vendredi 22 avril 2011

1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category

A What were the texts? 1) somewhere else : The Question of Contemporary Evidence, 2) No, true enough Acharya, Varro did not write about Jesus ..., 3) What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!, 4) 1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category, 5) HGL's F.B. writings : Critiques of Testimonium Flavianum, 6) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on "Contemporary Historians Not Mentioning Jesus" (Answering aekara1987), 7) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Challenged Again on Testimonium Flavianum,

B How were they transmitted? 1) somewhere else : Laci Green likes strawmen?, 2) Variation on the Scriptoria Game,

I will discuss, of each, who did not mention Our Lord, why this is so, quoting only relevant passages from wikipedia articles.

Aufidius Bassus - preserved in fragments only (in Suasoriae of Seneca the elder)

his Histories (as said only in fragments preserved) were continued by the Elder Pliny of whom wikipedians anonymously wrote:

Meanwhile he was completing the twenty books of his History of the German Wars, the only authority expressly quoted in the first six books of the Annals of Tacitus* and probably one of the principal authorities for the Germania. It disappeared in favor of the writings of Tacitus (which are far shorter), and, early in the 5th century, Symmachus had little hope of finding a copy.**
Like Caligula, Nero seemed to grow gradually more insane as his reign progressed. Pliny devoted much of his time to writing on the comparatively safe subjects of grammar and rhetoric. He published a three-book, six-volume educational manual on rhetoric, entitled Studiosus, "the Student." Pliny the Younger says of it: "the orator is trained from his very cradle and perfected."***

*Tacitus Annals, I 69

**Symmachus. "IV.18". Letters.

*** Pliny the Younger. III.5 To Baebius Macer. Letters..

I totally believe this: Grammatic and Rhetoric training was, during XX C at its best in Soviet Russia, where the once trained Rhetorician, if critical of government, risked the most, and if critical of opponents either beaten or on the outside (but also a bit generous to some of them, so as not to appear biassed) could count on favour.
Ban Gu /Pan Ku and Ban Biao/Pan Piao are Chinamen, so was Liu Xin/Liu Hsin: all non-Roman ones are Chinese. So Roman Empire and China were better documented than other places.
Dio Chrysostomus
Dio Chrysostom (Δίων Χρυσόστομος ), Dion of Prusa or Dio Cocceianus (ca. 40 - ca. 120)
Eighty of his Discourses (or Orations) are extant, as well as a few Letters and a funny mock essay In Praise of Hair*, as well as a few other fragments.
He wrote many other philosophical and historical works, none of which survive. One of these works, Getica, was on the Getae,** which the Suda incorrectly attributes to Dio Cassius.***

*And this work does not enumerate Our Lord Jesus Christ among famous longhaired people? Maybe because early iconography is about the Good Shepherd and shows Our Lord short haired. Or maybe because a memeber of second sophistic school was not to eager on quoting Christian material, as it was highly controversial.

**Philostratus, Vitae sophistorum i.7

***Suda, Dion

Unfortunately, none of the actual works survive. They do live on as sources for the surviving histories of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Suetonius quotes Claudius' autobiography once, and must have used it as a source numerous times. Tacitus uses Claudius' own arguments for the orthographical innovations mentioned above, and may have used him for some of the more antiquarian passages in his annals. Claudius is the source for numerous passages of Pliny's Natural History.*

*See Momigliano (1934) Chap. 1, note 20 (p. 83). Pliny credits him by name in Book VII 35.
Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian, writing probably during the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) or Vespasian. His only surviving work, Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are incomplete.

Right, he should have mentioned Our Lord as another famous person who died at age 33, of course! Except, back under Claudius, Romans generally took Christians generally for Jews, which shows a somewhat incomplete comprehension of Christianity and so there is at least a slight probability that this parallelism was unknown to the historian (non-contemporary) of Alexander the Great.
Fabius Rusticus
... Fabius Rusticus was a contemporary of Claudius and Nero, but little is known of the extent of his work except that it related to events during the reign of Nero.
... Tacitus cites Fabius Rusticus when describing some of the most controversial aspects of Nero's life including Nero's alleged desire to kill his mother*, Nero's alleged lust for his mother** and Seneca's suicide.***

*Tacitus, Annals 13.20
**Tacitus, Annals 14.2
***Tacitus, Annals 15.61 - same book as in which Tacitus mentions Christians!
Josephus: see my defense of Testimonium Flavianum
Justus of Tiberias:

Justus wrote a history of the war in which he blamed Josephus for the troubles of Galilee. He also portrayed his former master Agrippa in an unfavourable light, but did not publish the work until after Agrippa's death. Justus also wrote a chronicle of the Jewish people from Moses to Agrippa II. Both his works only survive in fragments.*

Flavius Josephus, Justus' rival, criticized the Tiberian's account of the war and defended his own conduct in the Autobiography, from whose polemical passages we derive most of what we know about Justus' life.

*As you may guess, if a work survives only in fragments, and if those fragments do not mention Our Lord Jesus Christ, it does not mean the work did not do so either in the many lost passages. And even if he was very well placed to know about Jesus, it does not mean he wanted to speak about him.
Titus Labienus was an orator and historian in the time of Augustus, nicknamed Rabienus for his vigorous style. He killed himself when the Senate had his books burned. Caligula later overrode the Senate and had the books restored.

This information stamps Titus Labienus "Rabienus" as too early to have probably known about Jesus Christ. Same obviously applies to:

Titus Livius (59 BC - AD 17), known as Livy in English, was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time.

