Week #7: Where are the Egyptians?

A common theme in this week, as well as throughout Egyptian history in general, is the placement of non Egyptians in ruling positions.  It makes me curious as to whether or not the ancient Egyptians ever had the thought, “Egypt for Egyptians”?  The fact that the Ptolemies refused to even reproduce with actual Egyptians is kind of ridiculous.

We know that pharaohs  were supposed to be descendents of the gods or in the very least chosen by the gods, and that due to their divine connections their authority was to be absolute and unquestionable. All of that helps explain why the Egyptians would blindly follow their ancient rulers, but the Greeks, like the Hyksos, were not Egyptian.  This raises the question were the Egyptians also afraid of foreign gods?

Many non Egyptian ancient rulers of Egypt also chose to adopt certain cult practices such as the worship of Egyptian gods and deities in order to help the actual native Egyptians accept them.  This is one of the few reasons I can think of to understand or explain why the Ptolemies chose to intermarry brothers and sisters.

If the pharaoh is supposed to be a descendent of the gods, then that means his blood is already supposedly pure.  If the Ptolemies were attempting to convince the Egyptians of their divine birth right, then they would have to demonstrate in some way their blood’s superiority.  Since fighting could backfire and any other ‘tough man’ competition could ultimately lead to the family’s demise, one of the easiest ways to show their superiority was to seclude themselves.

Another possible reason would be for protection of their royal status.  By marrying their siblings, the Ptolemies could effectively defeat the inner-family struggling that commonly plagued other kingdoms as well as discourage foreign diplomats of political marriages.  If the Ptolemies had allowed foreign marriage or marriage with outsiders of the family, it would have allowed an opportunity for an empire take over.

1 thought on “Week #7: Where are the Egyptians?

  1. I think you make a lot of good points in your blog post, Richelle, about the surprising amount of non-Egyptians in ruling positions and even military positions in Egypt. You would think that a government and state would choose to keep their own citizens in authoritative positions instead of foreigners who might not know their rituals and customs to the same extent that the citizens do. The Ptolemies had a way of ruling Egypt in a very abnormal way it seems especially in regards to their thoughts on the reproduction of the rulers and how they were to run the state. I also believe that their refusal to have children with actual Egyptians is bizarre but like you said, it may have had to do with the fact that they wanted to depict themselves as having sacred and pure blood and ultimately that they were superior to the Egyptians. Wanting to protect their position as rulers is also another good reason you brought up as to why the Ptolemies married their siblings as it would definitely decrease the amount of conflict within the government.

    Another example of the large number of foreigners in Egypt was the inclusion of Greek mercenaries and settlers in the Egyptian army. This surprised me as it is hard for me to believe someone from a different country would want to put their lives on the line for the sake of Egypt and makes me wonder their reasons for doing so.

Leave a Reply