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Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt Author(s): Alan B. Lloyd Reviewed work(s): Source: Historia: Zeitschrift fr Alte Geschichte, Bd.

31, H. 1 (1st Qtr., 1982), pp. 33-55 Published by: Franz Steiner Verlag Stable URL: . Accessed: 18/03/2012 09:30
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NATIONALIST PROPAGANDA IN PTOLEMAIC EGYPTEgyptian reactions to the Macedonian conquest have been a subject of discussion for many years, and Egyptian nationalist propaganda has not failed to feature prominently in the debate. It might well be questioned, therefore, whether anything significantly new is likely to emerge from yet another treatment. The justification for the present study is quite simply the novelty of its approach which consists in extending the analysis of Egyptian nationalist propaganda beyond an Egyptian, Hellenistic or even a Graeco-Roman context to the point where it is assessed as an example of a specific socio-political phenomenon identifiable at some time in most societies and at most stages of human history, i. e. as an example of the phenomenon of propaganda itself. We intend to deal with the subject in two stages. First, an attempt will be made to define the nature of propaganda on the basis of modern studies and instances. We shall then examine four bodies of material which derive directly or indirectly from Egyptian sources of the Hellenistic Age in order to determine how well they fit the proposed model, and, if they do, to define the implications of that agreement. Propaganda may be defined as a conscious attempt by a social group to impose or encourage an attitude by exploiting communication media'. Ostensibly it may be directed at the propagandist's society, at some target outside it, or at both simultaneously. Paradoxically, however, the basic psychological motivation seems to be, in most, if not in all cases, the need to buttress the precarious sense of security of the propagandist group.
This paper began life as a lecture delivered at a University of Wales Classics Colloquium held at Gregynog, Powys, in May, 1979, and I benefited greatly from the discussion which it generated on that occasion. Later versions were read by my colleagues at the University College of Swansea, Professor J. Gwyn Griffiths (Department of Classics and Ancient History) and Dr. Richard Taylor (Department of Political Theory and Government) whose assistance and encouragement in a perilous enterprise are gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed, however, are my own. Abbreviations are based on L'Annee Philologique or The Annual Egyptological Bibliography. RARG = H. Bonnet, Reallexikon der agyptischen Religionsgeschichte, Berlin, 1952; Urkunden = K. Sethe, etalii, Urkunden desagyptischen Altertums, Leipzig and Berlin, 1903ff.; Wb. = A. Erman and H. Grapow, Worterbuch der agyptischen Sprache, 7 vols., Leipzig and Berlin, 1926-63. ' For useful modern discussions of the nature and techniques of propaganda and related phenomena see L. W. Doob, Propaganda: its Psychology and Technique, New York, 1935; E. Dichter, The Strategy of Desire, London and New York, 1960; T. H. Qualter, Propaganda and Psychological Warfare,New York, 1962; J. A. C. Brown, Techniques of Persuasion, Harmondsworth, 1963; J. Ellul, Propaganda. the Formation of Men's Attitudes, New York, 1973. I use the term 'communication media' in the widest sense to include any medium by which the propaganda message may be conveyed.




show The use of media and the formulationof vehicles of propaganda does not certainconstants.One importantprincipleis that the propagandist normally reveal himself as such. If he does, he runs the risk of activating resistance to his message in the audience. Therefore, familiar media and for featureis the predilection familiargenresare essential.Anotherrecurrent an authoritativeor at least prestigious source: an obvious contemporary in advertizing, exampleis the use of sporting,televisionor film personalities to which western society is most often exposed. A the form of propaganda apparatusis the techniqueof confident further item in the propagandist's assertion:he will not arguethe case but simply states that such and such a thing is the case. Another weapon is repetition. Where the audience is it ever moredeeply into the amenableto the messagethis techniquehammers consciousness,whereasin the caseof a hostile targetrepetitionservesto break down and penetrateresistance.A furtherimportantfeatureis thatthe vehicle That is not, of course, does not departtoo far or for too long from the truth2. tells the whole truth;for selectivityis the sameas sayingthat the propagandist whichis conducive the very essenceof his craft,and he uses only that material the required image.On the other hand,we must not assumethat to projecting propagandais, by its nature, untruthful, but, since serious distortion is commoner than not, there is an inevitabletendency to identify propaganda on which with downrightlies. Anothercommon device is name-substitution of Persuasion: Techniques we can do no betterthan quote J. A. C. Brown's The propagandistfrequently tries to influence his audience by substituting favourable or unfavourableterms, with an emotional connotation,for neutralones unsuitableto his purpose.Hence 'Red' insteadof 'Communist'or 'Russian','Union Bosses' for presidentsof the union, 'Huns' or 'Boches' for Germans,'Yids' for Jews. On the other hand, 'free enterprise'sounds better than 'capitalism'in these copy is often an adeptat substituting times, and the writerof advertising words to concealthe true identityof the long and impressive-sounding
relatively simple constituents of patent medicines or cosmetics.3

or a groupis set up or Closely relatedis the techniquewherebyan individual 'pinpointed'as 'the enemy' to serveas a focal point of communalhatred.The by Brownin his analysisof functionof this operationis againwell illustrated the classicmodernexample: ... the Nazi campaignsagainstthe Jews and the 'plutodemocracies' ... by careful selection of targets in line with the already-existing traditionsof the group, had the dual effects (a) of directingaggression

2 See Brown, op. cit., p. 94ff.; Ellul, op. cit., pp. 52ff., 84ff.

Brown, op. cit., p. 27.

Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt


away from the propagandist and his party, and (b) of strengthening ingroup feelings thus improving party morale.4 Finally, since the propagandist is in the business of psychological manipulation, he is usually adept at exploiting that most potent of psychological weapons, the symbol.5 Symbols are at once substitutes and summations. They may relate simply to a given socio-political context, but the most potent of them are nothing less than a means by which the basic patterns of human mental and emotional activity become tractable to conscious thought and expression. Their ability to evoke with economy so many points of reference, and their capacity to penetrate to the very roots of the human psyche make them ideal tools for psychological engineering. As for the relationship between the propagandist and his conscious target, such relations are usually straightforward. Whether the target is hostile or not, the intention will be to induce an attitude or pattern of behaviour to one's own advantage. The importance of the propagandist's sense of insecurity emerges in several ways. In the first place, it is evident that some propaganda serves mainly to confirm the sense of identity of the propagandist and the social group for which he works. This can be achieved by using the propaganda to reassert the axioms or postulates on which the social group is based, whether these axioms be political, social or religious. Another important element which can be related to the insecurity problem is the wish-fulfilment aspect which occurs in much propaganda.6 Here the propagandist provides his audience - and often himself - with an imaginary substitute for some desired entity which he is incapable of providing in reality. A further element related to the insecurity question is the attempt made by much political propaganda to strip the enemy of his capacity to inspire fear. This may be done in several ways: propagandists may insist on their opponent's weaknesses, real or imaginary; they may ridicule them or humiliate them or heap them with contempt; they may even attempt to unman them. Such tricks often have the effect of dehumanizing the enemy, but, whatever their precise character, they are always intended to reduce the enemy to psychologically tractable proportions7.
4 5

Op. cit., p. 28. Cf. in particular Ellul, op. cit., pp. 31, 111, 163, n. 3. On stereotypes see W. Lippmann,

Public Opinion, London, 1934, p. 79ff. 6 On this point Ellul is most perceptive: 'Propaganda dissolves contradictions and restores to man a unitary world in which the demands are in accord with the facts . . . One is always at the point of finishing the war - in Algeria or Vietnam or the Congo, of overtaking the United States, of repelling the Communist threat, of eliminating all frustrations' (op. cit., p. 159); 'Propaganda satisfies man's need for release and certainty, it eases his tensions and compensates for his frustrations, but with purely artificial means' (op. cit., p. 174). 7 Cf. Ellul, op. cit., p. 11ff.




