers, and silver-tongued speakers who tended to be too clever for their own good.181 Well before the Roman conquest, Polybius, who had visited the city in person, expressed direct contempt for the city’s residents and complained openly about their cruelty, their proneness to bloodshed, and the savagery of their mobs.182 More than two centuries after the conquest, Dio Cassius vented his disgust over the untrustworthiness and irreverence of the Alexandrians, which as a “curse,” he argues, brought upon them subjugation first to Cleopatra and later to Rome.183 Attitudes of high-ranking Romans concerning the tax-paying native Egyptians were no more favorable than those concerning the populace in Alexandria. Pliny the Younger, with a mixture of ambivalence and haughtiness, asserted that Egypt was hardly essential to the Roman people, whereas Egypt could not have survived without Rome.184 In his eyes, the Egyptians comprised a ventosa et insolens natio and formed a provincial population that demanded sharp scrutiny from its Roman conquerors.185 These perceptions were not dispelled when wealthy Roman travelers journeyed to Egypt for “tourism,” as the visitors often viewed the native population with revulsion; although the Egyptians “were in general a submissive people…Romans felt profound contempt for them because of their ‘deviant’ behavior and failure to be ‘civilized.’”186


Or. 32.


15.30.9, 33.5-12.


39.58.2; for further elaboration, see 42.30.3 and 42.35.2.


Pan. 31.3, 31.5. For a discussion of the Romans’ heavy reliance on Egyptian grain, see above, Chapter I.E. 185

Pan. 31.2.


Reinhold 1980, 100.


Two second-century sources, Juvenal’s Satire XV and Plutarch’s De Iside et Osiride, offer some insight into the diverse Roman views of the religious elements of native Egyptian culture. Juvenal’s Satire is an intricate and sometimes contradictory text,187 but it is one that recounts how his persona (and perhaps certain Romans) perceived Egyptian religion: namely, that ritual practice in Egypt included “unnatural acts,” “decadence,” and a “foolish belief” in the divine character of animals.188 The tale centers on an act of cannibalism, despite the fact that no other evidence for Egyptian cannibalism had ever existed before the conquest (nor had any since). Naturally, we would expect Juvenal to use “rhetorical commonplaces” and “generalized stereotypes” in applying his satirical style,189 and in all likelihood most of his descriptive account simply reinforced and played upon widespread, long-held notions of Egyptian cult practice. The act of cannibalism, however, in emphasizing a sharp distinction between the natural order of the Roman realm and the perversion of the Egyptian “other,” could have been included for the singular purpose of emphatically denouncing the infusion of Egyptian religious and cultural influence into the Italian peninsula. In other words, we may reasonably conclude that “the story is twisted in Juvenal’s hands to mock the large number of his contemporaries afflicted by Egyptomania.”190 Plutarch’s text is much more straightforward, even if the prospect of extracting insightful perspectives into Egyptian religion is complicated by his occasional lack of 187

See Alston 1996, 100-2.


According to Dio (51.16.5), Octavian rejected an invitation to visit the Apis bull as one “accustomed to worship gods, not cattle.” Contempt for the Egyptian animal cults had been expressed even before the Octavianic conquest; Cicero, for example, commented on his own distaste for their rituals, practiced by individuals “whose thoughts are rooted in base error” (Tusc. Disp. 5.78). On the contrast between “Greek” and “Egyptian,” see Momigliano 1975, 3-4. 189

See Reinhold 1980, 101.


Alston 1996, 101.


careful attention and his steady reliance on Greek sources. Although he cites two Egyptian textual sources to supplement the Greek resources, it is the fact that the very basis of his discussion is rooted in the context of a Greek literary culture that establishes the largest hurdle for those who wish to take his information on Egyptian cult at face value.191 Despite these limitations, three clear-cut and instructive facets of Plutarch’s text are worthy of emphasis: first, in portraying a riot stemming from the treatment of sacred animals, Plutarch highlights what he perceives to be the fanatical and disordered nature of Egyptian religious practice; moreover, in approaching the religion itself with scholarly interest and respect (in contrast to Juvenal), he manages to avoid incensing worshippers in the Egyptian cults that had been imported into the Italy; finally, in asserting that destructive religious rivalries between Egyptian towns developed “only because of the character failings of the Egyptian population,”192 he deprives Egyptian fanaticism of any religious significance and succeeds in maintaining not only his own “superior” Greco-Roman perspective, but also that of his readers. The Egyptians, then, are made out to be prime targets for criticism – and occasionally for ridicule – even if the philosophy and basic mythology embedded within their religion are not. Roman distrust of both the Alexandrian mob and the fanatical, easily roused native Egyptian population prompted the stationing – during the reign of Augustus, at least – of three legions, nine cohorts, and three alae (that is, 24,000 soldiers to keep watch over approximately 8,000,000 residents). Our lone source for this early military presence in Egypt is the geographer Strabo, whose account is rather terse and concise.193


Ibid., 103-4.


Ibid., 104.


17.1.12, based on observations gathered from 26 to 24 B.C.


Nevertheless, Strabo provides clear indications that two of the three legions were stationed at Alexandria and Babylon (Old Cairo). It is all but definite that the third legion was stationed at Thebes, although it is difficult to say precisely at which point it was stationed there.194 What does appear certain is that under Tiberius (specifically, by A.D. 23) one of the three original legions had been transferred out of Egypt and that the remaining two were permanently assigned to Alexandria.195 As peculiar a maneuver as this may seem at first glance, the Romans were evidently confident that the Theban region had been sufficiently pacified to allow for the replacement of an entire legion with a small garrison (at the same time that they were convinced that two full legions were needed at Alexandria). The narrow southern frontier was protected by a morethan-adequate force of three cohorts at Syene (the Ethiopians were able to raid the southern regions of the province only after these cohorts had been drawn away to Arabia to fight under Aelius Gallus in 23 B.C.); it is possible, then, that Roman officials believed that an emergency transfer of these cohorts to the north would suffice should trouble arise in the Thebaid. This strategy would, for the most part, prove to be successful for the Romans. The Theban district remained calm under Julio-Claudian rule, even in the immediate aftermath of the removal of the legion that had been stationed there. In fact, the only acts of widespread violence or outright revolts during this era occurred in Alexandria itself (justifying the eventual double camp near that city). These occurred sporadically among the Hellenized and Jewish segments of the population, with the only significant


Speidel 1982. The most logical hypothesis would have the legion dispatched to the Thebaid after the revolt in that region in 29 B.C. (see above n. 142). 195

Ibid., 121. In supplementing other epigraphic and literary indications, Tacitus (Ann. 4.5) is unambiguous in his confirmation of the legionary transfer.


anti-Roman demonstrations and uprisings occurring under Caligula and Nero.196 The bloody uprising occurring under the latter (A.D. 66) was confined to the Jewish population and was a direct outgrowth of the Judean revolt.197 Remarkably, while the Alexandrian populace continued to test the patience of Roman officials (as they fully expected), the metropoleis and Egyptian villages maintained a calm and ordered existence for decades at a time, despite the heavy taxation of the latter and the limited presence of only six scattered cohorts and three alae. Thus, after only a few decades, Roman authorities were able to achieve what the Ptolemaic regime had not: namely, a consistently productive and undisturbed mode of long-term habitation and daily life in the Nile valley.198


These expressions of anti-Roman sentiment are outlined in close detail in Foraboschi 1988.


See Huzar 1988b, 666-7.


On the revolts that occurred under the Ptolemies, see Bowman 1986, 30-1. On the improved productive efficiency achieved during the Roman era, see above, Chapter I.E.



The Worship of Gods & Emperors in Roman Egypt

At this point in time, there exists no cohesive work of scholarship that explores religious belief and cult practice among all of the major population groups in Roman Egypt. As outlined in the previous sub-sections of this chapter, the problem is – as it was for Roman officials themselves – diversity. The Romans inherited an Alexandrian population containing at least three major ethnic contingents, and from the start (as was the case in many eastern provinces) the land of Egypt was populated with Hellenized city-dwellers and ethnically “indigenous” villagers. The entire issue is clouded by the paucity of cultic architecture in certain regions, the use of particular venues of worship by multiple population groups, and what might be termed the “religious mobility” of up-and-coming residents of the metropoleis and certain wealthy villagers. Nonetheless, we possess sufficient knowledge of “Hellenized” cult practice (including the imperial cult), of traditional Egyptian religion (as it existed in urban and rural contexts, if not exactly as it was practiced, under Ptolemaic and Roman rule), and of the way in which the Romans themselves approached the situation to paint a general picture. After the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, and in particular after the establishment of the Ptolemaic monarchy, Greek culture became progressively ingrained into the land; this was true not only in the so-called “Greek cities” (Alexandria, Naukratis, Ptolemaïs), but also in the increasing number of Greek communities scattered throughout the entire Nile valley. It is not surprising, then, that the worship of the gods and goddesses in the Greek pantheon is recorded from the very first years of Ptolemiac rule. What is perhaps more surprising, however, is the rapid pace at which the Greeks began to conceive of their own deities within the Egyptian religious spectrum. Well before the Roman conquest (and even from the settlement at 74

Naukratis), pairs such as Zeus-Amun, Athena-Tawaret, Hermes-Thoth, and Hera-Mut had come to be recognized within Hellenized groups, and these blended cults had by and large displaced the worship of the standard Olympian deities in Egypt.199 One of these Greco-Egyptian hybrids is worthy of highlighting in the context of Julio-Claudian religious practice in Egypt: namely, the association between Isis and Hathor, and the pairing of both with the Greek Aphrodite.200 As we shall see, the emphasis on sites devoted to Hathor and Isis (especially the latter) during the Julio-Claudian period is conspicuous and may be related to the Julian claim of descent from Venus/Aphrodite. Serapis was the most widely worshipped of these hybrid deities. He was the first to be created (by Ptolemy I Soter himself, no less) and was designed with the aim of uniting Hellenic and ethnic Egyptian worshippers. The acceptance of this god, who was a combination of elements of Asklepios (as healer), Zeus, Osiris, and Apis, was formally upheld at Memphis; Alexandria and, to a lesser extent, the Hellenized population groups throughout the Nile valley quickly followed suit.201 Serapis was given Isis as a consort, and as a pair they became the primary Alexandrian deities during the Greco-Roman era.

The aims of Ptolemy I, however, were never fully

realized; the ethnic Egyptian population merely tolerated his worship as yet another “foreign cult” and remained loyal to Isis as consort of the traditional Osiris and to Apis.202 This contrast between population groups is made even more stark by the fate of worship devoted to the son of Isis and Osiris/Serapis, Horus (alternately known in


Peacock 2000, 437-8; Huzar 1988b, 640.


See esp. Kákosy 1982, 296-7.


Peacock 2000, 438. Memphis had been home to Osirapis, from whom Serapis could be distinguished primarily by his Zeus-like anthropomorphic appearance. 202

See, for example, Huzar 1988a, 380.


Hellenized groups as Hermanubis or Harpokrates). By the Roman period, he was not worshipped with Serapis and Isis, and no new temples were built for him under Roman rule. Among the Hellenized population group, despite the presence of a Ptolemaic temple in Alexandria dedicated to him, he became “one of the ancient gods who faded from neglect.”203

Within the ethnic Egyptian religious sphere, on the other hand,

worship of Horus continued unabated; his necessary association with Egyptian kingship (see below) continued to provide him special attention not only at his own temples (e.g., Edfu), but also at the traditional Egyptian temples scattered throughout the province. These traditional Egyptian temples comprised one of several types of temple in the capital and the province.

“Greek” (or, more appropriately, “Greco-Egyptian”)

temples began to dominate the metropolite cityscape even before the Octavianic conquest. These fit rather comfortably into a system of civic administration by the local magistrates, and the important urban economic role that they played should not be ignored in favor of their more obvious religious functions.204 Their administration by elites eligible for magistracies and their inherent Hellenic religious elements made attendance at these temples a conspicuous sign of membership within (or integration into) the Hellenized population group.205 Although “Roman” temples were certainly in the minority in the Egyptian province, these structures could gain in importance by serving as a center of the imperial cult and/or worship of one or more local gods. And so, for example, the council responsible for the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus at Arsinoe


Huzar 1988b, 640; see also Fraser 1972, 262.


See esp. Bowman 1992, 501.


See above, I.B.


maintained it as a center for the worship of emperors and imperial family members and the local crocodile god.206 Thus, the imperial cult was not confined to structures specially built as Kaisareia (or Sebasteia). That structures of this type existed in Egypt is beyond question, despite the scant archaeological remains that have been left to us; the earliest and most famous example, in Alexandria itself, is known to us through a combination of literary evidence, reused architectural elements, and the infamous “borrowed” obelisks that once decorated its façade.207 It would be a grave error, however, to assume that these structures were the only (or even primary) purveyors of ritual associated with the imperial cult. Beyond the traditional “Roman” temples, such as the Jupiter temple at Arsinoe mentioned above, imperial images intended to serve as the focus for ritual might be placed in Greek and Greco-Egyptian temples. In those settings where emperors could be worshipped in the context of ruler cult,208 imperial busts were carried in processions (komasiai) by the official known as the komastes ton theon protomon so that the laity, forbidden from the inner sanctuaries of the temple, could become directly involved in the ritual.209 The perceived power of the imperial image in Egypt was rather unique (perhaps stemming from traditional Egyptian conceptions of “image as divine vessel”); a clear reflection of this perception is provided by the placement of petitions at the feet or base of imperial images throughout the province.210


Bowman 1992, 501.


See Tkaczow 1993, 128-9; Bowman 1986, 207; McKenzie 2007, 177-8.


See Heinen 1995; Bell 1953, 57; Frankfurter 1998, 10. “Hellenic” subjects were discouraged from worship of the living emperor; see Fraser 1972, 803. 209

Price 1984, 189-90; Huzar 1995, 3112.


Price 1984, 193.


Ritual directed toward the ruling authority during the Roman era differed from Ptolemaic ruler worship in two crucial realms.

The first of these is within the

administrative realm: whereas under the Ptolemies ruler worship was directly initiated and maintained by the central government, during Roman rule the imperial cult was organized at the local level (perhaps by metropolite magistrates).211 The second, and arguably more important, realm is the role played by women of the ruling family. Here, there is a sharp distinction between the Ptolemaic and Roman eras; if “in the symbolic realm, Ptolemaic queens were at least as powerful as kings,”212 women of the Roman imperial family were markedly de-emphasized in the Greco-Egyptian sphere and entirely excluded from the traditional Egyptian temples (these phenomena are discussed in greater detail below, particularly at Chapter IX.E). A substantial part of this reduced – or even entirely eliminated – role can likely be attributed to the absence of a formal dynastic cult during the Roman era. Ptolemaic queens, in addition to being viewed as the incarnations of certain Egyptian and Greek deities, were also crucially important figures of the worship practiced in the dynastic cults of that era.213 On the walls of the Egyptian temples, Ptolemaic queens were shown alongside kings, offering to the gods; they also appeared quite frequently in the prominent dynastic scenes that are unique to decoration of that era.214 Roman women were not (nor could they ever be) “co-rulers,” much less lone monarchs, and this break with Pharaonic and Ptolemaic


See Huzar 1995, 3112; see also Dunand 1983, 51. Income earned under the auspices of temples, though not necessarily their cult activity, was initially overseen by the idioslogos (see above, I.B) and later supervised by the High Priest of Alexandria and all Egypt (see below, Chapter II.B). 212

Pomeroy 1990, 28.


Ibid.; see also below, Chapter II.A.


Finnestad 1997, 196. See also below, Chapter IX.E.


tradition appears to have had a severe and permanent effect on the representation of women in the ruling family. Beyond this major distinction in the conception of the ruler’s wife, ancestors, and heir(s), ritual practice at the traditional Egyptian temples continued as it had for centuries.

Despite their ambivalence toward and sometimes overt disdain for the

religion of the ethnic Egyptians,215 the Romans did not discourage the celebration of festival days in the native religious calendar; indeed, holidays for the birth of Gaius Julius Caesar and the birth and accession of Augustus were added to the same official calendar.216 On the Egyptian side of the equation, the full acceptance and widespread integration of the Roman emperor within the indigenous religious sphere is attested to have been achieved rather quickly after the Octavianic conquest, despite a handful of initial reservations. These isolated reservations are perhaps best reflected by a Buchis stela (commemorating the burial of a Buchis bull) dating to April of 29 B.C. and the contrasting elements of the contemporary, trilingual “Gallus Stela.” On the former stela, the priests responsible for the carving of the monument were not able to bring themselves to place Octavian’s name within a royal cartouche; on the hieroglyphic component of the well-known Gallus Stela, Octavian’s transliterated names/titles appear in multiple cartouches.217 At the same time that the Gallus Stela proves the possibility of Octavian’s recognition as “pharaoh” at this early date, it demonstrates that the clergy was still attempting to negotiate the absence of the “king of Egypt” from the


See above, I.F.


See, for example, Alston 1997b, 152.


Both Romaios (“the Roman”) and Kaisaros (“[son] of Caesar”) appear on the Gallus Stela; the former also appears at Dendera and Kalabsha. On these royal cartouches and on the Buchis stela, see Minas-Nerpel and Pfeiffer 2010, 274-5, 294. On all other aspects of the Gallus Stela, see Hoffmann et al. 2009.


land itself (as well as the ritual position of his in-residence representative, the prefect). In fact, although the name of the prefect Gallus is not mentioned in the hieroglyphic portion directly – unlike the Greek and Latin portions of the text – he is nevertheless granted certain epithets which were traditionally reserved for pharaohs. These stelai reflect early, exceptional cases; within only two years, Gallus would be recalled in disgrace,218 prefects’ names would cease to appear in hieroglyphic texts on temples and stelai, and Octavian (now Augustus) would be honored in all cartouches carved within the Egyptian province. Ultimately, there were undoubtedly several aspects of Egyptian religious thought which were viewed as being potentially advantageous to the Roman ruling authority. Paramount among these was the equating of Horus, adult son of Isis and Osiris, with the living pharaoh (now emperor). For the ethnic Egyptians, the emperor – also styled as “son of Re” – was to be considered Horus manifest on earth, just as the Ptolemies and New Kingdom pharaohs had been viewed. When the ruler died, he became Osiris, and the succeeding ruler was “born” as the new Horus.


perpetuation of this view, and its propagation at all traditional Egyptian temples, ensured the maintenance of these centers of Egyptian religious thought and practice. Indeed, the Roman authority seems to have offered official patronage to several prominent Egyptian temples, including those at Esna, Kom Ombo, Dendera, and Philae.219 Rome’s involvement, however, could not be applied without affecting the administration of all Egyptian religious centers and the priesthood itself; these crucially important byproducts of Roman rule will be addressed in the following chapter.


See above, Chapter I.B, n. 15.


Huzar 1995, 3113.


Chapter II: The Creation of Images of the Ruling Authority in Egypt

A.) The Ptolemaic Precedents

An understanding of the images of ruling figures produced under the Ptolemies is an essential prerequisite for treating those produced during the first century of Roman rule.

Indeed, if the Ptolemaic era had not been marked by such an overt

acceptance of pharaonic traditions, the design and character of an entire class of Romanera images would have followed quite a different course. Instead, the Ptolemaic rulers made every effort to serve the double-role of Greek basileus and Egyptian pharaoh. In striving for acknowledgement and loyalty via this latter position, the Ptolemies attempted to build close ties with the native Egyptian priests, as they facilitated the convocation of general synods and granted the temples of the traditional gods a high degree of administrative autonomy. The Egyptian priests, in turn, served a paramount role in rites of succession, voting honors and titles for the ruling family, and the creation of sacred images depicting the ruler and his wife. The features of these “Egyptian� images of non-Egyptian rulers would come to have lasting effects, and ultimately they constitute the standard by which comparable Roman-era images must be evaluated. The sacred nature of the images created through the auspices of the Egyptian clergy was made possible only through the full acceptance of the Ptolemaic ruler as inheritor of pharaonic ritual status. The fact that this recognition could come, for the most part, without direct Ptolemaic participation in the traditional Egyptian ceremonies is due in part to the effectiveness of the careful policies adopted by Ptolemy I Soter and the propaganda issued from the first decades of Greco-Macedonian rule. The primary 81

thrust of the Ptolemaic propaganda intended for the native Egyptians centered upon the religious and popular acceptance of the Greco-Macedonian ruler as a true pharaoh, a successor to the “intermediaries to the gods,” “providers of life for the land,” and “bringers of victory” who had ruled during the Dynastic era. Some by-products of this propaganda campaign could be found in the vicinity of the Egyptian temples themselves, including the famous “Satrap Stela” of 311 B.C., which advertised in hieroglyphic Egyptian the domestic and foreign policies of Ptolemy I Soter (still labeling himself, at this point, as “satrap”) and highlighted the role of the new ruler in seizing Syrian land from the Persians.

That this early stela, executed by Egyptian hands,

communicates so directly the hoped-for image of the ruler and his policies is one of many reflections of the eagerness with which the Egyptians welcomed the replacement of Persian rule.1 In aiming to distinguish his own rule from that of the Persians, who had almost immediately stirred up animosity through Cambyses’ brutality and pointed lack of respect for nearly all meaningful Egyptian traditions, Ptolemy I was conveying to the Egyptian clergy that he would serve as “protector of the deities of Egypt,” as the Dynastic pharaohs had been. The notion that the Ptolemies could live up to the priestly concept of ideal kingship (a principle that had persisted through Persian rule) was reinforced early on by the sort of textual propaganda issued in the “Satrap Stela.” Ptolemy I set an important precedent in this realm, as he did in so many others, by placing emphasis on two themes: acts of piety toward the Egyptian gods (in stark contrast to the Persians, who tolerated local religious traditions but whose kings showed open disdain for them) and the foreign expeditions carried out by the ruler. 1

On the “Satrap Stela,” textual propaganda, and other efforts made by Ptolemy I to secure his position, see Chauveau 2000, 37-8; also, Bowman 1986, 22.


Moreover, by advertising in particular the return to Egypt of sacred statues and objects that had been transported to Asia during previous regimes, the Ptolemies were linking the justification for war against other Diadochs with their professed piety as pharaohs.2 Although the recognition of the monarch as pharaoh was itself a necessity for the Egyptian priests, who would otherwise be faced with nothing less than “a denial of [their] own legitimacy and function,”3 Ptolemaic policies sparked a renewed religious vigor that simply would not have been possible under the previous regime.


continued income in produce, finished goods, and coined currency allowed to priest and temple, when combined with a high level of administrative (though not economic) autonomy granted to the clergy, enabled a wave of temple-building that had not been seen in Egypt for over a millennium.4 While several of the temples built, repaired, or expanded during this era are now gone, many others have survived in an impressive condition.

In fact, among the numerous large-scale temples in Egypt, the best

preserved are Ptolemaic constructions or reconstructions: the temple of Isis at Philae, the double-temple of Sobek and Horus the Elder at Kom Ombo, the Khnum temple at Esna, the temple of Horus at Edfu, and the Hathor temple at Dendera (with these last two standing as the only examples with roofs intact). To these must be added several smaller, well-preserved structures at Thebes, Luxor, Dendur, Dabod, and Kalabsha. Greco-Roman temples in Egypt followed the same basic traditions of construction and decoration that had been established during the Dynastic era,


For a detailed examination of the removal and return of Egyptian statues, see Winnicki 1994. For analysis of this aspect of Ptolemaic propaganda, see Chauveau 2000, 38-9: “The characteristic genius of Lagide propaganda lay in its linking of military success to a display of loyalty to the deities of Egypt.” 3

Koenen 1993, 39; on this sacerdotal necessity, see also Dunand 1983, 50.


On this program of temple construction, see Finnestad 1997, 185-6; also, Chauveau 2000, 102-4.


although as the products of a long-term evolution “they are not just collections of ancient elements put together mechanically, if cleverly.”5 The essential plan and mode of adornment was dictated by the religious conception of the temple as more than a mere “dwelling for the gods.” It is impossible to trace precisely the extent to which Greco-Roman temple style had developed from experiments made during the Late Period, but none of the resulting unique features detracted from the basic design and pattern of room-arrangement intended to render the temple a microcosm of the physical world.6 All of the Ptolemaic specimens, for example, possessed a monumental entrance gate (or pylon), a large courtyard, a hypostyle hall, an offering hall, various storerooms, and one or more inner sanctuaries. Although evidence for certain other features is scarce, it appears as though these temples were originally endowed with underground crypts and rooftop shrines, as well. Like their Dynastic antecedents, these late temples could not serve their ritual and symbolic functions until their walls were decorated with scenes from Egyptian myth-history and images of the ruler interacting with the gods, providing for the land of Egypt (and frequently for the temple itself, which was an embodiment of the land), or smiting Egypt’s enemies. When the Ptolemies and their consorts appeared on these temples as “pharaohs” and “queens of the Two Lands,” their images were presented in much the same general style as the Dynastic-era rulers had been. One of the hallmarks of this pharaonic style for temple reliefs was a standardized mode of representation in which individual physiognomic features were entirely absent; thus, the only means of specific identification came in the form of hieroglyphic inscription. The continuation of


Finnestad 1997, 189.


Ibid., 189-91. Slight variations in architecture and new additions in the Greco-Roman era will be discusses in the following sub-chapter, II.B.


pharaonic tradition during the Ptolemaic era extended also to the five “royal names” (or, collectively, the “Great Name”) adopted by the king. Two of these names almost invariably appeared on temple reliefs within their own cartouche (Egyptian shenu) near the king’s image: the throne/coronation name(s) and the birth name. Other elements of these multipart titularies could occasionally be found in temple texts inscribed in the vicinity of the figural image but outside of the prominent cartouches, along with a variety of additional epithets. In one of several telling modifications to Dynastic-era practice, an addition was made to the standard five-part name of the Ptolemaic ruler: the Greek royal epithet rendered in hieroglyphic Egyptian.7 Moreover, while several of the titles reflected the traditional ethical and religious roles of the pharaoh, new epithets were incorporated into the repertoire in such a way that the basic concepts which permeated Ptolemaic imagery (efficiently organized and summarized by Stanwick as legitimacy, “Greekness,” godliness, and ethics) were reflected in these added titles.8 Among these concepts, legitimacy appears to have been the most persistent concern of the Ptolemaic rulers. Whether by direct mandate or because of priestly attempts to maintain royal favor, this concern was also treated in several visual media through the widespread use of dynastic imagery. Many of these image-types, which 7

On the “Great Names” of the Ptolemaic rulers and the acceptance of the Greek royal epithet into the Egyptian titulary, see Koenen 1993, 57-66; also, Stanwick 2002, 47. This epithet was not a simple transliteration, as one might find with the birth name, but a meaningful translation of the sense conveyed by the Greek original (when a comparable sense could be conveyed, at least). So, for example, “Euergetes” could be translated rather directly as nṯr mnḫ (“benefactor god”), but for the Egyptians “Epiphanes” could only correspond to the ancient concept of the pharaoh as nṯr nfr (“good [or beautiful] god”). 8

Stanwick 2002, 43-7. The old formulae were, in fact, maintained. These required the inclusion of epithets that emphasized the ruler’s role as defender of the country and preserver of order, his moral obligations, his piety, his generosity, etc. Among the new additions, the emphasis on legitimacy under the Ptolemies stands in particularly sharp contrast to the titularies of the last native Egyptian dynasty (Dynasty 30 [380-43 B.C.]). The title jwˁ (“heir”), for example, does not appear among Dynasty 30 titles but “is nearly ubiquitous among Ptolemaic ones” (46).


appear consistently from the reign of Ptolemy III until the death of Ptolemy IX Soter II, were unique to Ptolemaic temple decoration. The Ptolemaic dynastic scenes very often included images of (and/or textual references to) rulers and family members of several preceding generations; in this sense they were a new phenomenon, without earlier pharaonic precedent.

These images reflect the ideal forms associated with the

Ptolemaic dynastic cult as it was practiced in and around the Egyptian temples, by native priests and (on occasion) with the participation of ethnic Egyptians; that is to say, despite the adoption of the rulers’ Greek cult names, the practice developed by the native clergy remained distinct and was not a simple imitation of the Greek traditions.9 The extraordinary nature of this practice was heightened by scenes that emphasized the cultic role of the queen. It is not surprising to see images of the wife of the king/pharaoh on Egyptian temples, especially in scenes showing the royal couple presenting offerings to the gods, as these had New Kingdom precedents to support them. On the other hand, the strikingly high frequency with which they appear on temples throughout the entire dynasty distinguishes the Ptolemaic reliefs from all that came before them.

The Ptolemaic queens also appear rather often (although not

invariably) in images related directly to the dynastic cult, in which they could play a prominent symbolic role.10 The part played by Ptolemaic royal women in Egyptian cult should not be underestimated; in fact, a ruler cult for the Ptolemies was initiated in the Egyptian realm only with the priests’ establishment of a cult devoted to Arsinoe II.11


Koenen 1993, 53. On the worship of Ptolemaic ancestors under the auspices of the Egyptian temples, see Quaegebeur 1989; also, Winter 1978. 10

Finnestad 1997, 196; Pomeroy 1990, 28.


On the Arsinoe cult, see Quaegebeur 1971. This was initiated only after her death in 268 B.C. and therefore stood in contrast with the existing Greek ruler cult, but within a quarter-century (under Ptolemy III Euergetes) the Egyptian practice was extended to include the living ruler.


This sort of independent religious focus on a royal woman was not out of place in Ptolemaic Egypt, where queens typically served as the focus of devotion through separate cults in both Egyptian and Greek temples.12 The prominent role of the Ptolemaic queen as consort, co-ruler, and occasional independent ruler was also confirmed on obverse types produced as part of the precious metal series at Alexandria and at mints in Phoenicia and Palestine. Already during the reign of Ptolemy II, gold octodrachms with shared-portrait obverse types (alongside Arsinoe II) were being produced at the Alexandrian mint; these same issues featured shared-portrait reverse types with the preceding royal couple, Ptolemy I and Berenike I.13 Arsinoe II appeared alone on precious metal obverse types after her death,14 but it was not until the reign of Ptolemy III that a living queen, Berenike II, would appear alone on an obverse type.15 During the following reign Arsinoe III was likewise granted full-portrait obverse types while still alive, although Cleopatra I, Cleopatra IV, and Cleopatra VII would prove to be the only other Ptolemaic queens to enjoy this same honor. Shared-portrait obverses continued to be produced sporadically, although the more common precious-metal obverse type was the lone male ruler. Nevertheless, the relatively high rate of production for Ptolemaic “royal women� types on precious-metal series (i.e., when compared with other Hellenistic coinages) served to establish an important precedent for Roman issues in all metals from Alexandria.


See Koenen 1993, 56. On their identification with individual goddesses, see Pomeroy 1990, 39.


Svoronos No. 603. On the significance of the Ptolemy II/Arsinoe II type, see Rose 1997a, 5.


These obverse types were issued on gold octodrachms, silver decadrachms, and select silver tetradrachms 15

Berenike II appeared on a wide range of precious-metal issues, including gold decadrachms (Svoronos Nos. 972 and 986), gold and silver pentadrachms (Nos. 962-3, 973, 978, and 989), gold drachmas (No. 980), gold hemidrachms (Nos. 981, 983-4, and 987), and silver obols (No. 985).


The Ptolemaic bronze obverse types offer an entirely different distribution of images. The two most common obverse images on the bronze coinage both featured Zeus: the frequently issued laureate Zeus type was second only to the ubiquitous ZeusAmmon type. Images of royal family members were also less common than the variety of “divine Alexander the Great� types that were issued throughout the first half of the dynasty.16 Full-portrait obverse types of kings were more common than other royal family types, just as they were on the precious-metal coinage. In fact, only one known shared-portrait pairing of a royal couple exists among the bronze obverses, and only three Ptolemaic queens appeared alone on obverse types.17 Other bronze obverse types featuring goddesses and sacred animals were produced in Alexandria, but these were so rare and sporadic that their significance rests only in the iconographic precedents which they set for certain Roman bronze reverse types.18 The reverse types designed for the bronze coinage were, in fact, less diverse than their obverse-type counterparts. Almost all of these reverse types featured a single- or double-eagle design, with the former being the most common. There were a few types featuring divine figures, along with a handful of types featuring Ptolemaic rulers, but these account for only 3.7% of the total number of distinct bronze reverse types.19 It is in


These included a type featuring Alexander in an elephant headdress (68 Svoronos entries), Alexander assimilated to Herakles via a lionskin (9 Svoronos entries), and a youthful Alexander type with the curved horn of Zeus-Ammon (34 Svoronos entries). 17

The lone shared-portrait type is Svoronos No. 1137. The three Ptolemaic queens to occupy obverse types were Arsinoe II (28 Svoronos entries), Berenike II (23 Svoronos entries), and Cleopatra VII (14 Svoronos entries). 18

The goddesses and personifications included Athena, Aphrodite, Isis, and Tyche (total of 21 Svoronos entries). Only three distinct sacred animal obverse types were produced: one featured the crocodile (Svoronos No. 1903) and two featured the ram (Nos. 1243 and 1244). 19

These reverse types comprise only 71 Svoronos entries among them. The three ruler types (Ptolemy I [minted by Ptolemy IV], Cleopatra VII, and Antony) each account for one type-pair.


this respect, then, that one may observe the starkest contrast with the Roman bronze coinage, with (as outlined below) its diverse array of types unmatched by any other provincial series. Ultimately, the Ptolemies’ concerns regarding the recognition of their dynastic and religious legitimacy found expression in a variety of media, both those under the direct control of the ruling authority and those initiated and designed by their subjects. Images on the official coinage reflected these concerns, although no Ptolemaic ruler went so far as to authorize a type that presented a divinely assimilated image, and the range of types that appeared on the coinage was relatively narrow. Queens featured prominently on the precious-metal coinage, appearing alone or in royal pairs, mirroring the crucial role they played in the dynastic cult and within the broad spheres of Greek and Egyptian religion. The Ptolemies made general appeals for recognition and loyalty to all population groups in their motley kingdom, from the Hellenized residents of Alexandria and the regional capitals to villagers living in the Nile valley. They reached the latter, however, only through the Egyptian priests, acting as intermediaries and shaping the precise nature of the religious conception of the royal family among ethnic Egyptians. It is difficult to determine whether the elevated status given to Ptolemaic royals on temple reliefs stemmed from overtures made by the ruling authority itself, from a perceived religious necessity, or from a variety of political motives devised by the Egyptian clergy. While comparisons to the Persian and Late Dynastic regimes can help to illustrated the special nature of Ptolemaic temple reliefs, for example, these possible catalysts can only be tested by examining the first decades after the end of Ptolemaic rule and the effects brought about by changes made after the Roman annexation.


B.) The Egyptian Priesthood & Temples under Roman Rule

The effects of the Roman annexation on the capabilities and day-to-day functions of the Egyptian clergy, the operation and decoration of the temples, and the religious life of ethnically Egyptian provincials were not likely to have been immediately apparent to the non-Egyptian observer. And yet, there were significant consequences within each of these realms after the installation of Roman administrators, either directly or indirectly through new governmental policies or through the byproducts of (or, in some cases, reactions to) these policies. The new Roman authorities quickly recognized the wealth, power, and influence over the Egyptian populace enjoyed by priest and temple, and Augustus took steady measures during the first decade of Roman rule to exert greater administrative and economic control over the clergy and its centers of power. The Ptolemies had attempted to influence religious life in Alexandria and Egypt through subtle governmental policies and a degree of diplomacy.


Roman attempt to manage the region’s entire religious structure, however, was much more aggressive and far less discreet, despite the fact that the steps taken under Augustus were initiated under the pretext of “giving aid to all of Egypt’s temples.” Thus, under the new regime the old Egyptian religious centers continued to flourish without any decrease in festival days, construction funds, or outward signs of temple maintenance; the price was paid, to a certain extent, by members of the Egyptian clergy, who would no longer enjoy the administrative autonomy (or, for that matter, the variable degree of economic independence) which they once possessed. A possible motivating factor for the new Roman administration as it aimed to check the power and influence of the Egyptian priests was their perceived role in fomenting hostility against the Ptolemaic rulers and occasionally stimulating isolated 90

groups of Egyptian subjects to revolt. The priestly texts and decrees, usually among our most instructive primary sources, do not paint an entirely coherent picture. Several decrees extol the Ptolemies as though they are Dynastic-era pharaohs who serve as advocates before the gods and protect Egypt by destroying its enemies; from time to time, the “enemies” singled out in these decrees are participants in native rebellions. On the other hand, other priestly texts might portray the Ptolemies as foreign conquerors who abuse and plunder the land of Egypt.20 Of course, we should not expect that the entire Egyptian clergy, spread over a vast geographic space and drawn from independent social circles, could maintain unanimity on such highly charged issues.21 It is unclear whether Roman authorities pored over these texts and decrees, nor is it possible to know which of these priestly perspectives on the ruling authority could be gleaned from any documents that they did examine. It is almost certain, however, that at the very least the Romans knew something of the history of Egyptian revolts against the Ptolemies. The last century of Ptolemaic rule had witnessed many acts of revolt of variable size and degree, and Cleopatra VII herself was forced to put down a handful of isolated uprisings. Ptolemy X Alexander was faced with serious and widespread rebellion in 89 B.C. In perhaps the most serious act of indigenous revolt under the Ptolemies, native Egyptians were declared “pharaohs” in succession during the reigns of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy V.22 Egyptian priests in Upper Egypt often bore a


On this dichotomy, see Stanwick 2002, 47. Stanwick singles out one such hostile priestly text, the Potter’s Oracle, for its complaints about the removal of sacred Egyptian images to Alexandria and its prophecy that the entire dynasty would come to a disastrous end; on this important source, see Kerkeslager 1998. 21

See Chauveau 2000, 47: “Certainly, at one and the same time, there was a clergy of ‘collaborators’ and one comprised of priests in rebellion.” 22

See Pestman 1995.


bulk of the blame for these acts, and this reputation for stirring up hostile sentiment against foreign rulers appears to have followed the entire clergy into the Roman era. Whether justifiably or not, the priesthood was viewed as the focal point of Egyptian nationalism and as the lone “genuine risk” in the chora, 23 and the new regime insisted on stricter control and more closely supervised management of this influential class. In order to render this increased control of the Egyptian priesthood both more effective and better organized, especially when compared to the state of affairs under the late Ptolemies, an equestrian official was eventually installed as “High Priest of Alexandria and all Egypt” and given charge of all priests and temples, both GrecoRoman and Egyptian.24 The title itself is perhaps misleading; this archiereus was not considered to be a member of the priestly ranks, nor was he an active participant in any Hellenic or Egyptian ritual activity. Although scholars have disagreed about the extent to which this official was involved in the imperial cult (if at all), it is quite clear that a full knowledge of the intricacies of the diverse religious practices in the capital and


See, for example, Zaki 2009, 375-6: “César Auguste nourrissait une grande méfiance à l’égard du clergé égyptien, seule classe organisée du pays et susceptile de susciter une opposition cohérente.” Alston (2002, 196-7), however, presents a fairly convincing case that the “simple interpretations” that the indigenous temples were genuine centers of ethnic resistance to foreign rule and Greco-Roman culture can be – and have been – justifiably called into question: “The temples…could be mobilized in times of political disturbance against the dominant power, but the use of religious rhetoric, and even of ethnic loyalties, in a rebellion does not necessarily mean that the primary motivation for a revolt was religious or ethnic; the close integration of political and religious power in antiquity means that any political revolt is likely to have some religious connotations.” 24

Stead 1981; Frankfurter 1998, 198; Huzar 1995, 3123; Bowman 1986, 179-80; Bowman 1992, 501; Alston 2002, 199-200. Bowman (perhaps following Stead 1981) dates the creation of this office to the reign of Hadrian, from which we possess records that can be directly attributed to it (these deal mainly with ceremonial dress); Frankfurter and several others assert that Roman reforms had established this office and its duties by the end of the first century B.C.; see, in particular, Capponi 2005, 41. A possible point of confusion stems from the facts that in the early second century the idioslogos took over the supervision of temple administration and that from that point “the office [of High Priest] was often combined with that of the idioslogos, stressing the financial aspects of religion since the idioslogos was responsible for the temples, their properties, and their priests” (Huzar 1988a, 356).


province was not a prerequisite for the position.25 In treating the indigenous religious sphere, it appears that from the outset this office was most concerned with guidelines for membership within the clergy and with the economic dealings of the temples and priests. With the definition of this new office, the administrative autonomy enjoyed by the individual temples and their staffs under the Ptolemies had come to an abrupt end, as the desire to oversee their affairs necessarily gave rise to a series of laws and strict regulations to be applied uniformly throughout the province.26 The extent to which ritual and decoration at the Egyptian temples were affected by this Roman administrative structure is not entirely clear. There are, however, several province-wide standards (e.g., pharaonic names for emperors with little to no variation from site to site, the exclusion of Roman imperial women from reliefs, and many others discussed below) which require explanation.

The formal convocation of Egyptian

priestly synods, which had gathered under the Ptolemies and had often issued decrees announcing decisions made via the authority of those assembled bodies, ceased to occur during the Roman era; the effects of this particular circumstance extended well beyond the noticeable absence, during the entirety of the Roman era, of the once-familiar synod decrees (see the discussion at Chapter IX.E and IX.F, below). Without this former setting for pan-Egyptian meetings of the clergy – one made possible (or unavoidable[?]) under the Ptolemies by means of their formal encouragement for these gatherings – the


See Dunand 1983, 51 (esp. n. 35).


These were combined in force with a reduction in political influence and organization; the office of strategos was taken from local (and often priestly) families and given to the Alexandrian citizens (Alston 2002, 201), and the synods that had been so prevalent under the Ptolemies were no longer convened (see Huzar 1988a, 381). Many of the regulations developed for the purpose of managing the clergy are reflected in the second- or third-century Gnomon of the Idioslogos. See the discussion at Frankfurter 1998, 198-9. See also Alston 2002, 200; clerical membership is addressed in the Gnomon, as well (although perhaps with the full approval of the clergy itself).


province-wide standards observed during the Roman era can only be explained by one of three hypotheses: that the clergy engaged in a region-wide system of relatively quick and consistent communication with its entire membership; that the Egyptian priests or representatives of the temples continued to hold large meetings, without prodding from the central authority, for the very purpose of coming to agreements on religious policies to be applied at all temples; or that the authorities at Alexandria, with lines of communication having already been set up early during the reign of Augustus, advertised any and all decisions affecting the entire religious network with the necessary degree of regularity (upon the accession of a new emperor, for example). The ruling out of these first two hypotheses would rest only upon arguments from silence; the third hinges on the (unknown) level of religious competency held by the archiereus. The nature and degree of the impact of Roman rule on the financial operations of Egyptian priest and temple have become debated topics over the past two decades. The traditional view is that Rome slowly but steadily enacted policies aimed at bringing both the lands and personnel of the Egyptian temples under their own economic control and that these measures were largely effective.27 Penelope Glare has argued, however, that Rome’s administration of temple finances was not as intrusive or extensive as has been generally assumed (or that at the very least Roman policies did not represent a significant departure from Ptolemaic practice).28 These contentions have led to a more cautious approach to questions regarding the financial impact of Rome on priest and temple, and they have forced a reevaluation of the effects of Roman policy in this realm, which had been previously assumed to be of great consequence for the entire province. 27

See, for example, Swarney 1970, 57-9, 83-96; also, Stead 1981. On the impact of Roman rule on the religious center of Memphis, see Thompson 1988, passim; also, Thompson 1990, 115-6. 28

Glare 1993, esp. 60-85 (with valuable insight into regional and local temple administration).


Nevertheless, one point that has not been questioned is the Roman takeover of certain temple lands (with a reclassification into the general category of “state land”) during the early part of the reign of Augustus.29 It must be granted that the Ptolemies had already made incursions into the regional territorial control of the temples and the priests’ landed estates; Ptolemaic policy was also responsible for the transfer to the state of a variety of taxes that had at one time been administered by the temples themselves.30 The Roman takeover, however, involved a nearly total seizure of control over the sources of income for the priests, who were also made subject to the poll-tax. Only very few exceptions to the payment of the poll-tax and the initial confiscations of temple land were granted, and the priests were forced to pay relatively steep taxes on all of the crafts and industrial products that had been allowed to them as means of selfsustenance by the Ptolemies (including the manufacture of certain types of dyes and textiles, brewing, and oil production).31 These measures were instituted during the first decade of Roman rule with a single purpose in mind: the “temples and priesthoods were to rely entirely on imperial munificence…rather than on their own lands.”32 The 29

See Alston 1997, 150 (citing Glare 1993 as the basis for his tempered assertion about the effects of Roman administration): “Petronius, Augustus’ third prefect, took all temple property into state control and financed the temples through subvention, diminishing the independence of the temples and, one presumes, their economic power.” See also Alston 2002, 199. 30

See, for example, Chauveau 2000, 39. Chauveau (2000, 116) also points out that “without their being confiscated on the theoretical level, the sacred lands, or at least the great majority of them, were removed from the administration of the temples and entrusted to royal peasants.” Income was returned to the temples in the form of syntaxis rent, but of course “this was a much smaller amount than what would have been derived by direct management.” The tax levied on orchards and vineyards within the temples’ regional control was also collected by the state and then delivered to the temples, and “thus depended on their carrying out an act of allegiance to the dynasty.” 31

On the Ptolemaic arrangement, see Chaeveau 2000, 116. On the Roman imposition of these taxes, see Alston 1997, 151. 32

Frankfurter 1998, 198. Frankfurter is also careful to cite Glare 1993, while observing at the same time that Roman reforms had effects on the membership and independence of the clergy.


full extent of the effects of the priests’ presumed reliance on the syntaxeis and leases of temple land granted to them by the provincial administration are difficult to gauge; the clergy faced reduced financial resources, to be sure, but it could still draw upon (taxed) earnings from a variety of realms, and the temple still served as an economic focal point within a given nome or sub-region. The most significant of these maneuvers’ effects, then, was probably the reduced ability of the priests to affect their own region economically and socially. Milne effectively summarizes the situation when he writes that “the power and influence of the Egyptian priesthood were diminished by their conversion (put in extreme terms) from territorial magnates into State pensioners.”33 Given that the temples were still provided for – now with a less direct path of funding, funneled through the state – it is perhaps not overly surprising that the administrative and economic transition forced upon the clergy was not accompanied by a decline in its numbers or in the maintenance and daily functioning of the temples themselves. Surviving official inventories issued from the temples during the Roman era reveal that new precious objects (most intended for ritual use) were still coming into their possession and that staffs for these complexes remained quite large; indeed, it appears as though steady numbers for the clergy were filtered into a priestly hierarchy that actually expanded during the first centuries of Roman rule.34 Not only was there no apparent decline in temple maintenance and reconstruction after the Roman conquest, but the first century of Roman rule witnessed the construction of entirely new temples and several additions to existing temple complexes, especially in Upper Egypt.35 33

Milne 1924, 289. See also Frankfurter 1998, 204.


See Frankfurter 1998, 199.


See Alston 1997, 150; also Finnestad 1997, 186. Building in Upper Egypt: Alston 2002, 198-9.


Ritual activities within and around these temples continued unabated. Daily rituals, performed by priests at sunrise, midday, and sunset, were supplemented by festival days that involved wider public participation. The total number of festival days in the religious calendar was staggering, and the first century of Roman rule witnessed a handful of additions to this already busy ritual schedule.36 The days marked out for the performance of a festival or celebration would have varied from temple to temple, although certain major festivals would have been celebrated concurrently with (or even in collaboration with) other religious centers.37 Beyond sporadic instances of personal devotion and individual appeals for divine guidance, these festivals constituted the primary means by which the laity would interact with the temples themselves. Some festivals involved processions of the faithful into the temple’s outer court, while others might involve entry beyond the colonnaded fore-hall to the temple itself, (although never into the sanctuary, which was exclusively reserved for priests).38 Most festivals called for pastophoroi to carry shrines bearing a statue of the appropriate god(s) and to parade these images before the worshippers gathered within the outer court.39 These statues were the focus of the daily rituals carried out by the priests and were housed in the sanctuary. Bringing them from the dark inner sanctum to the light of public view through the various sections of the temple was an act laden with solar symbolism and one that reinforced the strong link between ritual and architecture. 36

See above, Chapter I.G.


Alston 1997, 152. See also Alston 2002, 215. The ratio of major, shared festivals to festivals that were particular to a specific temple cult was variable; at Soknaopaious Nesos, for example, of the 154 festival days celebrated in a single year, 83 were specific to this temple and its cult. 38

Bowman 1986, 183; Alston 2002, 214.


Finnestad 1997, 220; Bowman 1986, 182-3; Stanwick 2002, 8-9. In hieroglyphic and Demotic texts these are “sḫm,” while the Greek labels them xoana.


When new temples were constructed during the Roman era, then, they followed largely the same conventions that had been established under Ptolemaic rule.40 For much the same reasons the Ptolemaic temple, in the basic design of its superstructure and interior divisions, had not strayed too far from the religious architecture of the Dynastic era. There was, however, a handful of rather unique features that appeared among the Ptolemaic and Roman specimens. These included the independent central sanctuary, possessing its own roof and surrounded by passageways on at least three sides, and the pronaos screen wall, which served as a columnar entrance to the main hall.41 Additionally, over the course of the Greco-Roman era, the separate structure now called the “birth house” (or mammisi) became a crucially important focus for ritual within the temple precinct, as it served to celebrate the birth of Horus (incarnated by the living ruler) to Isis and Osiris. The decorative and epigraphic layouts of the Roman-era structures matched those from the previous regime. Considered together and in comparison to the temples of the Dynastic era, the Greco-Roman specimens were more densely decorated with images and sacred texts. The tradition of using the ancient hieroglyphic script for temple texts had survived the Late Period and the Ptolemaic era, and it continued to thrive (though only within the setting provided by the temples and their libraries and schools, or “houses of life”) for centuries after the Roman conquest.42 “Sacred scribes” comprised a distinct priestly class and were highly valued for their knowledge of the script, which was the lone heritage of a classical Middle Egyptian language that had not 40

See Chapter II.A.


