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Loyalty and Dissidence in Roman Egypt

Gambash, G. In Scripta Classica Israelica Scripta Classica Israelica, Gil Gambash. But R. An important and essential complement to her study would examine the extent of cultural reflexes of indigenous and hybrid practices arising in provincial peripheries — as articulated in the material record — upon the imperial center.

Craige B. The Acta Alexandrinorum is a group of stories which present various versions of an archetypical narrative.

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In this narrative, a group of Alexandrian Greek ambassadors travels to Rome in order to promote the interests of their city at the imperial court. There, they confront a hostile emperor and other enemies — usually Alexandrian Jews. Their visit culminates in the heroic execution of at least some of the Greek nobles. As their name denotes, Acta texts are usually arranged as the official minutes of a trial.

Modern scholars often include under the title of Acta Alexandrinorum various other pieces of related texts — letters, stories, speeches, and so on — and accuracy therefore calls for a differentiation between Acta Alexandrinorum proper, and Acta-related literature.

It was universally acclaimed as a scholarly achievement, and marked its young author, Herbert A. Musurillo, as a promising papyrologist. For Musurillo, the Acta was a body of literature that stemmed from official documents, that involved elements from the genres of the novel and the mime, and that was influenced — though to a limited extent — by late Hellenistic and Roman literature of heroic deaths. Unlike Rostovtzeff, Musurillo downplayed the importance of Cynic influence on the Acta; and, more importantly, he claimed against Von Premerstein that there was no single redaction of the texts, and that they are not a part of a continuous work or a single collection.

This condition was then reinforced by the subsequent publication of a Teubner volume, also edited by Musurillo, in Oxford: Monarch Books. University of California Press. The Case of the Acta Alexandrinorum by A. The Classical Review. Classical Association. Affirmed by A. Rordorf, 'Tradition et composition dans les Actes de Thecle', Theologische Zeitschrift 41 , esp. Wesley Center Online. Wipf and Stock Publishers. In Herbermann, Charles ed. Catholic Encyclopedia.

New York: Robert Appleton Company. Categories : Apocryphal Acts Christian genres. Hidden categories: Articles incorporating a citation from the Catholic Encyclopedia with Wikisource reference Articles with short description. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. On the revolt see Pucci ; ; and below pp. Dio Petrus Patricus Exc. Jewish sources concur with this; see Gittin 57b trans. Syncellus CSHB p. The legion is last attested in Egypt in ad BGU i Bowersock ; Mor ; Schwartz ; Strobel But for a different view see Keppie Private letters written by a soldier in Alexandria may also be connected to this violence P.

Vespasian year 5 p. Dio Chrys. It is the general consensus that the oration was delivered in the Vespasianic period. See Jones ; For another view see Sidebottom Malalas CSHB p. SHA Ant. Pius 8. In Musurillos Teubner edition was published, containing some textual corrections and an additional text, but no translations or commentary. For Musurillo, the Acta Alexandrinorum were the product of the affronted pride of the Alexandrian aristocracy, originating inthe Alexandrianclubs andgymnasium, writtenby the gymnasiarchal class indignant at Alexandrias humbling under Roman rule, the chief grievance being that Alexandria was not allowed a boule.

The Acta Alexandrinorum literature remains controversial and a reassess- ment of the literature is long overdue. I examine the origins of the litera- ture, which I believe began as a reaction to Alexandrian embassies sent to Gaius and Claudius in the rst century ad Chapter 2. In Chapter 3 and Appendix iii, I survey the surviving fragments of the core group of texts and related literature, clarifying the historical background, where possible.

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In Chapter 4, I examine the nature, form and purpose of the stories, com- pare them to other literary manifestations of dissent in Roman Egypt, and show that, rather than being a secret literature of dissent, the Acta Alexan- drinorum literature was read by a broad readership as entertainment. In Chapter 5, I examine the literature in the context of other literary forms of loyalty and dissent from the wider Roman Empire.

In ad 38 there was violent rioting in Alexandria between the Greeks and Jews of the city. In the aftermath of this disturbance both sides sent embassies to Rome charged with persuading Gaius Caesar to give a ruling on the issues lying behind the dispute which was favourable to themselves and detrimental to their opponents. The Alexandrian Greeks entertained great expectations of success. Gaius was well disposed towards them and showed great respect for his great-grandfather Mark Antony, whom they had supported in the civil wars of bc. Gaius was assassinated on 24 January ad41 apparently before he could deliver a written ruling.

