Eunus: royal obverse, messianic preacher, firebreather and avenger of Syria
Palavras-chave:Apocalyptic literature, Religious syncretism in Antiquity, Ancient historiography
Abstract [English]: This article makes an attempt to link Eunus’ revolt (i.e. The First Slave Revolt”, 135-132 BCE), more directly his prophetic utterances and Syrian provenance to other events and stories that happened during the Second Century BCE, in the aftermath of the defeat of Anthiochus III the Great in 190 BCE; the so-far unobserved links are provided by prophecies against Rome uttered in otherworldly fashion and preserved by Phlegon of Tralles in his Mirabillion. These utterances fit in the pattern of Eastern revenge prophecies against Rome (much like the ones found in the Sibylline Oracles), with the peculiarity that, in the mouth of Eunus, the slave who lead the Revolt, they appear first as mockery in the eyes of his owner. It is the main objective of this article to show that for Eunus, this was far from mockery and was, indeed, a way of reassuring the vengeance of the East, given all the circumstances of his “kingship”.
Abstract [Portuguese]: Este artigo busca ligar a revolta de Eunus, também conhecida como a “Primeira Revolta Servil” (135-132 AEC) aos seus proferimentos em êxtase profético, ligados à sua origem Síria. Tais proferimentos e a própria revolta ocorreram na seqüência da derrota de Antíoco III, o Grande, em 190 AEC; até o momento, esses proferimentos não foram vinculados às estórias de profecias fantasmagóricas e também anti-romanas preservadas por Phlegon de Tralles (séc.II EC), em seu Mirabillion. O padrão observado em Eunus, nos Oráculos Sibilinos e nas estórias de Phlegon é aparentemente o mesmo, com a peculiaridade de que, através da fala em êxtase de Eunus, o líder da revolta, tais proferimentos são usualmente tratados como um misto de charlatanismo e bravata – quando tratam, na verdade, do já bem conhecido tema da vingança do Oriente contra Roma. Up to 200 words, in English and Portuguese. 293 TOTAL FOR BOTHKeywords: Apocalyptic literature; Religious syncretism in Antiquity; Ancient historiography MAX 5. Text. MAX 20 pp., approx. 76,800 ch., incl. spacing, notes and bibliographical references (non specified; I will use in footnotes since it seems to be the norm)
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An excellent example is the plan of Xenophon for Athens to regain its revenues after the disaster against Sparta by renting slaves to work in the Laurium mines (Ways and Means, IV, 2-3).
The best case in point is that of Peter Morton, who makes a very fine analysis of what Diodorus has to say but does not link that info to the actual events nor to the Quellenforschung regarding Diodorus. Cf. MORTON, Peter. “Eunus: the cowardly king” In Classical Quarterly 63.1, 2013, pp.237-252.
For a full account of the battle, its aftermath and text of the treaty, cf. Polybius, Histories, 21.43.
It is somehow strange that Eunus chose “Anthiochus” as his “royal” name, and that Diodorus describes his death in same fashion – using the same literary topos, if you prefer – , that of the death by lice (i.e. by the same sort of filthy animals that were responsible for the deaths of other tyrants, before and after Eunus).
His LH is not complete and even the non-specialist cannot fail to observe that some parts of Diodorus do not match the following ones; the treatment of his master Antigenes is one of such occasions.
All classical references were taken from the Loeb Classical Library online (www.loebclassics.com), unless otherwise stated. For the sake of practicality, Diodorus’ work will be abbreviated as LH from now on. On the original text, “ ἐπὶ πολὺ τοῖς βίοις ἀναδραμόντες καὶ μεγάλους περιποιησάμενοι πλούτους συνηγόραζον οἰκετῶν πλῆθος, οἷς ἐκ τῶν σωματοτροφείων ἀγεληδὸν ἀπαχθεῖσιν εὐθὺς χαρακτῆρας2 ἐπέβαλλον καὶ 2στιγμὰς τοῖς σώμασιν. ἐχρῶντο δὲ αὐτῶν τοῖς μὲν νέοις νομεῦσι, τοῖς δ᾿ ἄλλοις ὥς πῃ ἑκάστῳ ἡ χρεία ἐπέβαλλε. βαρέως δ᾿ αὐτοῖς κατά τε τὰς ὑπηρεσίας ἐχρῶντο, καὶ ἐπιμελείας παντελῶς ὀλίγης ἠξίουν, ὅσα τε ἐντρέφεσθαι καὶ ὅσα ἐνδύσασθαι.”
LSJ, γελωτοποίος; ridiculous, jester, buffoon.
LEON, Vicki. Meu chefe é um senhor de escravos. A dura vida de organizadores de orgias, animadores de funerais e outros profissionais do mundo antigo. São Paulo, Globo, 2007, PP. 191-193. (Used in the absence of the English edition; Leon brings to life many, if not all important jobs in the Graeco-Roman world but it is not an academic work in the strict sense of the term, lacking, for instance, indication of sources). It is interesting that in the reports that we have regarding the “use” of Eunus to entertain the Roman nouveau-riches in Sicily with his prophecies, ecstasies or magical tricks, no professional of similar capacity is described by Leon. They exist, but will be found elsewhere, as will be seen.
