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

According to Russel Gmirken:
> Stephen Goranson writes:
[. . .]
Russell Gmirken replies:
>     Pliny clearly utilized sources who in turn excerpted Nicolas' _Collection 
> of Remarkable Customs_.  His use of Isigonus in book 7 demonstrates the 
> point.  

[. . .]
>     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).

Using Rackham's translation as the basis for establishing Nicolas of
Damascus as Pliny's source for the passage about the Essenes is a chancy 
business. While in our exchange in February 1998 concerning translation 
of the passage Jay Treat and I agreed about little, neither of us could in
good conscience accept Rackham's translation of *nocent* as "noxious
vapors." I'm sending an excerpt from my reply to Jay on the Orion list on 
February 26, 1998.

---------------- <excerpt of email posted to Orion>-----------------
<Re: "noxious exhalations">

Jay Treat:
> wooden translation of the Latin would be, "On the western side [i.e., of
> the Dead Sea], the Essenes avoid the shores wherever they do harm -- a
> solitary tribe and one more extraordinary than others in the whole
> world:
> without any woman, having given up all sex, without money, companion to
> date-palms."

Sigrid Peterson replied:
This part I translated "They completely shun (or flee, or exile themselves
from) that which hurts [=pollutes?]." I wondered whether <noceo> might not
be the best translation of the concept of impurity in the Judaisms of the
time--that which harms or hurts. It will take further investigation to
establish the equation I'm suggesting here.

I have completely departed, here, from Rackham's "but out of range of the
noxious exhalations of the coast." I don't see any Latin words underlying
"but", "out of range of", nor are there genitives for "noxious
exhalations" and "of the coast."

>     Best regards,
>     Russell Gmirkin
>	RGmyrken@aol.com

All the best,
Sigrid Peterson  UPenn  petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu

For private reply, e-mail to petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu (Sigrid Peterson)
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