Finnestad 1997, 190. Finnestad, however, is quick to issue a reminder that “even for these new architectural features precursors can be found.” 42

See Chauveau 2000, 183; Bowman 1986, 182; Finnestad 1997, 191.


been widely used for nearly one and a half millennia. At least five such hieroglyph scribes were working within the city of Oxyrhynchus in the early second century,43 although no examples of their work survive. The numerous examples that survive elsewhere attest to an unexpected development: namely, the expansion (beginning in the Ptolemaic era and continuing through the first two centuries of Roman rule) of the Egyptian hieroglyphic system, despite the fact that it was developed exclusively in written form within temple precincts.44 Unfortunately, the texts on Roman temple reliefs and stelai, like their Ptolemaic predecessors, can therefore pose an arduous challenge to the modern translator, who must not only account for thousands of new signs, but also interpret several complex plays-on-words within what would have been straightforward titularies or invocations during earlier periods. The themes that were treated in Roman reliefs were likewise reminiscent of the widespread Ptolemaic examples. Particular themes in the Greco-Roman repertoire also appear on earlier, Dynastic-era examples of religious architecture (or on certain sections of structures decorated during earlier dynasties); others can be found only during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras. This range of temple-relief images included myth-historical themes (e.g., deities’ struggles and victories [Horus, in particular], the creation of the universe, etc.) and ritual/festival themes, including “hymnic invocations, offerings, processions, foundation scenes, [and] inauguration scenes.”45 Other images within the


P. Oxy. 7.1029 (107/8 A.D.).


See Chauveau 2000, 183-4. Until the first decades of Ptolemaic rule, this hieroglyph system was governed by a rather inflexible set of formal conventions. In the third century B.C. scribes began a series of experiments in both ideographic signs and phonemic combinations, and these persisted for centuries thereafter. Chauveau notes, however, that frequently among those examples which are readily translatable “we find an ostentatious erudition and an excessive purism that often confer an artificial archaism on the texts.” See also Finnestad 1997, 198-9. 45

Finnestad 1997, 194-6.


temples themselves might depict standing or enthroned deities, or they might focus upon natural or astrological themes (with lower walls usually reserved for the former and ceilings for the latter), in order to reinforce the idea that the temple itself served as a microcosm of the physical world in its primeval state, as created by the solar god. Alongside these scenes, and appearing in greater quantity than all other types of temple decoration, were reliefs depicting the ruler in pharaonic guise interacting with the gods. This had been the case under the Ptolemies,46 and it remained so during the era of Roman rule until the end of the rule of Decius in the mid-third century. Not surprisingly, the Roman relief images were presented in much the same style and basic organizational layout used for the corresponding Ptolemaic scenes.47 The cartouchepair with the identifying title(s) almost invariably contained the emperor’s birth name in its Greek form, transliterated into hieroglyphic Egyptian, and a similarly rendered throne name, which no longer reflected the “divine qualifications” for rule over Upper and Lower Egypt (see Chapter IX.F, where these particular distinctions are treated in greater detail). Often inscribed near these images were elements of the Horus name, which was standardized under Augustus and served the role that had been played in previous eras by the separate Horus titles, Nebti titles, and Golden Horus titles. In keeping with the Dynastic and Ptolemaic traditions, the Roman-era reliefimages also focused on depictions of the Egyptian gods and goddesses in some form or another, and most of these (also in accordance with established precedent) featured the


See above, Chapter II.A. The basic Ptolemaic format itself mirrored New Kingdom forms.


See Finnestad 1997, 191-4. The stylistic distinctions between these and the Dynastic reliefs are subtle, but have led to criticisms of their merit and the oft-expressed opinion that “the [postDynastic] reliefs lack the vigor and vitality of earlier examples.” Finnestad paints these critiques for the biased, out-of-hand dismissals that they are, but finds within them hints regarding “a stylistic feature that deserves attention: the figures are hieratic, highly formal, and sensuous – a rare combination.”


ruler interacting with deities, serving the pharaoh’s role as intermediary between mortal subject and the realm of the divine. While distinct features of the visual and textual content of Roman-era reliefs can be pinpointed through careful examination (see below, Chapter IX.E), their basic compositional structure is notable for its consistency from site to site and for its adherence to long-standing Dynastic and Ptolemaic formats. Thus, the Roman rulers were almost invariably depicted as standing before one or more deities, usually to make offerings of various sorts; they were never depicted as receiving these offerings or as the focus of temple ritual. Other, less common types of reliefimage included coronation scenes, smiting scenes, and construction/dedication scenes; examples drawn from these exceptional categories are discussed in the chapters below. In order to emphasize the ruler’s role as “suppliant pharaoh,” the position of the deities in each of these types of relief-image was determined by the location of the structure’s inner sanctuary; that is to say, the ruler would appear to face toward the direction of the sanctuary and the divine recipients would “emanate” from it. Relative scale on wallreliefs was not an indicator of importance or of status, although images on pylons (also discussed below, Chapter IX.E) were endowed with unique compositional formats and greater visibility. Indeed, the placement of reliefs into registers of various sizes seems to have been guided more often by available settings than by any other factor; some reliefs were, in fact, prepared in advance within open spaces only to have their cartouches left empty. While texts could vary to a higher degree, the only iconographic variables among offering-reliefs from any era were the recipient deities, the offering(s), and the ruler’s headgear (the white crown of Upper Egypt, the red crown of Lower Egypt, the double-crown, etc.). In fact, since the ruler’s physiognomic features were uniform, distinguishing a Roman relief from a Ptolemaic example would be all but impossible without translating the cartouche or other elements of “the Great Name.” 101

While we can only imagine the impression conveyed by the reliefs when they were covered with bright pigments – or, in the inner sanctuaries, when covered with a thin layer of gold – they were not made with public viewing in mind, and even the most generous festival-day access to the temple generally terminated at the hypostyle-hall façade or at the initial pylon. Instead, these reliefs “belonged to the temple as an image of the world…as a living, divine, multiplex organism; the temple, with its interplay of architecture and reliefs, offered a visual exposition of the essential, substantial relationship between the world and the divine.”48 The texts and reliefs served to define a sacred space and the ideal form of the activities which were to occur there; just as importantly, according to Egyptian thought, they enabled the figures and ideas which they represented to have a religious presence within the space itself. The role played by the emperor-pharaoh in this view of the physical and divine worlds is also outlined in the temples’ relief images and their associated texts. The reliefs did not directly define the perceptions of the laity, who could not readily interpret the few they might see, but they did serve as an expression of the way in which the Roman rulers were conceived of as pharaohs by the priests and, in turn, by the community of the faithful.

If the

traditional view that the temples’ depiction of Roman emperors is wholly identical to that of the Ptolemies holds up to scrutiny, then it would be safe to assert that the cultic views of the ruler had not shifted from regime to regime.49 If, however, differences can be detected, then the nature and significance of the variances in this crucially important realm must be closely examined before a clear image of Roman Egypt can be drawn. 48

Finnestad 1997, 215.


The most efficient expression of this long-held view is to be found in Dunand 1983 (53): “c’est dans les representations et les texts des temples égyptiens que se manifeste le plus clairement la continuité entre les rois lagides et leur successeur romain.”


C.) Administration and Production at the Roman Mint in Alexandria

The medium through which most Roman images were made available to the Egyptian public was the Alexandrian coin type. Whether any of these types could be characterized as exhibiting a truly “Roman” style based on its character and content is, of course, a debatable issue. Moreover, as with any question regarding “degree of style,” it would be impossible to resolve this sort of examination in absolute terms. The attitudes and ultimate intentions of the coins’ producers, whether they are faithfully reflected by the content of a particular type or not, can therefore be precisely defined only after sound conclusions regarding agency have been established. Occasionally, of course, creative agency itself can prove to be difficult to define in absolute terms. In the case of the Alexandrian mint, however, we are fortunate enough to possess sufficient knowledge of the involvement of imperial officials to demonstrate that Roman guidance loomed over the creation of all types produced during the Julio-Claudian era. Indeed, although it is not known precisely how a given coin type came to be designed and selected for the Alexandrian coins, strands of evidence for the basic administration and operation of the mint can be used to paint a fuller picture than comparable data for other provincial mints. The most reliable information for any element of the minting process at Alexandria relates to the location of the venues at which coin-production took place. Apparently, the mint was at most times – and probably at all times – organized in designated shops (officinae) located in one of the city’s Greek quarters.50 Only during a three-year period during the middle of Diocletian’s rule were different mint locations 50

Milne 1918.


indicated by numbers. In most cases before the reign of Diocletian, different mint-shops were indicated only by variations in legend or by small symbols, if any indication was made at all.51 The maximum number of shops that can be traced at any one time is four, and it can be reasonably assumed that during slack seasons only one shop was in operation, effectively eliminating the need to differentiate between minting locales with control marks.52 More pertinent to the present examination are the questions surrounding both the composition of the mint personnel in these shops and the origin of the types placed on the coins themselves. Milne was the one of the first scholars to theorize about the inception and employment of individual die-types in Alexandria, and numismatists have relied rather heavily on his hypotheses in the decades since their publication. According to Milne, the dies of the Alexandrian coinage could only have been executed by local artists drawn from the Greek classes; he cites a style that is rooted firmly in the Greek East and notes that even when we observe types that are borrowed from known Roman sources, they are treated along Greek lines.53 Milne’s view is bolstered by the fact that during the Julio-Claudian period we can observe no trace of the GrecoEgyptian style found in the interior of Egypt; the artistic expression embodied by the


See Burnett et al. 1992, 690; the variant symbols listed for select issues of Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, Galba, and Otho could be interpreted as mint-shop indicators. The authors suggest that these symbols “may perhaps be marks of chronology,” or more specifically “indication[s] of date (e.g., part of a year).” They concede, however, that this interpretation is far from definite, as there are clear examples of variant types being retained from one year to the next without any change in design. 52

Milne 1933, xix.


Ibid., xl. This is hardly surprising given that the Alexandrian art-workers, most of whom were Greeks, were accustomed to manufacturing objects for Mediterranean export and to accommodating the tastes of their local customers. Because of this condition, in Milne’s words, “their hands would be habituated to the methods, and their minds would follow the ideals, of the Greeks.”


types was entirely “Alexandrian” and aspired to achieve an unmistakably Hellenized character. As uncomfortable as it might be to proceed backward from the type-images in an attempt to form conclusions about the composition of mint personnel, in the absence of any direct literary or papyrological evidence, the images themselves have become our most instructive primary source. The structure of the official hierarchy governing the production of coins can be loosely reconstructed from the few available strands of indirect evidence. Only two high-ranking officials, the prefect and the head of the department of the idioslogos, wielded final authority in the realm of Egyptian finance. The dioikesis had been the main financial office under the Ptolemies, but with the Roman conquest the role of dioiketes was largely taken over by the prefect.54 As a direct appointee of the emperor and the only magistrate in Egypt with actual imperium, the prefect might have been expected to serve as the primary overseer of mint activity (among his many other duties). The realm of Egyptian finance, however, was split between two major offices in the Roman era, and supervisory control of the mint could have been the responsibility of the equestrian idioslogos, who was likewise a direct imperial appointee.55


“arguments from silence” can be used for or against the establishment of either the prefect or idioslogos as controller of the mint: there exist countless papyri recording 54

Rathbone 1993, 100. The office survived, but only as a subordinate position staffed by Alexandrians. Under the Ptolemies, it had been concerned mainly with taxation and commerce, and it is not known whether the minting of coins was included among the duties once performed under its supervision. 55

Milne was the first to publish the hypothesis that the office of the idioslogos was responsible for production at the mint (1933, xviii); he mentions nothing of the potential for intervention on the part of the prefect. Prefect as issuer of coinage with idioslogos as intermediate official: Grant 1946, 131. Prefect as sole mint authority, independent of idioslogos: Skowronek 1967, 73. For a brief but extensive analyses of the evolution of this department’s duties, see Rathbone 1993, 99110. As the office of the idioslogos was in some ways independent of the prefect and checked by its own imperial representative, we must acknowledge the possibility that it consulted directly and exclusively with Rome on any questions concerning the mint.


traces of the known financial elements of the prefect's office, but none pertaining to coin-production; at the same time, the duties of the idioslogos (as we understand them) appear to have centered around the supervision of “imperial” property and assets in Egypt.56 Barring the discovery of a direct reference to the highest levels of the mint hierarchy, the identity of the presiding office must remain an object of educated speculation. It can reasonably be assumed that hovering just above the mint-shop level were specialized administrators who reported directly to the appropriate equestrian director, just as there must have been individual overseers (in numbers flexible enough to accommodate the opening of multiple shops during peak production periods) who guided work at the mint itself. Both the prefect and the office of the idioslogos invariably employed a large subordinate staff for each of the various financial duties over which they presided. Fiscal operation appears to have been completely dependent on these subsidiary officials, as the head of the office of the idioslogos frequently left Alexandria to make extensive tours of Egypt with the prefect.57 There are, of course, no extant references to the individuals who served in these intermediate positions. While it is likely that they were staffed by prominent figures selected from the Alexandrian citizen class even from the Augustan era, we have yet to discover direct evidence confirming this arrangement for any period. Nevertheless, even the most perfunctory overview of the mint’s administration demonstrates that coin-production operated at too high a level of organization to permit


Swarney 1970, 76-8; Rathbone 1993, 101 The entire department of the idioslogos existed, in part, to safeguard the emperor’s own patrimonium in Egypt. If this office were also in control of coin-production, the implication that net profits from the mint might have been transferred to the imperial estate (and not to the fiscus of the empire) would inevitably follow. 57

Swarney 1970, 80.


the issuing of types without an official endorsement. It is on the basis of this fact alone that our inability to determine the mint’s presiding office must be considered nothing more than a minor hindrance. That is to say, determining the respective realms of authority for the prefect and idioslogos becomes an issue of secondary importance once it is granted that the choice of types at Alexandria could have been nothing less than a direct reflection of Roman interests, not only on a reign-by-reign basis, but also from year to year.58 Ultimately, then, our efforts are better placed into a discussion of the various potential sources of type-images and in determining the impact they could have had on the representation of the issuing authority. While it may prove impossible to gauge either of these factors with detailed precision, a close investigation of the types themselves can help to guide us in our first steps toward understanding the pivotal role coins played in the dissemination of carefully constructed state- and ruler-based ideologies in Egypt. During the Julio-Claudian era, Alexandria was second only to the imperial mint in its prolific production of a varied range of distinct reverse types. Within this wide variety of Alexandrian reverses, the overwhelming predominance of province-specific themes and references stands out as an exceptional feature when compared to the output of the western mints; the same holds true when the Alexandrian types are viewed alongside the products of the other eastern mints, as well. This phenomenon is worthy of close examination, if only because it appears prima facie to run in contradiction to Egypt's strong administrative ties to Rome, and especially to its close associations with the emperor himself. If one finds it difficult to pinpoint consistent and direct ties to the imperial coinage, however, it is simply due to the general policy 58

A similar sentiment is expressed at Howgego 1995, 70; in this context, however, it is more generally and collectively applied to all provincial coinages.


supporting “local coinage for local needs” in the eastern provinces (i.e., the zones producing most of the “provincial coinages”); this policy appears, in turn, to have been generally endorsed by Rome and its governors. It may have been that, in Egypt, this endorsement stemmed from a genuine desire to ally the imperial image with Hellenic and Egyptian deities and symbols in order better serve the representation (or, more appropriately, the “advertisement”) of the emperor and the Roman state, but this suggestion cannot find direct support among the surviving primary sources. On an economic level, Egypt’s extreme geographic isolation and unique administrative status naturally induced a strict detachment.

Rome’s plans for

Alexandria and Egypt – or, more accurately, Octavian’s own ideas about their roles and organization – were reflected in the fiduciary nature of the Egyptian coinage. The closed currency system instituted by the Ptolemies was staunchly maintained by the Romans, thereby allowing the Alexandrian mint to produce debased “silver” (though actually billon) tetradrachms alongside a token bronze currency intended to circulate at values that were to be fixed by edict. There was little incentive to remove Alexandrian coins from Egypt, and the circulation of all other currency was prohibited.59 Thus, virtually all types seen throughout Egypt were produced at the mint of Alexandria. The vast range of Alexandrian types appears to reflect the notion that Roman authorities took full advantage of these extraordinary circumstances and that provincial


On the rarity of Alexandrian coins found outside of Egypt, see West and Johnson 1944, 5. On the sporadic finds in Syria and Asia Minor, see Butcher 1988, 27-8. The Egyptian hoards have yielded only a minuscule number of non-Alexandrian coins, despite the fact that the effects of Gresham’s Law would have been heightened in the fiduciary environment; see Oates 1988, 805. Although it appears that gold was not permitted to circulate in Roman Egypt (West and Johnson 1944, 78), a few aurei (Burnett et al. 1992, 13), along with a certain amount of denarii, appear to have slipped past the border patrol and into the chora. It is possible that these were imported by the soldiers assigned to the Alexandrian and Egyptian legions or were occasionally used as payment for the same class; see Milne 1952, 145.


officials in charge of the mint encouraged experimentation with varying Greek, GrecoEgyptian, and Egyptian types.

The imperial coinage and other provincial issues

frequently inspired “imperial” types at Alexandria, to be sure (and one should include in this last category the occasional examples related to figures, symbols, and events of empire-wide, “Roman” significance).60 On the other hand, these issues were often not emulated for many years, and in other type-categories they served only as general models.

Overall, indications of Rome’s direct involvement in the workings of the

Alexandrian mint are few and far-between, and the mint’s unique isolation and internal focus cannot be overemphasized. During the Julio-Claudian era, Alexandria was home to the only active mint in Egypt; the die-sharing observed in some eastern provinces would have been as inefficient at Alexandria as it was practical at certain mints in Asia Minor.61 In addition, the Alexandrian coinage produced during this period is entirely devoid of evidence for the practice of importing coins or dies from Rome, a process which appears to have been applied to the silver issues of Cappadocia (and which almost certainly occurred with the Alexandrian tetradrachms during the Severan Dynasty).62 As I hope to demonstrate in the chapters below, in most cases there is little reason to believe that the occasional emulation of types issued from the imperial mint resulted from anything more than the unimpeded choices of the provincial government or of the Alexandrian mint officials themselves. Their relative autonomy proved to be one of the primary factors in the production of a range of distinct reverse-types whose diversity would be unmatched by any other provincial coinage.


For an overview of these types, see Burnett 2005, 269-71.


On aspects of die-sharing in Asia Minor, see Kraft 1972; Johnston 1974; Johnston 1982-3; Butcher 1988, 18-9, 27. 62

Silver in Cappadocia: Metcalf 1996, 83-90. Severan Alexandria: Burnett and Craddock 1983.


Chapter III: Images Created during the Reign of Augustus

A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province There are more surviving relief scenes of Augustus on Egyptian temples and stelai than of any other Roman emperor. While this proportion of images may be directly related to the length of his reign, the fact that relief scenes featuring Augustus appear at the widest possible range of individual sites can be taken to indicate something more: namely, that throughout the entire province Egyptian priests took measures to ensure that the new ruler would be perceived as serving the same basic ritual role played by the Ptolemies and pharaohs before him. Whether these measures were taken up through independent initiatives or because of an explicit directive from the provincial administration is difficult to determine.1 The iconography of the reliefs themselves (along with the text associated with each scene), however, offers some insight into the priests’ own religious conception of the Roman emperor as “pharaoh of Egypt.”

As these same notions of the ruler’s

religious functions and legitimacy would be passed through the priests to the Egyptian laity during festivals and other ritual interactions, the Augustan temple reliefs and stelai are worthy of closer examination. The high concentration of Augustan-era reliefs in Upper Egypt – and the corresponding lack of temple reliefs in Lower and Middle Egypt – is not necessarily indicative of an organized scheme or of a directly issued mandate from Alexandria. The distribution of surviving Egyptian temples of the “traditional” type is slanted heavily toward the south, and the majority of all known examples was to be found in the 220 kilometers between Dendera and Philae. A large percentage of the Egyptian


The relationship between Roman-era relief images, the Egyptian clergy, and the Roman administrators based in Alexandria (including the “High Priest of Alexandria and All Egypt”) is explored below at Chapter IX.E and IX.F.


temples situated in Lower and Middle Egypt were either set up among the shifting waters of the Delta region or were positioned in the midst of larger metropoleis; in either case, their chances for survival have been drastically cut down by erosion, later construction, reuse of their building materials, or a combination of these factors. Sites far to the west (including many Fayoum settlements) were buried by the drifting sands; sites close to the Nile and situated on low-lying flatlands were damaged by the flooding of the river.

As other Julio-Claudian emperors were

depicted only sporadically and infrequently on reliefs in Middle Egypt (and at only a handful of sites), the Augustan distribution should not be taken to be surprising or terribly significant. As the chance of preservation would have it, the only Lower Egyptian relief scene in pharaonic style featuring Augustus is to be found on a heavily damaged stele discovered at modern-day Sakha (ancient Xoïs, which served as the capital of the sixth Lower Egyptian nome).2 Of those that survive, the northernmost temple reliefs featuring Augustus are located within the well-known temple complex at Dendera. The main temple at this site was dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Hathor, who (like Isis) had long been associated with Aphrodite as a goddess of fertility and feminine love through the syncretistic system that had evolved under the Ptolemies.3 Augustus appears in reliefs positioned around the main entranceway, on three sides of the exterior, and in one of the subsidiary rooms beyond the first hypostyle hall. On the topmost register of the relief scenes flanking the initial entranceway, Augustus appears as pharaoh in a series of four small scenes and stands before one member of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis in each panel.4 Each of these divine figures represents one of the four 2

Porter and Moss 1968, 45; Catalogue No. 1. The surviving text and cartouche make unmistakable references to the names “Kaisar” and “Autokrator,” as well as the epithet “he who is holy/sacred,” which was the hieroglyphic equivalent of “Sebastos/Augustus.” 3

See above, Chapter I.G.


Catalogue Nos. 2-5.


components of the primordial “beginning” (e.g., darkness, eternity, etc.).


together, they reflect a cosmogony that could trace its origins to the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (starting in the mid-27th century B.C.) and had persisted in Middle Egypt and the northern stretches of Upper Egypt throughout the Late Period and beyond the Roman conquest.

In the second register of reliefs flanking the

entranceway, Augustus appears before pairs and trios of Egyptian deities, with either Hathor or Isis in each group.5 Horus, in his falcon-headed divine incarnation, appears as three different manifestations in these scenes: in his standard form topped by the double-crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, as Horus-Smentaui, and as Harsiesis (translated variably as “Horus the Great” or “Horus the Victor,” but most commonly as “Horus the Elder”). This interaction between the emperor as pharaoh, who represents the transient mortal incarnation of Horus, and the eternal, purely divine form of the god is an ubiquitous theme in Roman-era temple reliefs, as it had been during the Ptolemaic and Dynastic eras. In each case, the creation of this sort of image was more than a mere commemoration of the ruler’s hoped-for, ideal role visà-vis the divine; the Egyptian view of sacred images in “permanent forms” (see above, Chapter II.B) granted these reliefs the ability to make the functioning of the king as the living Horus a religious reality in the physical world. An interesting series of Augustan-era reliefs appears on the eastern and western sides of the exterior of the Hathor temple. The prominent fourth register on each is filled with self-contained scenes that depict Augustus leaving a palace, measuring a temple, pouring sand, placing blocks, and performing other actions associated with temple construction, including the presentation of the finished product to Hathor and Horus (or Harsomtus).6 These cannot commemorate the building of the Hathor temple – or even part of the Hathor temple – since the original 5

Catalogue Nos. 6-8.


Catalogue Nos. 13-18 (east side) and Nos. 22-28 (west side).


phase of construction was Ptolemaic and the only major Roman-era addition was the outer hypostyle hall built during the reign of Tiberius. The Augustan era did witness the construction of two new major structures within the temple complex: the Isis temple (commemorating the birth of the goddess), which was positioned just behind the Hathor temple, and the birth house (mammisi) situated to the north of the main temple’s façade. From a Greco-Roman perspective, both structures could be linked via these goddesses to Aphrodite/Venus, with one related to her divine birth and the other commemorating her role as progenitrix.7 Of these two new constructions, the birth house is the most likely candidate for the building project referenced in the reliefs on the exterior of the Hathor temple, as it served as the focus for the recognition of the birth of the divine child Ihy (or Harsomtus) to his mother Hathor and his father Horus the Elder. Despite the fact that the surviving cartouches of the well preserved reliefs are filled with the names of Trajan and Hadrian, Augustus is credited with the initial construction in the dedication texts,8 and it is he who is appropriately featured in the building/dedication series on the main Hathor temple. Unlike the Augustan-era birth house, the Isis temple to the south of the main Hathor shrine is decorated with reliefs featuring Augustus himself as pharaoh. This temple appears to have been built upon the remains of an earlier sanctuary dating to the reign of Nectanebo I (30th Dynasty, 381-64 B.C.). At some point after additions or improvements were made by Ptolemy X Alexander, who is identified in multiple cartouches among the reused blocks and fragments found through excavation, the structure was razed. We cannot know the dedicatee (or even the precise function) of this earlier structure, which in fact predates the existing phase of the Hathor temple; its replacement by the Augustan Isis temple does not necessarily indicate its serving


On the question of the extent of imperial funding for Egyptian temples and on the possible influence of Greco-Egyptian syncretism on the “traditional” religion, see Chapter IX.F. 8

Porter and Moss 1970, 103.


the same purpose, nor can we be certain that the area was cleared with the intention of creating space for the Augustan temple.9

The exterior of this new structure

contained texts commemorating the birth of Isis on its eastern frieze, and Augustus appeared as pharaoh in reliefs both on the exterior and on the walls of the vestibule, sanctuary, and two small rooms that comprise the temple’s interior.10 Augustus is depicted as standing or offering before a wide variety of deities in these scenes, with Isis (sometimes paired with Osiris) and Hathor (occasionally paired with Horus) not surprisingly appearing most often. Midway between Dendera and the religious centers of the Theban district, the remains of the ancient structures centered around Koptos (present-day Qift) can still be seen among the modern villages. In the northern sector of this region, within the village of El-Qal’a, stand the partially restored remains of a small temple initiated by Augustus. This temple was referred to for centuries as the “Temple of Claudius,” an attribution that appears to have been based on the translation of the royal cartouches on the temple’s exterior.11 Porter and Moss, relying on Reinach’s initial publication of the El-Qal’a remains and without the benefit of viewing the much more extensive publications yet to come, follow established precedent and assert that the temple belonged to the reign of Claudius.12 The El-Qal’a temple is somewhat unique in that it is endowed with two sanctuaries, a central sanctuary on the main east-west axis and a secondary sanctuary on its northern face; Augustus occupies the reliefs in both and the associated texts confirm that the temple was built during his reign. Gaius (see below, Chapter V.A) appears only on the east wall of the inner hall. The other 9

On the history of construction in this area of the Dendera complex, see Cauville 1990, 87-8; see also Hölbl 2000, 81. 10

Catalogue Nos. 36-50.


On the attribution of the El-Qal’a temple to Claudius from the era of Lepsius to the modern age, see Pantalacci and Traunecker 1990, 6. 12

Porter and Moss 1962, 134; Reinach 1911.


filled-in cartouches on the temple’s exterior and remaining interior chambers appear to have been executed during the reign of Claudius (see below, Chapter VI.A). Despite its long-maintained appellation, this temple was not dedicated to the divine Roman ruler, but to one or more Egyptian deities. The range of gods and goddesses represented on this small temple is extraordinarily diverse; nevertheless, reliefs and texts in the central sanctuary imply that Isis should be viewed as its principal deity. Additionally, Isis is associated with Min on the southern wall and with Nephthys on the northern wall. As this same arrangement can be found in the northern sanctuary, it seems safe to conclude that the El-Qal’a temple was associated with the key figures in the Koptite theology.13 Indeed, the three members of the Koptite Triad – Isis, Min, and Horus (in his various forms) – appear more often than any other deities in the surviving relief images and inscribed texts. Augustus appears several times before all three of these deities, among many others, in the central sanctuary and north sanctuary. As is typical of all Roman-era reliefs, he is usually depicted as carrying out his role as intercessor with offerings in hand. The exceptions are few and far between, but in one such scene an emptyhanded Augustus stands in a pose of adoration before Isis, Osiris, and Harpokrates (Har-pa-khared); thus, the emperor-pharaoh acknowledges the source of his own religious power and his enduring ties to the divine mother, father, and child.14 Augustus is also linked to the Koptite Triad in a nearby relief that depicts the ruler presenting an image of Ma’at (representing harmony, order, truth, or justice [or all of these]) to Isis and Min; the notion conveyed by this imagery is one of confidence in


On this hypothesis and the temple’s ties (or lack thereof) to Koptos, see Pantalacci and Traunecker 1990, 8-9. Koptos served as one of the major centers of the worship of Min, the creator god. As a pair, Min and Isis played a paramount role vis-à-vis the perpetuation of the human race and of the natural order: “Par le couple Min/Isis s’exprime le rapport de deux puissances, la procréation et la maternité, assurant la continuité des générations dans la personne d’Horus le grand” (9). 14

Pantalacci and Traunecker 1990, no. 2.


the ruler’s fulfillment of his destiny to maintain the natural order as the reincarnation of the fully grown “divine child.”15 Another Augustan-era temple of Isis can be found only a short distance upriver from the site of ancient Koptos at modern-day Shenhur. As at the El-Qal’a temple, the sanctuary reliefs appear to have been fully decorated (with filled-in cartouches) before any other section, and the reliefs featuring Augustus as pharaoh are confined to this area. Not surprisingly, most of the sanctuary offering scenes feature Isis, although this primary goddess only appears when paired with other divinities. The position of the Shenhur temple between the Koptos district and the Theban district is reflected by the deities partnered with Isis in the Augustan offering scenes on the lintel of the sanctuary entrance: other members of the Koptite Triad (Min and Horus) are paired together, as are members of the Theban Triad (Amun, Mut, and Khonsu).16 On the walls of the sanctuary itself these two theologies are combined, as Augustus stands and makes offerings before larger groups of divinities containing members of both triads.17 As one proceeds south and arrives into the Theban district, the number of shrines and large temple complexes increases dramatically. The sacredness of this area, as recognized within the Egyptian religious sphere, had Middle Kingdom roots that continued uninterrupted through the Roman era. Most of the monumental architecture, however, was constructed by various New Kingdom pharaohs, many of whom were buried in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank. To the southwest of this famous series of tombs, near the remains of the workers’ village at Deir elMedina, a complex containing a Ptolemaic temple and a handful of other (less well-


Ibid., no. 4. The pharaoh was not equated with the offspring of Isis in his child form, but with the victorious adult Horus, who triumphed over Seth for the right to claim Egypt. 16

Catalogue Nos. 51-52.


Catalogue Nos. 57-70.


preserved) structures has been set apart by means of its partially reconstructed wall. The temple itself appears to have been dedicated primarily to Hathor, who is highlighted in texts in the temple’s central sanctuary, although other figures were honored in two subsidiary sanctuaries, including Amun-Sokar-Osiris and Amun-ReOsiris. This pair of Amun figures had direct ties to the theology associated with the Book of the Dead, and so were appropriate objects of veneration here at the Theban necropolis. The area was also sacred – rather understandably, given the occupation of the Dynastic-era residents – to the architect-gods Imhotep and Amenhotep, son of Hapu, both of whom are honored with votive chapels at the Hathor temple. Moreover, Deir el-Medina was one of the major centers of worship for Ma’at in her goddess form (along with Memphis, the Old Kingdom capital, and Karnak, situated across the Nile on the east bank). Many of these associations are commemorated on the lone Roman-era relief panel at the site, which appears as follows: AR118 Double-scene: on right, Augustus offers sphinx ointment-jar to Thenenet and Rat-taui; on left, Augustus offers image of Ma’at to Hathor and Ma’at This double-scene is carved on the face of what appears to have been a Roman-era addition against the west exterior wall of the Ptolemaic temple (Fig. 2). The two primary goddesses of the area around Deir el-Medina are honored by the ruler on the right side of the relief. The offering of an image of Ma’at (symbolizing the concepts of order and harmony) to Ma’at in her own goddess form may appear a bit paradoxical, at first glance; this sort of imagery, however, only served to confirm that both ruler and goddess were fulfilling their expected roles. The rare presence of the underworld goddess Thenenet and the sun goddess Rat-taui (setting in the west, passing into the underworld) is heightened in its importance by the need on the part of the ruler to make appeals on behalf of those buried in the nearby necropoleis. 18

Catalogue Nos. 71-72.


Augustus holds a unique position within the massive temple complex at Karnak, in that he is the only Julio-Claudian emperor to be named at this most sacred of sites. The setting for his appearance is provided by the pair of temples at the extreme southwestern section of the Precinct of Amun: the Temple of Khonsu and the smaller Temple of Opet. This latter temple, though dedicated in name to Opet, was in fact used in the service of Amun (hence its presence in that god’s precinct), as it was tied into the mythic cycle that associated Amun with Osiris. In this same way, it was linked to the adjacent Khonsu temple: according to the Theban tradition, Amun-re perishes in the form of Osiris only to enter the womb of Opet-Nut in order that he might be reborn as Khonsu. In spite of the presence of the main southern gate, the two southwestern temples had their own gateway within the precinct’s western wall, indicating that they enjoyed a certain independent ritual significance and perhaps a degree of interaction with the other Theban cults. Augustus appears only on the exterior of the Opet temple, which was (to judge by the texts and reliefs of the innermost chambers) originally constructed by Ptolemy VIII. Augustus appears on the east wall, which faces the southern segment of the Khonsu temple, before Osiris and standing at the head of a pair of processions featuring Nile-gods, Field-goddesses, offering-bearers, and Hathor.19 The connection with Osiris continues on the southern wall, where two relief scenes among a finely executed series of ten within a single register feature Augustus before OsirisOnnophris.20 This appearance of Osiris (in any form) standing alone, without his consort or other deities alongside him, is rare; yet, it is easily explained by the ritual significance of this temple, which also possessed an independent chapel dedicated to Osiris and a series of underground crypts intended to represent the tomb of Amun-


Catalogue No. 87.


Catalogue Nos. 76 and 80. Osiris was often referred to as “Unnefer” (Hellenized as “Onnophris”), the Eternally Happy One.


Osiris.21 The primary deity of Karnak, Amun, is also represented within this register on the southern wall, as Augustus presents a nemset-vase (used for pouring libations) to Amun himself and offers lettuce leaves to Min-Amun.22 Isis appeared only once with her brother and husband Osiris on this temple, and this relief is now damaged to the point that the identification is only possible through the hieroglyphic text.23 The emperor-pharaoh is nevertheless linked to Isis on another relief in this series within the following scene: AR224 Augustus, facing right, offers a sistrum (held aloft in left hand) to Nut This image (Fig. 3) featuring Nut, mother of Osiris and Isis, could easily be taken for a tangential reference to Osiris, who is prominently honored both in the partitioning of the temple and in its iconography. Indeed, Osiris is mentioned in the associated hieroglyphic text (although only within the context of Nut’s giving birth to the “divine sibling-spouses”). The presence of the sistrum, however, is telling: as a symbol associated with Isis, though not with Osiris, the ritual instrument conjures associations with this goddess before it recalls any of her siblings or even Nut herself. The register above this series of ten panels once contained eight scenes. Six of these are now entirely destroyed, and a seventh is damaged to such an extent that a reconstruction of its iconography can only be made through a well-preserved column of text.

The eighth, however, is an intriguing relief scene, if only for the rare

appearance made by the god Amenemopet, to whom Augustus pours a libation.25 21

On these associations between the Opet temple and the Theban cycle of resurrection, see Hölbl 2000, 54-5. 22

Catalogue Nos. 77 and 81.


Catalogue No. 84.


Catalogue No. 82.


Catalogue No. 73.


The placement of this image on the southern exterior wall allows the scene to face Luxor Temple, the god’s “dwelling place” and departure point for his cult statue’s weekly trek across the river to the west bank. Once there, the god manifested by the statue was taken in procession to Medinet Habu and its temple of the “True Mound of the West,” which was symbolic of the space where the creator god first made the land of the physical world. The weekly procession of Amunemopet to this mound was intended to ensure that this initial creation would continue for eternity for the sake of the dead who were buried in the Theban necropoleis. Thus, in this Opet temple relief, the emperor-pharaoh is depicted as honoring (and even playing an active role in) one of the perpetual Theban rites practiced outside of the Amun precinct at Karnak. The nearby temple of Khonsu in the Amun precinct is a larger structure than the Opet temple, with more space on its exterior and many more interior chambers. Nevertheless, the priests inaugurated reliefs with the name of Augustus only on the south wall of the barque-chapel.26 Augustus is depicted as interacting with Khonsu, the primary deity of the temple, in several offering scenes. He offers before Mut, as well, in two scenes on the first Augustan register.27 Accordingly, the third (and central) member of the Theban Triad also appears in this series of reliefs, as Augustus offers an image of Ma’at to Amun himself.28 In examining the entranceway and walls of the barque-chapel, it becomes apparent that Augustus serves here as the representative of one of several phases in Egypt’s long dynastic history.


entranceway cutting through the southern wall is densely covered in reliefs featuring Ptolemy VIII. Moreover, the southern wall of the barque-chapel is filled with reliefs of Ramses IV (third ruler of the 20th Dynasty, 1155-1149 B.C.). These two earlier 26

Catalogue Nos. 88-96.


Catalogue Nos. 89 and 92.


Catalogue No. 93.


pharaohs are depicted in very much the same mode as the Augustus of the Khonsu and Opet temples: that is to say, offering before all three members of the Theban Triad and a handful of other deities, with a special emphasis on Osiris.29 Augustus, then, appears on these reliefs in a broader context of ritual continuity from the glorious era of the New Kingdom rulers, through the more recent reigns of the Ptolemies, and into the period of Rome’s emperor ruling as pharaoh from abroad. In the vast distance between Luxor/Thebes and the southern border of the Roman province, at the First Cataract near modern-day Aswan, Augustus appears in a pharaonic relief scene at only one temple. This temple, located on the east bank of the Nile at the site of Kom Ombo, is a uniquely designed double-temple dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and to Haroeris (Horus the Elder). The emperor-pharaoh does not appear with these deities, but is instead represented on the wall of the outer court leading various deities in procession (with groups isolated in separate panels) to honor the temple’s primary gods.30 The discovery of a block from the upper courses of this wall with a cartouche reading “Autokrator” may be sufficient to attribute the availability of space for this lengthy relief-series to a new construction undertaken within a few years after the Roman conquest (i.e., before the title Sebastos/Augustus [rendered as “he who is holy/sacred” in hieroglyphic Egyptian] was added to the ruler’s throne name). The sacred islands near the southern border of the Egyptian province (at the Nile’s First Cataract) provide the setting for the densest assemblage of Augustan-era temple reliefs.

These appear on Elephantine, Philae, and Biga.


endowed with several temples but known primarily as the center of worship for the god Khnum, is the northernmost of these islands. 29

Porter and Moss 1960, 239-40.


Catalogue No. 99.


Augustus is the only Julio-

Claudian emperor appearing among the fragmentary remains of the various temples, and his relief images are on the Khnum temple itself. Here, on the exterior of the wall that once marked the boundary before the temple’s second hypostyle hall, Augustus is seen leading a procession of Nile-gods and standing before Khnum, the god whom they have come to honor.31

This procession scene is in some ways

reminiscent of the rows of deities led by Augustus on the walls of the Opet temple at Karnak and on the outer court wall at the Sobek/Haroeris temple of Kom Ombo (see above). It is unknown, however, whether this wall at the Khnum temple was newly constructed as an Augustan-era addition, as at Kom Ombo, or was merely decorated (perhaps only with filled-in cartouches) to mark the beginning of Roman rule. Philae Island was home to the largest Isis temple in the Egyptian province. It is perhaps more than mere coincidence, then, that over 120 reliefs featuring Augustus can be found among the various sacred structures on the island (having been transplanted to Agilka Island to avoid damage from the backed-up Nile), which was also sacred to Hathor, among other deities.32 As one approaches the massive first pylon of the Isis temple from the south, a 90-meter colonnade running along the left (i.e., west) side spans the distance leading up to its entrance. This west colonnade is decorated with reliefs of four Julio-Claudian emperors. Augustus appears before Isis in several relief scenes on the wall behind the anterior row of columns, although the goddess always appears with other deities in these images; as expected, she is represented most often with Osiris and Horus (in one of his multiple forms) in order to form the essential “Divine Family� unit.33 Hathor, who is honored on numerous reliefs within the Isis temple itself and who received her own temple on Philae (see 31

Catalogue No. 100.


On the association between Philae, the First Cataract region, and the goddess Isis, see Zaki 2009, 205-6. On the possibility of an intentional association between Augustus and both Isis and Hathor, see below, Chapter IX.F. 33

All Augustan reliefs on the west colonnade: Catalogue Nos. 101-9.


below), also appears among the deities in the Julio-Claudian reliefs on the west colonnade. When one passes through the first pylon, with its large reliefs featuring Ptolemy XII smiting the “enemies of the Two Lands,” one enters a court bordered by a colonnade on the east and an independent structure on the west. This separate building within the temple complex itself was started, perhaps, with a core structure dating to the 30th Dynasty, with later additions and expansions made from the reign of Ptolemy III to that of Ptolemy XII.34 Most of the exterior decoration, however, dates to the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius (discussed below, Chapter IV.A). Like the Roman birth house at Dendera, the primary function of this embedded structure was to celebrate the birth of Horus as “Divine Child” and the perpetual fulfillment of his triumphant destiny as king.35 At Philae, the ties between Horus, members of the Divine Family, and the emperor-pharaoh were made more explicit than at Dendera. Here the Divine Family consisted of Isis, Osiris, and their son, Horus (either as Harsiesis [“Horus, Born of Isis”] or as Harpokrates [“Horus the Child”]).


presence of columns with Hathor-headed capitals on the eastern side of the birth house is perhaps a nod to the role played by Amun-re and Hathor as ritual parents in the New Kingdom traditions that had developed around the region of Thebes, spread throughout Upper Egypt, and persisted into the Ptolemaic era. In this setting, then, despite the fact that Isis was the primary focus of ritual activity within the temple, both she and Hathor could be honored as “Divine Mothers” on the texts and reliefs of the birth house. The eastern wall behind the Hathor-capital colonnade is entirely covered with reliefs featuring Augustus as pharaoh. The top register is characterized by an equal 34

On the pre-Roman phases of the Philae birth house, see Hölbl 2004, 61.


Ibid. As Hölbl effectively summarizes it, the purpose of any Egyptian birth house was to offer a venue for serving “den Ritualen um Zeugung, Geburt, Aufzucht und Inthronisation des göttlichen Kindes der örtlichen Götterfamilie.”


balance between reliefs featuring Hathor and scenes involving Isis. The first of these on the southern side, in fact, shows Augustus offering mirrors (symbols of eternal [or, more accurately, “self-renewing”] life) to an enthroned Hathor and Harsiesis, “Horus, Born of Isis.”36 This blending of traditions continues on the second register, although these reliefs do feature Isis more often than her maternal counterpart. The best preserved of these (Fig. 4) is found on the southern end and appears as follows: AR337 Augustus, facing right, holding aloft a base supporting a bovine figure among lotus blossoms, and Meret of Lower Egypt playing harp; both standing before Harpokrates, standing left, and enthroned Isis The offering presented by the emperor-pharaoh is unique, but Hölbl offers a sound interpretation when he suggests that it is merely a variant of the lotus-pond (š3) and should be understood here as hieroglyphic shorthand for “wine” (š3).38 The presence of the Lower Egyptian form of the music-goddess Meret, topped by papyrus reeds, serves to emphasize the supremacy of Isis throughout “the Two Lands” (indeed, she is described in the hieroglyphic text as “Ruler [and] Mistress of the Two Lands”). Moreover, this relief may symbolize one or more fertility festivals associated with the Isis temple at Philae, most of which involved the playing of music in some form. Augustus dominates the northern exterior wall of the birth house at Philae, as well. Here the reliefs contain a greater variety of Egyptian deities, although as one might expect the most common images are those of the ruler making offerings before Isis nursing Harsiesis (or Harpokrates) or Hathor suckling Harsomtus.39 The base of this same wall contains a long double-scene that mirrors the processional images at 36

Catalogue No. 114.


Catalogue No. 123.


Hölbl 2004, 65. He is supported by the column of text in front of Augustus, which appears to describe the offering of wine to Isis by the pharaoh, “beloved of Isis and Ptah.” 39

Catalogue Nos. 141, 143, 144, 146, 148, and 149.


Karnak, Kom Ombo, and Elephantine; this relief depicts Augustus leading a series of Nile-gods, Field-goddesses and named deities toward the goddess honored through the rites of the birth house, Isis, who nurses Horus in the midst of a group of papyrus reeds.40 Augustus is not featured in any relief images within the Isis temple itself (beyond the second pylon), and most available space had in fact been filled with reliefs of the Ptolemaic rulers. He is, however, featured prominently on large-scale relief scenes on the western, northern (rear), and eastern exterior walls.41 In several of these scenes, Augustus presents offerings to Isis paired with Osiris-Onnophris or to Hathor paired with Horus, although a wide range of other deities appears on these exterior reliefs. One of the most interesting groups of reliefs on the exterior walls of the Isis temple is a unified series recounting the process of accession and divinization of the living emperor-pharaoh, Augustus. These appear on the eastern wall on the exterior of the naos of the Isis temple. After the ruler is seen leaving a palace with Inmutef and being purified by Thoth and Horus, the third relief in this series is composed as follows: AR442 Augustus, facing right, flanked by Buto and Nekhbet, who place the doublecrown of Egypt upon his head, with all three before Isis, standing at right This coronation scene (Fig. 5) is one of a very few such scenes produced under Roman rule and is matched during the Julio-Claudian era only by the crowning of Augustus on the western exterior of the Hathor temple at Dendera (in the context of the “construction� series that filled the fourth register on multiple sides) and of Tiberius on the Arsenuphis temple very near to the Isis temple on Philae Island (see 40

Catalogue No. 150.


Catalogue Nos. 151-200.


Catalogue No. 183.


below, Chapter IV.A). The iconography follows precedents that had been set even before the New Kingdom pharaohs came into power: Buto (the cobra-goddess Wadjet, in anthropomorphic form) represents the entirety of Lower Egypt, and she wears the appropriate “red crown” to symbolize her realm; the vulture-goddess Nekhbet represents Upper Egypt and is depicted as wearing the appropriate “white crown.” Together, they confirm the emperor-pharaoh’s rule of the entire land of Egypt, as Isis looks on in approval over the fact that the earthly incarnation of her grown son has fulfilled his divine destiny. The temple to Hathor located on the eastern side of Philae is also decorated with Augustan-era reliefs.43 Augustus shares the decoration of this small temple with Ptolemy VI Philometor, during whose reign the naos itself was likely constructed.

Augustus is the only ruler who appears on the initial façade, its

entrance, and the walls of the forecourt beyond it; these sections may well be later additions initiated only after the Roman conquest. The iconography of the Augustan reliefs and the associated hieroglyphic text do not present any atypical elements, especially when viewed alongside the nearby Isis temple and birth house. Just as Hathor had been prominently featured on these two structures, so Isis appears frequently on this temple: receiving offerings of wine, incense, and a libation from the emperor, and appearing with a sistra-bearing Augustus on the façade of the outer hall.44 The only potentially surprising aspect of the Augustan reliefs on the Hathor temple is the complete absence of Horus (who does appear on two of the Ptolemaic reliefs). On the other hand, given the poor state of preservation of several parts of the temple – and of the likely Roman additions, in particular – the absence of Horus


Catalogue Nos. 201-23. The reliefs on the façade and entrance to the forecourt to the west of the temple are all fragmentary (see Porter and Moss 1970, 251), although the Augustan cartouche is legible enough on several of these; this particular sequence of reliefs, however, has not been included in the Catalogue. 44

See Catalogue Nos. 204, 208, 210, and 214. 126

could merely be a product of chance rather than a strict separation of cult between the Isis and Hathor temples under Roman rule. Only about one hundred meters from Philae, the island of Biga possessed an entirely different religious association.

Originally, it was viewed as the “sacred

mound,” the point on the earth where the first ground was created from Nun (“the abyss”) out of Chaos. Eventually, and certainly by the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, the island had come to be considered the burial place of Osiris and the source of the Nile. As the land of the island was viewed as forming part of the body of the god, the laity were denied access, and only priests and temple servants were allowed to reside there. Under the Ptolemies, it became known among Hellenized residents as the Abaton (“inaccessible” or “forbidden [place]”); “Biga thus remained outside the normal developmental cycle of temple building and growth, and it was Philae which developed instead.”45 The remains of the temple, dedicated to Osiris (and perhaps Isis), revealed that a late Ptolemaic building phase had replaced earlier Dynastic structures, traces of which could once be seen near the center of the island.46 The only Roman emperor represented among the reliefs at Biga is Augustus, who appears on the pylon that once controlled access to the temple’s outer hypostyle hall (decorated under Ptolemy XII). Not surprisingly, the emperor-pharaoh is depicted in multiple scenes as offering to Osiris and Isis, standing together as a pair.47 Additionally, a pair of scenes featuring their child, Horus, can be distinguished among the surviving reliefs, and at least one image acknowledges the regional theology by grouping the three together as a “Divine Family,” with Horus appearing in the form of Harpokrates. 48 45

Wilkinson 2000, 215.


Cf. Porter and Moss 1962, 258. The eastern part of the island is now beneath the river level.


Catalogue Nos. 225 and 228.


Catalogue Nos. 224, 227, and 228, respectively.


Ultimately, when viewed collectively, the Augustan-era temple reliefs reflect the Egyptian priests’ awareness of the fact that religious continuity could only be achieved by aligning their new “pharaoh,” despite the fact that he ruled from a foreign land, with the basic conception of divine rulership that had existed for millennia. Without a province-wide system of clerical interaction, this awareness must have developed in the various regional centers of Upper Egypt independently. The regional theologies espoused by these religious centers are clearly reflected in the Augustan reliefs, and the new ruling authority in Rome certainly did not impose a firm provincial standard for these temples in any realm that would have affected their mode of decoration.

