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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Philo Of Alexandria, On The Embassy To Gaius, 182-239

nanBut I myself, who was accounted to be possessed of superior prudence, both on account of my age and my education, and general information, was less sanguine in respect of the matters at which the others were so greatly delighted. "For why," said I, after pondering the matter deeply in my own heart, "why, when there have been such numbers of ambassadors, who have come, one may almost say, from every corner of the globe, did he say on that occasion that he would hear what we had to say, and no one else? What could have been his meaning? for he was not ignorant that we were Jews, who would have been quite content at not being treated worse than the others;

nanbut to expect to be looked upon as worthy to receive especial privileges and precedence, by a master who was of a different nation and a young man and an absolute monarch, would have seemed like insanity. But it would seem that he was showing civility to the whole district of the Alexandrians, to which he was thus giving a privilege, when promising to give his decision speedily; unless, indeed, disregarding the character of a fair and impartial hearer, he was intending to be a fellow suitor with our adversaries and an enemy of ours, instead of behaving like a judge." XXIX.

nanHaving these ideas in my mind, I resisted the sanguine hopes of the others, and had no rest in my mind day or night. But while I was thus giving way to despondency and lamenting over my ignorance of the future (for it was not safe to postpone matters), on a sudden another most grievous and unexpected calamity fell upon us, bringing danger not on one section of the Jews only, but on all the nation together.

nanFor we had come from Rome to Dicaearchia attending upon Gaius; and he had gone down to the seaside and was remaining near the gulf, having left for a while his own palaces, which were numerous and superbly furnished.

nanAnd while we were anxiously considering his intentions, for we were continually expecting to be summoned, a man arrived, with blood-shot eyes, and looking very much troubled, out of breath and palpitating, and leading us away to a little distance from the rest (for there were several persons near), he said, "Have you heard the news?" And then when he was about to tell us what it was he stopped, because of the abundance of tears that rose up to choke his utterance.

nanAnd beginning again, he was a second and a third time stopped in the same manner. And we, seeing this, were much alarmed and agitated by suspense, and entreated him to tell us what the circumstance was on account of which he said that he had come; for he could not have come merely to weep before so many witnesses. "If, then," said we, "you have any real cause for tears, do not keep your grief to yourself; we have been long ago well accustomed to misfortune.

nanAnd he with difficulty, sobbing aloud, and in a broken voice, spoke as follows: "Our temple is destroyed! Gaius has ordered a colossal statue of himself to be erected in the holy of holies, having his own name inscribed upon it with the title of Jupiter!

nanAnd while we were all struck dumb with astonishment and terror at what he had told us, and stood still deprived of all motion (for we stood there mute and in despair, ready to fall to the ground with fear and sorrow, the very muscles of our bodies being deprived of all strength by the news which we had heard); others arrived bearing the same sad tale.

nanAnd then we all retired and shut ourselves up together and bewailed our individual and common miseries, and went through every circumstance that our minds could conceive, for a man in misfortune is a most loquacious animal, wrestling as we might with our misery. And we said to one another, "We have sailed hither in the middle of winter, in order that we might not be all involved in violation of the law and in misfortunes proceeding from it, without being aware what a winter of misery was awaiting us on shore, far more grievous than any storm at sea. For of the one nature is the cause, which has divided the seasons of the year and arranged them in due order, but nature is a thing which exerts a saving power; but the other storm is caused by a man who cherishes no ideas such as become a man, but is a young man, and a promoter of all kinds of innovation, being invested with irresponsible power over all the world. "And youth, when combined with absolute power and yielding to irresistible and unrestrained passion, is an invincible evil.

nanAnd will it be allowed to us to approach him or to open our mouth on the subject of the synagogues before this insulter of our holy and glorious temple? For it is quite evident that he will pay no regard whatever to things of less importance and which are held in inferior estimation, when he behaves with insolence and contempt towards our most beautiful and renowned temple, which is respected by all the east and by all the west, and regarded like the sun which shines everywhere.

nanAnd even if we were allowed free access to him, what else could we expect but an inexorable sentence of death? But be it so; we will perish. For, indeed, a glorious death in defence of and for the sake of the preservation of our laws, is a kind of life. "But, indeed, if no advantage is derived from our death, would it not be insanity to perish in addition to what we now have to endure, and this too, while we appear to be ambassadors, so that the calamity appears rather to affect those who have sent us than those who remain?

