4. Imperialism: The Persians and Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was not the first foreign ruler to seize power in Egypt. From 760–656 BCE, Egypt was ruled by the twenty-fifth Dynasty and those kings came from the Kingdom of Kush in Nubia. [1] Although the Kushites imposed their rule on Egypt, the new leadership did not represent a cultural shift for Egypt, since the Kushites had already become assimilated into Egyptian culture during the New Kingdom Egyptian occupation of Kush. [2] The result of Kushite rule was an Egyptian empire that included Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt, and Kush.
Foreign rule next came from the east. The Persians, under Cambyses II, invaded Egypt in 525 BCE. Persian rule in Egypt was not continuous: there was a period of Egyptian revolt, but Artaxerxes III re-established Persian control in 343 BCE. Persian rule in Egypt corresponds to the twenty-seventh and thirty-first dynasties.
Alexander was another external ruler for Egypt, but he was also seen as a liberator of Egypt from Persian rule. Alexander’s successors, the Ptolemies, transformed Egypt into a Hellenistic kingdom and established Alexandria as the intellectual capital of the Mediterranean world.

4.1 Cambyses II in Egypt

Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus reflect a tradition hostile to the rule of Cambyses II in Egypt. Hostility toward an occupying enemy is understandable, but it is also worth noting that the Greeks were enemies of the Persians and this relationship could be motive enough for accusing Cambyses of abusing his power. There is no independent evidence for the incidents Herodotus relates (Cambyses desecrating the Pharaoh Amasis’ body and killing the Apis bull). Diodorus credits Darius son of Hystaspes, Cambyses’ successor, with respecting Egyptian culture.

4.1.1 Herodotus Histories 3.16 (c. 425 BCE; Greek)

Cambyses abuses the corpse of the pharaoh Amasis.
Cambyses left Memphis and went to the city of Sais, where he accomplished his wish. For next he went into the house of Amasis and immediately ordered the corpse of Amasis to be carried out from his tomb. When this was done, he ordered his men to whip it and pull out its hair and stab it and maltreat it in every other way. When they tired of doing these things (for the body was mummified and it held together and did not fall apart), Cambyses ordered his men to burn it, which was an unholy command. For the Persians consider fire to be a god. Burning corpses is lawful for neither people. For the Persians, it is for the reason mentioned: that it is not just to give the corpse of a person to a god. For the Egyptians, it is the belief that fire is animate and is a beast that consumes everything it catches and when it is full of food, it dies together with that which it eats. It is not customary for them to give the corpse to wild animals and because of this they mummify the body so that it may not be eaten by worms while it lies. Thus Cambyses commanded them to do things customary to neither people. The Egyptians, however, say that it was not Amasis who suffered these things, but some other one of the Egyptians who was the same age as Amasis and whom the Persians maltreated believing that they were maltreating Amasis. For they say that Amasis, having learned from an oracle the things that were to happen to him after his death, avoided these things by burying a dead man (the one who was whipped) in his own tomb near the door and telling his son to place him in the innermost corner of the tomb. These commands of Amasis about the tomb and the man do not seem to me to have happened and the Egyptians wrongly believe them.

4.1.2 Herodotus Histories 3.26, excerpt (c. 425 BCE; Greek)

The lost army of Cambyses.
… Those who were sent to fight the Ammonians [3] set out from Thebes and traveled with guides. They were seen arriving at the city of Oasis, [4] which the Samians of the Aeschrionian tribe occupied and which was seven days from Thebes across the sand. In the Greek language, this place is called the Islands of the Blessed. It is said that the army reached this place, but from there no one can say anything about them, except the Ammonians and anyone who heard from them. For the army neither reached the Ammonians nor returned to Thebes. This is what the Ammonians themselves have to say: when the army came from Oasis across the sand toward them, about halfway between Oasis and the Ammonians while they were eating breakfast a great and unusually strong south wind began to blow. It carried heaps of sand and buried them. In such a way, they vanished. This is what the Ammonians say happened regarding this army.