Both sides dispatched further embassies to congratulate his succes- sor Claudius on his accession and to obtain a decision on the unresolved matters. Again the Alexandrian Greeks had high hopes of persuading an emperor who was Mark Antonys grandson and Germanicus brother to support them. However, Claudius refused to take sides and issued a neutral ruling which was published in Alexandria on 10 October ad He also apparently executed two of the Alexandrian Greeks, Isidorus and Lampon.

These historical events prompted the circulation of documents about the embassies around Egypt and the composition of literary works focusing 1 E. These works developed into some of the texts which we nowcall the Acta Alexandrinorum. Uniquely in this case contemporary reac- tions and accounts written in subsequent generations survive. There is also sufcient independent evidence to reconstruct the historical background of ad Consequently I have been able to examine the development of the traditions about these embassies and to assess the historicity of the Acta Alexandrinorum stories.

I will argue that the ways in which people reacted to the historical events of ad led to the creation of the rst Acta Alexandrinorum stories and provided a literary model which future writers of the stories would follow. Tacitus, the principal Roman historian for the reigns of the Julio-Claudian emperors, is not extant for the reign of Gaius. Events in Alexandria appear to be beyond the scope of the other important writers for this period, Dio and Suetonius.

Philo composed two surviving works on the plight of the Alexandrian Jews during the reign of Gaius. The In Flaccum concentrates on the role of the prefect Flaccus in the rioting in Alexandria in ad 38, and the Legatio ad Gaium tells the story of the Jewish embassy sent to Gaius shortly afterwards, of which Philo himself was a member. However, the embassy itself is not the main subject of the work, which focuses upon examples of Gaius alleged mania, most notably his attempt to raise a statue of himself in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Philo alludes to a third work called the Palinode the reversal of fortune?

See App. The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 11 aim of demonstrating divine providence by showing what happened to those who persecuted the Jews. Josephus wrote a generation later, in the Flavian period. He comments briey upon the period in his two historical works, the Jewish Antiquities andthe Jewish War. He also wrote anapologetic treatise, the Contra Apionem, in response to anti-Jewish statements made by Greek writers, principally Apion.

In addition to these literary sources we have a papyrus document normally taken to be an exact copy of a letter written by Claudius to the Alexandrians. The history of this period has been discussed many times by modern scholars. The problemis compounded by the fact that any historical reconstruction must rely heavily on information from the Acta Alexandrinorum stories, infor- mation that can be anachronistic, implausible, misleading and unreliable on occasion, as I will argue below.

There are some xed points of chronology. The visit of King Agrippa to Alexandria which ignited the violence took place in the summer of ad Allowing time for the news to travel to Alexandria the mourning would have occurred early in July ad On the chronology see Kushnir-Stein and Kerkeslager He was arrested during the autumnal feast of the Tabernacles festival, which took place in late Septemberearly October.

Van der Horst dates this festival to mid-October. See Schwartz We sacriced qsamen , and hecatombs at that. It is not once but three times that we have done this. It was between their two meetings with Gaius that the Jews learnt of his plan to desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem. Claudius ruling was published in Alexandria on 10 October ad According to Philo, Flaccus feared his imminent recall and became paranoid that Gaius might use complaints made by the Alexandrians as a pretext to settle a personal vendetta.

Flaccus had allegedly been involved in the persecution of Gaius family during Tiberius reign, and early in ad 38 Gaius had removed two of Flaccus allies in the imperial court, Tiberius Gemellus and Naevius Macro. Macro had been declared Flaccus replacement as Prefect of Egypt but was compelled to commit sui- cide before he took up the post.

The Cretan Claudius Timarchus, for instance, boasted that it depended on him whether provin- cial governors received the thanks of the provincial assembly. Early in his prefecture Philo depicts him as taking action against the Alexandrian Greeks by closing down certain clubs and associations and persecuting their leaders to ensure stability inthe city.

