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A History of Rome to 565 A. D. by Boak

Naucratis and Antinoopolis enjoyed municipal institutions


*The

three Gauls and Egypt.* From this municipalization of the provinces two districts were at first excluded on grounds of public policy. These districts were the three Gauls (Aquitania, Lugdunensis and Belgica) and Egypt. At the time of its conquest Gaul was a rich agricultural country, with sharply defined tribal communities, but little or no city development. This condition Augustus judged well adapted, under strict imperial control, to furnishing recruits and supplies of money and kind for the great army of the Rhine. Therefore he continued the division of Gaul in tribal units (_civitates_), sixty-four in number, each controlled by its native nobility. His policy was in general adhered to for about two hundred years, but in the course of the third century the municipal system was introduced by converting the chief town of each _civitas_ into a municipality with the rest of the _civitas_ as its _territorium_ or district under its administrative control.

In Egypt Augustus by right of conquest was the heir of the Ptolemies and was recognized by the Egyptians proper as "king of upper Egypt and king of lower Egypt, lord of the two lands, _autocrator_, son of the Sun." For the Greek residents he was an absolute deified ruler of the Hellenistic type. Thus Egypt, although a part of the Roman empire, was looked upon as subject to the rule of the princeps alone. And, as in the theory of government, so in the political institutions of the country the Romans

adapted to their purposes existing conditions in place of introducing radical changes.

In the time of Augustus there were three Greek towns in Egypt, Alexandria the capital, Ptolemais and Naucratis. To these Hadrian added a third, Antinoopolis. Ptolemais, Naucratis and Antinoopolis enjoyed municipal institutions, but Alexandria because of the turbulence of its population was ruled by imperial officials following the Ptolemaic practice. The rest of the population of the country lived in villages throughout the Nile Valley, which was divided for administrative purposes into thirty-six districts called nomes (_nomoi_). The bulk of the land of Egypt was imperial or public domain land, and the great majority of the Egyptian population were tenants on the imperial domain. For the collection of the land tax, poll tax, professional and other taxes, for the supervision of irrigation, and for the maintenance of the public records of the cultivated acreage and the population (for which a census was taken every fourteen years) there had been developed a highly organized bureaucracy with central offices at Alexandria and agents in each of the nomes. This system of government was maintained by the Romans, and profoundly influenced the organization of the imperial civil service. At the head of the administration of Egypt stood the prefect, an equestrian because of his position as a personal employee of the princeps, and because the power concentrated in his hands would have proved a dangerous temptation to a senator. The chief burden laid upon Egypt was to supply one third of the grain consumed at Rome, or about 5,000,000 bushels annually. This amount was drawn partly from the land tax which was paid in kind and partly from grain purchased by the government.

The first step towards spreading municipal government throughout all Egypt was taken in 202 A. D., when Septimius Severus organized a _boule_, or senate of the Greek type, in Alexandria and in the metropolis or seat of administration of each nome. His object was to create in each metropolis a body which could be made to assume definite responsibilities in connection with the administration. However, it was not until after Diocletian that these villages received a full municipal organization.


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