Augustus sometimes appeared as pharaoh alongside

Ptolemies, Dynastic-era rulers, or both; at other times his reliefs dominate entire walls or full sections of temple architecture. When he appears near rulers from previous regimes, he is treated largely in the same manner as they were (accounting for the few differences noted below, Chapter IX.E). If there is a lone province-wide trend that sets the Augustan reliefs apart, it is the new pharaoh’s consistent association with Hathor and especially with Isis; indeed, almost all new building projects undertaken during the reign of Augustus were either temples of Isis or additions to centers which were sacred to Isis, Hathor, or both.49


surrounding the unique position held by Augustus as initiator of a new regime and the effects that it may have had on the Egyptian temple reliefs can only be addressed by considering the precedents that were both followed and established during his reign. Thus, in order to put these images in their proper context, one must examine the pharaonic-style reliefs featuring succeeding emperors, several of whom are discussed in the chapters below.


The implications of this phenomenon are explored below, Chapter IX.F.


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types Alexandria had been a center of coin-production from the first decades of the Ptolemaic era, and the retention of this role after the Roman conquest was one of many elements of a broad administrative continuity (discussed above at Chapter I.B). At the newly established Roman mint, this general sense of continuity was broken only in the realms of metallic standard and type-design. In fact, it was within this latter realm that the change in ruling authority had its most conspicuous effects; the Romans’ tendency to vary both the images and legends placed on their coins was unlike anything that had been observed within the Ptolemaic coinage. It is evident that the choice of types and denominations at the Alexandrian mint during the first decades of Roman rule, guided at this time either by the Roman central administration or by the emperor’s directly appointed representatives in Egypt, reflects a period of free experimentation. The products of these tentative trials imply that mint officials wished to discover the best standard for Egyptian bronze currency and to develop a range of images suitable for circulation in Alexandria and the Nile valley. A permanent form for the bronze denominations would be established before the end of the Augustan era (as outlined in Appendix II); conversely, there would be constant modifications and additions to the body of aes types as they evolved throughout the reign. The images examined below reflect a policy designed by Octavian – or perhaps by his close officials – to make the currency’s transformation from Ptolemaic to “Roman provincial” a protracted and relatively subtle process. One of the most surprising aspects of this policy was the continued circulation of late Ptolemaic billon tetradrachms. These high-value Ptolemaic coins must have fulfilled an important need in Alexandrian commerce; there seems to have been a strict mandate against the production of silver coins in Egypt during the Augustan era, as only aes coinage was


produced during these years.50 Nevertheless, it is a curious phenomenon that the coins of the previous era, including scores with the image of Cleopatra VII, were not immediately collected for melting and re-striking. It is possible that these types were circulated alongside the new Roman bronzes to emphasize continuity between the previous and current regimes; in this case, though, it may be naïve to favor ideology over economics as the primary motivation. Another facet of this transition was the reuse of Ptolemaic iconography on the reverses of the First Augustan Series, which was issued ca. 30-28 BC.51 Only one type-pair (Fig. 6) was used for these aes issues: AC152 Obv.: Octavian, bare head, r., QEOU UIOU Rev.: Eagle standing l., to l., cornucopia, KAISAROS AUTOKRATOROS Although it is not surprising to observe that Alexandrian mint officials wished to place a “Roman” obverse on these coins as an announcement of the change in issuing 50

Milne (1933, xvi) asserts that this policy was maintained because Augustus had hoped that the Roman denarius might be imported into Egypt. There are, however, two hurdles to overcome before one can adopt this view: first, denarii were not used as currency in Egypt at any point during Augustus’ reign, throughout which no other silver coin was produced or imported; second, supporters of the theory have yet to demonstrate why Augustus or any Roman official would choose to import the denarius when nearly every unique aspect of the Alexandrian coinage reflects an unmistakable desire to enforce a closed currency system in Egypt. A more likely explanation for this absence of silver coinage is that it was a direct byproduct of the heavy extraction of precious metals and most other forms of wealth from Egypt after its initial conquest; see Burnett et al. 1992, 52. Another factor which may have played a role in the maintenance of this policy was the desire of the central administration to control payment to the legions stationed in Alexandria and the Nile valley (on the likelihood that they were paid in imperial coinage, see Milne 1952, 145); the possibility of purchasing their services with locally minted silver had been effectively eliminated. 51

The dating of the first four Augustan series has always been problematic. The tentative progression proposed by Burnett et al. (1992, 691-93) can be recommended with very few reservations. Of the three possible schemes suggested by these authors, the second (i.e., “Scheme B”) is characterized as “the most likely, on epigraphical and metrological grounds, even though the chronology is rather uncomfortably tight” (693). This scheme dates the First Series from ca. 30-28 BC, the Second Series to ca. 10 BC (this range is presented with some trepidation, but the series is dated after 19 BC with certainty), the Third Series to 3/2 BC, and the Fourth Series to 2/1 BC. The schematic outline presented by Milne (1933, xxxv, lxix) established the basic Augustan chronology and remains a useful guide. Equally useful is Noeske 2009, which addresses the dating and type-content of all six distinct Augustan series. 52

Cf. RPC 5001 and 5002.


authority, the desire to reproduce an accurate portrait of Octavian is certainly noteworthy.53 Portraits depicting the (generally) realistic features of an emperor are rare among Alexandrian types, especially on issues produced during the earliest years of a new reign.54 Idealized as it may be, the portrait in AC1 is, at the very least, comparable to the portraits engraved on contemporary provincial dies. As in other parts of the empire, the Augustan portrait underwent only a small number of changes throughout the course of the reign, and most of these were related more to the fullness of the neck and the angle of the head than to the portrait’s youthful appearance.55 Ultimately, this idealized, less mature portrait style (though not in as extreme a form as on most Hellenistic examples) would be employed from the First Augustan Series even into the reigns of Tiberius and Claudius.56 While in this case the body of officials closest to Octavian cannot be ruled out as the source of both the portrait type and the directive for its immediate placement on the Alexandrian coins, it is also possible that the mint officials in Alexandria 53

Of course, the question of whether these portraits were truly accurate cannot be resolved. The interesting aspect of these Alexandrian portraits is perhaps better expressed as an obvious similarity to the busts on the “official” Italian issues. These portraits were used even though a pictorial type accompanied by a distinctively Roman legend would have been a sufficient indication of the minting authority; many such examples were issued shortly after 19 BC (e.g., RPC 5009-12, with legends featuring CEBACTOC). On the other hand, Alexandria is only one of a large number of mints to adopt Octavian’s portrait on the first issues produced after the victory at Actium; see Burnett et al. 1992, 39-40. In this particular case, Octavian’s actual presence in Egypt during the first year of production for these issues may have served as the catalyst for the production of obverse types featuring his portrait. 54

Skowronek 1967, 16-7. Even the occasional re-use of a predecessor’s portrait during the first year(s) of production is not unheard of at Alexandria. These facts should not be interpreted as reflections of an endorsement of the “synthetic and idealized” style that flourished during the Hellenistic era; they should instead be viewed as indications that, at the beginning of a new reign, mint officials relied on an inconstant supply of proper models from Rome or from a regional hub. Skowronek, apparently believing that portrait engravers worked from an original sculpted in the round, fails to comment on the possibility that they may have relied upon coins exchanged at the border for their models. 55

See Burnett et al. 1992, 39. In fact, it is difficult to isolate more than a few minor variations (e.g., the squaring of Augustus’ jaw in RPC 5034 and 5035) among the extant specimens. 56

See Vogt 1924.


procured the concept and the portrait form itself from other coins minted under Octavian’s authority. The obverse legend appearing on AC1 is a close translation of the title appearing on the near-contemporary Octavianic issues that feature the legend CAESAR DIVI F(ilius).57 The presence of an obverse legend referring to the ruler’s epithets and titles was a distinct innovation in itself. A vast majority of Ptolemaic obverse types featured the ruler’s portrait without a legend; instead, the name of ruler usually appeared on the reverse. The Roman obverse legend, on the other hand, was a flexible entity that could be manipulated by mint officials as they saw fit. In general, it was most often used as a means of emphasizing the emperor’s power and authority.58

With the Early Imperial issues produced at Alexandria,

however, we are forced to acknowledge the frequent communication of other messages by means of the obverse legend, including characterizations of the emperor as nurturer, provider, or divine surrogate. The reverse type of the AC1 specimens, an image used on a large majority of late Ptolemaic coins, is accompanied by an approximate translation of the legend – a prime example of the “power and authority” theme – on the so-called IMP(erator) CAESAR series, a companion issue to the CAESAR DIVI F aurei and denarii.59 These two series were produced in massive quantities and likely served as payment to Octavian’s soldiers both before and after the Battle of Actium in September 31 BC.60 There can be no doubt that the men retained as soldiers in the first Alexandrian legion were carrying many examples, and the striking similarity between the portraits on the first Alexandrian aes series and those on the earlier Octavianic issues


RIC2 250-63, produced ca. 32-29 BC.


See Skowronek 1967, 16.


RIC2 264-73.


Gurval 1995, 63 n.111; Sutherland 1976, 143.


cannot be mere coincidence.61 Overall, as the First Augustan Series mixed what appear to be copied Roman portraiture and legends with older Ptolemaic images, the mint officials in Egypt were merely beginning to find their way towards a truly original and meaningful body of types. The Second Augustan Series at Alexandria, dated ca. 18-10 B.C.,62 includes (and most likely begins with) two types that appear to have been copied directly from select Asian cistophori: AC263 Obv.: Octavian, bare head, r., CEBACTOC Rev.: Temple of Mars Ultor, KAICAP AC364 Obv.: As AC2 Rev.: Triumphal arch surmounted by quadriga, KAICAP While the identification of the temple in AC2 (Fig. 7) is beyond question, the precise identification and meaning of the arch on the AC3 reverse (Fig. 8) remains elusive. Skowronek observed what he believed to be general similarities between this arch and the arch appearing on one of the IMP(erator) CAESAR specimens,65 as well as the arch on the cistophori, and would eventually surmise that


While it must be granted that the youthful visage employed throughout the IMP CAESAR and CAESAR DIVI F series was characteristic of most “early style� Augustan portrait types (Burnett et al. 1992, 39), the link between these series and the First Augustan Series at Alexandria is unique. The similarity in legends is eclipsed by the specific correspondence of portrait details; compare, for example, the best preserved among the First Series portraits with those struck on the early IMP CAESAR specimens (esp. RPC 5002 with RIC2 269a, displaying a truly remarkable likeness). 62

See above, n. 51. Burnett et al. (1992, 693) openly admit that there are two possible alternatives to their favored scheme; each of these involves a variable arrangement not only of the problematic Second Series, but also of the Third and Fourth Series. 63

RPC 5003. For the Asian original, cf. RPC 2220 and RIC2 507.


RPC 5004. For the Asian original, cf. RPC 2216, 2218; RIC2 508-10 (with RIC2 507, Pergamene, from ca. 19-18 BC). 65

RIC2 267.


the Alexandrian coins of Augustus representing the arch were struck in the years 29-18. If the Alexandrian coins refer to the first Roman series, they celebrate the victory of Augustus at Actium; if they refer to the second…then they commemorate the successful settling of the Parthian question by Augustus in the year 20 BC.66 There exist, however, several substantial problems surrounding Skowronek’s suggested range of dates and with his proposed options for the intended identification of the arch. First, there is scant evidence on which to base an assertion that the arch depicted on the IMP CAESAR examples was intended to represent the so-called Actian Arch.67 Moreover, the Second Series is dated to a period after 19 BC on firm evidence provided by hoards, epigraphy, and metrology.68 A reference to the success at Actium at least twelve years after the fact seems unlikely, especially given Augustus’ apparent aversion towards advertising that particular victory in later years. A comparison of the iconography used in the three types reveals that the Alexandrian dies are more likely copied from the Asian specimen: the arch on AC3, similar to the arch on the Asian type but in sharp contrast to the form appearing on the IMP CAESAR type, has a flared architrave; moreover, the view of the chariot horses on AC3 is a lateral one, as on the Asian type, while the horses are presented head-on in the IMP CAESAR type; finally, the charioteer is barely visible on the Asian examples and on AC3, whereas he prominently hovers over the scene on the earlier type. The question remains, though, as to whether the arch in AC3 was intended to be an advertisement of Augustus’ recovery of the standards from the Parthians. The types produced in Asia were struck with the legend S P R / SIGNIS / RECEPTIS to facilitate its interpretation among literate Latin-speakers, while the one66

Skowronek 1967, 62.


See Gurval 1995, 36-47.


Burnett et al. 1992, 691, 693.


word legend on AC3 merely reads KAICAP. In addition, it is unlikely that any save a few non-Romans in Alexandria and Egypt knew precisely what the triumphal arch form was intended to represent; we have no evidence for any triumphal arches in these territories during the Julio-Claudian period.69 Proceeding from the assumption that high-ranking officials at Rome or the imperial representatives in Egypt would not direct the Alexandrian mint to produce types that would be incomprehensible (as the Mars Ultor type also must have been) to virtually the entire population, it appears as though lower-ranking mint officials had perceived these types as “safe choices” based upon their wide circulation elsewhere and were simply permitted to strike them. It is certainly noteworthy that if permission was indeed sought (or required) at this level of the type-selection process, the reverse-types approved for AC2 and AC3 issues seem to have been chosen with the utmost concern for the opinions of the central authority and minimal regard for their Alexandrian and Egyptian “audiences.” The remainder of the Second Augustan Series features a range of types reflecting strong influence from the Imperial and provincial coinages, though these types do not appear to have been copied directly.

They include select Roman

religious symbols: a vase, a variety of sacrificial implements, and an altar.70 An emphasis on empire-wide prosperity during the Augustan Golden Age was expressed through two cornucopia types, the first of a long line of “fertility and abundance” types to be issued from the Roman mint at Alexandria.71 Another eagle type appeared in this series, differing from the similar type employed in the First 69

See Skowronek 1967, 61.


RPC 5005, 5007, and 5009, respectively. Of these, the one with the most direct link to an Augustan issue from Rome is the altar type (cf. RIC2 322, from ca. 19 BC); see Skowronek 1967, 56. 71

RPC 5006 and 5009 (reverse). Rome would soon issue a quadrans series with cornucopia obverses; cf. RIC2 422, 425.


Series only in that the wings appear completely folded.72 In addition, there was a single star type produced among these Second Series examples; while numerous other astrological types would be struck at Alexandria, the star and crescent (for further discussion of these [and the capricorn], see below) were among the few occupying a meaningful role in the realm of Egyptian astrological belief.73 It is only with this last type, then, that Alexandrian mint authorities may have issued a new image with recognizable significance for Egyptian subjects.

For the most part,

though, the pictorial language employed through the end of the Second Series could have been understood only by a select few Alexandrians and even fewer rural Egyptians. The third aes series, dated to ca. 3/2 BC, maintained the altar type (albeit with slight variations) and added a crescent type alongside a re-issue of the Second Series star type.74 This same series ushered in two significant new images: the crocodile and the capricorn. The crocodile had already appeared on Roman Imperial coins as early as 20 BC, though on these it was in chains and served as a symbol of the subjugation of Egypt.75 For the Alexandrian issues, inspiration must have come from another source, as the image served quite a different purpose. The crocodile was one of many sacred “river animals” revered throughout the Nile Valley, and its presence on these coins of Alexandria represents the mint’s first discernible appeal to 72

RPC 5008. The eagle was a popular Roman image from at least the second century BC (see Milne 1933, xxxiii) and appeared on several Augustan coins issued from the imperial mint at Lugdunum; cf. RIC2 227 (with wings spread, produced from ca. 15 BC until after 10 BC). 73

RPC 5011. The six-rayed star seen here should not be confused with the sidus Iulium that had appeared at Caesar’s funeral; the comet is always represented with a tail, however rudimentary it may be. The six-rayed star also appears (with the crescent) on issues from Rome dated ca. 19 BC; cf. RIC2 300. On appeals to Augustus’ own intense interest in astrology versus the paramount role played by astrology in Egypt, see Milne 1933, xxxiv. 74

See n. 73, above.


The crocodile is used in this way on several types, most notably on the coins issued at Nemausus ca. 20 BC - AD 14; cf. RIC2 154-61.


adherents of the “traditional” Egyptian religion.76 As for the capricorn, the same questions asked regarding the star and crescent types should be posed here, as well: were the types intended solely for the Egyptians – a people thoroughly immersed in astrology through traditions that were rooted in the Dynastic era – or were they minted out of deference to the interest in astrology shown by the emperor? This Third Series selection was the first of a handful of capricorn types issued by the mint from ca. 3 BC to AD 9, with each standing as possible copies from Imperial issues.77 Astrological types (i.e., the capricorn, star, and crescent) are included in the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Series, as well, and one must acknowledge the possibility that these were the first copied types that were selected with the potential value of their images foremost in mind. The use of the capricorn – instantly recognizable as a personal symbol of Augustus – at Rome or in the provinces could have served a secondary purpose: that is, as a gesture intended to please the emperor himself. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prove that the Alexandrian types were chosen primarily for this sort of “double duty,” especially as the capricorn would reappear under later emperors.78 With the Fourth Augustan Series, likely issued ca. 2/1 BC, Alexandrian mint officials were beginning to mix earlier, “stock” Alexandrian types – including the


See Milne 1933, xxxiv. Egyptian religious types will be treated at Chapter IX.C.


The Third Series specimen, featuring the capricorn with a star, is listed as RPC 5015; another “capricorn with star” type is part of the Fifth Series (RPC 5025). A parallel for these from the imperial mint may be RIC2 542, a relatively rare denarius issued after 27 BC from an uncertain mint. Another capricorn type (without star) was issued on two denominations of the Sixth Series (RPC 5034 and 5036); the imperial precedents for this type were almost certainly RIC2 521 and 522. 78

For example, under Claudius (RPC 5159, 5180); but see Burnett et al. 1992 (43, 46) on motivation(s) for the reuse of Augustan symbols and the haphazard nature of the recycling of Augustan types. The potential for coin images as a medium for honoring the emperor himself remains a hotly debated issue, especially in regard to its application to a provincial coinage; see Chapter IX.A.


eagle, star, and crescent – with new Egyptian types (e.g., the ibis and the headdress of Isis).79 Only one “Imperial” type was issued: AC480 Obv.: Augustus, laureate head, r., SEBASTOS Rev.: Bare head of Gaius Caesar, r., GAIOS KAISAR Types emphasizing succession and lineage within the extended Imperial family were produced at Alexandria throughout the Julio-Claudian era. None, however, was quite so stark as this type-pair (Fig. 9) from the Fourth Augustan Series. Gaius had been depicted on the Imperial coinage long before 2 BC, but always with his brother Lucius (and sometimes in tandem with Julia); there are no parallels at Rome or at any of the functioning Imperial mints for a full portrait of Gaius.81 As Augustus’ oldest male descendent, Gaius could be expected to appear as a “favorite” on coin types, and in fact his image is used (if we include all other provincial issues) from ca. 13 BC to his death in AD 4.82 If there was an active application of expressed policy behind the absence of a full portrait of Gaius on Imperial types, then it most likely relates to Augustan sensitivity regarding the Republican aversion to trappings of kingship. At Rome the citizens had not been confronted with the issue of succession since the preRepublican monarchies, while in the Greek East (and especially in Egypt) arranging lines of succession had been a commonplace practice for centuries. Nevertheless,


Eagle: RPC 5020. Star, crescent: RPC 5021, 5024. Ibis: RPC 5022. Isis headdress: RPC 5023.


RPC 5019.


With Lucius: RIC2 205-12. With Lucius and Julia: RIC2 404, 405. On the transformation of imperial family reverse types into obverse types on the provincial coins and on other provincial Gaius types, see Burnett et al. 1992, 46, 50 (esp. n. 4). 82

See Burnett et al. 1992, 693. The authors confuse the date of Gaius’ death with that of his brother; “AD 2” should read “AD 4.” The error has no bearing on their suggested date for this type (ca. 10-5 BC). This date, however, is apparently contradicted by their preferred placement of the Fourth Series (i.e., between the Third Series of 3/2 BC and the Fifth Series of AD 1-5). In addition, Gaius’ coming of age occurred in 5 BC, and he appears in this type to be approximately 15-20 years old.


designated successors were never featured on the coinage issued by those previous ruling authorities in the Greek East; it is possible, then, that this unique focus on Gaius – both here and at other eastern mints – was due wholly or in part to his appointment in 1 BC as general for the preparation of his eastern expedition. The Fifth Augustan Series at Alexandria, dated ca. AD 1-5, is dominated by types that emphasize fertility and abundance. Only one type-pair in the series was issued in two denominations (Fig. 10): AC583 Obv.: Augustus, laureate head, r., PATHR PATRIDOS Rev.: Six ears of grain bound together, SEBASTOS The reverse type is almost certainly a direct copy of the grain-ears type issued from ca. 27-20 BC at Pergamon and Ephesus.84 Although it may seem unlikely that a type could be copied more than two decades after its last year of production, these Asian specimens were produced in massive quantities and were probably represented among the coins exchanged at the Egyptian border even after AD 5. In Asia, the grain-ears type was a reminder of the stable abundance ensured by Rome and its empire. In Egypt, where annual fertility served an even more critical role than elsewhere as the difference between poverty and prosperity, the type may have had a greater impact. At the Alexandrian mint, images advertising Rome as “nourisher” and “provider of plentiful harvests” would become increasingly common in later reigns.85 The irony in Rome’s depiction as conductor of agricultural abundance at the


RPC 5026, 5028.


Ephesus, ca. 25-20 BC: RIC2 478, 481. Pergamum, ca 27-26 BC: RIC2 490, 491. The legend on the reverses (AVGV/STVS) is translated directly. On other aspects of the production of these Asian types, see Sutherland 1976, 54. 85

On the catalyst for this course of advertisement during the first and second centuries in Egypt, see Skowronek 1967, 75.


same time as her inhabitants were coming to rely on grain extracted from Egypt for four months out of the year was no doubt lost on most rural subjects. The Sixth Augustan Series was the first in which every issue was struck with marks intended to denote date of issue; we are therefore able to pinpoint this final aes group to AD 8-13.86 This Sixth Series featured a much more varied range of types than the other Augustan issues: sacred animals, signs of fertility and abundance, and (for the first time) representations of Greek and Greco-Egyptian deities, including Nike, Athena, Euthenia and Nilus.87 Nevertheless, the series was formally initiated in Year 38 (AD 8/9) with two “copied” types: the capricorn (discussed above) and the butting bull.88

The butting bull type had appeared on coins produced at

Lugdunum ca. 15-10 BC and was widely circulated on both aurei and denarii.89 Some scholars have asserted that the bull was a purely Roman type that would have had little significance for Egypt.90 Like the capricorn (the only type to be issued with the butting bull in the same denomination), however, the butting bull type may have been borrowed for its potential association with the beliefs and interests of the Egyptian populace.

In this particular case, it could have been interpreted as a

depiction of the sacred Apis bull. It must be granted that there is no descriptive legend to aid in this identification, but the Alexandrian mint had never included such 86

Dates on the Alexandrian coins are rendered in the form of references to the regnal year, beginning on August 29 and ending on August 28. These years are introduced by an Lshaped symbol (likely descended from the demotic symbol for “year”) and expressed in letters of the Greek alphabet. A equals one, B equals two, G equals three, and so on. I is equal to ten, K to twenty, and L to thirty; year 24, for example, would be rendered by the grouping “L KD.” 87

Fertility/abundance: RPC 5043 and 5047 (modius with torches). Nike: RPC 5051, 5057, 5062, 5067, 5071, and 5073. Athena: RPC 5055, 5065, and 5072. Euthenia: RPC 5039, 5044, 5049, 5053, 5060, and 5063. Nilus: RPC 5041 and 5052. 88

Capricorn: RPC 5034 and 5036. Bull: RPC 5035.


RIC2 166-69, 176-78, and 186-89.


See, for example, Milne 1933, xxxiv.


legends on its zoological types, nor would it ever in the decades to come. Given the increasing relevance of the images circulated from the first issues of the Third Series until the end of the reign, mint officials should perhaps be granted the benefit of the doubt in matters of type selection – if only during these years before the first production of Tiberian issues.91 Overall, after the strikingly “Ptolemaic” characteristics of the First Augustan Series, the succeeding groups exhibit an essentially progressive development from “Roman Imperial” to both “Egyptian” and “Greco-Egyptian.” Artificial as they may be, these divisions of the Augustan issues do help to delineate the drastic revisions in type-content that accompanied each of the (often chronologically distinct) waves of creativity at the mint, whether they took the form of additions to (e.g., the proliferation of symbols of agricultural abundance in the Fifth Series) or subtraction from (e.g., the disappearance of the altar type after the Third Series) the iconographic repertoire. Although appeals to religious sentiments are made on several types produced throughout the reign, the series can generally be grouped into distinct thematic phases: that is to say, the Roman religious objects and structures of the Second and Third Series appear, eventually, to give way to the Egyptian sacred animals and Greco-Egyptian deities of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Series. While it is unfortunate that these phenomena cannot be attributed with certainty to the conscious decisions and close guidance of high-ranking officials, we can nevertheless take solace in the fact that the very existence of these trends serves as a reflection of mindful responses to an increasing awareness of potential Alexandrian and Egyptian perceptions.


Further justification is provided by the fact that out of only a handful of Augustan types to be deemed worthy of reuse under Claudius, both the capricorn and the bull were well represented (RPC 5120, 5122, 5126, 5138, 5142, 5149, and 5167).


Chapter IV: Images Created during the Reign of Tiberius

A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province The lengthy and stable reign of Tiberius allowed for a continued momentum, of a sort, in the inauguration of relief images featuring the Roman emperor as pharaoh. When Tiberius appears on these temple reliefs, he is recognizable on the basis of the cartouche containing his birth name, which when transliterated from the hieroglyphic Egyptian reads as TBRYS (Tiberios). Unlike that of most Roman emperors, his throne name is variable; usually, however, it is inscribed as a copy of the names initially used for Augustus: KAYSR AUTUKRTR (Kaisar Autokrator) or KAYSRS (Kaisaros). The birth name of Tiberius appears in the cartouches of nearly 200 self-contained relief scenes within the Egyptian province. This number is not far off the total of those inscribed with names of Augustus, and it would not be surpassed for the remainder of the Roman era. This vast corpus of reliefs, however, does not mirror the widespread and relatively even distribution of the Augustan scenes; Tiberius appears on temples at five sites within the province, compared to nine sites possessing Augustan temple reliefs, and 85% of the reliefs in the name of Tiberius are to be found on Philae. Comparisons with the reliefs inscribed with the cartouche of his predecessor can be made at three additional sites, but an analysis of the Egyptian conception of Tiberius as pharaoh must necessarily center on that sacred island at the southern border of the province. Virtually all of the temple scenes containing the cartouche of Tiberius were created at sites that had already been endowed with Augustan scenes.

The lone

exception is the Temple of Repyt (Triphis) at modern-day Wannina (ancient Athribis; also known as Tripheion, after the goddess), one of the northernmost sites endowed


with Julio-Claudian relief scenes. The remains of the religious structures at Wannina are not extensive, but it appears as though the naos of the main Triphis temple was constructed under Ptolemy XII or under Ptolemy Caesarion, whose cartouche is present on several reliefs within the two best-preserved interior chambers.1 Directly to the south of the Triphis temple was a smaller Ptolemaic shrine built during the reign of Ptolemy IX. Very little of this earlier temple has survived, and no identifiable Romanera images have been found among its fragmentary remains. The only reference to Roman rulers at the site, in fact, is made in a series of reliefs inscribed on the surviving blocks of the enclosure wall for the Triphis temple precinct. Here, on the interior face, Tiberius is represented as offering incense to Osiris alongside Isis and making a libation to Osiris paired with Nephthys.2 The absence of the temple’s primary goddess in these scenes is almost certainly due to chance preservation; on the better preserved exterior face of the same wall, Claudius is seen before Repty/Triphis in several reliefs.3 Conversely, the pharaoh’s interaction with the primary goddess of Dendera seems to be the main thrust behind the Hathor temple reliefs featuring Tiberius. Already on the façade of the large main temple, Tiberius is seen offering before Hathor in three consecutive scenes, each pairing the goddess with one of the many forms of Horus: Horus of Edfu (her consort, according to the Dendera theology), Harsomtus (her son), and the full-grown victorious Horus, who was thought to be manifest in earthly form through the person of the pharaoh himself.4


See Petrie 1908; cf. Porter and Moss 1962, 31-3.


Catalogue Nos. 235-36.


See below, Chapter VI.A.


Catalogue Nos. 237-39.


The association with these two

divinities continues as one proceeds into the inner hypostyle hall, where Tiberius appears on the columns and is depicted as offering alongside Harsomtus to Hathor and offering to Hathor paired with Horus.5 Tiberius is also seen before the same basic grouping of Hathor with forms of Horus (in these instances with Ihy, Isis, and Osiris among them) on the eastern gate that controlled access to the temple precinct.6 Thus, while the priests at Dendera did not invest as much time, effort, and available space in creating sacred reliefs featuring this emperor-pharaoh as they had under his predecessor, they seem to have taken measures to convey – or perhaps to create, through ritual means – some assurance that the successor to Augustus would continue his direct intercession before their divine patroness. Tiberius is featured on only one series of reliefs at both Shenhur and Kom Ombo. Whereas Augustus had appeared within the sanctuary and the entrance to the sanctuary of the Temple of Isis at Shenhur, the Tiberian relief scenes were confined to a register on the eastern wall (now damaged) of the exterior. Here the emperor-pharaoh appears before several gods, only some of whom are identifiable, including Isis herself.7 Like Augustus, whose name only appeared at Kom Ombo outside of the temple proper, Tiberius is featured in reliefs on the columns of the outer court that precedes the outer hypostyle hall but not within the temple itself. 8 As the Kom Ombo temple is a uniquely designed “double-temple” devoted to the worship of Sobek and Haroeris, one half of these columns features Tiberius offering to the former, while the other half depicts


Catalogue Nos. 241-42.


Catalogue Nos. 243-46.


Catalogue Nos. 249 and 253.


Catalogue Nos. 254-61.


Tiberius before the latter. Representations of Roman emperors would not find their way into the inner rooms and corridors of the temple itself until the reigns of Nero (discussed below, Chapter VII.A) and a handful of other post-Julio-Claudian emperors, thereby working against the general – but by no means hard and fast – rule of temple decoration proceeding from interior to exterior. Tiberius appears in over 150 relief scenes on the island of Philae, very nearly surpassing the total bearing the cartouche of Augustus. Attempts to explain why this was the case, especially when comparatively few reliefs featuring Tiberius existed elsewhere in the province, can only be the products of pure guesswork. This much, however, is clear: the sheer availability of space provided by pre-existing or recent constructions cannot, in itself, account for this imbalance.

The several still-blank

cartouches and the presence of later rulers on the same surfaces or in the same rooms decorated under Augustus and Tiberius are sufficient to demonstrate that the priests did not abhor the vacuum of open space on temple walls. Ultimately, our tentative attempts to elucidate this phenomenon must begin with an investigation of the relationship between the Tiberian and Augustan reliefs. Like Augustus before him (and Claudius and Nero after him), Tiberius is represented in pharaonic style on the walls of the west colonnade bordering the path toward the Isis temple’s first pylon. While Augustus appeared in nine relief scenes, and Claudius and Nero would appear in only a handful between them, Tiberius is featured in twenty-four relief scenes on this lengthy architectural frame.9 A vast majority of these represent the ruler in offering scenes before Isis, Osiris, Horus, and/or Hathor in some combination with one another or with other deities. The two “Divine Family”


Catalogue Nos. 262-85.


traditions are never made to conflict in these scenes (e.g., Harsiesis [Horus as son of Isis] and Harsomtus/Harpokrates, son of Hathor, never appear within the same panel). One intriguing arrangement among the Tiberian reliefs positions Horus of Edfu with Hathor (his consort), Harpokrates as “Son of Hathor,” and the adult Horus, who is also referenced as “Son of Hathor.”10 The influence of Dendera is evident, and the important role played by Hathor is not deemphasized, even in the shadow of the large Isis temple. Thus, the massive west colonnade reflected the religious traditions of the entire island (Arsenuphis, whose temple was nearby, is also carved on several of these reliefs), and not just those associated with the Isis temple at the end of the processional way. Beyond the initial pylon of the Temple of Isis, the court bounded by the birth house on the west is enclosed on the east by a colonnade marking the entrance to several chambers. The northernmost and largest of the these chambers has been known for centuries as the “Room of Tiberius,” or “Passage of Tiberius,” due to the high concentration of relief scenes featuring that emperor’s cartouche. On its eastern side, this passageway opens into a monumental gate, thereby allowing access from the outside into the temple’s inner court. The earliest scenes here are those featuring the cartouche of Ptolemy VIII, who is credited in the texts with the actual construction of this section of the Isis temple complex.11 These fall well in line with the content of the Tiberian reliefs, in which the emperor-pharaoh presents a wide variety of offerings to an even wider range of deities. Re-Harakhty, Horus in sun god form, makes a relatively rare appearance (among Roman-era reliefs, at least) alongside Shu and Tefnut, to whom Tiberius offers the uzat (or udjat), a representation of the Eye of Horus as a symbol of


Catalogue No. 278.


On the construction and development of this segment, see Hölbl 2004, 56-7, 62.


protection and royal power.12 This same trio of deities is seen on the birth house on the opposite side of the court, where Augustus is represented offering incense to them.13 The Tiberian birth house reliefs, like those inscribed with the name of Augustus, focus mainly on the figures of Isis and Hathor in their capacity as mothers of the “Divine Child” destined to be king (in all of his forms).14 In the forecourt, Tiberius is depicted as offering a mirror (representing eternity, or self-renewal) to Satis and Anukis.15 The former is a fertility goddess and wife of Khnum, while the latter is associated with the origin of the waters of the Nile. As both are associated with nearby Elephantine, this relief incorporates regional theology into the overall function of the birth house: namely, to ensure the perpetual cycle of rebirth and growth in the divine and royal realms, as well as throughout the land of Egypt. The themes of fertility, longevity, and renewal are maintained on the western exterior of the birth house, which is largely filled with Tiberian reliefs. Two of the reliefs, however, employ unusual iconography to connect these themes to the person of the emperor-pharaoh himself: TR116 Tiberius, facing left, presents crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt to Harpokrates, riding in carrying-chair on lion’s back, as enthroned Isis extends ankh from left TR217 Tiberius, facing left, offers bouquets to enthroned Isis nursing Horus, Sefkhet writing on heb-sed wand/staff, and Ma’at 12

Catalogue No. 298. Shu is misidentified as Ma’at at Porter and Moss 1970, 222 (152). The relief figures are partially damaged, but the text extols Shu as “Son of Re, Master of Biga, he who comes from Nubia, etc.,” and so the identification is secure; cf. Hölbl 2004, 62. 13

Catalogue No. 119.


All Tiberian reliefs on the Philae birth house: Catalogue No. 310-54. For full translations of the associated texts for Catalogue Nos. 328 and 340, see Zaki 2009, 144-7 (nos. 58 and 59). 15

Catalogue No. 315.


Catalogue No. 336.


Catalogue No. 343.


The composition of TR1 (Figs. 11 and 12) is unique among Roman-era reliefs, although the essential idea conveyed by the iconography and texts was one that had been present on reliefs of Augustus and those of other previous rulers. Tiberius appears in this relief wearing the rare Atef crown (with ostrich feathers on each side and ram’s horns on the base), which in the pharaonic tradition was only donned for special occasions and festivals. The offering of the crowns of the Two Lands to Harpokrates, who is already wearing the double-crown himself, symbolizes the cycle of divinely ordained rulership. The Divine Child, here labeled as “Harpokrates, very great first[-born] of Osiris,” comes into existence so that he might grow to be the victorious Horus, made incarnate by the living king; he is therefore destined to rule. The living “pharaoh” Tiberius is shown here as an active participant in the accession ceremony for the child-king, a role that is typical only during this last phase of Egyptian religion.18 The ankh (“life”) symbol extended by Isis is a reminder that, by long-established tradition, the survival and continuous renewal of the land of Egypt depended upon this cycle. The arrangement of TR2 (Fig. 13) provides another glimpse into the religious ties between the vitality of the ruler and the vitality of the land itself. The floral bouquets brought by Tiberius, now wearing a modified double-crown in which the “white crown” of Upper Egypt has been transformed into the Atef crown, are themselves symbols of Egypt’s fertility. As Isis (here styled as “the Great, the Divine Mother, Mistress of Philae”) suckles Horus, Sefkhet writes on palm leaves – viewed since the Middle Kingdom as symbols of longevity – growing along a large wand or staff topped with the symbol of the heb-sed jubilee festival. This festival celebrated and renewed a rule of 30 years or more; thus, a long, productive reign for the child-king is ordained by his mother’s divine colleague. 18

See Hölbl 2004, 66. The birth house as an entity in its own right only came into being at the end of the Late Period.


Like his predecessor, Tiberius is represented on the exterior walls of the Isis temple, although unlike Augustus he appears in reliefs both on and beyond the second pylon, to the north of the temple court. The pylon reliefs, as well as those on the doorway leading into the hypostyle hall, are filled primarily with depictions of the emperor-pharaoh offering before the four main figures associated with the site: Isis, Osiris, Hathor, and Horus.19 The exterior reliefs, however, contain the images of a broader range of deities and continue the same incorporation of various regional theologies (e.g., offering scenes with Tiberius before the members of the Theban Triad) observed on the architecture of the outer court. Moreover, two of the Tiberian reliefs on the exterior walls contain representations that stand out among all other early Roman examples: namely, images that emphasize the military prowess of the ruler by depicting him as a powerful king who smites his enemies. One is carved on the western exterior wall (Fig. 14), while the other is carved on the eastern side of the temple: TR320 Tiberius, facing left and followed by ka symbol, smites foes gathered in hand before small Ha, Isis, Horus, and Hathor TR421 Tiberius, facing right, and followed by ka (now damaged), smites foes gathered in hand before small Sopet-Horus, Isis, Hathor, and Harpokrates The composition of each relief is nearly identical, but given that the basic iconographic precedent had been set at least as early as the Early Dynastic era and had been followed in pharaonic-style reliefs for almost three millennia before the Roman conquest, this should not be viewed as surprising. Instead, the astonishing element of these reliefs is


Catalogue No. 355-64.


Catalogue No. 375.


Catalogue No. 384.


the choice of Tiberius as the named emperor-pharaoh. While the paucity of Roman-era “smiting” scenes may be due to certain historical circumstances,22 in considering the choice of Tiberius over emperors such as Augustus (with several military conquests to his name) we must leave historicity behind entirely.

As we have seen, a similar

approach must be adopted for all temple reliefs, since the emperor-pharaoh did not participate in person in any of the festivals or temple rites that mirrored his expected interaction with the gods. Reliefs were never placed on temple walls as detailed records of historical events; rather, they served to mark sacred space, to define the activities that took place within them, and to make their visual and textual representations “real” in a cultic sense.23 The hieroglyphic texts in TR3 and TR4 do not mention the reasons why the priests of Philae felt it necessary to “induce” Tiberius into this particular pharaonic role, but we are able to observe that for the first century of Roman rule neither they nor any other priests were inclined to associate this iconography with another emperor. The remains of the Temple of Arsenuphis are south of the first east colonnade, and in coordination with the longer west colonnade these structures frame the processional way leading to the first pylon of the Isis temple. The remains of the Arsenuphis temple are rather fragmentary; in fact, the basic ground-plan, consisting of four rooms of approximately equal size, is barely discernable among the blocks that rest in situ today. The earliest cartouches on these blocks feature the name of Ptolemy IV, during whose reign the temple seems to have been constructed.24 The only elements of


The imbalance between the number of Roman scenes of this type and those of previous eras is discussed below, Chapter IX.E. 23

See Finnestad 1997, 198.


Porter and Moss 1970, 210-11; Hölbl 2004, 42, 47. Blocks from either the southern or eastern enclosure wall with the name of the Meroitic ruler Arqamani (Ergamenes II) indicate that the project might have been a joint undertaking.


the original temple complex with extensive reliefs intact are the surviving surfaces of the enclosure wall, which consist of the inner face on the northern and eastern sides. All of these relief scenes are filled with images of Tiberius as pharaoh.25 The theology of the island is well represented in several images featuring Isis or some combination of Isis, Osiris, Hathor, and one of the forms of Horus. As on the birth house within the Isis temple complex, the gods of the nearby island of Elephantine are also represented, as Khnum, “Sothis” (which must have been a variant form of “Satis,” the more common name of Khnum’s consort), and Anukis are grouped into a trio receiving the adoration of the emperor-pharaoh.26 As one would expect, the primary focus of the temple’s ritual, Arsenuphis, also appears in several of the surviving reliefs.27 This god had his origins in the Nubian region of Meroe, around the river’s Fifth and Sixth Cataracts, and Philae is as far north as he appears on reliefs of any era. He is anthropomorphic in appearance, wears a feather-crown, and beyond his personal name (Ari-hes-nefer, in Egyptian) possesses no other distinguishing features or attributes. He is described as a “companion of Isis” in the texts on the Philae reliefs, which may explain the presence of his temple there, but he does not appear with her in the surviving reliefs; instead, he is paired most often with Thoth and Tefnut. Arsenuphis is also absent from the most intriguing register of surviving reliefs carved within the precinct of his own temple: specifically, the unified series of images depicting the coronation and divinization of Tiberius.28 This mirrors the Augustan 25

Catalogue Nos. 390-419.


Catalogue No. 393; cf. No. 315.


Catalogue Nos. 396, 418, and 419.


Catalogue Nos. 400-7.


series representing the same themes only one hundred meters to the north on the eastern exterior of the Isis temple.29 The central group of reliefs in the Tiberian series appears as follows: TR530 Tiberius, facing right, is purified by Thoth and Horus; is crowned by Buto and Nekhbet; is conducted by Atum and Monthu-Re to unidentifiable god Given that both follow Ptolemaic and Dynastic norms, it is hardly surprising that the basic sequence of images (Fig. 15) is identical to the Augustan series on the Isis temple. The arrangement of gods, which can have a certain degree of variability, is also similar: ritual purification is performed by Thoth and Horus; the pharaoh is crowned by Buto (Wadjet) and Nekhbet; a form of Monthu serves as one of two gods leading the ruler toward the master or mistress of the temple. In this case, the latter figure is not readily identifiable due to a destroyed inscription column above him and a partially damaged crown that is clearly not the usual feather-crown of Arsenuphis (although this god would be the expected choice here, if standard clerical practice were followed). The only other coronation scene from the first century of Roman rule in Egypt was created in the context of the “building registers� on the Hathor temple at Dendera, where Augustus is crowned by the expected pair of Buto and Nekhbet before he measures ground, lays blocks, and offers a finished temple to Hathor and her son.31 These Philae series, however, contain the only Julio-Claudian reliefs that detail the aftermath of the pharaoh’s coronation and his formal recognition as divine ruler and intercessor on behalf of the land of Egypt. 29

Catalogue Nos. 181-89.


Catalogue Nos. 401-3.


Catalogue No. 23.


Overall, as one compares the Tiberian reliefs to the Augustan examples, it becomes apparent that the priests at the major religious centers of Philae and Dendera were concerned with representing Tiberius as a worthy successor to Augustus in his capacity as “pharaoh� in the traditional religious sense, despite his lifetime absence from Egypt. The fact that the name of Tiberius is not found at other important religious centers (e.g., Thebes/Karnak) and at Augustan temples that would be decorated with images of later rulers (e.g., El-Qal’a) demonstrates that there was regional variation in the basic desire (or perceived need) to give visual expression to this idea.


Tiberius does appear on temples or at sacred sites with reliefs featuring his predecessor, the iconography of his own representations often runs parallel with that of the Augustan images. Nevertheless, there are several examples of Tiberian reliefs that present either entirely novel iconography (e.g., the offering of crowns to a lion-borne Harpokrates) or iconography with Ptolemaic, but not Augustan, precedent (e.g., the smiting scenes on the Isis temple of Philae). As outlined in the following chapters, however, the creativity and diversity of the Tiberian examples would not be maintained under later Julio-Claudian emperors, during whose reigns large outbursts in the quantity of reliefs produced under a given ruler or at a given site ceased to occur.


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types The Alexandrian mint was inactive from 13/14 to 17/18 AD, or from the final year of Augustus’ reign until Year 4 of the reign of Tiberius. This long delay in mint activity after the accession of a new emperor stands in sharp contrast to the immediate production of coins after the Octavianic conquest. It should not, however, be viewed as a phenomenon that must be attributed to extraordinary circumstances; similar delays would occur as early as the reign of Nero,32 and in many subsequent reigns production of new issues was started only in the second or third year of a new reign. In addition, Octavian’s presence in Egypt in 30 BC likely contributed to the rapid issuing of coins with a “Roman” obverse from Alexandria; when Augustus died in AD 14 Tiberius was at Nola and had no plans to visit Egypt. As for the workings of the Alexandrian mint after the succession, there is little reason to look beyond monetary need as the primary motivation for the enforcement of this extended period of inactivity. Five of the final six years of Augustus’ reign had witnessed the introduction of abundant quantities of larger bronzes (i.e., aes coins from the high end of the four denominations produced to that point) into circulation. That the financial officials in Egypt were noticing the effects of a glut on this end of the currency is perhaps reflected by the fact that from Year 4 until Year 6 (19/20) aes coinage was produced only in the smallest denominations. Type selection was another realm in which mint officials appear to have made an active decision to maintain a staunch conservatism. A large majority of types appearing during this three-year period (the only years during which aes coins were issued under Tiberius) were either modified or directly copied from the preceding reign. Obverse types featuring the emperor were nearly identical to the youthful, laureate portraits of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Augustan Series, and many of the Tiberian bronzes would have been indistinguishable from some of the later Augustan specimens if not for the


See Burnett et al. 1992, 704.


explicit dates engraved on the Tiberian dies. The same can be said of the small Tiberian bronzes featuring an obverse type with the head of Livia paired with a variety of reverse types, none of which was engraved with a legend to denote the reigning emperor.33 The shift in Livia’s role from empress to imperial mother likewise passes without mention on their legends, although this is also the case for nearly all of the Tiberian imperial and provincial issues which featured Livia. Ultimately, only one completely unprecedented reverse type was issued as part of the aes series minted under Tiberius: TC134 [Obv.: Laureate head of Tiberius, r.] Rev.: Hippopotamus, r., TIBERIOU Like the crocodile and ibis, the hippopotamus was revered as a sacred animal of the Nile and zoomorphic incarnation of Tawaret. While many of the late Augustan aes types to be reused on the Tiberian issues would later be used only rarely or quickly fall out of use altogether, the hippopotamus type (Fig. 16) was immediately incorporated into the wide array of sacred animal images regularly issued from the Alexandrian mint.35 The hippopotamus would reappear as a reverse type as early as Year 2 of the reign of Claudius (Fig. 17), and die engravers continued to produce new examples until the reign of Antoninus Pius.36 This type, then, while proving to be the lone innovation within the Alexandrian bronze currency during this three-year period, was also one of the small handful of images produced under Tiberius to survive the Julio-Claudian era.


RPC 5079, 5080, and 5086.


Cf. RPC 5075, 5082, and 5087.


This group of images would come to represent a considerable portion of the broad “GrecoEgyptian” type-category; see Skowronek 1967, 7. 36

Claudian Year 2: RPC 5119, 5124, and 5128. The type was one of the few within its class to be elevated to the billon tetradrachms in subsequent reigns (first under Nero, and later under Hadrian and Severus Alexander); see Milne 1933, xxxiv.


Year 7 (20/21), however, witnessed the introduction of a novel and enduring feature into the body of Alexandrian coinage, as the stagnation that characterized these first years of production under Tiberius was broken by the sudden appearance of the first “silver” tetradrachms produced at an Egyptian mint in over a half-century: TC237 Obv.: Laureate head of Tiberius, r., with legend TIBERIOS KAISAR SEBASTOS Rev.: Radiate head of Augustus, r., with legend QEOS SEBASTOS The mint at Rome had long since produced types honoring Divus Augustus with an image of Tiberius on the opposite side, though no issue from the imperial mint had contained a type-pair identical to this Alexandrian specimen.38 It is not surprising to observe that these types were employed for the prominent new tetradrachm series (Fig. 18), nor to note that these tetradrachms were produced to the exclusion of any new aes coinage from Year 7 until the end of the reign.

The billon coinage (as these

tetradrachms must be classified due to their low silver content) was by this time almost certainly required to fulfill a strong need in Egypt and especially in Alexandria, where merchants and traders had been forced to make do with the older Ptolemaic tetradrachms – still circulating in rather large quantities – for several decades.39 37

RPC 5089-5105. The only variations of these types after Year 7 are the alternating leftright/right-left portraits of Augustus and Tiberius and the presence of a small lituus on the reverse of some Year 21 examples (RPC 5100 and RPC 5101). 38

RIC2 70, issued ca. 15-16, features a radiate Augustus on the obverse and a bare-headed Tiberius on the reverse. Toward the end of the reign, at ca. 36-37, Rome would issue coins with an obverse featuring a laureate Tiberius and either a (rather unexpectedly) bare-headed or laureate Augustus (RIC2 22 and 23, respectively). The closest parallels for the Alexandrian type seem to have been produced at an uncertain mint (RIC2 91 and 92); these contained an obverse with a bare-headed Tiberius and the legend TI CAESAR AVGVSTVS and a reverse with a radiate Augustus announced as DIVVS AVGVSTVS PATER. The similarity in legends is striking, although it should also be noted that this Augustus reverse contains a small star and thunderbolt, both of which are absent on the Alexandrian type. 39

The Tiberian tetradrachms, originally issued in large quantities but scarcely employed in later circulation (Milne 1910, 334-36; even Ptolemaic tetradrachms appear more frequently in late hoards than the Tiberian specimens), are characterized by extreme variations in weight and purity. Their average total silver content, however, is relatively stable (coins from Year 14 are the exception, with a significant increase in average silver content) and seems to have been


On the other hand, it is remarkable that the Tiberius and Divus Augustus types were the only images featured on the tetradrachms for the duration of the reign. Keeping in mind the free variation of types observable from the Second Series of Augustus to Year 6 under Tiberius, it might seem at first glance that during the period from 20/21 to 36/37 the Alexandrian mint was working either from an early directive from Rome (i.e., one that was simply never rescinded) or with constant insistence from the central authority that the billon types remain unchanged. On the other hand, this phenomenon could have stemmed from yet another instance of the mint officials’ choosing to pinpoint “safe choices” based upon the imperial issues exchanged at the Egyptian border. The static type-content of the first Alexandrian silver issues was directly mirrored by the unimaginative types placed on contemporary precious metal issues at Lugdunum. The range of imperial-mint precious metal types produced under Tiberius, “who was personally as strongly conservative and undemonstrative as were the...types of Lugdunum” and who “altogether declined or omitted to use them as primary information-pieces,” was likewise united by a single theme: the condoned transfer of ruling authority from the deified Augustus to his successor.40 If any distinction is to be drawn between the examples minted in the west and these TC2 specimens, it is the consistent emphasis on the newly acquired divine status of Tiberius’ predecessor expressed on the Alexandrian issues. The radiate crown was featured on some posthumous imperial-mint types honoring Augustus,41 but certainly not on all types, as it was at Alexandria. There was a strong Ptolemaic precedent for the employment of the radiate crown in precisely this sort of “semi-divine predecessor”

established with equivalency to the Roman denarius in mind. Dies (especially reverses) were executed quite roughly and flans were often too small, especially during the first years of production (i.e., Year 7 and Year 14). These examples of carelessness heighten the impression that the early tetradrachms were issued in relative haste. 40

Sutherland and Carson 1984, 91.


