ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 253-256
Jean Bingen, Hellenistic Egypt: Monarchy, Society, Economy, Culture,
edited with an introduction by Roger S. Bagnall. Hellenistic Culture
and Society 49. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California
Press, 2007. xx + 303 pages including 19 illustrations. ISBN 978-0 -520-251410-0 (cloth), 978-0-520-25142 7 (paperback).
Jean Bingen (hereafter B.), elder statesman, mentor, and friend, is well
known to all interested in the fields of papyrology, epigraphy, and the history
of Graeco-Roman Egypt. He is best known perhaps for his ongoing work on
the Ptolemaic period, spanning now over 60 years of output; his bibliography
in P.Bingen (published in 2000) already covers 9 large pages in small type.
Hellenistic Egypt presents a carefully chosen selection of B's previously published articles and conference papers from 1973 onwards, organized
thematically into 4 sections ("The Monarchy," pp. 13-79, chapters 1-5; "The
Greeks," pp. 81-154, chapters 6-12; "The Royal Economy," pp. 155-212, chapters 13-15; "Greeks and Egyptians," pp. 213-278, chapters 16-19). The book
is prefaced with a guide to the original source of each chapter (pp. vii-viii), a
list of illustrations (pp. ix-x; some of them more useful than others), a useful
glossary of terms (pp. xi-xv), and three sketch maps, of the Eastern Mediterranean, Hellenistic Egypt, and the Fayyum (pp. xvi-xviii).
B's own first words in his Foreword (pp. xix-xx) introduce him to us in
May 1945, a young man sitting in barracks at a watershed period of world
history and thinking already about some of the problems which will come to
occupy him throughout his long and distinguished career. The introduction
by Roger Bagnall which follows, "Jean Bingen and the Currents of Ptolemaic
History," pp. 1-12, situates B. in the history of post WW II European scholarship on Ptolemaic Egypt. Bagnall's introduction also serves to underline B's
sensitivity to the need for constant re-evaluation and re-assessment in the
study of Hellenistic Egypt, the need for a continuous returning to the sources
and to a critical re-examination of the work of earlier scholars.
Part I, "The Monarchy' presents a series of case studies on selected Ptolemaic kings. In Chapter 1, "Ptolemy I and the Quest for Legitimacy," pp. 15 -30, B. explores two of the strategies which Ptolemy I used in establishing his
new kingdom: the model of kingship presented by Alexander (a model which,
through his history of Alexander, Ptolemy himself did much to create) and the
creation in Alexandria of the Library as a major sanctuary of Hellenic culture
closely associated with the king himself. In Chapter 2, "Ptolemy III and Philae:
Snapshot of a Reign, a Temple and a Cult," pp. 31-43, B. offers a re-edition and
re-interpretation of OGIS 61 = LPhilae 1.4. This is an inscription cut above