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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses identity in Roman Egypt, covering collective identities, state identity, social classes and legal categories, shifts in collective identity, gender, ethnicity and cultural-religious identity, and names as identifiers of kinship bonds and of other collectivities. Identity is about one's place in society. As under the Ptolemies, descent was crucial to belonging to an elite group, and upward mobility was possible. Through wealth, civic donations, and networking, members of the elite were candidates for social promotion. But compared with Ptolemaic times, there was a downturn for the ordinary Egyptian man, woman, and their children, whose path towards the elite groups was limited in many respects. Compartmentalization gained the upper hand. After the Constitutio Antoniniana, wealth replaced descent as the crucial criterion to belonging to the elite.

Keywords: Roman Egypt, elite, upward mobility, collective identity, state identity, social class, ethnicity, kinship, Egyptians

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