4.1.3 Herodotus Histories 3.27 (c. 425 BCE; Greek)

Cambyses is accused of killing the Apis bull. The years in which Apis bulls died, however, do not correspond to Herodotus’ account. [5]
When Cambyses had returned to Memphis, an Apis appeared to the Egyptians—the Greeks call him Epaphus—and when an Apis appears the Egyptians put on their most beautiful clothes and hold a celebration. When he saw the Egyptians doing these things, Cambyses thought that their expressions of joy were over his misfortune. He called the people in charge at Memphis and when they came to him he asked why, when he was in Memphis before, the Egyptians had done nothing, but now, when most of his army had been lost, they celebrated. The leaders said that a god, accustomed to come to them after a long time, had appeared and that when he appeared all the Egyptians, rejoicing, held a festival. When he heard these things, Cambyses said that they were lying and punished the liars with a death.

4.1.4 Diodorus Siculus Library of History 1.95.4–5 (60–30 BCE; Greek)

Cambyses’ successor Darius had a better reputation.
A sixth man said to have established laws for the Egyptians is Darius, father of Xerxes. For he hated the transgressions against the sanctuaries of Egypt perpetrated by his predecessor Cambyses and he wanted to lead a decent and god-loving life. In Egypt, he kept company with the priests themselves and participated in the study of theology and of the deeds recorded in their sacred books. When he learned from these books the high-mindedness of the ancient kings and the goodwill they showed toward those they ruled, he modeled his life on theirs. Because of this, he received such honor that he alone of all the kings was addressed by the Egyptians as a living god. When he died, he received honors equal to those who ruled Egypt most lawfully long ago.

4.2 Alexander the Great Arrives

The Persian thirty-first dynasty ended when Alexander the Great added Egypt to his empire. Alexander arrived in Egypt in late 332 BCE. He founded the city of Alexandria and expanded the territory Egypt controlled up the Syrtes. He also visited the Oracle of Ammon at Siwah.

4.2.1 Quintus Curtius Rufus History of Alexander 4.7.1–5 (1st c. CE; Latin)

According to Curtius, the Egyptians regarded Alexander as liberating them from Persian rule.
The Egyptians had been for some time hostile to Persian rule—for they believed their overlords were arrogant and greedy—and so they were in high spirits as they awaited Alexander’s arrival. They even had welcomed Amyntas, who came as a deserter and not in an official capacity. [6] Therefore, a great multitude had come together at Pelusium, where it seemed Alexander was about to enter. On the seventh day, after he had moved troops from Gaza, he arrived in Egyptian territory at the place now called Alexander’s Camp. Then, after ordering the infantry to head toward Pelusium, he himself with an elite corps of light armed troops traveled up the Nile. The Persians, frightened by the Egyptian revolt, did not wait for him to arrive. Already he was not far from Memphis, which was under the control of Darius’ governor Mazaces. Mazaces, of his own accord, crossed the river and handed over to Alexander 800 talents and all the palace furniture. From Memphis, continuing on the Nile, they reached the interior of Egypt and after settling affairs in such a way that the native customs of the Egyptians would not change, he decided to visit the oracle of Ammon.

4.2.2 Diodorus Siculus Library of History 17.52 (60–30 BCE; Greek)

Diodorus describes the founding of Alexandria. Alexander planned the city, but left to continue his campaigns before it was built. He would return only after his death.
Having decided to found a great city, Alexander ordered the men he left behind with this responsibility to build the city halfway between the marsh and the sea. He measured the site, carefully divided the city, and named it Alexandria after himself. The city was most opportunely located near the harbor of Pharos and was skillfully oriented so that it breathed with the Etesian winds, which blow across the great sea and cool the air in the city. Thus, he provided comfort and health for the residents. He also made surrounding walls that were a wonder both in size and strength. Since it is between the marsh and the sea, the city has only two approaches from the land, both of which are narrow and easy to defend. Resembling a cloak in shape, it has a great avenue that almost cuts the city in half and that is remarkable for its size and attractiveness. For it has a length of forty stadia from gate to gate and it is a plethron [7] wide. The whole is enhanced by rich facades of houses and temples. Alexander ordered that a palace be built, a wonder in size and mass. Not only Alexander, but also those who ruled Egypt after him down to the present time almost all expanded the palace with expensive additions. On the whole, the city has received such benefactions in later times that in the eyes of many it is considered the pre-eminent city of the known world. Indeed, in beauty, size, wealth, and luxury, it greatly exceeds other cities. The size of its population also exceeds that of other cities. When we were in Egypt, the census-keepers said that there were over 300,000 free residents and that the king received more than 6,000 talents in revenue from the whole country. King Alexander appointed some of his friends to oversee the construction of Alexandria and, after settling affairs in Egypt, returned with his troops to Syria.

