Quite possibly the single most effective political force in Alexandria and the forerunner of the "lynch mob." It was made up of all kinds of people, from wealthy merchants to members of the royal court to servants, and its organizational tactics were astounding. At first it was fairly small and concerned itself largely with minor arson and dispensing "justice" on those offenses the judicial system seemed to have ignored, but later grew so large and so organized that even the many rulers of Egypt were afraid of it. Placating the Mob became the key to staying on the throne for more than a few of them. Some of the incidents attributed to the Mob range from the lynching of a member of the Roman Embassy because he accidentally killed a cat to the intrigue of the Ptolemaic line when they aided Ptolemy V Epiphanes against the faction led by Agathocles. Having the approval of the Mob was quite important to many of the Ptolemies, and little could be done to those who did without risking the ire of the Mob. For example, in 80 BC when the ruler Ptolemy XI murdered his stepmother (whom he had recently married) Cleopatra Berenice, who had been very popular with the Mob, they dragged him from the palace and killed him.
Last Updated: June 2nd, 2011
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