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Re: orion-list Pliny Qumran analysis (2 brief replies)
Stephen Goranson correctly inferred that I had not yet read Dilke's
material in The History of Cartography. Now that I have, I am struck by the
repeated emphasis there that Agrippa based his map and commentary on roads
surveys commissioned by Caesar and Augustus, and by the practical purposes
for which the map project was intended, e.g. mapping routes for armies,
planning roads and the like. The Essene excursus in Pliny strikes me as
useless for any of these purposes, nor as information likely to have been
collected in a road survey (!).
Goranson quotes Dilke in part as follows:
> Moreover, much
> of the information on the west coast of Africa concerns animals and is
> hardly suitable for inclusion in an official map. [5.1.9-10] Another
> such informative passage credits him with with writing that the whole
> Caspian coast from the river Casus consists of very high cliffs, which
> prevent landing for 425 miles. [6.15.39]....
The second item of extra information, on the lack of harbors along the
Caspian, is of obvious practical importance for travel by water and is a
datum clearly gathered during the surveys under Caesar and Augustus. The
first item on "animals" in Pliny 5.1.9-10 consists precisely of the
following: "... the River Daret, in which are crocodiles ... the River
Bambotas, full of crocodiles and hippotami ..." These animals were menaces
to river travel and are mentioned for this reason. These isolated nuggets of
information - no more than a phrase attached to a site - were well within the
scope of Agrippa's project. They provide no support for the idea that the
Essene excursus derives from the commentarii.
Stephen Goranson wrote (to suggest Pliny knew Agrippa's autobiography?):
> In Book Seven 145, Pliny explicitly names Agrippa (and
> Maecenas) as having stated some facts about the health of Augustus.
> Nicolaus of Damascus, on the other hand, is absent from both Books Five
> and Seven.
Pliny draws on statements from Agrippa in book 7, as you point out, yet
does not draw _directly_ on Agrippa since he does not list him as one of his
authorities for book 7: in other words, Pliny found a statement from Agrippa
quoted in some later authority (not Agrippa's autobiography). Given that a
statement from Agrippa snuck into book 7, why do you find it difficult to
believe a short excerpt from Nicolas of Damascus might not have appeared in a
later source and was quoted by Pliny in book 5? The cases are obviously
In an earlier post I quoted Dilke as follows:
"Book VII of the Natural History is anthropological, and in it Agrippa's
commentary does not appear, so that it is unlikely to have had any concern
with descriptions of tribes, which perhaps helps to confirm its concentration
I then commented:
> Pliny's excursus on the "solitary tribe of the Essenes, which is
> remarkable beyond all the other tribes in the whole world"
> shows its source describes the various tribes of the world and
> their remarkable customs, and contains precisely the sort of
> ethnological descriptions which Agrippa's commentarii omitted.
> The suggestion that Pliny Book Seven might be an appropriate place
> for an ethnological account of a group such as Essenes is a curious one,
> since Essenes are in Book Five.
Where is this suggestion?? If someone doesn't quote every phrase of an
author that you would, you accuse them of misrepresenting facts (as you have
recently with myself on Menahem Stern and Doudna on Bar-Adon), yet your care
in quoting others' arguments is clearly lacking, in this case at least.
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