Having defined the nature of propaganda we may now proceed to a discussion of Egyptian national propaganda of the Hellenistic Age. However, if we are to place this material in context we must first get a clear picture of the social and political system which gave rise to it8. There were two main social strata in Hellenistic Egypt, Greeks and Macedonians forming one, the native Egyptians the other. The former were the dominant group, and exercised a control over the administration and army which was, to all intents and purposes, total until the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator (211-205), and, despite some Egyptian inroads, they remained predominant until the end of the dynasty. For most of the Ptolemaic Period the Egyptian stratum was made up of several major groups: the priests, who formed the elite, the Machimoi, or warrior class, a lower middle class of entrepreneurs and scribes occupying the lower echelons of the civil service, and the peasantry; at the beginning of the period one can also detect the presence of a lay aristocracy and a class of senior civil servants, but these quickly disappear from the record. Relations between these two strata were, on the whole, strained, partly because of linguistic and cultural differences, which few showed any serious interest in resolving, but mainly because the Graeco-Macedonian attitude to the Egyptians was that the Egyptians were there to be exploited for the benefit of their foreign masters. This attitude did not fail to generate amongst the vast majority of the natives a mood of bitterness and desperation which found expression in the proliferation of asyla, a rash of strikes, mass flights into the deserts or marshes, and a long series of rebellions beginning at least as early as the reign of Ptolemy IV and continuing
8 On the history of relationsbetweenGraeco-Macedonians and Egyptianssee, int. al., H. I. et les indigenes Bell, 'HellenicCulturein Egypt',JEA 8 (1922),p. 139ff.;P. Jouguet,'LesLagides egyptiens',Revue Belge de Philologieet d'Histoire2 (1923),p. 419ff.; E. Bevan, TheHouse of Nationalism of 1927Ed.),p. 79ff.;J. G. Milne,'Egyptian Ptolemy,Chicago,1968(revisedreprint d'unehistoiredes 'Esquisse underGreekand RomanRule',JEA 14 (1928),p. 226ff.; C. Preaux, in revolutionsegyptiennessous les Lagides',Cdt 11 (1936),p. 522ff.; S. Davis, Race-Relations 3rd Ed., AncientEgypt,London, 1951;W. W. Tarnand G. T. Griffith,HellenisticCivilization, History of the Hellenistic London, 1952, p. 177ff.; M. Rostovtzeff, The Socialand Economic World, RevisedEd., Oxford, 1953,I, p. 316ff.;II, p. 705ff.;S. K. Eddy, TheKingis Dead.Studies in the Near Eastern Resistance to Hellenism334-31 B. C., Lincoln,Nebraska,1961,p. 257ff.;W. Peremans, '1gyptiens et etrangers dans l'gypte

Fondation Hardt 8 (1962),

Lecture),Oxford 1966;J. Bingen, and Greeks(Inaugural p. 121ff.; J. W. B. Barns,Egyptians de la Terre en in M. I. Finley (Ed.), Problemes 'Presencegrecqueet milieu ruralptolkmalque' Grece Ancienne,Paris, 1973, p. 215ff.; W. Huss, 'Eine Revolte der Agypter in der Zeit des 'Les Revolutionsegyptiennes 3. SyrischenKriegs',Aegyptus58 (1978), p. 151ff.; W. Peremans, Mainzam iAlypten, sous les Lagides'in H. Maehlerand V. M. Strocka(Eds.), Das ptolemaische Egypt,Warminster, in J. Ruffle(Ed.), Glimpses of Ancient Rhein,1978,p. 39ff.; J. Gwyn Griffiths among arediscussed by A. Diller, RaceMixture 1979,p. 174ff.Greekattitudesto racein general in the GreeksbeforeAlexander, Universityof Illinois,1937;H. C. Baldry,TheUnityof Mankind Greek Thought, Cambridge, 1965; F. M. Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity, Cambridge, 1970.p. 169ff. Massachusetts,

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until the Roman conquest. It is against this background of tension and hostility
that our nationalist propaganda needs to be considered. In our analysis we propose to discuss four bodies of material: the Sesostris Romance, the Demotic Chronicle, the Nectanebo episode in the Alexander Romance, and the Potter's Oracle. This material is far from homogeneous. The Demotic Chronicle is entirely Egyptian in language and content9. In the other three cases, although the matter which they all contain is Egyptian to some degree, it has been refracted through a Greek medium. The surviving texts of the Potter's Oracle are written in Greek, but are evidently based on a translation from an Egyptian original10; the other two sources are available only in Greek, but are not translations and may well have undergone severe cross-cultural distortion. Therefore, great circumspection is needed if the last two sources are to be used as evidence for Egyptian propaganda. The Sesostris Romance The Sesostris Romance does not survive in any Egyptian source. The earliest extant version appears in Herodotus (II, 102-110), but subsequently it figures prominently in Classical literature down to the end of Antiquity11. Under these circumstances a great deal of the Egyptian colouring has inevitably been eroded, but there is no difficulty in defining the essential character of the aims of the original. During its long career the Romance underwent considerable development in detail, but its basic structure remained absolutely consistent: Sesostris is presented as a king of Pharaonic Egypt who combines the qualities of the ideal administrator with those of a great conqueror who had succeeded in subduing substantial parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. The tradition of his conquests in the first two continents shows considerable development until in the Hellenistic versions they embrace the Erythrean Sea as far as India, the whole of Asia, and a large part of Eastern Europe12.

9 See below p. 41ff. 10 See below p. 50ff. " The bibliography on the Sesostris-legend is substantial. See in particular K. Sethe, 'Sesostris', Untersuchungen, II, 1, Leipzig, 1900; G. Maspero, 'La Geste de Sesostris', Journal des Savants, 1901, p. 593ff.; H. Kees, RE, IIA, 1861ff.; R. M. Rattenbury in J. U. Powell (Ed.), New Chapters in the History of Greek Literature, 3rd Ed., Oxford, 1933, p. 211ff.; M. Braun, History and Romance in Graeco-Oriental Literature, Oxford, 1938, p. 223ff.; K. Lange, Sesostnrs,Munich, 1954; G. Posener, Littdrature et Politique dans l'tgypte de la XII' Dynastie, Paris, 1956, p. 141ff.; G. Goossens, 'La Legende de Sesostris', La Nouvelle Clio 10-12 (1958-62), p. 293ff.; M. Malaise, 'Sesostris', pharaon de legende et d'histoire', Cdt 41 (1966), p. 244ff.; S. West, 'The Sesonchosis Romance' in B. Reardon (Ed.), Erotica Antiqua, Bangor, 1977, p. 47ff. 12 D. S., I, 53-5; Strabo, XV, 1, 6 (C687); XVI, 4, 4 (C769), 7 (C770). See, in general, Malaise,
op. cit., p. 252ff.




A careful analysis of the Romance reveals an extremely complex stratigraphy. The starting point is clearly historical reminiscence of the Pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty (2000-1780 B.C.), three of whom were called Senwosret/ Sesostris. The achievements of these rulers made a profound impression on the historical consciousness of the Egyptians, and the figure of Sesostris came to embody and subsume this historical experience in Egyptian tradition. This was then contaminated from various sources. In the first place, Sesostris attracted and assimilated reminiscences of the achievements of post-Twelfth Dynasty kings. Ramesses II probably suffered this fate"3.Shoshenk I of the Twentysecond Dynasty certainly did"4. This development was complicated by a further factor: the Egyptian ideal of kingship. To the Ancient Egyptians Pharaoh was the incarnation of the god Horus, and the champion of the cosmic order in all its aspects. In theory, and to some degree in practice, there was a definite programme or schema of action to which kings were expected to conform. The dominant figure of Sesostris was assimilated to this ideal and became, to a large extent, an embodiment of it. Specific historical references were then eroded, and he tended to become the archetype of Pharaoh. This complication was aggravated by the influence of folklore. Like all dominant figures of legend Sesostris attracted errant folk-motifs, e. g. the treacherous brother15and the culture-hero motifs'6. At this point in the legend's evolution we are confronted with a figure who is, to all intents and purposes, the ideal Pharaoh. What, however, is the reason for the progressive extention of his conquests? The key is provided by Herodotus at II, 110: This man (sc. Sesostris) was the only Egyptian monarch who ever ruled over Ethiopia. He left as memorials the stone statues which stand in front of the temple of Hephaestus, two of which, representing himself and his wife, are thirty cubits in height, while the remaining four, which represent his sons, are twenty cubits each. These are the statues, in front of which the priest of Hephaestus, very many years afterwards, would not allow Darius the Persian to place a statue of himself; 'because', he said, 'Darius had not equalled the achievements of Sesostris the
13 It is probable that the ovo aV6QL&VTEg of Herodotus, II, 110, are to be identified with two colossi of Ramesses II at Mit Rahineh, the site of the Memphite temple of Ptah-Hephaestus. (I shall discuss this point further in the forthcoming third volume of my introduction and commentary to Herodotus' second book.) 14 This is proved by the confusion in Classical texts between the name Sesostris(and variants) and Sesonchosis (and variants) (see Malaise, op. cit., p. 247). 15 Herodotus, II, 107. This world-wide motif is one of a large corpus built around good and bad relatives (S. Thompson, The Folktale, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1977, p. 113ff.; id., Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, IV, Copenhagen, 1957, K2210). 16 Herodotus, II, 108-9. On this motif see Thompson, The Folktale, p. 305ff.; id., MotifIndex, I, Copenhagen, 1955, A510ff.

Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt


Egyptian: for while Sesostris had subdued quite as many nations as Darius had done, he had likewise conquered the Scythians, whom Darius had failed to master. It was not just, therefore, that he should erect his statue in front of the dedications of a king whose deeds he had been unable to surpass'. Darius, they say, pardoned these words. The crucial point to grasp in relation to this passage is the fact that, despite the claims of Herodotus' priests, no Egyptian king had ever conquered Scythia. Why, then, did they say that Sesostris had? What has clearly happened is that the conquests of the ideal Egyptian king have been fictitiously extended to surpass those of Egypt's Persian conquerors. When we turn to the later versions of the SesostrisRomance and compare the conquests of the Hellenistic Sesostris with those of Herodotus' Sesostris we find that a spectacular increase has taken place. We should expect a correlation between the contemporary situation and the legend. If we compare the conquests of the Hellenistic Sesostris with those of Alexander the Great we find a most striking parallel: again the achievements of the Egyptian hero have been made to equal those of the most recent conqueror of Egypt!"7 How well does the Sesostris Romance fit our characterization of propaganda? In the first place, since it is being used to console the national pride of the Egyptians for the severe bruising which it had received from a series of foreign conquests, it is evidently intended to buttress their sagging national self-confidence and, ipso facto, their sense of national identity. This aim it attempts to achieve by restoring or reinforcing confidence in Egyptian cultural ideals, one of the most tenacious of which was the conviction of Egyptian cultural and military superiority18.In its emphasis on the ideal of kingship it also reaffirms one of the basic postulates of Pharaonic culture. The spectacle of
Comparable unhistorical extensions of Egyptian conquests with similar motives are identifiable in other texts: in the Demotic Petubastis Cycle Pedikhons, son of Inarus, fights Serpot, Queen of the Amazons, in Assyria, then becomes her ally and subsequently joins her in the conquest of India (A. Volten, Aypter undAmazonen, Vienna, 1962); in an unpublished Demotic story of the first-second century A. D. Imhotep and Zoser are described as capturing the Assyrian capital of Nineveh (J. W. B. Barns, 'Egypt and the Greek Romance', Akten des VIII. internationalen Kongressesfur Papyrologie. (Mitt. aus der Papyrussammlung der osterreichischen Nationalbibliothek V), Vienna, 1956, p. 33); a Rainer Demotic papyrus dating to the reign of Augustus implies that a campaign of reprisal against the Assyrians took the Egyptians as far as Nineveh and that here they recovered the shrines of Egyptian gods which had been removed during an Assyrian invasion of Egypt (J. Krall, 'Vom Konig Bokchoris. Nach einem demotischen Papyrus der Sammlung Erzherzog Rainer', Festgaben zu Ehren Max Budinger's, Innsbruck, 1898, p. 8). 18 This point is well discussed by W. Helck in his study 'Die Agypter und die Fremden', Saeculum 15 (1964), p. 103ff.: see also S. Sauneron, 'L'Avis des tgyptiens sur la cuisine Soudanaise, Kush 7 (1959), p. 63ff. On the concept of Pharaoh's world dominance see Alan B. Lloyd, Herodotus Book II. Introduction, Leiden, 1975, p. 96ff.; B. J. Kemp in P. D. A. Garnsey and C. R. Whittaker (Eds.), Imperalism in the Ancient World, Cambridge. 1978, p. 8ff.




the triumphsof Sesostrisalso provides,on the level of fantasy,a fulfilmentfor the political and military aspirationsof an Egyptian people so frequently whichboth religiousdogmaandmillennia deniedin latertimes those triumphs by placingthe Egyptian of history insistedought to be theirs.Furthermore, conqueroron a par with the foreign subjugatorsof Egypt the foreigner's capacity for inspiring fear has clearly been attenuated.The principle of the enemy also shows itselfin the Herodoteanaccountof the stern humiliating by the priestof Hephaestusto Darius.The mediumalso rebukeadministered in that it exemplifiesa familiarEgyptiangenre; satisfiesour characterization elaboratingon the deeds of kings occur in a largenumberof for narratives laudatoryinscriptions,hymnsand tales'9.The principleof confidentassertion is equallyin evidence,at least in the Herodoteanversion.It shouldfinallybe observed that the Romancealso operatesat a symbolic level in that, to the the very essenceof his civilization,and that Egyptian,Pharaohencapsulated ideal,functionsas a symbol of Sesostris,as the embodimentof the Pharaonic Egypt itself - and, what is more, of Egypt triumphant. We have, then, no difficulty in identifying many of the features of at the beginningof this paper,anddoubtlesswe could enumerated propaganda if we had an Egyptianversion, but we are still left with two isolate more to the problemswhich must be solvedif we areto assignthe label'propaganda' Romancewith completeconfidence:what group createdit, and who was the the first issue threepointsneedto be bornein mind. target?Whenconsidering First, the Romance shows a high degree of familiaritywith traditional Egyptianconcepts. Secondly in the Hellenistic Period Egypt'sculturalelite, the bastion of its civilization, was the priests. Thirdly, Herodotus II, 110 to purveya versionof the Romance. makesit clearthat priestswere prepared doubt that it was the prieststhemselves All this places it beyond reasonable for it. The target?On the face who were largely,if not completely,responsible the of it there is a temptationto explain legend as being designedfor foreign consumption,first the Persiansand subsequentlyGreeks and Macedonians, but the clearinsistenceon Egyptianvaluesleaveslittle room for doubt that at - probablymuchmore so - was the gnawinganxietyof the least as important priests to shore up native Egyptian culture, above all, confidence in that culture,in the face of pressurefrom that of alien conquerors.

'9 E. g. the Poetical Stele of Tuthmose III (Urkunden, IV, p. 61 Iff.; trans. J. B. Pritchard(Ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Princeton, 1955, p. 373ff.), the Twelfth Dynasty hymns in honour of Senwosret III (Sethe, Lesestucke, p. 65ff.; trans. W K. Simpson (Ed.), The Literature of Ancient Egypt, New Haven and London, 1973, p. 279ff.) and the Story of Sinuhe (A. M. Blackman, Middle-Egyptian Stories, Brussels, 1932, p. 18ff.; trans. Simpson (Ed.), op. cit., p. 61ff.).

in PtolemaicEgypt NationalistPropaganda


The Demotic Chronicle

The misleadingly named Demotic Chronicle is to be found on the recto of a papyrus in the Bibliotheque Nationale (BN E. G. 215)2. Provenance and paleography indicate that it was produced in Lower Egypt, and paleographical considerations commit us to a date in the first half of the Ptolemaic Period no later than the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes II (246-21)21. The text is not a chronicle at all but a collection of oracles accompanied by their interpretations. It is probable that the source of the oracles, and at least some of the interpretations, was the temple of the ram-headed god Harsaphes at Herakleopolis in Middle Egypt22. All the oracles refer to kings of Egypt ranging from Amyrtaeus (c. 404-398) to the last native Egyptian Pharaoh Nectanebo II (c. 358-41). Whether the oracles all belong to a series of prophecies of the Ptolemaic Period, as Spiegelberg thought, or derive from several different periods is uncertain23, but it is evident that they were recorded in their extant form because they were regarded as being directly relevant to a contemporary situation in the reign of Ptolemy III. What exactly that was is unclear, but a good guess would be that the oracle had some connection with the political pretensions of a local aristocratic family, quite possibly descendants of the Herakleopolitan dynasts who are known to have dominated the area during the Ethiopian and Saite Periods and certainly remained a power in the land as late as the early Ptolemaic Period24. Be that as it may, the fundamental theme of the text is that only those kings will endure who live in accordance with the will of the gods. One source of distress to those who do not which is mentioned several times is foreign invasion. The Persians get a bad press on two occasions (IV, 22-3; V, 15 ff.), and the same holds true of the Greeks:
20 Text, transcription and translation will be found in W. Spiegelberg, Die sogenannte demotische Chronik, Leipzig, 1914. For other translations see G. Roeder, Altagyptische Erzahlungen und Marchen, Jena, 1927, p. 238ff. and E. Bresciani and S. Donadoni, Letteratura e poesia dell' Antico Egitto, Turin, 1969, P. 551ff. For discussions of the document in whole or in part see M. Pieper, RE XVI, 2236ff.; P. Kaplony, 'Bemerkungen zum agyptischen Konigtum, vor allem in der Spatzeit', Cdt 46 (1971), p. 250ff.; J. H. Johnson, 'The Demotic Chronicle as an Historical Source', Enchoria 4 (1974), p. 1ff.; Kaplony, Lexikon der Agyptologie, 1, 1056ff., s. v. Demotische Chronik. 21 Spiegelberg, op. cit., p. 4: cf. Kaplony, LdA 1056. 22 The arcane nature of the material and the Herakleopolitan bias are sufficient to justify confidence on this point (cf. Spiegelberg, op. cit., p. 5; Kaplony, Cdt 46, p. 252ff.; Johnson, op. cit., p. 5). 23 Spiegelberg, op. cit., p. 6ff.; E. Meyer, 'Agyptische Dokumente aus der Perserzeit', SPAW 1915, p. 288ff. 24 Cf. Kaplony, Cdt 46, p. 258. On the history of this family, the 'Shipmasters' of Herakleopolis, see K. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, Warminster, 1973, pp. 234ff., 402ff.; P. Tresson, 'La stele de Naples', BIFAO 30 (1930), p. 369ff.