The serious rioting in Alexandria in ad 38 was ignited by the visit of Gaius friend, the Jewish king Agrippa I. Philo is reticent about the purpose 17 Smallwood nos. AJ The fact is not mentioned by Philo. An inscription, AE , conrms that Macro committed suicide rather than was executed. Seland suggests that similar actions could have been taken against Jewish assemblies and gatherings. The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 13 of the visit. However, his claim that Agrippa wished to enter the city unno- ticed contradicts his account which reveals that the Alexandrian Jews tri- umphantly paraded the king through the city, the sight of his bodyguard of spear-men, decked in armour gilded with gold and silver stunning the AlexandrianGreeks.

It may be the case that the death of Gaius sister Drusilla exacerbated the situation and further emphasised the differences between the two sides as the Jews could not worship her images which would have accompanied the public mourning in the city in July ad Thirty- eight members of the Jewish council were marched to the theatre, where they were scourged, tortured, hung, and even crucied amid a Greek cel- ebratory festival.

Further atrocities followed until the violence was quelled by the Roman authorities. Orders to expel aliens and foreigners frequently accompanied post-rioting punitive measures in the city see below pp. Flaccus was arrested in September ad 38 and tried by Gaius early in ad 39, perhaps under the pretext of mal- administration. He was found guilty, exiled to Andros, then executed. His 27 Philo Flacc. See also pp. For example, he ascribes the cause of the rioting to Gaius self-deication in the Legatio ad Gaium, ignoring the events in Alexandria to which he attributes the riots in the Flacc.

Also in the In Flaccum the attack on the synagogues precedes Flaccus revoking of Jewish rights, whereas in the Legatio ad Gaium the order is reversed. Lepidus own execution for treason can be dated from other sources. Philo relates that rival Greek and Jewish embassies left Alexandria in winter but does not specify whether the year was ad or Gaius is attested in Campania in the summer of ad The whole Temple affair would need to be compressed into the second half of ad 40, which cannot be reconciled with the accounts of Philo and Josephus.

The Jewish embassy to Gaius, which Philo personally led, consisted of ve members, but Philo does not name any of his colleagues. Lentulicus on 27 October ad Josephus AJ Gaius reply is reported in Leg. Philo Leg. The three Jewish councillors named in Flacc. The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 15 brother, Alexander, was in Rome at this time on private business, for which Gaius imprisoned him, and is therefore unlikely to have served on the embassy. Philo was a Jew steeped in Greek culture and familiar withthe writings of Classical Greekauthors suchas Demosthenes. Apion and Isidorus were members of the Greek embassy.

Theon, an exegete mentioned in an Acta Alexandrinorum story, may be another possibility. He was an Egyptian who had been granted Alexandrian citizenship. His debating skill was reected in his nickname quarrelsome. Philo uses each name to describe categories of Alexandrian citizens: popularity hunters such as Dionysius, document-tamperers such as Lampon and sedition-leaders such as Isidorus.

Demosthenes See pp. These may be the same work, an anti-Jewish history of Egypt. This would meanthat Isidorus had returned to Alexandria inad Inad39 he was one of the accusers of the prefect Flaccus at his trial in Rome. It has also been suggested that Isidorus was a Roman citizen, based on the discovery of an inscription of an Alexandrian gymnasiarch named Tiberius Claudius G[emin]us, attested as epistrategos and arabarch in the late rst century ad, who was the son of Tiberius Claudius Isidorus, who also held the gymnasiarchy. It is implausible that Isidorus received the citizenship from Claudius in ad 41, as the names Tiberius Claudius would imply, who then executed him and allowed his son to embark upon a career in the imperial administration.

The Isidorus of the Alexandrian stories and the Roman citizen are likely to be different men. Lampon had also suffered under Flaccus early prefecture and spent two years embroiled in a lawsuit, which he eventually won, accused of impiety against Tiberius by his political opponents. The expense of the case allegedly left himbankrupt and he protested against Flaccus appointing himgymnasiarch, complaining that he did not have sufcient funds for the ofce.

This dates his gymnasiarchy to c.


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Before this Lampon had taken down the minutes of trials in the prefects court, presumably either as an ofcial scribe or in the ofce of hypomnematographos, and had allegedly doctored court records in return for bribes. Sijpesteijn 52 and Delia assign the gym- nasiarchy to ad 53 and ad 38, but these are based on interpretations of the Alexandrian stories. There is no independent evidence for his gymnasiarchy.

