Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.10.26

Gilles Gorre, Les relations du clergé égyptien et des lagides d'après des sources privées. Studia Hellenistica; 45.   Leuven:  Peeters, 2009.  Pp. lviii, 641.  ISBN 9789042920354.  €105.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by M. Weiskopf,
Word count: 2007 words

Gorre has produced an excellent work based on the prosopographical study of individuals whose deeds and titles are preserved in 'sources privées', those which document the entity itself.

The general introduction (pp. xiii-xxxii) provides a statement of the problem of continuity between Ptolemaic and pre-Ptolemaic Egypt and should be read by students of Near Eastern and Hellenistic history (Gorre's clarity lends itself to those first trying to understand academic material in French). Gorre considers careers that span pre-Ptolemaic to early Roman imperial times in the construction of the prosopographical list. Chronological precision is often elusive: the context of older discoveries is not known; stylistic 'evidence' is an approximate marker; epigraphical 'style' (both Egyptian and Greek) offers no precision. The titulature in the inscriptions permits some measure of termini antequem postquemque. Each entity is considered in its role as an individual, not solely as a member of such-and-such a body. The documentation is built up primarily from funerary monuments and ex-voto donations in sanctuaries (these may be multilingual). Such documentation focuses on the individual's moral status and does have a stereotypical tone: one can't establish any clear cursus honorum. Gorre intelligently rejects the 'dualist' view that the Ptolemies were at odds with the 'clergy' as each strove to expand their influence based on national rivalry (thus we are spared the empty-headed usage of 'apartheid', appearing in the 1980's, and 'multicultural', appearing in the 1990's). He defends Preaux's view that nationalism was not the motor for clergy-formulated revolts. He accepts Veisse's view that the clergy's and king's reaction to internal troubles were convergent. Per Clarysse, state and temples did not represent two antagonistic groups. Gorre argues that one must perceive in his prosopography the 'double-visage' of post-Achaemenid Egypt. The private documents reveal both Egyptian and Greek names (only the latter appear in most administrative documents) and enable a better understanding of the relations between clergy and state.

Pages xxxiii-lvii represent a list of abbreviations and a bibliography, which unfortunately leave obscure standard document collections and reference works relating to the Ptolemaic period and earlier Achaemenid occupations. The identity of some of these works can be deduced by examining the bibliographies of Huss' Ptolemaic study and the earlier contributions by Veisse and Mueller in the Studia Hellenistica series. In at least one case a work is assigned improperly: Repeated reference in prosopography entries nr. 59-67 is made to Reymond From Records of a Priestly Family from Memphis. This work is assigned to an E. Jelinkova-Reymond in the bibliography (p. xlv). A check in Huss (pp. 801, 829) and Mueller (p. 240) indicates the author to be Eva A. E. Reymond, whose activities are found in the 1970's and early 1980's, not the 1950's (the case for E. Jelinkova-Reymond). Such obscurity will prove damaging to students of the Polybian symploke, not expert in Egyptian sources, seeking to explain the Lagid inability to project successfully their power outside Egypt proper. There was only one citation concerning the transition from Achaemenid to Ptolemaic rule that I failed to see:

Michel Chauveau and Christophre Thiers, "L'Egypt en transition: des Perses aux Macedoniens", pp. 375-404 in Pierre Briant and Francis Joannes. La transition entre l'empire achemenide et les royaumes hellenistiques. Persika 9. Paris: DeBoccard, 2006.

Pages 1-450 (with footnotes 1-1318) are the prosopography proper. There are 86 individuals, to whom most can be assigned a given name. Gorre begins with Upper Egypt, moving south (Philae) to north (Memphis), then Lower Egypt, moving from west (Alexandria) to east. A map would have been of assistance, but one may rely on Huss p. 857 for orientation. Regrettably, the individual names, as can be noted at the review's end, do not appear in the table of contents on pp. vii-viii. Included are only cities and prosopographical numbers, which then appear at the top of each odd-numbered page. I would recommend that those consulting the work prepare a hand-list. Full stemmata do not appear for each entity, but can be reconstructed, if needed, based on the family data provided. The contents of each entry are complete (date, place, identity, titulature, etc.), Gorre displaying a mastery of multiple languages and frequently providing extended French translations of detailed texts.

