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Senators in Egypt

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Portrait of a Roman from Egypt
Portrait of a Roman from Egypt

Octavian Augustus imposed on senators and higher rank of eques (equites inlustres) banned entry to the province of Egypt without explicit consent and established the prefect Egypt an eques, not a senator (as was adopted in other provinces).

Historians argue over what exactly led him to this decision, but there are at least two reasons. First, if a senator took control of Egypt, he could blackmail the emperor and even cause hunger in Italy – Egypt as the ‘granary’ of Rome was the main grain supplier for the entire empire.

Secondly, due to Egyptian customs and the tradition of treating the ruler as a god, the emperor may have wanted to prevent conflict with senators. If the senators realized with their own eyes how the Egyptians worship the Pharaoh emperor, they could consider this as a far-reaching departure from the facade which was the official status of the emperor as the executor of the senate’s will. This situation threatened the rebellion of senators, and perhaps the emperor preferred to prevent it because of fears of his own power.

Author: Jakub Ernt
  • Alan B. Lloyd, A Companion to Ancient Egypt
  • Carl F. Petry, The Cambridge History of Egypt

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