4.3 The Oracle at Siwah

The visit to Siwah made by Alexander the Great is the most famous, but not the first, trip a Greek took to the oracle of Ammon. Siwah had been an important sacred site long before Greeks or even Egyptians arrived there. Originally, the place was sacred to a local Libyan divinity who came to be identified with the Carthaginian Baal Hammon. [8] In the sixth century BCE, the Egyptian pharaoh Amasis, the last to rule an independent Egypt before the Persian invasion under Cambyses, built a temple there and equated the local god with the Egyptian Amun, who was depicted with a ram’s head. [9]
Greek colonists who settled in Cyrene are to thank for the name Ammon, which may be a fusion of the Egyptian Amun with the Greek word for sand, psammos. In addition, the Greek colonists identified Ammon with the Greek god Zeus and referred to him as Zeus-Ammon (something like “Sandy Zeus”), appropriate given the oracle’s location in the desert. [10] Both Athens and Sparta consulted the oracle of Ammon in the fifth century BCE. In addition, shrines of Ammon were present in Greece at Piraeus and Sparta. [11]
In February of 331 BCE, Alexander the Great traveled 250 miles from Alexandria westward into the Libyan desert to consult the oracle at Siwah. Some of our sources are vague about what Alexander asked and what the oracle answered, but they agree that Alexander was happy with what he learned. Following his visit, Alexander began to appear in portraits with the ram’s horns of Ammon, lending credence to reports that he had come to believe that Ammon was part of his divine parentage.

4.3.1 Pausanias Description of Greece 9.16.1 (c. 160 CE; Greek)

Pausanias discusses visitors to the precinct of Ammon.
Not far off is a temple of Ammon and Pindar set up a statue, which was sculpted by Calamis. [12] And Pindar sent to the Ammonians of Libya a hymn to Ammon. This hymn was, even in my time, on a three-sided stele next to the altar that Ptolemy son of Lagus dedicated to Ammon.

4.3.2 Strabo Geography 17.1.43 (7 BCE–23 CE; Greek)

Some background on oracles.
In ancient times, divination and oracles generally received more respect, but now they are held in much contempt, since the Romans protect themselves with the Sibylline Books and Etruscan divination that uses entrails, bird-flight, and sky signs. And so the oracle of Ammon, previously honored, is almost deserted. Those who recorded the deeds of Alexander are our primary sources for it and while they add much that seems to be flattery, they also include that which is worthy of belief. Indeed, Callisthenes says that Alexander visited the oracle mostly in the pursuit of fame, when he heard that Perseus and Heracles had gone there before. [13]

4.3.3 Arrian Anabasis of Alexander 3.3 (c. 160 CE; Greek)

Arrian gives some details of the journey to Siwah.
And so Alexander went to Ammon for this knowledge so that he might know more exactly [his own origin], or at least so he could say he knew. He went along the coast as far as Paraetonium through a desert, which is not, however, completely without water, a journey of about 1600 stadia, as Aristobulus says. From here, he turned inland, where the oracle of Ammon was. The road is lonely, dry, and for the most part sand. But for Alexander there was much water from the sky and this was credited to divine intervention. Likewise, the following: whenever a south wind blows in that land, it piles sand extensively over the road and all signs of the road are hidden and it is not possible to see where one must go in the sand, just as at sea, because there are no landmarks along the road, neither mountain, nor tree, nor fixed hills rising up, by which travelers might discern the way as sailors do by the stars. Thus Alexander’s army wandered and the leaders were unsure of the way. Ptolemy son of Lagus says that two snakes went in front of the army making a sound and Alexander ordered the leaders to follow them trusting in the divine sign. He claims that the snakes went before them on the road to the oracle and back again. But Aristobulus, the better source on this, holds that two ravens flying in front of the army were Alexander’s leaders.

