All about Rhakotis

Rhakotis is the online magazine for all things to do with Greco-Roman Egypt and beyond.

Rhakotis is the first place to go for information, reviews of exhibitions, new books and films, and discussion on the legacy of Greco-Roman Egypt. It examines both the history and the enduring influence of Greco-Roman Egypt in all it many ways. We are interested in the art history and wider politics of this legacy.

What does Rhakotis mean?

Rhakotis is the former name of the fishing village on which the city of Alexandria was built. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Greek. It was designed as a quintessential Greek city. Greek institutions predominated: councils, schools and temples.

Alexandria was the greatest City the ancient world knew. It was a thriving port and people from all over the known world could be seen there: from Indian merchants to Celtic mercenaries.

The library at Alexandria was the most comprehensive library ever. It contained, perhaps 400,000 books at its height. Scholars came from all over the world to consult the collection. The historical reality might have been less impressive, but the library of Alexandria still stands as an enduring symbol of cosmopolitanism and intellectual freedom.

Alexandria was never just a Greek city. The city was deeply influenced by its Egyptian location in profound ways. Just as its patron gods – Isis and Serapis – were not Greek, neither was the city. Not fully.

Alexandria was a Classical city, but there was something different, something uncanny about it.

What is the enduring legacy of Greco-Roman Egypt?

Rhakotis argues that the uncanny and different nature of Egypt is what drew people to the study and artistic representation of it. This sense of the different is itself political and draws on imperialist notions. But the legacy of Greco-Roman Egypt can be used to challenge, question and redefine imperialist politics today.

The enduring legacy of Greco-Roman Egypt can be seen in the history of Egyptology, how scholars and archaeologists have examined Egypt’s place. It can be seen in the direct artistic responses  made by artists from a variety of different backgrounds, from Ancient Rome to Victorian Europe and by people at the heart of the elite or people struggling against elitist power.

The legacy of Greco-Roman Egypt can be seen in indirect artistic influences on later art. Ancient art and culture defined key concepts of “Western culture”. Classical motifs and themes drew on the culture of an ancient world that was very different to the one sometimes supposed. Greco-Roman Egypt is part of this traditions: sometimes obliquely and sometimes obviously.

Rhakotis examines and unpicks this influence in cultural artefacts. We show that the legacy of Greco-Roman Egypt is everywhere.

Sphinx on Picasso Museum in Paris

Legal notices


Rhakotis endeavours to ensure that all content used on this site is free to use either by creating its own content or by using images shared through Creative Commons licenses or in the Public Domain, which we always check using tineye.

All images taken by Rhakotis can be used under the attributive Creative Commons license. Please check photo references on each page. If a photo does not have a reference this means that the photo is owned by Rhakotis and can be reused.

In some cases Rhakotis has used promotional images only for review purposes. We feel this is covered by the fair use purposes under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This is always stated at the bottom of the page.

If we have used an image that belongs to you, please let us know and we will remove it from the blog.


Simon Bralee (Editor)

Studying towards a PhD part-time at UCL which examines Anubis in the Greek and Roman World while working full time in a communications role. His other research interests are religion in Greek and Roman Egypt, animals in the ancient world and the legacy of ancient cultures in the modern day.

 Contact him for article suggestions and submissions.