LSJ, θαυματοποιός; wonder-worker, acrobat, conjurer, juggler, puppet-showman. It is reasonable that the semantic field of thaumatopoios is quite vast, with a hint that comedians could be described with that word too. Some suggest that Eunus “career” could be a “recreation” by Posidonius based on other entertainers he knew in the native city that he shared with Eunus.
PROPP, Vladimir. On the Comic and Laughter. Toronto / Buffalo / London, University of Toronto Press, 2009, p.14. When Propp criticizes Bergson justly exactly for the same reason above: Bergson says that laughter occurs naturally, whenever there is reason for it. Propp disagrees on that saying that what is cause of laughter to one person is not necessarily funny to others. This is a very important point here, for it is a shared theme that makes Antigenes laugh but Eunus apparently speaks in earnest: the theme of the avenger of Asia, the king coming from the sun that is present in so many texts of resistance, first to Greece, than to Rome. The same mocking spirit can be seen in the “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum”, that may very well be a sinister comic response to the events that led to the dead of Jesus; for them, no explanation regarding any other kingdom than the Roman Empire would be acceptable.
FrGH87F108. Here as in other places where fragments of the Greek historians appear, the reference is shortened and can be found in the edition used by the author: JACOBY, Felix. Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. Leiden, Brill, 2004 (CD-ROM ed.). Translations are by the author of this article unless otherwise specified.
On this matter cf. the still useful articles of SWAIN, Joseph W. “The theory of the Four Monarchies: opposition history under the Roman Empire” In Classical Philology, 35, 1, 1940, p.5; for a somewhat different view, cf. ROSE, Herbert J. “World Ages and the body politic” In Harvard Theological Review, 54, 1961, pp.133-134.
Cf. Jerome, in his Against Rufinus, 3: “[...] just as that famed Barchochebas, the instigator of the Jewish uprising, kept fanning a lighted blade of straw in his mouth with puffs of breath so as to give the impression that he was spewing out flames” / “[...] stipulam in ore succensam anhelitu, ut flammas evomere putaretur”.
It was always easier for polytheists to appropriate themselves of others’ deities, since they were not just deities, but as a rule embodied the very quality implied in their names – “Zeus Olympicus” equalling “Baal Shamayim” should be no surprise and is given here as an example, rather than an exceptional case.
Plutarch, Life of Crassus, 8.4.
DICKIE, Matthew W. Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World. London / New York, Routledge, 2001, pp. 108-111. Dickie remarks accurately that the name of one such diviner – a certain “Martha”, serving Marius’ army – makes it clear that many retained their Aramaic names and language.
