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2954Re: [ANE-2] Agrippa, Berossus, Posidonius (was toilets and Dead Sea Scrolls)

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    Nov 30, 2006
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      Stephen writes, in part:

      Marcus Agrippa was the main source for Pliny's Natural History Book 5...
      Gmirkin gave an odd interpretation of an article by Hubaux as if it "excludes" a
      Latin source. (It does not.) Gmirkin's declaration raises questions about
      how he uses source criticism.

      Stephen, there are two very basic aspects of source criticism which you omit
      in your theory that Pliny, NH 5.73 on the Essenes drew on Agrippa. (1)
      Language. Since the passage utilizes a play on words between the phoenix bird
      and the palm tree (phoenix in Greek, palmarum in Latin) that makes sense only
      in Greek, this indicates a Greek source. (2) Genre. The passage on the
      Essenes shows by numerous features that it derived from a paradoxographical
      ethnography emphasizing mirablia or "remarkable" customs, a well known genre
      popular among the Peripatetics (the post-Aristotelean philosophical movement). The
      passages in Pliny's geographical books drawing on Agrippa derive from his
      commentary on the World Map whose creation he oversaw and are concerned with
      distances, territorial dimensions and such (with two exceptional passages also
      atypically containing ethnographical material - not from Agrippa's own hand,
      but lifted out of an older periplus of the African coast and of the Caspian
      Sea respectively). The passages in Pliny from Agrippa share nothing in common
      with the florid and highly literary paradoxographical treatment of the
      Essenes at NH 5.73.

      Both language and genre considerations are consistent with the writings of
      the Peripatetic philosopher Nicolas of Damascus, Herod the Great's tutor and
      historian, who authored a paradoxographical treatise called the Collection of
      Remarkable Customs. Juba of Mauretania, Pliny's foremost Greek source for
      Book 5 (as Agrippa was the foremost Roman source), knew Nicolas and consulted
      him for his book on Arabia written in 4 BCE, and the text surrounding NH 5.73
      has several features pointing to Pliny's use of Juba in this section.

      Best regards,
      Russell Gmirkin

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