The first entry to the city, Emperor Augustus used a very wise policy as he entered Alexandria as a conqueror. He declared a general amnesty for all Alexandrians , did not take revenge of anyone, contrary to the ancient tradition when opening an opposing city, and refrained from allowing his soldiers to loot the city. to gain their sympathy and safeguard from any revenge from their side. Plutarch, the historian, says that Caesar Augustus walked to the city holding his right arm to bestow honour and tells of the long march of the Emperor in the city, hand in hand with Arius the philosopher in a show of confidence and respect from the citizens. He then entered the gymnasium and sat at the top of the podium.
Half-deified, he was worshiped by the people who bowed before him, but he ordered them to rise to their feet and declared his general amnesty for various reasons, firstly, for the sake of Alexander the Great – founder of the City of Alexandria, secondly for his admiration at the beauty of the City, and thirdly in appreciation for his master and friend – Arius. People say that he delivered his speech in Greek to enable his audience to understand him.
Social Life at Alexandria
As a Greek city founded by Alexander the Great and later ruled by the Ptolemies and the Romans, Alexandria was populated by the Greeks who were its main citizens, followed by others who were deemed worthy of enjoying its citizenship.
Under Roman rule, Alexandrian citizenship was a privilege only granted by the Emperor himself.
For a long time, Alexandrians represented the elite of the Egyptian society and many villagers and rural dwellers flocked to Alexandria in search for special privileges and evade the heavy taxes otherwise imposed on them.
Religion Life at Alexandria
Worship of the Alexandrian trinity of Serapis, Isis and Hour persisted. In addition to this formal trinity, worship of Roman Emperors replaced the worship of the Ptolemies.
Further, a worship of Roman Emperors emerged as a public worship taking place on public celebrations but not in households. Various religious cults also existed under the rule of the Greek Empire.
Economic Life at Alexandria
If the Ptolemy adopted an approach of masterplanning and monopoly of most exonomic activities by the state, the Romans had a reverse approach; a free economy in many fields to revive the state’s economy.
It is worthnoting that the economic status of Alexandrians flourished immensely due to foreign trade. Alexandrians turned part of their wealth into the ownership of farms. In such circumstances, major iqta’as, largely known as “Al Wesiya” in the history of Egypt’s agriculture during the first century of the Roman rule, started to emerge.
In terms of the industrial and commercial life, people considered Alexandria as the largest centre for industry and trade. Not only in Egypt, but across the entire Roman Empire.
Alexandrians used their naval fleets in the Meditterranian and the Red Sea. In Meditterranian, they had the first trading fleet, in Red-Sea, Alexandria completely monopolized the trade to the East to India.
Romans favored both cultural and scientific institutions in Alexandria as evidenced by the famous Alexandria Library, the House of Wisdom, …. Further,they granted scientists and researchers many exclusive privileges and tax exemptions.
Among the most eminent scientists of that era was Ptolemy the geographer who also excelled in mathematics, astronomy and physics. He laid out a map of the world on which countries and cities were drawn at very precise scales.