“πολλῶν δ᾿ ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ σχεδιαζομένων ἀπὸ τύχης ἔνια πρὸς ἀλήθειαν ἐξέβαινε· καὶ τῶν μὲν μὴ γινομένων ὑπ᾿ οὐδενὸς ἐλεγχομένων, τῶν δὲ συντελουμένων ἐπισημασίας τυγχανόντων, προκοπὴν ἐλάμβανεν ἡ περὶ αὐτὸν δόξα. τελευταῖον διά τινος μηχανῆς πῦρ μετά τινος ἐνθουσιασμοῦ καὶ φλόγα διὰ τοῦ στόματος ἠφίει, καὶ οὕτω τὰ μέλλοντα ἀπεφοίβαζεν. εἰς γὰρ κάρυον ἤ τι τοιοῦτο τετρημένον ἐξ ἑκατέρου μέρους ἐνετίθει πῦρ καὶ τὴν συνέχειν αὐτὸ δυναμένην ὕλην· εἶτα ἐντιθεὶς τῷ στόματι καὶ προσπνέων ποτὲ μὲν σπινθῆρας, ποτὲ δὲ φλόγα ἐξέκαεν. οὗτος πρὸς τῆς ἀποστάσεως ἔλεγε τὴν Συρίαν θεὸν ἐπιφαινομένην αὐτῷ λέγειν ὅτι βασιλεύσει· καὶ τοῦτο οὐ πρὸς ἄλλους μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν τὸν κύριον αὑτοῦ διετέλει λέγων. εἰς δὲ γέλωτα τρεπομένου τοῦ πράγματος, ὁ μὲν Ἀντιγένης ψυχαγωγούμενος ἐπὶ τῇ τερατείᾳ παρῆγε τὸν Εὔνουν εἰς τὰ σύνδειπνα—τοῦτο γὰρ ὄνομα τῷ τερατίᾳ—καὶ διηρώτα περὶ τῆς βασιλείας καὶ πῶς ἑκάστῳ χρήσεται τῶν παρόντων· τοῦ δὲ ἀτρέπτως πάντα διηγουμένου, καὶ ὡς μετρίως χρήσεται τοῖς κυρίοις, καὶ τὸ σύνολον ποικίλως τερατευομένου, γέλωτες ἐγίνοντο τοῖς παρακεκλημένοις, καί τινες αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης ἀξιολόγους μερίδας αἴροντες ἐδωροῦντο, ἐπιλέγοντες ὅπως, ὅταν γένηται βασιλεύς, τῆς χάριτος μνημονεύοι. οὐ μὴν ἀλλ᾿ ἡ τερατεία προῆλθεν εἰς ἀληθινὸν ἀποτέλεσμα βασιλείας, καὶ τὴν ἀνταπόδοσιν τοῖς παρὰ τὰ δεῖπνα δεξιωσαμένοις ἐν γέλωτι οὐ χωρὶς σπουδῆς ἐποιήσατο τῆς χάριτοςτῆς βασιλείας καὶ πῶς ἑκάστῳ χρήσεται τῶν παρόντων· τοῦ δὲ ἀτρέπτως πάντα διηγουμένου, καὶ ὡς μετρίως χρήσεται τοῖς κυρίοις, καὶ τὸ σύνολον ποικίλως τερατευομένου, γέλωτες ἐγίνοντο τοῖς παρακεκλημένοις, καί τινες αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης ἀξιολόγους μερίδας αἴροντες ἐδωροῦντο, ἐπιλέγοντες ὅπως, ὅταν γένηται βασιλεύς, τῆς χάριτος 9μνημονεύοι. οὐ μὴν ἀλλ᾿ ἡ τερατεία προῆλθεν εἰς ἀληθινὸν ἀποτέλεσμα βασιλείας, καὶ τὴν ἀνταπόδοσιν τοῖς παρὰ τὰ δεῖπνα δεξιωσαμένοις ἐν γέλωτι οὐ χωρὶς σπουδῆς ἐποιήσατο τῆς χάριτος.”
“Δαμόφιλός τις ἦν Ἐνναῖος, τὴν δ᾿ οὐσίαν μεγαλόπλουτος,1 ὑπερήφανος δὲ τὸν τρόπον. οὗτος κακῶς εἰς ὑπερβολὴν ἐκέχρητο τοῖς δούλοις, καὶ ἡ γυνὴ δὴ2 Μεγαλλὶς ἀντεφιλονείκει τἀνδρὶ πρὸς τὴν τιμωρίαν καὶ τὴν ἄλλην ἀπανθρωπίαν τὴν περὶ τοὺς δούλους. ἐξ ὧν ἀποθηριωθέντες οἱ προπηλακιζόμενοι συνέθεντο πρὸς ἀλλήλους ὑπὲρ ἀποστάσεως καὶ φόνου τῶν κυρίων. καὶ πρὸς τὸν Εὔνουν ἐλθόντες ἠρώτων εἰ συγχωρεῖται παρὰ τῶν θεῶν αὐτοῖς τὸ βεβουλευμένον [...] οἱ δὲ περὶ τὸν Εὔνουν πυθόμενοι τὸν Δαμόφιλον ὅτι κατὰ τὸν πλησίον τῆς πόλεως περίκηπον διατρίβει μετὰ τῆς γυναικός, εἷλκον ἐκεῖθεν διά τινων ἐξ αὑτῶν σταλέντων αὐτόν τε καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα δεδεμένους ἐξαγκωνίσαντες, πολλὰς κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ὕβρεις ὑποσχόντας. μόνης δὲ τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῶν οἱ δοῦλοι ὤφθησαν εἰς πάντα φεισάμενοι διὰ τὸ φιλάνθρωπον αὐτῆς ἦθος καὶ περὶ τοὺς δούλους συμπαθὲς καὶ βοηθητικὸν κατὰ δύναμιν. ἐξ ὧν ἐδείκνυτο τῶν δούλων οὐχὶ ὠμότης εἶναι φύσεως τὰ γινόμενα εἰς τοὺς ἄλλους, ἀλλὰ τῶν προϋπηργμένων εἰς αὐτοὺς ἀδικημάτων ἀνταπόδοσις.”
“ἐκεῖθεν αἱρεῖται βασιλεὺς ὁ Εὔνους οὔτε δι᾿ ἀνδρείαν οὔτε διὰ στρατηγίαν, διὰ δὲ μόνην τερατείαν καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀποστάσεως ἄρξαι, ἅμα δὲ καὶ τῆς προσηγορίας οἱονεί τινα καλὸν οἰωνὸν ἐχούσης πρὸς τὴν τῶν ὑποταττομένων εὔνοιαν.”
“[...] περιθέμενος δὲ διάδημα καὶ πάντα τὰ ἄλλα τὰ περὶ αὑτὸν βασιλικῶς διακοσμήσας τήν τε συμβιοῦσαν αὐτῷ, Σύραν καὶ συμπολῖτιν οὖσαν, βασίλισσαν ἀποδείξας συνέδρους τε τοὺς συνέσει δοκοῦντας διαφέρειν ποιησάμενος, ὧν ἦν Ἀχαιὸς καὶ τοὔνομα καὶ τὸ γένος, ἀνὴρ καὶ βουλῇ καὶ χειρὶ διαφέρων [...]”