nanNot but what those of our fellow countrymen who are by nature most inclined to detest all wickedness, will accuse us of impiety, as if we, in the extremity of dangers, when our whole country was tossed about and threatened, were remembering some private interests of our own out of selfishness. For it is necessary that small things must yield to great ones, and that private objects must yield to the general interests; since, when they are destroyed, there is an end of the constitution and of the nation.

nanFor how can it be holy or lawful for us to struggle in any other manner, pointing out that we are citizens of Alexandria, over whom a danger is now impending, that namely, of the utter destruction of the general constitution of the Jewish nation; for in the destruction of the temple there is reason to fear that this man, so fond of innovation and willing to dare the most audacious actions, will also order the general name of our whole nation to be abolished.

nanIf, therefore, both the objects on account of which we were sent are overthrown, perhaps some one will say, What then, did they not know that they had to negotiate for a safe return? But I would reply to such a man, You either have not the genuine feelings of a nobly born man, or else you were not educated like one, and have never been trained in the knowledge of the sacred scriptures; for men who are truly noble are full of hope, and the laws too implant good hopes in all those who do not study them superficially but with all their hearts.

nanPerhaps these things are meant as a trial of the existing generation to see how they are inclined towards virtue, and whether they have been taught to bear evils with resolute and firm minds, without yielding at the first moment; all human considerations then are discarded, and let them be discarded, but let an imperishable hope and trust in God the Saviour remain in our souls, as he has often preserved our nation amid inextricable difficulties and distresses." XXX.

nanThese were the sort of things which we said, bewailing at the same time our unexpected calamities, and yet also encouraging one another with the hope of a change to a more tranquil and peaceful state of things. And after a little consideration and delay, we said to those who had brought us this doleful news, "Why sit ye here quietly, having just kindled sparks of eagerness in our ears by which we are set on fire and rendered all in a blaze, when you ought rather to add to what you have told us an account of the causes which have operated on Gaius.

nanAnd they replied, "You know the principal and primary cause of all; for that indeed is universally known to all men. He desires to be considered a god; and he conceives that the Jews alone are likely to be disobedient; and that therefore he cannot possibly inflict a greater evil or injury upon them than by defacing and insulting the holy dignity of their temple; for report prevails that it is the most beautiful of all the temples in the world, inasmuch as it is continually receiving fresh accessions of ornament and has been for an infinite period of time, a never-ending and boundless expense being lavished on it. And as he is a very contentious and quarrelsome man, he thinks of appropriating this edifice wholly to himself.

nanAnd he is excited now on this subject to a much greater degree than before by a letter which Capito has sent to him. "Capito is the collector of the imperial revenues in Judaea, and on some account or other he is very hostile to the nations of the country; for having come thither a poor man, and having amassed enormous riches of every imaginable description by plunder and extortion, he has now become afraid lest some accusation may be brought against him, and on this account he has contrived a design by which he may repel any such impeachment, namely, by calumniating those whom he has injured;

nanand a circumstance which we will now mention, has given him some pretext for carrying out his design.40,200 "There is a city called Jamnia; one of the most populous cities in all Judaea, which is inhabited by a promiscuous multitude, the greatest number of whom are Jews; but there are also some persons of other tribes from the neighbouring nations who have settled there to their own destruction, who are in a manner sojourners among the original native citizens, and who cause them a great deal of trouble, and who do them a great deal of injury, as they are continually violating some of the ancestral national customs of the Jews.

nanThese men hearing from travellers who visit the city how exceedingly eager and earnest Gaius is about his own deification, and how disposed he is to look unfavourably upon the whole race of Judaea, thinking that they have now an admirable opportunity for attacking them themselves, have erected an extemporaneous altar of the most contemptible materials, having made clay into bricks for the sole purpose of plotting against their fellow citizens; for they knew well that they would never endure to see their customs transgressed; as was indeed the case.

nanFor when the Jews saw what they had done, and were very indignant at the holiness and sanctity and beauty of the sacred place being thus obscured and defaced, they collected together and destroyed the altar; so the sojourners immediately went to Capito who was in reality the contriver of the whole affair; and he, thinking that he had made a most lucky hit, which he had been seeking for a long time, writes to Gaius dilating on the matter and exaggerating it enormously;

nanand he, when he had read the letter, ordered a colossal statue gilt all over, much more costly and much more magnificent than the rich altar which had been erected in Jamnia, by way of insult to be set up in the temple of the metropolis, having for his most excellent and sagacious counsellors Helicon, that man of noble birth, a chattering slave, a perfect scum of the earth, and a fellow of the name of Apelles, a tragic actor, who when in the first bloom of youth, as they say, made a market of his beauty, and when he was past the freshness of youth went on the stage;

nanand in fact all those who go on the stage selling themselves to the spectators, and to the theatres, are not lovers of temperance and modesty, but rather of the most extreme shamelessness and indecency. "On this account Apelles was taken into the rank of a fellow counsellor of the emperor, that Gaius might have an adviser with whom he might indulge in mocking jests, and with whom he might sing, passing over all considerations of the general welfare of the state, as if everything in every quarter of the globe was enjoying profound peace and tranquillity under the laws.

