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Re: orion Solinus, Dio, Pliny, M. Agrippa
It is good to read that, apparently, Russell Gmirkin and I agree
that Yizhar Hirschfeld's site, or what we have heard about it so far, does
not qualify as the Herodian-period Essene settlement which Pliny's source
On the other hand:
There is no reason of which I am aware to limit Essene involvement
with agriculture to one crop only, whether dates or balsam or any other. No
ancient writer connects them with a royal monopoly.
Nicolaus, an Aristotelian, would be less likely to admire Essenes
than a Platonist or Stoic or Pythagorean would be.
It remains the case that Pliny's text leads the reader downstream
from Panias to Masada. Locating Ein Gedi, as an afterthought, and contrary
to that downstream movement, in relation to an otherwise (according to the
dubious reading) not clearly located Essene settlement in unnamed heights
west of Ein Gedi is unlikely.
It is mistaken to write, as Russell Gimirkin did, that M. Agrippa
was only as close as Herodion to the Essene settlement. First, what
Josephus (Antiquities 16, 12f [2.1]) wrote was that Agrippa visited
several sites in Judaea, including Hyrcania, which is closer to Pliny's
Essene settlement (Qumran) than Herodion. In other words, within
kilometers. Further, Josephus did not write that he went nowhere else.
Judging from this method, Agrippa may actually be attested as closer than
I have previously given much bibliography on orion (and a little in
JJS 1994), and also references to infra and Agrippa in Pliny. This
bibliography included the evidence for the destruction of Ein Gedi in circa
40 BCE. Also, it makes little sense to note the Nicolaus fragment vis-a-vis
Ant. 18.22 on Essenes without noting the probably more relevant text,
previously discussed, in Strabo (Geo. 7.3.3), quoting Posidonius.
Pliny listed about sixty sources for book 5 of Natural History--and
did not list Nicolaus of Damascus. Further, Pliny's list, for the most
part, is of authors rather than books. In addition to Agrippa's map and
commentary, he wrote an autobiography and official records.