(Oracle) 'The young men who are on the roads, they stand upon the road with their chins in their hands'.25 (Interpretation) That means: it happens again at this very time that it is the Greeks26who come to Egypt and rule Egypt for a long time (VI, 19-20). (Oracle) 'The dogs live'. (Interpretation) That means: the great dog, he finds something to eat ...
(VI, 21).27

Deliverance, we are told, will come from a native Egyptian ruler: A man of Herakleopolis it is who will rule after the foreigners (sc. the Persians) and the Greeks (II, 25). (Oracle) 'Rejoice, then, prophet of Harsaphes !,28 (Interpretation) This means: the prophet of Harsaphes rejoices after the Greeks; (for) a ruler has arisen in Herakleopolis (III, 1). At III, 2 this ruler is associated with the opening of temples and with causing offerings to be brought. All these events will bring great blessings to Herakleopolis. There is possible reference to rebellion on his part and an unequivocal reference to his equipping himself for war. He enjoys the approval of Isis, and, above all, rules in accordance with the will of the gods. When we relate this material to our characterization of propaganda we find that it fits very closely indeed. The interest in buttressing the audience's sense of security is immediately evident in the determination to strengthen its awareness of cultural identity. This determination appears in several ways. In the first place, the text insists on 'pinpointing' foreign enemies and activating xenophobia29.This technique can be exemplified many times over in political propaganda for the simple reason that nothing is more effective than a common hatred in forming and consolidating in-group sentiments. Secondly, we find that cultural axioms are reinforced, pre-eminently by asserting the abiding validity of the Egyptian ideal of kingship. At first sight this formulation may seem surprising in the light of the comparisons frequently drawn with the concept of history exemplified in the Old Testament, particularly in the Books of Judges, Kings and Chronicles30. Certainly the language of the Demotic Chronicle is reminiscent of these Biblical texts: the

An Egyptian gesture of mourning (Spiegelberg, op. cit., p. 21, n. 8). W'inn lit. 'lonians', the standard Demotic term for Greeks (W. Erichsen, Demotisches Glossar, Copenhagen, 1954, p. 80). 27 For the significance of this sentence see n. 36. 28 Note that the term 'prophet' here is the traditional, though misleading, English rendering of the Egyptian hm-ntr, 'god's servant', and does not imply prophetic activity. 29 See above, p. 35. 3 E. g. Meyer, op. cit., p. 298ff.; Johnson, op. cit., p. 3.

Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt


divinewill is usuallydenotedby the term hp, 'law' (II, 16; III, 16; IV, 1, 6, 10, 12 etc.), and is describedon one occasionas the mj(.t)p3 ntr, 'the way of god' (IV, 7), which Spiegelbergaptly comparedto the Hebrew phrase derekh Ydhweh,'the way of Yahweh'31. will revealthat However, close consideration the conceptsand terminologyof the Chronicle can be firmly rooted in native Egyptiantradition:the Egyptiansspeakas early as the New Kingdomof the hpw nw mYt, 'the laws of ma'at, (sc. the cosmic order which Pharaohwas responsiblefor maintaining)'; Pharaohand the gods can receivesuch epithets as smn hpw, 'establisher of laws', and nb hpw, 'lord of laws'32; the Chronicle twice describesthe good king, i. e. the king who lives in accordance with the law, as mnh(V,22; VI, 3). Sincea mnh king is in earlier textsone who rulesin accordancewith ma'at33, we are justified in assuming that hp, 'law', is essentiallya late equivalentof m3't in this context.The Chronicle is certainly uniquein our documentation both in its panorama of royalcatastrophe andin its determinationto explain it as the consequenceof a series of failuresto recognize and integratewith the divine order. Where earlier texts almost invariablyassume that Pharaohwas ex officio in harmony with ma'at, the Chronicle concedesthat many are not. Wherethey assumedthat the idealwas automatically realizedby all tenantsof the office, the Chronicle recognizesthat maniyfell far short. This developmentis not, however, difficult to explain. From the end of the New Kingdomuntil the Macedonian conquestEgyptian history had been punctuatedby long periods of fragmentation of authority which could not but diminishthe auraof omnipotentand ineffablegodhead surroundingthe Pharaonicoffice. This in no way involvedthe denial of the king'sdivinity,but inevitablyinspireda greaterwillingnessto ascribeto him a more humansusceptibility to errorand retribution. This tendencycould only havebeenconfirmedby the almostunbrokensequenceof politicalandmilitary disasterswhich afflictedthe country after the Persianconquest (525 B.C.). These needed explaining, and, what is more, explaining in terms of the Egyptianworld-view.It was a basicprincipleof Egyptianmoralthinkingthat integrationwith the divine order meant success, in earthly and every other sense. Failure was, in itself, an indication that the divine order had been violated.The Chronicle's solution to the failuresof the lastthreecenturies was the frank and uncompromising acceptancethat this doctrine must apply to kings as well as to common mortals. The wisest policy to adopt, here as elsewhere, is to recognize that the Egyptianand Hebrew concept of man's

3' Op. cit., p. 18, n. 3. On the Chronicle's use of hp see C. F. Nims, 'The Term HP "Law, Right" in Demotic', JNES 7 (1948), p. 246. 32 Wb.,11, p. 488, 13, 19. 33 Lloyd, 'Once More Hammamat Inscription 191', JEA 61 (1975), p. 57, n. 18.




relationship to a divinely sanctioned and maintained cosmic order were always basically similar and that similar formulations would be a natural consequence34.

Another common ingredient of propaganda occurring in our text is the wishfulfilment element which figures clearly in the imaginary spectacle of the expulsion of foreigners and the resuscitation of an Egyptian national state based on ancient Pharaonic ideals. We also find that an attempt is made to strip the enemy of his capacity to inspire fear when the text exploits the device of name substitution: at V, 15 the enemy is described as 'Herds of Wild Game', and thereby assimilated to the forces of chaos; for wild game was traditionally associated in Ancient Egypt with Typhonic forces35; again, at VI, 21, foreigners, probably Greeks and Macedonians, are called 'hounds', and one of

14 In his acute analysis of Late Period biographies E. Otto comments, 'es gibt einige Stellen, die deutlich zeigen, dass gegenuber der Allmacht Gottes die Macht des Konigs als irdisch empfunden wird' (Die biographischen Inschriften der agyptischen Spatzeit, Leiden, 1954, p. 117). He summarizes the development of this idea in the Demotic Chronicle as follows: '... der GottKonig denselben absoluten ethischen Gesetzen unterworfen erscheint wie jeder Sterbliche, womit zwar die agyptische Ethik ihren hochsten Punkt erreichte und uber die Geschichte triumphieren konnte, wodurch aber zugleich jene Einheit fur immer zersprengt wurde, die allein Agypten zu dem gemacht hatte, was es durch zweieinhalb Jahrtausendegewesen war: Die Identitat von Ethik und Konigtum, der Glaube an die sichtbare Offenbarung des Willens Gottes in der Person des Konigs, die prastabilierte Harmonie zwischen Macht und Moral' (op. cit., p. 188). There is clear evidence of similar concepts in Ptolemaic temple-reliefs (E. Winter, Untersuchungen zu den agyptischen Tempelreliefsder griechisch-romischenZeit, Vienna, 1968, p. 100ff., a reference which I owe to Dr. Mark Smith). Parallels earlier than the Late Period are not plentiful, but two obvious examples spring to mind. In the Instructionfor Merikare (c. 2070 B. C.) the putative royal author clearly confesses his own error and the retribution which followed (69ff., 119ff., A. Volten, Zwei altagyptische politische Schriften (Analecta Aegyptiaca IV), Copenhagen, 1945, pp. 37, 65), and implies throughout the text that kings who fail to act in accordance with the moral order will be visited with disaster. In a document written after his death the heretic Pharaoh Akhnaten (c. 1372-54 B. C.) is described as p3 hrw n 3ht-'tn, 'the fallen one of Akhetaten' (A. H. Gardiner, 'The Inscription of Mes' in K. Sethe (Ed.), Untersuchungen, IV, Leipzig, 1905, p. 11). Since the term hrw is fequently used of foreign rulers at war with Egypt, and, therefore, in league with the forces of Chaos, its application to Akhnaten ranges him unequivocally with the latter. There can be little doubt that the disasters ascribed to the aftermath of Akhnaten's reign in Tut'ankham-un's restoration-stele were regarded as divine retribution for his iniquitous behaviour (text: Urkunden, IV, 2027, 11-14; trans. J. Bennett, 'The Restoration Inscription of Tut'ankhamun',JEA25 (1939),

p. 9).
3 This point emerges particularly clearly in the symbolism of sacrifice in Ancient Egypt: see H. Junker, 'Die Schlacht- und Brandopfer und ihre Symbolik im Tempelkult der Spatzeit', ZAS48 (1910-11), p. 69ff.; H. Kees, 'Bemerkungen zum Tieropfer der Agypter und seiner Symbolik', NAWG 1942, 2, p. 71ff.; P. Derchain, Le Sacrifice de l'Oryx. (Rites Egyptiens I), Brussels, 1962, p. 28ff.

in Ptolemaic NationalistPropaganda Egypt


them, probably Alexander the Great, is described as 'the Great Hound'36. Both medium and source follow the classic propagandist pattern. The medium was a familiar one to the Egyptian since it had close affinities with messianic and lamentation literature which, in some form or another, was of extreme antiquity3".There is reason to believe that the source of the prophecies is of unimpeachable authority; for it seems probable that, if we had the entire text before us, we should find that the prophecies were claimed to emanate ultimately from the god Harsaphes himself38.Furthermore, the message, as we should expect of propagandist material, is expressed in the form of confident assertion. We also seem to be confronted with the spectacle of a power group, the priests of Herakleopolis, producing material which may well have been designed to buttress the political aspirations of a local family of dynasts. Indeed the fact that Herakleopolitan dynasts actually functioned as High Priests of Harsaphes at an earlier period suggests that some of these priests may have had an immediate family interest in such activities. Whatever the probabilities on the political front, however, it is certain that the Demotic Chronicle would have had the effect of re-inforcing political, social and religious ideas which it was in the priests' interest to maintain.