nanTherefore Helicon, this scorpion-like slave, discharged all his Egyptian venom against the Jews; and Apelles his Ascalonite poison, for he was a native of Ascalon; and between the people of Ascalon and the inhabitants of the holy land, the Jews, there is an irreconcileable and neverending hostility although they are bordering nations.

nanWhen we heard this we were wounded in our souls at every word he said and at every name he mentioned; but those admirable advisers of admirable actions a little while afterwards met with the fit reward of their impiety, the one being bound by Gaius with iron chains for other causes, and being put to the torture and to the rack after periods of relief, as is the case with people affected with intermittent diseases; and Helicon was put to death by Claudius Germanicus Caesar, for other wicked actions, that, like a madman as he was, he had committed; but there occurrences took place at a later date. XXXI.

nanAnd the letter respecting the erection of the statue was written not in plain terms, but with as much caution and prudence as possible, taking every measure which could tend to security; for he commands Petronius, the lieutenant and governor of all Syria, to whom indeed he wrote the letter, to lead half the army which was on the Euphrates, to guard against any passage of that river by any of the eastern kings or nations, into Judaea as an escort to the statue; not in order to honour its erection with any especial pomp, but to chastise with death any attempt that might be made to hinder it.

nanWhat sayest thou, O master? Are you making war upon us, because you anticipate that we will not endure such indignity, but that we will fight on behalf of our laws, and die in defence of our national customs? For you cannot possibly have been ignorant of what was likely to result from your attempt to introduce these innovations respecting our temple; but having previously learnt with perfect accuracy what was likely to happen as well as if it had already taken place, and knowing the future as thoroughly as if it were actually present, you commanded your general to bring up an army in order that the statue when erected might be consecrated by the first sacrifice offered to it, being of a most polluted kind, stained with the blood of miserable men and women.

nanAccordingly Petronius, when he had read what he was commanded to do in this letter, was in great perplexity, not being able to resist the orders sent to him out of fear, for he heard that the emperor's wrath was implacable not only against those who did not do what they were commanded to do, but who did not do it in a moment; and on the other hand, he did not see how it was easy to perform them, for he knew that the Jews would willingly, if it were possible, endure ten thousand deaths instead of one, rather than submit to see any forbidden thing perpetrated with respect to their religion;

nanfor all men are eager to preserve their own customs and laws, and the Jewish nation above all others; for looking upon their laws as oracles directly given to them by God himself, and having been instructed in this doctrine from their very earliest infancy they bear in their souls the images of the commandments contained in these laws as sacred;

nanand secondly, as they continually behold the visible shapes and forms of them, they admire and venerate them in their minds and they admit such foreigners as are disposed to honour and worship them, to do so no less than their own native fellow citizens. But all who attempt to violate their laws, or to turn them into ridicule, they detest as their bitterest enemies, and they look upon each separate one of the commandments with such awe and reverence that, whether one ought to call it the invariable good fortune or the happiness of the nation, they have never been guilty of the violation of even the most insignificant of them;

nanbut above all other observances their zeal for their holy temple is the most predominant, and vehement, and universal feeling throughout the whole nation; and the greatest proof of this is that death is inexorably pronounced against all those who enter into the inner circuit of the sacred precincts (for they admit all men from every country into the exterior circuit), unless he be one of their own nation by blood.

nanPetronius, having regard to these considerations, was very reluctant to attempt what he was commanded to do, considering what a great and wicked piece of daring he should be committing, and invoking all the deliberative powers of his soul as to a council, he inquired into the opinion of each of them, and he found every faculty of his mind agreeing that he should change nothing of these observances and customs which had been hallowed from the beginning of the world; in the first place because of the natural principles of justice and piety by which they were dictated, and secondly because of the danger which threatened any attempt at innovation upon them, not only from God, but also from the people who would be insulted by such conduct.

nanHe also gave a thought to the circumstances of the nation itself, to its exceeding populousness, so that it was not contained as every other nation was by the circuit of the one region which was allotted to it for itself, but so that, I may almost say, it had spread over the whole face of the earth; for it is diffused throughout every continent, and over every island, so that everywhere it appears but little inferior in number to the original native population of the country.