4.3.4 Diodorus Siculus Library of History 17.50–51, excerpts (60–30 BCE; Greek)

Diodorus creates a detailed discussion between Alexander and the oracle.
50. The area around this shrine is surrounded by a waterless and sandy desert that lacks anything to support human life. But the place around the shrine, extending fifty stadia in length and breadth, is fed by many beautiful flowing springs and is full of trees of many kinds, particularly fruit-trees. It has a climate like springtime and, since it is surrounded by such extreme heat, it offers those who dwell there a contrasting mildness. They say that Danaus the Egyptian established the precinct. [14] Around the area sacred to the god live the Ethiopians to the south and west, the nomadic tribe of the Libyans to the north, and inland is the tribe called Nasamonians. [15]
The Ammonians live in villages and in the middle of these rises an acropolis fortified with triple walls. The innermost wall encircles the palace of the ancient rulers. The next contains the women’s courtyard and houses for their wives, children and relatives, as well as guard-houses for the lookouts plus the god’s shrine and sacred spring, the water of which confers holiness upon offerings to the god. The third wall surrounds the spearmen’s quarters and guard-houses for the king’s bodyguard. … The statue of the god is covered with emeralds and other costly stones and its oracular responses are peculiar to it. For it is carried around on a golden ship by eighty priests and they, carrying the god on their shoulders, go forward wherever the impetus of the god leads their path. A multitude of maidens and women follow them singing hymns along the whole path and praising the god with an ancestral ode.
51. When the priests led Alexander into the temple and he looked upon the god, an aged prophet approached him and said, “rejoice, child, and consider this address as from the god as well.” And Alexander received it, saying, “I accept, father, and from now on I will be called yours. But tell me if you grant to me the sovereignty over the whole earth.” The priest entered the inner sanctum and the men lifting the god were moved by certain prescribed vocalizations. The prophet proclaimed definitively that the god granted Alexander’s request. Alexander replied, “Finally, Divine One, reveal to me whether I have exacted revenge from all my father’s murderers, or have some eluded me?” The prophet proclaimed auspiciously that no one is strong enough to conspire against the one who begot Alexander, but that all those who murdered Philip have received retribution. The prophet added that the magnitude of Alexander’s success in his undertakings will be the proof of his divine parentage, for while he was formerly undefeated, from now on he will be invincible. Alexander, delighted with the prophecies, returned to Egypt after honoring the god with magnificent offerings.

4.4 Alexander’s Final Resting Place

Ptolemy I diverted Alexander’s body to Alexandria. The funeral procession was headed either to Macedon or to the shrine of Ammon at Siwah to bury Alexander, but Ptolemy I met the procession in Syria and brought Alexander to Egypt in order to claim Alexandria as Alexander’s final resting place, thus increasing Ptolemy’s own legitimacy as a successor to Alexander. [16]

4.4.1 Diodorus Siculus Library of History 18.28 (60–30 BCE; Greek)

Diodorus details Ptolemy’s strategy.
The covered carriage was outfitted in such a way and was so much more befitting a great man when seen than when described that it attracted many spectators by its widespread reputation. For in every city it went through, the whole population came to meet it and escorted it onwards and their pleasure in beholding it was limitless. In addition to begin magnificent, the carriage was escorted by a crowd of road workers and craftsmen, as well as by soldiers. After Arrhidaeus [17] had spent almost two years preparing the vehicle, he accompanied the king’s body from Babylon to Egypt. Ptolemy, honoring Alexander, went with his army as far as Syria and, after receiving the body, thought that it merited careful consideration. He decided for the time being not to escort it to Ammon, but to put it in the city Alexander himself had founded, which was essentially the most renowned city in the known world. He prepared a sacred precinct worthy in size and layout of Alexander’s reputation. He established Alexander in this precinct and honored him with the kind of sacrifices made to heroes and with games befitting a great man. In return, he received great recompense not only from men but also from the gods. Men, because of his beneficence and noble-mindedness, came from everywhere to Alexandria and eagerly offered themselves for military service, even though the royal army was about to attack Ptolemy and the dangers were clear and great. Nevertheless, they all willingly put his safety before their own. The gods, because of his courage and fairness toward all his friends, contrary to expectation, saved him from the greatest dangers.