36 The identifications, which are as old as Brugsch (Agyptologie, 2nd Ed., Leipzig, 1897, p. 489), have given rise to considerable debate. Spiegelberg was attracted, but cautious (op. cit., p. 22, n. 2). Meyer (op. cit., p. 302, n. 1; cf. Kaplony (Cdt 46, p. 259ff.) rejected Brugsch's suggestion. However, the positioning of the passage is a strong argument in its favour. The only serious objection is that, given the text's hostile attitude to foreigners, we should expect the symbolism to be pejorative whereas a dog metaphor or simile in Egyptian texts normally conveys either the notion of obedience or of speed (H. Grapow, Die bildlichen Ausdrucke des Agyptischen, Leipzig, 1924, p. 75ff.). We are rescued from this dilemma by 1.7 of the Stele of Regnal Year I of Amasis where the latter describes his foe Apries in the terms: '' tsm brh3t,'It was like a dog on a corpse that he acted' (G. Daressy, 'Stile de l'An III d'Amasis', Recueildes Travaux22 (1900), p. 3: I have confirmed in Cairo the reading of this much-damaged text at the relevant point). This fits our context perfectly. 37 Useful discussions are C. C. McCown, 'Hebrew and Egyptian Apocalyptic Literature', HThR 18 (1925), p. 357ff.; Posener, Litterature et Politique dans l'tgypte de la XI' Dynastie; G. Lanczkowski, Altagyptischer Prophetismus, Wiesbaden, 1960. 38 On Harsaphes in general see H. Bonnet, RARG p. 287ff., s. v. Herischef. Apart from the Demotic Chronicle there seems to be no other reference to his prophetic activities, but the Chronicle is in complete accord not only with other statements about prophecies emanating from ram-headed gods (on which see L. Kakosy, 'Prophecies of Ram Gods', Acta Orientalia 19 (1966), p. 341ff.), but also with the fact that Harsaphes was identified with Khnum of Elephantine who was certainly a god of prophecy in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, an attribute doubtless derived from his role as a creator-god (R. Reitzenstein, Poimandres, Leipzig, 1904, p. 125; Bonnet, op. cit., p. 139; Kikosy, op. cit.).




Nectaneboand the AlexanderRomance The Alexander Romance was composed c. 300 A.D. by an unknown It seems to draw on two main sources: a Hellenistic AlexandrianGreek39. and, careerwrittenwithin the traditionof Cleitarchus history of Alexander's featuresof Hellenistichistoriogratherefore,showing the more objectionable lettersincludinga letter-romance of pseudo-historical phy; a conglomeration was then seasonedby matterfrom othersource of c. 100 B.C. This amalgam The episode which concernsus, includinginventionsof the authorhimself40. the tale of Nectanebo,is just such an addition. The Nectanebo episode occupies the first fourteen chapters of the the last It may be summarized as follows: Nectanebo,historically Romance4'. nativeking of Egypt, was a mastermagicianwho, amongstother things,was able to destroythe foes of Egyptby sorcery.Throughhis magicartshe divined III (341)andfled the country. the impendingconquestof Egypt by Artaxerxes It was, however, prophesiedthat he would return in the following terms (Ch. 3): He who fled Egypt as a powerful,strongand agedking will returnto the plainof Egypt aftera while as a young man,havingset asidehis aged of our form and having travelledthe world, giving us the subjugation

capital, In his travels,Nectaneboeventuallyarrivedat Pella,the Macedonian and His as grew to astrologos. reputation and set himself up there a prophet such an extent that Olympias, the future motherof Alexander,sent for him of herand Nectanebobecameenamoured while Philipwas away on campaign.
3' The Greek text of several versions will be found in G. Kroll, Historia Alexandri Magni, Berlin, 1958 (1926); L. Bergson Der griechische Alexanderroman Rezension f, Uppsala, 1965; U. von Lauenstein, Der griechische Alexanderroman Rezension F, Bk. 1, Meisenheim am Glan, 1962; H. Engelmann, Rezension F, Bk. II, Meisenheim am Glan, 1963; F. Parthe, Rezension r, Book III, Meisenheim am Glan, 1969; J. Trumpf, Anonymi Byzantini Vita Alexandri Regis Macedonum, Stuttgart, 1974. Versions in Latin, Armenian, Syriac, Ethiopic, Hebrew, Arabic and Coptic (fragmentary) are also extant. For an English translation see E. H. Haight, The Life of Alexander of Macedon, New York, 1955. 40 See A. Ausfeld, Der griechische Alexanderroman, Leipzig, 1907; R. Merkelbach, 'Die Quellen des griechischen Alexanderromans', Zetemata 9 (1954); L. L. Gunderson, 'Early Elements in the Alexander Romance' in B. Laourdas and Ch. Makaronas, Ancient Macedonia, Thessaloniki, 1970, p. 353ff.; Fraser, op. cit., I, p. 675ff. 4' This section of the Romance is discussed in depth by E. A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1899 (repr. 1975), p. 91ff.; Pieper, op. cit., 2238ff.; 0. Weinreich, Der Trug des Nectanebos, Wandlungen eines Novellenstoffs, Leipzig and Berlin, 1911; Braun, op. cit., p. 21ff.; Merkelbach, Zetemata 9 (1954), p. 57ff.; Fraser, op. cit., I, p. 680ff.; Merkelbach, 'Mythische Episoden im Alexanderroman' in S. Sahin, E. Schwertheim and J. Wagner (Eds.), Studien zur Religion und Kultur Kleinasiens. Festschrift fuir Friedrich Karl Dorner (EPRO 66), II, Leiden, 1978, p. 606ff. See also A. Spalinger, 'The Reign of King Chabbash: an Interpretation', ZAS 105 (1978), p. 144ff.

Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt


resolvedto win her by exploitinghis reputationasa magician.He, therefore, prophesiedthat she would becomepregnantby the god Ammon of Libyaand promisedthat this god would come to her in a dream.After havinghad the dreamshe desiredto see the god by day andtalkto him. Nectanebothen asked for a room in the palacenext to hers.The god duly appeared, first as a snake, then as Ammon, then Herakles, then Dionysus, and finally as Nectanebo himself with whose assistance the prophesiedconceptiontook place.Alexander was eventuallyborn, and Nectanebobecamehis tutor.Then, in a curious episode, Alexanderkilled him, and Nectanebo was buriedwith much pomp and circumstance in the Macedonian capital. The stratification of the Nectaneboepisode is at least as complexas that of the SesostrisRomance. The influence of Hellenistic Greek and Roman civilizationis clear in such featuresas the emphasison astrology(Ch. 4, 12) and the interest in lecanomancy(Ch. 1, 3)42. Folk elements are equally in evidence, e. g. the return of the hero (Ch. 3)43, and the hero as a trickster (Ch. 6)44 and a shape-shifter (Ch. 6 and 10)45. Reflections of events in Macedonian and Egyptianhistoryareequallyclear46. However,the bedrockof
42 Astrologyonly becomesa significant featureof Egyptian culturefromthe beginning of the HellenisticPeriodunderNear Easterninfluence,but it subsequently careerin enjoyeda brilliant the country(F. Cumont, L'kgyptedesAstrologues, Brussels,1937,p. 155ff.; W. Kroll,'Aus der Geschichteder Astrologie',N. Jahrbb.7 (1901),p. 559ff.; Bonnet,op. cit., p. 750ff.).Thereis no satisfactory evidencefor lecanomancy in Pharaonic times but it appearsrelativelyoften in the Graeco-Roman andCoptic Periodswhen its Persian originsareclear.It wascertainly widespread in the lateRomanworld(J. Capart, 'Lesancienstgyptienspratiquaient-ils dejala 1ecanomancie?', CdF 19 (1944), p. 263; J. Vergote,Joseph en tgypte, Louvain, 1959, p. 172ff.). 43 A classicexampleis providedby the legendary promiseof the returnof King Arthur(cf. Thompson,Motif-Index, I, Copenhagen, 1955,A580; id., TheFolktale,p. 264). 4 On this widely currentfolk motif see Thompson,Motif-Index, IV, Copenhagen,1957, K passim; id., The Folktale, p. 319ff.; P. Radin, The Trickster. A Study in AmericanIndian New York, 1978;G. S. Kirk,Myth.Its Meaning Mythology, and Function in Ancientand Other Cultures, Berkeleyand Los Angeles,1971,Index,s. v. tricksters; id., TheNatureof GreekMyths, Harmondsworth, 1977,index,s. v. tricks,tricksters. The appearance of Nectaneboas a trickster is not without parallelin Egyptiantradition;for, as Pharaoh, he is the incarnation of Horus, and Horus appearsas a tricksterin the Myth of the Contendings of Horus and Seth (H. Goedicke, 'Seth as a Fool', JEA 47 (1961), p. 154; F. T. Miosi, 'Horus as a Trickster', SSEAJournal9 (2) (1979),p. 75ff.). 4 For this motif see Thompson, Motif-Index,II, Copenhagen,1956, DO-D699; id., The Folktale,index, p. 490, s. v. Transformation; Kirk, The Nature of Greek Myths, index, s. v. transformations. 46 The hostility betweenPhilipII and Olympias(Ch. 4, 10, 14) andAlexander's involvement with Zeus Ammon of Siwa (Ch. 4ff.) are amply documented(J. R. Hamilton, Alexanderthe Great,London,1973,pp. 31, 40ff., 75ff.).The flightof NectaneboII in the faceof foreigninvaders is also historical,though the true directionwas south (D. S., XVI, 51, 1; F. K. Kienitz, Die politischeGeschichte Agyptensvom 7. bis zum 4. Jahrhundert vor der Zeitwende,Berlin, 1953, p. 107; E. Drioton and J. Vandier,L'tgypte, 4th Ed., Paris,1962,p. 611ff .).