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On the ofce of hypomnematographos see Whitehorne The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 17 record-porer grammatokuphon could be that, like Aeschines, Lampon was a public secretary. Alongside Isidorus, Lampon prosecuted Flaccus in ad A Dionysius is listed as an ambassador to an emperor who may be either Gaius or Claudius in P. The purpose of the Jewish embassy was to discuss their sufferings and claims. What constituted their claims is far more controversial. Clearly the Jewish exemption from the imperial cult was one of the major issues discussed, as both Philos and Josephus accounts of the meeting with Gaius focus heavily on this.

Although Philo does not explicitly say so, the preceding phrases God took pity on us and turned Gaius heart to mercy, he Gaius became gentler imply that Gaius verbally conrmed the Jews exemption fromthe imperial cult. Philo also mentions that one of the claims was showing that we are Alexandrians and reports that Gaius asked the Jews to speak about their politeia.

The Acta Alexandrinorum stories stress the concerted efforts of the Greek ambassadors to downgrade the status of the Alexandrian Jews. However, Gaius did not hear the embassies until September ad 40 at the earliest. He had therefore left an important embassy waiting for almost two 64 Philo Flacc. On theDionysii inClaudius letter to theAlexandrians see pp. See also Collins and Appendix ii. This seems an unnaturally long time, even though Josephus implies that emperors were generally slow to receive embassies. The cause of the delay may have been Gaius desire to visit Alexandria to deliver a ruling in person.

Embassies usu- ally followed emperors when they left Rome, but Gaius must have ordered that he was not to be disturbed by embassies whilst campaigning. According to Philo he was initially critical and con- descending towards the Jewish embassy but did listen to their arguments before dismissing both embassies. Philo leaves it unclear, perhaps deliber- ately, whether or not Gaius gave at least a verbal indicationof his judgement. Other sources suggest that the Alexandrian Greek embassy was successful. Josephus states that Gaius refused to listen to Philos whole speech, dis- missed him angrily and promised to punish the Jews at a later date.

Neros accession was known in Egypt thirty-ve days after Claudius death P. The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 19 Rome to congratulate the newemperor. If Gaius had not delivered a written verdict before his assassination then the old sets of ambassadors may have remained in Rome; later traditions place Philo in Rome during Claudius reign. The earliest date that Claudius could have heard the new embassies would have been MarchApril ad 41, immediately after they arrived. His response was published in Alexandria on 10 October ad 41 but cannot help to date the meeting as the date clause is not preserved in our copy of the letter and other emperors took a long time to respond to embassies of congratulation.

No less than six members were Roman citizens, two of whom were presumably given the citizenship by Claudius on this embassy, and the high standing of others is known from other sources. The Alexandrians undoubtedly felt that men of this calibre would gain the favour of Claudius. Several of these ambassadors subsequently entered into the imperial service, presumably as a result of this embassy.

Suda s. Philo Judaeus. Smallwood ; CPJ ii p. Archibius name is absent from the text and restored on the basis that he is referred to later in the text. Kaplan ; Kayser He held several positions in Alexandria and Rome, including being in charge of embassies and Greek replies. He went to Britain with Claudius in ad 43 and received special honours in Claudius British tri- umph in ad He was also a procurator in Asia.

Vespasian allowed the Ephesians to found annual games, the Barbillea, in his honour. Chaeremon, an Egyptian who had acquired the Alexandrian citizenship, was a famous author. He is called Stoic, philosopher and sacred scribe by authors who cite from lost works by Chaeremon which included an Egyptian History, Concerning Comets, a work on hieroglyphics and a gram- matical treatise. Tiberius Julius Asklepiades, perhaps a relative of Marcus Julius Asklepiades, is attested as a gymnasiarch and archigeron chief of the elders in this period.

Dionysius son of Theon could belong to the aristocratic Alexandrian family mentioned in documents fromthe Augustan to the Hadrianic period whose members were all called either Dionysius or Theon. See Paum i no. On the Barbillea see Brunet ; Frisch Dionysius of Alexandria, son of Glaucon. Alexander the Aegean. Sijpesteijn 5. This family may also be related to the Alexandrian Stoic philosopher of the Augustan period Suda s. Theon of Alexandria the Stoic philosopher. The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 21 Hermaiscus may be the ancestors of two later Alexandrian ambassadors.

