Empires amaze me. The Roman Empire has always been my favorite to study. I see several parallels between the way that Rome built empire in its own country, as well as in Egypt. One method for controlling a large empire is to create yourself in the image of god. For example, in the Roman Empire, Constantine made huge statues of himself. Through these statues he became larger than life. He became God-like.
When the Ptolemaic Empire takes control of Egypt, they go through some very similar steps. They make themselves Gods by tracing their bloodline back to Zeus and they marry each other so as not to spread their divinity out. They also adopt Egyptian Gods and make them Grecco/Roman. This speaks to, not only the Egyptians (look, we are worshiping your Gods) but also to their own people (look, we still worship our Gods). By adding a beard to Osiris, they were able to portray him as both Egyptian and Grecco/Roman. By accepting the local gods, the Ptolemaic rulers became more than just the conquering rulers, they became Pharaoh, king and God.
The other step they took to ensure control was to allow Egyptians to hold offices of power in the local governments. The culture of Greece really only prevailed in Alexandria and the nearby Faiyum region. The rest of Egypt was very much still Egyptian and was ruled on a local level by Egyptians. This left the people with a general feeling of satisfaction. They still had a role to play and a voice in the rule of their country. I am sure this helped the Ptolemaic rulers to stay in power and delegate to someone who would be respected on a local level.
My favorite part of the Ptolemaic rule of Egypt is the information. In Alexandria, at the Mouseion, they worked to understand the intellectual capital of Egypt and Greece and to synthesize it together with current understanding of these subjects. They studied science, medicine, geography, mathematics, engineering, philosophy and literature. They also translated works like the Septuagint, adding to our understanding and memory. The Rosetta Stone also came from this time, acting as a key stone to help us translate pieces of Egyptian text to this day.
~Cristina M. Cao