the episode looks very Egyptian indeed. Pharaohwas a masterof rituals; Even more obvious is the fact thatthe details Nectanebois a master-magician. conceptionclosely reflectthe Egyptianmyth of the theogamy. of Alexander's Accordingto this doctrinethe kingwas the physicalson of Amon-re'who was The most as her husbandthe Pharaoh47. claimedto visit the queen incarnated is that the startingpoint was a theogamy of this amalgam obvious explanation was the son of Nectaneboandthatthis theogamywas that Alexander asserting elaboratedby a series of accretions,probablyat varioustimes, beforebeing Whatwas the sourceof this pressedinto serviceby the authorof the Romance. theogamy?There can be little doubt that it was Egyptian.In the first place Nectanebohad alreadybecomea subjectfor Egyptianpopulartalesas earlyas where by the Dreamof Nectanebo the secondcenturyB.C., as is demonstrated only Egyptians Secondly, Pharaoh48. of the ideal an embodiment as he figures would be anxiousto convertAlexanderinto the son of the last nativeking of Egypt. Finally, the quantityand quality of the Egyptianmaterialwould be on any other hypothesis.Clearlywe aredealingwith an Egyptian inexplicable to the ancientdogmas was conceivedand born according claimthat Alexander of kingship.What stratumof Egyptiansociety producedit? The emphasison the doctrineof the theogamysufficesin itself to provethat it musthavebeen priestly. Indeed, the facts that Nectanebo'sfamily originatedin Sebennytus and that this family is known to have survivedinto the PtolemaicPeriodas a force to be reckonedwith raisethe distinctpossibilitythatpriestsof this city What of the date? It seems unlikely that the may have been involved49. sucha story would be so pressingan issueas to generate ancestryof Alexander long, if at all, after his death. The most obvious date would be immediately after the Macedonianconquest in 332, in any event not later than the early third centuryB.C. Two motives How well does the episodefit our conceptionof propaganda? seem to lie behind it. It is immediatelyevident that there was a desire to reconcile the presence of a foreigner on the throne with the traditional Egyptiantheory of kingship.However, the second aspecttakes us furtherin conquests. that it shows the Egyptiansexplicitlylaying claim to Alexander's
See J. Vandier, La Religion Lgyptienne, 2nd Ed., Paris, 1949, p. 140ff.; Bonnet, op. cit., p. 380ff., s. v. Konig; H. Brunner, Die Geburt des Gottkonigs, Wiesbaden, 1964. 48 The text is only extant in a Greek papyrus of the early second century B. C. (B. Lavagnini, Eroticorum Fragmenta Papyracea, Leipzig, 1922, p. 37ff.; trans. G. Maspero, Les Contes Populaires de l'tgypte Ancienne, Paris, N. D., p. 219ff.), but the thoroughly Egyptian characterof its subject-matter leaves no room for doubt that it derives from an Egyptian prototype (cf. Pieper, op. cit., 2237ff; Fraser, op. cit., I, p. 681ff.; Spalinger, op. cit., p. 145). The reason for the Greek translation was presumably to present to the Graeco-Macedonian rulers of the country the Egyptian view of what a king ought to be. 49 Kaplony, Cdt 46, p. 257ff.; cf. Spalinger, op. cit., p. 143.

Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt


The son of Nectanebo will come '... giving us the subjugation of our enemies'. We are, therefore, faced with the spectacle of the national pride of the Egyptians reconciling itself to the humiliation of foreign conquest by converting the world-conqueror into a reincarnation of the last Egyptian Pharaoh, i. e. they deny that a foreign conquest has taken place at all!50 In all this it will be obvious that the same propagandist aims and mechanisms are at play as were isolated in the SesostrisRomance. However, the Nectanebo legend has several further twists. Propaganda often attempts to strip the opposition of its capacity to inspire fear by presenting it in a humiliating, ludicrous or contemptuous fashion. This tendency clearly emerges in the account of Nectanebo's getting the better of the Macedonian by his magical prowess. The details of this episode, however, take us into deeper waters. It is surely highly significant that this triumph takes the form of the sexual submission of the Macedonian queen to the Egyptian Pharaoh. It might be countered that such an act is an essential part of the doctrine of theogamy, and that we need look no further for an explanation of its presence, but in this instance we are justified in searching for additional dimensions since an Egyptian original simply concerned with the theogamy as such would not have provided so circumstantial an account of Nectanebo's seduction of the queen (cf. Ch. 4 ff.) as seems to underlie the version in the Alexander Romance. If such details belong to that original, the latter was not simply an account of a theogamy, but also a wish-fulfilment projection which may have been intended to work on at least two levels. In the first place, it would satisfy, if only in imagination, the urge to circumvent the general prejudice which seems to have existed in the upper reaches of Graeco-Macedonian society towards intermarriage with the native population51, and thereby attenuate the socially and sexually humiliating implications of that attitude.52 In the second place, since, from a psychological point of view, sexual domination is often

50 This fiction is paralleled elsewhere in ancient literature. Merkelbach (op. cit., p. 57) notes several parallels: Herodotus, I, 107ff., and III, 2, 1; the Persian tradition that Alexander the Great was the son of a Persian princess and, therefore, the grandson of Darius; the Greek claim that the Greek empress who was married to the Turkish conqueror of Constantinople was already pregnant by the emperor himself, i. e. the second sultan was really a Greek! 51 During the second and first centuries B. C. there is good evidence of increasing intermarriage in the middle and lower strata of Egyptian society, but there is no indication that this phenomenon extended to the Greek upper classes (Peremans, 'Les Revolutions', p. 45ff.). In fact it is clear that there was a distinct prejudice against such unions amongst Greeks of high rank, both within Egypt (Fraser, op. cit., I, p. 71ff.) and without (Rostovtzeff, op. cit., II, p. 1071ff.). 52 'For the majority of the human race, self-esteem is chiefly rooted in sexuality' (A. Storr, Human Aggression, Harmondsworth, 1972, p. 97). The implications of this point when related to taboos on intermarriage need no elaboration. For an intriguing analysis of its ramifications in Black-White relations see C. C. Hernton, Sex and RaisSm, London, 1969.