nanWas it not, then, a most perilous undertaking to draw upon himself such innumerable multitudes of enemies? And was there not danger of allies and friends from all quarters arriving to their assistance? It would be a result of very formidable danger and difficulty, besides the fact that the inhabitants of Judaea are infinite in numbers, and a nation of great stature and personal strength, and of great courage and spirit, and men who are willing to die in defence of their national customs and laws with unshrinking bravery, so that some of those who calumniate them say that their courage (as indeed is perfectly true) is beyond that of any barbarian nation, being the spirit of free and nobly born men.

nanAnd the state of all the nations which lie beyond the Euphrates added to his alarm; for he was aware that Babylon and many others of the satrapies of the east were occupied by the Jews, knowing this not merely by report but likewise by personal experience; for every year sacred messengers are sent to convey large amounts of gold and silver to the temple, which has been collected from all the subordinate governments, travelling over rugged, and difficult, and almost impassable roads, which they look upon as level and easy inasmuch as they serve to conduct them to piety.

nanTherefore, being exceedingly alarmed, as was very natural, lest if they heard of the unprecedented design of erecting this colossal statue in the temple, they might on a sudden direct their march that way and surround him, some on one side and some on the other, so as to hem him in completely, and co-operating with and joining one another might treat the enemy who would be thus enclosed in the midst of them with terrible severity, he hesitated long, attaching great weight to all these considerations.

nanThen again he was drawn in the opposite direction by considerations of a contrary character, saying to himself, "This is the command of one who is my master and a young man, and of one who judges everything which he wishes to have done to be expedient and becoming, and who is resolved that everything which he has once decided on shall be at once performed even though it may be the most injurious measure possible and full of all contention and insolence; and now having passed beyond all human nature he has actually recorded himself to be God; and great danger of my life impends over me whether I oppose him or whether I comply with his commands; if I comply with them the result will very probably be war, and one that perhaps may be attended with doubtful success and which will be far from turning out as it is expected to do; and if I oppose him I shall then be exposed to the open and implacable hatred of Gaius.

nanAnd with this opinion of his, many of those Romans who were joined with him in the administration of the affairs of Syria coincided, knowing that the anger of Gaius and the punishments which he would inflict would come upon them first as being accomplices in the disobedience to the injunctions which he had sent;

nanbut at last when it arrived the fashion of the statue afforded them a pretext for delay during which they might have time for a more deliberate consideration of the matter; for they did not send any man from Rome (as it appears to me because the providence of God overruled the matter in this way, who thus invisibly stayed the hand of these wicked doers), nor did he command the most skilful man or him who was accounted so in Syria to manage the matter, since while he was pressing on this lawless action with all speed a war was suddenly kindled.

nanTherefore having now opportunity to consider what course would be most advantageous (for when great events suddenly come altogether, they break down and perplex the mind), he commanded the statue to be made in some one of the bordering regions.

nanTherefore Petronius, sending for the most skilful and renowned artists in Phoenicia, gave them the materials requisite for the making of the statue; and they took them to Sidon, and there proceeded to make it. He also sent for the magistrates of the Jews and the priests and rulers of the people, both to announce to them the commands which he had received from Gaius and also to counsel them to submit cheerfully to the commands which had been imposed by their master, and to give due consideration to the dangers before their eyes; for that the most warlike of the military powers in Syria were all ready, and would soon cover all the country with dead bodies;

nanfor he thought that if he could previously weaken their resolution he would be able by their means to work upon all the rest of the multitude and to persuade them not to oppose the will of the emperor; but, as was natural, he was wholly disappointed in his expectations; for it is said indeed that they were amazed at his first words, and that at first they were utterly overwhelmed by his announcement of their real danger and misery, and that they stood speechless and poured forth a ceaseless abundance of tears as if from a fountain, tearing their beards and the hair of their head, and saying

nanWe who were formerly very fortunate, have now advanced through many events to an exceeding old age that we might at last behold what no one of our ancestors ever saw. With what eyes can we endure to look upon these things? Let them rather be torn out, and let our miserable lives and our afflicted existence be put an end to, before we behold such an evil as this, such an intolerable spectacle which it is impious to hear of or to conceive." XXXII.

nanIn this way did they bewail their fate; but when the inhabitants of the holy city and of all the region round about heard of the design which was in agitation, they all arrayed themselves together as if at a concerted signal, their common misery having given them the word, and went forth in a body, and leaving their cities and their villages and their houses empty, they hastened with one accord into Phoenicia, for Petronius happened to be in that country at the moment.