See above, n. 38.


type, since a radiate Ptolemy III had been featured on the gold octodrachms of his successor, Ptolemy IV.42 Another distinction between the issues from the imperial mint and the Alexandrian types was necessitated by the fact that the Latin legend on the former group (DIVVS) could not be directly translated into corresponding Greek legends; it was replaced on the Alexandrian types by the less ambiguous title QEOS. It would be difficult to demonstrate that a large number of individuals within the Egyptian population (especially those classified officially as Aigyptioi) were literate in Greek or that the same class was able to understand the iconography being employed in this type.43 On the other hand, mint officials at Alexandria did not appear overly concerned with the perceptions of the native Egyptians; ultimately, they may have been relying rather heavily on the indigenous religious traditions by which the ruler of Egypt had been considered to have a semi-divine nature even while alive.44 For the Hellenic and Roman segments of the population, however, the radiate crown was intended to call to mind direct associations with Sol/Helios.45 Thus, during the final sixteen years of Tiberius’ reign, the types issued from the Alexandrian mint – whether by local design or by imperial mandate – were created exclusively for reception by the Hellenized segments of the population.


Svoronos 1117. An ideally preserved specimen can be found in the collection of the American Numismatic Society (1980.109.97). 43

See above, Introduction.


See above, Chapter I.G; also below, Chapter IX.B.


On the use of solar imagery in the Greek East throughout the Hellenistic period and under Roman rule, see Bergmann 1998. Vogt (1924, 21-2) views this particular attribute as a means of honoring Augustus as the founder of a dynasty. Augustus, however, would not be the last Julio-Claudian emperor to appear radiate in posthumous types. In addition, the radiate crown as a specific attribute of Sol had been featured on Roman issues even during Augustus’ lifetime; see Skowronek 1967, 18 n. 41, 19.


Chapter V: Images Created during the Reign of Gaius (Caligula)

A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province The contrast between the number of reliefs decorated in the name of Tiberius and the number of Caligulan examples is rather striking, at first glance. Within the Egyptian province, the latter group consists of only four temple reliefs at Dendera, one relief at El-Qal’a, and two damaged series of reliefs on the southern gates at Koptos featuring his distinctive birth name, which reads as KAYSR GRMNYKS (Kaisar Germanikos). The disparity is mitigated only slightly when one eliminates the reliefs on Philae, as fewer than twenty reliefs on temple walls can be attributed to Tiberius beyond the dozens created in his name on that island. Nevertheless, even accounting for the relatively short-lived reign of Gaius, questions regarding the minute quantity of his reliefs persist. The three most plausible of the possible answers to these questions are: first, that priests at these sites and several others would have eventually created more reliefs in the name of Gaius given additional time and appropriate space on temple walls; second, that several reliefs with the cartouche of Gaius had been damaged or erased by the end of the Julio-Claudian era in the wake of a spontaneous and sporadic application of an unofficial condemnation of name and image; and third, that the priests of several temples and regional religious centers, for one reason or another, did not conceive of Gaius as a pharaoh serving in the same capacity as his Roman imperial predecessors. The notion that priests might have created images bearing the cartouche of Gaius in greater quantity if he had ruled longer (or if they were provided with more wall space through additions to existing architecture) does not hold up to scrutiny under the light of other early Roman reliefs. While the sheer number of Caligulan reliefs may


have increased with time, there is no evidence to suggest that it would have done so at a higher rate than that established during his four-year reign. As we have seen, the priests at some temple sites possessed the desire (or perhaps perceived the ritual need) to place the name of the presiding pharaoh on vast numbers of reliefs.1 While it is impossible to know whether these were generally created all at once or over a long period of time, the Octavianic examples – i.e., those without the added translation of “Sebastos” in the cartouche – demonstrate that priests at many sites tended to act early in the reign. This same notion is bolstered by the existence of several reliefs featuring Galba and Otho (see below, Chapter VIII.A), whose ephemeral reigns did not stand as an impediment to being represented in the traditional pharaonic mode. Moreover, while available space for mural reliefs existed at those centers with hundreds of JulioClaudian examples (from all four other reigns), including Dendera and Philae, Gaius occupied only a handful of small relief panels at the former site, and no more. Relief panels that were certainly available under Gaius but only filled in under later emperors existed at Kom Ombo and Wannina (Athribis), and each of these sites had already been decorated with images of one or both of his predecessors. The possibility of a condemnation of name and image being sporadically applied throughout the Egyptian province is also weakened by the evidence provided from other imperial reigns. While the same possibility has been proposed as an explanation for the paucity of Caligulan issues from the Alexandrian mint,2 the agents for the application of such a policy to the coinage would have necessarily been members of the provincial administration. Even if a later prefect (or one or more of his subordinates) 1

See, for example, the discussion of the Augustan images at Dendera and Philae, Chapter III.A; also, the analysis of the Tiberian reliefs on Philae, Chapter IV.A. 2

See below, Chapter V.B.


had decided to order the province-wide removal or defacing of images featuring Gaius, the only provincial body with sufficient knowledge of the images and script on the Egyptian temples would have been the clergy itself.

When given the option of

maintaining or defacing images of unpopular or formally condemned rulers during the early Roman era, Egyptian priests appear to have chosen the former almost invariably, as indicated by the dozens of intact reliefs featuring Nero and Domitian.3 We are left, therefore, with the possibility that the majority of Egyptian priests, for reasons that perhaps can never be known, did not view Gaius as serving the role of pharaoh in quite the same way as other Roman-era rulers. The handful of extant reliefs endowed with his cartouche bear witness to a modified – or even diluted – pharaonic role for Gaius, when they are compared to the rest of the Roman-era corpus. Only one extant Caligulan relief depicts the emperor making an offering to the gods on behalf of the people, and this relief at El-Qal’a is the only relief inscribed with his cartouche among over one hundred with the names of Augustus and Claudius.4 While images of rulers standing before the gods can convey an important aspect of their function, one that is usually reinforced through the texts, relief images of Gaius possess a slightly different character. Two of his four reliefs at Dendera are particularly instructive: GR15 Gaius, standing behind Meret and small Horus, before Hathor and large Horus GR26 Gaius, behind adoring Thoth, with two Ihy figures before Hathor and Harsiesis 3

On Nero’s reliefs, see below, Chapter VII.A. Domitian was also featured in several prominent reliefs, including a large “smiting” scene on the Roman-era hypostyle hall at Esna; see Hölbl 2004, 104. Usually, when a ruler was “erased” from a temple relief by the priests themselves, his birth name (but not throne name) was etched off (as done to Commodus); see Hölbl 2000, 98. 4

Catalogue No. 431. Gaius is also empty-handed in the reliefs on the South Gates at Koptos.


Catalogue No. 428.


Catalogue No. 429.


The Meret figure in GR1 is the same Lower Egyptian music-goddess who appears with Augustus in a well-preserved relief on the birth house within the Isis temple on Philae (above, Chapter III.A, AR3). There, as here, she was intended to serve as a symbol of the adulation and devotion of the northern regions toward the preeminent goddess on the opposite side of the relief, with a possible nod toward the festivals held in her honor. In the Augustan relief, however, the emperor-pharaoh is interacting with these same gods in his capacity as intermediary between the human and divine realms (offering in this case a symbol for “wine,” which is a common oblation among the temple reliefs). Despite the partially damaged texts in GR1, we can observe that Gaius stands as an onlooker while a smaller form of Horus, wearing the double-crown, gestures toward Hathor and a larger form of Horus (probably Horus of Edfu, Hathor’s husband at Dendera). Usually, the emperor-pharaoh would be depicted as playing an active role in the acknowledgement of the all-important transfer of divine rulership over Egypt, as in so many examples inscribed in the names of Augustus and Tiberius. Here, however, Gaius is replaced by a rare small-scale representation of Horus in zoomorphic form and is set apart from the element of this divine cycle that is most directly related to the conception of the pharaoh as “Horus on earth.” As in GR1, the Gaius in GR2 (Fig. 19) does not wear one of the standard crowns of divine rulership, or even the nemes headdress, but instead dons the khat (or afnet) headdress which represents the nocturnal half of the solar cycle. He is also given a unique epithet that reflects this solar symbolism – “strong bull whose rays shine each day” – but this epithet is not given meaningful expression in the image itself. In fact, beyond this element, no special attributes can be associated with Gaius via the text or the image, and he stands at the fringe of the scene without any ritual function whatsoever. Instead, it is Thoth who is seen in a pose of adoration before Hathor and Harsiesis (Horus as “Son of 162

Isis”), as two forms of Ihy – child and adult – extend symbols of Hathor toward each half of the relief. As in GR1, Gaius has been replaced by “fully divine” figures and reduced to the role of spectator.7 Thus, it would appear as though the priests at some of the regional centers in Upper Egypt viewed Gaius as a ruler who embodied a diluted form of the traditional divine pharaoh. Although it is virtually impossible to pinpoint the precise aspect of Gaius’ unique reign that caused this shift in perception, it is likely that this altered conception of the emperor-pharaoh was partly or entirely responsible for the scarcity of Caligulan reliefs within the Egyptian province. This does not preclude the honoring of and ritual focus upon his statue by the temple staffs or during the appropriate festival days by the laity.8

Indeed, the Egyptian religious system would not allow for a

complete removal of the ka of the pharaoh from all ritual practice, and the extant reliefs demonstrate that the priests still adhered to the notion that the earthly pharaoh could participate in (or at least witness) that which mortal men could not.9 Nevertheless, with the exception of the lone Caligulan image at El Qal’a, which was extraordinary in more ways than one, the full pharaonic role that had been memorialized in reliefs carved under his predecessors – and would continue under his successors – was suspended for the four years of Roman rule under Gaius.


Cf. Hölbl 2000, 79: “Caligual ist hier nicht einmal mehr kultischer oder ritueller Pharao; diese Funktion hat ihm Thot abgenommen… [und] Caligula steht im eigentlichen Sinne des Wortes daneben.” One may add that the adult form of Ihy (a parallel to Harsomtus and Harpokrates as the Divine Child), here wearing the double-crown, replaces the pharaoh as “grown son” of the Divine Family and therefore usurps his role as the earthly incarnation of Horus. 8

See above, Chapter I.G.


Similar sentiments are echoed at Hölbl 2000, 79.


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types The activity of the Alexandrian mint during the reign of Gaius has been the focus of persistent scholarly scrutiny for well over a century.10

Nevertheless, very little

progress has been made on the subject beyond the ruling out of occasional unidentifiable hoard specimens as potential Caligulan issues.

Indeed, the matter

remains something of a numismatic mystery. It is hardly surprising, then, that not much can be said with certainty about the activity (or inactivity) of the Alexandrian mint during this period, with the exception of two broad observations: first, only a fraction of the number of bronze coins produced in earlier reigns (if any) were issued at Alexandria during the period spanning 37 to 41; and second, no billon issues were minted during these same years. The latter phenomenon might have been a byproduct of an empire-wide reduction in precious metal coinage, instituted immediately after Gaius’ accession.11 It is also possible that the influx of Tiberian tetradrachms had eliminated the economic need for additional minting of billon. Whatever the cause, the momentum in the production of billon coinage at the Alexandrian mint that had been so soundly established during the preceding years – especially with the final six of the Tiberian era – was interrupted for the duration of the reign and would not resume its course until the first year of the reign of Claudius. This complete absence of Caligulan silver has yet to be questioned, despite the valid possibility that it once existed, was melted down, and was then re-minted. Instead, it is the number of bronze coins and unique reverse types issued during the reign that has been the major point of contention in this ongoing discussion.12 The 10

See the history of relevant scholarship presented at Burnett et al. 1992, 698.


Savio 1988. Savio’s basic argument, contra Poole (who argues that the mint was closed due to unrest in the city) and Sutherland (who asserts that the need for new tetradrachms had been entirely fulfilled in the last years of Tiberius’ rule), is that direct orders had prevented central authorities from sending the required silver to various non-imperial mints, including Alexandria; for analysis and bibliography, see Burnett et al. 1992, 698.


extreme rarity of extant bronze specimens (even of “doubtful” and “questionable” examples) is immediately observable upon even the most cursory examination of any major catalogue or collection. It is possible, however, that the present rarity of these specimens was caused by the demonitization of the Caligulan bronzes in Egypt in antiquity (likely immediately after his death, if such a process of removal from circulation ever took place). In other words, these already relatively scarce issues could have been slowly removed from circulation and melted down as the result of an isolated “condemnation of image,” with only the scattered specimens kept in lost hoards left to survive for posterity.13

We should view ancient accounts of the

demonitization of the entire body of Gaius’ coinage with extreme caution,14 and the argument that the Alexandrian bronzes were originally produced in minute quantities and are only “[as rare as] all the surviving small denominations of this period” is certainly a reasonable one.15 On the other hand, this same argument could also be used to support the notion that a demonitization might have been feasible on a regional level. In any event, the scant numismatic remains have forced scholars to scavenge for any available scraps of information relating to the possible Alexandrian aes issues produced under Gaius. 12

See Burnett et al. 1992, 698-9. Milne (1933, xx) adopted the rather extreme stance that the mint was completely inactive under Gaius, noting that “some small anonymous bronze coins with the date year 2, and one with the date year 4 and the legend GAIOU, have been ascribed to him; but the specimens of the former group are for the most part of the later style, many of them cast: while the piece dated in Year 4 looks more like a third century concoction than a first century coin.” In the decades since the publication of Milne’s catalogue, other scholars have been much more willing to assign various small bronzes to Gaius’ reign. 13

See Savio 1988, 13.


Suetonius, Div. Claudius 11; Dio Cassius 50.22. Sutherland and Carson (1984, 106-7) are willing to grant that there may have been a sort of “symbolic damnatio of Gaius’ [Imperial] coins” involving a few select examples, but nothing more. They (quite rightly) point out that “its size would have made [a complete demonitization], economically, almost impossible” and that “such an action would have conflicted sharply with Roman practise [as] Antony’s ‘legionary’ denarii continued to circulate for two centuries.” 15

Burnett et al. 1992, 699.


It is only through good fortune and sound scholarship that we can now claim it to be “probable” that coins of certain small fractional bronze denominations were produced in Year 3 of the reign. The specimens in question featured an obverse with a radiate bust (along with the appropriate indication of regnal year) and a reverse type with a crescent and the legend GAIOU.16 The authors of Roman Provincial Coinage have presented a sound case for the classification of these coins as true Caligulan issues.17 If one accepts these examples as authentic, then the presence of the radiate crown on the obverse type calls for focused attention. In fact, if the bust on the obverse is indeed that of Gaius,18 then in these rarest of bronzes we can claim to witness the Alexandrian mint’s first unambiguous depiction of a living Roman ruler in a divine – or, more accurately, deified – guise. As with the small aes issues produced under Tiberius and early on under Claudius, no parallels for the types featured on the probable Caligulan specimens are to be found on the imperial coinage. Iconography as bold as this radiate portrait on the obverse type was best left to the Greek East,19 as the emperor and his closest advisors at Rome readily perceived. 16

RPC 5106. The Year 4 specimen mentioned by Milne (see above, n. 12) is described by Dattari in his catalogue (Dattari 1901), but there does not appear to be an extant example in any public collection at present. Burnett et al. (1992, 698) note that the only published illustration of the coin “suggests that the date was not legible, but only the L to the left of the bust.” 17

Burnett et al. 1992, 698-9 (with bibliography for all attributions). The attribution was first maintained by von Sallet, then later (independently) by Dattari and by Vogt. The most recent publication notes both that “the date (year 3) and the use of a genitive legend on the reverse recall the similar [Tiberian] small bronzes” and that it would not “be obvious how to explain the name Gaius at any later date.” These same authors list two other examples “doubtfully attributed to Caligula,” as well as four others “probably incorrectly attributed to Caligula.” 18

Burnett et al. (1992, 699) discuss the matter at length and eventually take the view that the type is most likely a depiction of Caligula with a radiate crown, rather than a depiction of Helios or of Caligula in the guise of Helios (although this latter possibility should not be viewed as a mutually exclusive option). They point to the Caligula’s occasional representation, outside of Rome, as having a radiate crown (at Smyrna and perhaps at Aezanoi, for example; see Levy 1988). They also cite the fact that there are no parallels under Tiberius and Claudius for typepairs without at least one Imperial portrait, and that the bronze coins of Tiberius likewise feature an anepigraphic obverse with the name of the emperor in the genitive on the reverse. 19

On the precedents for solar imagery throughout this region, see Bergmann 1998.


Chapter VI: Images Created during the Reign of Claudius

A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province During the reign of Claudius the seemingly diminished ritual role projected onto the emperor-pharaoh under Gaius was restored to the full religious capacity that had been associated with the kings of Egypt for millennia and had persisted into the first reigns of the Roman era. The distribution and character of the Claudian reliefs, in fact, find their closest parallels among the Tiberian examples (once the extraordinarily diverse and numerous reliefs on Philae are removed from the equation). We can trace this distribution through the legible cartouches that are translated with the birth name TBRYS KLUDYS (Tiberios Klaudios) and the throne name KAYSR [Sebastos (“he who is holy/sacred�)] GRMNIKS AUTUKRTR (Kaisar [Sebastos] Germanikos Autokrator). Claudius appeared as

pharaoh in mural reliefs at no fewer than six sites, although it must be granted that the presence of his image at certain sites is attested only by a single relief or by a lone register of reliefs. Nonetheless, the wide geographic distribution of Claudian reliefs implies that the Egyptian priests collectively embraced the successor of Gaius as a ruler who could serve as ritual intercessor on behalf of the faithful. Like Tiberius, Claudius is depicted in pharaonic-style reliefs on the enclosure wall of the Triphis temple at Wannina (Athribis). Tiberius had been featured in two relief scenes on the interior face; Claudius was represented on the eastern and western sides of the exterior.1 The emperor-pharaoh appears three times with the preeminent goddess of the temple, including a double-scene in which he appears with two pairs of gods before Triphis (Repyt) in her zoomorphic, lion-headed form. Two of the reliefs inscribed with the 1

Tiberian reliefs: Catalogue Nos. 234-35. Claudian reliefs: Catalogue Nos. 432-38.


name of Claudius echo the Augustan “building registers” at Dendera, as he is purified by two unidentifiable gods (but probably Thoth and Horus, as in the Tiberian and Augustan examples) and measures a temple with Sefkhet; it is possible that the “Roman Chapel” at the Wannina was completed during his reign.2 A uniquely composed image appears alongside the “measuring” scene, as Thoth holds an uzat (udjat) aloft before both Claudius and the mistress of the temple. This is not an offering scene, however, and Claudius is not the object of the god’s devotion or adoration; the presentation of the uzat, as a symbol of royal power and divine protection, is merely a reflection of the emperor-pharaoh’s reliance upon the gods (including Triphis, in this scene) for their blessing, protection, and granting of ruling authority. Claudius features prominently on the Hathor temple at Dendera, as the entire lower course of the monumental façade of the pronaos (in this case, the first hypostyle hall) is decorated with large-scale reliefs in his name. The images on the intercolumnar walls are typical offering scenes,3 with several possessing imagery that echoed ritual at the temple itself (e.g., the holding aloft of sistra before Hathor and Re-Harkhti [Horus of the Sun] on the central panel of the western segment of the façade). The scenes on the projecting walls at the extreme ends of the façade are likewise focused on Hathor as “mistress of Dendera,” as Claudius offers her a scepter and lifts up a menat (a sistrum-like rattle designed as a handle topped by the head of Hathor and used in her rites).4 Claudian reliefs were carved in two other settings within the Hathor temple complex. Beyond the façade and within the large outer hypostyle hall, Claudius appears on five of the eighteen columns supporting the still-intact roof; here he presents to 2

Porter and Moss 1962, 33.


Catalogue Nos. 440-45.


Catalogue Nos. 439 and 446.


members of both “Divine Families,” usually with the son of Hathor (Ihy/Harsomtus) by his side.5 On the east side of the exterior, Claudius is featured in the following relief: CR16

Claudius, standing left, offers lotus-bouquet to enthroned Osiris and Geb

As it was originally designed, this relief (Fig. 20) features iconography and texts that are relatively common. Geb the father and Osiris the son are approached by Claudius bearing an easily recognizable symbol of the fertility of Upper Egypt. The exceptional element of this relief is the inscription in the Greek language carved beneath the platform on which the gods are seated. Although the wall has been damaged at multiple sections of the fivelined inscription, enough survives that a large part of the text can be reconstructed.7 Dated to April of Year 2 of the reign, the inscription expresses an exhortation to the “gods represented here” that they grant “peace and harmony” through the emperor (named as “Tiberios Klaudios Kaisar Sebastos Germanikos Autokrator”). The inscription announces that it was created under the prefect Lucius Aemilius Rectus and under Tiberius Julius Alexander, the epistrategos for this region. Rather unfortunately, the inscription makes no mention of the precise identity of the party responsible for this rare addition to a pharaonic-style relief. Whoever it may have been, the placement of the inscription reveals a knowledge of the identity of the ruler standing before the enthroned gods (if not the symbolism of the offering or the realms over which Osiris and Geb traditionally presided). As the knowledge of the hieroglyphic script was the exclusive preserve of the clergy, it would appear as though the authority under which the inscription announces itself was sufficient to persuade the Dendera priests to permit this unusual epigraphic addendum.


Catalogue Nos. 448-52.


Catalogue No. 453.


See Bernand 1984, No. 30.


The temple at El Qal’a was also decorated with Claudian reliefs – so much so, in fact, that despite the presence of dozens of Augustan reliefs in the two sanctuaries the temple was known for centuries as the “Temple of Claudius.”8 Based upon the remains of the temple (preserved to a height over two meters, in most sections), it appears as though the name of Claudius filled the cartouches of the reliefs on the exterior walls and in most interior spaces not already claimed by Augustus.9 Porter and Moss, without the benefit of later publications, provide listings for only two Claudian reliefs, one from the exterior and another from within the south chapel; both feature the emperor-pharaoh before the probable mistress of the temple, Isis.10 Other Claudian scenes on the El-Qal’a temple depict the ruler as offering before other members of the Koptite Triad and before a diverse range of other gods, as one would expect. Among these various deities, the god Tutu appears on the Claudian reliefs after he had been depicted on a single Augustan relief, where he was paired with Anubis. As Tutu was originally a protector of the dead in their tombs, this pairing was a natural one. During the Greco-Roman era, he had become widely worshipped as a protector of sleepers from nightmares and from all forms of danger. At El-Qal’a, the Claudian reliefs reflect the evolution of the local theology to the point of pairing Tutu with the Great Goddess, Neith, “which effectively assimilated him with Harpokrates, the son of Osiris, who was sometimes called Horudja.”11 Soon to be key Koptite figures, Neith and Horudja appeared for the first time at El-Qal’a under Claudius. Claudius appears in only a handful of reliefs at Qift, Esna, and Philae. Despite the low number of Claudian reliefs at these sites, however, the widespread distribution of 8

See above, Chapter III.A. The temple was almost certainly dedicated to Isis and the Koptite gods.


On the Claudian reliefs at El-Qal’a, see Pantalacci and Traunecker 1998.


Catalogue Nos. 454 and 455.


Kaper 2003, 134.


these images and the range of regional theologies represented within them imply that Claudius was embraced as an inheritor of the ritual functions of divine rulership throughout Upper Egypt. Among the scant remains at Qift (from the multiple temples in the precinct at Koptos), reliefs on a column drum depict Claudius before Sobek and before Amun and Khonsu, with textual acknowledgement of Kom Ombo (Nubt) and Karnak.12 At Esna, Claudius is depicted before the primary deity of the temple, Khnum, and his lioness-headed consort Menhit, who had been drawn from Nubian roots as a goddess of war.13 The lone Claudian relief at Philae is carved on the west colonnade, where several reliefs of Augustus and Tiberius were already positioned.

The Claudian example is

composed as follows: CR214 Claudius, facing right, makes offering of heh to Sobek, Hathor, and Khonsu The priests of Philae had already demonstrated under Tiberius that their reliefs could reflect continuity between reigns and the fluid incorporation of several regional theologies into their own. These same trends are reflected in CR2, which features major deities from the centers at Kom Ombo, Dendera, and Karnak. Moreover, as Tiberius was represented as making a heh-offering to a trio of deities in a nearby register (Fig. 21),15 this image asserted a return to the incorporation of the emperor-pharaoh into the eternal cycle of divine rulership after a possible hiatus during the previous reign.16 Indeed, the heh being


Catalogue Nos. 456 and 457.


Catalogue Nos. 459 and 460. On the various manifestations of Khnum, as well as his conception as Khnum-Shu at Esna and other sacred sites, see Zaki 2009, 209, 212-9. 14

Catalogue No. 462.


Catalogue No. 279.


See above, Chapter V.A. Gaius was the only Julio-Claudian ruler who was not represented on the west colonnade at Philae; in fact, he was excluded from Philae altogether.


offered in CR2 was itself a sign that represented “one million,� which was tantamount to infinity and eternity in the Egyptian mind; thus, Claudius as divine intercessor offers perpetuity itself, just as Augustus and Tiberius had been empowered to do before him. The extant Claudian reliefs, therefore, herald a restoration of the ritual function of the emperor-pharaoh. The semi-divine nature of the ruler was confirmed in a variety of creative modes of representation, some with Augustan or Tiberian precedent and some without. Claudian temple reliefs tend to include images of the ruler interacting with the preeminent deity of the temple itself. Nevertheless, this same corpus contains images and texts featuring a wide variety of deities originating (by tradition) from diverse parts of Egypt and Nubia. This vast range of divine figures was nearly matched by the geographic distribution of the reliefs featuring the name of Claudius, a distribution that remains our best evidence for the widespread acceptance of this emperor by the Egyptian clergy.


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types The output of the Alexandrian mint during the Claudian era stands in sharp contrast both to the meager yield attributed to Gaius and to the billon-heavy issues produced under Tiberius. Numismatists almost universally share the opinion that the Alexandrian coinage came into its own only with the accession of Claudius, and it is not difficult to find support for their position. For the first time since the Augustan era, a broad range of types consisting mainly of Alexandrian inventions – some new, others borrowed from earlier reigns – was employed on a year-to-year basis throughout the reign; in fact, only in Years 8 and 9 was the mint entirely inactive. Moreover, for the first time in the mint’s history, officials attempted to produce a “complete” Egyptian currency: although the Year 1 issues consisted only of a small number of tetradrachms, by Year 2 the mint was supplementing its billon coins with bronze issued in no fewer than three distinct denominations.17 On the other hand, tetradrachm production continued only through Year 6, and the billon types (while undoubtedly varied in content) do not appear to have been designed with thematic diversity foremost in mind. In fact, a diversity on this level, as well as a consistent issuing of a wide range of denominations, would not be achieved until the following reign. The early and middle Claudian aes issues (Years 2 to 4 [Aug. 41 – Aug. 44] and 6 to 7 [Aug. 45 – Aug. 47]) were in the two largest denominations dominated by a series of four types taken from Augustan and Tiberian issues.18 While in the smallest denominations the issues likewise included several reused types,19 two unprecedented images – the frog and 17

On the full range of bronze denominations, see Appendix II. The experiment in monetary diversity reached its peak in Year 3, during which six distinct denominations were represented, including billon drachms and didrachms (issued only in small quantities; see below); see also Burnett et al. 1992, 700. 18

The Augustan types included Nike, the butting bull, and bound grain ears. The lone Tiberian representative was the hippopotamus. Collectively, these four types appear as RPC 5119-28, 513743, 5148-55, and 5167-70. 19

All were borrowed from the reign of Augustus: the crocodile (RPC 5129, 5144, 5156, and 5173), the standing eagle (RPC 5158, 5171), the ibis (RPC 5161, 5172), and the capricorn (RPC 5159).


the eagle’s head – were also struck on select reverses.20 Some types appearing on these early Claudian bronzes, then, were descended from images originally copied from external issues (i.e., the butting bull and capricorn from Rome, as well as the bound grain ears and Nike types from other provincial coinages); at the same time, many unique Alexandrian creations were represented among the same issues in both new and reused types. The types of the later Claudian bronzes (Years 10 to 14 [Aug. 49 – Aug. 54]) reflect a much stronger “Alexandrian” element than the earlier issues, as the level of creative expression for aes types reached heights not seen since the Sixth Augustan Series.21 Direct ties to this final Augustan series were established by the fact that three of its most frequently employed reverse types – the Nilus type, the Euthenia type, and the “modius between torches” type – were chosen for reuse on these late Claudian issues. Other types borrowed from the Augustan bronzes included the crocodile and capricorn, used intermittently on the smallest denominations alongside the Claudian frog type.


images that were new to Roman Alexandria – the “eagle on thunderbolt” type and the “clasped hands” type – were the only other aberrations in an otherwise unified series bound together by a singular focus on fertility and agricultural abundance.22 These themes were already reflected in the three images that had been taken from the later Augustan issues,23 but were reinforced by a trio of unique Claudian inventions: the winged caduceus


Frog: RPC 5157. Eagle’s head: RPC 5160. The former would not survive the Claudian era, while the latter was merely a variation on the popular and widely circulated standing eagle type (a type which would prove popular enough to persist well into the third century and appear routinely on both billon and bronze coins); see Milne 1933, xxxiii-xxxiv. 21

Coins of Year 15 are not attested with certainty, and those few that have appeared in catalogues might be misread coins actually belonging to Year 13; see Burnett et al. 1992, 700, 704. 22

Eagle: RPC 5187, 5193, and 5197. Clasped hands: RPC 5176 and 5183. That the image of the clasped hands is borrowed from the Roman coinage is beyond question, but as Milne (1933, xxxv) puts it, “it is find the appropriateness of the type” on any of the several occasions when it appears on an Alexandrian coin. In this particular case, given that the type appears only on coins of Year 10 (49/50) and Year 11 (50/51), one might have cause to assert that this vague and flexible image was used in honor of Claudius’ adoption of Nero in AD 50. 23

On the attributes of Euthenia (and her pairing with empress obverses), see Jentel 1996. For a rather pessimistic view of the iconographic significance of Nilus, however, see Milne 1933, xxx.


with four ears of grain, the hand holding two ears of grain and two poppies, and the hand grasping a winged caduceus.24

If we include the obverse image featuring a bust of

Agrippina with ears of grain (CC3, below), the majority of types employed in these later Claudian bronze issues comprise what was essentially the first thematically unified multiple-type series issued from the Alexandrian mint. While the images on these later bronzes sprang both directly and indirectly from Alexandrian inspiration, the Claudian tetradrachms (Years 1 to 6 [AD 41-45/46]) appear to have had closer ties with the imperial mint. During the Claudian era, both the Roman coinage and the Alexandrian billon issues reflect a unique preoccupation with members of the imperial family, both living and deceased: that is to say, not only the emperor, but also his mother Antonia, his wives Messalina and Agrippina, and his two children by Messalina (Britannicus and Octavia), among others. The Alexandrian examples include: CC125 Obv.: Claudius, laureate, r., TI KLAVDI KAIS SEBA GERMANI AVTOK(R) Rev.: Messalina standing., l., veiled and leaning on column, holding two small figures and grain stalks, MESSALINA KAIS SEBAS CC226 Obv.: As CC1 Rev.: Bust of Antonia, r., ANTWNIA SEBASTH Messalina herself occupies only one type among the imperial issues, an obverse portrait opposite a reverse featuring Antonia (his daughter by Aelia Patina), Britannicus, and Octavia.27 Her appearance on the CC1 specimens at this early date – that is, already on the 24

Collectively represented by RPC 5175, 5177, 5182, 5184, 5189, 5195, and 5198.


As issued from Years 1-6: RPC 5113, 5115, 5131, 5145, 5162, 5164; with lituus on reverse, RPC 5114, 5116, 5132, 5146, 5163, and 5165. 26

Years 2-4 and Year 6: RPC 5117, 5133, 5147, and 5166. With lituus: RPC 5118 and 5134.


RIC2 124. The specimen was not minted at Rome but at Caesarea in Cappadocia (Sutherland includes these examples in his listings of “Imperials” because the dies were likely cut at Rome or by imperial engravers). The two figures in Messalina’s hand in the CC1 reverse (minted already in Year 1 [AD 41, before August 29]) are probably Britannicus and Octavia, as well. Vogt (1924, 24-5) effectively dismisses any objections based on Britannicus’ contended date of birth, even going so far as to use the Alexandrian coinage as evidence that Britannicus was in fact born before August 41; see also Burnett et al. 1992, 700.


Year 1 issues (Fig. 22) – is not as surprising as it might appear at first glance, given the widespread honoring of empresses on the eastern provincial coinages (and especially at Alexandria). Along these same lines, Messalina’s appearance in the guise of Demeter, while certainly the boldest assimilative iconography employed on an Alexandrian type to this point, cannot be viewed as an entirely unexpected and revolutionary development. Although Livia had not been depicted with divine features or attributes, she had often appeared opposite female deities.28 Moreover, empresses had been and would continue to be depicted as Greek goddesses in statuary throughout the eastern Mediterranean.29 Antonia’s presence on the CC2 reverses (Fig. 23) well after her death in 37 is mirrored by her appearance on obverses issued at Rome from the first year of Claudius’ reign until ca. 45-50.30 Again, the presence of Livia on earlier issues – in this case, during the first three years of production under Tiberius, while alive and only on obverse types (as this mother-son duo never appeared on the same coin) – had set the mint’s precedent for “imperial mother” types. Even if an established precedent had not existed, select Augustan and Tiberian issues (see above, Chapter III.B and Chapter IV.B) demonstrate that mint officials were free to take their cues from the imperial coinage whenever it suited them.31 Of course, given the equally early dates of initial production for these imperial family types at Rome and at Alexandria, it is impossible to deduce whether their prominence on the coins produced at the latter site resulted from a manifestation of full autonomy in type-selection or from explicit instructions from the central authority. This emphasis on members of the imperial family did not come to an end with the Claudian tetradrachm series. Indeed, even after Messalina’s execution and the emperor’s


As part of the Sixth Augustan Series: RPC 5055, 5065, and 5072 (opposite Athena), as well as 5053 and 5063 (opposite Euthenia). 29

These phenomena and the general treatment of empresses on Alexandrian types will be discussed in greater detail at Chapter IX.B. 30

RIC2 65-68, 92, and 104.


See above, Chapter III.B and Chapter IV.B.


remarriage, the new empress Agrippina was featured prominently on select Alexandrian bronze issues: CC332 Obv.: Draped bust of Agrippina, r., with ears of grain, AGRIPPINA CɛBACTH Rev.: Various This frequently used CC3 obverse type (Fig. 24) was foreshadowed by issues from Rome a full year before its appearance at Alexandria.33 As with the Antonia reverses, Alexandrian mint officials – either by choice or by chance – had followed Rome’s lead. The Agrippina obverse type appears on the Alexandrian issues with a wide variety of reverses. For all of their variety in form and content, however, each of these reverses falls under the general thematic heading of “fertility and agricultural abundance” (see the comments on the later Claudian bronze types made above). Thus, for the first time at Alexandria, obversereverse pairings appear to have been discriminately coordinated on aes coinage, thereby enabling the symbolic impact of this CC3 obverse to be effectively reinforced. As innovative as the Claudian tetradrachms and late bronzes are generally recognized to have been, two earlier types produced in Year 3 (42/43) have to this day retained their reputation as the most intriguing of the Claudian issues. These images were struck as part of an experimental issue of drachma and didrachm denominations in billon: CC434 Obv.: Laureate head of Claudius, r., TI KL KA Cɛ Gɛ AV Rev.: Bust of Serapis, r. CC535 Obv.: Laureate head of Claudius, r., TI KLAV KAI CEBAC GEPM Rev.: Crossed cornucopias below busts of three figures, AUTOKRA


As issued from Year 12 to Year 14: RPC 5188, 5190, 5192 (shortened legend), 5194, 5196, and 5199.


RIC2 75 and 80 (in which, on obverse and reverse respectively, Agrippina wears a crown of grain ears), as well as 103 (in which, however, her obverse image is quite different). 34

Cf. RPC 5136, which would prove to be the only billon drachm produced at Alexandria.


Cf. RPC 5135. Billon didrachms would otherwise be issued only during Year 4 (and perhaps Year 3) under Nero.


The drachm (CC4) reverse marks the first appearance of Serapis, the great god of the evergrowing Alexandrian pantheon,36 on a Roman coin type. Although the god appears here without an identifying legend (Fig. 25), he is instantly recognizable as Serapis because of the modius resting on his head.37 Given that this is the first billon type to contain a GrecoEgyptian deity – as well as the only “non-Roman” type on the billon issues – and that Serapis types would be consistently employed from Nero until the mid-third century, this early (albeit isolated) appearance of Serapis under Claudius is as significant as it is difficult to explain. Unfortunately, the interpretive simplicity of the CC4 reverse type is not a quality shared by the reverse image on the corresponding didrachm, CC5 (Fig. 26). The authors of Roman Provincial Coinage describe the type as an image of “crossed cornucopias with busts of three children.”38 The poor state of preservation of the six known specimens, however, renders such a specific and definitive classification of these three figures rather impossible. The third of these “three children,” if we abide by this suggestion, would likely have been Antonia, Claudius’ daughter by Aelia Patina who had been featured on types produced at Caesarea in Cappadocia.39 On the other hand, photographs of the least worn examples indicate that a handful of alternate interpretations warrant strong consideration.40 Two of the three busts are seen in profile and placed above cornucopias on right and left, while the third bust is in frontal view and placed between them. The bust on the left offers the 36

The evolution of the various realms of Egyptian religion and the Alexandrian coin types relating to them are discussed below at Chapter IX.C. 37

Serapis appears with a modius whenever he appears on a coin type; see the summary of defining traits at Curtis 1969, 43. Perhaps as a result of his being immediately recognizable, identifying legends on Serapis types are exceedingly rare. 38

Burnett et al. 1992, 701.


See above, n. 27.


I have had the opportunity to see a relatively poorly preserved specimen in the collection of the American Numismatic Society in New York, but this particular example is too worn to shed any light on the identification of the figures on the reverse. The best preserved specimen found to this point is BMC 68, whose photographic image is duplicated as the plate photograph for RPC 5135.


clearest view on the best preserved examples and appears to be a depiction of a young girl. The central figure appears to be female, as well. A likely scheme for the composition of this type might therefore include the identification of the figure on the left as Octavia, the parallel figure on the right as Britannicus, and the frontal figure in the center as Messalina. This interpretation allows us to place this didrachm reverse type in line with the entire corpus of Claudian tetradrachms, many of which contain reverse types featuring these imperial family members. An especially strong association would exist with the CC1 examples, which likewise combine images of Messalina and the children with unambiguous symbols of abundance and fertility: taken together, they formed a unified type-series presaging the similar phenomenon reflected in the later bronzes.


Chapter VII: Images Created during the Reign of Nero

A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province Although within the Egyptian province there are fewer than three dozen Neronian temple reliefs that remain intact and legible today (with over two dozen concentrated at Dendera), the reliefs inscribed with Nero’s cartouche enjoy the widest distribution among all Roman-era examples. The birth name cartouche on these few dozen reliefs almost invariably translates to NRN KLUDYS (Neron Klaudios; but, interestingly, Neros [Nijrs] Klaudios at Deir el-Hagar), while the throne name usually reads as KAYSR GRMNIKS (Kaisar Germanikos). This combination is seen as far north as Tihna (Akoris), as far west as the Dakhla Oasis, and near the southern border of the province on Philae Island. The iconography and texts associated with these reliefs reveal that, despite the tumultuous nature of his reign, Nero was widely accepted as “pharaoh” in the full traditional and ritual sense of the title and did not rule under the seemingly diluted perception of kingship that characterized the reign of Gaius. Tihna (Akoris) is the northernmost site to possess a Julio-Claudian relief with figural imagery. The so-called “Temple of Nero” (named for the single fully legible cartouche found among its remains) appears to have been superimposed on New Kingdom architecture, as reused blocks with the cartouche of Ramses II have been found in the walls of the hypostyle hall.1 The Roman phase is attested only by the entrance to this hall, a few walls in variable states of preservation, some column drums, and a pair of lintels from the front and rear of the hypostyle (now lying just outside of the perimeter of the hall itself). Nero appears on the jamb of the doorway allowing 1

Porter and Moss 1968, 129.


access to the hypostyle hall.

Here he appears in an offering scene before an

unidentifiable deity above a representation of the northern Nile (distinguishable through the presence of papyrus reeds).2 In the destroyed scene on the other jamb, the action unfolds over a representation of the southern Nile (with lotus blossoms).3 The fallen lintel near the entrance to the hypostyle hall contains a partial cartouche that appears to list the last segment of Nero’s birth name; here the pharaoh is represented as carrying a pair of heb-sed staffs and standing before Sobek in both his fully zoomorphic form and his crocodile-headed form.4 The iconography is rather unique; in addition to the presence of the god in dual form, a mysterious figure carrying a lotus-staff and royal standards follows close behind the pharaoh. Unfortunately, the temple’s poor state of preservation prevents us from knowing the full extent of its connection to Sobek and whether this same innovative composition was typical of all or most of its reliefs. Like all four emperors before him, Nero is represented on the walls of the Hathor temple at Dendera. The western wall on the exterior contains several relief scenes featuring Nero before a wide variety of deities, including a large relief in which the emperor-pharaoh stands with Buto (Lower Egypt) and Nekhbet (Upper Egypt) offering two uraei to the regional nome-goddess and the two Divine Mothers, Hathor and Isis.5 In the fourth register on this same exterior wall, Nero is depicted at the head of two


Catalogue No. 463.


Porter and Moss 1968, 129 (2).


Hölbl (2000, 49) appears convinced that the cartouche is that of Nero. On the other hand, Porter and Moss (1968, 129 [3]) are much more cautious and label the royal figure only as “King,” given the heavy damage to the entire top portion of the lintel; following their lead, the Catalogue below does not list this relief among the known Neronian specimens. 5

All reliefs on western exterior wall: Catalogue Nos. 464-85. Uraei relief: Catalogue No. 482. The cobra-form uraeus was a symbol of royal power; the offering of two uraei may reflect the separate domains of Lower and Upper Egypt (echoed in the presence of Buto and Nekhbet).


processions, with each featuring representations of Nile-gods, field-goddesses of Lower Egypt, five ka images (associated with the sun-god, in this case), and the goddess of fate and protection, Hemsut, who is appearing here for the first time among Roman-era reliefs.6 The first two elements were common in Roman-era processional scenes and could be seen in several similar compositions carved under Augustus and Tiberius; the last two elements, however, were entirely unique products of the increasingly rapid development of the temples’ iconographic repertoire. Nero was depicted in several offering scenes within the hypostyle hall, as well; both gods and king were intentionally defaced (with many royal cartouches left intact) by Christians, however, and it is impossible to know precisely how many of these reliefs were Neronian and exactly which gods are depicted in each scene.7 A new temple was built at the site of Deir el-Hagar in the Dakhla oasis (far into the desert, west of Thebes) during the reign of Nero.

This emperor’s cartouche,

appropriately enough, is inscribed on a trio of reliefs within the sanctuary. These are composed as follows: NR18 Nero, facing right, makes offering to Amun-re and Mut in double-scene NR29 Nero, facing right, makes offering to Amun-re and Mut of Asher in double-scene NR310 Nero, followed by Nile-gods, stands before Amun-re and Mut 6

Catalogue Nos. 483-84. Hemsut herself is representative of the divine ka and meshes well with the other figures in these processional reliefs. 7

See, however, the attempts made at Hölbl 2000, 79-80. These relief are not listed in the Catalogue below due to the questions surrounding their cartouches and the gods’ identities. 8

Catalogue Nos. 492.


Catalogue Nos. 493.


Catalogue Nos. 494.


This group of sanctuary reliefs provides some indication of the primary deities who were worshipped at the temple. Since the third member of the Theban Triad, Khonsu, also appears in numerous reliefs on both the interior and exterior walls, a strong case can be made for the dedication of this temple to the major deities of the Karnak complex within the Theban district. Seth was the preeminent god of the Dakhla oasis, and it is likely that he was honored at the temple to some degree, as well; when he appears on the temple walls, he is depicted as a falcon-headed being with a blue body in anthropomorphic form.11 The history of the importance of Amun at the site extends back to the first permanent settlements, at which point Amun-Nakht, possessing traits of Horus combined with several of Amun-re, quickly rose to prominence.


establishment of a temple to the Theban Triad in forms with close ties to Karnak itself (as reflected, for example, by the presence in NR2 of Mut of Asher, the form of the goddess worshipped in the temple linked to the Karnak precinct) implies a particular connection to the religious center of Thebes. The foundation of the temple and staffing by priests associated with Thebes is a distinct possibility, especially given that the most direct route through the desert from the Nile valley to the oasis started there. The presence of Nero in the sanctuary does not necessarily imply a special devotion to that emperor, but rather that Nero was simply the reigning “pharaoh� when the temple was completed. Indeed, if the temple had been staffed by Theban priests, it is perhaps telling that Nero was not depicted on reliefs at Karnak or anywhere else in the entire Theban district. Nero is featured only in a single relief at Kom Ombo and in a pair of reliefs at Philae. At the former site, the king is seen leaving a palace with pharaonic standards in 11

On the temple and various expressions of the role of Seth, see Mills 1979 and HĂślbl 2005, 79.


hand and Inmutef at his side.12 This divine figure was originally a “bearer of the heavens,” but by the Late Period he had become associated exclusively with the pharaoh and his ritual service. This same iconography comprised what was a typical initial scene for the various series that depicted either the building of temples or the coronation of the pharaoh, imagery that had been maintained under Augustus and Tiberius.13 Here, however, the expected series does not come to fruition, and Nero was fated to receive only one relief in his name at Kom Ombo. On the west colonnade at Philae, Nero was represented alongside the numerous Augustan and Tiberian scenes by means of a pair of reliefs not far from the single Claudian relief at Philae; all of the JulioClaudian emperors, then, were represented on the west colonnade with the lone exception of Gaius. In one of his upper-register reliefs, Nero offers wine to Sobek and Horus, with the latter making one of several appearances on this section of the colonnade. The second Neronian relief at Philae appears in the following arrangement: NR414 Nero, facing right and wearing feather-crown of Amun, offers two uzat figures to enthroned Haroeris, Sennuphis, and Panebtaui A pair of “first appearances” occurs here within a scene (Fig. 27) on the west colonnade of Philae under Nero. Sunnuphis (the Greco-Egyptian name for Tasenetneferet) was the consort of Haroeris, according to the theology that had been developed at Kom Ombo. Panebtaui, usually announced as “Lord of the Two Lands,” was the Divine Child produced through their union; being the son of Haroeris, he represented the legitimacy of the ruling pharaoh in his capacity as king of both Upper and Lower Egypt. The uzat12

Catalogue No. 495.


See, for example, Catalogue No. 181.


Catalogue No. 496.


pair held aloft by Nero serves as an unambiguous symbol of the royal power and divine protection granted to the emperor-pharaoh by these same deities. In general, the Neronian relief images in the Egyptian province illustrate the increasingly rapid evolution of the iconographic repertoire, a process that had started (albeit slowly and sporadically) under Claudius.

Like Claudius, and despite not

sharing in his predecessor’s enduring popularity, Nero was welcomed by the priests at a wide variety of sites as a king who could perform the full range of ritual duties expected of the traditional Egyptian pharaoh. While it is possible that most or all of the existing reliefs were executed early during his reign, the very presence of his relief images at the far corners of the province demonstrates that the momentum in the conception of semi-divine rulership generated under Claudius was not diminished.


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types The Alexandrian coinage of Nero comprises one of the most interesting eastern provincial groups issued at any point during the Roman era. Not only does it feature a significant handful of innovative aes types, but it also contains the widest variety of tetradrachm reverses produced at Alexandria during the first century of Roman rule. One of many extraordinary aspects of the billon series is the issuing of an unchanging group of ten distinct reverse types from Years 3-6 (56/7-59/60) and a group of seven reverses in Years 13 and 14 (66/7-67/8). Other noteworthy tetradrachm reverse types appear intermittently between Years 6 and 14 (although, notably, no coinage was produced in Year 7 and no billon was issued in Year 8). Moreover, for the first time since the Roman conquest, billon obverse portrait types undergo significant changes over the course of a single reign. Neronian bronze types appear at first in smaller denominations during Year 5 and Year 6, then later during every year from Year 8. The complete range of Alexandrian aes denominations – including (for the first time) the two largest – are represented in these later bronze issues, most of which contain types that are no less fascinating than their billon counterparts. Indeed, after nearly a century of coin production under Roman rule, it is only with the large issues of Nero’s Years 9-14 that the fullest array of the Alexandrian coinage – both in terms of the range of denominations and of the thematic variety on billon and bronze – was finally put on display. The first set of Nero’s varied and prolific tetradrachm issues (Year 3 - Year 6; no coinage was produced during the first two years of the reign) was characterized by images celebrating Rome, the emperor, Greek deities and personifications, and most notably – in what was quickly developing into an established tradition at the Alexandrian mint – other members of the Imperial family. Within the last category, two new examples (Figs. 28 and 29) would appear as recurring images in this series:


NC115 Obv.: Nero, laureate head, r., NER(WN) KLAU KAIS SEB(A) GER AUTO Rev.: Draped bust of Octavia, r., OKTAOUIA SEBASTOU NC216 Obv.: As NC1 Rev.: Draped bust of Agrippina, r., AGRIPPINA SEBASTH There are no imperial correlates for the NC1 types featuring Octavia, Nero’s wife at the time of his accession. A substantial number of types issued from Rome and Caesarea in Cappadocia feature Agrippina, but only at the latter does her portrait occupy the entire type.17 In addition, after Nero’s marriage to Poppaea in 62, types with the new empress were issued at Rome and at Alexandria (see below); as was the case with Messalina, however, Poppaea would appear on her own (and earliest) at Alexandria, whereas she was invariably accompanied by her husband on the few types issued from the Imperial mint.18 Thus, spurred on by Claudian precedent, the Alexandrian mint seems to have required few external catalysts to create its own set of Neronian family types. Other type-categories represented in this first tetradrachm series include groups of images glorifying Rome or her inhabitants and those with representations of Greek deities and personifications.

