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Re: orion Solinus, Dio, Pliny, M. Agrippa
There are some misstatements, both major and minor, in Russell Gimirkin's
I assume the first "Solinus" in the first sentence was a typo, as
Pliny and Solinus were contrasted with Solinus. In any case, Pliny's text
is to be preferred over that of Solinus in respect to the location of
Essenes, as the later two texts (Dio in Synesius and Solinus) can be
reasonably explained as having misunderstood or poorly paraphrased Pliny or
his source on Essenes being inland enough to get better water than the
noxious Dead Water. Similarly, taking Solinus as proof Essenes lived on
dates alone is naive. Further, if the Nicolaus date were so relevant to
Essenes, why did no ancient writer discuss them together?
By the way, despite the (false) story that birds die (from fumes)
when flying over the Dead Sea (which, perhaps, influenced Rackham in his
translation), the Dead Sea area has more oxygen than at sea level, so the
air is not the problem--the water is just unusable for drinking or for
(usual and religious ritual) bathing.
There is, I think, no evidence that Pliny book 5, or that Marcus
Agrippa, used Nicolaus. Pliny was widely read, and listed *sixty* sources
for book 5. Therefore, the putative influence of Nicolas on Pliny's text is
quite improbable. Further, much of the writing of Nicolaus took place after
M. Agrippa died.
Russell Gmirkin wrote of my "astounding" remark that Nicolaus, as
an Aristotelian, would not be as likely to write admiringly of Essenes as a
Platonist, Stoic, or Pythagorean. I doubt many other readers were
More importantly, and in direct contradiction to Russell Gmirkin's
last two posts, the Nicolaus fragment (FGH 90 104) does *not* mention the
Ctistae. Russell Gimirkin wrote "In this book ND also mentioned the
celibacy of the Ctistae..." and "...Nicolas (who certainly knew of both
the Essenes and the Ctistae)..." This claim, of a text which does not
include the name Ctistae--despite the explicit declarations by Russell
Gimirkin--is "astounding." Further, the allusion to Homer (not mentioned
two posts ago), is correctly identified in the book by Wacholder (which is
indeed quite learned, though of little use for study of Essenes) as coming
from De Vita Contemplativa, on Therapeutae. I do think Therapeutae bear a
relationship with Essenes, but not all agree, so it is proper to be clear.
Ben Zion Wacholder (pages 71-72 [and endnotes], the only mention of Essenes
in the book), of course, did not make the mistake of claiming that Nicolaus
wrote about Ctistae.
Again, Herod, "omitting nothing that might please him," according
to Josephus Ant 16.13, took Agrippa to many places in Judaea. Nothing
whatsoever in this text limits his itinerary to only the places mentioned.
Of course, both Agrippa and Nicolaus knew the Dead Sea. To write as if one
knew where Agrippa had not been in Judaea is, plainly, misleading.
If--according to the wrong reading of Pliny--one wished to locate
Essenes on the outskirts of Ein Gedi, then it would make more sense first
to locate Ein Gedi and then, second, to append the observation that Essenes
were on the outskirts. (One locates a city, then the suburbs--even though
Essenes were not suburbanites, in this case.) But, evidence from many
quarters informs us that Essenes lived infra, meaning further along, from
Jericho, and before arriving downstream at (the former) Ein Gedi.
What is most reckless in the previous post I have yet to mention.
Russell Gmirkin urged Nicolaus as the source for Pliny, despite the fact
that Pliny's account does not match those accounts in Josephus which some
think were taken from Nicolaus. The Ant 13 account, for example, clearly
associates Essenes and the Stoic view of heimarmene. That Russell Gimirkin
has written as one of those who takes Nicolaus of Damascus as an important
source for Josephus on Essenes is evident from previous posts. Russell
Gmirkin wrote, "Hence I think we can discard Posidonius as manifestly
irrelevant." That sentence, in my opinion, is less than scholarly and less
than helpful. Anyone who may wish to pursue the matter--and to see whether
Posidonius is "manifestly irrelevant" as a source on Essenes--can read the
literature on this Stoic philosopher, historian, and geographer, including
"Posidonius, Strabo, and Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa as Sources on Essenes,"
in Journal of Jewish Studies 45 (1994) 295-98 and the subsequent discussion
(with further bibliography) on Posidonius in orion archives.