nanAnd when some of the guards of Petronius saw a countless multitude hastening towards them they ran to their general to bring him the news, and to warn him to take precautions, as they expected war; and while they were relating to him what they had seen, he was still without any guards; and the multitude of the Jews suddenly coming upon him like a cloud, occupied the whole of Phoenicia, and caused great consternation among the Phoenicians who thus beheld the enormous population of the nation;

nanand at first so great an outcry was raised, accompanied with weeping and beating of the breast, that the very ears of those present could not endure the vastness of the noise; for it did not cease when they ceased, but continued to vibrate even after they were quiet: then there were approaches to the governor, and supplications addressed to him such as the occasion suggested; for calamities are themselves teachers of what should be done in an existing emergency. And the multitude was divided into six companies, one of old men, one of young men, one of boys; and again in their turn one band of aged matrons, one of women in the prime of life, and one of virgins;

nanand when Petronius appeared at a distance all the ranks, as they had been appointed, fell to the ground, uttering a most doleful; howling and lamentation, mingled with supplications. But when he commanded them to rise up, and to come nearer to him, they would for a long time hardly consent to rise, and scattering abundance of dust upon their heads, and shedding abundance of tears, they put both their hands behind them like captives who are fettered in this way, and thus they approached him.

nanThen the body of the old men, standing before him, addressed him in the following terms: "We are, as you see, without any arms, but yet as we passed along some persons have accused us as being enemies, but even the very weapons of defence with which nature has provided each individual, namely our hands, we have averted from you, and placed in a position where they can do nothing, offering our bodies freely an easy aim to any one who desires to put us to death.

nanWe have brought unto you our wives, and our children, and our whole families, and in your person we will prostrate ourselves before Gaius, having left not one single person at home, that you may either preserve us all, or destroy us all together by one general and complete destruction. Petronius, we are a peaceful nation, both by our natural disposition and by our determined intentions, and the education which has been industriously and carefully instilled into us has taught us this lesson from our very earliest infancy.

nanWhen Gaius assumed the imperial power we were the first people in all Syria to congratulate him, Vitellius at that time being in our city, from whom you received the government as his successor, to whom writings concerning these matters were sent, and the happy news proceeding onwards from our city, where it had been received with joy, reached the other cities with similar acceptance.

nanOurs was the first temple which received sacrifices for the happy reign of Gaius. Did it do so that it might be the first or the only temple to be deprived of its customary modes of worship? "We have now left our cities, we have abandoned our houses and our possessions, we will cheerfully contribute to you all our furniture, all our cattle, and all our treasures, everything in short which belongs to us, as a willing booty. We shall think that we are receiving them, not giving them up. We only ask one thing instead of and to counterbalance all of them, namely, that no innovations may take place in respect of our temple, but that it may be kept such as we have received it from our fathers and our forefathers.

nanAnd if we cannot prevail with you in this, then we offer up ourselves for destruction, that we may not live to behold a calamity more terrible and grievous than death. We hear that great forces of infantry and cavalry are being prepared by you against us, if we oppose the erection and dedication of this statue. No one is so mad as, when he is a slave, to oppose his master. We willingly and readily submit ourselves to be put to death; let your troops slay us, let them sacrifice us, let them cut us to pieces unresisting and uncontending, let them treat us with every species of cruelty that conquerers can possibly practise

nanbut what need is there of any army? We ourselves, admirable priests for the purpose, will begin the sacrifice, bringing to the temple our wives and slaying our wives, bringing our brothers and sisters and becoming fratricides, bringing our sons and our daughters, that innocent and guiltless age, and becoming infanticides. Those who endure tragic calamities must needs make use of tragic language.

nanThen standing in the middle of our victims, having bathed ourselves deeply in the blood of our kinsfolk (for such blood will be the only bath which we shall have wherewith to cleanse ourselves for the journey to the shades below), we will mingle our own blood with it, slaughtering ourselves upon their bodies.

nanAnd when we are dead, let this commandment be inscribed over us as an epitaph, 'Let not even God blame us, who have had a due regard to both considerations, pious loyalty towards the emperor and the reverential preservation of our established holy laws.' "And this will be what will be deservedly said of us if we give up our miserable life, holding it in proper contempt.

nanWe have heard of a most ancient tradition, which has been handed down throughout Greece by their historians, who have affirmed that the head of the Gorgon had such mighty power, that those who beheld it immediately became stones and rocks. But this appears only to be a fiction and fable, the truth being that great, and unexpected, and wonderful events do often bring after them great disaster; for instance, the anger of a master causes death, or calamities equivalent to death.

nanDo you suppose (may God forbid that any such event should ever take place) that if any of our countrymen were to see this statue being brought into our temple, it would not change them into stones? Their limbs being all congealed, and their eyes becoming fixed so as not to be capable of motion, and their whole body losing all its natural motions in every one of its united parts and limbs!

nanWe will, however, now, O Petronius, address to you one last and most righteous and just request; we say that you ought not to do what you are commanded, but we entreat you to grant us a respite, and we most earnestly supplicate you to delay a little while till we appoint an embassy, and send it to approach your master, and to convey our entreaties to him.

Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

11 results
1. Hebrew Bible, Exodus, 1.8-1.10 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

1.8. וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ־חָדָשׁ עַל־מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדַע אֶת־יוֹסֵף׃ 1.9. וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־עַמּוֹ הִנֵּה עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רַב וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ׃ 1.8. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph." 1.9. And he said unto his people: ‘Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us;" 1.10. come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there befalleth us any war, they also join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land.’"
2. Philo of Alexandria, On The Decalogue, 32 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

3. Philo of Alexandria, On Curses, 53 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

53. Now of such a city as this, every impious man is found to be a builder in his own miserable soul, until God deliberately causes complete and great confusion to their sophistical Arts. And this will be, when not only "they build a city and tower, the head of which will reach to heaven," that is to say, [...] the mind or the reason of each individual as conversant about making great works, which they represent as having for its head a conception peculiar to itself, which is called in symbolical language heaven. For it is plain that the head and object of every reasoning must be the aforesaid mind; for the sake of which, long digressions and sentences are in the habit of being used by men who write histories. XVI.
4. Philo of Alexandria, On The Special Laws, 3.1-3.6 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

3.1. There was once a time when, devoting my leisure to philosophy and to the contemplation of the world and the things in it, I reaped the fruit of excellent, and desirable, and blessed intellectual feelings, being always living among the divine oracles and doctrines, on which I fed incessantly and insatiably, to my great delight, never entertaining any low or grovelling thoughts, nor ever wallowing in the pursuit of glory or wealth, or the delights of the body, but I appeared to be raised on high and borne aloft by a certain inspiration of the soul, and to dwell in the regions of the sun and moon, and to associate with the whole heaven, and the whole universal world. 3.2. At that time, therefore, looking down from above, from the air, and straining the eye of my mind as from a watch-tower, I surveyed the unspeakable contemplation of all the things on the earth, and looked upon myself as happy as having forcibly escaped from all the evil fates that can attack human life. 3.3. Nevertheless, the most grievous of all evils was lying in wait for me, namely, envy, that hates every thing that is good, and which, suddenly attacking me, did not cease from dragging me after it by force till it had taken me and thrown me into the vast sea of the cares of public politics, in which I was and still am tossed about without being able to keep myself swimming at the top. 3.4. But though I groan at my fate, I still hold out and resist, retaining in my soul that desire of instruction which has been implanted in it from my earliest youth, and this desire taking pity and compassion on me continually raises me up and alleviates my sorrow. And it is through this fondness for learning that I at times lift up my head, and with the eyes of my soul, which are indeed dim (for the mist of affairs, wholly inconsistent with their proper objects, has overshadowed their acute clear-sightedne 3.5. And if at any time unexpectedly there shall arise a brief period of tranquillity, and a short calm and respite from the troubles which arise from state affairs, I then rise aloft and float above the troubled waves, soaring as it were in the air, and being, I may almost say, blown forward by the breezes of knowledge, which often persuades me to flee away, and to pass all my days with her, escaping as it were from my pitiless masters, not men only, but also affairs which pour upon me from all quarters and at all times like a torrent. 3.6. But even in these circumstances I ought to give thanks to God, that though I am so overwhelmed by this flood, I am not wholly sunk and swallowed up in the depths. But I open the eyes of my soul, which from an utter despair of any good hope had been believed to have been before now wholly darkened, and I am irradiated with the light of wisdom, since I am not given up for the whole of my life to darkness. Behold, therefore, I venture not only to study the sacred commands of Moses, but also with an ardent love of knowledge to investigate each separate one of them, and to endeavour to reveal and to explain to those who wish to understand them, things concerning them which are not known to the multitude.II.
5. Philo of Alexandria, On The Virtues, 52 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

