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Re: orion infra Essenos
According to Stephen Goranson:
> Dear orion readers,
> Solinus wrote (soon after 200 CE?) "infra Essenos," i.e.,
> downstream (or south or further along) from the Essenes was, formerly, the
> town of Ein Gedi. Pliny wrote "infra hos." Solinus and Pliny shared a
> source. Any translation which suggests that the object of Pliny's infra is
> shore or shores appears to be unlikely.
I did not work on the next paragraph in Pliny, the famous "infra hos"
passage. I thought there had been an adequate and well-researched solution
to the translation problem that was discussed last summer--I checked the
file I have, but couldn't find out who it was. Bob Kraft, Dave Suter, and
Mark Dunn, in addition to Steve Goranson, were discussants.
I have just now reviewed the second Pliny paragraph in Nat.Hist. V.73, and
will give a closely literal translation.
Infra hos Engada oppidum fuit, secundum ab Heierosolymis. . .
Further along* from these** is the town of En-Gedi, second from
Jerusalem ["in the fertility of its land" Rackham] . . .
*I translated "further along" rather than "below" because Pliny, esp. in
one place where he's relying on Agrippa specifically, uses it in a similar
geographical orientation where considerations of altitude are unlikely.
Otherwise, Pliny uses <infra> "below" "less than" "further" in a variety
of meanings. On balance, I would judge that the meaning is "further along
(in my geographical list)." The directions involved in that list are
fairly plainly from North to South, which would put
**<hos> "these" is used as a substantive. It could be either "these
places" or "these people", or even both. I would not think it is "shores"
per se, except as a general part of "these locations/places."
I would not go further than to say that my reading of Pliny admits of the
likelihood that his somewhat tangled syntax terms the (north)western coast
of the Dead Sea the "shores of the Essene," a reading which contradicts
the paraphrastic translation of Rackham in the Loeb Classical Library.
The usage, I would suggest, is much as in the phrase that refers to the N.
African shore of the Mediterranean as the Barbary Coast, inhabited by
Berber tribespeople. According to the OED, s.v. Barbary
"II. as proper name.
4. The Saracen countries along the north coast of Africa. (The only
surviving sense.)" (OED).
"Berber" and "Barbary" may or may not be related in derivation, a/c to
However, it is a usage that's familiar in English from that example. We
don't say "Iriquois Coast" or "Inuit Coast", but in the US there are
plenty of examples of naming geographical features after groups of people
who live there. What's needed as a clincher is an ancient Classical
example. The obvious choice is <Lat.>Palestina</>, named, apparently,
after the Philistines. However, it is a larger area; also the connection
with a tribe that once lived there is quite difficult to establish. I have
pulled a blank at the moment, so will go on.
The naming of what amounts almost to a quadrant of the Dead Sea coastline
after a tribe/consensual community that inhabits it suggests to me the
existence of more than a single Essene location. Since I don't think
Engedi "is below these", I would think that Hirschfeld's site could only
qualify in a very general way as an Essene site, one among many.
However, I suspect we're in for a triangular argument of a> no Essenes; b>
Qumran Essenes; and c> En-Gedi Essenes. There is not sufficient
specificity in the text of Pliny to decide between b and c. I *am now
convinced that Pliny or his source describe an area identified with a
"tribe" of Essenes.
[. . .]
> Those of us on this list could really advance knowledge of Essenes,
> Qumran, and Dead Sea Scrolls. Efforts to deny overlap among these subjects,
> in my opinion, is not advancing our knowledge.
While I perceive overlap among the sources at various points, I think that
valuable work has been done in calling the "Essene Blanket" position in
question. A significant amount of the work we do lies in making critical
disctinctions; the sharper the distinctions, the more adequate the working
synthesis (not Master Narrative) is likely to be.
> Stephen Goranson
> Duke University
All the best,
Sigrid Peterson University of Pennsylvania email@example.com