tantamount to totaldomination, the episode would also have served to nurture fantasies of total triumph over the foreign invader53. The final point which we need to establish is the target. Possibly the original was intended in part for Greek and Macedonian consumption, but the foregoing analysis leaves little room for doubt that the priestly authors were pre-eminently concerned with the native population. The Potter's Oracle The Potter's Oracle is preserved complete in no surviving text. We have three fragmentary versions: P. Graf (G. 29787) of the second century A. D., P. Rainer (G. 19 813) of the third century A.D., and P. Oxy. 2332 of the late third century A. D. P. Graf contains only a fragmentary version of the introductory narrative. P. Rainer and P. Oxy. preserve portions of the oracle proper54.All are written in Greek, of a sort, but we are informed in the colophon of P. Rainer that the text had been 'translated as far as possible'. Although such claims are a topos of Greek literature emanating from Egypt, there is no doubt that the original was indeed composed in some form of Egyptian, almost certainly Demotic55. The date of the composition of the original has been the
having sexual relations ... is one way of 5 Cf. Hernton who comments (op. cit., p. 72)'... destroying or mutilating the enemy'. " The best text is that of L. Koenen ('Die Prophezeiungen des "Topfers" ', ZPE 2 (1968), p. 178ff., supplemented by his 'Bemerkungen zum Text des Topferorakels und zu dem Akaziensymbol', op cit., 13 (1974), p. 313ff.). For discussions see U. Wilcken, 'Zur aegyptischen Prophetie', Herrnes 40 (1905), p. 544ff.; C. H. Roberts in E. Lobel and C. H. Roberts, Oxyrhynchus Papyri, XXII, London, 1954, 2332; Koenen, op. cit.; id., 'The Prophecies of a Potter: a Prophecy of World Renewal becomes an Apocalypse', Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of Papyrology (American Studies in Papyrology 7), Toronto, 1970, p. 249ff.; Fraser, op. cit., I, pp. 71, 210ff; 509, 681ff., 716; Peremans, op. cit., p. 40. 55 Manetho made this claim (FGrH609, F. 10), and was clearly, in broad terms, justified. In the present instance the statement is confirmed by the closeness of the Oracle's affinities to extant Egyptian material (Roberts, op. cit., p. 90) and the whiff of 'translationese' which pervades it, e. g.: attributing the oracle to a potter has no point in Greek but, if we assume that it renders the Egyptian kd, 'fashioner' (Wb., V, p. 73, 15), or'nb nhp, 'Lord of the Potter's Wheel' (op. cit., II, p. 294, 12), the potter becomes none other than the creator-god Khnum who is known to have been associated with prophecy (see above, n. 38); the term fEOIEoxo; used to describe Memphis is unique in pre-Christian literature and is best explained as a translation of the Egypt mshnt, 'birthplace', which expresses the doctrine that cities could be the birthplaces of gods (Koenen, ZFP 2, p. 178, n. 1). The fact that such an anti-Greek text should appear in the Greek language may seem surprising, but it should be remembered that the extant versions all date to the Roman Period. The probable evolution of the Oracle is that it was composed in Egyptian in the second century B. C. as an expression of Egyptian hostility to the Graeco-Macedonian administration, but, with the development of a lower class of immigrant origin, a Greek-speaking class evolved whose socio-economic interests and problems were closely similar, if not identical, to those of the Egyptians. Nothing would be more natural than that the protest-literature of the latter should be taken over by Greek-speakers and developed to serve their needs (cf. Roberts, op. cit., p. 94; on Graeco-Egyptian literature in general see Fraser, op. cit., I, p. 674ff.).

Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt


subject of some debate. A recent careful analysis of the contents led Koenen to place it c. 130 B. C., and, whilst all his arguments are not equally forceful, there are no grounds for doubting the general validity of his thesis56. The text has two basic elements: a framework, or roman-cadre, which furnishes the context giving rise to the prophecy, and the prophecy itself. In the roman-cadre we are informed that the potter went to the Island of Helios and began to make pots in his kiln. For some reason this was considered sacrilegious, and the pots were pulled out. The potter then fell into a mantic trance through the agency of Hermes and prophesied the woeful destiny of Egypt. He was then brought before the king Amenophis to defend himself, and the prophecy was repeated. At this the king was greatly troubled and commanded that the prophecy should be recorded in a sacred book. The potter then died and was buried in Heliopolis whilst the book was deposited in a sacred treasury where it was made freely accessible to all. The second and more important element of the Potter's Oracle consists of the prophecy itself in which we are given a recital of the troubles which are destined to befall Egypt. A bad king is destined to come to the country and rule in a newly founded city. The king must be Alexander and the city Alexandria. A new god will be introduced, clearly Sarapis. The inhabitants of the city are sometimes called Typhonioi sometimes the Z6nophoroi, or 'Wearers of the Belt'. At one point this foreign enemy is specifically stated to be Greek (P. Oxy. (=Koenen's P3), 33). This disaster will bring a host of misfortunes, natural and man-made: famine, murder, the collapse of the moral order, and oppression will be rife. Invasion from Syria and Ethiopia will take place. Then civil war will arise amongst the Greeks, and the destruction of their power is prophesied in the most vivid terms (P. Oxy., 50-62): And then the Agathos Daimon shall aban don the city which is being founded, and shall depart to god-bearing Memphis, and it shall be deserted, the city of foreigners which shall be founded among us. These things shall be at the consummation of evils when foreigners shall fall like the leaves of the trees in Egypt. And the city of the Wearers of the Belt shall be deserted like my oven through the iniquities which they have done against Egypt, and the divine statues of Egypt which were transferred there shall return to Egypt, and the city on the coast shall be a drying-place for fishermen through the departure of the Agathos Daimon and Mephis to Memphis so that men walking through it can say, 'This was the nourisher of all in which every race of men dwelt'. When this had been fulfilled, a king who would reign for fifty-five years would come to Egypt from Helios with the assistance of Isis. He would inaugurate a
5 Koenen, ZPE 2, p. 186ff. This does not exclude the possibility that some of its ingredients are older (cf. Fraser, op. cit., I, p. 683ff.). A brief, if unnecessarily sceptical, discussion of the dating problem is given by Peremans, op. cit., p. 40.




golden age of justice,harmonyandblissafterthe iniquitousandgodlessruleof the Greeks. When we come to consider this text in the light of our earlieranalysisof we find that it fits in the most detailedway. Its role as a buttress propaganda, for the Egyptians'sense of security emergesin severalrespects.In the first place, the oracle expressesa profound hatredand contemptfor the Graecorulersof the countrywho areprojectedas violatorsof traditional Macedonian values and behaviourand as flying full in the face of the divinelysanctioned moralorder.Here the Egyptians'sense of nationalidentityis beingconfirmed by the simple device of pinpointingan enemy and subjectinghim to lengthy so that a common focus of hatredis created.In addition and bitter abuse57 Once more we major postulates of Egyptianculture receive reinforcement. of find the Egyptianking beingprojectedas the championand sole guarantor an ordered universe. At the same time the traditional corollary is also emphaticallystated, i. e. that foreignersare the agentsof chaos. Insistingon will these two principlesthe Oracleclearlyconveys the messagethat salvation be found in adherenceto traditionalPharaonicvalues. In our discussion wish-fulfilment. of imaginative we emphasizedthe importance of propaganda This also figures in the Oracle;for the hatredof the foreigneras well as the at the level of Egyptians'self-contemptis intended to receive assuagement portrayeddestructionof fantasy in the contemplationof the imaginatively power. The spectaclepresentedis an apocalypticvision of bliss Macedonian after dissolution and chaos directly comparableto Jewish and Christian since societiesunderoppressive - a fact not particularly surprising apocalyptic recourseto apocalypticfanhave regimes and similar pressuresfrequently Here the vision is reinforcedby the use of symbol; for the desolation tasies58. of Alexandriasymbolizes the destructionof Macedonianpower just as the restoration of the Egyptian gods to Memphis symbolizes the triumphant effort is a determined As often in propaganda resurgenceof the old Egypt59.
See above p. 42. The term 'apocalyptic' is easily abused. It is best defined as a prophecy of cosmic dissolution and reintegration in a new age of unalloyed righteousness and harmony. The Oracle's apocalyptic dimensions have been well discussed by Koenen (opera cit.). The relationship of such material to social and political oppression and distress is copiously illustrated in N. Cohn, The Pursuit of the

Millennium, London, 1970. 59 The Oracle is not the only papyrus document to prophesy the destruction of a city. In PSI 982 (third century A. D.) a clear parallel occurs, though the fragmentary nature of the text makes it impossible to establish details. The surviving lines suggest that it may refer to the destruction of Alexandria and the expulsion of its hated Jewish element. A Demotic text of the Roman Period, probably a prophecy, speaks of the destruction of Memphis in a context which involves Greeks in some capacity, but the mutilated condition of the papyrus does not permit a closer identification of the subject-matter (see W. J. Tait, Papyri/from Tebtunis in Egyptian and in Greek, London, 1977, p. 45ff.).

Nationalist Propaganda in Prolemaic Egypt


made to neutralizefear of the enemy. Here this is done pre-eminentlyby emphasizingthe internalinstabilityof the Ptolemaicroyal house60.Namesubstitutionis also exploited;for the text does not usuallyreferto the Greeks as Hellenesbut by the words Typhonioi or Zonophoroi, the first certainly,the second probably, highly charged with traditionally sanctioned pejorative overtones:the first assimilates the Greeksto, and stereotypesthem as, foes of the cosmic order who, accordingto time-honouredreligious concepts, are eventuallyand inevitablyovercomeby Pharaoh,the championof order61. The second probably brandsthem as uncouth and militaristicbarbarians62. The principlethat the mediumshould be familiaris also observed;for the Oracle fits perfectly into the traditional genres of prophetic and lamentation both in structure literature63, (roman-cadre)64, andmotifs65. The necessityof an
60 61

Koenen, P2 28

P3 49-50.

