Ptolemais

Boule

BOULE A town council in Egypt during Roman domination. One of the features that set Egypt apart from other Roman provinces was the scarcity of towns (in the legal sense of the term) and the peculiar status of the metropoleis, the nome capitals. The latter, literally “mother cities,” while including the designation polis (city), were …

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Synesius (C. 370-C. 414)

SYNESIUS (c. 370-c. 414) The bishop of Ptolemais. Born at Cyrene in the Pentapolis to a wealthy pagan family, he was brought up as a pagan and sent by his parents to complete his higher education in Alexandria under HYPATIA, the famous Neoplatonist Greek philosopher, to whom he became attached and remained loyal despite the …

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Taxation In Roman Egypt

TAXATION IN ROMAN EGYPT A leading authority on taxes and “liturgies” (unpaid obligations) in Roman Egypt summarized very aptly, “No ancient government and few modern ones have had a tax structure rivalling in intricacy that of Roman Egypt. There we confront a staggering array of charges and surcharges assessed upon the person, the land, occupations …

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Dionysius The Great

DIONYSIUS THE GREAT The fourteenth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (247-264), whose letters dealt with the major religious issues of the time. Dionysius was born at an unknown date, probably in the last decade of the second century. The son of a wealthy pagan family, he was converted to Christianity at a mature …

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Alexander I

ALEXANDER I The nineteenth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (312-326). Life Alexander succeeded ACHILLAS, who died in the year 312, after one of the shortest episcopates in Coptic history. His death was ascribed by the pious Copts to supernatural chastisement for breaking the command of PETER I, “Seal of the Martyrs,” by accepting …

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Dayr Anba Bisadah

DAYR ANBA BISADAH History This monastery, on the right bank of the Nile in the village of al- Ahaywah Sharq, about 11 miles (18 km) south of Akhmim, preserves the memory and the relics of a martyr bishop in the fourth century, PSOTE. He was bishop of the town of Psoi/Ptolemais, which at least in …

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Hagiography, Coptic

HAGIOGRAPHY, COPTIC The writing about the saints of the Coptic church. Many religions venerate saints and so have produced a vast literature around them. Best known in the West is the monumental Acta Sanctorum (Lives of the Saints), compiled by the Society of Bollandists, a group of Jesuit scholars, beginning in the seventeenth century and …

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Pentapolis

PENTAPOLIS This area derives its name from the five Greek cities of Cyrenaica: Berenice-Euesperides/Benghazi, Arsinoe- Taucheira (Teucheria)/Tukrah, Ptolemaïs/Tulmaythah, Apollonia/Sozousa/Marsa Susah, and Cyrene / ‘Ayn Shahhat. The history of the Pentapolis was dominated by three centers of attraction and potential peril: the Mediterranean, Egypt, and the desert hinterland populated by Berber tribes having strong relations, often …

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Pilgrimages

PILGRIMAGES There are more than sixty centers of Coptic pilgrimage in Egypt, of which the main ones are those of the Virgin Mary at Musturud, Saint Menas at Maryut, Saint George (Mar Jirjis) of Mit Damsis, Sitt Dimyanah near Bilqas, and Anba Shinudah at Dayr al-Abyad, near Suhaj. For the Copts, pilgrimage is a religious …

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