VOYTENKO A.A. Egyptians and Byzantium. On the Question of Political Subjectivity in Late Antiquity

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2022.6.12

Anton A. Voytenko

Doctor of Sciences (History), Leading Researcher,

Centre for Egyptological Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Prosp. Leninskiy, 29, Bld. 8, 119071 Moscow, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article focuses on the reasons for the lack of political subjectivity among the Egyptians in the Byzantine period (4th – first half of the 7th centuries). During this period, the population of Egypt did not demonstrate it at any level: social movements (uprisings) did not offer such agenda; studies on literature and rhetoric show that the Egyptians were under the influence of the Roman statehood (Eastern Roman Empire). The aims of the study are therefore concentrated around the consideration of the causes and terms of the loss of political subjectivity by the Egyptians, and the reasons for the increase of it among the Romans. An additional task was a comparative analysis of the political and religious systems of Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt and the possible influence of religious features on the configuration of political systems.

Methods. The main methods used in the study are factor analysis and the comparative method.

Analysis. The ancient Egyptian political system was “introverted” and static in nature. The complete loss of political subjectivity by the Egyptians can be, however, attributed to the Roman period. In the Persian and Ptolemaic ones, its existence is preserved due to two main factors: the practices of the Persians and Ptolemies to present themselves as Egyptian pharaohs and the strong positions of the Egyptian priesthood, who could keep an ancient political subjectivity.

Results. The Romans, who refused to continue Ptolemaic practices and took drastic measures to limit the economic independence of the Egyptian priesthood, managed to nullify its authentic political subjectivity. Thanks to an “extroverted” and transformative political model, supported by a “political theology” based on the “Roman myth”, the Roman state managed to maintain (or even strengthen) its subjectivity in the period of late Antiquity.

Key words: Byzantine Egypt, political theology, political subjectivity, history of political systems, Roman religion, Ancient Egyptian religion.

Citation. Voytenko A.A. Egyptians and Byzantium. On the Question of Political Subjectivity in Late Antiquity. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2022, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 156-170. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2022.6.12.

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Egyptians and Byzantium. On the Question of Political Subjectivity in Late Antiquity by Voytenko A.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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