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Publisher's Summary

Among all the periods in ancient Egyptian history, the Ptolemaic Kingdom and its most famous ruler, Cleopatra, may be the most well-known today. Although Alexander never lived to rule over Egypt, one of his generals, Ptolemy I, did, and it was he who established the last great pharaonic dynasty in Egypt, known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty. The Ptolemies gave ancient Egypt an injection of vitality that had not been seen in the Nile Valley for centuries, preserving many aspects of native Egyptian culture while adding their own layer of Hellenic culture.

The end of the Ptolemies also happened to coincide with the most famous period of Roman history. In the latter 1st century BCE, men like Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian participated in two civil wars that would spell the end of the Roman Republic and determine who would become the Roman emperor. In the middle of it all was history’s most famous woman, Cleopatra, who famously seduced both Caesar and Antony and thereby positioned herself as one of the most influential people in a world of powerful men. Over 2,000 years after her death, everything about Cleopatra continues to fascinate people around the world, from her lineage as a Ptolemaic pharaoh, her physical features, the manner in which she seduced Caesar, her departure during the Battle of Actium, and her famous suicide.

As for Roman Egypt, the period from 30 BC until the Roman Empire was split into two halves in the 4th century CE. It is scarcely mentioned, yet, it was a time when Egypt, if no longer a great power in its own right, was a pivotal province in the Roman Empire. It could also be argued it was a power without which the Roman Empire would not have survived. The institution of imperial, as opposed to senatorial, provinces proved crucial in the consolidation of imperial power. Moreover, how Egypt in this period was administered and exploited provides invaluable information as to how Rome manipulated and controlled large populations for its benefit in the rest of its empire. Tactics used again and again throughout the Roman world were honed in this, the most valuable of Rome’s provinces.

Egypt's key role in imperial politics was crucial, but so was its role in the rise of Christianity. For many years, the belief that Christianity had spread from Jerusalem to engulf the Roman Empire has been largely unchallenged, but more recent scholarship suggests the codification of Christian doctrine and success of missionaries from Alexandria and not Jerusalem, were instrumental in Christianity becoming the state religion of the empire. Given the importance of Christianity to both European and world history, this issue is of a real significance.

Roman Egypt: The History and Legacy of Ancient Egypt as a Province of Rome chronicles the tumultuous history of Egypt at the end of the 1st century BCE, and its role as a Roman province. You will learn about Roman Egypt like never before. 

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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