Cluvius Rufus is mentioned in:

Josephus Antiquities of the Jews XIX.1.13;
Suetonius The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero 21;
Pliny the Younger, Epistulae IX.19;
Plutarch The Parallel Lives, Life of Otho 3;
Tacitus Annals, XII.20 and XIV.2;
Tacitus Histories, I.8, II.58, II.65, III.65, IV.39 and IV.43
Cassius Dio, Roman History, LXIII.14;

Which is more or less the works where wikipedians tell us he was recycled, i e used as a primary source by secondary sources.
Valerius Maximus
The author's chief sources are Cicero, Livy, Sallust and Pompeius Trogus, especially the first two. Valerius's treatment of his material is careless and unintelligent in the extreme; but in spite of his contusions, contradictions and anachronisms, the excerpts are apt illustrations, from the rhetorician's point of view, of the circumstance or quality they were intended to illustrate. And even on the historical side we owe something to Valerius. He often used sources now lost, and where he touches on his own time he affords us some glimpses of the much debated and very imperfectly recorded reign of Tiberius.

Gaius Licinius Mucianus fought in Judea! - but! - his historic work appears to be lost. There is an early Christian martyr, July 3, who is also called Mucianus. As far as I know, there is nothing proving they were the same man, neither anything disproving it.

The subject of his history is not mentioned; but, judging from the references which Pliny makes to it, it appears to have treated chiefly of the East, and to have contained considerable information on all geographical subjects. (Tac. Hist. i. 10, 76, ii. 4, 5, 76--84, iii. 8, 46, 53, 78, iv. 4, 11, 39, 80, 85; Suet. Vesp. 6, 13; Dion Cassius lxv. 8, 9, 22, lxvi. 2, 9, 13; Joseph. B.J. iv.10, 11; Plin. H. N. xii.1. s. 5, xxviii. 2. s. 5, xxxiv. 7. s. 17, et passim; Vossius ...)

Quote from = Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology > v. 2, page 1118

A man one liked to refer to rather than copy? An authors' author?
Nicolaus of Damascus:

He also wrote an autobiography, the date of which is uncertain. It mentions that he wanted to retire, in 4 BC, but was persuaded to travel with Herod Archelaus to Rome.

The fragments that remain deal mainly with Jewish history.*


His account of Indian Embassy to Rome, where a sramana burnt himself to the great astonishment of all in Athens, is preserved in Strabo:

It was used by some wikipedian to argue Hindoos could be found in the Levant about the time of Jesus. It also argues that the occurrence was very rare. Otherwise all the Greeks would not have been astonished, and the occurrence itself was due to a very unusual embassy.
Q. Asconius Pedianus

During the reigns of Claudius and Nero he compiled for his sons, from various sources -- e.g. the Gazette (Aetablica), shorthand reports or skeletons (commentarii) of Cicero's unpublished speeches, Tiro's life of Cicero, speeches and letters of Cicero's contemporaries, various historical writers, e.g. Varro, Atticus, Antias, Tuditanus and Fenestella (a contemporary of Livy whom he often criticizes) -- historical commentaries on Cicero's speeches, of which only five, viz, in Pisonem, pro Scauro, pro Milone, pro Cornelio and in toga candida, in a very mutilated edition, are preserved, under the modern title Q. Asconii Pediani Orationvm Ciceronis qvinqve enarratio.

Wonderful take on it! One of his notes might have been that Cicero had his head cut off and his tongue pirced because he did not keep his mough shut. Anyway, that is not a very likely work in which to find references to Jesus Christ, even if Asconius was perfectly well aware of Christians and their claims, or as aware as the public in general.

Other works attributed to Asconius were:
  • a life of Sallust
  • a defence of Virgil against his detractors
  • a treatise (perhaps a symposium in imitation of Plato) on health and long life.

I think everyone understood that being a Christian under Nero or criticising him in other respects were not very likely ways of prolonging one's life. Even now, writing about Rommell is safer than writing about Mgr Richard Williamson! Back then, Sallust, Virgil, Plato were as safe as Cicero to write about. Defending Virgil against detractors was safer than defending St Paul or St Peter. Or even mentioning them.

Seneca the Elder writing Suasoriae and Plutarch writing parallel lives is also an indicator of recycling formalia and common places being very much more interesting to some than writing about contemporaries.
Marcus Servilius Nonianus has not had his work preserved. Guess why? Whatever he said about Christians, he was not very favourable to Nero, I guess.

He is mentioned in Tacitus' Annales vi. 31; xiv. 19, Institutio Oratoria x. 1. 101. (or x. 1, 101.), Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, x. 13. 3.
Thallus, early Christian use of:

The 9th century Christian chronologer George Syncellus cites Sextus Julius Africanus* as writing in reference to the darkness mentioned in the synoptic gospels as occurring at the death of Jesus:
Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the Sun in the third book of his Histories.

Africanus then goes on to point out that an eclipse cannot occur at Passover when the moon is full and therefore diametically opposite the Sun.

This discussion may very much better than the Dan-Browning Éliette Abécassis Qumran fake explain why the story of the darkness is not told in St John (if I recall correctly). The eclipse explanation had been accepted with little regard for logic.

Sextus Julius Africanus (c.160 – c.240) was a Christian traveller and historian of the late 2nd and early 3rd century AD. He is important chiefly because of his influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church history among the Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of chroniclers.

To me also, as proving one can be a Christian as a mere intellectual without any pretention to monastic life. Deo Gratias!
Velleius Paterculus, as I already mentioned, ceased writing before the Crucifixion.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibl. Buffon
Good Friday 2011

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