Of these two groups, only the latter had roots in

established Alexandrian precedent: Nike and Athena had both been featured on types appearing in the Sixth Augustan Series, and the Nike type had been reused under Claudius. The option of abiding by the Claudian pattern and reusing one or both of the Augustan types was passed over. Instead, mint officials created new type-images of four figures: Demeter, Dikaiosyne, Eirene, and Homonoia.


Many of the attributes

RPC 5202, 5213, 5222, 5232, 5241, and 5252.


RPC 5201, 5212, 5221, and 5231. Production of this type ceased during the middle of Year 5 of the reign – presumably after mint officials received word of Agrippina’s death – and was the only image among the original ten to be discontinued. 17

RIC2 1-3, 6, and 7 (with Nero on the same type); 607-12 (alone on reverse).


Alexandrian Poppaea types: RPC 5267, 5275, 5280, and 5282. Imperial types (ca. 64-5): RIC2 44 and 45.


found on the Demeter type19 – especially the poppy and grain-ear clusters – were familiar to anyone who had seen the assimilative iconography employed on the Claudian Messalina and Agrippina types (CC1 and CC3). With this early Neronian billon series the goddess herself appears for the first time, possibly with the intention that she be directly associated with the emperor on the obverse face.20 Each of the three female personifications is accompanied by an identifying legend, although the iconographic attributes appearing on the types would have helped to make each figure recognizable to many illiterate individuals (provided, of course, that they were already familiar with the range of Greek personifications): the scales held by Dikaiosyne,21 Eirene’s caduceus-scepter,22 and the patera appearing on the representation of (seated) Homonoia.23 Like the Demeter types, these reverses might have been designed to honor the emperor, now depicted as bringer of peace, harmony, and justice.24 The two types honoring Rome and her inhabitants were likewise making their first appearances at Alexandria, although in their case no similar images had been issued previously. One of the types depicts the personified Demos of the Romans, standing upright and holding a long scepter and cornucopia.25 The image is a curious anomaly among provincial issues, with no parallels in any other reign, and 19

RPC 5205, 5215, 5225, 5235, 5244 and 5255.


Burnett et al. (1992, 705) seem to have little or no doubt about these intentions, arguing that Nero was meant to be presented as a “companion of Demeter” in this pairing of types. 21

RPC 5206, 5216, 5226, 5236, 5245, 5256. In succeeding reigns, she is often shown holding both a balance and a cornucopia. 22

RPC 5207, 5217, 5227, 5237, 5246, and 5257. She is holding a helmet in these types, as well.


RPC 5208, 5228, 5238, 5247, and 5258. Homonoia is also shown with cornucopiae in later types. 24

Burnett et al. 1992, 705.


RPC 5204, 5214, 5224, 5234, 5243, and 5254. These attributes (used consistently on each specimen) render the identification of the figure as a Greek model of the Genius Populi Romani almost certain; see Fears 1978, 278-9.


identification would undoubtedly have been impossible without the accompanying legend (DHMOS RWMAIWN). We cannot know how the type was perceived by the Alexandrians, but it appears to have found little favor with the mint officials themselves; the type was never again used after the sixth year of Nero’s reign. Its companion type was a straightforward depiction of Roma with an identifying legend.26 She appears on these issues as a seated figure equipped with a sword in its scabbard and holding a small Nike figure. Similar types had been issued at Rome long before the Neronian era, and types featuring a depiction of Roma had been a staple of the Roman mint even under the Republic.27 Unlike the DHMOS RWMAIWN type, the appearance of the Roma type at Alexandria was welcomed with open arms, and mint officials would use the image (as well as several variations on its form) in many succeeding reigns. The remaining two types issued as part of the early tetradrachm series are unquestionably the most startling, as well as the most controversial.

Both images

conveyed powerful, uncompromising statements about Nero’s role as ruler and protector. Together, they paved the way for the expansion of the mint’s iconographic language. These images appear on coin-types as: NC328 Obv.: As NC1 Rev.: Nero, radiate and enthroned, l., with scepter, PRON NEOU SEBASTOU NC429 Obv.: As NC1 Rev.: Agathodaimon snake, r., with grain ears and poppies, NEO AGAQ DAIM


RPC 5209, 5218, 5229, 5239, 5248, and 5259.


Even if one acknowledges the possibility that some of the types issued during the predenarius era which featured the legend ROMA and a female head adorned with an Attic or Phrygian helmet do not depict Roma, it remains that the similar representation on the obverses of denarii, quinarii, and sestertii produced from 211 to 138 could hardly have been anyone else. See Crawford 1974, 721-25. 28

RPC 5203, 5223, 5233, 5242, and 5253. Nero also appears to hold a baton (or perhaps a fasces[?]) in these types. 29

RPC 5210, 5219, 5230, 5240, 5249, and 5260.


The identification of the figure on the reverse of the NC3 specimens (Fig. 30) had been an object of scholarly debate during the first decades of the 20th century.


however, held no reservations about identifying the enthroned figure as Nero himself,30 and both Skowronek31 and the authors of Roman Provincial Coinage32 have chosen to follow suit. At the heart of the question lies the unambiguous god-like depiction of the figure: he appears with radiate crown (see the discussion of NC5, below), sitting on a throne while resting his feet on a footstool. If one accepts the position adopted here, the NC3 reverses must be acknowledged as our earliest datable examples of public divine assimilation for Nero.33

At Rome, assimilative coin-types would prove to be

exceedingly rare during Nero’s reign, with only one unambiguous image serving as a clear candidate: that is, the type used for select bronze asses at Rome and Lugdunum featuring a laureate Nero advancing in the robes of Apollo Citharoedus and playing the lyre.34

This type, though, was specifically designed to commemorate the victory

“earned” by the emperor in the Ludi Quinquennales (Neronia) held in 60.35 No one event


Milne 1933, xxxv, 5 (nos. 145 and 146).


Skowronek (1967, 25) views the type as an attempt to transform the emperor into Helios.


Burnett et al. 1992, 705: “The natural interpretation… [is] that it depicts Nero, since he is the

NEOS SEBASTOS or ‘new emperor’ (rather than ‘new Augustus’) labeled by the inscription.” 33

Skowronek (1967, 25-6) asserts that the imperial precious metal reverses featuring a standing, radiate, and togate Nero (e.g., BMC 56, listed as “undated”) were issued slightly earlier and served as models for the Alexandrian types. He imagines that the types were occasioned by the battles with the Parthians initiated in AD 55, and he proceeds to argue that the title given to the emperor by the legend AVGVSTVS GERMANICVS “most probably resulted from the fact that the victories were achieved thanks to Gn. Domitius Corbulo, Nero’s commander experienced in battles with the Germans.” It is now generally accepted, however, that the earliest group of imperial types featuring these images was not issued until ca. 64-5 (RIC2 44-47). 34

First issued ca. 62 (RIC2 73-82); continued in 63 (RIC2 121-23), 64 (RIC2 205-12, 380-81, and 38485), and 65 (RIC2 414-17 and 451-55). 35

Tacitus, Ann. 14.20-1. This is the best explanation for the relatively early appearance of such a bold type. On the other hand, “the Genius type on the remainder of the asses, with its honorific or dedicatory dative [GENIO AVGUSTI], is further indication of the personal adulation now encouraged by Nero” (Sutherland and Carson 1984, 138).


or development had occasioned the NC3 type, making its sudden and early appearance all the more striking. Its companion type (NC4), however, conveyed a notion that was equally powerful. The Agathodaimon snake (Fig. 31) was sacred to Serapis and was a close correlate to the Roman genius; as a personification it was viewed as an ensurer of good fortune and good harvests, a protector of Alexandria and her inhabitants.36 Nero was the first emperor to be associated with the Alexandrian agathodaimon. The serpent appeared for the first time on his coinage, and inscriptions hailed him as jAgaqo~ Daivmwn th`~ oijkoumevnh~.37 The claim that the emperor was the NEO(S) AGAQ(O)DAIM(WN) on the NC4 types was in fact much more forceful than any equivalent tributes to his genius in the West and should be viewed as tantamount to an attempt at assimilation to the divine.

In this way, the messages expressed by the NC3 and NC4 specimens

complement one another rather well: by means of his unique foresight (PRON[OIA]) the new, god-like emperor has enabled himself to assume the role of protector over the city of Alexandria and the populace residing therein. A fresh group of billon reverses was produced during Years 9-12 (62/3-65/6), with many new and notable images among them. The most frequently employed of these was a simple bust of Poppaea.38 The new empress was not depicted as having any divine features or attributes, but her legends did contain the title SEBASTH, as Octavia’s had before her. Two other types were reused from year to year: one featured a bust of Serapis,39 the ever-popular Alexandrian deity who had last appeared on the coinage twenty years earlier under Claudius (CC4); the other was a standing eagle type,40 the 36

For a discussion on the intriguing similarities and notable differences between the agathodaimon and Roman genius, see Skowronek 1967, 41-42. 37

Vogt 1924, 28; Skowronek 1967, 42; Burnett et al. 1992, 705.


See above, n. 18.


RPC 5274, 5279, and 5281.


RPC 5283 and 5288.


first such type to appear on a precious metal issue at Alexandria. Billon types that proved to be short-lived under Nero included a new representation of Dikaiosyne41, a hippopotamus, 42 and a group of four ears of grain,43 all of which were discontinued after Year 9. A final billon reverse type issued during the same period was likewise confined to a single year (Year 12), but unlike the Year 9 types appears to have been produced in unprecedented quantities.44 It featured the bust of a figure adorned with an elephant headdress (either Alexander the Great or a personification of the city of Alexandria),45 and although one would have expected the first type to be issued in such massive numbers to have been a well established staple within the mint’s repertoire, this particular image had been used only once before (see the discussion on select bronze obols of Year 8, below). During the course of production for these “intermediate” billon issues, the mint witnessed the first indisputable additions of two novel features to the portraiture of its obverse types. Keeping in mind that we are very much in the dark concerning the possible Gaius issues (with a radiate portrait type), one can observe prima facie that the features of obverse types depicting Augustus, Tiberius, and Claudius had been 41

RPC 5268. She is depicted in this type as leaning on a column and holding her obligatory balance, as well as an acrostolium. 42

RPC 5269.


RPC 5270. They are represented without any other elements in the field and so are more akin to the Augustan grain-ears types than to any of the Claudian examples. 44

RPC 5289. The stock for such a large issue was most likely a by-product of the collection, demonetization, and subsequent melting down of Ptolemaic and Tiberian tetradrachms. That these billon issues were demonetized in the early 60’s is attested in both hoards and papyri; see Christiansen 1988, 34-110 (esp. 104), 689. 45

Identification of the figure as “Alexandria” had been taken for granted before the publication of Chugg 2001, which effectively demonstrates that similar types from Hadrian’s reign actually depict Alexander in the guise of “Genius of Alexandria.” The bust in the Neronian types does appear to be rather masculine, although it must be granted that nearly all Alexandrian typeportraits are executed in a rough manner. The one-word legend (AUTOKRA) contributes nothing to the discussion. For our purposes, though, the issue is a moot point; when depicted in Alexandrian art, Alexander was frequently employed as the embodiment of the city itself.


relatively idealized and conservative. While in some cases innovations in reverse type iconography appear to have stemmed from internal catalysts, these developments under Nero had been presaged by issues from the mint at Rome. The Alexandrian types appear as follows: NC546 Obv.: Nero, radiate head, r., NERW KLAV KAIS SEB GER (AV) Rev.: Various NC647 Obv.: Nero, radiate bust with aegis, r., NERW KLAV KAIS SEB GER Rev.: Various Production of coins with the NC5 radiate head obverse (Fig. 32) began in Year 10 (63/4); an aes obverse type with the same portrait and a near-identical legend in Latin appeared in Rome during the previous year.48 Likewise, the aegis type (NC6; Fig. 33) was not produced at Alexandria until Nero’s Year 11 (64/5); once again, it is an aes obverse issued precisely one year earlier at Rome which likely served as the specific source of inspiration.49 We can be certain that the radiate crown and aegis had not appeared on a living figure before Gaius’ reign (the former first appears on the types featuring the Deified Augustus issued under Tiberius [TC2, above]), and its first appearance might have been marked by these very types.50 The statement made by these additions was stark and unambiguous: in the Greek East, the radiate crown conjured immediate


RPC 5274-75 and 5279-82 (with hairstyle variations in 5281 and 5282).


RPC 5283-84, 5288-89, and 5292-93.


RIC2 87. Nero would not appear radiate on Roman aurei and denarii, however, until the postreform coinage of ca. 64-5 (on reverse types, exclusively). Skowronek, without the benefit of viewing RPC and the revised opinions of Sutherland, erroneously dates the initial production of the radiate obverse type in both Rome and Alexandria to 64/5 (1967, 20), when in fact it almost certainly appeared two years earlier at the capital and one year earlier at Alexandria. 49

RIC2 96, 98, and 101-7 (all issued as sestertii and dupondii in 63). It is worth noting, however, that the aegis appeared frequently at Antioch from 59/60 and on the civic coinage of Acmonea (RPC 3176); see Burnett et al. 1992, 43. 50

See the discussion on the issues surrounding the Caligulan Year 3 specimens at Chapter V.B.


associations with Helios, while the aegis established an iconographic tie between the emperor and Zeus.51 While it is correct to point out that the Alexandrian issues, in employing these obverse types exclusively from Year 11 to the end of the reign, take up the radiate crown and aegis more vigorously than the Imperial issues, this fact by no means constitutes evidence for an explicit Imperial directive aimed at the mint. Indeed, it is equally likely that after observing the appearance of these types on Imperial coins, mint officials simply viewed them as an effective means of advancing and elaborating upon the already powerful iconography used for representations of Nero at Alexandria. No aes coinage was issued from the mint under Nero until a minute number of coins was released in small denominations during Years 5 and 6. Production of bronze coinage was renewed with apparent enthusiasm in Year 8 and continued to the end of the reign (although it should be noted that after Year 8 the only bronze issues released into circulation in great quantities were those of Years 13 and 14). The implications of one of the more challenging Year 8 reverse types – that is, the bust of Alexander/Alexandria with an elephant headdress – have already been discussed.52 Somewhat surprisingly, this earliest example from Nero’s Year 8 was the first of its kind to be issued during the Roman era.53 The three other Year 8 types appear to form a coherent thematic group focusing on Roman victory: Roma standing with shield and spear, a trophy behind a kneeling captive, and a trophy without captive. 54 It is possible 51

Skowronek 1967, 18-24.


See above, where this figure’s use on later billon types is examined (esp. n. 45).


RPC 5264. Sporadic cases of the modeling of elements of one’s military or propagandistic programs after Alexander occurred during the late Republic (e.g., by Pompey, Antony, and Caesar), but they were never symptomatic of a consuming preoccupation with the Hellenistic dynast; see Green 1978. The memory of Alexander had played a significant role in the realm of early Ptolemaic ruler cult (see Grimm 1978), but after the Roman conquest this aspect of ruler worship does not appear to have been emphasized as strongly. Octavian did in fact display a keen interest in Alexander while stationed in Egypt, going so far as to extract his body from its shrine (Suetonius, Div. Aug. 18.1), but this interest never manifested itself in a direct honoring on the Roman coinage - Imperial or provincial. 54

RPC 5263, 5265, and 5266, respectively.


that no specific allusion was intended; but if the types were in fact issued with a particular victory in mind, then the two primary candidates were almost certainly the British and the Armenian conquests.55 Almost all of the bronze types issued after Nero’s Year 8 – including Nilus, Serapis, Tyche, the Agathodaimon and Uraeus serpents, the Apis bull, the hawk, the eagle, the griffin, the winged caduceus and the vase – had strong Alexandrian and Egyptian religious associations.56 And of the lone pair of exceptions, which consists of a bound grain-ears type and the unique TWI CWTHRI THC OIKOUMeNHC type (discussed immediately below), the former carries

quasi-religious overtones stemming from its connections with hoped-for abundance and fertility. It would appear, then, that in these late Neronian issues Alexandrian mint officials had carefully constructed a thematically unified bronze series for the second time in as many reigns. Two bronze reverse types issued during the peak years of aes production deserve special mention.

It might be only by random coincidence that both appeared

exclusively on the largest bronze denomination and that these seem to have been extremely scarce issues.57 Close examination, however, reveals this to be a rather shortsighted view. The first of these extraordinary types was issued in Year 9 (62/3) and contained only the legend TWI CWTHRI THC OIKOUMeNHC surrounded by a wreath.58 Types consisting simply of textual inscriptions (with or without a wreath) had appeared on aes issues from the Second Augustan Series. Not surprisingly, none had featured a legend approaching the length of this example (and one might plausibly argue that it is 55

Burnett et al. (1992, 705) favor the British victory if pressured to choose, if only because the captive in RPC 5265 does not don the Phrygian cap but appears instead to be bare-headed. 56

These are collectively represented by RPC 5272, 5276-78, 5286-87, 5290-91, 5303-04, and 531925. To this selection one can add the RPC 5285 Zeus type, discussed below. 57

For a detailed discussion of the bronze denominations used in Egypt during the period in question, see Appendix II. 58

RPC 5271.


only with the introduction of this largest bronze denomination that such an elaborate inscription was made possible), nor had any gone so far as to proclaim the emperor “Savior of the World.”

As with the Year 8 bronze types focusing on victory,

pinpointing a specific event commemorated by this legend is not a prerequisite for our understanding of the type, even though a handful of possibilities immediately presents itself.59 Even if a specific event did in fact prompt the creation of the type, it is unlikely that many individuals among the Alexandrian and Egyptian audiences – with the latter being significantly more impeded by the literacy barrier – could have recognized it; that is to say, it likely would have been perceived as a direct and bold statement falling well in line with the types of the Neronian tetradrachm series that had preceded it. The other exceptional bronze reverse type from these later issues depicts a seated Zeus holding a small Nike figure and surrounded by the descriptive legend ZEUS KAPETWLIOS.60 For several decades this type has provided fodder for discussions among ancient numismatists, as it is one of the earliest Alexandrian types conveying a direct association with the city of Rome.

Along these lines, several scholars have

asserted that the image was produced as a direct parallel to the IVPPITER CVSTOS aurei and denarii produced at the capital.61 While these Imperial coins likely did serve as specific models for the Alexandrian type, it now seems fairly certain that the ZEUS KAPETWLIOS specimens were issued in Year 14, three years after their (previously) widely accepted placement in Year 11.62 This re-dating of the Alexandrian imitations casts doubt on the possibility that the type had been issued after the transmission of a 59

Burnett et al. (1992, 705) suggest that the type was occasioned by the closing of the doors on the Janus temple at the conclusion of the Armenian wars: “though this is implicitly dated to 66 by Suetonius, coins from Rome suggest that it took place at least a year earlier.” 60

RPC 5285.


RIC2 52 and 53. See esp. Vogt 1924, 31. These coins were probably issued to commemorate the assurance of Nero’s safety from the Pisonian conspiracy in 65; see Burnett et al. 1992, 705. 62

For the revised chronology, see Pincock 1995. Burnett et al. now concur (RPC Suppl. 5285-6).


direct request from Rome. The type might have been chosen simply for its potential to link the Hellenic devotion to Zeus with the Roman capital. At the same time, it could have been perceived as an honorific gesture toward the emperor. In turn, we must acknowledge the possibility that the image was selected to serve a double purpose, as the Augustan capricorn type likely had been before it. The final Neronian billon series, issued in Years 13 and 14 (66/7-67/8), was in many respects even more unified than the first. While four of the Year 13 types – the radiate head of Augustus, the laureate head of Tiberius, a bust of Apollo, and a helmeted bust of Roma – were not repeated,63 the seven reused one year later comprised a unified thematic group, as each contained a direct reference to Nero’s tour of Greece: NC764

Obv.: Radiate bust of Nero with aegis, l., NERO KLAV KAIS SEB GER AV Rev.: Galley at sea, r., SEBASTOFOROS


Obv.: As NC7 Rev.: Laureate bust of Olympian Zeus, r., DIOS OLUMPIOU


Obv.: As NC7 Rev.: Bust of Nemean Zeus with aegis, r., NEMEIOS ZEUS

NC1067 Obv.: As NC7 Rev.: Veiled bust of Hera Argeia, r., HRA ARGEIA NC1168 Obv.: As NC7 Rev.: Bust of Poseidon with trident, r., POSEIDWN ISQMIOS 63

RPC 5294, 5295, 5292, and 5293, respectively. The use of the Tiberius and Augustus types is conveniently explained away by the mint officials’ desire to retain the images of the emperors featured on the billon tetradrachms removed from circulation and melted down to produce these late issues (which are all produced in immense quantities); see Burnett et al. 1992, 705. 64

RPC 5296 and 5306.


RPC 5297, 5307, and 5313.


RPC 5298, 5308, and 5314.


RPC 5299, 5309, and 5315.


RPC 5300, 5310, and 5316.


NC1269 Obv.: As NC7 Rev.: Laureate bust of Actian Apollo with quiver, r., AKTIOS APOLLWN NC1370 Obv.: As NC7 Rev.: Laureate bust of Pythian Apollo with quiver, r., PUQIOS APOLLWN Among these types, only the NC7 specimens (Fig. 34) might not have been designed with Nero’s travels in and around Greece foremost in mind.71 The remaining types all depict one of the deities presiding over five of the major festivals at which Nero competed in poetry, rhetoric, or chariot racing: the Olympic (NC8; Fig. 35), the Nemean (NC9 and NC10; Figs. 36-37), the Isthmian (NC11; Fig. 38), the Actian (NC12; Fig. 39), and the Pythian (NC13; Fig. 40). Most of these festivals were traditionally staggered along a rotating four-year interval, with the Actian games (revived under Augustus and moved to Nicopolis) standing as the lone exception. Nero commanded that all of them be held in the year of his visit (AD 67) and proved to be victorious in every “competition.” When the mint officials at Alexandria made the rather curious choice to produce these types, the resulting issues became the only coinage – imperial or provincial – to commemorate Nero’s visit to Greece by means of an extensive, intertwined series. Two other such series, one in billon and another in bronze, had already been produced at Alexandria during Nero’s reign. In this regard the third and final group, directed either at the Hellenized segments of the population or toward the emperor himself (or both), was a fitting close to the most productive and innovative period of mint activity to occur during the Julio-Claudian era.


RPC 5301, 5311, and 5317.


RPC 5302, 5312, and 5318.


See Levy 1982-83, in which the author points out (quite rightly) that the type depicts a freighter while all indications are that Nero made his voyage to Greece in an oared galley; she suggests that it instead refers to a longer journey – to or from Alexandria – that was never made. See, however, the analysis of the dissenting views expressed at Burnett et al. 1992, 706 (i.e., that the type is directly associated with the “Greek” reverses listed above and that the freighter is simply an error for a galley).


Chapter VIII: Images Created under Galba, Otho, and Vitellius

A.) Relief Scenes in the Egyptian Province In spite of the extremely ephemeral periods of rule enjoyed by Galba, Otho, and Vitellius – and notwithstanding the general instability that had set upon the Roman realm during the year after Nero’s death – only Vitellius is absent from the extant reliefs executed in pharaonic style within the Egyptian province. Both Galba and Otho appear within the Isis temple complex at Deir el-Shelwît. The former is recognizable by the birth name SRBYU (Srbijw) GRBS AUTUKRTR (Serouios Galba[s] Autokrator),1 while the latter is denoted by a cartouche which, when transliterated, reads as MRKS (A)UTUN (Markos Othon). When viewed together, their reliefs underscore the paramount role played by the ruler of Egypt in the religious world presided over by the clergy. The temple complex of Deir el-Shelwît is located at the extreme southern end of the Theban district on the Nile’s west bank, about 3.5 km from Medinet Habu. The complex originally consisted of the temple proper and a large, flat court enclosed by limestone walls. Only small fragments of these walls have survived, and so we must be content with the remnants of the elaborate propylon that once allowed access into the court, those of the contemporary well, and the more substantial remains of the temple itself. Although the foundation courses for the temple are Ptolemaic in date, all of the relief sculpture covering the surviving architecture was executed during the first two centuries of the Roman era. Among these numerous reliefs, the image of Augustus (on


At least two distinct forms of Galba’s earlier name appear among recently discovered relief fragments on the Temple of Amun-nakht at Ain Birbiyeh in the Dakhla Oasis; both appear with multiple variants. One form transliterates as “Loukios Libios” (Lucius Livius), while the other is a hieroglyphic rendering of “Soulpikios Galba(s) Kaisar” (Servius Galba Caesar). On these fragments and the reversal of birth and coronation names at the oases, see Kaper 2010, 186-195.


a reused block in the temple court) and scenes of no fewer than six other Roman emperors can be clearly identified, including Galba and Otho.2 The reliefs of Galba appear in two registers on the interior of the north side of the propylon at the entrance to the temple precinct (i.e., towards the right as one faces the temple itself), a segment that has been damaged much more extensively than its counterpart (Fig. 41). The style and content of these scenes are well in line with other Roman-era reliefs; only the mildly exceptional presence of Monthu, falcon-headed war god of the Theban district, commands attention in this regard.3 Ultimately, it is the very presence of Galba’s cartouche on these images which strikes the viewer as surprising. The presence of several scenes featuring Otho, whose own short-lived reign lasted only from mid-January to mid-April of 69, is equally striking. They are carved on three segments of the interior of the well-preserved south portion of the propylon. Nine of Otho’s ten original scenes have survived; presumably, given the highly symmetrical arrangement of the propylon scenes, Galba originally featured in ten scenes on the right segment. These left interior panels contain a mixture of new iconography and standard scenes of the emperor-pharaoh interacting with Egyptian deities: thus, Otho drives a spear into a small figure (perhaps one of the zoomorphic forms of the demon Apophis, enemy of Re) before a male deity (Fig. 42); he holds aloft symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt before Nephthys, Isis, and a diminutive Harsiesi (Fig. 43); and he pours a libation to his symbolic mother and father (as Harsiesi incarnate), Isis and Osiris (Fig. 44).4


Augustan block: Porter and Moss 1960, 532. Galba: Cat. Nos. 507-8. Otho: Cat. Nos. 498-506.


Catalogue No. 508.


Catalogue Nos. 498, 502, and 506. If the recipient of Otho’s spear-point in the first relief is, in fact, a coiled serpent or a small lizard (thereby representing Apophis [cf. Cat. No. 211]), then the male deity featured in the damaged part of the relief could well be Re in one of his combined forms.


In light of Otho’s presence in a substantial number of reliefs at Deir el-ShelwÎt, the absence of Vitellius from these panels cannot be attributed to the length of his reign. Instead, the declaration of Vespasian as emperor by his troops at the beginning of July was probably at fault; any plans among the clergy to commemorate and formalize Vitellius in his capacity as pharaoh would have been cancelled rather quickly, as this declaration occurred in Egypt.

While Vespasian and his son Domitian would

eventually appear on the short sides of the Deir el-ShelwĂŽt propylon, it is the images carved in the names of Galba and Otho that are most revealing in regard to the passive but pivotal ritual role played by the pharaoh. The awareness of the political climate and changes in rulership on the part of the Upper Egyptian clergy operated at as high a level as that which existed in the major provincial capitals, but the hundreds of reliefs created during the first century of Roman rule in Egypt demonstrate that this level of awareness was an absolutely essential aspect of their religious functioning.


B.) Alexandrian Coin Types It is rather surprising that despite working in the wake of the massive billon issues minted from 65/6 to 67/8, the Alexandrian mint continued to produce tetradrachms in 68/9 (and this even as the civil wars that followed Nero’s death raged on). This phenomenon appears less shocking, however, when viewed alongside the fact that mint officials created provocative new types throughout this tumultuous period. Already in Galba’s Year 1 (9 June - 28 August 68) two images – one a representation of Eleutheria and the other a depiction of Kratesis – make their appearance on the Alexandrian tetradrachms for the first time. To these were added the familiar bust of Alexander/Alexandria and two images with close imperial parallels: namely, the Eirene and Roma types.5 This group of five reverse types appears as follows: GalC16 Obv.: Laureate head of Galba, r., LOUK LIB SOULP GALBA KAIS SEB AU(T) Rev.: Bust of Alexander/Alexandria, r., wearing elephant headdress, with chlamys buckled over right shoulder, ALEXANDREA GalC27 Obv.: As GalC1 Rev.: Eleutheria, standing front, head l., leaning on column, holding wreath and scepter, ELEUQERIA GalC38 Obv.: As GalC1 Rev.: Bust of Eirene, r., crowned with olive wreath, wearing veil and chiton, with caduceus behind shoulder, EIRHNH GalC49 Obv.: As GalC1 Rev.: Kratesis, standing front, head l., wearing long chiton and peplos, holding Nike figure and trophy, KRATHSIS 5

Eirene: RPC 5328, 5333, 5338, and 5343. Roma: RPC 5330, 5335, 5340, and 5345. Both figures had appeared as elements in Nero’s first tetradrachm series, as well. 6

RPC 5326.


RPC 5327.


RPC 5328


RPC 5329.


GalC510 Obv.: As GalC1 Rev.: Helmeted and cuirassed bust of Roma, holding spear and shield, RWMH Each of these types reappeared during Year 2 (29 August – 15 January 69) with variations in the legend; the iconography of the types, however, remained unchanged.11 The bust of Alexander/Alexandria (GalC1; Fig. 45) is nearly identical to that featured in the Neronian billon type issued in Year 12. In a few of the Galban types, it is apparent that the figure is wearing a chlamys, perhaps tilting the scales slightly in favor of identifying this individual as Alexander. The two new types (GalC2 [Fig. 46] and GalC4 [Fig. 47]) were clearly intended to be viewed as a pair: Eleutheria represented the “freedom” from Neronian tyranny secured for Egypt (and the rest of the empire) by Galba’s rule, while Kratesis represented Roman imperial authority; in addition, the pose and arrangement of the figures in each type mirror one another quite closely. The notion that the security and rights of the Egyptians were guaranteed by the strength of Roman rule fell directly in line with the messages encouraged by the central and regional governments, and the expression of this idea via paired coin-types was a genuinely creative concept. Despite their innovative character, these two images would not survive into the Flavian era.12 In treating the Eirene type (GalC3), it is perhaps noteworthy that a large number of Pax reverses and a smaller group of obverses were issued under Galba both in Gaul and at Rome, perhaps as an attempt to make (unfounded) assurances of peace and stability in the midst of troubled times.13 The representation of Eirene employed in the 10

RPC 5330.


Early on in Year 2 (on precise dating, see Milne 1909, 278-9) the previous legend is altered only slightly; RPC 5331-35 appear with LOUK LIB SOULP GALBA SEB AU(T). Later, the legend is altered more drastically; RPC 5336-45 appear with SEPOUI GALBA AUTOK KAIS SEBA. 12

Cf. Milne 1933, xxxii: “the idea did not win favour – Eleutheria at any rate was quite out of place in Egypt – and they were dropped almost at once.” 13

Gaul: RIC2 129. Rome: RIC2 277-85, 319-23, 368-71, 413-15, 444-45, and 496-98.


GalC3 type, on the other hand, has few ties to these Western issues in terms of design and execution; the Pax types were derived from obvious Roman models, while the Alexandrian Eirene types were all but identical to similar images struck at the same mint during the previous reign14. An emphasis on Roma (GalC5; Fig. 48) was equally understandable, since even while facing opposition from other parts of the empire Galba was recognized as sole ruler at the capital itself. Indeed, Roma appeared quite often on Galban coins issued from Rome, Spain, and Gaul.15 Once again, the figure in the Alexandrian type is not depicted in an overtly Roman manner, but rather in this case appears to combine the features of the two Roma types issued under Nero (the first in Years 3-6, the second in Year 13). As a continuation of the emphasis on the security of Galban rule at the capital (initiated by the widespread Roma and Eirene/Pax types), the personification of Victory was honored on some of Galba’s largest aes coins from Alexandria (as Nike), and likewise appeared frequently on the corresponding Imperial coinage.16 Almost all other Galban bronze types, on the other hand, were concerned entirely with the religion of the Alexandrians and Egyptians. These types featured Nilus, Serapis, two distinct Isis types, and a representation of a Canopus figure.17 This last type, a depiction of a jarform image of Serapis with the characteristics of Osiris, had not been issued during


The bust of Eirene is in fact an almost direct copy of the Hera Argeia type produced during the previous reign (NC10), with the addition of the caduceus serving as the lone distinguishing iconographic feature of the Galban specimen. Indeed, the structural similarities are sufficiently apparent as to suggest a re-cutting of the extant Hera Argeia dies. 15

Rome: RIC2 160-62, 194-204, 229-30, 238-49, 311-12, 316, 358, 392-94, 446-533, and 484. Spain: RIC2 24-29, 40-45, 53, and 57-60. Gaul: RIC2 87, 95, and 141. 16

Alexandria: RPC 5346. Rome: RIC2 148, 173-75, 215-17, 250-58, 313-15, 350-57, 397-403, 456-58, 490, and 510-14. Spain: RIC2 10 and 48. Gaul: RIC2 98-9, 110-113, and 131-33. Africa: RIC2 51920. 17

RPC 5348-52.


previous reigns. As a truly Egyptian motif, the image was a perfect complement to aes types issued along with it.

Collectively, at a time when obverse types stressed

discontinuity with the preceding era (e.g., in the return to the laureate head from the radiate form), these bronze reverses maintained the thematic momentum generated by the late Neronian aes issues. Overall, the Alexandrian coinage of Galba gives the same impression as his issues from the imperial mint: namely, that either he or his staff was well aware of the potential of coins as vehicles for carrying messages from the imperial center (including some regarding his own legitimate rule there) to the provincial periphery. On the other hand, while the rapid transmission of the imperial portrait and the generally “Roman” character of the Galban tetradrachm types18 might be taken to imply close contact between the Alexandrian mint and the Roman capital, we should always be reluctant to equate “close contact” with direct involvement in terms of selection and design. As noted above, most of the Galban aes types relate to Egyptian cults. In addition, the style of the tetradrachms is entirely and consistently “Alexandrian,” as both the re-casting of the featured personifications and the legends appear to be geared toward the local audience. All evidence of close ties to Rome disappears with the reign of Otho (recognized in Egypt from 15 January to 15 April, 69). Appearing to experience a bit of a “lull” in communications with the capital, the Alexandrian mint was content to reproduce most of the Galban reverse types. All five of the Galban billon types (GalC1-GalC5) were issued once more (and again in great quantity),19 as were the five distinct “religious” bronze reverses issued during the same reign.20 Moreover, the obverse portraits reflect no knowledge of Otho’s imago or general appearance. It is therefore left to the legends 18

See Burnett et al. 1992, 710-11.


RPC 5353-62.


RPC 5363-71.


to distinguish these issues as coins of Otho: AUTOK MARK OQWNOS KAIS SEB appeared on all billon and most bronze, while MARK OQWN KAIS SEB AUT was used on select bronze obols and diobols. We should not be taken aback by the fact that communications between Rome and Alexandria stalled during this period; as important a region as Egypt was recognized to be, Otho had little chance to become settled during the few months during which he was in power, and his officials certainly had greater concerns. One wonders whether the course of Otho’s Alexandrian coinage would have changed had the new emperor continued to rule for several years, and it is certainly worth noting that (apparently) even without knowledge of Otho’s policies regarding coinage the mint nevertheless issued new billon and bronze coins in large quantities.21 Galban types were likewise reused on the bronze coinage of Vitellius (recognized in Egypt from 19 April until 1 July 69),22 although we cannot know whether this continuation was prompted by the perceived effectiveness of types considered to be “safe choices,” apathy toward the creation of new types in such an unstable period, or a combination of both factors. For the second consecutive reign, portrait-types imply an ignorance of the emperor’s appearance, and the use of a personalized legend (WLOU OUIT KAIS SEB GERM AUT) is the only distinguishing feature of the Vitellian obverses. And yet, with what seems to be minimal communication with the new regime, the Galban billon types were discontinued; instead, the Vitellian tetradrachms – now issued in more moderate quantities – feature a conservative flying Nike type.23 With the abandonment of the Galban billon types, the copied Vitellian aes types become all the 21

Burnett et al. (1992, 712) do not directly assert an explanation for this intriguing phenomenon, but do imply that it relates to the same forces that were at work during the later years of Nero and under Galba. Along these lines, one may plausibly argue that (at least in regard to the billon issues) the massive production under Otho was initiated without hesitation because of the strong economic need that had arisen in the wake of the Neronian demonetization of Ptolemaic and Tiberian tetradrachms (see above, Chapter VII.B, n. 44). 22

RPC 5374-78.


RPC 5372 (Nike flying, l.) and 5373 (Nike flying, r.). See also Burnett et al. 1992, 712.


more extraordinary. The phenomenon could be taken to support the notion that the favoring of previously-approved types outweighed any desire to stress discontinuity with earlier reigns. It is likewise possible that the choice to retain the Galban types might serve to demonstrate that type-content played a greater role in the frequent reuse of individual images than did feelings of indifference toward the prospect of creating fresh inventions. The innovative Galban bronze types, for their part, continued to exert some influence on mint officials even into the reign of Vespasian, after which a new wave of creativity began to flow through the Alexandrian mint.


Chapter IX: Diachronic Trends & Features of Roman Imperial Images in Egypt

A.) The Extent of External Influence on Type-selection at the Alexandrian Mint An analysis of the influences directly and indirectly exerted on Alexandrian coins by the central administration in Rome or by imperial and provincial types demonstrates that one simply cannot form broad generalizations regarding external pressures or internal license. It is impossible to discern a consistent policy on a reign-toreign basis; moreover, it is futile to attempt to isolate any distinct pattern of copying (or of imperial direction, for that matter) within a single reign. Ultimately, we are forced to acknowledge that, beyond the usual practice of designing types with local or regional significance, any instances of direct imperial influence which might have occurred were interspersed alongside sporadic decisions made by local officials to copy nonAlexandrian types. During the first years of the reign of Augustus, as the mint at Alexandria was cautiously finding its way toward a unique iconographic repertoire, officials seemed to be looking to types already in circulation, perhaps for the purpose of selecting images that would be deemed “acceptable� by their superiors. If the prefect or idioslogos were involved, then the goal could have been nothing more than selecting types with known imperial approval. With the astrological types of the Third Series, the mint began to imitate images that would be recognizable to Egyptian subjects (and, one might add, images that might aid in the manipulation of perceptions of Roman authority). The Capricorn type from the same series and the Gaius type from the Fourth Series (AC4) provide us with what could be considered our earliest evidence for a deferential gesture to Rome and its emperor on the part of the Alexandrian mint. It must be granted, 208

however, that in the absence of explicit written testimony, these sorts of intentions are virtually impossible to prove, especially where coin-types are concerned.1 On the other hand, the final two Augustan series and the earliest Tiberian issues are composed of specially designed Hellenic, Greco-Egyptian, and Egyptian types; traces of Rome’s involvement or direct influence are nowhere to be found. In fact, after the production of the Tiberian tetradrachms, whose unvaried obverse and reverse types could conceivably have been the product of a single directive from the central administration, evidence for the capital’s intervention in the affairs of the mint becomes increasingly tenuous and sporadic. The Claudian family types produced at Alexandria certainly could have been copied from imperial issues, but in this case – as in so many others – we are simply unable to differentiate between directed design and free imitation of images observed on coins collected at the exchange posts. For the most part, imperial involvement in the creation of Neronian family types can be ruled out altogether.

While the radiate crown and aegis were both incorporated into the

iconographic vocabulary of the Alexandrian obverse types rather quickly, Alexandria was only one of many mints in the Greek East to follow the precedent established by the imperial coinage. Even the extraordinary type featuring Zeus Kapetolios – for many years singled out as being among the least disputable pieces of evidence supporting direct ties between the Alexandrian and imperial coinages – now appears to be the product of a freely chosen imitation, executed over three years after initial production of


Levick (1982, 107) suggests that imperial types could be designed on occasion to appeal to the emperor and not to the general public. She does not discuss the potential for applying her hypotheses to the major non-imperial coinages, and one can only assume that provincial coins (especially those intended for a closed system) would constitute a special case. She perhaps goes too far in asserting that only images honoring the emperor would have been chosen by mint officials (i.e., with no concern for public reception), since the motivation behind the choice of countless other types must have stemmed from a variety of sources; see Weigel 1995, 246.


the imperial mint’s original model.2 When evaluated over the full span of an entire dynasty, then, regulation of activity at the Alexandrian mint by the central authority appears to have been haphazard, at best. Those scholars who have concluded that the issuing of coinage from Alexandria was “under direct imperial control” or “directly linked to the imperial coinage” have done so on the basis of a variety of factors, including: the fact that an appointee of the emperor rested at the top of the mint hierarchy; the implications stemming from the production of a larger-than-average number of Alexandrian reverse types; and the perception that Alexandrian types emulated Imperial types in their manner of depicting members of the imperial family.3 As indicated throughout the present study, however, direct intervention affecting the mint’s usual processes was rare, and in many cases imperial types were copied solely by virtue of their potential impact on the Alexandrian and Egyptian audiences. If we are to classify the Alexandrian coinage as “imperial,” we must also make it clear that the description is appropriate only insofar as these issues were intended for restricted circulation in a region from which senators were barred – a


See above, Chapter VII.B., n. 62.


Christiansen 1988, 310-1; see also Bland 1996, 118. Christiansen (1988, 310) also points to attempts to link fluctuations in silver coin production with similar fluctuations at the imperial mint, but these do not seem to me to have yielded any meaningful patterns. This is almost certainly due to the fact that in the production of precious metal coinage, Roman officials were aware of and reacted to a specific need for coins in circulation; see Burnett 2005, 274. The timing and degree of these reactions would have rarely coincided, since Alexandrian coins and imperial coins circulated in independent systems. Bland (1996, 118) attempts to supplement these arguments by asserting that “Alexandria responded very quickly to changes in imperial authority and its behaviour seems far closer to the mint of Rome than to most provincial mints.” This phenomenon falls well in line with the similar level of awareness displayed by the Egyptian priests (above, Chapter VIII.A) but should not be attributed to the same causes; close communication between Rome and Alexandria (see below, n. 4) is the most obvious and least problematic explanation for the effect. As for the similarities in depictions of members of the imperial family, Bland himself grants that “this is a trend that became more marked after the middle of the 2nd c. A.D.,” citing the fact that “before Hadrian, many members of the imperial family honoured on coins at Rome were absent from the Alexandrian coinage, e.g., Germanicus, Agrippina the elder, Domitilla, Julia Titi, Domitia, Plotina, Marciana and Matidia.”


land organized as a “province of the Roman people” and existing ostensibly under the supervision of the emperor and his appointees. If the Alexandrian mint appears to follow Rome’s lead in its reflection of fluctuating attitudes and approaches toward the conception of the emperor as a divinity (a point treated in further detail below), the correlation should be viewed as nothing more than a predictable by-product of the close communication between the appointees at the head of Alexandrian administration and their superiors in Rome.4 As a consequence, no element of our available evidence can be taken to indicate that the central administration’s approach to the mint at Alexandria was radically different from its approach to other eastern mints, least of all in regard to its rather heavy dependence upon provincial officials in every aspect of production.


staggering quantity and variety of the Alexandrian types were natural results of a single, unique condition: specifically, that officials in the capital were granted a broad license for the production of dies with locally comprehensible images associated with the issuing ruler, his officials, and his empire. In the context of Egypt’s closed currency system, this relatively far-reaching license was, in turn, expected to facilitate the creation of a range of images endowed with a greater potential to command attention and to influence the viewer’s perceptions of the emperor and all representations of Roman authority.


The level of administrative correspondence was overshadowed only by the extensive commercial interaction between the two cities (see above, Chapter I.C and I.E); that is to say, Rome and Alexandria were hardly isolated from one another. Given the great distances involved, relay time between the two cities was surprisingly short, and a favorable journey might last only ten days, in spite of the usual avoidance of the open sea; see Casson 1974, 152.


B.) Variations in Divine Attributes and Assimilation in Representations of Emperors and Empresses on the Alexandrian Coinage

In observing the images of Roman imperial authority expressed through public media, it immediately becomes apparent that one of the most frequently employed means of inspiring loyalty to Rome was to emphasize the raising of the emperor to divine rank. The honors once conferred upon the Ptolemies by the Greeks and Hellenized Egyptians were transferred to Octavian and all subsequent Roman rulers.5 Likewise, throughout the Egyptian province, the Roman emperor received many of the same honors as his Ptolemaic predecessors, and each was acknowledged in the temples of the native gods as a king who possessed access to the divine realm. As outlined above, within the traditional religion the ruler represented Horus on earth; in addition, he was to be honored as the son of Re and as a descendent of Ammon. The Romans, recognizing the usefulness of these traditional conceptions of ruling power, permitted and relied upon this mode of veneration among the non-metropolite, “native” elements of the population.6 For Roman residents and the Hellenized citizens of Alexandria and the metropoleis, however, divine honors for and sacrifice to the living emperor was ostensibly discouraged by most Julio-Claudian emperors.7 In spite of this generally conservative attitude toward the broad range of possible cult honors directed toward the emperor, certain honors and rituals now associated with the realm of “imperial cult


See above, Chapter I.G; see also the excellent discussion at Skowronek 1967, 69-70. Augustus was quickly granted recognition as “Zeus Eleutherios” and “Apollo Epibaterios.” He was also honored as “Soter” and “Euergetes” at Philae and as “Helmis-Hermes” at Dendera. Moreover, the Ptolemaic-Pharaonic oath form was maintained under the name of the Roman emperor. 6

Skowronek 1967, 16; Huzar 1988b, 641. See the discussion at Chapter I.G.


See above, Chapter I.G; also, Huzar 1988b, 641; Skowronek 1967, 70-1. Tiberius was reported to have restricted divine honors to Augustus, to have disallowed both the swearing of oaths in his name and all references to himself as “Pater Patriae,” and to have refused several other common honors, as well. Claudius formulaically refused “full” divine honors from the Alexandrians and accepted only a handful of other honors, including the construction of stone statues in his image (see above, Chapter I.C).


practice” (however inadequate this modern catch-all heading may be) were permitted throughout the empire.8 Surviving statues and statuary groups, temples, and records of communication with the capital indicate that provinces in the Greek East were, as a general rule, granted more leeway in their residents’ requests to honor the emperor in cultic contexts. Yet, with the only clear exceptions among the Neronian issues, the coins minted at Alexandria reflected the “official” Julio-Claudian reluctance to advertise the living emperor as a divine figure. As with so many aspects of the Alexandrian coinage, the Augustan era would witness the establishment of a strong precedent. The legend on the AC1 specimens (QEOU UIOU) might appear at first glance to be a rather bold announcement, but its tone may be explained by two critical circumstances. The first is its relatively early date; the type was issued before 27 B.C., the point after which Augustus ceased to be represented “as a god, hero and man” and began to be shown “only in the human form…[that] prevailed on the coinage of his successors until late in Nero’s reign.”9 The second is that this common Greek translation of the original Latin legend DIVI F(ilius)10 could not in itself convey the sense of “divinity via deification,” and it therefore stood (perhaps unintentionally, at first) as a more stark announcement of divine heritage for the new Roman ruler. If we exclude this single case, Alexandrian legends before the reign of Nero appear to have been conspicuously conservative. Under Augustus, for example, the QEOU UIOU legend was eliminated from the mint’s repertoire after only two years, and during his lifetime no legend declared him to be a qeoς.11 8

On the problematic use of the term “imperial cult” to demarcate a purely religious category and on the “constitutional” acceptance of honors for the Roman head-of-state, see Gradel 2002, 4-13. On the range of divine honors spontaneously granted among Hellenized residents of Alexandria and the Egyptian province, see the recently-published Pfeiffer 2010. 9

Burnett et al. 1992, 47.


See above, Chapter III.B, n. 57.


Burnett et al. 1992, 47 (esp. n. 22). In contrast, this appellation does appear on small issues from the Thessalian League and from Thessalonika.