Since my interest in reviewing this work was to examine the author's treatment of the transition from Achaemenid to Macedonian rule and in the interest of complementing the prosopographical data offered in the Chauveau-Thiers piece, I place below a list of Achaemenid-era figures whose activities span the Thirtieth Dynasty to the early Macedonian period:

Diospolis Magna
Chapochrates nr. 13: inscriptions place him in the very early Macedonian period (321/0-317/6). His father, Inaros, would have been active during Achaemenid times. Chapochrates seems to have benefited from Argaead intervention.

Amenothes nr. 14: dated per above; participant in Chapochrates, activities. His family was active in the Achaemenid period.

Kapefhaamon nr. 15: active at same time as Chapochrates; his father, Sminis, coterminous with Achaemenid era.

Sminis nr. 26: end of fourth century B.C.; father, Irtyertjay, contemporary of Nectanebos II (360-343/2).

Hermopolis Magna
Petosiris nr 39: career and family spanned Thirtieth Dynasty to early Macedonian period (the years Ptolemy I held only the post of satrap). He acted as a local substitute for the now-absent holder of Pharaonic power in his own capacity as responsible for the temple. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers pp. 388-389.

Horos nr. 41: career spanned Thirtieth Dynasty to beginning of Macedonian control; was able to reach accommodations with both Achaemenid and Macedonian authorities. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 389.

Samtoutephachtes nr. 42: served Nectanebos II, then the Achaemenids, Macedonians. He alludes to his presence at Issus before flight back to Egypt. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 388.

"X" (or Achoapis?) nr. 43: contemporary with Ptolemy I (holding office of satrap). Recognized Ptolemy's authority, but did not view him as a legitimately crowned Pharaoh. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 388.

Psentesous nr. 44: assigned to the period of the Thirtieth Dynasty to early Macedonian occupation; apparently a lower level Egyptian serving the early Macedonians.

Harsunchis nr. 45: 330-264, daughter of Nepherpnes; her family active in Achaemenid times.

Pichaas nr. 56: fourth century B.C. (?); participated in undated expedition in Syria.

Onnophris nr. 58: chronologically uncertain; documentation may come from Thirtieth Dynasty; indicates fragile position of Egyptian notables in fourth century B.C. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 388

Teos the Savior nr. 70: career extended from Thirtieth Dynasty to beginning of Macedonian occupation; owed his success to his own administrative capabilities which permitted him to protect the temple, while reaching accommodation with Achaemenids, Macdonians. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 389.

"X", eldest son of Nectanebos II, nr. 74: active into early Macedonian period. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 388.

Nectanebis nr. 79: cousin of "X" nr 74; apparently active at beginning of Macedonian period. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 389.

Horhetep nr. 86: last third of fourth century B.C. Cf. Chauveau-Thiers p. 389.

The second section of the work (pp. 451-630) presents an analysis of the data offered by the prosopographical list and its supporting evidence. Gorre first takes up (pp. 451-462) the manner in which ties to the crown were expressed. Although there are difficulties in matching Greek with Egyptian nomenclature: one may note state functionaries; 'un cadre egyptien' not directly tied to the Lagid state; and those with titles indicating 'une lien honorifique' with the crown. Chapter Two (pp. 463-470) examines the constitution of these groups by chronology and by type. Only a gross division is permitted for the former (the frequent absence of explicit dates). For the latter, four general types of functions are delimited: direction of religious administration, representation of royal power, civil administration, and finally those holding military, financial and territorial (only the prosopographical numbers, no names, are reported). The remaining tables (note misnumbered heading on Table 2) outline those who held military functions, the degree of their connection to the crown, and chronological considerations.