One possible candidate could be Philos nephew, Tiberius Julius Alexander, as he also entered the Roman imperial service shortly after the embassy, holding the equestrian post of epistrategos of the Thebaid in ad The novelty of these embassies was that the Jews had to defend themselves for their role in the riots of ad 41, for which the Greeks, particularly Dionysius, attempted to gain retribu- tion. Claudius response in his letter implies that the Jews were attempting to improve their status on this occasion.

The Greeks reminded Claudius of their goodwill to the emperor and his family and requested permis- sion to institute honours for him. They proceeded to appeal for him to conrm the established privileges of Alexandrian citizens, to prevent non- citizens from irregularly obtaining Alexandrian citizenship by enrolling in ephebic training, to appoint priests of Augustus by lot, to limit civic ofce- holding to three years in order to prevent abuses of power, and to convene a boule.

Claudius response was issued with the aim of preventing further civic disturbances, and both sides partially gained their aims. Claudius accepted some of the Alexandrian Greeks honours and declined others.

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He agreed to the subordinate Alexandrian requests but refused to found a boule or to hold an inquiry into the rioting of ad He also warned the Greeks to behave kindly to their Jewish neighbours, referring to the rioting, presumably in ad 38, as the war against the Jews. He did not censure the Alexandrian Jews for their recent rioting and restored their pre-ad 38 legal, social and religious privileges. However, he gave a series of prohibitions to the Jews: he warned them sternly not to seek to improve their status because they 96 Julius Phanias and Hermaiscus in CPJ ii Potamon of Alexandria.

On the two embassies see p. If they disobeyed, Claudius would proceed against them as though they were stirring up a plague for the whole world. He ended his response by warning both sides about their future conduct: With regard to the responsibility for the disturbances and civil strife, or rather, if I must speak the truth, the war against the Jews, I have decided not to conduct a detailed investigation, although your ambassadors, particularly Dionysius son of Theon, in a spirited confrontation made many efforts on your behalf, but I am storing up an unyielding indignation against those who renewed the conict.

I tell you plainly that, unless you immediately put a stop to this destructive and mutual enmity, I shall be forced to show what it is like when a benevolent ruler is moved to righteous indignation. Therefore I once again ask the Alexandrians to behave gently and kindly towards the Jews who have dwelt in the same city for many years, and not to dishonour any of their customs in their worship of their god, but to permit them to observe their customs, as they did in the time of the divine Augustus and as I too have conrmed, after hearing both sides.

On the other hand I order the Jews not to aim at more than they have previously had and not to send as if they lived in two cities two embassies in future, something which has never been done before, and not to take part in the games presided over by the gymnasiarchs and the kosmetai since they enjoy what is theirs and possess an abundance of all good things in a city which is not their own. Nor are they to bring in or admit Jews coming from Syria or Egypt, a practice which I shall be forced to view with notably greater suspicion. If they disobey, I shall proceed against them in every way as fomenting a common plague for the whole world.

If both sides change their present ways and are willing to live in gentleness and kindness with one another, I for my part will do my utmost for the city, as one which has long been closely connected to the house of my ancestors. I testify that Balbillus my friend has always exercised the greatest care for you in his dealings with me and has now conducted your case with the greatest zeal, as has my friend Tiberius Claudius Archibius.

Although violence between the Greeks and the Jews is not attested again in Alexandria until ad 66, this probably had more to do with the rm For the problem of the word pispaein see App. I have taken it to mean not to struggle in, i. Gruen 80 alternatively suggests that the Jews were prohibited from pouring into and disrupting the Greek games.

The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 23 attitude adopted by the prefects appointed by Claudius and Nero rather than Claudius settlement. The Acta Alexandrinorum stories claim that Claudius tried and executed two Alexandrian ambassadors, Isidorus and Lampon, and set their trial rmly in the context of the Graeco-Jewish dispute. Although the general consensus is that a trial did take place, the historicity of this trial has been questioned because there is no independent evidence. Also, Isidorus and Lampon are not listed as ambassadors to Claudius in the papyrus copy of the letter, and such a trial would contradict Claudius assertion in the letter that he did not wish to hold an inquiry to identify the perpetrators of the violence in the period ad In the surviving stories of the trial Isidorus is chastised for killing many of Claudius friends and defends himself by claiming to have served Gaius faithfully, by prosecuting his enemies for him.

