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Re: orion-list a test of the Nicolaus of Damascus proposal
Sigrid Peterson writes:
> 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
Thank you Sigrid for your comments. I always appreciate new information
or analysis even if - perhaps even especially if - it means modifying my
opinions. On reviewing the series of posts, plus Pliny, I agree with your
rejection of Rackham's translation and I cheerfully withdraw my suggestion on
Nicolas and Pliny's "noxious vapors."
Stephen Goranson writes:
> You suggest that because Josephus was a "delegate to Rome before
> the Jewish War" that he then new (sic) Latin? Really?
Yes, I think that's a permissible inference. Wars, Antiquities, and Life
also record various conversations between Josephus and Vespasian or Titus and
interpreters are not mentioned so far as I am aware. On the contrary,
Josephus is said to have transmitted Titus' speeches in Hebrew for the
benefit of those beseiged in Jerusalem and other invested cities. This is
not say that his Greek was as good as his Hebrew or his Latin as good as his
Greek. Nevertheless I don't think one can exclude Josephus having at least
minimal knowledge of conversational Latin.
However, the above observations are an aside hardly worth discussing. Of
more direct relevance to our discussion, Josephus certainly drew on various
Latin sources. The well-known parallels between Josephus and Tacitus point
to a Roman source on the Jewish War. These were probably the official
commentaries on the war by Vespasian and Titus, which Josephus claimed
familiarity with at Contra Ap 1.36; Life 342, 358. Josephus also translated
into Greek various official Roman documents emanating from the Senate, Julius
Caesar, Mark Anthony, Augustus, Marcus Agrippa, Claudius Caesar and others,
some inscribed in Latin on brass tablets at Rome. Whether Josephus had
assistance in translating these materials (as seems likely) is immaterial.
The fact is, Josephus routinely handled Latin sources in writing his various
works, and there is no reason to believe language would have been a barrier
to using Agrippa's Autobiography had there been anything relevant to
abstract. The fact that Josephus does not use the Autobiography is a strong
indicator that it did not contain an account of Agrippa's dealings with the
Jews late in his career. That other Roman authors who appeared to have used
the Autobiography - Dio Cassius comes to mind - fail to mentions Agrippa's
contacts with the Jews also points in the same direction. Before proposing
Agrippa's Autobiography was the source behind Pliny's account on the Essenes,
evidence that it included Agrippa's trip to Judea would be helpful - indeed,
given the contraindications, essential.
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