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Re: orion-list a test of the Nicolaus of Damascus proposal

Dear Stephen Goranson,

You write:

> If I understand Russell's proposal correctly, Pliny used, 
>  as his source on Essenes, an author listed for Book 5 who 
>  had copied an earlier text by Nicolaus. 

This is correct.

>  Russell also 
>  emphasized that Book 7 (with cannibals; people immune to 
>  snakebite, etc.) is actually more in character with 
>  Nicolaus' book on customs than is Book 5. 

    I made no such statement.  However, you raise an interesting point.  I 
would point out that Isigonus is listed as an authority for book 7.  
Isigonus, thought to be a younger contemporary of Nicolas of Damascus, is 
believed to be the author of the _Paradoxographus Vat. Rhodii_, which 
excerpted the _Paradoxon Ethon Sunagoge_ (Collection of Remarkable Customs) 
by Nicolas of Damascus.  Pliny was thus acquainted with traditions deriving 
from Nicolas by way of Isigonus.  (I have not yet acquired the 
_Paradoxigraphus_ but it will be interesting to see how Nicolas is cited and 
how much of that work survives.)  Perhaps Pliny used Isigonus for an isolated 
excerpt on Essenes in book 5 without listing him as an authority, much as you 
have suggested he used Agrippa's Autobiography in book 7 without listing him 
as an authority.  
    I agree that Pliny may have read the Autobiography, as Pliny 36.121 
refers to Agrippa's memoirs of his aedileship in 33 BCE.  The autobiography 
doubtless primarily chronicles Agrippa's career in service of Augustus.  We 
may assume Agrippa wrote of his role in the civil wars, etc.  Perhaps you 
could clarify a point regarding the Autobiography on which I'm unclear 
(Reinhold's biography of Agrippa not yet having arrived by ILL).  What date 
does scholarship assign the autobiography?  What is the latest event referred 
to in surviving fragments?  Obviously, if a reference to the Essenes appears 
in it, as you suggest, then it must postdate his trip to Judea in 15 BCE.  
(Yet it seems to me the Autobiography, serving important propaganda purposes 
in presenting the Augustine version of recent events, would have been useful 
relatively early on in Augustus' controversial reign.)  
   It seems to me unlikely the Autobiography covered Agrippa's trip to Judea 
(in which he allegedly learned of the Essenes).  We may assume Josephus was 
familiar with Agrippa's Autobiography.  Josephus wrote at Rome, and one of 
his patrons, Herod Agrippa, was named after Marcus Agrippa and maintained 
contacts with Agrippa's descendants as I recall.  His histories mention 
Agrippa's conferring benefits on the Jews of Asia Minor and his trip to Judea 
in the company of Herod and Nicolas.  Yet Josephus - whose search for 
favorable references to the Jews was exhaustive - never cites Agrippa's 
Autobiography for any purpose that I am aware.  Agrippa's Autobiography was 
not consulted for the trip to Judea, for instance.  This can scarcely be 
explained except if Agrippa's Autobiography did not extend to events as late 
as 15 BCE.  Of course, if you could can demonstrate that the Autobiography 
contains references to any events of 15-12 BCE, i.e. after Agrippa's Judean 
trip, that is another matter.  (And in that case, it would be necessary to 
explain why Josephus failed to mention Agrippa's hypothetical Dead Sea 
Essenes, of which Josephus would certainly have read.)  But lacking such 
evidence, and in light of the negative evidence from Josephus, perhaps your 
suggestion regarding Agrippa's Autobiography as a source on the Essenes 
should be withdrawn.
    Your comments on the accepted date for the Autobiography, and the 
evidence on that date is based (i.e. events that appear therein), would be 
greatly appreciated.

    Best Regards,
    Russell Gmirkin
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