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Re: orion Solinus, Dio, Pliny, M. Agrippa
Some minor responses to Steven Goranson.
Pliny and Solinus only associate the Essenes by the Dead Sea with date
palms; Solinus says they live on dates. SG and I agree these references date
to the era of Herod the Great due to the anachronisms in Judean topographical
references. It is an easy step to link the Essenes with the royal monopolies
of Herod the Great, their patron.
To say that "Nicolaus, an Aristotelian, would be less likely to admire
Essenes than a Platonist or Stoic or Pythagorean would be" is astounding,
given Nicolas' well-known record as Herod's flatterer and the favorable
notices regarding the Essenes in passages in Josephus universally regarded as
deriving from Nicolas. Nicolas, as Herod's flatterer, would obviously also
have written favorably of Herod's pet sect.
If Essenes lived in the vicinity of the Ein Gedi date groves, I don't see
how listing the two together violates the downstream sequence in Pliny and
I stand corrected with regard to Agrippa's visit to Herodion. I had the
fortress Hyrkania in mind. Steven writes that "Josephus did not write that he
went nowhere else" - suggesting that Agrippa may have come even closer to Ein
Gedi and/or the Essenes? But Ant. 16.12-23, which SG cites, limits the tour
to Herod's "newly founded cities" (Sebaste, Caesarea, Alexandreion, Herodeion,
and Hyrkania). He emphasizes "enjoyable food and luxury" with which Agrippa
and his friends were feted. This would have included such delicacies as the
famed caryotic and Nicolas dates from Jericho and Ein Gedi, to which I take
Pliny and Solinus to refer. Also, I fail to understand how Agrippa's tour
takes him closer to the Dead Sea than Nicolas, since Nicolas undoubtedly
accompanied Herod and Agrippa in throughout Herod's travels in Ant. 16.6-65,
and is expressly mentioned at 16.29ff.
Finally, I have previously discussed why Nicolas (who certainly knew of
both the Essenes and Ctistae) rather than Posidonius is behind comparison of
the Essenes to the Dacian Ctistae tribe at Ant. 18.22. Wacholder's discussion
of this point is especially illuminating. Posidonius' mention of Ctistae in
the fragment at Strabo 7.3.3 is in the context of Homer, not the Essenes, a
point to which you have not responded. Hence I think we can discard
Posidonius as manifestly irrelevant.
There are sufficient parallels among Solinus, Pliny, and Josephus'
accounts of the Essenes (stringent entry requirements, virtue, celibacy,
agricultural labor, comparison to barbarian tribes) to suggest a common
source, which appears to be Nicolas.