“The Greek Face of Roman Egypt” offers two perspectives on cultural translation between Egypt, Greece, and Rome, from Augustus through Hadrian: one grounded in the Egyptian articulation of Egyptian culture under new forms of Roman imperial control, the other in the alternatively optimistic and world-weary Roman responses to a Principate whose contours were explored and explained through Egypt. The two parts of this dissertation highlight the marginalized literary traditions that emerged out of these two perspectives. Egyptians wrote about Egypt for a Greek and Roman audience in a coherent, Greek-language, literary tradition I call Aegyptiaka. I look to the ways in which Egyptian authors of Aegyptiaka explained aspects of Egyptian religion—its sacred animals, its priests, and the hieroglyphic script—so that they were comprehensible to a Greek and Roman audience. Second, I pay particular attention to those Greek and Roman authors who looked to Egyptian space and Egyptian people to justify the new institutions of the Principate. Both these traditions can enrich our reading of authors like Vergil, Lucan, and Juvenal, whose heap of criticisms about Egypt and its culpability in the degeneration of the Principate is, I argue, a specific, contingent response to wider processes of intercultural dialogue.
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