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

Stephen Goranson writes:

>   You have explicitly stated that your proposal calls for a tradent
>  listed by Pliny for Book 5. Isigonus is not listed there. 

    Pliny clearly utilized sources who in turn excerpted Nicolas' _Collection 
of Remarkable Customs_.  His use of Isigonus in book 7 demonstrates the 
    It is possible that one of Pliny's listed authorities for book 5 also 
used Nicolas; or, alternately, that Pliny used Isigonus in book 5 without 
citing him, much as you hold Pliny used Agrippa in book 7 without citing him.

>   As to Latin authors, such as Agrippa, wouldn't one expect Josephus
>  to have less knowledge than Pliny?

    This is special pleading.  Josephus acted as a Jewish delegate to Rome 
before the Jewish War.  One would presume he had knowledge of Latin and he 
would not have ovrelooked Agrippa's Autobiography if the latter had contained 
information relevant to Jewish history.

>   To respond to your request about Agrippa's autobiography, Reinhold
>  wrote: "The disappearance of the autobiography of Agrippa, the extent of
>  which and the date of which we do not know, is a regrettable loss not only
>  for the biographer of Agrippa, but also for the historian of the foundation
>  of the Roman Empire, over which Agrippa exerted a tremendous and
>  far-reaching influence."

    Then there is, as I suspected, no evidence Agrippa postponed the writing 
of his Autobiography till the last two years of his life.  An account of the 
foundation of the Roman Empire, which Agrippa's Autobiography certainly 
touched upon, would have been useful earlier in the reign of Augustus.
   Agrippa's Autobiography would have concerned itself with matters of 
political import, not the strange customs of an obscure tribe by the Dead Sea.

    Incidentally, that Nicolas of Damascus was the source of Pliny's excursus 
on the Essenes may explain Pliny's curious reference to their living beyond 
the "noxious exhalations" of the Dead Sea coast.  In _de Plantis_ [On 
Plants], whose authorship by Nicolas of Damascus is considered beyond 
question, Nicolas extensively discusses the process by which heavy salt water 
is produced by evaporation from lighter fresh water that has been confined to 
a certain place.  Nicolas illustrates this process by reference to the Dead 
Sea, in which "nothing can sink or be born" (On Plants 2.824a).  Nicolas also 
makes the obvious point that salty earth produced in this fashion cannot 
support plant life.  So far as I can tell, only in the writings of Nicolas 
are combined the notions of evaporation, toxicity, and the Dead Sea.  I take 
the sense of Pliny's region of "noxious exhalations" bordering the Dead Sea 
to refer to the area near the water where the salt content of the soil, 
created by evaporation ["exhalations"] renders the soil toxic to plants (not 
that it kills humans to breathe, as the harvesters of bitumen floating in the 
Dead Sea illustrates).

    Best regards,
    Russell Gmirkin
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