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The Economies of Hellenistic Societies, Third to First Centuries BC$
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Zosia Archibald, John K. Davies, and Vincent Gabrielsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199587926.001.0001

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Demand Creation, Consumption, and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt

Demand Creation, Consumption, and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt

(p.421) 20 Demand Creation, Consumption, and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt
The Economies of Hellenistic Societies, Third to First Centuries BC

Sitta von Reden

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines demand creation in the Hellenistic world. It develops four points: Firstly, Dionysiac ritual and the notorious profligacy of the Ptolemaic kings influenced consumption habits (especially of wine) penetrating down to the household level and becoming an important dynamic of Ptolemaic economic policy. Secondly staples, such as wine, grain, oil, and salt were markers of symbolic integration as well as differentiation and received particular attention from the Ptolemaic regime. Thirdly, key institutions such as the Ptolemaic state monopolies, but also sitometria and himatismos (organized systems of grain handouts and clothing allowances to public and private employees), appear in a different light when viewed as ‘systems of provision’ structuring consumption. Lastly, once the restructuring of consumption as a political and economic strategy of the Ptolemaic regime is established, it can be put back on the agenda of economic history.

Keywords:   Hellenistic economy, Hellenistic period, demand, consumption, Egypt, viticulture, cereal production, monopolies, sitometria, himatismos

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