While the assimilation of Macedonian rulers to certain deities was achieved on Hellenistic coins mainly through the representation of their portraits, on Roman coins the effect was achieved through the employment of recognizable divine attributes. The task of isolating attributes that are unambiguously “divine,” however, often presents a substantial challenge. For the coins produced at Alexandria, Skowronek claimed that a sharp distinction should be drawn between bare-headed and laureate types, as the latter endowed the emperor with a direct association to both Zeus and Apollo.12 Augustus seems to have been rather cautious about allowing the early laureate types to be issued at Rome when they fell outside an appropriately triumphal context, and one wonders whether he or his close officials gave any thought to the possible recognition of these divine connotations (especially since he was by this time [i.e., ca. 11/10 B.C.] carefully guarding against any “divine ruler” images which might circulate in the public eye). The same questions could be posed regarding the reception of the laureate type in Egypt, where it first appeared during production of the Fourth Augustan Series (ca. 2/1 B.C.): would it have been considered capable of conjuring images of Apollo, Zeus, or any other divine figure? There are no strong indications either in favor of or against the notion, but debates over the type’s reception become moot as early as the beginning of the Fifth Augustan Series, from which point the bare-headed type ceases to be employed altogether. From the first issues under Tiberius, then, the laureate portrait-type employed for the obverse image of the emperor would have been viewed as standard rather than exceptional. The presence of the radiate crown is substantially less ambiguous. A radiate portrait first appears on the coins of Alexandria with the production of the new Roman tetradrachm series in Year 7 under Tiberius. These specimens (TC2) depict the radiate head of Divus Augustus; understandably, the radiate crown served as a regular feature


Skowronek 1967, 17-8. Skowronek asserts that Augustus came to favor the laurel wreath over the diadem with the express intention of tying himself to those deities.


of almost every known portrait of this particular figure.13 The inclusion of the radiate crown on any portrait conveyed the sense that the subject was being honored as Helios, the sun-god; there is no reason to suppose that Hellenized city-dwellers would have failed to recognize this association, and it is easily understood why the radiate portrait type was adopted at Alexandria so rapidly.14

One might plausibly argue that by

elevating an imperial predecessor to the level of a deity the current ruler was both legitimizing his own rule and advertising his special ties to the divine. Yet, even if we grant the possibility that all comparable types were similarly perceived, their impact at Alexandria can still be debated. Indeed, while in Rome this sort of advertisement (e.g., on the Tiberian imperial bronze issues) would have been considered bold in its novelty, the same iconography must have been considered relatively subtle in Alexandria, where the populace was already accustomed to the public worship of a ruler and to the visual manifestations of divine honors directed toward the living emperor.15 Nero’s issues, on the other hand, made a clean break with the established tradition even from the first tetradrachm series minted during his reign (dated to Year 3 [56/7]). By the time his radiate portrait was issued as an obverse type in 63/4 (NC5), he had already appeared radiate and enthroned on a reverse type with the legend PRON(oia) NEOU SEBASTOU (NC3).16

In the same early billon series, Nero was

depicted both as the new Agathodaimon (the eastern counterpart of the Roman genius)


See Burnett et al. 1992, 43. It is certainly worth noting that the radiate crown is not used for representations of Divus Iulius (who is instead depicted as wearing a wreath or diadem) on the coinage; moreover, it is strictly avoided on all representations of the Deified Claudius at Rome, Antioch, and Caesarea. 14

See Skowronek 1967, 18-9. On solar imagery in the Greek East during the era of Roman imperial rule, see Bergmann 1998. On early Ptolemaic precedent, see above, Chapter IV.B. 15

See above, n. 8.


Year 3: RPC 5203; Year 4: RPC 5223; Year 5: RPC 5233, 5242; Year 6: RPC 5253. Answers to the question of whether these types could be considered the first instance of the living emperor’s depiction with a radiate crown at Alexandria hinge on the acceptance of the disputed Caligulan bronzes (on which the portrait is indisputably radiate); see above, Chapter V.B.


and as the male equivalent of Demeter on a reverse type featuring the Agathodaimon serpent with poppies, grain-ears, and the descriptive legend NEO / AGAQ / DAIM.17 The “radiate bust with aegis” type (NC6), first issued in Year 11 (64/5), might have seemed rather tame by comparison, but the new attribute did serve to create a strong iconographic link between the living emperor and Jupiter/Zeus.18 Further indications of the potent effects of the presence of the radiate crown and aegis on portrait types come from the coinages of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, as all three (with the coinages of Otho and Vitellius apparently following the Galban issues’ lead at Alexandria) retreat from Nero’s audacious iconography and return to the exclusive striking of a laureate type. A general avoidance of depictions of the emperor as a godlike figure on coin types (i.e., before Nero) contrasts not only with the strong evidence for the eastern cities’ favorable attitudes toward the imperial cult, but also with the frequent production of types featuring the living empress in the guise of particular goddesses.19 While the observation that imperial women appear more often on bronze issues than on gold and silver (among provincial coinages, that is) is justifiably applied to most eastern mints, at Alexandria empresses are actually featured more prominently on the billon tetradrachms, especially from the Claudian era to the end of the third century. Even under Augustus (i.e., prior to the production of billon coinage at Alexandria), Livia’s portrait was used as an obverse type only among the largest bronze denominations. Although at Alexandria Livia is not likened to Ceres, Persephone, or Juno (as she is at


Year 3: RPC 5210, ANS 1944.100.53433 et al.; Year 4: RPC 5219, 5230; Year 5: RPC 5240, 5249; Year 6: RPC 5260. In Year 13, the type is issued on an obverse and without the descriptive legend (RPC 5304). The cult of the Roman imperial genius was joined with the Agathodaimon cult in Alexandria, a connection strengthened by the similar attributes employed to depict each figure; see Skowronek 1967, 41-2. 18

See Skowronek 1967, 23-4.


See Burnett et al. 1992, 47. Types of this sort were regularly issued at several eastern mints.


other provincial mints),20 or even featured in the same field with one of these figures, she is quite often placed opposite a female divinity within the same type-pair.21 The first appearance of an empress on the Alexandrian tetradrachms is marked by the CC1 types featuring Messalina as Demeter (apparently holding their two children), an image that would set the tone for all later empress types produced at the mint. Skowronek classifies this type as an image of Messalina “Karphophoros” (“fruitbearing”), but it could just as easily be classified as a “Kalliteknos” (“bearer of beautiful children”) type, as well. Both of these epithets were frequently used on dedicatory inscriptions for empress statuary in the eastern Mediterranean.22 The CC3 obverse type in which Agrippina appears with grain-ears is likewise reminiscent of iconography used for Demeter and for Euthenia, the “Hellenized” Egyptian goddess of the harvest. Significantly, under Nero – and, thus, with the first large-scale production of types glorifying the living emperor as a divine ruler on earth – the Alexandrian mint temporarily ceased to assimilate imperial women to divinities.

One receives the

impression that die-engravers were in some way directed to focus attention on Nero to the exclusion of all other living figures. The idea is entirely speculative, of course, but it is certainly noteworthy that even Agrippina, who had been unambiguously likened to goddesses under Claudius, appeared only in the form of a modestly adorned bust (and never on an obverse type) on the early Neronian types produced at Alexandria, as did the empresses Octavia and Poppaea years later.23 The earlier practice of assimilating 20



E.g., opposite Athena (RPC 5055, 5065, and 5072) or opposite Euthenia (RPC 5053, 5060, and 5063). The impact of this placement should not be underestimated; the tendency toward completely separate consideration of obverse and reverse types ignores the distinct likelihood that “the two are frequently complementary and interdependent” (Weigel 1995, 244). Livia is also featured on the coinage of Tiberius, although on these issues she does not appear alongside divine figures on the same coin; see above, Chapter IV.B, n. 33. 22

See Skowronek 1967, 28; Rose 1997b, 112.


These “bare” empress types are all the more surprising in light of the fact that an effective and complementary pair could have been created by employing fertility iconography in tandem


empresses to deities, however, would be resumed under the Flavians and continued to be employed throughout the reigns of the early- and mid-second century emperors.24 The authors of Roman Provincial Coinage have rightly concluded that this treatment of empresses on provincial coins, when viewed alongside the contrast between the representations of Roman emperors on the same issues and other evidence for the imperial cult, is indicative of “an element of centralised control in the way [emperors and their relatives] were depicted on coinage in the provinces, a control which, one would guess, operated indirectly in the same way as…in the case of portraits in general.”25 This sound hypothesis, however, should not be taken as a contradiction of the conclusions made above regarding the extent of the capital’s influence on the Alexandrian mint; indeed, with the possible exception of a mandated uniformity within the Tiberian tetradrachm types, reign-by-reign type selection appears to have been no less “indirectly” controlled at Alexandria than it was at any of the other provincial mints. Ultimately, for most reigns, there is little reason to believe that unique policies concerning the depiction of members of the emperor’s family were developed for Egypt by agents of the central authority or that variations in modes of representation were in any way dictated by Rome.

with the Agathodaimon type (see above, n. 17), in which the emperor is depicted as a “companion of Demeter” (Burnett et al. 1992, 705). 24

Skowronek 1967, 28-9.


Burnett et al. 1992, 48.


C.) Religious Iconography on Alexandrian Coin Types

The most frequently employed method by which Roman officials attempted to bolster the persuasive potential of the Alexandrian types was the inclusion of comprehensible religious images. The depictions of animals and deities recognized as objects of worship for the Alexandrians and Egyptians looked toward two goals: first, to serve as a consistent reminder that Rome had not officially attempted to standardize religious belief, but had instead maintained a policy of “freedom of worship”; and second, by placing the emperor opposite local religious images, to create the (usually false) impression that the Roman ruler was sufficiently informed about native cults to respect and endorse them.26 With so many foreigners worshipping their own set of cult figures, Roman mint authorities likely found it difficult to determine precisely which cults were dominant. Ultimately, they chose to forego any attempts to cater to most of the Near Eastern religions or to Judaism,27 settling instead on types that would appeal to three main spheres: the Hellenic, the Egyptian, and the Greco-Egyptian. Many of the traditional Olympian gods imported into Egypt were blended with the objects of worship in various Egyptian cults during the Ptolemaic era, and with few exceptions those that had not been merged in this way were in rapid decline during the Julio-Claudian era.28 This process operated in both directions: Isis, for example, had been appropriated from the traditional Egyptian religion and had also become, by the time of the Roman conquest, a Hellenized “Alexandrian” goddess.

Her husband,


Augustus, for example, despite his well known aversion toward worshipping animals was nevertheless frequently depicted in reliefs and stelai as performing this very act (e.g., adoring zoomorphic forms of the Egyptian gods); see above, Chapter III.A. 27

Any effort to accommodate the Alexandrian Jews by means of religious iconography would have been considered futile. Instead, the Jewish population was kept content primarily through its unique treatment in the administrative and political realms; see above, Chapter I.B. 28

See Huzar 1988b, 640.


Osiris, was replaced in Alexandria by Serapis, the new principal deity of the Hellenized population; likewise, Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris (frequently appearing during the Roman period as Harpokrates in Hellenized and Greco-Egyptian contexts) was one of many traditional gods who began to fall prey to widespread neglect in the Late Imperial era. In general terms, as time wore on, the incorporative “Greco-Egyptian” religious realm was progressively expanding at the same time as the distinct “Egyptian” and “Hellenic” realms were diminishing. Greco-Egyptian types produced during the Julio-Claudian era featured a wide variety of figures, including Isis, Serapis, the Agathodaimon and Uraeus serpents, Nilus (who evolved from the ancient river god and was widely popular with the native Egyptians),29 Euthenia (the consort of Nilus, originally a personification of fertility and abundance), and personifications of Alexandria. Purely “Egyptian” types consisted mainly of sacred animals: the hawk, the crocodile, the ibis, the hippopotamus, and the Apis bull; while each appeared regularly on bronze issues, these types were never featured on the billon coinage. The distinctions between these categories, however, should not be viewed as impermeable boundaries; both the Agathodaimon and Uraeus types were recognizable in non-urban areas (i.e., where the more distinct “Egyptian” realm remained prevalent), as were the Nilus and Euthenia types. The “Greek” types were perhaps directed toward a particular audience, insofar as they were endowed with significant meaning only for the Hellenized segments of the population. Julio-Claudian examples of this sort of coin-type include Demeter, Athena, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and Apollo.

To these we should add the various Roman

personifications transformed on the coinages of Nero and Galba: Concordia into Homonoia, Pax into Eirene, and Justitia into Dikaiosyne. These images, like the unique Demos Romaion type issued under Nero and the short-lived types featuring Eleutheria (related to the Roman Libertas and symbolizing the freedom of the Alexandrian and 29

Curtis 1969, 41.


Egyptian people) and Kratesis (the personification of Roman dominion) under Galba and Otho, were executed in a purely Greek style and appear to have been designed with the Hellenized populations in Alexandria, the Greek poleis, and the metropoleis foremost in mind.30 It should be stressed that the boundaries between religious groups were not always determined by ethnicity. While it is unlikely that a rural Aigyptios would have come to worship Zeus or Athena, the progressive blending of the Greek and Egyptian religious realms indicates that select members of each class were at least familiar with the pantheons and rituals of the other. This phenomenon might have been a direct outcome of the frequent dabbling of Hellenized individuals in traditional Egyptian cult during the Ptolemaic era, as well. Unlike the Jewish segment of the population, neither of these groups defined itself on the basis of religion; both the Hellenized segment of the population – including citizens of Alexandria and the other Greek poleis, as well as the metropolite elite – and the “Egyptian” masses were free to experiment in the realms of religious belief and ritual. This freedom inevitably resulted in a wide spectrum of cult practice and occasionally produced an equally varied body of participants. The Alexandrian types imply that mint officials (or their immediate superiors) maintained a consistent effort to appeal to as many cults and worshippers as possible. If the Near Eastern elements of the population were ignored, it was likely because of their loose organization and comparatively miniscule numbers. It must be granted that the Alexandrian Jews were neither few in number nor disorganized; Roman officials, however, were likely aware of the fact that any effort to appeal to their religious beliefs would have been wasted. Occasionally, mint officials attempted to employ religious


See Milne 1933, xl. The Dikaiosyne type of Nero was modeled on the Claudian Messalina type, and the Eirene type of Galba and Otho was modeled on the Neronian Hera Argeia type. The style is purely “Hellenic” in each of these cases, although Milne argues that one can detect an observable and generally progressive deterioration in the quality of execution. Neronian “Demos of the Romans” type: Ch. VII.B, n. 25. Galban Eleutheria and Kratesis types: Ch. VIII.B, n. 7 and n. 9.


iconography with the potential to circumvent these categories: the frequent appearance of a Roma type and the occasional striking of an altar type,31 for example, resulted in the widespread circulation of images directly related to the imperial cult – a correlation that was, in all probability, readily comprehensible by all city-dwellers, regardless of ethnicity.

For the most part, though, religious images on Alexandrian coin types

worked within the established classes. Appeals to Greek belief were generally made by means of depictions of deities and personifications, while appeals to Egyptian belief were usually made with types featuring sacred animals and astrological images. “Greco-Egyptian” types, rather appropriately, combined both modes of representation. Taken together, these elements formed the basis of an extraordinarily broad range of religious iconography that seems to have been deliberately designed by Roman officials to encompass the beliefs of the largest possible segment of Egypt’s exceptionally diverse population.


As, for example, under Augustus; see above, Chapter III.B, n. 70.


D.) Restriction of Select Alexandrian Coin Types to Billon or Bronze Issues

A brief overview of the wide variety of Alexandrian religious types is sufficient in itself to identify reflections of a distinct pattern of separation between the images appearing on billon tetradrachm types and those featured on bronze issues.


interesting dichotomy has already been observed by a small handful of scholars. 32 Surprisingly, however, from the time these observations first appeared in print, no author has attempted to perform a comprehensive comparison, nor has anyone made an extensive analysis of the potential ramifications of this general practice.


phenomenon can be roughly summarized as follows: tetradrachms would have circulated more extensively in the city of Alexandria and the metropoleis, while bronze coinage was in high demand for tax payments in the chora; Roman officials, recognizing this fact shortly after the reign of Tiberius, began to restrict Greek and Greco-Roman types to the tetradrachms, leaving almost all “agricultural abundance” and “sacred animal” types for the bronze issues. The first premise can be granted without reservation. Tetradrachms would have been needed more urgently in Alexandria and the metropoleis, where merchants performing high-total transactions would have found working entirely (or even mostly) in bronze to be all but impossible. Additionally, it appears that the laoi used more bronze coinage than billon for those portions of their numerous taxes expected to be paid in currency.33 Tracing the restriction of certain types to billon or to bronze during 32

See Milne 1933, xxxv-xxxvi, with additional thoughts on the matter at Milne 1952, 147-9; also, Huzar 1988b, 655 (with additional bibliography at n. 161). 33

See Harl 1996, 234-5. A selection of Karanis tax rolls from 172/73 preserves receipts from a total collection of 10,244 tetradrachms and 20,855 bronze obols; tetradrachms comprised over 93 percent of the total value, but bronze coins formed about two-thirds of the pieces collected. It is unclear as to whether the “peasants wanted bronze,” as argued by Milne (1933, xxxvi), or whether Roman officials purposely circulated more bronze in the chora in order to reap extra profit through the premium charged for paying taxes (most of which were collected on the silver standard) in bronze; see Appendix II.


the reigns of the first three Julio-Claudian emperors, however, can be an arduous prospect, especially since no billon was issued under Augustus, only one tetradrachm type was issued under Tiberius, and very little (or perhaps nothing at all) was issued under Gaius.34 Nevertheless, even within the series minted under Augustus, we can plainly observe the mint officials’ rudimentary attempt to restrict Roman, Greek, and Greco-Egyptian types – the Gaius Caesar portrait, the standing Athena and Nike figures, the busts of Nilus and Euthenia, etc. – to the largest denominations; admittedly, however, this may have had more to do with the size limits imposed by smaller dies than with choices regarding type-content. The types featured on the early bronzes produced during the reign of Tiberius (including the new hippopotamus type, the crescent and star, and the crocodile) all possess a strong Egyptian element. Even during the period before the production of the first Claudian tetradrachms, it is clear that the generalized assertion that Alexandrian coinage “reflects the Greco-Egyptian cults of Alexandria rather than the beliefs of the rest of the Nile Valley” is appropriate only when applied to the billon types.35 Naturally, as is usually the case when treating the Alexandrian types, there are exceptions; these include the Nike types on the aes of Claudius and Galba and the type featuring ZEUS KAPETOLIOS from the Neronian bronze issues. One must keep in mind, however, that the urban population also used bronze, just as the rural population used a certain amount of billon. It is certainly remarkable that despite this fact, no purely “Egyptian” type appears on the Alexandrian tetradrachms during the JulioClaudian era. Imperial women are generally reserved for the tetradrachms, as well; in this case, the notable exception is the “Agrippina as Demeter/Euthenia” obverse featured on select Claudian bronze issues (CC3). While this trend could have been a direct result of their frequent assimilation to Greek and Greco-Egyptian deities, the 34

On the potentially spurious Caligulan issues, see above, Chapter V.B.


Harl 1987, 10.


restriction of most figures falling within these categories to the billon coinage – that is to say, with an Alexandrian and metropolite audience foremost in mind – is perhaps noteworthy in itself. It would seem, then, that mint officials at Alexandria were usually selective in regard to the general classes of type-image to be placed on billon or bronze issues. The observation made by the authors of Roman Provincial Coinage that “from Claudius onwards the [Alexandrian] types tend to be more imperial”36 need not imply, therefore, that the creation of Greco-Egyptian and Egyptian types was significantly reduced at this same point in time; Claudius’ own Year 2 output includes one of several sets of images produced during his reign to have been dominated by Egyptian themes,37 and these same groups are well represented into the reign of Vespasian and beyond. Nor must this phenomenon reflect a dramatic increase in the number of types copied from (or influenced by) imperial issues.38 Indeed, if we can take the choices made by mint officials prior to this time as any indication, the explanation for this trend is almost certainly tied to the long-awaited opening of the tetradrachms to variations in typecontent and the subsequent stream of opportunities to direct Greco-Roman images toward a specific, concentrated audience.


Burnett et al. 1992, 44.


The early series includes RPC 5119 (hippopotamus), 5120 and 5122 (Apis bull), 5123 (bound grain ears), 5124 (hippopotamus), 5126 (Apis bull), 5127 (bound grain ears), 5128 (hippopotamus), and 5129 (crocodile). 38

See the analysis of the likelihood of type-copying presented above, Chapter IX.A.


E.) Distinguishing Features of Roman-era Reliefs Carved in Pharaonic Style

A vast majority of images depicting the Roman emperor as Egyptian pharaoh took the form of reliefs that were placed within the native temple complexes. These reliefs were carved in a compositional style that had its roots in the Dynastic era and had persisted throughout the reigns of the Ptolemies. In many cases, Roman-era reliefs appeared alongside images carved under previous ruling regimes. Surprising though this may be at first glance – indeed, this particular aspect of the temples has no parallel in any other region around the Mediterranean basin – for the Egyptian priests this similarity of style and proximity of reliefs from different periods of rulership conferred a degree of religious reality upon their hoped-for sense of continuity. The comparisons facilitated by the arrangement of these images can be combined with analyses of isolated groups of Dynastic, Ptolemaic, and Roman reliefs to reveal that, despite a basic stylistic similarity and likeness in formal composition, the reliefs of the Roman era comprise a distinct corpus. In fact, any sense of continuity achieved by the Egyptian clergy under Roman rule applied only to the role of the emperor as semi-divine pharaoh and did not extend to the multifaceted religious functioning of the ruler and members of his family – roles expressed via text and image – which had existed during previous eras. The contrasts with the Ptolemaic examples are particularly striking, although Roman-era reliefs can also be differentiated from Dynastic images. Several distinguishing features of early Roman reliefs are defined by what is absent from their iconography or texts and not by their actual content, although a few novel features were added after the Octavianic conquest. These distinguishing features of the early Roman corpus include: the complete removal of women in the ruling family from the iconographic repertoire; the absence of self-contained dynastic images; the relative scarcity of images featuring the Roman ruler as “pharaoh who smites the enemies of Egypt”; and the use of a new, standardized form of the Horus name. 226

The carving of reliefs which reflected the cultic role of women in the ruling family had reached a high point under the Ptolemies, making the absence of such images during the first century of Roman rule all the more conspicuous. The tradition of including the reigning queen in pharaonic reliefs had roots extending from the pharaonic New Kingdom, a period during which a number of royal women appeared before the gods as sole ruler of Egypt (e.g., Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, Twosret at the Temple of Amada, etc.) or as consort of the reigning pharaoh (e.g., Nefertari in her Hathor temple at Abu Simbel). During the Ptolemaic era, royal women appeared in several more types of scenes. While they were usually depicted as standing just behind their husbands (e.g., in standard offering scenes), queens who “took the lead” in joint or independent rulership are represented famously – and on the grandest of scales – by Cleopatra VII, whose depiction alongside Ptolemy Caesarion dominates the rear wall of the Hathor temple at Dendera.39 In addition to these sorts of relief-images, women in the Ptolemaic royal line were essential components of the unique, self-contained, dynastic scenes created during this same era (discussed below). The precise reason for the immediate disappearance of women in the ruling family from the reliefs after the Roman conquest is difficult to pinpoint. The concept of “joint rulership between husband and wife” that had existed (albeit sporadically) during previous eras did not apply to the new Roman rulers, and the priests were likely well aware of this condition. Moreover, there was no precedent for a Roman woman serving as sole ruler or in any high-ranking official capacity, and the Egyptians certainly had little reason to believe that this element of Roman rulership – so unlike their own pharaonic and Ptolemaic past – would change its course in the near future.


members of the clergy were, at the very least, cognizant of the fact that the Roman 39

Porter and Moss 1970, 79 (257-8; 259-60). Ptolemaic queens appearing alongside their husbands were not always relegated to a position behind them (i.e., farther from the gods); Cleopatra III, for example, offers lotus to the Theban Triad while advancing in front of her husband, Ptolemy IX Soter II, in a relief on the “birth house” within the complex at Deir elMedina (Porter and Moss 1960, 407 [34]).


emperor and empress did not practice consanguineous marriage (a pharaonic tradition that had been embraced by the Romans’ Ptolemaic predecessors), and this may have had significant consequences for the religious conception of imperial women as expressed through the temple reliefs.40 Naturally, these possibilities are not mutually exclusive, and it may have been their combined force that led to the exclusion of women from the early Roman scenes. Whatever the cause or causes, the motivations of the Egyptian priests must have been sufficiently influential to establish this condition throughout the entire land, even in the almost certain absence of province-wide priestly synods to set definitive and all-encompassing standards. The same can be said of the absence of overt dynastic scenes among the Roman reliefs, although in this case one can point to a decline in similar types of scenes already during the last half-century of the Ptolemaic era. The importance of the Ptolemaic dynastic cult had certainly waned by the reign of Ptolemy XII,41 and the latest examples of complete, unambiguous dynastic reliefs date to the reign of Ptolemy IX Soter II.42 These relief scenes usually portrayed the commemoration of the divinely ordained passage of dynastic ruling authority to the living monarch or the direct honoring of the king’s deceased ancestors. Examples of the latter, taking the form of offering scenes with Ptolemaic dynasts as the recipients, invariably featured the wives of the relevant male ancestors, a fact which only serves to highlight the fundamental ritual position held by Ptolemaic royal women. As noted above, however, Roman empresses were not siblings of the ruler; moreover, the Roman “royal bloodline” could be – and from the very beginning of Roman rule in Egypt, actually was – further complicated by adoption. 40

On consanguineous marriage among members of Egyptian royal families and on the extent of its practice among non-royals, see Frandsen 2009. For the Ptolemaic era, see Ager 2005. 41

See Fraser 1972, 300.


For example, Porter and Moss 1970, 163 (315-23); also listed in Winter 1978, 151 (23). In this dynastic relief at Edfu, the living king stands with incense and pours a libation before his deceased parents, Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III.


Beyond these factors, the role once played by the national priestly synods in the creation of this type of relief scene should not be underestimated.

The decrees

recording the formal decisions of these synods, organized under the auspices of the central authority, contain references to the complete range of royal images (both dynastic types and various other sorts) which could be endorsed – or, on occasion, firmly mandated throughout Egypt – by the native clergy.43 The elimination of these priestly synods under Roman rule effectively ensured that this special class of reliefimage would never reemerge on a widespread scale.44 Roman-era examples of temple reliefs which could be taken to convey “implied dynastic content” via their positioning are few and far-between, and the first century of Roman rule in Egypt witnessed the creation of only a handful of candidates. The setting for the each of these Julio-Claudian prospects was the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, where all five emperors of the dynasty appear on portions of the outer hypostyle hall. The exterior reliefs on the hall’s north wall (i.e., the reliefs on the façade of the temple) feature Tiberius and Claudius in separate offering scenes placed side-byside.45 Tiberius also appears on the frieze above the façade’s entrance, while Claudius appears on many of the columns within the outer hypostyle hall itself. On the southern interior walls of the same hall, Augustus and Gaius appear in separate scenes (although in several cases these are positioned within the same relief-column, if not within the same register).46

Nero appears – without any other Julio-Claudians positioned in

nearby scenes – on the western, northern, and eastern sections of the interior walls.47


See Stanwick 2002, 7-10; cf. Winter 1978, 148.


On the decreased organization, influence, and political status experienced by members of the Egyptian clergy under Roman rule, see above, Chapter II.B (esp. n. 26). 45

Porter and Moss 1970, 45-6.


Ibid., 48.


Ibid., 46-7.


The presence of all five Julio-Claudian emperors in this segment of the Hathor temple could well be related to the progress of construction and the availability of decorative space in and around the outer hall. It is tempting, however, to attribute the nonchronological pairing of Julian members of the dynasty (Augustus and Gaius) with Claudian members of the dynasty (Tiberius and Claudius) to a conscious balancing of the two families represented by this series of emperors. The widespread employment of a variety of bipartite arrangements in the distribution of scenes and texts within the Egyptian temples has already been noted by several authors, 48 and this grouping of emperors would be well in line with dozens of other paired or symmetrical relief images (or series of scenes) from previous eras. On a more general level, the priests of Dendera would certainly have been aware of the association between Hathor and Aphrodite/Venus, and they could likewise have been aware of the acknowledgement of Aphrodite as mother of the Julian clan; if so, then the highlighting of relationships within the dynasty at this particular site (as opposed to other temples not dedicated to Hathor) would not appear to be strikingly out of place.49 In order to avoid overstating the significance of the images associated with the outer hypostyle hall, however, it is important to note that this separation of familial groups is not maintained throughout the temple; thus, images of Augustus appear alongside those of both Caligula and Tiberius on the entrance of the inner hypostyle hall and alongside those of Claudius and Nero on the eastern exterior walls.50 Moreover,


Finnestad (1997, 197) summarizes many of these observations when he points out that “complementary relationships are found between facing walls, higher and lower parts of the building, the inside and the outside of the building, and the symmetrical halves created by the axial road bifurcating the halls.� Erich Winter has, in various works, engaged in a more general discussion regarding the extent of the distribution of relief scenes along previously determined schemes; see Winter 1969 and Winter 1987. 49

Rose (1997a, 50), then, is very likely correct to assert that the rather high concentration of Julio-Claudian reliefs on this temple is due to the recognition of the line between Hathor and Aphrodite and the priests’ desire to strengthen that advantageous tie. See below, Chapter IX.F. 50

Porter and Moss 1970, 50, 75.


there is no sign of an intentional alignment of iconography (beyond the understandable appearance of Hathor in several of the scenes), nor can one detect any symmetry in the deities or offerings featured on the relief-images themselves. Most importantly, the texts associated with these reliefs do not make mention of any ruler beyond the one appearing within each self-contained scene. Overall, then, despite the fact that the Hathor shrine appears to have been a more distinctly “dynastic” temple than its contemporaries throughout the Nile Valley, the treatment of the Julio-Claudian emperors at Dendera was only a pale reflection of the overtly dynastic groups carved during the Ptolemaic era. Another extremely common relief scene from the Dynastic and Ptolemaic eras, the image of the pharaoh “smiting foes of Egypt,” is scarcely included in the Roman corpus. This type of relief scene and its association with Egyptian leadership had iconographic roots stemming from Early Dynastic (and perhaps even late Pre-dynastic) sources.51 Throughout all succeeding Dynastic periods, pharaohs were depicted with some consistency in temple reliefs as victorious generals grasping bound prisoners and striking them with a mace or a similar weapon. The lone Julio-Claudian examples of this image-type date to the reign of Tiberius (TR3 and TR4, in Chapter IV.A), and both can be found on exterior walls of the Isis temple at Philae. Although there does not appear to be a direct tie between the scale of a relief and its ritual importance, these Tiberian images are dwarfed by the massive “smiting pharaoh” image on the temple’s first pylon. This particular scene features Ptolemy XII, who appears on an even larger scale on the initial pylon of the Temple of Horus at Edfu. The famous images of the father of Cleopatra VII striking bound prisoners on this pair of temples are only two images among several of the same type from the Ptolemaic era.52 The small number of 51

On the possibility that isolated images in late Pre-dynastic tomb scenes (e.g., Tomb 100 at Hierakonpolis) set precedents for other early examples of this image-type (e.g., the smiting of enemies on the Narmer palette), see Robins 1997, 30-2. 52

On the link between the priestly decrees and the Ptolemaic images, see Stanwick 2002, 7-9, 12.


Roman-era examples stands in sharp contrast, and it is perhaps noteworthy that no Roman “smiting pharaoh” images appear on an extant temple pylon. Given that this type of relief-image did not disappear entirely from the range of scenes produced under Roman rule, one cannot go so far as to claim that the religious conception of the pharaoh as a divinely ordained conqueror and vanquisher of foreign threats had been completely negated (indeed, the textual evidence provided by the Roman-era Horus name [discussed below] contradicts this notion rather directly). Nevertheless, it would appear as though a vast majority of the priests throughout Egypt – that is to say, those who controlled the carving of reliefs – were affected by Egypt’s subjugation in such a way that reliefs of the “smiting pharaoh” type were deemed less appropriate, even in the absence of standard-setting priestly synods. The loss of Egyptian independence had, of course, rendered the notion of “pharaoh as defender of the Two Lands” obsolete, and it is possible that a recasting of the emperor-pharaoh as “defender of the Egyptian portion of Rome’s empire” was not widely considered to be a palatable alternative (or, at least, to be adequately rendered in similar visual terms). The fact that a portion of the Roman-era Horus name styled the emperorpharaoh as “he who defeats the foreign lands” demonstrates not only that the ruler was still ritually recognized as one who would wage war on Egypt’s behalf, but also that formulaic elements of the Dynastic and Ptolemaic Horus-name sequence had been retained. This continuity was reinforced by eleven other formulaic Dynastic/Ptolemaic “épithètes banales” among the sixteen which comprised the full Horus name, along with another three derived exclusively from Ptolemaic roots.53 The Roman-era Horus name was composed for Augustus, but after his reign it was employed with standard regularity (in full or abridged form, with the latter being more common) for all Julio53

Grenier 1995, 3189; see also Grenier 1987 and Grenier 1989. Grenier categorizes twelve of these epithets as traditional phraseology with origins extending well into the pharaonic Dynastic era. A trio of others were borrowed from individual Ptolemaic titles, including “he who entered into Egypt to the jubilation of the people” (taken verbatim from a protocol used for Ptolemy X Alexander) and “king of kings.”


Claudian emperors and for several rulers thereafter. This standardization of the Horus name was a uniquely Roman feature in itself, since all previous rulers honored on the Egyptian temples possessed Horus names that were endowed with a certain amount of flexibility in the epithets which comprised them, even within a particular dynasty. The Ptolemaic protocols, for example, allowed for a degree of personal variation in the frequently included epithet(s) which conveyed an advertisement of dynastic legitimacy. No such flexibility – or claims to dynastic legitimacy – can be found in the Roman sequence. One epithet, however, is wholly unique to the Roman sequence and has no Dynastic or Ptolemaic precedent. This component of the Horus name, the sixteenth and final portion of the series of titles in formulaic sequence, reads as follows: “he who tends to the prosperity of Egypt – he whose power is incomparable in the illustrious City which he loves, Rome.” Jean-Claude Grenier asserts that this extraordinary dualepithet was an attempt on the part of the Egyptian clergy to come to terms with the fact that the pharaoh, who was crucial to the ritual practice that governed their own lives, no longer resided in Egypt.54 Grenier makes a persuasive case: this epithet, invented for Augustus at a point in time when Roman rule over Egypt and the rest of the Mediterranean was firmly in hand, is significantly less ambiguous than those applied to Persian rulers or to Alexander the Great.55 Indeed, the new epithet reflects a complete resignation to the notion that the emperor served the role of pharaoh only by reason of Egypt’s incorporation into a foreign empire.56 The distinct nature of Roman rulership, then, was the primary factor in the development of the unique traits associated with the temple reliefs created after the 54

Grenier 1995, 3189-90.


Ibid., 3190. In ritualistic titles for these rulers-from-afar, the priests composed epithets which acknowledged the fact that their power extended beyond Egypt itself without highlighting the fact that they ruled from foreign lands. 56

Ibid. The Egyptian priests, for the first time in their history, openly granted that the ruler “ne règne pas sur un empire parce qu’il est Pharaon, il est Pharaon parce qu’il règne sur un empire dont l’Egypte n’est qu’une province et dont la capitale est Rome.”


Octavianic conquest. Not only did the emperor-pharaoh rule from beyond the confines of Egypt, but he also ruled an empire of which Egypt was merely a subjugated component. Moreover, the emperor did not rule jointly with his wife in the Roman political sphere, nor could his wife assume a leading role in that realm. Finally, without heirs produced via consanguineous marriage and a clear familial bloodline in the path of royal succession – and without the convocation of priestly synods – the Egyptian clergy was not inclined to reintroduce the rather stark dynastic advertisements of the preceding era. Ultimately, each of these conditions had observable effects on the full range of Roman-era temple reliefs.


F.) Sacred Images and Structures as Evidence for the Development of the Religious Conception of the Julio-Claudians among Ethnic Egyptians

The unique features of a Roman-era temple relief, as outlined in the preceding pages, are not so conspicuous as to be noticed through a cursory glance (or, for that matter, in isolated view); nevertheless, when considered together, they stand out in ways that generate some doubt as to whether the native Egyptian religious conception of the earliest emperors was carried over from the Ptolemaic era without meaningful alteration. In the absence of detailed priestly texts regarding the emperor-pharaoh as a cultic figure, the main sources by which we might test this notion are the temples themselves and the reliefs which adorn them: their iconographic content, the associated texts, and any discernable patterns of placement on particular structures at a given temple site or within certain regions. This principal body of evidence is complemented by scattered indications of the remembrance and ritual integration of the king during festivals and daily cult practice at the Egyptian temples. As noted at several points above, the latter realm was the exclusive preserve of the clergy, the same body which ultimately governed the course of the conception of the emperor-pharaoh as a ruler fulfilling his expected ritual duties (i.e., acting as a semi-divine “participant� in certain rites, serving as an advocate for mortals before the gods, etc.). The questions regarding the religious conception of the emperor-pharaoh are inextricably bound, then, with issues surrounding the relationship between the Egyptian clergy and the Roman provincial administration, including the extent to which this relationship may have affected the theological perspectives or religious functioning of the priests. For the Egyptians temples and their staffs, the key offices within the provincial administration were those of the idioslogos and the “High Priest of Alexandria and all 235

Egypt.” As noted above, however, the primary concerns of these offices were largely financial, in spite of the priestly title given to the latter.57 Each would have been more concerned with the revenue generated through the renting and taxation of the temples’ lands and with other sources of temple-generated income than with details regarding ritual practice and religious belief. The crucial elements of the debate over how deeply both temple and priest were affected by Rome’s economic policies in Egypt have already been outlined above (Chapter II.B), but this much is certain: the complete financial independence once enjoyed by priests and temples was no longer possible after Petronius, the third prefect under Augustus, placed temple properties under state control. Their former independence was replaced by a reliance on the state for grants of land, grain doles, and other significant means of income. The provincial administration, then, concerned itself with the Egyptian priesthood primarily to the extent that the priests were viewed as overseers of state land and as payers of substantial taxes. The revenue generated by the temples’ properties and staffs was immense; military campaigns by Roman prefects (and Ptolemaic monarchs before them) could be funded entirely by temple funds, and despite the new taxes which accompanied Roman rule the temples retained their economic vitality and influence within the Egyptian villages and metropoleis.58 The priests, for their part, in spite of the heavy taxes on the economic activities of the temples and the ban on their participation in external commerce, were still able to supplement their payments in kind from the state with monetary income.59


See above, Chapter I.B and Chapter II.B. On the conflation of the functions of these two offices (i.e., in regard to the temples), see Huzar 1988a, 356. 58

See Alston 1997b, 150.


On the activities which provided income for the temples and the heavy rate of taxation levied upon them, see Alston 1997b, 151. Alston uses as an example an account from 138 A.D. of 9,500 out of 11,500 drachmas earned by a temple in Soknopaiou Nesos being paid out in taxes.


The administrative focus on financial control of the native temples and their priests left the Egyptian clergy relatively free of supervision in the realm of cultic practice. The lack of a qualified overseer of Egyptian ritual activity and theological expression left Roman authorities at a disadvantage, when compared to their Ptolemaic predecessors. Nevertheless, if the native priests held any bitterness toward the new Roman regime over the policies which sealed their financial dependence, this bitterness did not take the form of a rejection of the emperor as “pharaoh” in the fundamental religious sense. With complete freedom (i.e., from an official standpoint) to mold the ritual identity of the emperor-pharaoh within the Egyptian religious tradition, the priests of the influential temples of the native gods chose to transmit the view that the Roman ruler served the same basic cultic functions of his Ptolemaic and pharaonic predecessors – a view which is, to a large extent, reflected in the temple reliefs. Several authors have indicated that the Egyptian priests had little choice in the matter, since their own legitimacy, ritual roles, and modes of religious thought hinged on the recognition of the semi-divine nature of the ruler.60 Thus, the pressure to project a certain degree of continuity was internal rather than external. Roman administrators could have been well aware of this condition, which may have influenced their own policies. Some of these same authors, though, run rather close to overstating the degree of continuity between the Dynastic, Ptolemaic, and Roman eras. In comparing the texts and images on Ptolemaic and Roman temple reliefs, for example, Françoise Dunand concludes that “pour…le clergé égyptien, Auguste joue manifestement le même rôle que les rois qui l’ont précédé, rôle qui était déja celui des pharaons.”61 The unique


See, for example, Grenier 1995, 3181, 3187, 3191; Dunand 1983, 53; Dundas 2002, 443-4. For a similar path of analysis applied to the initial years of Ptolemaic rule, see Koenen 1993, 38-9. 61

Dunand 1983, 50.


textual characteristics of the Roman reliefs, however, have already been outlined (Chapter IX.E), as has the range of earlier elements that are either rare or entirely absent within the Roman corpus. Along these lines, the Roman-era Horus name reveals that the priests were forced to create a new approach toward considering the beneficial ritual role of a pharaoh who ruled from a distant capital; the small number of Romanera “smiting pharaoh” reliefs may indicate that the military/protective role of the king was also reevaluated; the view that Roman imperial women were inappropriate subjects for the temple reliefs reflects the novel concept of a pharaoh forced to act alone before the gods, without a divinely approved consort who could serve alongside him in that same realm; finally, the absence under Roman rule of the self-contained dynastic reliefs of the previous era (which were a Ptolemaic novelty in themselves) demonstrates that the emperor-pharaoh was not conceived of as a figure who gained legitimacy and derived his divinity from his ancestors.

To this list one might justifiably add yet

another component of the Roman reliefs that is “missing” certain Ptolemaic elements (in this case, textual ones): namely, the simplified throne name containing neither dynastic epithets nor any of the standard divine qualifications such as “chosen one of Ptah,” “son of Re,” etc. Grenier considers the latter omission to be a significant departure, since among the five segments of the “Great Name” the throne name once offered the most explicit definition of the privileged relationship which the pharaoh enjoyed with the gods; the truncated throne name could therefore indicate a resignation to the notion that the emperor-pharaoh did not owe his position as king to the Egyptian deities.62 In spite of these notable distinctions, Roman confidence in the maintenance of the basic religious conception of the semi-divine pharaoh was not misplaced, as 62

Grenier 1995, 3190.


indicated both by the range of ritual contexts reflected in the Augustan temple reliefs and by the various epithets and titles that were maintained from previous eras.63 With the ritual position of the emperor-pharaoh in the native religion having been secured, the Roman state invested funds in temple construction and reconstruction as a matter of consistent policy.64 Indeed, nearly forty religious complexes possess clear indications of work undertaken in the name of the emperor and with imperial funds.65 The question of whether these projects were initiated by appeals from the priests or through Roman efforts made in response to particular needs observed (or to goals actively designed) by administrators has not been addressed in a systematic, scholarly fashion. The lack of direct evidence is, of course, a deterrent; and yet, it has not prevented scholars such as Jean-Claude Grenier from “wondering aloud� whether work funded by the Roman state was, in fact, more a product of unified planning than of sporadic local initiatives.66 The distribution of temple construction projects carried out during the reign of Augustus, when considered alongside the distribution of Augustan reliefs on preexisting Egyptian temples, reveals a pattern that represents a major contribution to the nascent discussion on imperial planning of temple-site construction projects in Egypt. One component of this salient pattern has been alluded to above (Chapter III.A): namely, that nearly all of the known Augustan-era building projects were temples dedicated to Isis or additions to centers that were sacred to Isis, Hathor, or both. The Augustan temples at Shenhur and El-Qal’a were both dedicated to Isis; the west


The complete body of Augustan reliefs is discussed above, Chapter III.A. On the range of titles applied to the Roman emperor in the Egyptian language, see Grenier 1989. 64

On known imperial patronage of certain Egyptian temples, see Huzar 1995, 3113.


See the discussion at Grenier 1995, 3191-2.


Ibid., 3192, n. 16.


colonnade at Philae was positioned on an island possessing temples to both Isis and Hathor; and the two Augustan structures at Dendera – the Isis temple, which commemorated the birth of the goddess, and the birth house – were created at the site considered to be most sacred to Hathor. A potentially related phenomenon is the rather high concentration of Augustan reliefs on temples to Isis, shrines devoted to Hathor, and birth houses commemorating the role of either Isis or Hathor (or both) as divine mother. Philae, for example, contains over 120 relief-images of Augustus; the primary catalyst for this concentration of more than half of all known Augustan reliefs at a single site may well have been the island’s sacred ties to both Isis and Hathor. The common thread binding these structures and reliefs together – that is to say, the recognized association of both goddesses with Aphrodite/Venus, matriarch of the Julian clan – has also been discussed above at various points.

It is at this point,

however, that these trends must be considered within the context of issues surrounding the ability of the Egyptian priests to organize both constructive and decorative strategies on a broad provincial scale, the potential combined force of spontaneous, independent, site-by-site initiatives, and the possible desire of the Roman authorities to organize a cohesive program of construction and commemoration. Issues regarding the ability of the priests to communicate with other temple sites and to establish certain province-wide standards – even in the absence of the “national” synods once convened under the Ptolemies – are raised once again by the standardized Horus-name used for the Julio-Claudian emperors (and later rulers), the rather uniform personal and throne names placed in the cartouches, and the universal elimination of royal women from the Egyptian religious iconographic repertoire. The precise channels by which this communication may have been accomplished and the types of occasion which called for such broad contact remain unknown, but it is possible that the desire to 240

propitiate the Roman authorities by referencing the Julian connection to Aphrodite justified the transmission of this particular idea across the province. Given the patterns of construction under Augustus, however, it is equally possible that individual sites with a traditional link to Isis or to Hathor (or even sites with designs on an independent Isis temple) took the initiative to request imperial funds for new construction while fully aware of the implications of the Aphrodite association and the increased likelihood of their requests being approved. Could the “unified planning” posited by Grenier have been done, in this case, by the Roman provincial administration itself? This scenario cannot be ruled out. Yet, if proven to be true, it would stand as the only Roman-era example of official guidance from the state directed toward construction or decoration at multiple temple sites; quite simply, nothing which approaches the cohesiveness or scale of the Augustan program can be observed in Egypt during other reigns. Of course, not all of these possibilities are mutually exclusive, and one can certainly imagine a set of circumstances by which Roman authorities guided the course of construction during the Augustan era by funding only those requests which came from sites with plans to highlight the Isis-Aphrodite or Hathor-Aphrodite connection. The possibility that the Julio-Claudian emperors could be conceived of as “descendents of Aphrodite” at native Egyptian temple complexes may appear at first glance to be unlikely. Indeed, the vast corpus of papyri suggests that Greek religious models did not infiltrate the traditional Egyptian centers in significant, long-term, highly influential or radical ways.67 Nevertheless, the priests at these religious centers were faced with incentives to educate themselves about the Greek tradition from the


See Dunand 1979, passim. Based upon particular archaeological small-finds, Dunand admits to a slight degree of Hellenization in certain modes of Egyptian religious expression. On the influence of Greek religious practices in Egypt’s metropoleis, see Alston 1997b, 150.


time when the Egyptian and Hellenic religious milieus began to interact under the Ptolemies and the vast array of Egyptian cults started to attract a wider range of participants (as discussed above, Chapter IX.C), both in Egypt and throughout the Mediterranean after these cults were exported. Moreover, during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras the priests of the native temples were willing to admit particular Hellenic and Roman conventions even into the sacred realm of the relief texts, provided that those conventions could be integrated into the traditional belief system.68 Thus, for example, the long-standing conception of the pharaoh as the incarnation of Horus and as the son of Osiris (or, frequently, “son of Re”) could be mirrored by the inclusion of the phrase “god and the son of a god” into the hieroglyphic titulature of a Ptolemaic king or, more rarely, of an emperor with a deified predecessor (as a translation of the Latin divi filius).69

The consent for these additions renders the Egyptian clergy’s

acceptance and advertisement of the Julio-Claudian emperor as “descendant of Aphrodite” less far-fetched than they may initially seem, since the various forms of Horus, represented on earth by the person of the pharaoh, were born from either Isis or Hathor according to the accepted theogonies. The priests’ desire to preserve the traditional belief system within the temples and among ethnic Egyptians may have led to the province-wide rejection of the cult of the living ruler and his ancestors which had been established under the Ptolemies. This


One of the crucial mechanisms by which the Egyptian priests acquired a greater familiarity with the Hellenic sphere – and the degree to which they may have applied their knowledge – is outlined in van Minnen 1998: several sites have yielded Roman-era material which testifies to personal collections (but not “temple repositories”) of Greek literature among members of the clergy; while some of this literature can be said to relate the priests’ own roles, “[they] were also actively copying (or collecting) Greek literature not immediately relevant to what they were doing in the temples” (169). 69

On the relatively rare employment of the translated “divi filius“ for Augustus, Nero, and Domitian, see Hölbl 2005, 87.


Ptolemaic dynastic cult, as practiced in the indigenous temples, was a modified form of the Hellenic royal cult that had already been created during the reign of Ptolemy I and expanded by Ptolemy II. Despite the priests’ best efforts to translate these cults into Egyptian forms of worship, the underlying concepts were nevertheless intrusions into their traditional belief system. The direct worshipping of the living ruler (or, under the Ptolemaic regime, of his queen) as a fully divine figure who stands as a focal point of ritual and whose image receives cult honors alongside those of the gods was not an element of the traditional Egyptian religion. The pharaoh, according to the traditional conception, could interact with the divine by virtue of his status as “son of Amun-Re” and the protection offered by Horus, whom the pharaoh embodied in the physical, mortal realm. He was a “god on earth” only to the extent that he served the beneficial and protective roles of certain deities.70 Thus, the integration of the Ptolemaic ruler cult represented a clear departure from long-standing practice. If Grenier is correct when he observes that the priests of the Egyptian temples would not depart from traditional practice without external imposition,71 then perhaps Dunand and Koenen rightly perceive direct intervention and control on the part of the state as they examine the synod decrees establishing divine honors for the Ptolemies.72 In order to avoid the risk of overstating the extent to which cults of the living ruler(s) needed to be “imposed,” though, it should be noted that the Egyptian priests took advantage of financial


Cf. Koenen 1993, 58: “[The pharaoh] is the visible presence of the gods because of his divine office… [he] does not earn his divinity, but he displays it by playing his role.” 71

Grenier 1995, 3191.


Dunand 1983, 53; Koenen 1993, 43, n. 44. It seems as though negotiations were made and that drafts of these decrees were exchanged between the royal staff and priests of the major temples, an interaction reflected by the decrees’ blend of Greek and Egyptian patterns. On the king’s depiction as the catalyst for the erection of royal images in these decrees, see Stanwick 2002, 10.


incentives to maintain these cults in their temples.73 Additionally, the clergy may have been eager to find ways to link the Macedonian rulers with ritual in the Egyptian temples in order to legitimize their own cultic use of the Ptolemaic pharaoh. Nevertheless, it is perhaps instructive that as the importance and promulgation of the Ptolemaic dynastic cult started to diminish during the last half-century of the dynasty (see above, Chapter IX.E), physical traces of and inscribed references to the cult’s practice in the Egyptian temples also started to disappear. It appears, then, that two centuries of consistent installation and adaptation of the ruler cult within the Egyptian religious sphere were insufficient to entrench it to the point that it could survive in that same realm without the guidance (and prodding[?]) of the state. As discussed above, indications of the Ptolemaic-form ruler cult and the unique sorts of relief scene that mirrored it are not to be found during the Roman era.


intrusion from the state in ritual practice and religious thought, the Egyptian clergy seems to have reverted to the proliferation of the ancient conception of the pharaoh as “semi-divine but subservient minister before the gods.” Indeed, clear traces of any form of Roman ruler cult within the Egyptian temples are difficult to pinpoint. Dunand’s quest for documentation of such a cult during the reign of Augustus resulted only in the discovery of two Demotic inscriptions which make reference to a certain Psenamounis, who was designated as the “prophet of Caesar” while he was serving as high priest of Ptah at Memphis.74 The isolated nature of this extant example implies rather strongly that the local priests had acted on their own initiative in establishing an active cult of the Roman ruler (perhaps to garner


See Koenen 1993, 66-9.