4.5 The Ptolemies

After Alexander’s death, Perdiccas, serving as regent for Arrhidaeus, appointed Ptolemy as satrap of Egypt. After Ptolemy diverted Alexander’s body to Alexandria, however, Perdiccas, who had seized power in Macedon, invaded Egypt in 321 BCE. When the invasion faltered, Perdiccas was killed by some of his men who preferred to end the conflict with Ptolemy.
Ptolemy took the title Ptolemy I Soter (“The Savior”) and established the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt until 31 BCE, when Cleopatra VII, its last queen, died. [18] The Ptolemies presented themselves as pharaohs in Egypt and brought northern Africa, southern Syria, Cyprus, and some coastal parts of Asia Minor under their control. Greek became the official language of Egypt under the Ptolemies.

4.5.1 Diodorus Siculus Library of History 18.33–36, excerpts (60–30 BCE; Greek)

Ptolemy proves himself superior to Perdiccas as a leader. In Diodorus’ account, the Nile itself seems to favor Ptolemy, adding to the legitimacy of his claim to Egypt. [19]
33. … After learning of Eumenes’ victory, Perdiccas was greatly emboldened to embark on a campaign against Egypt. He approached the Nile and set up camp not far from the city of Pelusium. When he tried his hand at cleaning out an old canal, the river boisterously rushed forth and destroyed his work. Many of his friends left him and went over to Ptolemy. For Perdiccas was murderous and stripped the authority from other commanders, wishing in general to rule all by force. Ptolemy, o the other hand, was beneficent and fair and granted all his commanders freedom of speech. In addition, he had taken control of all the most strategic locations in Egypt with impressive garrisons and equipped them well with every type of weapon and all other supplies. Because of this, he had an advantage in the majority of his undertakings, since many people were positively inclined toward him and were ready to take risks on his behalf. Perdiccas, to compensate for his shortcomings, called together the commanders and offering some of them gifts, some of them promises, and all of them pleasant company urged them on toward the impending dangers. …
The troops of Ptolemy and Perdiccas engage in a battle and Perdiccas is unable to breech the walls of Ptolemy’s fort. Perdiccas gives up the siege and returns to his camp.
They moved out at night, making a secret march to the place opposite Memphis, where the Nile splits and there is an island able to safely accommodate the encampment of a sizable military force. To this island he transferred his army with difficulty because of the depth of the river. …
35. Perdiccas observed the unfavorable conditions in the river and placed his elephants on the left side of the river to absorb the force of the current and soften the flow. He stationed horsemen on the right side to catch those being carried away by the river and bring them safely to the other side. Something unique and contrary to expectation occurred during this crossing. While the first men crossed safely, those who crossed after them encountered great dangers. For the river without any apparent reason became much deeper, their whole bodies sank, and they were unable to save themselves. When they sought the reason for this increased depth, the truth did not emerge from reasoning. Some said that in some upstream location a previously closed canal was opened and mixed with the river, making the ford deeper. Others say that rain upstream increased the size of the Nile. It was neither of these; rather it happened that the first crossing of the ford was safer since the sand at the crossing point was untouched, but in the other crossings of those who went before—horses and elephants and even the infantry—the sand was stirred up by their feet, moved by the current, and carried downstream. Because of this, the place was hollowed out and the crossing became deeper in the middle of the river. …
36. More than 2,000 men perished, among whom were some outstanding commanders, the majority became opposed to Perdiccas. Ptolemy, however, burned the bodies of those who fell on his side of the river and, after conducting funeral rites, sent their bones to their family and friends. After these events, the Macedonians with Perdiccas became much more angry with him and turned their favor towards Ptolemy. When night fell, the encampment was full of weeping and grief, since so many men had perished senselessly without the blows of war. Of these, no fewer than 1,000 had become food for wild animals. Therefore, many of the leaders came together and spoke out against Perdiccas and the whole phalanx of infantry, estranged from him, made their sentiments clear with threatening shouts. Because of this, about one hundred of the leaders first revolted, of whom the best known was Pithon, who had subdued the Greeks when they revolted and who was the foremost of Alexander’s companions in excellence and fame. After this, some of the cavalry, being of one mind, went to the tent of Perdiccas and in a crowd fell upon and killed Perdiccas. The next day there was an assembly and Ptolemy came and greeted the Macedonians. He spoke on his own behalf and, since they were low on necessities, he brought plenty of grain for the soldiers and furnished the encampment with other supplies. Although he received great applause and was able to take on the role of king due to the goodwill of the majority, he did not seize the opportunity since he owed gratitude to Pithon and Arrhidaeus, he helped them establish authority over the whole empire. …