He offers to perform the same service for Claudius. The Acta Alexandrinorumstories date the trial to the fth and sixth of Pachon 30 April1 May , but the year is not specied. Details from the stories suggest that the most plausible date is ad 41 or Balbillus busy career in the impe- rial service, which began shortly after and possibly as a result of the embassy in ad 41, makes it seemunlikely that he acted as an ambassador or represen- tative of Alexandria in the ad 50s.

Other internal details cannot be used to date the trial conclusively. Two other participants, T[a]rquinius and Aviolaus, who appear as members of the imperial consiliumin the story, have been identied as M. Tarquitius Priscus and M. Acilius Aviola, two senators who were active in the ad 50s. The text preserves Musurillo Tarquitius was expelled from the Senate in ad 53; Aviola was consul in ad The four known possibilities are the [Lucul]lan gardens, acquired in ad , the [Lol]lian gardens, acquired in ad 49, the [Stati]lian gardens, acquired in ad 53, or the [Servi]lian gardens, which are not attested as an imperial possession until Neros reign although they may have been acquired by an earlier emperor.

Nevertheless, although the trial cannot be dated with any certainty, by making the Jewish problem central to the trial scene, the writer s wanted Isidorus trial to be viewed against the historical background of ad In the ad40s documents concerning the events were being copied and circulated around Egypt, and individual ambassadors, such as Philo, ApionandChaeremon, wrote personal andpolemical accounts about their embassies.

While this contemporary literary activity is not unusual, the fact that later generations took such an interest in the events is. A generation later Josephus returned to the problem of the embassies in his historical works, and the Acta Alexandrinorum, which continued to be copied and read, and, as I will argue below, amended and revised, show that the stories about the embassies remained important and relevant two centuries later.

I will examine here the documentary andliterary responses to the embassies, beginning with the former for convenience, and show how the traditions about them developed and evolved throughout the Principate. Although I comment on the documentary and literary nature of the individual texts, it will become immediately apparent that few of the See Richardson , for the history of the gardens. On the Lucullan gardens, also known as the gardens of Asiaticus, see Plut. On the Servilian gardens see Tac. They were possibly acquired from M. Servilius Nonianus Tac. Less likely are the horti Scapulani and horti Siliani, both of which are only attested in the rst century bc.

The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 25 texts fall neatly into either category, and I will discuss their nature in more detail in chapter 3. We possess what would appear to be two versions of Claudius letter to the Alexandrians, one preserved in the papers of a Hellenised Egyptian named Nemesion and the other cited in the writings of Josephus. I do not believe that either version is a verbatimcopy of Claudius response, although Nemesions is the closer.

Both versions are excerpted and amended to highlight the portions of the response which are favourable to the Alexandrian Greeks and the Jews respectively. Therefore in the immediate aftermath of the embassies it would appear that both the Alexandrian Greeks and Jews used the response of Claudius as propaganda to proclaim their embassies victorious. Nemesion was a local taxation ofcial in the village of Philadelphia in the Arsinoite nome. His copy of the letter was made for his own private use and was scribbled onto the verso of a papyrus that had already been used for a tax register.

Nemesion was not an Alexandrian citizen and had no direct links with the city. Several of his fellowvillagers had business interests with Alexandria, and one displayed anti-Jewish sentiments in a personal letter. The Hellenised Nemesion may have sympathised with the plight of the Alexandrian Greeks. It must therefore be questioned how accurately he copied the letter, or if he copied an already edited version of the letter.

There are some striking omissions fromthis copy, suggesting that it is an excerpt rather than a verbatim, direct copy. Nemesions version omits the date clause of the letter itself. While it lists all the Greek ambassadors, albeit in a garbled form, the names of the Jewish ambassadors are notably absent, despite the fact that Claudius speaks directly to the Jews in a section of the letter. The honours voted to Claudius by the Alexandrian Greeks and his acceptance of some of them are listed in full, but no mention is made of any diplomatic honours which the Alexandrian Jews must have offered.

It has been noted many times that Nemesions copy is very careless, his CPJ ii In a letter dated 4 August ad 41 Sarapion warns his business agent in Alexandria: You too beware of the Jews. On the origin of this letter see Butin and Schwartz ; see pp. Yet the tone of this version of the letter favours the Greeks.