Dunand 1983, 52.


imperial favor), and it is certainly worth noting that although Psenamounis was still alive in 23 B.C. he was never succeeded and proved to be the last individual to hold his title at Memphis.75 Statuary placed within the temple complexes is the only other realm of evidence which could plausibly be taken to imply the existence of a ruler cult. Literary and epigraphic references to such statues are scattered and indirect. Strabo, for example, mentions in passing that during the Ethiopian raid on the southernmost region of the province in 24 B.C. the invaders carried off statues of the emperor.76 Dunand points out the existence of second- and third-century attestations of protomai and andriantareia of the emperor and members of his family in the various temples at Oxyrynchus (and perhaps at Soknopaiou Nesos, as well), but she rightly questions their positioning in these temples in such a way that they were equated with the traditional gods and received ritual worship.77 In fact, when viewed alongside the comparatively large body of life-sized Ptolemaic statuary with pharaonic features found in (or clearly designed for) temple contexts, the miniscule number of extant, freestanding, sculptural images of the emperor in pharaonic guise – i.e., those found in any context – may well be reflective of the extremely limited and sporadic nature of ruler-cult ritual in the Egyptian temples during the Roman era (if it occurred at all).78 When the ruler served as the focus of cult and was formally honored as a semi-divine figure in these same temples, it was only within the context of long-established festivals, such as the Festival of the Coronation of


Ibid.; Grenier 1995, 3191.


Strabo 17.1.54.


See Dunand 1983, 52 (esp. n. 44).


These freestanding sculptural images are examined more closely in Appendix I, below.


the Sacred Falcon at Edfu, during which the reigning “pharaoh” was ritually merged with Horus in his capacity as divine ruler of the Two Lands.79 These festivals, of course, were only regional celebrations and in no way reflect a province-wide tendency toward ritual focused on the person of the emperor-pharaoh. Beyond the stone images and the pair of Augustan-era inscriptions from Memphis mentioned above, there are no other physical or written elements which might be taken to imply imperial cult practice at the Egyptian temples during the Roman period. This scarcity of evidence should not be viewed as a surprising state of affairs; we have already seen that a Greco-Roman ruler cult was not compatible with ritual practice and belief at the Egyptian temples, that (like other Roman territories in the Greek East) no high-ranking official in the administration supervised or promoted the imperial cult within the province, and that the pair of administrative agents who dealt most directly with the Egyptian temples were not charged with regulating or guiding actual ritual activity. If, for example, one observes an association of Augustus with indigenous notions of the ruler’s divinity and divinely ordained kingship via the movement of Egyptian obelisks to the façade of the Alexandrian Sebasteion or through the construction of the Greco-Egyptian Temple of Augustus at the sacred site of Philae, then one should place these maneuvers in their proper context as acts sparked by the initiative of a single individual.80 Once a fundamental ritual continuity had been clearly established for the emperor-pharaoh over the span of an entire reign, projects of this sort (i.e., those initiated by Roman officials) nearly ceased to be carried out altogether within the Egyptian religious realm. Even funds allotted for temple construction or 79

See Finnestad 1997, 223.


Dunand 1983, 53. The “single individual,” in this case, was almost certainly the prefect Publius Rubrius Barbarus.


reconstruction came without any conditions regarding special honors for the emperor, as the new ruling authority seemed content to allow the momentum generated by enduring religious traditions to fulfill their hopes for an unvarying and powerful conception of the Roman “pharaoh� among ethnic Egyptians.


Chapter X: Conclusions

The management of Alexandria and the Nile Valley posed certain unique challenges to the Romans after they inherited rulership of Egypt from the Ptolemaic dynasts. The administrative, social, economic, and religious policies enacted during the first century of Roman rule in the new province are instructive, in this regard, as they reveal precisely how the new regime attempted to overcome all potential hurdles and to maximize the land’s potential.

To compound the challenges faced by the Roman

administration, both the capital and the province contained distinct population groups which conceived of the ruling authority in different ways and which enjoyed a variety of privileges under the previous regime.

Moreover, at the time of the Octavianic

conquest and throughout the Early Imperial era, the literary and historical reputations of these groups were largely negative, with most accounts centering on their intense religious superstition and their inclination toward impulsive rioting and calculated revolts.

The new province’s material and agricultural resources, including its vast

quantities of cereal products, justified any efforts to control the motley urban and rural populations in such a way that Egypt’s productivity would never be at risk. In order to reduce both internal and external threats to this crucially important addition to the Roman realm, a direct imperial appointee of equestrian rank was installed as governor, senators were barred from the province, and three full legions were initially stationed at key points throughout the Delta and the Nile Valley. As for the remainder of the provincial government, most of the Ptolemaic administration was maintained, with a majority of altered functions and newly created offices designed to maximize economic efficiency and to aid in the procurement of the province’s resources. 248

The Roman imperial government had already incorporated vast territories in the Greek East into the empire, and its experience in these regions guided the creation of key socio-economic and socio-political policies in Egypt. In the course of establishing, reinforcing, or redefining boundaries between ethnic Greco-Macedonians and ethnic Egyptians, the Roman authorities managed to intensify divisions among particular segments of the populace.

These divisions corresponded to legal, political, and

economic status groups positioned within a hierarchy of settlements (the capital, “Greek” city, metropolis, and village). The status groups created by Roman policies quickly became tied up with ethnic divisions; the urban population was given greater advantage and came to be identified with the “Greek” ethnic group, while the rural population was viewed as being lower on the hierarchical scale and came to be identified with the “Egyptian” ethnic group. The formulation of policies intended to create a metropolite class and a gymnasial order among urban residents was yet another element of Roman administration designed to bring Egypt in line with other eastern territories in one essential aspect: namely, the mobilization of a privileged, Hellenized, upper class which would aid Rome in its rule of both the capital and the province. The Roman provincial authority was, of course, concerned with securing the loyalty of each of these status groups, but only those at the top of the hierarchy could be courted with the most persuasive and far-reaching political and economic advantages. The propagandistic appeals which Rome wished to make to the remainder of the urban and rural populations in this crucial province are best represented by the vast range of coin-types produced at the Alexandrian mint.

The continuation of the

Ptolemaic policy of operating the Egyptian economy under a closed currency system meant not only that forced funneling of coinage through exchange posts would generate considerable profit for the Roman administration, but also that Alexandrian 249

mint officials could confidently be spurred to focus their efforts on the production of a variety of types endowed with purely regional significance. The result was a diffusion of images that could not be matched by any other provincial coinage in the empire. Despite the early practice of mirroring imperial types, the Alexandrian mint appears to have had the same degree of independence from the central authority as other provincial mints (contrary to the assertions of several scholars), and already by the middle of the reign of Augustus the types issued from Alexandria reflect many of the unique standards of diversity and thematic selection that would be followed for centuries to come. Influence from events transpiring at the imperial capital is noticeable on issues from several reigns; this is hardly surprising, though, given the close contact between Rome and the upper echelon of the provincial administration, which in turn supervised the officials at the mint. The maintenance of this close contact was reflected, for example, in the Alexandrian types which anticipated imperial visits and achievements not advertised on the imperial coinage or in the almost immediate production of types featuring Galba, Otho, and Vitellius as each came into power. The overview of the mint’s output during the first century of Roman rule in Egypt, outlined in Chapters III through VIII and summarized in Chapter IX, has highlighted certain patterns within the immense range of coin-types issued during that span. Empresses, for example, were depicted with more overtly divine attributes and assimilated more directly to deities than living emperors, who were never (with the exception of the Neronian [and possibly Caligulan] radiate obverse types and Nero’s lone radiate reverse type) explicitly portrayed with features of deification or divinity. These Roman empress types were derived from the long-standing practices associated with cults of Hellenistic queens, and particularly of the consorts of the Ptolemaic monarchs.

The “divine empress” types, however, comprised only a single and 250

relatively small component within the mint’s massive array of religious types, and in fact most propagandistic appeals on the Alexandrian coinage were made through referencing religious images that can be assigned to one of three distinct categories: purely Hellenic types, types drawn from the Greco-Egyptian realm, and Egyptian types which reflected the beliefs of the indigenous cults. The stark patterns of distribution of these images on the more valuable billon denominations and on the lower-value bronze denominations demonstrate a keen Roman awareness of circulation tendencies and reveal an overall emphasis on appeals to the “Hellenized” segments of the urban populations of Alexandria and the metropoleis (an emphasis reflected in Roman sociopolitical policy in the Egyptian province and at the capital itself). Arguably the most intriguing religious types are those in the ever-expanding “Greco-Egyptian” realm, as both emperors and empresses were matched with reverse types which would have had sacred meaning for all major segments of the metropolite population. Exclusive appeals to the traditional Egyptian religion on the Alexandrian coinage, usually in the form of sacred animal types but occasionally expressed via astrological types, were sporadic and confined to the smallest denominations; nevertheless, they do reflect some desire on the part of the Roman authorities to influence the perceptions of the millions of Egyptian provincials who were devoted to the deities, rites, and festivals associated with the indigenous temples. In spite of this general aim, neither the prefect nor any member of his administrative staff was assigned with the task of directing cult practice within the shrines of the traditional religion. This “hands-off” approach to the rites practiced in Egyptian temples was paralleled by the Roman attitude toward the creation and maintenance of cult practices focused on the imperial family. Roman authorities seem to have been content with the expectation that spontaneous expressions of religious devotion to the emperor and 251

members of his family would arise and that these could be entrusted to local supervision. In the case of the Egyptian temples, these expectations were likely set in place by a superficial knowledge of the basic conception of pharaonic kingship which had been in place for millennia, including the entire Ptolemaic era. The Roman authorities did not leave all matters within the Egyptian temples entirely to chance. The traditional religious centers had been more than mere ritual sites under the Ptolemies; they had exerted a powerful economic and cultural influence within the cities and village in which they were situated. It took little time for Roman authorities to recognize the paramount importance of these institutions and the economic opportunities which they offered, and already during the first decade of Roman rule the decision was made to take control of this realm by limiting the financial independence of the temples and their priests. Temple land was confiscated in the name of the state (a process which had already started under the Ptolemies), and the Egyptian clergy – now subject to the poll-tax, with few exceptions – was made to be largely dependent on imperial grants of land, food, and other funds. The highest structures within the priestly hierarchy were dismantled and the “national” synods which had been organized under Ptolemaic rule were no longer convened.


collective force of these policies destabilized the organizational strength of the priesthood and all but eliminated their potential to mobilize the ethnic Egyptian population on a province-wide scale. Despite these measures, there are no traces of a severe “backlash” against Roman rule within the Egyptian religious sphere itself. The most informative category of evidence in this realm is comprised of the relief images carved on the native temples, in addition to the vast number of texts which are inscribed alongside them. This large corpus of visual and epigraphic material could not be directly supervised by the Roman 252

provincial authority, and so it stands as the most faithful reflection of the conception of the emperor as propagated by the Egyptian priests. The temple reliefs reveal that the basic roles of the king as ritual participant and as intermediary between the mortal and divine realms were applied to the emperor-pharaoh, just as they had been to the Ptolemies, to Alexander the Great, and to the Persians before him. Several authors remind us that the priests had little to no flexibility in this regard, since their own positions as members of the clergy were defined by their unique placement vis-à-vis the relationship between the pharaoh and the gods, which itself was believed to be essential to the maintenance of cosmic order and to the continued prosperity of Egypt. Many of these same authors, however, go too far in asserting seamless continuity among the religious conceptions of the Dynastic-era pharaohs, the Ptolemies, and the Roman emperors. The present work’s examination of all pharaonic-style reliefs created during the first century of Roman rule has brought to light several features which stand in contrast to earlier images on the same temples. Some of these uniquely “Roman” features are defined by what is absent from (or scarcely represented within) the reliefs or texts, rather than by what is present. The removal of royal women from the reliefs’ iconographic repertoire, for example, can be contrasted with the role women played during the Dynastic eras and, more recently, under the Ptolemies. The absence of the Roman empress among the early Roman reliefs can be explained by one or more circumstances related to the nature of imperial rulership: royal women did not rule alone in the Roman sphere, unlike certain royal women of the New Kingdom and Ptolemaic eras; empresses could not, for that matter, enjoy “joint rulership” of the empire with their husbands; moreover, women in the imperial family did not practice consanguineous marriage, an Egyptian royal tradition which had been embraced as recently as the Ptolemaic dynasty. One of the primary contexts in which Ptolemaic 253

queens had appeared on the Egyptian temples were the self-contained dynastic scenes related to the dynastic cult practiced within the Egyptian religious complexes during most of the dynasty. These scenes are not found among the Roman corpus, nor are the associated free-standing statues (see below, Appendix I), as the synods which had directed the proliferation of the dynastic cults in the indigenous temples – perhaps (or even likely) through mandates by the state – were no longer gathered. In the absence of specific direction to infuse their temples with these non-traditional rituals, the Egyptian priests reverted to the customary mode of daily cult practice and religious thought. The Roman emperor-pharaoh, however, was unlike previous Egyptian monarchs in a few crucial aspects, and the priests made a handful of adjustments to compensate for these differences. The once-common scenes of the pharaoh smiting the enemies of Egypt, as another example among the temple-reliefs, ceased to be common after the Octavianic conquest; the loss of Egyptian independence and the fact that the “pharaoh” ruled from afar may have led to a reevaluation of the monarch’s role as “protector of Egypt and commander of its armies.”

These same factors may have spurred the

addition of an epithet to the now-standardized Horus-name – one which acknowledged the conception of the pharaoh as a king who cared for Egypt’s needs while ruling from a foreign land – and may also have led to the removal of certain divine qualifications from the pharaonic throne name. A new openness to non-Egyptian elements which were compatible with traditional religious concepts could well have been a byproduct of the clergy’s exposure to Hellenic practices throughout the Ptolemaic era. The acceptance of Greco-Roman titles and epithets is merely one reflection of this phenomenon, which may have been accelerated by the growing Greco-Egyptian religious realm and its attractions for ethnic Egyptians. Perhaps the most striking example of the incorporation of Greco-Roman 254

religious concepts into the Egyptian sphere is the possible highlighting the emperorpharaoh’s relationship to Isis and Hathor as equivalents of Aphrodite, mother of the Julian clan, both under Augustus and (at Dendera’s temple complex, in particular) under the other Julio-Claudian emperors. Comparisons of the religious appeals on the Alexandrian types, the most widely circulated medium for images propagated by the ruling authority, to the iconographic and textual content of the temple reliefs (i.e., the most direct expression of how the figures at the head of that authority were conceived among ethnic Egyptians) reveal some interesting dichotomies. The Alexandrian coinage is, among many exceptional features, notable for its mode of presentation of empresses and other royal women, including the divine attributes and other iconographic associations to be found among images of the former group.

Moreover, dynastic imagery is employed on certain

Augustan types, dominates the Tiberian tetradrachms, and is featured on coins minted during the last phase of Nero’s reign in the form of Divus Augustus types. Comparable images, however, which can be found with relative ease among the Ptolemaic reliefs (and also, in the case of royal women interacting with the divine, among earlier pharaonic reliefs), are entirely absent from the Roman-era scenes carved on the Egyptian temples. Since a maintenance of Ptolemaic policy in regard to the temples of Egypt would have allowed for a reinforcement of the ideals expressed on the coinage, the lack of direct Roman influence on the Egyptian religious sphere calls for an attempt at explaining Rome’s approach to the indigenous temples.

Although the potential

motivations for the Romans’ policy in this realm are not discussed in the preceding pages, two possible explanations for their approach to the Egyptian cults are offered here: one possibility is that Roman officials mistakenly assumed that the imperial family 255

would be viewed in the same religious contexts as the Ptolemaic dynasts had been; the other is that early Roman policy actively discouraged the temples from any treatment of the emperor and members of his family which could be perceived as running parallel to that of the Ptolemies. The former possibility assumes that Roman knowledge of the pharaonic conception of kingship and of temple activities during the last decades of the Ptolemaic era was fundamentally flawed; without an enforced imposition neither the emperor’s wife nor the living emperor-pharaoh himself would be formally worshipped in the Egyptian temples, since the Ptolemaic practice had been an intrusion into the traditional conception of the ruling couple. The latter possibility, on the other hand, assumes that Roman authorities were somehow motivated to avoid any associations with Ptolemaic religious practice in the native temples, in spite of the limited knowledge of ritual at these temples throughout the wider Roman world.

If the

Romans were motivated along these same lines, then the source of that motivation may have been the propaganda which had been issued against Antony and Cleopatra VII in the years leading up to the conflict at Actium (see above, Chapter I.C.). The Augustan regime decided, perhaps, that it could not afford to be viewed in the same light as Marc Antony, who had been accused of sacrificing his Roman origins in favor of adopting the trappings of Ptolemaic and pharaonic kingship.

Whether this distancing of the

emperor-pharaoh from the Ptolemies was directed by Roman policy or grew out of a reaction by the priests themselves, the resulting view of the Roman ruler vis-Ă -vis the Egyptian gods was ultimately closer to that of the Dynastic-era pharaoh than to that of the Ptolemaic monarch. On a province-wide scale, the legal and ethnic divisions created by the Roman administration in Egypt and the spontaneous and sporadic development of imperial cult practice resulted in a high level of regional variation in the degrees to which the 256

Roman ruler was accepted and conceived of as a semi-divine ruler or as a fully divine figure worthy of serving as a focus of cult practice. The extent of this regional variation corresponded largely to the basic hierarchic divisions of settlement-type and to the divergence between urban and rural areas, but it must also have fluctuated due to varying concentrations of “Hellenized” and “Egyptian” provincials within these broader categories. The aforementioned inconsistencies between the coinage and the temple reliefs, when combined in force with the geographic and social variables affecting the conception of the emperor, point toward unanticipated “interruptions” in the system of vertical propaganda at work in the Egyptian province. On the other hand, the direction of religious appeals toward select status groups (i.e., as observed among the types issued from the Alexandrian mint) reflects a certain level of awareness of these regional variations on the part of the Roman authorities. Since the native clergy did not gather in state-sponsored synods, however, and since relying on spontaneous expressions of devotion to the imperial cult among Hellenized residents was a matter of policy, Roman officials could not have predicted the degree to which the emperor would receive divine honors in capital, metropolis, or village. Nevertheless, Roman policy regarding the Egyptian temples and the scarcity of divine traits applied to emperors on the Alexandrian coinage both reflect a complete confidence in regional traditions. This high degree of confidence in the entrenched Greco-Macedonian and Egyptian approaches to Ptolemaic and pharaonic kingship was not entirely misplaced. Ultimately, despite observable (and possibly intentional) departures from the previous regime, the transition to a foreign seat of ruling power did not hinder the Roman emperor’s incorporation into most Hellenic and Egyptian forms of ritual, either as god or as pharaoh.


CATALOGUE RELIEFS IN PHARAONIC STYLE, 30 B.C. – A.D. 69 The following catalogue contains a numbered listing of the surviving pharaonicstyle relief images featuring Roman emperors. Images carved on stelai and on structures at sacred sites have been included in this listing. The limitation of the geographic range of sites represented here is intended to match the present study’s focus on the Egyptian province, with its southern border at the First Cataract of the Nile (near Syene), its eastern border at the Red Sea, and its western border at the oases of the Western Desert. Reliefs created beyond the southern border of the province are not treated in this study. The reliefs within the Egyptian province are organized below according to imperial reign. Within each reign these reliefs are organized geographically, from north to south. This geographic arrangement mirrors the organizational scheme of the topographical bibliography published in the following volumes by Bertha Porter and Rosalind Moss (see Bibliography for full publication details): PM II = Porter and Moss 1960 PM IV = Porter and Moss 1968 PM V = Porter and Moss 1962 PM VI = Porter and Moss 1970 PM VII = Porter and Moss 1975 For those cases in which later publication has brought new reliefs to light (i.e., reliefs not included in the Porter and Moss volumes), an alternative reference has been provided to either a secondary work or to the relevant sub-chapter above. Also not included in the Catalogue are those reliefs which have been intentionally defaced and contain no identifiable figures (e.g., the Neronian reliefs in the first hypostyle of the Hathor temple at Dendera); these are likewise discussed in the appropriate sub-chapters above. Numbers in brackets after descriptions refer to the relevant page numbers in the preceding text. 258

RELIEF IMAGES FEATURING AUGUSTUS Sakha (Xoïs), capital of the sixth nome of Lower Egypt 1

[stele] Augustus (identified in cartouche), facing right, standing before ?; PM IV, 45.

Dendera Temple of Hathor, Entrance to Outer Hypostyle 2-5

[top register] Augustus before one figure of Hermopolite Ogdoad in four scenes (one each per scene) [111]; PM VI, 48 (28-31).


[second register] Augustus offering obelisk to serpent-headed Hu, Horus, and Hathor; with Ha‘pi, Ihy, and Harsomtus before Isis and Horus-Sementaui; with Ma’at and small Harsiesis before Osiris and Isis; PM VI, 48 (32, 34-35). Temple of Hathor, Side Room III (east doorway)


Augustus with oblation before Hathor and small Harsiesis; offering flowers to serpent-headed Harsomtus; PM VI, 53 (66a and 66b, respectively). Temple of Hathor, Exterior (east side)


[top register] Augustus offering uzat to Min-re and Khentet-Iabtet of Akhmim; also, offering image of Ma’at to Thoth and Nehem‘awat; PM VI, 75 (228 and 231).


[fourth register] Augustus leaving palace; measuring temple; pouring sand before Isis; offering bricks to small Harsomtus, Hathor, and Harsomtus; laying block with Hathor; offering temple to Hathor and Horus; [on base] advancing with two small gods followed by nome-figures of Upper Egypt, figure representing towns of Upper Egypt, Upper and Lower Egyptian Nile-gods and Field-goddesses, Nepit, and the three seasons, all presented before Hathor, Horus, Isis, and Harsomtus; PM VI, 76 (216-233). Temple of Hathor, Exterior (west side)


[top register] Augustus offering to Hathor; offering image of Ma’at to Ptah and Sekhmet; with sheaf before Harsomtus; PM VI, 77 (238, 243, and 246).


[fourth register] Augustus with ka leaving palace; crowned by Nekhbet and Buto; with Sefkhet measures temple; hacks ground before deities; lays block before Hathor; purifies temple with natron before Hathor; offers temple to Hathor and Harsomtus [112]; PM VI, 78 (238, 241, and 243-47). 259

Temple of Hathor, Exterior (rear wall) 29-30

[left] Augustus before Isis, Harsomtus, and Osiris-Onnophris; before Hathor and Horus; PM VI, 78-9 (257-58).


[right] Aug. with image of Ma’at and small Ihy before various deities; also, offering mirrors to Isis and Harsomtus; PM VI, 79 (259-260). Temple of Hathor Complex, East Gate of Court (prob. propylon of last phase)


[thicknesses, south side] Augustus offers to Hathor, Horus of Edfu, Isis, and OsirisOnnophris; [inner thicknesses] adores two Meskhents (on each); PM VI, 108.


[lintel of inner (west) face] Augustus offering image of Ma’at to small Ihy, Hathor, Horus of Edfu, and Harsomtus; offering to small Ihy, Isis, Osiris-Onnophris, and serpent-headed Harsomtus; PM VI, 108. Temple of Isis (Small Birth House), Vestibule


[inner lintel, upper register] Augustus before small Ihy, Isis, Osiris-Onnophris, and Harsiesis; also, before small Ihy, Hathor, Horus of Edfu, and Harsomtus; PM VI, 106 (1-2).


[inner lintel, lower register] Thoth followed by four gods of the Hermopolite Ogdoad and Augustus, all offering headdresses, before Isis and Hathor; PM VI, 106 (1-2).


[inner lintel, third to fifth registers (fragmentary)] Augustus before two deities; PM VI, 106 (3). Temple of Isis (Small Birth House), Sanctuary


[outer lintel (center destroyed) and jambs] six scenes with Augustus before one divinity in each; PM VI, 107 (4-5). Temple of Isis (Small Birth House), West Room


[third register] Augustus before Wepwaut; before Ptah and Sekhmet; PM VI, 107 (9-10).


[top register] Augusuts before long row of divinities, with legible names of Harsaphes, Meskhents, Amun, Horus, and three gods of Edfu; PM VI, 107 (10). Temple of Isis (Small Birth House), Exterior


[south wall, top register] Augustus makes an offering before Khnum seated opposite Isis and Re-Harakhti, and before Thoth writing opposite Isis and Khnum; [second register] Augustus offers necklace to Atum; PM VI, 107. 260

El-Qal’a [see above, Chapter III.A, for Augustan scenes on the “Temple of Claudius”] Shenhur Temple of Isis (entrance to sanctuary) 51-54

[lintel, double-scene] Augustus offers uzat to Min and Horus [116]; offers image of Ma’at to the Theban Triad and Isis [116]; offers image of Ma’at to Amun-re, Horus, Isis, and Nephthys; offers wine to Thoth and Ma’at; PM V, 136 (1-2).


[jambs, upper scene on each] Augustus before Monthu; Augustus before Khonsu; PM V, 136 (1-2). Temple of Isis (sanctuary)


[upper register] Augustus before Khonsu (destroyed), Ra’t-taui, Khonsu, and Mut; Augustus (?) before divinities (upper part destroyed); Augustus before Haroeris, Isis, Harpokrates (?), and Hathor (?); PM V, 136 (5-7).


[middle register] Augustus before Amun-re and before Osiris; PM V, 136 (6).


[lower register] Augustus before Amun-re, Mut, Geb(?), and Isis in four scenes; Augustus (?) offers sistrum to Mut and Isis; offers incense to Isis and Nephthys; before Amun-Min(?), Isis(?), god, and Nephthys in four scenes; PM V, 136 (5-7).

Deir el-Medina North Sanctuary (brick building [Bruyère’s “Iseion”] against west wall of Hathor shrine) 71-72

[exterior, double scene] Augustus (as “Kaisar Autokrator”) offering sphinx ointment-jar to Thenenet and Rat-taui; offering image of Ma’at to Hathor and Ma’at [AR1, 117]; PM II, 407 (35).

Karnak Temple of Opet (Exterior) 73-74

[south wall; first register, eight scenes (first six destroyed)] Augustus makes libation to Amunemopet [119]; offers (ointment to a goddess); PM II, 252 (53-54).


[south wall; second register, ten scenes] Augustus offering scimitar to Monthu; four vases to Osiris-Onnophris [118]; nemset-vase to Amun [119]; sistra to Ament; flowers to Geb; standing before Osiris-Onnophris [118]; offering lettuce to Min-Amun [119]; sistrum to Nut [AR2, 119]; crown to Harpokrates; mkŝ to (Osiris and Isis) [119]; PM II, 252 (53-54). 261


[south wall; base] Augustus heading two processions (both before Osiris): in upper row, followed by standing nome-divinities; in lower row, followed by kneeling Pehu, field-goddesses, and nome-divinities; PM II, 252 (53-54).


[east wall; double-scene on base] two rows of processions with line of text above each, both headed by Augustus before Osiris: left procession features standing Nile god, kneeling Field-goddesses, offering bringers, and standing Nile-goddess, while right procession features kneeling Nile-gods, Field-goddesses, and Hathor; PM II, 252 (57-58). Temple of Khonsu, Barque-Chapel (south wall)


[first register] Augustus consecrating offerings to Khonsu; offering ? to Mut [120]; standing before barque (?); consecrating offerings to Thoth; offering sistra to Mut [120]; PM II, 239-40 (75-76, 78).


[second register] Augustus offering image of Ma’at to Amun [120]; presenting incense and libation to Khonsu; offering food to Khonsu; consecrating offerings to Atum; PM II, 239-40 (75, 78).

Hermonthis (Armant) 97-98

[stelai from Bucheum] Augustus sacrificing to Buchis (Cairo, Egyptian Mus. 53142); Augustus sacrificing to Buchis (Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glypt. Æ.I.N.1681).

Kom Ombo Temple of Haroeris and Sobek, Outer Court Wall (Augustan [see block from frieze, below]) 99

[base of wall] Augustus preceded by long text and followed by a procession (in sep. panels) that includes 25 deities and personifications, including several Nile-gods, Anubis, Shesemu, and the Upper Egyptian Meret [121]; PM VI, 182 (18-23). [block from frieze] cartouches of “Autokrator” (Cairo Mus. 44316); PM VI, 203.

Elephantine Great Temple of Khnum (exterior of entrance to pavement of second hypostyle hall) 100

[west wall and jamb of doorway] Nile-gods in procession behind Augustus, standing before Khnum [122]; PM V, 227. 262

Philae West Colonnade (wall behind columns) 101

[upper register] Aug. offers menat to Isis, Hathor, and Harsiesis; PM VI, 208 (28).


[lower register] Augustus offers emblems to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, and Horus; offers bowl with two symbols to Isis and Hathor; offers milk to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, and Horus; offers ointment(?) to Arsenuphis and Tefnut; offers incense and libation to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, and Horus; PM VI, 208 (28, 30, 32-34). West Colonnade (wall behind columns) [opp. side of doorway])


[lower register] Augustus offers incense and libation to Osiris, Isis, and Harsiesis; offers sacrificial victims to Horus and Isis; presents offerings to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, and Harsiesis; PM VI, 209 (37-39). Temple of Isis (rooms behind second east colonnade, Room IV [Library])


Augustus offers emblems to Khonsu; consecrates offerings before Isis; PM VI, 221 (140, 143). Birth House within temple complex, Exterior (east side)


[top register] Augustus standing with statue of Harpokrates before three kneeling Rekhyt; opens shrine containing Isis nursing child; PM VI, 227 (209).


[top register] Augustus offers mirrors to Hathor and Harsiesis [124]; wreath to Osiris and Isis nursing child; adores Khnum with small prince; offers images of Ma’at to Amun-re; offers oil to Horus and Hathor; offers incense to Re-Harakhti, Shu, and Tefnut; offers myrrh to Horus and Isis nursing child; pours natron(?) before Hathor and Harpokrates; offers collar to Isis; PM VI, 227 (210-18).


[second register] Augustus, holding aloft cow among lotus, and Lower Egyptian Meret, playing harp, before Harpokrates and enthroned Isis [AR3, 124]; series of eight (intentionally[?] damaged) offering/presentation scenes; PM VI, 227 (210-18).


[third register] Augustus stands before Isis and Harsiesis(?); offers field to Harsiesis and Osiris-Onnophris; offers pectoral to Isis suckling young Horus; offers bread to unidentifiable divinity (cut out by doorway); offers wine to Harsiesis; offers milk to Harsiesis; offers ? before Harsiesis (partially destroyed scene); consecrates offerings before ? (destroyed by insertion of doorway); PM VI, 227 (210-17). Birth House within temple complex, Exterior (north side)


[top register] Augustus offers braziers to Khnem-re and Hathor; offers collar to Hathor suckling the young Harsomtus and to Wepset [124]; PM VI, 227 (219-20). 263


[second register] Augustus offers milk to Harpokrates and Isis (damage to center); offers mirrors to Isis nursing Horus and Bubastis [124]; PM VI, 227-8 (219-20).


[third register] Augustus with uraeus-scepters, female deity, Neith with sistrum, Thoth writing on heb-sed wand, and Amun-re seated opposite Isis nursing child and Buto [124]; PM VI, 228 (219-20).


[top register] Augustus offers heh to Osiris and Isis; offers myrrh to Isis suckling young Horus and to Nephthys [124]; PM VI, 228 (221-22).


[second register] Augustus offers milk to Harpokrates and Isis; offers sistra to Isis nursing Horus and to a lion-headed goddess [124]; PM VI, 228 (221-22).


[third register] Augustus with pectoral alongside Renpet, Renpet-Meskhent, Thoth writing on heb-sed wand, and Khnum modeling child, opposite Isis nursing child and Nekhbet [124]; PM VI, 228 (221-22).


[base] double-scene: Augustus followed by Nile-god, Field-goddess, bull-headed Osiris, cow-headed Isis, serpent-god, and Isis with offerings; offers food to Isis nursing Horus in papyrus-clump [125]; PM VI, 228 (219-20, 221-22). Temple of Isis, Exterior (west wall)


[base] Augustus followed by Nile-gods and Field-goddesses before Osiris, Isis, and Harpokrates; PM VI, 245 (372-73).


[top register] Augustus offering before Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, Horus, Khnem-re, Hathor, Amun-re, Re-Harakhti, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, and Harpokrates in nine scenes; PM VI, 245 (375).


[base] Augustus followed by 15 nome-figures of Lower Egypt, all before Osiris, Isis, and Horus; PM VI, 245 (376-77). Temple of Isis, Exterior (east wall)


[base] Augustus, followed by Nile-god and Field-goddesses, standing before Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; PM VI, 246 (379-80).


[top register] Augustus offers to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, Horus, Hathor, Tefnut, Seker-Osisris, and Nephthys in nine scenes; PM VI, 246 (382-83).


[second register (partly destroyed)] Augustus offers to Isis; to Harpokrates; to Osiris-Onnophris; to Wepset; to Khnem-re; to Hathor; to Amun-re; to Mut; strikes clay-ball before Sekhmet; PM VI, 246 (382-83).


[third register] Augustus leaves palace with standards and Inmutef; is purified by Thoth and Horus; is crowned by Buto and Nekhbet before Isis [AR4, 125]; is led by Re-Harakhti and Monthu to Isis; offers to Isis; offers to Osiris-Onnophris; offers to Horus; offers to Nephthys; offers to Harsiesis; PM VI, 246 (382-83). 264


[base] Augustus followed by 22 nome-figures of Upper Egypt, all before OsirisOnnophris and Isis (?) and Harsiesis, with line of text below; PM VI, 246 (382-83). Temple of Isis, Exterior (rear [north] wall)


[upper part] Augustus offers image of Ma’at to Amun-re and Mut; offers mkŝ to Horus and Hathor; offers incense and libation to Isis and Nephthys; [lower part, double-scene] offers wine to Hathor and Harpokrates, and incense to Isis and Nephthys; PM VI, 247 (384-85).


[upper part] Augustus offers vase to Khnum and Hathor; offers incense to Horus of Edfu and Hathor; offers incense and libation to Osiris and Isis; [lower part] adores Isis and Horus, and pours libation before Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; PM VI, 247 (386-87).


[base] Augustus followed by Nile-god, Field-goddess, and divinities with offerings, before Isis and Horus (left half) and before Isis and Harpokrates (right half); PM VI, 247 (384-87). Temple of Hathor, Forecourt


[intercolumnar walls] Augustus offers bowl with two symbols to Satis; sphinx ointment-jar to Tefnut; wine to Hathor; wine to Isis [126]; headband to Hathor; sistra to Sekhmet; flowers to Nephthys; headband to Isis [126]; PM VI, 251 (10-17).


[upper segments of columns] Augustus making offering; PM VI, 251 (h). Temple of Hathor, Outer Hall (façade)


[two registers] Augustus holds sistra before Isis [126]; slays Apophis (Apep) before Tefnut; offers menat to Hathor; offers bowl with two symbols to Sekhmet; PM VI, 251 (19-20). Temple of Hathor, Exterior


[upper register] Augustus offers incense and libation to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis [126], and vase to destroyed deity; presents sphinx ointment-jar to Hathor and Harsomtus, and wine to Khnum and Hathor; PM VI, 252 (37-41).


[lower register] Augustus leaves palace with standards and Inmutef (alongside destroyed scene of measuring temple); PM VI, 252 (37).


[lower part] Augustus leaves palace with standards and Inmutef; PM VI, 252 (39).


[doorway, outer lintel] Augustus offers food to two unidentifiable divinities; [jambs] stands before deity in each of three registers; PM VI, 252 (41). 265

Biga (Bigeh) Temple of Osiris, Pylon 224-25

[jamb, third and fourth registers] Augustus offers to Horus and unidentifiable deity [127]; offers to Osiris and Isis [127]; PM V, 257 (1).


[thicknesses, third and fourth registers] Augustus offers bowl with two symbols to Hathor-Tefnut; presents incense and a libation to Horus [127]; PM V, 257 (2).


[thickness] Augustus offers incense and libation to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, and Harpokrates [127]; PM V, 257 (3).


[thicknesses] Augustus before Ptah in shrine; before Re-Harakhti; PM V, 257 (4-5).


[lintel] Augustus offers to god; offers to god and goddess; [jambs] offers to two unidentifiable deities on each; PM V, 257 (6-7).

RELIEF IMAGES FEATURING TIBERIUS Wannina (Athribis) Temple of Triphis, Enclosure Wall Interior (west side) 235-36

Tiberius offers incense to Osiris and Isis; libation to Osiris and Nephthys; PM V, 33.

Dendera Temple of Hathor, Façade 237-39

[projection of east wall; top to third registers] Tiberius offers wine to Hathor and Horus of Edfu; offers birds to Hathor and Harsomtus; offers sistrum and menat to Hathor and Horus; [projection of west wall] Tiberius in scenes mirroring east wall [143]; PM VI, 45 (1, 8). Temple of Hathor, Entrance to Outer Hypostyle


[frieze above entrance] kneeling Tiberius offers image of Ma’at toward child in shrine, vases, and other offerings on stands; PM VI, 46 (13). Temple of Hathor, Inner Hypostyle (Columns)


[Columns B and C] Tiberius with small Harsomtus offers wine to Hathor suckling child; with small Ihy offers a willow tree before Hathor and Horus [144]; PM VI, 50. 266

Temple of Hathor Complex, East Gate of Temple Precinct 243-44

[lintel of outer (east) face] Tiberius standing before Ihy, Hathor, Horus of Edfu, and Harsomtus; before Ihy, Isis, Osiris, and Harsomtus [144]; PM VI, 108.


[jambs, top register] Tiberius before Horus of Edfu and Hathor; before Harsomtus and Isis [144]; PM VI, 108.

Qift (Koptos) 247

[stele] Tiberius before Harpokrates and unnamed goddess; PM V, 130.

Shenhur Temple of Isis, Exterior (probably upper section of east wall [now damaged]) 248-53

Tiberius before god and goddess; with censer before Isis and Nephthys [144]; with scepters before Sobek and Hathor; offering collar to unidentified goddess; standing before Thoth and goddess; standing before Osiris (?) and Isis [144]; PM V, 136.

Kom Ombo Temple of Haroeris and Sobek, Outer Court (columns) 254-61

Tiberius before either Sobek or Haroeris on each [144]; PM VI, 182.

Philae West Colonnade (wall behind columns) 262-69

[upper register] Tiberius offers animal to Osiris, Isis, Horus, Amun-re, and Thoth; offers to Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Hathor; offers uzat to Osiris and Isis; performs adoration of Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, unidentifiable god, Thoth of Pnubs, and Tefnut; offers cloth and ointment to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, Khnum-re, and two Hathors; offers barley to Min-re, Repyt, and Nephthys; stands before Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Thoth of Pnubs; offers uraeus to Isis [rest is destroyed]; PM VI, 208 (26-27, 29-34).


[lower register] Tiberius makes offering of sacrificial victims to Arsenuphis, Thoth, and Tefnut; PM VI, 208 (25). West Colonnade (wall behind columns [opposite side of doorway])


[upper register] Tiberius offers food to Osiris, Isis, and Hathor; offers emblems to Osiris and Isis; offers milk to Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, Horus, Hathor, and Harsiesis; offers emblems to Osiris, Isis, and three Hathors; offers natron to Osiris-Onnophris, 267

Isis, and Harpokrates; offers wine to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; offers incense and libation to Osiris, Isis, Horus, Sobek (?), and Anubis; makes offering to Horus of Edfu, Hathor, Harpokrates as Son of Hathor, and Horus as Son of Hathor [146]; PM VI, 209 (37-44). 279-82

[lower register] Tiberius offers heh to Arsenuphis, Thoth of Pnubs, and Tefnut; offers sistra to Isis, Hathor, and Horus; offers uraeus-scepters to Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys; consecrates temple before Osiris, Isis, and Horus; PM VI, 209 (40-43). West Colonnade (windows)


[three registers within thicknesses] Tiberius offers bread to Arsenuphis and Tefnut; offers wine to Hathor; offers fertile field to Osiris and Isis; PM VI, 209 (g). Temple of Isis (rooms behind second east colonnade, Room V [“Room of Tiberius”])


[east entrance, thickness] Tiberius offers libation to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; offers wine to divinities (destroyed); [inner lintel] Tiberius with unidentified female figure (cartouche blank) offering wine to Osiris, Isis, and Harpokrates and to Horus, Hathor, and Harpokrates, in double-scene; [north jamb, three registers] Tiberius offers images of Ma’at to Amun-re and Mut, palette to Thoth and Wepset, and food to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; [south jamb, three registers] Tiberius offers uzat to Horus and Hathor, ointment to Shu and Tefnut, and food to OsirisOnnophris and Isis; PM VI, 222 (146, 148-49).


[interior, top register] Tiberius offers wine (?) to Hathor, Harpokrates, and Tefnut; offers temple to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; offers uzat to Re-Harakhti, Shu (not Ma’at), and Tefnut [147]; offers cloth (?) to Atum, Geb, and Nut; PM VI 222, (150-53).


[interior, second register] Tiberius offers milk to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; offers heh to Arsenuphis, Thoth of Pnubs, and Tefnut; offers incense to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; offers wine to Isis, Horus, and Nephthys (destroyed); PM VI 222, (150-53).


[interior, third register] Tiberius offers incense to Osiris; offers wine to Osiris and Isis; offers sacrifice (damaged) to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; consecrates temple before Isis, Hathor, and an unnamed god; PM VI 222, (150-53).


[interior, base] Tiberius, followed by Nile-gods and Field-goddesses, before Osiris, Isis, and Horus (duplicated on each side); PM VI 222, (150-53). Birth House within temple complex, forecourt


[top register] Tiberius offers incense and libation to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; offers collar to Arsenuphis and Tefnut; offerse incense to Osiris, Isis, and Hous; offers palette to Thoth and Wepset; PM VI, 223 (161-64).


[second register] Tiberius offers hawk and vulture to Re-Harakhti, Hathor, and Harsomtus; offers mirror to Satis and Anukis [147]; offers image of Ma’at to Theban Triad; adores Khnum and Hathor; PM VI, 223 (161-64). 268


[third register] Tiberius offer menat to Isis, Osiris, and Horus; offers sistra to Hathor suckling child and Ma’at; offers emblems to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; offers mirror to Isis nursing child and Ma’at writing on heb-sed wand; PM VI, 223 (161-64).


[fourth register] Tiberius consecrates offerings before Osiris-Onnophris, Isis, and Horus; offers wine to Harpokrates and Hathor; consecrates offerings before Isis, Osiris, and Horus; offers pectoral to Nekhbet and Isis suckling young Horus; PM VI, 223 (161-64). Birth House within temple complex, Exterior (west side)


[top register] Tiberius offers milk to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; offers geese and gazelles to Isis, Hathor, and Harpokrates; offers vase to Khnem-re and Hathor; offers eye-paint to Min; spears foe before deceased Pharaoh (?); offers winged scarab to Horus and Hathor; offers food to Geb, Nut, and Harpokrates; offers, along with small Ihy, wine to Isis and Harsiesis; offers sistra to Isis nursing child and Harsiesis; offers necklace to Isis; PM VI, 226 (199-208).


[second register] Tiberius offers crowns to Harpokrates, riding in carrying-chair on lion, before Isis [TR1,147]; holds wreath, alongside Isis and Lower Egyptian Meret playing harp, and stands before Hathor and Harpokrates; stands before Ptah in shrine and Sekhmet; offers image of Ma’at to Thoth; offers beer to Sothis; offers incense to Arsenuphis and Tefnut; adores the Theban Triad; offers bouquets to Isis suckling Horus with Sefkhet (writing on heb-sed wand) and Ma’at [TR2, 147]; offers vulture and uraeus to Horus and Hathor; stands before various deities (some unidentified); PM VI, 226 (199-208).


[third register] Tiberius stands before Harsiesis and Isis; offers incense to OsirisOnnophris, Isis, and Harpokrates; offers heh to Harsiesis and Hathor; offers collar to Isis suckling young Horus; offers food to Harsiesis-Harpokrates; offers oil to Horus and Nephthys; offers vases (?) to Horus, Harsiesis (?), and Lower Egyptian Meret; offers menat to Hathor, Harsiesis, and Wepset; offers sacrifice to Isis and Horus; PM VI, 226 (199-207). Temple of Isis, Second Pylon (inner face)


[base] Tiberius offers to Isis and Horus; offers to Isis and Horus (?); PM VI, 232-33 (260-61, 265). Temple of Isis, Hypostyle (southeast doorway)


[outer lintel] Tiberius offers wine to Horus and food to Osiris and Isis, in doublescene; offers milk to Harpokrates and food to Khnum (?) and Hathor, in doublescene; [south jamb, three registers] Tiberius stands before (partly destroyed) Amenre; offers heh to male deity; stands before Osiris-Onnophris; [north jamb, three registers] Tiberius stands before Shu (?); offers palette to male deity; stands before Isis; PM VI, 235 (285, c-d). 269

Temple of Isis, Exterior (west wall) 365-69

[top register] Tiberius offers incense and libation to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; offers vase to Khnem-re and Hathor; offers heh to Arsenuphis and Tefnut; offers images of Ma’at to Theban Triad; offers milk to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; PM VI, 245 (371-73).


[second register] Tiberius offers incense and libation to Isis and Horus; offers vase to Horus of Edfu and Hathor; slays foe before Pharaoh (?) and Wepset; offers emblems to Osiris-Sokari, Isis, and Nephthys; offers mirrors to Hathor and Harpokrates; PM VI, 245 (371-73).


[third register] Tiberius followed by ka smites foes before small Ha, Isis, Horus, and Hathor [TR3, 149]; Tiberius offers fertile field to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; PM VI, 245 (372-73).


[three registers] Tiberius offers incense and libation to Osiris-Onnophris; offers oil to Hathor; offers wine to Horus; PM VI, 245 (374). Temple of Isis, Exterior (east wall)


[top register] Tiberius offers casket to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; offers vase to Khnum, Hathor, and Harpokrates; presents offerings to Isis, Hathor and Horus; offers incense and libation to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; PM VI, 246 (378-80).


[third register] Tiberius followed by ka (destroyed) smites enemies before small Sopet-Horus, behind whom are Isis, Hathor, and Harpokrates [TR4, 149]; offers image of Ma’at to Osiris-Onnophris and Isis; PM VI, 246 (379-80).


[four registers] Tiberius offers libation to Isis; offers incense to Mandulis; offers breat to Thoth; offers sacrificial victims to Horus; PM VI, 246 (381). Temple of Arsenuphis, Inner Face of Enclosure Wall (north wall)


[top register] Tiberius offers emblems to Osiris, Isis, and Horus; offers crowns to Horus, Nephthys, and Wepset; offers to Isis; adores Khnum, Sothis [sic], and Anukis [151]; (badly damaged) Tiberius stands before Shu and Tefnut; PM VI, 210 (49-51).


[second register] Tiberius offers mirrors to Isis, Hathor, and Harpokrates; offers wine to Arsenuphis, Thoth, and (destroyed) goddess [151]; stands before Horus(?); stands before Theban Triad; (destroyed) Tiberius offers wand (?) to Tutu and Neith; PM VI, 210 (49-51).


[third register] Tiberius leaves palace with standards and Imutef [TR5]; is purified by Thoth and Horus [TR5]; crowned by Buto and Nekhbet [TR5, 152]; is led by Atum(?) and Monthu-Re to unnamed god; stands before Osiris and Isis; offers to male and female deities (with heads destroyed); offers victims to (destroyed) pair of gods; stands before a god (upper part destroyed); PM VI, 210 (49-52). 270

Temple of Arsenuphis, Inner Face of Enclosure Wall (east wall [upper part destroyed]) 408-9

[top register] Tiberius offers to ?; offers to Amun-re and Mut; PM VI, 211 (53-54).


[second register] Tiberius offers collar to Sekhmet; offers natron to Thoth; offers myrrh to Shu and Tefnut; offers to (damaged) god and goddess; PM VI, 211 (53-56).


[third register] Tiberius offers fertile field to Isis; offers uraeus to Horus; offers bread to Osiris and Isis; (destroyed) Tiberius stands before (damaged) goddess; offers incense to Arsenuphis and Tefnut [151]; PM VI, 211 (53-56).


[base, double-scene] Tiberius with long hymn before Osiris and Isis and before Arsenuphis and Tefnut [151]; PM VI, 211 (53-56). Gate of Ptolemy II Philadelphos


[north jamb] Tiberius offers ointment to Horus of Edfu; offers incense to Imhotep; stands before Isis; [south jamb] offers wine to Isis; offers uzat to Osiris and MinHarsiesis; stands before Isis; PM VI, 213-14 (65-66).


[interior face] Tiberius offers incense and water to Osiris and Isis; PM VI, 214 (67).

RELIEF IMAGES FEATURING GAIUS (CALIGULA) Dendera Temple of Hathor, Entrance to Outer Hypostyle 427-28

[third register] Gaius standing with small unidentifiable god before Hathor; Gaius standing with Lower Egyptian Meret and small Horus before Hathor and larger Horus [GR1, 161]; PM VI 48 (33, 35).


[fourth register] Gaius and Thoth before Hathor and Harsiesis with two small Ihy figures[GR2, 161]; Gaius before Hathor and Horus-Sementaui ; PM VI, 48 (30-31).

El-Qal’a “Temple of Claudius,” Inner Hall (or “Offering Hall”) 431

Gaius offers an unguent vase to Harsiesis and Osiris-Onnophris (Osiris-Unnefer) [161]; Pantalacci and Traunecker 1990, no. 111.

