Harsiesi1, probably king of Egypt in Upper Egypt2, date of birth unknown, possibly to be identified with Harsiesi (possibly son of Paious3) "enemy of the gods".4 If this identification is correct, he took control of Thebes between 4 Epeiph year 39 of Ptolemy VIII = year 1 of Harsiesi = 25 July 131 and 21 Thoth year 2 = year 40 = 15 October 1315, was expelled from Thebes by 17 Phaophi year 40 of Ptolemy VIII = 10 November 1316, and probably defeated and killed shortly after 27 Mesore year 2 = 16 September 1307.

Harsiesi's titles as king of Egypt were8:

Horus               <unknown>
Two Ladies        <unknown>
Golden Horus      <unknown>
Throne Name      <unknown>
Son of Re          @r-sA-Js(t ) sA-Wsjr9

No wives or children are known for him.

[1] Not in PP. Gr: ArsihsiV. pKarara 1, 2. If he is correctly dated, he is the last Egyptian believed to have held the title of pharaoh. However, no leadership is yet known from the Theban rebellion of 89/8 against Ptolemy IX. Ý

[2] Based on references to Panopolis in pKarara 1, 2. Ý

[3] His name as given in pKarara 1, 2 translates to "Harsiesi son of Osiris", but this is evidently a religious affiliation not a genealogical one. "Harsiesi" itself means "Horus son of Isis". In UPZ 2.199 a reference is made to the son of Paious as being supported by the vice-Thebarch Dionysos. L. Koenen, CdE 34 (1959) 103, 118 suggests that this is a reference to Harsiesi himself. Ý

[4] L. Koenen, CdE 34 (1959) 103. The argument that this Harsiesi was a king at this time is as follows: pKarara 1, 2 is dated to a king Harsiesi. Paleographically it dates to the second century, therefore this Harsiesi should be found in one of the rebellions of the period. UPZ 2.199, discussed in more detail below, and dated 17 Phaophi year 40 = 10 November 131, mentions "the enemy of the Gods" Harsiesi in connection with covering up a fraudulent transaction of 90 talents in Harsiesi's favour during a rebel occupation of Thebes shortly before. The term "the enemy of the Gods" appears in demotic and hieroglyphic form in the decree Philensis II as a description of the rebel pharaoh Ankhwennefer. Therefore Koenen concludes this Harsiesi must be the king Harsiesi of pKarara 1, 2.

A.-E. Veïsse, Les «révoltes égyptiennes» 50f., building on unpublished observations by M. Chauveau, has recently challenged this argument. First, she notes that, even though Koenen and E. Lüddeckens are prepared to date pKarara 1, 2 to the late Ptolemaic period, the original editor, W. Spiegelberg, was only prepared to date it to the Persian or Ptolemaic periods, and Chauveau concurs it is hard to date paleographically. Second, UPZ 2.224 from Thebes, dated 10 Thoth year 2, with a subscription dated 21 Thoth year 2, specifically equates year 1 with year 39 = 132/1. Veïsse accepts the argument of R. S. Bagnall, ZPE 56 (1984) 58, that this double date means that UPZ 2.224 is dated according to Cleopatra II, not Harsiesi, which, if correct, leaves an extremely small window of less than a month for a rebel king to have occupied Thebes between 21 Thoth (UPZ 2.224, putatively under Cleopatra II) and 17 Phaophi (UPZ 2.199, under Ptolemy VIII), making it doubtful, in her view, that any such occupation occurred. Finally, she notes that the phrase "enemy of the gods" in Greek could be applied to political adversaries, citing speeches of Demosthenes against Aeschines, and suggests that the size of the theft alone may have been enough to merit the phrase. In A.-E. Veïsse, in Van Nuffelen (ed.), Faces of Hellenism, 169, she elaborates on this point, noting that W. Clarysse has found the expression in a rereading of pYale 1.42, datable to the mid second century, describing a certain Apollonius who cannot possibly have been a rebel pharaoh. She notes the opinion of Vitmann that the apparent occurrence of an Egyptian form of this expression in Philensis II is simply a linguistic convergence, not a translation.

