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Re: orion-list Agrippa in Pliny
To clarify matters, I wrote:
> "You have produced not the slightest scrap of evidence that the passage on
> Essenes was not such an adaptation to the contemporary situation of the
> Flavian age."
What I intended, and what I thought was clear from context, was
> "You have produced not the slightest scrap of evidence [_from Stern_] that
> the passage on Essenes was not such an adaptation to the contemporary
> situation of the Flavian age."
> The evidence that I have produced... includes
> archaeology of Ein Gedi destructions and rebuildings, recognition that
> destruction of Ein Gedi referred to is circa 40 BC not circa 68 AD; that
> destruction of Jerusalem is not necessarily linked here, as some
> translations mislead; that Pliny was not in Judaea, which many writers on
> Qumran have supposed; etc.
These are all arguments worthy of consideration. However, none of these
arguments come from Stern, and your dating of the destruction of En-gedi
brings you in conflict with Stern.
My responses to your three questions.
(1) The intermediate source who used Nicolas, and was in turn used by
Pliny, could have been Lucius Vetus, Arruntius, Philinides, Astynomus,
Staphylus, Dionysius, Panaetius, Antigenes, Nymphodorus, Aristocreon, or one
of the other of the obscure authorities listed for book 5 about whom little
or nothing is known.
(2) As to the differences between Pliny and Josephus, it seems to me the
passage in Pliny, deriving from Nicolas' _Remarkable Customs_, focussed
exclusively on the strange life of the Essenes who chose to dwell near the
Dead Sea. The Ripley's Believe it or Not character of the Pliny excursus -
and Nicolas' book - was not compatible with the more banal life of teh
oridinary Essenes scattered in the towns and villages of Judea. I believe
the material in Josephus and Philo comes from some other work by Nicolas,
probably his Universal History, not the quirky tabloid _Remarkable Customs_.
(3) I have already presented some of my evidence for the (indirect) use of
Nicolas by Pliny in book 5. Pliny's charactizing the "tribe of the Essenes"
as "remarkable beyond all the other tribes of the whole earth" indicates a
source on remarkable tribes around the world. Further, it appears to display
a certain chauvanism towards Judea and the Essenes is consistent with
Nicolas, the close friend of Herod whose favor towards the Essenes is
well-known. (Agrippa would have no reason to proclaim the Essenes as the
most remarkable tribe in the world.)
Nicolas' treatise was global in scope, including the strange customs of
Spanish Tartessos, the Kelts, Spartans, Cretans, Scythians, Sauromatians,
Assyrians, Persians, Indians, Egyptians, Libyans and others. Nicolas
discussed the ascetic Dacians, who, like the Essenes, lived without women;
and the Amazons, a tribe of women who lived without men. Nicolas discussed
several groups that, like the Essenes, practiced communal living, namely the
Libyrnii, Dopsolibyes, Galactophagi and Iberians. Pliny refers to others
that "adopt the manners" of the Essenes, showing a focus on manners or
customs of tribes consistent with Nicolas' work, and also portraying the
Essenes as a kind of philosophical order, similar to other strange
philosophical groups treated by Nicolas.
"Thus through thousands of ages (incredible to relate) a race in which no
man is born lives on forever..." - such florid, highly exaggerated prose is
appropriate to this genre (but obviously inappropriate to Roman road survey
notes for a map or for an autobiography).
Note also that Nicolas wrote a treatise on plants which is known to have
included flora by the Dead Sea.
A comparison of specific phrases in Nicolas and Pliny is hindered by the
fact that Nicolas wrote in Greek and Pliny in Latin. Nicolas' obscure book
on strange customs, surviving only in fragments quoted by Johannes Stobaeus,
to my knowledge has never been translated and only seldom discussed.
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