Gorre then turns to the first contacts between the Macedonians and the clergy (pp. 471-512). A number of individuals who continued their careers after the Achaemenid fall seem to show diminished responsibilities, in part the result of a poor adaptation to Macedonian control. A number of 'new men' appear, their status equal to or higher than their ancestors'. Most of the 'sources privées' are quite circumspect about any service to the early Macedonian state. Those in charge of sanctuary affairs did not present a united front, but sought to arrange some accommodations to preserve their temples' temporal stature. Very often it is the local priesthood that emerges as the private renovators of their communities, a replacement for a disinterested and distant authority. Teos the Savior's inscriptions never show a Macedonian as a sanctuary benefactor. Arrhidaeus' name indicates the political opportunism of Teos, himself responsible for all recorded deeds. Others (Petosiris nr. 39, Horos nr. 41) appear as a local theoretical replacement for an absent legitimate Pharoah. At the very early stage of Macedonian rule Egyptians served the state primarily as 'technicians', their knowledge employed for precise, limited tasks.

Beginning in the mid-third century it is possible to trace the activities of crown officials, with varied religious titulature, holding civil and military responsibilities, who played a role in the direction of temples (Chapter 4, pp. 513-555). Although the traditional clergy found their fiscal power reduced, they received as allies members of the royal administration. These administrators became part of the priestly hierarchy in order to control finances. In Upper Egypt they were frequently Greek, of military background, and more integrated into temple life. In Lower Egypt the temple milieu provided administrators, but we do not find families holding religious offices from generation to generation. There were fewer cultic titles, but closer ties to the crown. Only two families (nrs. 4-7, Platon nr. 24) in the prosopography represent "Greco-Egyptians" in the sense of Greeks adopting existing Egyptian customs.

The overall number of Egyptians known to be of the priesthood and occupying important posts in the Ptolemaic state is small given the overall documentation (Chapter 5, pp. 557-603). One finds a transition from serving the local deity and being dependent upon the temples alone to serving the crown as well. The clergy was still employed by the state for precise and transitory tasks. Those who became part of the state hierarchy rose upward, not because of their priestly status, but because of administrative needs. The high priests of Ptah at Memphis are offered by Gorre as illustrations (Chapter 6, pp. 605-622). The role of 'new men' is significant, and the priesthood acquires authority over the temple more as the result of the accumulation of civil and military functions derived from the Ptolemies for whom they served as intermediaries.

Gorre summarizes his conclusions on pp. 622-630: no 'priestly opposition', but the cooperation between elites. I regret the length of this review, but this mega biblion, in spite of its modest flaws, is no mega kakon, but a valuable research tool.

Table des Matières
Introduction générale xiii
Liste des abréviations xxxiii
Bibliographie xxxv
Première Partie
Prosopographie . 1
Philae, 1-3 5
Apollinopolis Magna, 4-10 17
Hermonthis, 11-12 42
Diospolis Magna, 13-25 53
Coptos, 26-27 101
Tentyris, 28-32 119
Diospolis Parva, 33 153
Abydos, 34-35 156
Panopolis, 36-37 163
Lycopolis, 38 173
Hermopolis Magna, 39-40 176
Heracleopolis, 41-42 198
Memphis, 43-58 216
Grand-pretre de Memphis, 59-67 285
Alexandrie, 68 345
Naucratis, 69 349
Athribis, 70 353
Sais, 71 365
Bouto, 72 368
Diospolis Kato, 73 373
Sbennytos, 74 378
To-Bener, 75 381
Mendes, 76-78 385
Tanis, 79-85 396
Bahria, 86 450
Deuxieme Partie:
Typologie et Analyse 451
Chapitre I: L'Expression des liens avec la couronne 451
Chapitre II: La constitution de groupes chronologiques et typologiques. 463
Chapitre III: Les premiers contacts du clergé égyptien avec les macedoniens 471
Chapitre IV: Les officiers de la couronne dans les temples 513
Chapitre V: Les prêtres au service de l'etat lagide 557
ChapitreVI: Les pontifes de Ptah 605
Conclusion 623
Index des noms royaux 631
Index des noms de particuliers 633
Index des titres et fonctions 637
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