The series of wars waged by Mithridates VI, King of Pontus, against Rome would last from 88 to 63 BCE.
Lucian of Samosata. Alexander the False Prophet, 13-15.
LSJ, sorcerer, wizard, juggler or cheater.
Strabo varies the spelling, using sometimes also “Byrebistas”, “Boyrebistas” and still “Boerebistas”, but in every case it is clear that we are speaking about the same person.
Strabo, Geography 7.3; 16.2; also Jordanes in his Gothica, 67.
AMITAY, Ory. From Alexander to Jesus. Berkeley / Los Angeles / London, University of California Press, 2010, pp.104-145.
“πρὸς δὲ τὴν εὐπείθειαν τοῦ ἔθνους συναγωνιστὴν ἔσχε Δεκαίνεον ἄνδρα γόητα, καὶ πεπλανημένον κατὰ τὴν Αἴγυπτον καὶ προσημασίας ἐκμεμαθηκότα τινάς, δι᾿ ὧν ὑπεκρίνετο τὰ θεῖα· καὶ δι᾿ ὀλίγου καθίστατο θεός, καθάπερ ἔφαμεν περὶ τοῦ Ζαμόλξεως διηγούμενοι. τῆς δ᾿ εὐπειθείας σημεῖον· ἐπείσθησαν γὰρ ἐκκόψαι τὴν ἄμπελον καὶ ζῆν οἴνου χωρίςπρὸς δὲ τὴν εὐπείθειαν τοῦ ἔθνους συναγωνιστὴν ἔσχε Δεκαίνεον ἄνδρα γόητα, καὶ πεπλανημένον κατὰ τὴν Αἴγυπτον καὶ προσημασίας ἐκμεμαθηκότα τινάς, δι᾿ ὧν ὑπεκρίνετο τὰ θεῖα· καὶ δι᾿ ὀλίγου καθίστατο θεός, καθάπερ ἔφαμεν περὶ τοῦ Ζαμόλξεως διηγούμενοι. τῆς δ᾿ εὐπειθείας σημεῖον· ἐπείσθησαν γὰρ ἐκκόψαι τὴν ἄμπελον καὶ ζῆν οἴνου χωρίςπρὸς δὲ τὴν εὐπείθειαν τοῦ ἔθνους συναγωνιστὴν ἔσχε Δεκαίνεον ἄνδρα γόητα, καὶ πεπλανημένον κατὰ τὴν Αἴγυπτον καὶ προσημασίας ἐκμεμαθηκότα τινάς, δι᾿ ὧν ὑπεκρίνετο τὰ θεῖα· καὶ δι᾿ ὀλίγου καθίστατο θεός, καθάπερ ἔφαμεν περὶ τοῦ Ζαμόλξεως διηγούμενοι. τῆς δ᾿ εὐπειθείας σημεῖον· ἐπείσθησαν γὰρ ἐκκόψαι τὴν ἄμπελον καὶ ζῆν οἴνου χωρίς”.
Plutarch, Life of Marius 17.1-5.
Plutarch, Life of Crassus, 8.4.
FrGH139F30 (Aristobulus of Cassandreia); Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 4.13 (“Σύραν γυναῖκα ἐφομαρτεῖν Ἀλεξάνδρῳ κάτοχον ἐκ τοῦ θείου γιγνομένην καὶ ταύτην τὸ μὲν πρῶτου γέλωτα εἶναι Ἀλεξάνδρῳ τε καὶ τοῖς ἀμφ᾿ αὐτόν· ὡς δὲ τὰ πάντα ἐν τῇ κατοχῇ ἀληθεύουσα ἐφαίνετο, οὐκέτι ἀμελεῖσθαι ὑπ᾿ Ἀλεξάνδρου, ἀλλ᾿ εἶναι γὰρ τῇ Σύρᾳ πρόσοδον πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα καὶ νύκτωρ καὶ μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν, καὶ καθεύδοντι πολλάκις ἤδη ἐπιστῆναι. καὶ δὴ καὶ τότε ἀπαλλασσομένου ἐκ τοῦ πότου κατεχομένην ἐκ τοῦ είου ἐντυχεῖν, καὶ δεῖσθαι ἐπανελθόντα πίνειν ὅλην τὴν νύκτα· καὶ Ἀλέξανδρον θεῖόν τι εἶναι νομίσαντα ἐπανελθεῖν τε καὶ πίνειν, καὶ οὕτως τοῖς παισὶ διαπεσεῖν τὸ ἔργον”); Curtius Rufus, History of Alexander 8.6. (“cum mulier attonitae, ut creditum est, mentis, conversari in regia solita, quia instinctu videbatur futura praedicere, non occurrit modo abeunti, sed etiam semet obiecit vultuque et oculis motum praeferens animi, ut rediret in convivium, monuit”for more information on the origin and modus operandi of this woman, also a Syrian. A general appreciation of this phenomenon can be found in Dickie, op.cit. p.108.