4.5.2 Athenaeus Sophists at Dinner 5.27–33, excerpts (early 3rd c. CE; Greek)

Athenaeus describes the Egyptian wealth that came under the control of the Ptolemies.
27. Since we have discussed the pavilion and what was in it, we will give a description of the procession. It was led through Alexandria’s stadium and began with the division of the Morning Star, for the procession began at the time when that star appears. [20] Next came the division named after the king and queen’s parents. [21] After these were the divisions of all the gods, carrying symbols relating to each god’s story. The division of the Evening Star marched last, since at that time of year the procession lasted from the appearance of the Morning Star until the appearance of the Evening Star. If someone wishes to know more about these things, let him look up the records of the quadrennial games. [22] In the Dionysiac procession, first came Sileni who held back the crowd; some of them wore purple cloaks and some wore red. Satyrs followed them—twenty at each end of the stadium—carrying torches crowned with golden ivy leaves. After them came Victories with gold wings. … Again came Satyrs wearing gold ivy wreaths and red clothing; some carried a gold pitcher, others a drinking cup. After them walked the poet Philiscus, the priest of Dionysus, and all the craftsmen of Dionysus. One after another, they carried Delphic tripods, prizes for the leaders of the athletes. [23]
28. After these came a four-wheeled cart, fourteen cubits long and eight cubits wide, pulled by 180 men. On it was a statue of Dionysus… After this were Macedonian Bacchantes called Mimallones, Bassarae, and Lydians, all with flowing hair and crowns, some of snakes and others of smilax, grape leaves, and ivy. In their hands, some held daggers and others snakes. [24] … Next was another four-wheeled cart twenty cubits long and sixteen cubits wide, pulled by thirty men. It was equipped with a wine vat twenty-four cubits long and fifteen cubits wide and full of grapes. Sixty Satyrs stomped the grapes as they sang the song of the wine press, accompanied by pipes. A Silenus was the overseer. Sweet new wine flowed through the whole street. …
31. Next came four-cubit-long tables, on which were carried many lavishly crafted representations worth seeing. Among these was Semele’s bedroom, in which some characters wore tunics woven with gold thread and decorated with gemstones. … On another four-wheeled cart, which held “The Return of Dionysus from India,” Dionysus, twelve cubits high, lay on an elephant and wore a purple garment and a ivy and grape leaf crown made of gold. He held in his hands a gold thyrsus-spear and wore sandals with gold straps. In front of him on the elephant’s neck sat a Satyr five cubits long, wearing a pine wreath made of gold. With his right hand, he gestured with a goat horn made of gold. The elephant was adorned with gold and around its neck was an ivy wreath made of gold. …
32. After these came twenty-four elephant-drawn chariots, sixty pairs of he-goats, twelve pairs of saiga antelopes, seven of gazelles, fifteen of buffalo, eight of ostriches, seven of antelopes, and four of wild donkeys. On all of these rode boys wearing charioteers’ tunics and hats. Girls walked beside them, carrying small shields and thyrsus-spears and wearing dresses adorned with gold coins. The boys driving the chariots wore pine wreaths and the girls wore ivy wreaths. Six teams of camels followed, three on each side. Four-wheeled wagons drawn by mules followed these. These held barbarian tents, under which sat Indian women and others dressed as captives. There were also camels which carried 300 pounds of frankincense, 300 of myrrh, and 200 of saffron, cassia, cinnamon, iris-root, and other spices. Next came Ethiopians bearing gifts. Some of them carried 600 tusks, others 2,000 ebony trunks, others sixty mixing bowls filled with gold and silver coins and gold dust. … Then came 150 men carrying trees, from which were suspended many types of animals and birds. Next, in cages were carried parrots, peacocks, guinea-fowl, birds from the Phasis, [25] and those from Ethiopia, all in great numbers. … There were 130 Ethiopian sheep, 300 Arabian, and twenty Euboean. There were twenty-six pure white Indian zebus, eight Ethiopian, one great white female bear, fourteen leopards, sixteen lynxes, four young panthers, one giraffe, and one Ethiopian rhinoceros. [26]
33. Next in a four-wheeled cart was Dionysus at the altar of Rhea, when he fled there pursued by Hera. He wore a gold wreath and Priapus stood beside him wearing an ivy wreath made of gold. Hera’s statue had a gold crown. There were statues of Alexander and Ptolemy crowned with ivy wreaths made of gold. A statue of Arete standing next to Ptolemy had an olive wreath made of gold. [27]


