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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

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298                          Egypt and Rome
city has obviously certain features in common with that of
Roman Egypt, enough to justify the use of the word. But the
Egyptian liturgy was something very different both in form and
more especially in spirit. In Egypt those who had to fulfil them
were not elected by the community but nominatedóby the
Roman imperial officials assisted by the ubiquitous scribes. And
they did'not work and spend on behalf of a city of which they
were members and in whose welfare they took interest and pride,
but for the imperial administrative machine. The institution
is typically Egyptian and could only have been evolved in that
home of absolutism.
The reciprocal influence of Egypt and the city in the later
development of the imperial liturgy, which came to be the
dominating feature in the Roman administrative system, is a
difficult and obscure problem. Certain features of the later
system are certainly of civic origin, notably the responsibility
of the community for its nominees. This principle was intro-
duced into Egypt by Septimius Severus, who created in the
capitals of the nomes pale imitations of Greek cities, whose prin-
cipal function it was to appoint officials to serve the central
government. The reason for the change was that the property
of the individuals who were nominated to serve the state was
sometimes inadequate to meet its claims and they themselves
were difficult to catch and punish if they ran away: from hence-
forth the community which appointed them had to make up
any deficit and supply substitutes. Whether Egypt made any
contribution to the evolution of the imperial liturgy is, owing
to our ignorance of the early history of the institution elsewhere,
difficult to determine. The cities had always been responsible to
the central government for the performance of certain imperial
services, notably the collection of the tribute, and they had pre-
sumably elected officers to conduct these services. What is
uncertain is whether these officers were personally responsible
to the central government, and in particular whether they had