The classical book supportive of this point of view is EDDY, Samuel K. The King is Dead. Studies in the Near Eastern Resistance to Hellenism 334-331 B.C. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961. On p.vii, at the very beginning of this book, Eddy says that “My aim in these studies is to search for evidence of Oriental opposition to Hellenic imperialism, to discover its causes and the ways it was advocated and justified, to show what forms it took, and to find out what effects it had, both immediate and more far-reaching”. This is to a great extent accomplished by Eddy, but he fails in noticing regional traces that go against his main thesis.
One of these original oracles is “preserved” in a work pertaining to what we now call “Paradoxography” (i.e. the collection of absurdities, grotesque facts, and omens). The only fragments to have survived were collected by Phlegon of Tralles (active during Hadrian times, i.e. 117-138 CE), who was a freedman and personal secretary to the emperor: these fragments are very difficult to understand and even more cryptic than the later Sibylline Oracles (not to be confused with the Sibylline “Books”, although both types refer to prophetic utterances by the same mythical figure, the Sibyl. Cf. HANSEN, William. Phlegon of Tralles. Book of Marvels. Tr. With an Introduction and Commentary by William Hansen. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1996. Pp.40-43. (In Jacoby’s collection of fragments, Photius is the place to look for Phlegon: FrGH257T3). We shall use Phlegon’s collections again. References to times when they were consulted are an important issue for this article since the continuity (or alleged continuity) of their use is attested in several sources, including sometimes the date and reason for their use by Roman authorities. The first recorded consultation happened in 399 BCE and the last one, by Julian the Apostate, in 363 CE, before their destruction.
LSJ, ἀνδρεία, “manliness”, “manly spirit”, derived from the Ionian ἀνδρηίη.
MORTON, op.cit. p.239. Examples in primary sources are plentiful; cf., e.g. Xenophon, Cyropedia, 3.3.; 46-47; in the LH itself, a very different portrait than that of Eunus is given to the rebel and barbarian Viriathus (LH 33.7); also the picture of King Prusias in Polybius, Histories, 28.21 and 32.15 is one of an effeminate leader, and thus inefficient.
LH, 34/35.22-23: “Eunus, taking with him his bodyguards, a thousand strong, fled in unmanly fashion to a certain precipitous region. The men with him, however, aware that their dreaded fate was inevitable, inasmuch as the general, Rupilius, was already marching against them, killed one another with the sword, by beheading. Eunus, the wonder-worker and king, who through cowardice had sought refuge in certain caves, was dragged out with four others, a cook, a baker, the man who massaged him at his bath, and a fourth, whose duty it had been to amuse him at drinking parties” / “ὁ δὲ Εὔνους ἀναλαβὼν τοὺς σωματοφύλακας ὄντας χιλίους ἔφυγεν ἀνάνδρως εἴς τινας παρακρήμνους τόπους. ἀλλ᾿ οἱ μὲν σὺν αὐτῷ ἄφυκτον τὸ περὶ αὑτοὺς δεινὸν ἐπιστάμενοι, ἤδη γὰρ καὶ ὁ στρατηγὸς Ῥουπίλιος ἐπ᾿ αὐτοὺς ἤλαυνεν, ἀλλήλους τοῖς ξίφεσιν ἔσφαζον ἀπαυχενίσαντες.”
WOLFF, Max J. “Sibyllen und Sibyllinen” In Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, 24, 1934, pp.312-314.
FRASER, Peter M. “Lycophron” In HORNBLOWER, Simon and SPAWFORTH, Tony (eds.). Who’s Who in the Classical World. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.
LH 34/35.21. “Ὅτι ὁ τῶν ἀποστατῶν βασιλεὺς Εὔνους ἑαυτὸν μὲν Ἀντίοχον, Σύρους δὲ τῶν ἀποστατῶν τὸ πλῆθος ἐπωνόμασεν”.
