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The Last Pharaohs

The Last Pharaohs: Egypt Under the Ptolemies, 305-30 BC

J. G. Manning
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 282
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7tckm
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    The Last Pharaohs
    Book Description:

    The history of Ptolemaic Egypt has usually been doubly isolated--separated both from the history of other Hellenistic states and from the history of ancient Egypt.The Last Pharaohs, the first detailed history of Ptolemaic Egypt as a state, departs radically from previous studies by putting the Ptolemaic state firmly in the context of both Hellenistic and Egyptian history. More broadly still, J. G. Manning examines the Ptolemaic dynasty in the context of the study of authoritarian and premodern states, shifting the focus of study away from modern European nation-states and toward ancient Asian ones. By analyzing Ptolemaic reforms of Egyptian economic and legal structures,The Last Pharaohsgauges the impact of Ptolemaic rule on Egypt and the relationships that the Ptolemaic kings formed with Egyptian society. Manning argues that the Ptolemies sought to rule through--rather than over--Egyptian society. He tells how the Ptolemies, adopting a pharaonic model of governance, shaped Egyptian society and in turn were shaped by it. Neither fully Greek nor wholly Egyptian, the Ptolemaic state within its core Egyptian territory was a hybrid that departed from but did not break with Egyptian history. Integrating the latest research on archaeology, papyrology, theories of the state, and legal history, as well as Hellenistic and Egyptian history,The Last Pharaohsdraws a dramatically new picture of Egypt's last ancient state.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3164-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-18)

    This book is concerned with Ptolemaic institutional reforms in the wake of Ptolemy’s founding of Egypt’s last ruling dynasty of ancient times, and with the relationship between the Ptolemaic kings and Egyptian society. We will examine the Ptolemies from an Egyptian perspective, with the aim of understanding how, by adopting a pharaonic mode of governance, they fit themselves into long-term Egyptian history, and how, in turn, they shaped Egyptian society and were shaped by it.

    I make two claims in this book. First, the Ptolemaic state, far more institutionally heterogeneous than is usually assumed, was initially successful in establishing an...

  7. Chapter 1 EGYPT IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM BC
    (pp. 19-28)

    In this book I examine Ptolemaic rule of its core territory, Egypt, and explore the ways in which the Ptolemies shaped a government that would serve their own ends. The Ptolemaic kingdom, like most ancient states, was authoritarian. But unlike some modern authoritarian states, it was constrained by history, by an ancient institutional structure that gave little wiggle room for maneuver. Engaging with that ancient institutional structure was a deliberate policy decision taken by Ptolemy, the founder of the dynasty. Before moving ahead to discuss the Ptolemaic state and its institutions, it may therefore be useful to take a glance...

  8. Chapter 2 THE HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE PTOLEMAIC STATE
    (pp. 29-54)

    This chapter surveys previous views of the Ptolemaic state. I shift the emphasis away from the perspective of the Greek world by examining the Egyptian core of the empire and the conscious continuation of a pharaonic style of governance. The Ptolemies’ active accommodation to Egyptian kingship and to the legitimizing authority of the priesthoods puts them in sharp contrast to both the Persians who came before and the Romans who came after them. But the nature of royal power must be set into its historical context and measured against real power. The usual claim by historians, for example, that the...

  9. Chapter 3 MOVING BEYOND DESPOTISM, ECONOMIC PLANNING, AND STATE BANDITRY Ptolemaic Egypt as a Premodern State
    (pp. 55-72)

    In the last chapter, I reviewed the historiographic understanding of the Ptolemaic state. I argued against previous attempts at characterizing the Ptolemaic reforms through models of despotism, dirigisme, and colonialism. All three of these concepts were, to be sure, operative in Ptolemaic Egypt. But I suggested that were more factors in the equation than the king, that there were limits on his ability to direct the economy, and that the colonial model was inadequate to explain the dynamics of social power. We can avoid some of the problems with the typology of the Ptolemaic state by simply stating that it...

  10. Chapter 4 SHAPING A NEW STATE The Political Economy of the Ptolemies
    (pp. 73-116)

    In this chapter, I will bring Egyptian society back into the picture and examine the relationships established between the Ptolemies and the coalitions that were necessary to create a new political and social equilibrium. By definition, then, I move beyond the model of despotic “one man rule” (“mon-archy”, Ps. Aristot.,Oec. 1), into the real world in which the kings, in forming a new, centralized state, had to incorporate and bargain with social groups.¹

    As a result of their need to interact with a broad range of social entities, the Ptolemaic kings, like their counterparts elsewhere, formed a multidimensional kingship...

  11. Chapter 5 CREATING A NEW ECONOMIC ORDER Economic Life and Economic Policy under the Ptolemies
    (pp. 117-164)

    In 225 BC, some twelve years after the inauguration of the great building project of the new temple of Horus, a prominent priestly family in Edfu found themselves in severe financial difficulty.¹ A state official had been appointed to investigate. Three brothers in the family were late with payments for family land that they had mortgaged to securitize payments to the state for the cloth tax, and they had mortgaged family land to secure the payments. Private and public finance were entwined. The arrears had apparently been a long-standing problem, going back to at least the year 246. Each of...

  12. Chapter 6 ORDER AND LAW Shaping the Law in a New State
    (pp. 165-201)

    This chapter is concerned with the connections between the king, Egyptian society, the law, and the economy.¹ Earlier approaches to the Ptolemaic legal system and Ptolemaic legal reforms have, in the main, been focused, on royal activity and, thus on formal aspects of the law.² This “legal centralist tradition,” an heir to Hobbes’Leviathan, and enshrined in Weber’s notion of the state as the monopolizer of legitimate violence, considers states as “the chief sources of rules and enforcement efforts.”³ But the Ptolemaic kings did not impose a Greek legal order on Egypt. Rather, while asserting their sovereignty over Egyptian institutions,...

  13. Chapter 7 CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 202-206)

    This book has been concerned with Ptolemaic state making. I have argued that we should eschew modern state analogies and treat the Ptolemies as a premodern state. The Ptolemies took a path to state centralization that bargained with and incorporated key constituent groups. This state-making model explains much about how Ptolemaic society evolved. I have also stressed the strong institutional continuities, both those found already operating in Egypt when Alexander arrived, and those Greek fiscal institutions derived from fourth-century Athenian experience. The resulting Ptolemaic dynasty was a hybrid state that attempted to combine ancient social structures with new fiscal institutions....

  14. Appendix THE TRIAL RECORD OF THE PROPERTY DISPUTE HELD AT THE TEMPLE OF WEPWAWET IN ASYUT, UPPER EGYPT, 170 BC BEFORE THE LOCAL LAOKRITAI-JUDGES
    (pp. 207-216)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 217-258)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 259-262)
  17. INDEX OF SOURCES
    (pp. 263-264)