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Re: orion-list Dio

    Stephen, this comment by C.P. Jones regarding Synesius' inserted 
reference to Sodom is interesting.  Dio's reference to the Essenes is so 
brief that it is difficult to evaluate, but his inaccurate description of the 
Essenes as occupying a city and his description of it as "blessed [
eudaimonic]" suggests the genre of his source.  Since the time of Aristotle 
there was a category of writing that collected together the customs of 
various tribes and peoples around the world, with a specific philosophically 
motivated interest in their political institutions.  Aristotle wrote one such 
essay (lost), and various others are known from later times (including that 
Nicolas of Damascus at FGH 90 103-124).  These were by and large Stoic and 
paradoxographical.  Pliny's description of the Essenes appears to derive from 
such a source.  The paradoxographical elements I have discussed before on 
Orion.  I would here merely add that the content of Pliny's description also 
touches on a number of topics of also addressed in Aristotle's Politics, such 
as education, private vs. public property, etc.  Returning to Dio (apud 
Synesius), the (inaccurate) description of the Essenes as occupying a "city" 
points to some such source whose interest in exotic ethnography is concerned 
with political institutions.  (The city-state ["polis"] was by some 
considered the ideal political unit.)  The term "eudaimonic" is also 
frequently encountered in descriptions of ideal political states.  
   Best regards,
   Russell Gmirkin
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