Rev.: Alan B. Lloyd, Ancient Egypt. State and Society. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014
A review of a recent book by the Englishe Egyptologist Alan B. Lloyd
The book presents a collection of papers devoted to the research of the Alexander Romance, the late Classical text describing in a fantastic manner life and exploits of Alexander the Great.
The paper considers Egyptian and Classical connotations for the epithet of Alexander the Great "the new Sesonchosis" in a passage of the Alexander Romance describing his advent to Egypt
The article deals with a plot in Plutarch’s Septem Sapientium Convivium: the sage Bias answers to the Egyptian king Amasis, to whom an Ethiopian king sent “an extraordinary and awful demand… to drink up the ocean”, that he had to “tell the Ethiopian to stop the rivers which are now emptying into the ocean depths, while he himself is engaged in drinking up the ocean that now is; for this is the ocean with which the demand is concerned, and not the one which is to be”. An interpretation of the plot is founded on the seeming parallel in the Ancient Egyptian Book of Repulsing the Evil: its passage (Urk. VI. 125.21—127.2) means to contradict to Seth’s intention to make the sea water sweet (probably, with the flow of rivers) in order to drink them eventually. It seems that the Ethiopian king not only set an unfeasible task to Amasis but also actually forces on him this deed of Seth; contrary to that, Bias helps to supply this task with a reservation, at which Seth’s aim to achieve disappearing both the sea and the sweet water will not be accomplished.
The article considers the evidence on Cleomenes of Naucratis – chief financial administrator and actual governor of Egypt under Alexander the Great (332-323 B.C.). Special attention is given to the evidence of Pseudo-Aristoteles’ Oeconomica about Cleomenes’ getting bribes from Egyptians for his decisions not to hunt the sacred crocodiles (([Arist.] Oec. II. 33b), not to resettle to Alexandria the residents of the region of the Canopic mouth of the Nile (id. 33c), and not to close a greater part of Egyptian temples (id. 33f). This evidence seems to be inspired by the standard topoi of the Egyptian propaganda in the 4th century B.C., which would normally be directed against the foreign or impious rulers of the country of the highest, royal, status (ascribing to Cleomenes sacrilege against the sacred animals, in a plausible parallel to the Classical tradition on the invasion of Artaxerxes III in Egypt and to the plot of “Seth’s return to Egypt” in the mythological Book of Victory over Seth; ascribing to him the intention to menace to stop the temple ritual, as it has been also said about Pharaoh Tachos, considered as an impious ruler in Egyptian tradition); thus, these plots must have been intended to represent unfavourably not only Cleomenes but also Alexander standing behind him and were probably consequently re-used by the propaganda of the satrap Ptolemy.
The review gives a critical analysis of a recent book by the American Classicist John Dillery (University of Virginia) on the fragment of the Greek works by Ancient Oriental historians Manetho and Berossus
The article deals with the transmission of the Iranian words in the Late Middle Egyptian text of the Satrap Stela (311 B.C.). The problematic fragment with such word is the story about the domain of the ‘Land-of-Wadjet’, which has once been alienated from the possessions of the Buto temples by a foreign ruler named #SryS. Historically it must be Artaxerxes III during or after his invasion in Egypt in 343 B.C. but the name-form corresponds to the Old Persian Xšayṛšān, i.e. Xerxes. This can be explained by a possibility of not only the name Xerxes being used as a generic for Persian kings, like in some Classical texts (the idea by W. Spiegelberg and P. Briant) but also by the confusion of the two names in their Greek form, due to their common component Ξέρξης/–ξέρξης. Unlike Xerxes’ authentic Egyptian cartouches, the hieroglyphic transcription of the Satrap Stela does not show -yṛ- present in the Persian name but absent in its Greek form. Besides the word “satrap” as a denotation of the Satrap Ptolemy, though transmitting the Iranian *ḫšaθrapāna, appears in the title of a document, which must have undoubtedly been Greek originally (Pdrmyz p(A) xSdrpn ~= Πτολεμαίος ὁ σατράπης). One concludes that the use of initially Iranian words was motivated for the compilers of the text by the Greek, and not Iranian, language practice; this is no surprise due to the short duration of the Persian domination in 343-332 B.C. and to the wide presence of Greek-speakers in Egypt after the Macedonian conquest. However, the hieroglyphic transcription of these words corresponds to their Iranian form known in Egypt since at least the 5th century B.C.: probably, the compilers of the text did not care to invent a brand-new transcription for their Greek forms. The only possible exception is the alleged transcription of the name ‘Arses’ (Wr-siA-z ~=Ὀάρσης < ὁ Ἄρσης): the Greek name-form might have been reproduced here, as the original Persian form remained unknown.
The article deals with an important problem of the world and Russian Egyptology, i.e. with the interpretation of a statement by the Alexandrian scientist of the 4th-5th centuries A.D. Theon on an era “after Menophris” (ἀπὸ Μενόφρεως) allegedly started at the beginning of the “Sothic period” in 1322/1 B.C. The first part of the article analyses the polemic on the identification of the name *Μενόφρις with a specific Ancient Egyptian royal name, with a special attention towards the positions of the Russian Soviet Egyptologists V.V. Struve and O.D. Berlev. The former one forwarded in 1920s was embedded in the world scholarship and contained a number of errors, which remained unnoticed due to a decline of the scholarly criticism at the period. On the contrary, Berlev’s position (1999) was totally original and in fact trail-blazing for the ultimate solution of the problem. The second part of the article proposes a development of Berlev’s position. The epithet “Memphite” (*Mn-nfry) that backed the name *Μενόφρις and was originally applied to Zoser, the inaugurator of the “Sothic calendar”, could be transferred on an image of a great king that reigned in Egypt after the catastrophe of the Amarna time. This king could be considered the founder of the “Memphite time” in Egyptian history, the creator of the “Sothic’ calendar” and respectively the contemporary of the start of a “Sothic period” (Theon’s “Menophris’ era”).