[ back ] 1. Today, the region is northern Sudan and southern Egypt. Greek and Roman authors refer to the Kushites as Ethiopians.
[ back ] 2. Russman 2001:116.
[ back ] 3. I.e. the people living near the oracle of Ammon at Siwah.
[ back ] 4. “Oasis” here refers to the oasis at Khargeh.
[ back ] 5. Asheri, Lloyd, and Corcella 2007 ad 3.27–29
[ back ] 6. Amyntas was a Macedonian who had fled to join the Persians, for whom he commanded Greek mercenaries. After the Persian defeat at Issus, Amyntas again fled, this time to Egypt, where he pretended to have been sent by Darius. He joined an Egyptian uprising against the Persians, but was killed (Heckel 2009:23–24).
[ back ] 7. One hundred feet.
[ back ] 8. Fage 1979:132.
[ back ] 9. Cawthorne 2004:45.
[ back ] 10. Lane Fox 1986:202.
[ back ] 11. Vasunia 2001:274.
[ back ] 12. The region Pausanias is discussing is Boeotia, in northern Greece. This is the region in which Thebes, Pindar’s home city, is located.
[ back ] 13. Callisthenes was a Greek historian who served as Alexander’s official historian and accompanied him on his campaigns. Callisthenes’ writings do not survive but ancient historians whose accounts are extant relied on Callisthenes as a source.
[ back ] 14. Danaus: son of a mythical king of Egypt; he fled Egypt and eventually became king of Argos in Greece.
[ back ] 15. The Nasamonians were a nomadic tribe from Libya.
[ back ] 16. Magill 1998(I):951.
[ back ] 17. Arrhidaeus was a son of Philip II of Macedon. As Alexander’s half-brother, he was next in line for the throne when Alexander died, although he was mentally disabled. Although he held the title of king, he was controlled by the regent Perdiccas.
[ back ] 18. On Cleopatra, see Jones 2006.
[ back ] 19. On rivers portrayed as helping or hindering human endeavors, see Jones 2005:27–30, 64–69.
[ back ] 20. I.e. named after Venus.
[ back ] 21. Ptolemy II married his sister Arsinoe. Their parents were Ptolemy I and Berenice.
[ back ] 22. The Ptolemaia was a festival held every four years and begun by Ptolemy II in 278 BCE.
[ back ] 23. A festival like the Ptolemaia was likely to include athletic competitions.
[ back ] 24. Macedonian worshippers of Dionysus accompanied by snakes may evoke the Macedonian origins of the Ptolemaic dynasty through reference to Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great. She is described as engaging in ecstatic worship of Dionysus and snake-handling (Plutarch Life of Alexander 2; Carney 2006:98).
[ back ] 25. Pheasants.
[ back ] 26. Ptolemy II was so interested in exotic animals, that he had a zoo (Diodorus Siculus Library of History 3.36.3).
[ back ] 27. Arete ‘excellence’.