Granted that Koenen's argument is circumstantial, I don't find these objections conclusive. First, pKarara 1, 2 certainly proves there was a late period king Harsiesi, the only question being when he reigned, and there appears to be no paleographical objection to the proposed date, just doubt about the degree of certainty. Second, Bagnall's argument that a double date proves a date of Cleopatra II is unproven and in my view unmotivated -- see discussion under the rebellion of Cleopatra II -- and even if true does not preclude a fraud to Harsiesi's benefit by his agents even if he himself did not occupy Thebes. Thirdly, whoever the "enemy of the gods" was, he was clearly sufficiently powerful and well-connected to have pulled off what amounts to a very large bank fraud, apparently with inside help. Finally, Koenen has subsequently noted additional circumstantial evidence, not addressed by Veïsse, which, while far from conclusive in itself, is readily explained on the theory that Harsiesi was a rebel king at this time.

My view is that the kingship of a rebel leader Harsiesi at this time is not certainly established, but is still the simplest explanation of the available evidence. However, A.-E. Veïsse, in Van Nuffelen (ed.), Faces of Hellenism, 169 announces she will be publishing a forthcoming paper on the identity of the Theban Harsiesi which may provide further evidence or argument on the question Ý

[5] We know from odem BM 12594 that Ptolemy VIII was in undisturbed control of Thebes up to 4 Epeiph year 39 = 25 July 131 (P. W. Pestman, Chronologie Égyptienne d'après les textes démotiques 58). UPZ 2.224 from Thebes, dated 21 Thoth year 2, specifically equates year 1 with year 39 = 132/1, hence the date corresponds to 15 October 131, and it shows that Ptolemy VIII was not in control of Thebes at that time. UPZ 2.199 dated 17 Phaophi year 40 = 10 November 131, mentions "the enemy of the Gods" Harsiesi. UPZ 2.199 was a copy of instructions intended to cover up a payment of 90 talents made to Harsiesi from the royal bank at Thebes by the vice-Thebarch Dionysos; for a full treatment of this episode see R. Bogaert, CdE 63 (1988) 145. Thus, the likelihood is that UPZ 2.224 refers to Harsiesi, dating his rebellion to 132/1, and its likely resolution to late 130 or early 129. The fact that UPZ 2.224 dates to year 2 suggests that Thebes actually fell to Harsiesi before 5 Epagomene of the previous year = 25 September 131.

However, at least some of the year 1 and year 2 dates of this period belong to the rebellion of Cleopatra II. If UPZ 2.224 is dated to year 2 of Cleopatra II, not year 2 of Harsiesi, then the dates of Harsiesi are not firmly established. But in that case we are at a loss as to why Dionysos should be making a payment of 90 talents to Harsiesi. Ý

[6] UPZ 2.199 dated 17 Phaophi year 40 = 10 November 131, mentions Harsiesi as not being recognised in Thebes. See discussion of the capture of Thebes above. Ý

[7] Date of pKarara 1, 2. No texts of year 3 are known. L. Koenen, CdE 34 (1959) 103, 119 notes that UPZ 2.209 records an action by the strategos Paos against rebels in Panopolis on 8 Epeiph year 41 = 28 July 129, and that Panopolis was not included in the general amnesty of 118. He supposes that Panopolis was totally destroyed to make an example, and that this date represents the final end of Harsiesi's revolt. L. Koenen, ZPE 54 (1984) 9, considers that references to "the king of two years" in the Oracle of the Potter were interpreted at one time to refer to Harsiesi, suggesting that he died very soon after the date of pKarara 1, 2. The Oracle also referred to the "king of 55 years" who Koenen argues can only have been Ptolemy VIII. The question is complex since the oracle has connections to the earlier Oracle of the Lamb. Ý

[8] As given in J. von Beckerath, Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen (2nd edition) 246 (c), from pKarara 1, 2. Ý

[9] "Harsiesi (= Horus son of Isis) son of Osiris". Ý

Update Notes:

1 March 2002: Split into separate entry
20 May 2002: Corrected Egyptian date equations as necessary
11 Mar 2005: Added Greek transcription
1 Oct 2005: Discussed Veïsse's objections to identifying Harsiesi "enemy of the gods" of UPZ 2.199 with the king Harsiesi of pKarara 1, 2.
24 July 2009: Additional notes on a more recent paper by Veïsse. Reorganise to make it clear that an identification is proposed betewen two possibly separate indiviudals.
9 Dec 2010: Fix broken DDbDP links

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