The Sibylline Oracles, in particular are rife with this kind of reference; cf. SibOr 3:193; 318; 608; of particular relevance are vv. 652-656. SibOr 4:191 has a doubtful passage. Other references in the SibOr are 5:209; 248; 422; 12:273. Of particular interest is SibOr 13:164-170 ff., where another “king of the sun”, or “from the sun” is mentioned, in an unmistakable favorable light – Odenath of Palmyra, who appears as “the last priest of all [that] will come, sent from the sun” also in SibOr 13:151-152 and the following verse, 153, mentions “a city of the sun”, which must be Palmyra in this connection with Odenath. But this is too much to discuss in this article and will be left as a future academic enterprise. The short and blunt Apocalypse of Elijah also mentions a “king from the city of the sun” (ApEl 2:39 – cf. ROSENSTIEHL, Jean-Marc. L’apocalypse d’Elie. Paris, Gallimard, 1972, pp.63-65). For proper editions with text and commentary regarding the Sibylline Oracles (they are really important regarding the study of Eunus’ comical motivation), cf. KURFESS, Alfons. Sibyllinische Weissagungen. München, Heimeren, 1951; RZACH, Aloisius. ΧΡΗΣΜΟΙ ΣΙΒΥΛΛΙΑΚΟΙ – Oracula Sibilina. Prague / Vienna / Leipzig, Tempsky / Freytag, 1891: GEFFCKEN, Johannes. Die Oracula Sibyllina. Leipzig, J.C.Hinrichs, 1902 and the most important modern study edition, almost 200 years old by now and still relevant when going back to the Greek texts: ALEXANDRE, Charles. ΧΡΗΣΜΟΙ ΣΙΒΥΛΛΙΑΚΟΙ – Oracula Sibilina. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1841 (2 vols.). For those who want a scholarly overview without going into the Greek text itself, the introductions and edited Sibylline Oracles by John J. Collins in CHARLESWORTH, James H. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Vol.1). Peabody, Hendrickson, 1983 (from now on OTP 1) still does a great job (although some propositions, especially those related to books 3 and 5 have been quite challenged over the years).
Cf. FUCHS, Harald. Der geistige Widerstand gegen Rom in der antiken Welt. Berlin, Walter de Gruyter, 1938; KIPPENBERG, Hans G. “Dann wird der Orient herrschen und der Okzident dienen” In BOLZ, Norbert and HUEBENER, Wolfgang (eds.). Spiegel und Gleichnis. Festschrift für Jacob Taubes. Würzburg, Königshausen & Neumann, 1983; KOCSIS, Elemér. “Ost-West Gegensatz in den Jüdischen Sibyllinen” In Novum Testamentum 5 (2/3:105-110), 1962.
VAN HENTEN, Jan W. “Nero Redivivus demolished: the coherence of the Nero traditions in the Sibylline Oracles” In Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 21, 2000, p.4. As examples of this whole vicious rather than hermeneutical cycle van Henten quotes, besides the now-canonical Wilhelm Bousset, recent works as THOMPSON, Leonard.L. Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990 and PEERBOLTE, Lambertus J. Lietaert. The Antecedents of Antichrist: a Traditio-Historical Study of the Earliest Christian Views on Eschatological Opponents. Leiden, Brill, 1996.
HULTGÅRD, Anders. “Figures messianiques d’Orient comme sauveurs universels dans le monde gréco-romain” In VERMASEREN, Maarten J. and BIANCHI, Ugo. La soteriologia dei culti orientali nell'Impero Romano. Atti del Colloquio Internazionale su La soteriologia dei culti orientali nell'Impero Romano. Leiden, Brill, 1979, pp.735-747.
LH 34/35.21: “Finally, after Sarapion, a Syrian, had betrayed the citadel [in Tauromenium, also taken over by the rebels], the general [Rupilius] laid hands on all the runaway slaves in the city, whom, after torture, he threw over a cliff.” / “καὶ τὸ τελευταῖον Σαραπίωνος Σύρου τὴν ἄκραν προδόντος, συμπάντων τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει δραπετῶν ὁ στρατηγὸς ἐκυρίευσεν· οὓς καὶ αἰκισάμενος κατεκρήμνισεν.”
Other rulers are connected to similar, filthy endings in Ancient narratives: Pheretine (Herodotus, History, 4.205); Sulla (Plutarch, Life of Sulla, 36), the monstrous Anthiocus IV Epiphanes in the Old Testament (2Macc 8-10; 9:5) and Herod Antipater in the New Testament (Acts 12:23). Cf. WINKLER, Martin M. “Achilles Tatius and Heliodorus: between Aristotle and Hitchcock” In CUEVA, Edmund P. and BYRNE, Shannon N. (eds.) A Companion to Ancient Novel. Malden / Oxford / Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.
