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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

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Egy-pt and the Byzantine Empire             333
In 284, when Diocletian became Emperor, we are still in a world
Roman, pagan, and 'ancient'; in 642, when the Arabs of ? Amr
marched wondering through the marble streets of Alexandria,
we are in the Middle Ages, paganism is dead, and a frightened
Christendom is facing the confident onset of Islam. The papyri
which Egypt has bequeathed to us, fragmentary and incomplete
as is their evidence in many important respects, enable us to
follow, with, a wealth of detail not elsewhere possible, the tre-
mendous mutations of thought and feeling which the change
implies; and this one country can, with caution and the neces-
sary reserves, be made to exemplify a process which was taking
place all over the Roman world.
It was to remedy existing evils that Diocletian undertook his
reforms. The anarchy of the third century, when military chiefs
disputed the empire between them, perhaps, too, a conviction
that the provincial governors were over-burdened with a multi-
plicity of duties, suggested the creation of smaller units of
government and the separation of civil and military authority.
As a consequence of this reorganization Egypt, hitherto an
administrative unity, was divided into three provinces, though
complete separatism was avoided by giving to the governor of
one of them, who bore the title praefectus Aegypti, an authority
superior to that of the prae sides who governed the others. All
three, however, were purely civil officials; the whole military
force of the country was placed under the Duke of Egypt.
Successive changes were made later: the boundaries of the
provinces were rearranged, their number was increased, and
Egypt, made by Diocletian part of the diocese of the Orient,
became, in conjunction with Libya, an independent diocese; but
the separation of civil and military powers was maintained till
the year 538, when Justinian, by his thirteenth edict, gave to
all the governors military as well as civil powers and an equal
and co-ordinate authority. The disastrous consequences were
seen a century later, when the disunion of the provincial