52. Every thing, then, that was ever done by him from his earliest infancy to old age in the way of taking care and providing for each separate individual and for all men in general, has been already explained in the three books of the treatise which I have set forth about the life of Moses. But it is necessary also to make mention of one or two points which he set in order when at the point of death; for they are indicative of that continual and uninterrupted virtue which he stamped upon his own soul, which was thus fashioned after the divine model, in such a way that it should be free from all indistinctness and confusion.
6. Philo of Alexandria, On The Life of Moses, 1.23, 1.88, 1.180 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1.23. Accordingly he speedily learnt arithmetic, and geometry, and the whole science of rhythm and harmony and metre, and the whole of music, by means of the use of musical instruments, and by lectures on the different arts, and by explanations of each topic; and lessons on these subjects were given him by Egyptian philosophers, who also taught him the philosophy which is contained in symbols, which they exhibit in those sacred characters of hieroglyphics, as they are called, and also that philosophy which is conversant about that respect which they pay to animals which they invest with the honours due to God. And all the other branches of the encyclical education he learnt from Greeks; and the philosophers from the adjacent countries taught him Assyrian literature and the knowledge of the heavenly bodies so much studied by the Chaldaeans. 1.88. But the monarch, who from his cradle had had his soul filled with all the arrogance of his ancestors, and who had no notion in the world of any God appreciable only by the intellect apart from those objects which are visible to the sight, answered them with insolence, saying, "Who is it whom I am to obey? I know not this new Lord of whom you are speaking. I will not let the nation go to be disobedient and headstrong under pretence of fasts and sacrifices. 1.180. Then the Hebrews, being amazed at this great and wonderful event, gained a victory which they had never hoped for without bloodshed or loss; and, seeing the instantaneous and complete destruction of the enemy, formed two choruses, one of men and the other of women, on the sea shore, and sang hymns of gratitude to God, Moses leading the song of the men, and his sister that of the women; for these two persons were the leaders of the choruses.
7. Philo of Alexandria, On The Embassy To Gaius, 10-11, 110, 178, 181, 183-198, 201-203, 206-207, 210-212, 214-217, 222, 225-226, 228-230, 235-237, 239, 24, 240-253, 256, 259-309, 31, 310-319, 32, 320-329, 33, 330, 334, 338, 341, 346-347, 349-368, 370-371, 40-41, 45, 47, 55, 66-77, 8, 80, 83-85, 9, 95-97, 1 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1. How long shall we, who are aged men, still be like children, being indeed as to our bodies gray-headed through the length of time that we have lived, but as to our souls utterly infantine through our want of sense and sensibility, looking upon that which is the most unstable of all things, namely, fortune, as most invariable, and that which is of all things in the world the most steadfast, namely, nature, as utterly untrustworthy? For, like people playing at draughts, we make changes, altering the position of actions, and considering the things which are the result of fortune as more durable than those which result from nature, and the things which proceed in accordance with nature as less stable than those which are the result of chance.
8. Philo of Alexandria, Who Is The Heir, 260 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

260. Accordingly, all those whom Moses describes as just persons he has also represented as inspired and prophesying. Noah was a just man; was he not also by that fact a prophet? or did he, without being possessed by any divine inspiration, utter those prayers and curses which he applied to the generations which should come hereafter, and all of which were eventually confirmed by the reality of the facts?
9. Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 18.257-18.260, 19.278, 19.280-19.291 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

