[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
orion Solinus, Dio, Pliny
Dear orion readers,
I suggest this is a good time to look again at the relationship of
Solinus, Dio, and Pliny on Essenes.
Previously, I wrote that the use by Solinus of "infra Essenos," a
reference to these Essenes rather than these shores, appeared to favor Jay
Treat's translation, rather than that of Sigrid Peterson. I thank Sigrid
for her latest post and further translation, which notes that in Pliny M.
Agrippa is associated with infra in the sense of "further along." With this
I certainly agree.
Solinus, as I mentioned, in one sentence described Ein Gedi, alone,
as destroyed. This accords with the reading of M. Agrippa in Pliny as a
reference to Ein Gedi in c.15 BCE, still destroyed from the c.40 BCE war.
The full account of Judaea in Solinus is somewhat problematic, mentioning,
for example, destructions of Jericho and maybe Jerusalem, presumably before
40 BCE, mislocating Callirrhoe, etc. But the source is still of interest.
Here, without attempting a synthesis, are some possibly-interesting
Solinus, Dio, and Pliny all had access to Roman sources. They all
use the Esshnoi/Esseni form. Dio was expelled from Rome by Domitian. Did
Dio use the library of Epaphroditus? Solinus when writing of "our" victory,
and the like, wrote from, or copied from, a Roman point of view. Solinus
also used the patriotic geographer Pomponius Mela (40s CE).
Solinus wrote of balsam before writing of Essenes. I do not exclude
the possibility that Essenes may have worked with balsam, or that they may
have lived at some time (after Herod the Great?) in or near Ein Gedi. I
just haven't seen evidence.
Dio wrote of an Essene city, polis, not a shore. It was, he wrote,
a whole or completely happy/blessed/prosperous/fortunate city (polin holhn
eudaimonia). The context in Synesius/Dio has other references to eudaimonos
biou. This may be compared, perhaps, with deisidaimonia in Strabo's
description of wicked priests.
Solinus and Dio both appear to place Essenes in the center or
interior of Judaea. But, I suggest, this is a confusion based on their use
of a geographer's coastline survey source(s). The Essenes are merely inland
enough to avoid the unusable water of the Dead Sea. Dio makes this rather
vivid, by referring to the "Dead Water." Thus, what Pliny, most likely,
indicated was that the noxious element was water, not generally ritually
Solinus (34,2) wrote, as did Pliny (IX, 11), of sea-monster bones
(associated with the myth of Perseus and Andromeda) being taken from Jaffa
to Rome (in 58 BCE) by "Marcus Scarus," i.e. Marcus Aemilius Scarus,
mentioned in Cave Four.