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orion Posidonius

	"Posidonius, the Stoic philosopher and polymath of Apamea and
Rhodes, one of the most dominant intellectual figures in the first half of
the first century BC, had in general an astonishingly encyclopedic range of
interests and writings. In particular, he was the only major professional
philosopher of the ancient world who also wrote a large and important
historical work..." (I.G. Kidd, in Philosophia Togata [Oxford: Clarendon,
1989] 38). Posidonius was the main source for Strabo's History; and
Josephus used Strabo's History in Ant 13 in describing Essenes and others
philosophically. Posidonius was interested in etymology and ethnography.
	Russell Gmirkin and I agreed and disagreed about many things
lately. We agreed that Y. Hirschfeld's site is evidently not the site of
Pliny's Essenes--an opinion shared by many archaeologists. One of the
disagreements was whether the text in Strabo's Geography excludes
Posidonius as a source on Essenes, as RG wrote. Without rehearsing the old
remarks, if I may summarize: B. Bar-Kochva and I wrote about more pervasive
influence of Posidonius than RG did. The somewhat related case of H.
Strasburger in JRS is rather complicated; suffice it to say that HS
considered Posidonius' account of Pompey in Judaea and perhaps also the
Third Servile War (Spartacus) possibly part of Posidonius' History, rather
than a separate work. In other words, HS and others date the end of
Posidonius' History later than the date cited by RG. But I'm not writing
orion merely to reopen argument about that secondary literature about
Strabo (not, at least, until Bar-Kochva's book on Posidonius appears).
Rather, I just want to make the point that, though the precise extent of
the contributions of Posidonius in Starbo's Geography are still discussed,
none of these views in any way excludes Posidonius as knowing and writing
about Essenes. That goes also for the most miminalist view of Posidonius'
presence in Geo 16--i.e., that of I. G. Kidd in his commentary on that
passage (Posidonius: The Commentary, vol. 2 part 2, [Cambridge Univ. Press,
	In all the talk about which lines Posidonius gave Strabo in Geo
16--some of which may have sounded like arguing whether West Side Story was
totally or partly dependent on Romeo and Juliet-- it should not be
forgotten that Strabo was also a Stoic (i.e., he could Stoicize sources
too), with a Stoic view of Judaism as having a noble teacher, Moses,  some
of whose followers continued with his teachings (Essenes; compare Philo's
Apology for the Jews [Eusebius, Prep.Ev.  8.11.1]); others who--from their
view--abandoned the teachings included Alexander Jannaeus.

Stephen Goranson
Duke University