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Re: orion Posidonius

On the celibate Ctistae, a Dacian tribe mentioned both by Strabo 7.3.3
(quoting Posidonius) and Josephus Ant. 18.22, Stephen Goranson wonders why I
attribute the comparison to Nicolas of Damascus rather than Posidonius.

(1) In the Posidonius quote in Strabo, the context is a discussion of Homer
(both in Posidonius and Strabo), not a discussion of Essenes.  Posidonius
goes on the discuss the Mysians, and their subgroups (for Posidonius) the
Hippemolgi,  Galactophagi, and Abii (cf. Iliad 2.858).  

(2) Nicolas of Damascus, FGrH 90, F104, contains a similar discussion, and
Nicolas' comment on the vegetarian Galactophagi probably derives from
Posidonius on the vegetarian Mysians, i.e. this same Posidonius passage.
 This implies Nicolas read the very passage where the celibate Ctistae are
mentioned, and since Nicolas is widely regarded as a major source on the
Essene account at Ant. 18, it is reasonable to suggest he made the connection
between the Ctistae and Essenes, not Posidonius.  

Robert Kraft writes:

>It has long been my impression
>that Posidonius stands closely behind the
>Strabo passage, and that the ultimate source of that passage (even if it
>does not come through Posidonius, I hasten to add) was a Jewish informant
>reflecting yet another variety of Jewish outlook in the Greco-Roman worlds
>in accord with other cultic-critical Jewish witnesses...
>The idea that the Strabo (Posidonios?) passage was "anti-Jewish" makes no
sense to me 
>in the context that I imagine for varieties of Jewish perspectives in that

That's an interesting perspective.  The passage is not virulently
anti-Semitic like Apion, etc., but is nevertheless negative in its appraisal
of post-Moses Judaism.  I will just quote the passage from Strabo and let
readers decide for themselves.

"Afterwards, in the first place, superstitious men were appointed to the
priesthood, and then tyrannical people; and from superstition arose
abstinence from the flesh, from which it is their custom to abstain even
today, and circumcisions and excisions and other observances of the kind.
 And from the tyrannies arose bands of robberies...  [The successors of
Moses,] with no bad beginnings, turned out for the worse."

As a footnote, the accusation of Jewish robberies surfaces at Strabo
16.2.28,37,40 (Joppa as a seaport of Jewish robbers; robberies arising from
tyrannies; Pompey destroying the haunts of robbers).  These accusations
appear to be related to the charge brought by Hyrkanus against Aristobulus II
that the latter had engaged in "piracies at the seas," i.e. supported
Mithridates' recent piracies which Pompey had recently suppressed (Ant.
14.43).  The accusations of robberies and tyrannies in Strabo therefore
appear to apply mainly to Aristobulus II, who incidently is favorably treated
in Mishmarot C, which I assume Goranson considers Essene.  This is generally
inconsistent with Goranson's speculative suggestion that Strabo was informed
by Essene sources and that the hostility against tyrants was primarily
directed against Jannaeus.  However, I don't wish to stir new debate by these
observations, just provide some relevant data.

-- Russell Gmirkin