See above, p. 36. The association of foreign invaders with Seth/Typhon and wickedness emerges particularly clearly in P. Louvre 3129 = P. BM 10252 (Urkunden, VI, 17ff.) and also in Manetho, FgrH 609, F. 10 (237), where the adjective Typh6niosis used of Avaris, the capital of the detested Hyksos invaders of Egypt. 62 In our text, where the pejorative overtones are so strong, a Greek reader would certainly have associated the Z6nophoroi with militarism since the word ,wbvq can be associated even in purely Greek contexts with soldiers as well as barbarians (LSJp. 759 (b), s. v. ,d)vq). Indeed the late phrase ol V'It6 1 vflv, 'soldiers', is highly reminiscent of it. A more difficult question is whether it reflects an Egyptian prototype. There are good reasons for believing that it does. First of all, in the Egyptian Instruction of Merikare (11.106-7), in a context describing preparations for war, we read pd(w)t pw ispt 'gsw, 'It is the barbarianswho have put on their 'gsw'. Although the precise meaning of 'gsw is uncertain, this and other passages indicate that it is a leather girdle of some kind particularly associated with soldiers and labourers (H. Brunner, Die Lehre des Cheti. (Ag. Forschungen 13), Gliickstadt and Hamburg, 1944, p. 31, 5, 8). If so, Z6nophoroimight well reflect some such Egyptian phrase as hryw 'gsw, 'Bearers of the 'gsw', referring either to soldiers in general or foreigner in particular. Since it is certain that the Greek text of the Oracle is based on an Egyptian prototype, it is reasonable to assume that key words or phrases have Egyptian counterparts, i. e. Z6nophoroi ought to translate or paraphrase an Egyptian word or phrase. The similarity to the suspected meaning of our Merikaregpassage is so close that the hypothetical hryw gsw, or a conceptually similar expression, must become a very strong candidate indeed. 63 On these genres see the references in n. 37. 64 I. e. the writer places his material within the framework of a tale after the fashion of Chinese boxes. The most famous example is the Arabic Thousand and One Nights where the tales are told within the tale of the relations between Sheherazade and HiruTnal-Rashid. Ancient Egyptian literature abounds in examples. In some cases it is stories which are placed within framework, as in the Westcar Papyrus and the Shipwrecked Sailor. In other cases the insert consists of a wisdom text (e. g. the Wisdom of Ptahhotpe). In yet other cases it is a prophecy comparable to the Potter's Oracle, e. g. the Prophecy of Neferty. The composer of the Oracle could have chosen no more familiar constructional principle (cf. Koenen, ZPE 2, p. 182ff. and in general G. Posener in J. R. Harris (Ed.), The Legacy of Egypt, Oxford, 1971, p. 236ff.). 65 E. g. the concomitants of disaster described in the Oracle are traditional: improper burial, Oracle, P3, 6-Neferty, 41ff.; Admonitions, 2, 6-7; impairment of the processes of birth, Oracle, P2, 26-7-Admonitions, 2, 4; disruption of the natural world, Oracle, P2, 6-8 etc.-Neferty, 24ff.;




by a potterwho authoritative sourceis also recognized;the Oracleis delivered has long been recognized as an incarnationof the prophetic creator-god Khnum66; he was inspiredby Hermes, i. e. Thoth, the god associatedwith arcaneknowledgeand presciencein such collectionsas those of Petosirisand the Nechepso and the Hermetic Books as well as in older literature67; to have prophecy is acceptedand recordedby king Amenophiswho appears We also find the been an importantfigure in Egyptianhistoricaltradition68. principlesof confidentassertion,repetitionand selectivityequallyin evidence. Since the Oracle What of the source of all this? Who was the propagandist? shows a profoundknowledgeof traditional Egyptianliteraryformsas well as our answeron this scoremust be the of propheticliterature, all the apparatus same as with the three bodies of material alreadydiscussed.It was a priestly This is not, of course,to deny that it was subsequently group of some kind69. tinkered with by less expert hands. As for the target,it will be self-evident to providea from everythingsaid up to this point thatthe Oracleis attempting justificationfor continued confidence in the principleson which Egyptian civilization was based. That can only mean that it is the native Egyptianat whom the original text was aimed, whatever uses were found for it in subsequentcenturies.
oppressive taxation, Oracle, P2, 8-9-Neferty, 50ff.; fratricide and the murder of wives, Oracle, P2, 10-12-Neferty, 44ff.; overthrow of the social order, Oracle, P3, 4-9-P. BM 5645, r. 11-12; Neferty, 54ff.; Admonitions, 2, 7ff., 14; 4, 1; 9, 3ff.; transference of gods from Egypt by her conquerors, Oracle, P2, 34-5- the P. Dem. Rainer, published by Krall, op. cit., p. 8; W. Spiegelberg, Demotische Inschriften (CCG), p. 17; the Satrap Stele (Urk., II, 14) and Pithom Stele (Urk., II, 91ff.), both translated in E. Bevan, op. cit., pp. 28ff. and 388ff. respectively; the failure of the Nile, Oracle, P2, 1-2-Neferty, 26ff. The death of the prophet after delivering his message (Oracle,P2, 51-2) is also paralleled (Manetho, FgrH 609, F. 10 (236); P. Dem. Rainer, I.c.). 66 See above n. 36 and Koenen, ZPE 2, p. 183ff. 67 On Hermes/Thoth in general see P. Boylan, Thoth, the Hermes ofEgypt, Oxford, 1922; A. Lexikon der Rusch, RE VI (A), 351ff.; R. Pietschmann and G. Roeder in G. Roscher, Auifuhrliches gr. und rom. Mythologie, V, 825ff.; Bonnet, op. cit., p. 805ff.; C. J. Bleeker, Hathor and Thoth, Leiden, 1973, p. 106ff. For Thoth as the source of the prophecies of Petosiris and Nechepso see W. Kroll, op. cit., p. 569ff. For convenient summaries of his role in Hermetic literature consult T. Hopfner in Bonnet, op. cit., pp. 289ff., s. v. Hermes Trismegistos; 290ff., s. v. Hermetische Schriften. 68 Cf. Manetho, FGrH609, F. 10 (discussed by Fraser, op. cit., I, p. 508ff.; see also p. 684ff.). The name is based on the royal name Amenhotep borne by four rulers of the XVIIIth Dynasty. The achievements of the first three evidently generated a composite legendary figure comparable to Sesostris and Rhampsinitus. 69 Establishing the cult-centre is no easy matter. The pre-eminence of Khnum in the Oracle raises the obvious possibility that it was Elephantine, and the highly nationalistic attitude typical of Upper Egypt would go some way towards corroborating this suspicion. On the other hand, the claims of Herakleopolis are not to be ignored: in the first place, Khnum could be identified with Harsaphes, the chief god of Herakleopolis (see above n. 38); secondly, we have good evidence of the nationalistic pretensions of this city (see above p. 45; thirdly, its priests are known to have had a taste for propagandist literature (see above p. 41ff.).

Nationalist Propaganda in Ptolemaic Egypt


In this paper I have been concerned to achieve two main aims: to define the distinctive features of propaganda and to establish the extent to which we are justified in applying that description to four bodies of Egyptian material of the Hellenistic Period usually regarded as propagandist. This procedure has led us to a clearer picture of the precise nature of that material and has, above all, enabled us to penetrate to its psychological basis. The study of the ancient examples in the light of modern cases has amply demonstrated that they both have similar aims, conscious or unconscious, and that identical techniques of communication are frequently exploited. This is not, of course, to suggest that the ancient texts were produced by a carefully directed and elaborately organized propaganda-machine comparable to those with which we are familiar, or that their authors aimed at such a wide audience, or that they were concerned with such sophisticated devices as the saturation principle of 'total propaganda', all of which are dependent on mass education, mass media, and a degree of centralized control impossible in the conditions of Antiquity. What we are evidently confronted with is the handiwork of groups within the priesthood who were nationalistically orientated, in some cases with a distinct local bias, and concerned with controlling the attitudes of a native Egyptian audience. In the nature of things, this audience could not have been seen as the Egyptians at large, but rather as the small educated elite of the population, preeminently the priesthood and the survivors of the Pharaonic aristocracy and official class who would alone have been accessible to propaganda delivered in a literary medium and who were, in any case, the decisive factor on which the survival of Pharaonic Egypt depended. Our analysis has further suggested that we are not confronted primarily with political propaganda, at least in the naive sense in which the phrase is often used, but with symptoms of a profound cultural unease. All four examples are best regarded as cultural propaganda motivated by a keen awareness of the mortal danger to which Egyptian culture was exposed. To the modern student, however, they have a further dimension in the deep sense of poignancy which they convey; for, unlike the Egyptian composers of the Sesostris Romance, the Demotic Chronicle, the Nectanebo logos, and the Potter's Oracle, the modern scholar knows that, at the last, there was to be no saviour, no king from the Sun to bring a Golden Age, that it was not the words of the Egyptian seers which were destined to be fulfilled, but rather the utterances of the Hebrew prophet delivered centuries before: And the sword shall come upon Egypt . . ., and her foundations shall be broken down ... and I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers . . . I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt (Ezekiel, 30:4, 12, 13). University College of Swansea Alan B. Lloyd