The reasons for that mockery are, however, quite different in his role during the Revolt of the Maccabbees and the reasons given by a fr. of Polybius found in Athaeneus, 5.193d corresponding to the Histories, 26: “Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes gained the name of Epimanes by his conduct. Polybius tells us of him that, escaping from his attendants at court, he would often be seen wandering about in all parts of the city with one or two companions. He was chiefly found at the silversmiths’ and goldsmiths’ workshops, holding forth at length and discussing technical matters with the molders and other craftsmen. He also used to condescend to converse with any common people he met, and used to drink in the company of the meanest foreign visitors to Antioch. Whenever he heard that any of the young men were at an entertainment, he would come in quite unceremoniously with a fife and a procession of musicians, so that most of the guests got up and left in astonishment ”. / “Ἀντίοχος ὁ Ἐπιφανὴς μὲν κληθείς, Ἐπιμανὴς δ᾿ ἐκ τῶν πράξεων ὀνομασθείς [...] περὶ οὗ φησι Πολύβιος τάδε, ὡς ἀποδιδράσκων ἐκ τῆς αὐλῆς ἐνίοτε τοὺς θεραπεύοντας, οὗ τύχοι τῆς πόλεως, ἀλύων ἐφαίνετο δεύτερος καὶ τρίτος. μάλιστα δὲ πρὸς τοῖς ἀργυροκοπείοις εὑρίσκετο καὶ χρυσοχοείοις εὑρησιλογῶν καὶ φιλοτεχνῶν πρὸς τοὺς τορευτὰς καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους τεχνίτας. ἔπειτα καὶ μετὰ δημοτῶν ἀνθρώπων συγκαταβαίνων ὡμίλει, ᾧ τύχοι, καὶ μετὰ τῶν παρεπιδημούντων συνέπινε τῶν εὐτελεστάτων. ὅτε δὲ τῶν νεωτέρων αἴσθοιτό τινας συνευωχουμένους, οὐδεμίαν ἔμφασιν ποιήσας παρῆν ἐπικωμάζων μετὰ κερατίου καὶ συμφωνίας, ὥστε τοὺς πολλοὺς διὰ τὸ παράδοξον ἀφισταμένους φεύγειν”. It is somehow parallel that his conduct has common traces to the “non-king” Eunus, who was also crowned not out of his own valor and in the end also had entertainers with him; this was, according to Morton, a common motif in Diodorus.
LH, 35/36.26. “καὶ παραδοθεὶς εἰς φυλακὴν καὶ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ διαλυθέντος εἰς φθειρῶν πλῆθος οἰκείως τῆς περὶ αὐτὸν ῥᾳδιουργίας κατέστρεψε τὸν βίον ἐν τῇ Μοργαντίνῃ. ἐντεῦθεν Ῥουπίλιος ἐπιτρέχων ὅλην τὴν Σικελίαν ἅμα λογάσιν ὀλίγοις θᾶττον ἤπερ τις ἤλπισε παντὸς αὐτὴν ἠλευθέρωσε λῃστηρίου”.
This can be noted both in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Dn 2 and in Dn 7-2, the apocalypse proper: no inference to Rome can be made based solely on the text.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 10.276-281: “ταῦτα πάντα ἐκεῖνος θεοῦ δείξαντος αὐτῷ συγγράψας κατέλειψεν· ὥστε τοὺς ἀναγινώσκοντας καὶ τὰ συμβαίνοντα σκοποῦντας θαυμάζειν ἐπὶ τῇ παρὰ θεοῦ τιμῇ τὸν Δανίηλον καὶ τοὺς Ἐπικουρείους ἐκ τούτων εὑρίσκειν πεπλανημένους, οἳ τήν τε πρόνοιαν ἐκβάλλουσι τοῦ βίου καὶ θεὸν οὐκ ἀξιοῦσιν ἐπιτροπεύειν τῶν πραγμάτων, [...] ἐγὼ μὲν περὶ τούτων ὡς εὗρον καὶ ἀνέγνων οὕτως ἔγραψα· εἰ δέ τις ἄλλως δοξάζειν βουλήσεται περὶ αὐτῶν, ἀνέγκλητον ἐχέτω τὴν ἑτερογνωμοσύνην”.
Just as in Dn 7:3.
Text from OTP 1; the best mss. are from the Latin and Syriac families. In Latin, then: “11.1. Et factum est secunda nocte, et vidi somnium, et ecce ascendebat de mari aquila, cui erant duodecim alae pinnarum et capita tria. 2. Et vidi, et ecce expandebat alas suas in omnem terram, et omnes venti caeli insuflabant ad eam et nubes ad eam colligebantur. 3. Et vidi, et de pinnis eius nascebantur contrariae pinnae, et ipsae fiebant in pinnaculis minutis et modicis. [...] 12.10. Haec est interpretatio visionis huius quam vidisti:11. Aquilam quam vidisti ascendentem de mari, hoc est regnum quartum, quod visum est in visu Danihelo fratri tuo, 12. sed non est illi interpretatum, quomodo ego nunc tibi interpretor vel interpretavi. 13. Ecce dies veniunt, et exsurget regnum super terram et erit timoratior omnium regnorum quae fuerunt ante eam. [...]”.