18.257. 1. There was now a tumult arisen at Alexandria, between the Jewish inhabitants and the Greeks; and three ambassadors were chosen out of each party that were at variance, who came to Caius. Now one of these ambassadors from the people of Alexandria was Apion, who uttered many blasphemies against the Jews; and, among other things that he said, he charged them with neglecting the honors that belonged to Caesar; 18.258. for that while all who were subject to the Roman empire built altars and temples to Caius, and in other regards universally received him as they received the gods, these Jews alone thought it a dishonorable thing for them to erect statues in honor of him, as well as to swear by his name. 18.259. Many of these severe things were said by Apion, by which he hoped to provoke Caius to anger at the Jews, as he was likely to be. But Philo, the principal of the Jewish embassage, a man eminent on all accounts, brother to Alexander the alabarch, and one not unskillful in philosophy, was ready to betake himself to make his defense against those accusations; 19.278. 2. Now about this time there was a sedition between the Jews and the Greeks, at the city of Alexandria; for when Caius was dead, the nation of the Jews, which had been very much mortified under the reign of Caius, and reduced to very great distress by the people of Alexandria, recovered itself, and immediately took up their arms to fight for themselves. 19.281. Since I am assured that the Jews of Alexandria, called Alexandrians, have been joint inhabitants in the earliest times with the Alexandrians, and have obtained from their kings equal privileges with them, as is evident by the public records that are in their possession, and the edicts themselves; 19.282. and that after Alexandria had been subjected to our empire by Augustus, their rights and privileges have been preserved by those presidents who have at divers times been sent thither; and that no dispute had been raised about those rights and privileges 19.283. even when Aquila was governor of Alexandria; and that when the Jewish ethnarch was dead, Augustus did not prohibit the making such ethnarchs, as willing that all men should be so subject [to the Romans] as to continue in the observation of their own customs, and not be forced to transgress the ancient rules of their own country religion; 19.284. but that, in the time of Caius, the Alexandrians became insolent towards the Jews that were among them, which Caius, out of his great madness and want of understanding, reduced the nation of the Jews very low, because they would not transgress the religious worship of their country, and call him a god: 19.285. I will therefore that the nation of the Jews be not deprived of their rights and privileges, on account of the madness of Caius; but that those rights and privileges which they formerly enjoyed be preserved to them, and that they may continue in their own customs. And I charge both parties to take very great care that no troubles may arise after the promulgation of this edict.” 19.286. 3. And such were the contents of this edict on behalf of the Jews that was sent to Alexandria. But the edict that was sent into the other parts of the habitable earth was this which follows: 19.287. “Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, high priest, tribune of the people, chosen consul the second time, ordains thus: 19.288. Upon the petition of king Agrippa and king Herod, who are persons very dear to me, that I would grant the same rights and privileges should be preserved to the Jews which are in all the Roman empire, which I have granted to those of Alexandria, I very willingly comply therewith; and this grant I make not only for the sake of the petitioners 19.289. but as judging those Jews for whom I have been petitioned worthy of such a favor, on account of their fidelity and friendship to the Romans. I think it also very just that no Grecian city should be deprived of such rights and privileges, since they were preserved to them under the great Augustus. 19.291. And I will that this decree of mine be engraven on tables by the magistrates of the cities, and colonies, and municipal places, both those within Italy and those without it, both kings and governors, by the means of the ambassadors, and to have them exposed to the public for full thirty days, in such a place whence it may plainly be read from the ground.”
10. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 2.5.2-2.5.5 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

2.5.2. Josephus also makes mention of these things in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, in the following words: A sedition having arisen in Alexandria between the Jews that dwell there and the Greeks, three deputies were chosen from each faction and went to Caius. 2.5.3. One of the Alexandrian deputies was Apion, who uttered many slanders against the Jews; among other things saying that they neglected the honors due to Caesar. For while all other subjects of Rome erected altars and temples to Caius, and in all other respects treated him just as they did the gods, they alone considered it disgraceful to honor him with statues and to swear by his name. 2.5.4. And when Apion had uttered many severe charges by which he hoped that Caius would be aroused, as indeed was likely, Philo, the chief of the Jewish embassy, a man celebrated in every respect, a brother of Alexander the Alabarch, and not unskilled in philosophy, was prepared to enter upon a defense in reply to his accusations. 2.5.5. But Caius prevented him and ordered him to leave, and being very angry, it was plain that he meditated some severe measure against them. And Philo departed covered with insult and told the Jews that were with him to be of good courage; for while Caius was raging against them he was in fact already contending with God.
11. Papyri, Cpj, 2.153

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
agrippa i (jewish king), in legatio Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
alexander, tiberius julius Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 4
alexandria, anti-jewish riot Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
alexandria, social conflict in Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 4
alexandria Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26; Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 4
allegorical commentary, relation of, to other philonic series Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
aniconism Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
apion, in antiquities and jewish war compared Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
apion, in antiquities and legatio compared Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
apion, literary connections to haman Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
apion, of antiquities account of agrippa i Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
caligula, embassy to Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
caligula Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
claudius Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13; Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 4
de abrahamo, dating Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
de abrahamo, place of, in philos life Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
egypt, egyptians Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
embassy to caligula Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
exodus Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
exposition of the law, dating Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
exposition of the law, relation of, to other philonic works Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
gaius (roman emperor), depiction in josephus Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
genealogy of virtues, genesis, title of Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
gomorrah, the graces Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
isidorus Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
israelites Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
moses, name of, inferred Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
moses Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
names of god Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
pharaoh Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
philo, de abrahamos place in life of Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
philo, style of Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
philo of alexandria, as source for josephus Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
philo of alexandria, on the alexandrian crisis and agrippa i' Edwards, In the Court of the Gentiles: Narrative, Exemplarity, and Scriptural Adaptation in the Court-Tales of Flavius Josephus (2023) 148
platonic, dating Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
questions and answers on genesis and exodus (qge), relation of, to other philonic series Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
rome, romans Bloch, Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism (2022) 26
triads, second Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13
γένεσις Birnbaum and Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2020) 13