They are given a verbal slap on the wrist for starting a war against the Jews, while the Jews are castigated and given a series of prohibitions of what they can and cannot do in a city which is not their own. This hostile tone cannot be solely explained by the role of the Jews in the riots of ad In one of the most enigmatic sections of the letter Claudius chastises them for sending him two embassies. The generally accepted solution is that the Jews sent embassies representing the Hellenised Jewish elite and the lower orders of the Alexandrian Jews, but this is not plausible as the Jews must have realised that such an approach would irritate Claudius and be harmful to their case.

The omission of a few words or lines and the modication of several verbs could well be responsible for this effect. Josephus, writing a generation later, cites two edicts issued by Claudius in response to the embassies. The rst of them is addressed to Alexandria and Syria, the second to the whole world. Josephus narrative implies that these edicts were issued immediately after Gaius death. The usual solution to the contradiction is the implausible assumption that Claudius met the embassies who were sent to Gaius immediately after his accession, and delivered his pro-Jewish edicts, before meeting new embassies from Alexandria later in the year and issuing an entirely different ruling in his letter.


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Having from the rst known that the Jews in Alexandria called Alexandrians were fellow colonisers from the earliest times jointly with the Alexandrians and received equal civic rights from the kings, as is manifest from the documents in Bell 2; CPJ ii p. Josephus versionof Claudius response is considerably less ofcial intone than Nemesions and contains several omissions, amendments and striking factual errors.

As in Nemesions version, Claudius restores the religious rights of the Alexandrian Jews. However, their political rights and legal and social status are not commented upon although these were issues raised by the Jewish embassy. The suggestion that the Alexandrian Jews were given equal civic rights to the Alexandrian Greeks by their kings is a dubious claim which Josephus repeats elsewhere in his writings. However, an emperor would not need to make such a defensive statement in an ofcial letter.

It is implausible that an emperor would refer to the policy of his predecessor as folly or mad. In the closest comparable text, ILS , Claudius states that a problem has remained open due to Tiberius frequent absence from public affairs and because Gaius neglected to ask for a report on the matter. The edict was sent to Alexandria and Syria; the letter prevents Alexandrian Jews from inviting their Syrian kinsmen into the city. Both edict and letter were written in response to the ad 41 rioting, and in both documents Claudius warns each side not to cause further strife in the city.

For the apologetic purposes of Josephus or his source , it was unnecessary to record the whole letter. Josephus instead excerpted and amended the sections that were favourable to the Jews. Josephus citation of these documents is therefore highly arbitrary. Even referring to the edicts as documents would appear to be straining modern denitions of the word.

Josephus claims elsewhere in his work that he has cited all his documents, including these edicts, completely verbatim, and challenges his readers to look up the originals to check their authenticity. He states that his practice in citing from documents has been to refrain from citing them all as being both superuous and disagreeable, leaving it unclear whether he chose not to cite all the available documents on a particular subject, or all of a single document.

After all, if anyone did trouble to look up Claudius letter, they would nd that the emperor had indeed con- rmed the pre-ad 38 rights and privileges of the Jews. Josephus denition of a document differs radically from what modern commentators would consider a document. Two further documents regarding the embassies were copied in the rst century ad. Firstly, CPJ ii , of unknown provenance, was written in the rst half of the rst century ad. It preserves the nal section of a speech of an Alexandrian Greek ambassador to an unidentied emperor in which he lists the advantages that having a boule would bring to both Alexandria and the emperor, who is usually considered to be Augustus, although the date of the copy means that Gaius and Claudius are also plausible candidates.

Firstly that the dramatic date is 30 bc, which the use of the term laographia precludes, and secondly that it is a document, Augustus being the only emperor to be called Caesar without further designation in documents.


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See p. The embassies to Gaius and Claudius 29 be Gaius, whose projected visit to Alexandria is discussed above p. It would be surprising if the Alexandrian Greeks had not requested a boule from Gaius, who was well disposed to them. The content of the speech suggests that the emperor may be Claudius because there are parallels betweenthe requests made by the ambassador and the responses in the papyrus copy of Claudius letter to the Alexandrians. By regulating their own citizenship, the Alexandrians could prevent uncultured and uneducated men from acquiring it and being sent on embassies.

By having an annually chosen boule, whose secretary would present its proceedings for scrutiny once a year, the Alexandrians would be able to control the nomination and behaviour of its magistrates: It is necessary for us to speak at some length. I submit, then, that the council will see to it that none of those who are liable to enrolment for the poll tax diminish the revenue by being listed in the public records along with the epheboi for each year; and it will take care that the pure?