Title page


before and since, a heavy burthen of taxation; her conquerors have always claimed a full share of those fruits which are 'the boon of the Nile.' Every five years, it would seem, the Praefect revised the Egyptian census for the purpose of taxation (Marquardt, Röm. Staatsverwaltung, ii. p. 244: Franz, C.I.G. iii p. 319), while the precise strain that the country could bear was nicely calculated every season by help of the Nilometer (Marquardt, ibid.; Franz, ibid. p. 318). No wonder therefore if we find that some of the most important Egyptian inscriptions deal with the rernission of burthens. The Rosetta stone (B.C. 198) is full of this subject. It is the occasion of the important decree of Ti. Julius Alexander, Praefect of Egypt under Galba (Sept 28, A.D. 68 : C. 1. G. 4957). Accordingly it is not an improbable conjecture that the Emperor Claudius, in whose reign there was a scarcity felt in Rome on more than one occasion, may have granted the inhabitants of Ptolemais some remission of taxation: possibly some poll-tax (Franz, C.I.G. iii p. 318) payable by every adult male of Ptolemais, was either lightened or removed, in return for an increase in the amount of corn shipped from Ptolemais. If so, 'the 6470' wilI be the adult male population of the town in A.D. 42, and not only wert these relieved, but also the young men who attained their efhbeia (transliteration: ephebeia) , i.e. the age of eighteen, in that year, were by anticipation brought within the scope of the decree; although they would not be of full age, and therefore (I suppose) not liable to taxation, before the age of twenty. These 6470 plus the ephebi of the year A.D. 42 seem to have retained their privilege until the reign of Nero, and therefore are specified thus exactly in this dedication of the year A.D. 60; we may infer that Nero confirmed the privileges granted by Claudius.

The words poliV (translit. polis) (line five), efhbeukoteV (translit. ephebeukotes) and (perhaps) pandhmei (translit. pandemei) (line 12) need not imply that Ptolemais (though its name would imply the prae-Roman foundation) enjoyed any municipal constitution after the Greek pattern. Indeed there is a significant absence of the words boulh (translit. boule) or dhmoV (translit. demos), or of a civic eponymos; with which contrast the dedication to Alexander Severus from the boulë of Antinoe (C.I.G. 4705). Strabo mentions it as a remarkable exception in Egypt that Ptolemais in the Thebaid had a communal government (XVII, p, 813). Only three other towns, Naukratis, Alexandria, and Antinoe are known to have been similarly organised on Greek lines; and, of these, Alexandria had no boulë. Augustus and his successors looked upon the Egyptians as a seditious rabble, unfit for any measure of home-rule ; the unit of civic organization was the Nome or district, and we may suppose the population of Ptolemais to have been simply merged - for all political purposes - in the population of the Nome. The word polis (line 5) does not tell the other way: Sais is likewise termed a polis (C.I.G. 4697 e). Nor need efhbeuein (translit. ephebeuein) (line 12) involve the gymnasium and the education of the young Greek citizen, and those other interesting associations which the word suggests to the readers of Attic literature: it merely seems here to express a particular age.

The second year of Claudius (line 9) was, to speak exactly, from Jan. 25 A.D. 42 to Jan. 25, A.D. 43. It is noted by Dio Cassius (lx, 11) that in A.D. 42 there was a severe scarcity at Rome, and that this even suggested to Claudius the idea of building the harbour at Ostia. This statement prepares us to believe, what has already been suggested above, that Claudius this year may have given some special encouragement to the exporters of corn from Ptolemais.

The date in Nero's reign (line 14) is noteworthy for a different reason. Mommsen shows (Staatsv. ii. 798, note) that in the second year of Nero's reign a new method of reckoning his years was adopted, so that his 'seventh year' does not mean Oct. 13, A.D. 60 - Oct. 13, A.D. 61, but rather December 10, A.D. 59 - Dec. 10, A.D. 60. If this be the year of our dedication, it is dated a few months after Nero had outraged human nature by the murder of his mother, and had shocked Roman prudery scarcely less by his appearance on the stage. But neither event affected the fortunes or the feelings of these far-off dwellers on the Nile, and when they style Nero the 'saviour and benefactor of the world' (lines 3-5) they are using the commonplaces of provincial compliment In C.I.G. 4699 (from Memphis) he is called o agaqoV daimwn thV oikoumenhV (translit. o agathos daimon tes oikoumenes).

Next to the name of the site, the most interesting information yielded by the inscription is the name of the Prefect Lucius Julius ......us. Unfortunately his cognomen is lost, but this name is new. He must have succeeded Tib. Cl. Balbillus, who was appointed Praefect of Egypt A.D. 56 (see Franz, in C.I.G, iii. p. 311).

home - previous page - next page