Qift (Koptos) [for South Gates to temple complex and Geb/Isis temple, see Chapter V.A] 271

RELIEF IMAGES FEATURING CLAUDIUS Wannina (Athribis) Temple of Triphis, Enclosure Wall Exterior (east side) 432-33

Claudius with ka and five standards with unnamed mythological figures and figure with censer; Claudius with unidentifiable god and goddess (heads destroyed) is purified by two unnamed gods (heads destroyed); PM V, 31 (1-2). Temple of Triphis, Enclosure Wall Exterior (west side)


[lintel of doorway (double-scene)] Claudius with Horus and Thoth and with Shu and Re-Harakhti before lion-headed Repyt; PM V, 31 (3).


Claudius and Sefkhet measure temple; Thoth holds up uzat before Claudius and Repyt/Triphis; PM V, 31 (4-5).


Claudius (now destroyed), leading two women with tambourines, presenting bull and assorted offerings to Sokari-Osiris, Harsiesis, and Repyt/Triphis; PM V, 31 (6).


[lintel of doorway] Claudius with Isis, Horus, Shu, and Mehit-Tefnut, before Osiris, with Nephthys, Re, Nut, and Anubis behind emperor; PM V, 31 (7).

Dendera Temple of Hathor, Façade 439

[projection of east wall; fourth register] Claudius with scepter before small god (Harsomtus/Ihy ?) and Hathor [168]; PM VI, 45 (1).


[intercolumnar walls] six scenes, with Claudius offering to two divinities in each [168]; PM VI, 45 (2-7).


[projection of west wall; fourth register] Claudius with menat standing before small male deity (Harsomtus/Ihy ?) and Hathor [168]; PM VI, 45 (8). Temple of Hathor, Entrance to Outer Hypostyle


[frieze] kneeling Claudius offers image of Ma’at toward sistrum, menat, and other offerings on stands; PM VI, 46 (12). Temple of Hathor, Outer Hypostyle Hall (columns)


[Column C] Claudius offers figures to small Harsomtus, Isis, and larger Harsomtus [169]; PM VI, 48. 272


[Column D] Claudius offers vase and headband to small Horus, Isis, and OsirisOnnophris [169]; PM VI, 49.


[Column F] Claudius with small Harsomtus offers faience beads and grain to Isis and Osiris-Onnophris [169]; PM VI, 49.


[Column O] Claudius with small Ihy offers Hathor-headed staff to Hathor and serpent-headed Harsomtus [169]; PM VI, 49.


[Column Q] Claudius with small Ihy offers pectoral to Isis and serpent-headed Harsomtus [169]; PM VI, 49. Temple of Hathor, Exterior (east side)


[third register] Claudius offers lotus-bouquet to Osiris and Geb [CR1, 169]; PM VI, 75 (217).

El-Qal’a [see Chapter VI.A for a discussion of other Claudian reliefs at the site] “Temple of Claudius,” Sanctuary (exterior) 454

[lower register] Claudius standing before Isis [170]; PM V, 134 (6). “Temple of Claudius,” South Chapel


[single register, double-scene] Claudius (damaged cartouche) makes offering before Isis [170]; PM V, 134 (7).

Qift (Koptos) 456-57

[column drum] Claudius before Sobek; before Amun and Khonsu [171]; PM V, 133.

Esna Temple of Khnum, Façade 458-61

[top to fourth registers] Claudius standing before (damaged) male deity; before Khnum [171]; before Menhit [171]; before unnamed male deity; PM VI, 111 (1).

Philae West Colonnade (wall behind columns) 462

[upper register] Claudius makes offering of heh to Sobek, Hathor, and Khonsu [CR2, 171]; PM VI, 208 (25). 273

RELIEF IMAGES FEATURING NERO Tihna (Akoris) “Temple of Nero,” Entrance to Hypostyle Hall 463

[doorjamb] Nero (identified in cartouche in texts) making unidentifiable offering, with northern Nile below [181]; PM IV, 129 (1).

Dendera [for defaced reliefs in the Hathor temple’s outer hypostyle hall, see Ch. VII.A] Temple of Hathor, Exterior (west side) 464-82

[top to third registers, six scenes in each] Nero stands before Hathor; before Isis; before Ihy; before Sekhmet; before Min; before Nekhbet; before Harsomtus; before nome-deities; [third register] standing with Nekhbet and Buto offering uraei to Hathor suckling Ihy, Isis suckling child, and nome-goddess of Tentyra [181]; PM VI, 76-77 (234-36).


[fourth register] Nero in two processional scenes, each with emperor followed by Nile-gods and field-goddesses of Lower Egypt, five “ka of Re” figures, and Hemsut [182]; PM VI, 78 (234-36).


[area south of doorway] Nero standing before Horus; PM VI, 77 (237). Temple of Hathor, Exterior (east side)


[second register (likely)] Nero before Shu, Tefnut, Geb, and Nut; PM VI, 75 (214). Temple of Hathor Complex, East Gate of Court (prob. propylon of last phase)


[jambs of inner (west) face] Nero offers to a pair of deities in each of four registers; PM VI, 108.

Qift (Koptos) 491

[stele] Nero before Min and Horus in shrine (Oxford, Ashmolean Mus. 1894/106); PM V, 130.

Dakhla Oasis Temple of Deir el-Haggar, Sanctuary 492

[upper register] Nero offers to Amun-re and Mut [NR1, 182-3]; PM VII, 298 (7). 274


[lower register] Nero offers to Amun-re and Mut of Asher in double-scene [NR2, 182-3]; PM VII, 298 (7).


[base, on each half] Nero, followed by Nile-gods, stands before Amun-re and Mut [NR3, 182-3]; PM VII, 298.

Kom Ombo Temple of Haroeris and Sobek, Inner Corridor (western exterior wall of inner hypostyle) 495

[bottom register] Nero leaving palace with Inmutef and standards [184]; PM VI, 196 (182).

Philae West Colonnade (wall behind columns) 496-97

[upper register] Nero offers pair of uzat symbols to enthroned Haroeris, Sennuphis (Tasenetneferet), and Panebtaui [NR4, 184]; makes offering of wine to Sobek and Horus; PM VI, 208 (23-24).

RELIEF IMAGES FEATURING GALBA AND OTHO Deir el-Shelwit Temple of Isis, Propylon 498-500 [left inner face

of southern half] Otho spears Apophis (?) before male deity [200]; offers incense to unidentifiable god and goddess; offers tray of food to Monthu and Rat-taui; PM II, 530 (3).


[center of inner face of southern half] Otho offers cow in barque to Thenenet and unidentifiable goddess; offers (?) Upper and Lower Egypt to small Harsiesis, Isis, and Nephthys [200]; PM II, 530 (4).


[right inner face of southern half] Otho pours libation and incense before four “divinities of the elements�; offers mile to Harpre and Horus-Shu; offers bread and nemset-vase to Atum and Hathor-Nebet-hotep; offers libation to Osiris and Isis [200]; PM II, 530 (5).


[right inner face of northern half] Galba offers pectoral to Re-Harakhti (?) and female deity; offers tray of food to Monthu and Thenenet; PM II, 530 (6). 275


Bibliographic Abbreviations: RIC2 = Sutherland, C.H.V. and R.A.G. Carson (eds.). 1984. The Roman Imperial Coinage. Vol. 1 (revised edition). London: Spink & Son Ltd. RPC = Burnett, A., M. Amandry, and P. Ripollès. 1992. Roman Provincial Coinage. Vol. 1, Part 1. London: British Museum Press. Svoronos = Svoronos, J.N. 1904-1908. Ta Nomismata tou Kratous ton Ptolemaion. Vols. 1-4. Athens: P.D. Sakellariou.

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APPENDIX I: Julio-Claudian Figures Found among Freestanding Sculptural Images in Egypt Among the classes of imperial image that were not produced in Alexandria and Egypt as prolifically as the reliefs and coin-types discussed in the chapters above, the surviving freestanding statuary deserves special attention. Indeed, if there existed one category of image that could be said to approach the range of distribution of these other forms, it would certainly be – when considered together as a unified medium – the complete range of busts and freestanding sculptural forms in the capital and the province. While these images did not appear in the smaller villages of the Nile Valley (i.e., outside of temple sites), in contrast with the coin-types produced at Alexandria, anyone who traveled to a larger town, to one of the metropoleis, or to the capital itself would likely have been hard-pressed to avoid such sculptural figures. To a large extent, the distinctions between these various sorts of settlement corresponded to the appearance of different types of sculptural representation. This condition is hardly surprising, since variability in degrees of visibility for freestanding statuary and in the ethnic and social identities of potential viewers were merely two of the many aspects of the dichotomy between public centers in the larger settlements and the self-contained Egyptian religious complexes (as well as the smaller villages). Accordingly, imperial images among Egypt’s freestanding sculptures fall into one of two broad categories, based on the treatment of the head: Greco-Roman forms which mirror either widely circulated Roman types or earlier Hellenistic models, and a handful of Greco-Egyptian forms which follow in the footsteps of a much larger corpus of Ptolemaic examples. If the latter group informs us about the extent of continuity or discontinuity in the Egyptian religious sphere, the former group can be classified in the same realm as 289

the billon coinage produced at Alexandria – that is to say, within that class of images which has the potential to inform us about the creative and receptive sides of the Roman appeals to Egypt’s “Hellenized” population groups.

Indeed, freestanding

statuary could also play a primary role in the appeals directed by these groups toward Rome (and toward the person of the emperor, in particular), if the Claudian Letter to the Alexandrians can be taken as a genuine reflection of such trends. As this document (discussed above, Chapter I.C) attests, in the course of arranging a formulaic compromise while considering special honors offered by the Alexandrians, Claudius granted permission for the creation of several types of sculptural image; among the images to be permanently exhibited, Claudius approved the display of equestrian statuary and the erection of statues of himself and members of his family “in several locations.”1 Proceeding from the likely range of dates for the creation of these latter statuary groups (41/2 and 42/3, the years immediately following the issuing of the Letter), Rose makes a persuasive case that the identities of the featured family members likely ran parallel to the figures who appeared on the Alexandrian coinage during these same years: Claudius himself, Messalina, his mother (Antonia II), and his three children (Britannicus, Octavia, and Antonia III).2 While no surviving examples can be directly linked to these sculptural groups with any degree of certainty,3 the Letter does offer some indication of the quantity of sculpted imperial images in Egypt’s major cities. Three of the best known among the Julio-Claudian examples were acquired from the Egyptian art market in 1896 and are currently in Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsberg 1

See the original text and the analysis of offered and declined honors in Oliver 1989, 77-88; also, Rose 1997a, 43, 186-8. The equestrian groups were to be at Taposiris, Pharos, and Pelusium. 2

Rose 1997a, 188. On the tetradrachms featuring these individuals, see above, Chapter VII.B.


A youthful (but fragmentary) Claudian image executed in marble, currently residing in the collection of Alexandria’s Greco-Roman Museum (no. 25713), is a speculative candidate.



Assumed to have been recovered from niches in the remains of the

amphitheater at Arsinoe (as the dealer had claimed), this trio consists of busts featuring Augustus, Tiberius, and Livia.4 The Livia bust is executed on a noticeably smaller scale; nevertheless, a similarly high degree of plastic modeling of the face links this work to the images of Augustus and Tiberius. An “Egyptian” trait seems to have been added to Livia’s bust in the form of an Alexandrian-style draping of the stola, which is tightened up into thin pleats at her shoulder. As for the other members of the Arsinoe trio, Kiss is quick to emphasize the distinctly Italian style reflected in their detailed features and overall execution.5 That the three busts formed a unified group, however, now appears to be beyond question. The angles of the heads suggests an arrangement in which Livia and Augustus (occupying the central position) gazed toward Tiberius; this arrangement points toward a date sometime during the aftermath of the adoptions made in 4 A.D.6 The stylistic features of the trio of busts from Arsinoe raise questions about the creation and dissemination of sculpted imperial portrait-images throughout Alexandria and the Egyptian province.7

Unfortunately, the various Julio-Claudian sculptures

which have been discovered in Egypt are not able to shed a great deal of light on issues of creative agency or on questions surrounding the extent to which official models were copied at the capital (or elsewhere). One of the major hurdles facing the analysis of the Egyptian corpus is the frequent condition of the sculpted images existing in partial form, having been separated from their bases. Without the dedicatory inscriptions 4

Rose 1997a, 188-9 (Cat. 129); Kiss 1984, 33-4, 38-9, 43-4.


Kiss 1984, 34, 44. The Augustus bust from this group conforms to the ubiquitous Prima Porta type; see Kähler 1959, 22. 6

Rose 1997a, 189.


These issues are considered on an empire-wide scale in Stuart 1939; see also Rose 1997b, 111.


which once appeared on these bases, it is quite impossible to identify the individual(s) responsible for the erection of a particular statue. Indeed, it is only through the careful work of art historians that viewers of these sculptural images (i.e., those without inscribed bases) can now distinguish life-size “imperial” images from representations of local, non-imperial benefactors. While the association of identifiable imperial statuary in Egypt with portrait-types circulated in other provinces may contribute to discussions regarding the empire-wide distribution of centrally produced models, this relationship offers very little insight into the circulation of sculptural models within the province itself. The issue is clouded by the lack of known provenance for a large percentage of the freestanding Julio-Claudian sculptures discovered in Egypt.8 If models provided by the central authority were, in fact, systematically copied, then this practice would stand in contrast with the usual modes of creating royal portraits in the Hellenistic Greek East.9 As outlined below, however, certain Greco-Egyptian portrait-images produced in Ptolemaic Egypt closely follow Alexandrian models; the standard Roman system, then, was not entirely unprecedented in Egypt. The general lack of Roman-era sculptures in Egypt with precise, confirmed contexts for discovery also obscures our view of the possible settings for the appearance of freestanding sculpted forms in religious contexts. The few likely attestations of the 8

Looting of most Egyptian sites for marble and granite statuary appears to have been rampant during the 19th century. There is only a small number of Julio-Claudian examples with known provenance, and most of these reside in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or in Alexandria’s Greco-Roman Museum (although some were moved to European collections soon after their discovery or acquisition); see Graindor 1939, 41-7 and Kiss 1984, 31-49. Several of these JulioClaudian images were found either in Alexandria itself (e.g., at Kom el-Dikka) or at Athribis. Numerous others were acquired via the Egyptian art market and are exhibited without precise knowledge of their original contexts. Among the sculptures in the collection of Alexandria’s Greco-Roman Museum, for example, there exists a marble bust of Tiberius (no. 22237) and a marble sculpture of a female figure from the Julio-Claudian imperial family (most likely Agrippina the Younger; no. 3473), neither of which can be traced to a particular site or context. 9

See Smith 1988, 27-8.


presence of sculpted images of the emperor or members of his family at metropolite temples are dated to the late-second and third centuries.10 Unfortunately, these texts do not elaborate on the style in which the sculptures were executed; that is to say, it is impossible to determine whether they were carved in Greco-Roman or Greco-Egyptian form. There exist at least two papyri (P. Oxy. 1449 and P. Oxy. 1265) containing phrases referring to bearers of protomai of the emperor in processions related to temple ritual, presumably alongside genuine cult statues of the deities for whom the temples were named. There is no indication, however, among the extant papyri – from any reign during the Roman era, much less during the Julio-Claudian period – that these images were intended to embody imperial figures as the focal points of cult activity in the Greco-Egyptian temples.11 Whereas we can safely assume that several imperial images executed in Greco-Roman formats once existed in settings where the imperial cult was practiced by “Hellenized” segments of the population (as in other eastern provinces), most extant Julio-Claudian examples from Egypt are surrounded by unanswerable questions regarding the contexts in which they were once positioned and viewed. Due in part to the surviving decrees produced through the priestly synods of the Ptolemaic period, no such questions hinder the Egyptian-style royal images sculpted during the post-pharaonic eras. Both Greco-Egyptian forms (blending Hellenic features of the head and face with various other Dynastic conventions) and purely Egyptian sculptural forms (identified as post-pharaonic only by means of their surviving cartouches) appear to have been included among the approved categories of statuary 10

A likely candidate is BGU 387 (177-81 A.D.), which lists various inventories of the Temple of Soknopaios (a Greco-Egyptian variant of Sobek, the crocodile-headed god worshipped at Kom Ombo), located in Soknopaiou Nesos; more certain examples include P. Oxy. 1449 (213-17 A.D.) and P. Oxy 1265 (336 A.D.). 11

See Dunand 1983, 52 (esp. n. 44). These texts and their implications are also discussed above, Chapter IX.F.


occasionally decreed to be created and set up in the temples maintained by the Egyptian clergy.12 When these Ptolemaic images are endowed with documented provenance, the contexts in which they have been discovered serve to confirm the association of these types of freestanding sculptural forms with the “sḫm“ referenced in the Demotic portions of the decrees.13 In fact, nearly all of the extant examples come from major Egyptian religious centers, temple complexes, or necropoleis associated with temples.14 While the synod decrees dictated the ritual function, physical setting, attributes, and scale of the images, they never went so far as to mandate the extent to which Hellenic features were to be incorporated (or avoided). This allowed for a degree of freedom in the composition of particular aspects of the images designed for display in the temples. R.R.R. Smith efficiently summarizes the resulting variety in the following terms: Unlike earlier invaders, the Macedonian Ptolemies came with their own ideas about royal representation that were radically different in basic principles of form, iconography, and style from pharaonic images. The priests…were free to ignore or take notice of these differences as they saw fit. Their response, though varied, was always slight in the context of the whole statue. Adjustment and accommodation were confined to the head. In place of a purely pharaonic scheme, the head might add Hellenic hair over the brow and take on varying degrees of naturalism. These were obviously intrusive elements designed to represent the different or foreign character of the king.15 The addition of Hellenic hair protruding from under a crown or nemes headdress was, in fact, one of the most distinctive and novel (as well as the most common) among the 12

The occasions which called for the creation of royal imagery during the Ptolemaic era (preserved for us in the synod decrees) are discussed at Stanwick 2002, 10. 13

On the terminology used for these freestanding images, see above, Chapter II.B, n. 39.


For an overview of the complete range of sites at which pharaonic-style Ptolemaic sculptures were discovered, see Stanwick 2002, 15-28. 15

Smith 1996, 205.


“intrusive elements” to make their way into the sculptors’ iconographic repertoire.16 It is possible to pinpoint certain Greco-Egyptian examples which, via their use of a particular Hellenic hairstyle or a special set of physiognomic features (or both), reflect a typological connection to recognizable Alexandrian forms. This identification of direct ties to identical sculptural types, in turn, points toward the use of “official” Alexandrian models in the indigenous workshops.17 Other distinctly “Greek” features (including the cornucopia and corkscrew locks in otherwise pharaonic-style sculptures of Ptolemaic queens) entered into the repertoire only in a selective and sporadic manner; thus, despite a variety of slight Hellenic intrusions, the iconographic language of the sḫm remained primarily Egyptian.18 The maintenance of a principally Egyptian “hybrid” style for this category of sculpted image long after the end of the Ptolemaic Dynasty appears to have been confirmed by the intermittent discovery of a handful of unmistakably Roman examples, almost all of which date to the second and third centuries A.D. A majority of these can be reasonably attributed to Caracalla, although a colossal image found near Beni Masar has also sparked suggested associations with Antoninus Pius and Septimius Severus.19 In following the precedents set by the Ptolemaic images, most of these freestanding forms feature the nemes headdress and uraeus. Standing figures strike the traditionally


On the significance of the employment of Hellenic arrangements of the hair on the pharaonicstyle royal images of the Ptolemies, see Stanwick 2002, 37-8. Stanwick also includes an illustrative table (27, Table 3.1) outlining the regional variations in the sculptures’ appearance, scale, and use of “Greek hair.” 17

See Smith 1996. As noted above, this practice was not common in other Hellenistic kingdoms.


Stanwick 2002, 36-40.


Beni Masar colossus as Antoninus Pius or Septimius Severus: Hölbl 2000, 34, 42. Beni Masar colossus as Septimius Severus: Kiss 1984, 74-5. Examples unanimously attributed to Caracalla: Stanwick 2002, 129-30 (Cat. G10, G11, G13, and G14).


stiff, upright pose associated with sculpture of the pharaonic eras; these are usually adorned with a plain shendyt (the kilt or apron worn by Dynastic pharaohs in offering scenes, hunting scenes, etc.). The non-Egyptian elements are likewise confined to the treatment of the head, which among the second- and third-century examples tends to feature Severan forehead hair and a short-to-medium-length beard. An analysis of the features of pharaonic-style royal images produced in the vast period spanning the Octavianic conquest and the start of the Severan Dynasty is hindered by a lack of clear evidence. In contrast to the more than 100 known Ptolemaic sculptures soundly classified within this category, there are fewer than ten extant examples which are potentially early Roman in date.20 In fact, given the absence of identifying inscriptions or cartouches on these sculptures, one is forced to acknowledge the possibility that no sḫm whatsoever were created during the Julio-Claudian era. A closer examination of the pair of pharaonic-style sculptures most recently attributed to Augustus – a royal male head found via the underwater excavations in Alexandria’s eastern harbor and a full-length standing king discovered at Karnak – demonstrates that these examples could justifiably be assigned to the Ptolemaic era. The Alexandrian head was found near the site of the Augustan Sebasteion, a fact which may have exerted some influence on its initial attribution; since this first publication, Walker and Higgs, as well as Pfrommer, have asserted that the head should be dated to the Ptolemaic era.21 The over-life-size statue from Karnak was consistently assigned to the Ptolemaic period 20

A complete listing of the Ptolemaic specimens and the early Roman candidates is presented at Stanwick 2002, 98-129. 21

Initial identification with Augustus: Kiss 1998, 175-7. Potentially early Ptolemaic (no reign specified): Pfrommer 1999, 17-8. Probably late Ptolemaic, possibly of Ptolemy XV Caesarion: Walker and Higgs 2001, 174. Stanwick (2002, 128) is quick to point out that the surface of this head has been severely weathered due to extended exposure to seawater, a condition which has made identification based on physiognomic features and refined attributes even more difficult than usual.


until a concise study make by Volker Michael Strocka associated the hair and facial features of this statue with the “Actium type” which was circulated in the wider Roman world both before and after the Octavianic conquest of Egypt.22 After the publication of Strocka’s examination of the Karnak statue, nearly all scholars who treated it chose to follow suit with attributions to Octavian or to Augustus, with most mentioning the apparent ties to the “Actium type.”23 Those who have not been swayed by these associations with other Augustan types have maintained the position that this statue is Ptolemaic in date, while pointing out that the common Augustan portrait-type is strikingly similar to certain early- and mid-Ptolemaic types used in pharaonic-style statuary (and, in particular, to the type usually employed for Ptolemy V).24 And, in fact, the similar treatment of the forehead hair and the youthful, idealized features of the Ptolemaic candidates comprise a nearly impossible hurdle to overcome.


identifying inscriptions, the tendency to attribute this sculpture to Augustus – while entirely understandable – is somewhat tenuous.25 If the two potential Augustan examples are removed from the discussion, then the only remaining candidates among the possible Julio-Claudian pharaonic-style statues are a trio of standing figures which have been tentatively associated with Nero. 22

Strocka 1980 (with bibliography for prior identifications summarized at 177).


See Stanwick 2002, 128.


See, for example, Walker and Higgs 2001, 146 (where it is asserted rather plainly that “the portraits of Ptolemy V as pharaoh have been confused with those of Augustus”). The analysis of Kyrieleis (1975, 57-8) supports their association of this statue with Ptolemy V. 25

See Walker 2003, 82. Walker offers an efficient and effective summary of both sides of the discussion but seems to lean toward an attribution to Ptolemy V, since “the hairstyle [of the Karnak figure] does not exactly match that of [the Augustan type]: the fringe is combed to the ruler’s right about his right eye, where it joins locks of hair falling in the other direction[, and on]…either side of this area, the locks of hair are combed forward, defining a facial shape bordered by high if not receding temples, a physiognomy that was to be become a characteristic feature of later Ptolemaic court portraiture.”


Two of these are from Rome (possibly having been imported in antiquity) and the third is of unknown provenance. One of these sculpted figures, currently in the collection of Rome’s Museo Nazionale,26 has been discounted by Zsolt Kiss as being a depiction of a king or emperor who is certainly not Nero.27 Another standing figure from this same trio, now in Mantua’s Museo Civico di Palazzo, has been attributed not only to Nero, but also to Domitian and to various Ptolemaic candidates.28 The third member of this group, currently residing in the collection of the Louvre,29 features forehead hair, a representation of an Adam’s apple (a distinctly non-pharaonic, non-Ptolemaic feature), and some elements of facial modeling which are consistent with other portraits of Nero. It is unfortunate that the provenance of this fragmentary statue is unknown, since it stands as the most probable Julio-Claudian pharaonic-style sculpture among all extant freestanding images of this variety. Even if this Neronian example were to hold up under scrutiny,30 the relative scarcity of early Roman pharaonic-style sculptures would still stand in sharp contrast to the massive corpus of comparable Ptolemaic images – that is to say, the dichotomy would remain stark to the point of calling for attempts at an explanation. If, initially, it is tempting to tie the paucity of early Roman sḫm images to the discontinuation of the Ptolemaic ruler cult once practised in the Egyptian temples (to which they are consistently linked in the synod decrees), there remain two deterrents to laying the


No. 129.270. See the description at Stanwick 2002, 128-9 (Cat. G6).


Kiss 1984, 48.


Inventory no. Te 98. See the summarized bibliography at Stanwick 2002, 128 (Cat. G3).


Inventory no. E27418.


Its assignment to Nero – as opposed to one of the Flavians, for example – is far from definite; see the summarized bibliography at Stanwick 2002, 128 (Cat. G4).


matter to rest on this basis alone.

The first is that no reflections of any practice

resembling the dynastic cult of the Ptolemies can be found within the temples (including their reliefs and texts) during the periods to which later, less controversial examples have been dated; in other words, there is no demonstrable connection between the practice of ruler cult and the creation of pharaonic-style sculptural images during the Roman period. The second obstacle for accepting this explanation as a definitive option is that reflections of the practice of the Ptolemaic ruler cult had started to wane already after the reign of Ptolemy IX Soter II (see above, Chapter IX.E); despite this, sḫm featuring later Ptolemies – including even Ptolemy XV Caesarion – were produced in quantities that matched the output for previous members of the dynasty.31 Even Marc Antony had, in fact, been depicted in freestanding pharaonic-style sculpture before his suicide in 30 B.C.; understandably, references to these examples are often made in the context of the cultic connections advertised by Cleopatra VII.32 The symbolic associations of the pharaonic-style sculptures representing these opponents of Octavian, both within Alexandria and elsewhere, could have been one of the primary catalysts for the complete (or near-complete) removal of Augustus and his JulioClaudian successors from the freestanding sculptural repertoire of the indigenous temples. That is to say, in the wake of the propaganda war which had preceded the Octavianic conquest, it is possible that just as a formal Roman policy may have actively discouraged the treatment of emperors along uniquely Ptolemaic lines on the templereliefs and in cult practice,33 so a formal Augustan policy may have aimed at the 31

See the listings for freestanding sculptures of Ptolemies X through XV at Stanwick 2002, 120-6.


On the evidence for various roles played by Marc Antony within the context of the Hellenic and Egyptian variants of the Ptolemaic ruler cult, see Heinen 1995, 3155-60. 33

A possibility presented above, Chapter X. On anti-Antonian propaganda, see Chapter I.C.


avoidance of sculptural depictions of the emperor as a monarch-pharaoh (i.e., in accordance with Ptolemaic formulas for their Greco-Egyptian compositional style). The continued carving of temple-reliefs under Roman rule need not be viewed as a “compromise” or “concession” on the part of Roman officials, if a policy of this sort were in place. The reliefs themselves were an element sine qua non for the functioning of the Egyptian temple as a microcosm of the mortal and divine realms, and the Roman reliefs (as noted above) did not maintain any elements which were Ptolemaic intrusions into the traditional forms. In addition, in contrast with the sḫm, the reliefs on the indigenous temples were much less visible to members of the laity, and physiognomic features were entirely absent from any scene featuring the emperor as pharaoh. This hypothesis, which assumes the issuing of a direct mandate almost as soon as Octavian organized the provincial administration, gains strength if the two potentially Augustan-era sculptures discussed above are instead dated to the Ptolemaic period. Nevertheless, we should allow for a degree of freedom in the spontaneous creation of isolated examples, if only to account for the equally isolated strands of evidence for spontaneous expressions of Roman ruler cult in the Egyptian and Greco-Egyptian temples.34 From this perspective, the possible Neronian example(s) may have been produced for a unique expression of devotion to the emperor-pharaoh in a cultic context. In any event, if such a policy had existed, it was clearly lifted by the late Antonine era (which is also the terminus post quem for the aforementioned written evidence attesting to the procession of imperial images in Greco-Egyptian rituals). Its existence under the Julio-Claudians is speculative, of course, but it is also a reasonable explanation for an otherwise mysterious pattern of preservation. 34

See Dunand 1983, 52. The exceptions singled out by Dunand are discussed in their wider provincial contexts above, Chapter IX.F.


APPENDIX II: Denominations of the Aes Coinage Produced at Alexandria during the Julio-Claudian Era One of the most controversial aspects of the Alexandrian coinage is not related to the iconography of its types but rather to the respective values of its various bronze denominations. The first three Augustan series contain marks that appear to indicate a continuation of the Late Ptolemaic denominational system based on a copper standard. Already, however, by the Augustan Second Series, the use of these marks becomes inconsistent and the weights of the issues decrease significantly. By the point at which the Fourth Series is produced, all value marks have disappeared completely. Thereafter, the interested scholar is forced to rely on indirect numismatic evidence and scattered references in the extant papyri in the attempt to reconstruct the new system (now based on the Attic silver standard), a denominational scheme which persisted to the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and beyond. The marks of value appearing on the Cleopatran and early Augustan issues were as follows: � (for 80 bronze drachmas), M (40), K (20) and I (10). Each corresponded exclusively to one of the four distinct flan sizes observed during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Claudius, so that � appeared on Size I (ca. 25mm), M on Size II (ca. 20mm), K on Size III (ca. 15mm), and I on Size IV (ca. 10mm). The marks � and M appear to have been used only in the First Series,1 and issues of the same denominations in the following two series weigh approximately 20-25% less than those of these marked specimens. The K is employed only in the Second Series, and the I only in the Third Series; these denominations also experience a progressive reduction in weight, although the decrease is not so drastic as to compare with the phenomenon observed among coins of Sizes I and II. 1

References to the copper standard are made in private

See Burnett et al. 1992, 691. On their value under Cleopatra VII, see Maresch 1996, 67-8.


documents down to 5 B.C.2 and appear in tax records as late as A.D. 9.3 Thereafter, references to the silver standard (having been found in papyri contemporary with the Second and Third Series) dominate the texts and tax records.

The unexpected

appearance of the marks K and I during the reign of Nero4 does not necessarily imply a continuation of the copper standard throughout the Julio-Claudian era or even a return to that standard at this time; indeed, neither of these occurrences is indicated in any way among the tax records. The scattered employment of these marks, undoubtedly observed on the Augustan bronze still in circulation, more likely reflected an attempt to aid consumers and merchants in discerning the corresponding values among the smallest of the aes coins (for elaboration on this point, one may refer to the discussion on the difficulties of accurately assigning a given Alexandrian bronze piece to a particular denomination presented below). The first three decades of the last century witnessed the publication of various conflicting hypotheses regarding the relationship between the marks on the copper standard coins from the first three Augustan series and the later denominations produced on the silver standard.5

Milne would eventually elaborate on his initial

opinions on the matter and conclude that the coins marked with � and M (Sizes I and


PSI 1099; see also P. Oxy. 806 (21 B.C.) and P. Fay. 101 (18 B.C.).


W.O. 1545; see also P. Mich. 17 (4 B.C.) and P. Fay. 44 (16 B.C.).


See the discussion at Burnett et al. 1992, 690. The I is often interpreted as being a club rather than a mark of value; the fact that it appears on a coin of the Augustan/Tiberian/Claudian Size IV, though, might be more than mere coincidence. RPC 5251 appears to contain an E (denoting 5 bronze drachmas?) at the center of its obverse. This unprecedented mark does, in fact, appear on a coin with a diameter of only ca. 7.5mm and a weight totaling ca. 50% that of the examples featuring the I (with average weights of 0.46 g and 0.91 g, respectively). These specimens could therefore be taken as remnants of the extremely short-lived production of a denomination fixed at one-half the value of the coins of the earlier Size IV. 5

The scholars involved included Milne, Parazzoli, and Vogt, each of whom was an authority on the Alexandrian coinage in his own right. For bibliography and an evaluation of these positions, see West and Johnson 1944, 16-8.


II, respectively) corresponded to the later silver-standard values of a diobol and obol.6 This theory possesses the advantage of being supported by the papyri, which contain frequent references to diobols and obols even during the Augustan era.7 Alternative hypotheses are less appealing, as they assert a value for the smallest coins – i.e., the later value of coins marked with I or E – that is too high (e.g., one obol) or too low (e.g., a half-chalkon [1/16 of an obol]); the papyri offer explicit references to denominations valued at less than one obol, while no coin valued at less than a chalkon is mentioned in any period.8 Extending Milne’s designations to the smaller denominations results in the following scheme for the post-Third Series issues, maintained to Year 9 of Nero’s reign: Size I (originally marked with ∏) = 2 obols; Size II (M) = 1 obol; Size III (K) = 1/2 obol; Size IV (I) = 1/4 obol [dichalkon].9 The transient Neronian specimens marked with an E and weighing ca. 50% less than the 1/4 obol pieces10 would therefore be valued at one chalkon (1/8 obol). Years 9 and 10 of Nero’s reign witnessed the addition of two larger bronze denominations, as the mint began to issue aes specimens with diameters of ca. 35mm (first in Year 9) and ca. 30mm (Year 10). Nero’s reign, then, was the first in which the full range of distinct sizes for bronze coins was wholly represented.11 This range of 6

Milne 1933, xvi. Milne’s expanded hypothesis assumes a doubling of the value of Sizes I and II in the Fourth Series. 7

Burnett et al. 1992, 690.


See West and Johnson 1944, 16.


Like many scholars writing before the publication of Roman Provincial Coinage, Milne does not distinguish between Size III (ca. 15mm) and Size IV (ca. 10mm), but instead considers all coins within the Size III/IV range to be 1/4 obol pieces. See Burnett et al 1992, 689-90. This extended scheme also finds support from Maresch (1996, 111), who also includes a distinction between the “I” coins (dichalkon pieces) and “E” coins (single chalkon pieces). 10

See above, n. 4.


It would prove to be the only reign in the period from 30 B.C. to A.D. 69 for which this was the case; see the table at Burnett et al. 1992, 689.


sizes, which persisted until the cessation of bronze coinage under Diocletian, consisted of the following: Size I (ca. 35mm), Size II (ca. 30mm), Size III (ca. 25mm, equivalent to the Augustan/Tiberian/Claudian Size I [above]), Size IV (ca. 20mm), Size V (ca. 15mm) and Size VI (ca. 10mm). Milne suggested that the specimens measuring ca. 35 and 30mm were 1 drachma (6 obol) and 1/2 drachma (3 obol) pieces, respectively.12 His complete scheme, then, consisted of five distinct values – lacking a sixth because he did not distinguish between Sizes V and VI13 – ranging from a full drachma to a dichalkon (1/4 obol, or 1/24 drachma). Milne’s proposed scheme, although favored by many,14 has not enjoyed universal acceptance. Of the many alternatives proposed to this point, the most original and noteworthy have been presented by Schuman, Schwartz, and Christiansen.15

The range of denominational values asserted by each can be

summarized as follows:16 Size I

Size II

Size III

Size IV

Size V

Size VI



4 obols


1 obol

½ obol

½ obol


13 ¼ ob.

7 ¼ ob.

4 ¾ ob.

2 ¾ ob.

1 obol

1 obol



3 obols

1 ½ ob.

¾ obol

3 chal.

(2 chal.)

Like Milne’s proposed system, the schemes of Schwartz and Schuman both fail to distinguish between coins of Sizes V and VI. Christiansen, proceeding from what he perceives to have been a mild suggestion (made by one of his colleagues) that a distinct 10mm size existed alongside Size V, adds the value of two chalkoi for this “smaller size”


For his most explicit statements on the matter, see Milne 1933, xvii.


See above, n. 9.


E.g., Vogt 1924, 9 (citing Milne 1914).


Schuman 1952; Schwartz 1980; Christiansen 1988, II, 7-10.


A similar table appears at the bottom of Burnett et al. 1992, 690.


only as an afterthought.17 If the size is not acknowledged in the formal outline of his scheme, it is likely due to the fact that it does not conform to the rationale used as the basis for the remainder of his proposed system: namely, that the Alexandrian denominations should have been valued in such a way as to facilitate exchange between Egyptian and Roman bronze coins. On this point, Christiansen has simply extended the system proposed by Gara for the relationship between the reformed Imperial bronze of Augustus and the Attic silver standard coinages of the Greek East: Roman as (ca. 11g) = 1 1/2 obols; Roman semis (ca. 5.5g) = 3/4 obol; Roman quadrans (ca. 3g) = 3 chalkoi.18 Applying these Roman aes values and using the weight ratios for the Alexandrian denominations calculated by Schwartz (see below) as a general guide, Christiansen completes his scheme by arguing for an equivalence between the Roman sestertius (ca. 25g) and the Alexandrian drachma (Size I), as well as between the Roman dupondius (ca. 12.5g) and the Alexandrian triobol (Size II). But while the case for a direct relationship between Roman and Egyptian values is a reasonable one when dealing with the larger denominations, it becomes less sound when applied to the remaining four sizes. As Christiansen himself openly admits,19 lesser bronze coins were nothing more than small change; when Roman bronze was exchanged at the border (as was required), these coins were likely placed together in larger sums and exchanged at the nominal value of the silver. A second drawback to Christiansen’s suggested system is that it does not include values equal to the diobol and obol, both of which are frequently mentioned in the papyri.20 17

Christiansen 1988, II, 9-10.


Ibid., 9, 64 (for analysis and bibliography).


Ibid., 8.


See above, n. 7. Christiansen acknowledges this difficulty and counters with the assertion that “we should not expect to find coin equivalents to every reckoning unit” (1988, II, 10). While this may be true for many of the reckoning units seen in the papyri (even Roman bronze denominations are sometimes used in this way), it seems unlikely that ones used so frequently would not be represented among the denominational values, despite Christiansen’s protests.


This latter criticism might also be directed at the scheme proposed by Schwartz, a system designed to accommodate both a 7 1/4-obol drachma and his own estimates for average weight ratios.

Schwartz’s basis for assuming the existence of an

Alexandrian drachma worth 7 1/4 obols is formed primarily by the frequent tax-record references to a ratio of 29 bronze obols to one billon tetradrachm.21 This ratio, however, has never been proven to exist outside of the nebulous realms of tax assessment and isolated commercial or private bronze-to-silver exchanges. In other words, the sum of 29 bronze obols was at most times related to the tetradrachm only in terms of a “ghost currency” in which certain taxes were rendered.22 The “official” rate (which almost certainly allowed the Roman government to turn a substantial profit on these taxes) would have been the same as it was for any other currency based on the Attic silver standard: 24 obols to the tetradrachm, or 6 obols to the drachma. Schwartz’s scheme, then, encounters serious obstacles from the outset. Moreover, although mean ideal weight










denominational schemes (see below), Schwartz’s figures are based solely on the data presented in Milne’s Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins in the Ashmolean Museum; his total average weight progression, from Size V to Size I (smallest to largest), is ca. 2:5:8.5:13:24. The authors of the first volume of the Roman Provincial Coinage series, drawing on a wider sample, generate a slightly different set of average weight ratios for the same sizes; their calculations, based on data gathered from coins produced from the First Series minted under Augustus to the end of Vitellius’ reign, yield a series of weights 21

Schwartz 1980, 153, 155.


Harl 1996, 234. See also West and Johnson 1944, 7-12; Christiansen 1988, II, 64 n. 33. It appears as though silver coins commanded a premium not only in the payment of taxes, but also in certain private transactions. The rate of exchange for the tetradrachm could fluctuate, however, and figures as low as 27 obols and as high as 32 obols have been recorded in the papyri. There is ample papyrological evidence indicating that the silver drachm (but not the bronze equivalent), which is rarer during the Julio-Claudian era than it was during later reigns, could be valued at 7 obols; see Maresch 1996, 142-4. Maresch (1996, 113-119) presents a strong case for the co-existence of a silver standard and a bronze standard – based on the older Ptoloemaic equivalences – during the first two centuries of Roman rule.


existing at a relationship of ca. 2:4:8:12:20.23 Their own figures, however, suggest a relative value for Size I (the largest) not of ca. 20, but rather of ca. 23.5, which (with modest rounding-off) would produce an average weight progression of ca. 2:4:8:12:24. Applying this ratio set to denominational values serves to lend further support to Milne’s scheme (for Sizes IV-I, at least [Size IV = 1 obol; Size III = 2 obols; Size II = 1/2 drachma (3 obols); Size I = 1 drachma]). Schuman’s proposed range of values is not far off from matching Milne’s, with the only significant differences being a value of a half-obol for Size V (Milne’s is a quarter-obol), a value of 4 obols for Size II (Milne’s is 3 obols), and the assumption of a 7-obol Alexandrian drachma.

These last two differences are paramount, though;

Schuman, like Schwartz and Christiansen, uses estimates of average weight to support his full scheme, and each of his proposed values for Sizes III, IV, and V relies entirely on the weight-to-value relationship supported by the hypothetical 4-obol Size II and 7-obol Size I. Schuman’s 7-obol bronze drachma is drawn from the same roots as Schwartz’s 7 1/4-obol drachma,24 and both rely on the faulty premise that the official rate of exchange for the tetradrachm was greater than 24 obols (see above). The lone scrap of evidence for a 4-obol piece comes from a second century tax roll from Karanis.25 The argument rests on the tenuous reading of te<t>rwvb(ola) as a collective reference to a particular bronze denomination.

Acceptance of this interpretation would not

necessarily imply that a 4-obol piece existed throughout the first and second centuries; rather, the denomination may have been nothing more than a mid-second century experiment.

On the other hand, despite Schuman’s valiant efforts to convince the

reader otherwise, it is still possible that the term was nothing more than a unit of


Burnett et al. 1992, 690. Cf. Schwartz 1980, 154.


To Schuman (1952, 216), “[the papyri] could indicate drachmas of either 7 or 7 1/4 obols.”


P. Mich. 224 (A.D. 172/3).


reckoning.26 Ultimately, there is simply not enough evidence to favor a value of 4 obols for Size II coins over a value of 3 obols when the latter gains such strong support from comparisons of average weights. Indeed, weight ratios and their potential to clarify the murky issues surrounding the Alexandrian bronze denominations should not be taken lightly, especially given the likelihood that the merchants and consumers who used the coins were often forced, to a certain extent, to rely on the same information.

Recognizing particular bronze

denominations by sight must have been difficult in many instances. The flans of the specimens in the major hoards and collections can vary in diameter by ca. 2.5 mm or more, a range of fluctuation that is unquestionably sufficient to puzzle the viewer at first glance. Officials at the Alexandrian mint appear to have been fully aware of the potential for confusion, and from the early aes issues under Tiberius they began to restrict certain reverse type images to particular denominations and repeat them over the course of several years.27 This convention must have had a positive effect in terms of rapid identification, but could not have solved the problem entirely; hoard finds demonstrate that the types on aes issues were often worn down rather quickly.28 In those instances when type and diameter were both rendered useless, merchants and consumers could only have turned to the order imposed by a relatively precise weight system, a system which would normally be obsolete in a fiduciary scheme. This in itself would adequately explain the existence of such a careful and convenient set of average weight-ratios for the Alexandrian bronze issues – intended to be elements of a token coinage – during the Julio-Claudian era (again, from Size VI to Size I, ca. 1:2:4:8:12:24). 26

See above, n. 19.


Milne (1933, xxxix) notes that “special types were used for different denominations and were carried on for some years, in accordance with the practice of many Greek commercial coinages.” 28

See Huzar 1988b, 655; Milne 1952, 147. Bronze was circulated throughout the entire Egyptian countryside, collected as tax, exchanged (with profits shipped to the authorities in Alexandria), and re-entered into circulation. The occasional removal/replacement of unreadable specimens appears to have been unable to match the rapid and consistent level of wear.


The weights of the individual bronze specimens, like their diameters, were constantly fluctuating (a deviation from the “standard” that must have been heightened by the extreme variations in wear), and scales in the marketplace may only have been useful when the coin(s) remained in relatively good condition. Nevertheless, the intention on the part of Roman authorities to regularize weights by denomination – our best evidence in the attempt to define a value-system – is readily apparent. All of the considerations discussed above serve to highlight the advantages of Milne’s proposed scheme. The lone drawback of his hypothesis is that it does not account for a distinct Size VI (at 10mm). Transferring the set of average weight ratios favored above (ca. 1:2:4:8:12:24) to a Base 4 set (i.e., 0.25:0.5:1:2:3:6) provides the needed solution. Sizes V and VI should be valued at a half-obol and quarter-obol, respectively. With this slight addition, the completed denominational system originally proposed by Milne – the only scheme supported by the weight-ratios and papyri that likewise allows for ready exchange with the larger Roman bronzes – can be summarized as follows: Size I = drachma (6 ob.); Size II = 1/2 drachma (3 ob.); Size III = 1/3 drachma (2 ob.); Size IV = 1/6 drachma (1 ob.); Size V = 1/2 obol (or 4 chalkoi); Size VI = 1/4 obol (i.e., a dichalkon).


PLATES (Figs. 1-48)


Fig. 1: Map of Egypt during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras. 311

Fig. 2: Augustus before deities at Deir el-Medina (AR1).

Fig 3: Augustus before Nut on Opet temple at Karnak (AR2).

Fig. 4: Augustus on eastern wall of birth house in court beyond first pylon of Isis temple, Philae (AR3).

Fig. 5: Augustus crowned by Buto and Nekhbet on eastern wall of Isis temple, Philae (AR4).

Fig. 6: Earliest Augustan aes issue with reused Ptolemaic reverse (AC1).

Fig. 7: Second Series issue with Mars Ultor temple on reverse (AC2). 312

Fig. 8: Augustan Second Series issue with triumphal arch reverse type (AC3).

Fig. 9: Augustan Fourth Series aes issue with Gaius Caeasr on reverse type (AC4).

Fig. 10: Fifth Augustan Series type-pairs with grain-ear reverses (AC5).

Fig. 11: Tiberius offering crowns to Harpokrates (TR1). 313

Fig. 12: Tiberius offering crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt to Harpokrates; relief carved on birth house within Isis temple complex, Philae (TR1).

Fig. 13: Tiberius presents bouquets to Isis in relief on birth house at Philae (TR2). 314

Fig. 14: Tiberius as smiting pharaoh; west exterior wall, Temple of Isis, Philae (TR3).

Fig. 15: Tiberius purified, crowned, and adored; Arsenuphis temple, Philae (TR5).

Fig. 16: Tiberian hippopotamus type (TC1). 315

Fig. 17: Claudian hippopotamus type.

Fig. 18: Tiberian tetradrachm series featuring laureate Tiberius obverse types and radiate Divus Augustus reverse types (TC2).

Fig. 19: Gaius standing behind Thoth in adoration before Hathor and Harsiesis; entrance to outer hypostyle, Temple of Hathor, Dendera (GR2). 316

Fig. 20: Claudius offers bouquet to Osiris and Geb, with inscription in Greek beneath the dais on which the two deities are seated; Hathor temple, Dendera (CR1).

Fig. 21: Tiberius offers heh in relief reminiscent of CR2; west colonnade, Philae.


Fig. 22: Claudian tetradrachm featuring reverse type with Messalina as Demeter (CC1).

Fig. 23: Claudian tetradrachm with bust of Antonia occupying reverse type (CC2).

Fig. 24: Claudian aes issue; obverse type featuring Agrippina II (CC3).

Fig. 25: Claudian billon drachm; reverse type featuring Serapis (CC4).

Fig 26: Claudian billon didrachm with reverse type featuring family members (CC5). 318

Fig. 27: Nero offering a pair of uzat eyes in relief on west colonnade at Philae (NR4).

Fig. 28: Tetradrachm issued during reign of Nero with bust of Octavia featured on reverse type (NC1).

Fig. 29: Neronian tetradrachm featuring bust of Agrippina the Younger on reverse type (NC2).

Fig. 30: Neronian tetrdrachm reverse type with enthroned emperor (NC3).

Fig. 31: Neronian tetradrachm type-pair with agathodaimon rev. (NC4). 319

Fig. 32: Nero in radiate crown on obverse type (NC5).

Fig. 33: Nero in radiate crown and aegis on obverse type from Year 13 (NC6).

Fig. 34: Neronian tetradrachm featuring sebastophoros ship reverse (NC7).

Fig. 35: Neronian tetradrachm featuring Olympian Zeus reverse (NC8).

Fig. 36: Neronian tetradrachm featuring Nemean Zeus reverse (NC9).

Fig. 37: Neronian tetradrachm featuring Hera Argeia reverse (NC 10).

Fig. 38: Tetradrachm with Isthmian Poseidon reverse type (NC11). 320

Fig. 39: Actian Apollo reverse type on Neronian tetradrachm (NC12).

Fig. 40: Pythian Apollo reverse type on Neronian tetradrachm (NC13).

Fig. 41: Relief scenes featuring Galba on propylon of Isis temple complex at Deir el-ShelwĂŽt.

Fig. 42: Otho spears tortoise (at top reg.) and offers incense on propylon at Deir el-ShelwĂŽt.


Fig. 43: Otho offers crowns of Lower and Upper Egypt on propylon at Deir el-ShelwĂŽt.

Fig. 44: Otho pours a libation before Isis and Osiris on propylon at Deir el-ShelwĂŽt.

Fig. 45: Galban tetradrachm with reverse type featuring Alexandria(?) in elephant headdress (GalC1).

Fig. 46: Galban tetradrachm with reverse type featuring Eleutheria with wreath and scepter (GalC2).

Fig. 47: Galban tetradrachm with reverse type featuring Kratesis (GalC4).

Fig. 48: Galban tetradrachm with reverse type featuring Roma (GalC5). 322

Ucin1313493890 [Roman Emperor [Caesar] as a Pharoh, Rule from Egypt]  
Ucin1313493890 [Roman Emperor [Caesar] as a Pharoh, Rule from Egypt]