Pompeius Trogus. Epitome of Roman History (done by Justin), 38.6. Modern comm. by YARDLEY, John C. Justin and Pompeius Trogus: A Study of the Language of Justin's Epitome of Trogus. Toronto / Buffalo / London, 2003. Original Latin text in SEEL, Otto (ed.). M. Iuniani Iustini Epitoma Historiarum Philippicarum Pompei Trogi: Aaccedunt Prologi in Pompeium Trogum (Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum Et Romanorum Teubneriana) (Latin Edition). Berlin, De Gruyter, 1956 (1985 reprint): “Quippe non delicta regum illos, sed vires ac maiestatem insequi, neque in uno se, sed in aliis quoque omnibus hac saepe arte grassatos. Sic et avum suum Pharnacen per cognitionum arbitria succidaneum regi Pergameno Eumeni datum; sic rursus Eumenen, cuius classibus primo in Asiam fuere transiecti, cuius exercitu magis quam suo et magnum Antiochum et Gallos in Asia et mox in Macedonia regem Perseum domuerant, et ipsum pro hoste Habitum eique interdictum Italia, et quod cum ipso deforme sibi putaverant, cum filio eius Aristonico bellum gessisse. Nullius apud eos maiora quam Masinissae, regis Numidarum, haberi merita; huic inputari victum Hannibalem, huic captum Syphacem, huic Karthaginem deletam, hunc inter duos illos Africanos tertium servatorem urbis referri: tamen cum huius nepote bellum modo in Africa gestum adeo inexpiabile, ut ne victum quidem patris memoriae donarent, quin carcerem ac triumph spectaculum experiretur. Hanc illos omnibus regibus legem odiorum dixisse, scilicet quia ipsi tales reges habuerint, quorum etiam nominibus erubescant, aut pastores Aboriginum, aut aruspices Sabinorum, aut exules Corinthiorum, aut servos vernasque Tuscorum, aut, quod honoratissimum nomen fuit inter haec, Superbos; atque ut ipsi ferunt conditores suos lupae uberibus altos, sic omnem illum populum luporum animos inexplebiles sanguinis, atque imperii divitiarumque avidos ac ieiunos habere.Quippe non delicta regum illos, sed vires ac maiestatem insequi, neque in uno se, sed in aliis quoque omnibus hac saepe arte grassatos. Sic et avum suum Pharnacen per cognitionum arbitria succidaneum regi Pergameno Eumeni datum; sic rursus Eumenen, cuius classibus primo in Asiam fuere transiecti, cuius exercitu magis quam suo et magnum Antiochum et Gallos in Asia et mox in Macedonia regem Perseum domuerant, et ipsum pro hoste Habitum eique interdictum Italia, et quod cum ipso deforme sibi putaverant, cum filio eius Aristonico bellum gessisse. Nullius apud eos maiora quam Masinissae, regis Numidarum, haberi merita; huic inputari victum Hannibalem, huic captum Syphacem, huic Karthaginem deletam, hunc inter duos illos Africanos tertium servatorem urbis referri: tamen cum huius nepote bellum modo in Africa gestum adeo inexpiabile, ut ne victum quidem patris memoriae donarent, quin carcerem ac triumphi spectaculum experiretur. Hanc illos omnibus regibus legem odiorum dixisse, scilicet quia ipsi tales reges habuerint, quorum etiam nominibus rubescant, aut pastores Aboriginum, aut aruspices Sabinorum, aut exules Corinthiorum, aut servos vernasque Tuscorum, aut, quod honoratissimum nomen fuit inter haec, Superbos; atque ut ipsi ferunt conditores suos lupae uberibus altos, sic omnem illum populum luporum animos inexplebiles sanguinis, atque imperii divitiarumque avidos ac ieiunos habere”.
“The Book of Marvels belongs to a genre of writing for which the ancients themselves possessed no special label, and which classical scholars call paradoxography ‘writing about marvels’, a term introduced in the early nineteenth century by Antonius Westermann, the editor of a collection of Greek writers on wonders” (HANSEN, op.cit. p.2).
Besides the modern edition of Phlegon’s utterances by Hansen, it is worth reading MOREL, Willy. “Zum Text des Phlegon von Tralles” In Philologische Wochenschrift, 34, 1934, pp.171-176; following Eddy’s trend, GAUGER, Jörg-Dieter. “Phlegon von Tralleis, mirab.III: Zu einem Dokument geistigen Widerstandes gegen Rom” In Chiron, 10, 1980, pp.225-261 and PERETTI, Aurelio. “Una storia di fantasmi oracolanti” In Studi Classici e Orientali, 33, 1983, pp.39-81.
This identity has been much discussed, so far with no consensus: he may be the Rhodian historian assigned by Jacoby the “file” FrGH508, but there is no general agreement on the matter.
Here as in so many other issues Diodorus relies on Poseidonios of Apamea, who lived almost one hundred years before him. It is an educated guess that Poseidonios would have the worst possible commentary to make on Eunus, but his work is lost and we have to rely mainly on Diodorus for the First Servile War. Cf. JACOBY, FrGH87.
This information puts in perspective the 1,000 men with whom Eunus fled initially; both numbers seem absurd, as it often happens in ancient historians and should be taken to mean “a lot of men”. In both cases we lack eyewitnesses accounts and, worse, we know that exaggerating numbers was a common practice in ancient historians.
Pliny, Natural History, 7.52 reports an almost identical story, this time with a Gabienus who prophesized (wrongly, again) that Pompey would be victorious over Octavian. Pliny dismisses the story but interestingly, it also came from Sicily during the Sicilian War (38-36 BCE).
Again, the same provenance of Eunus.
That is, displaying ἀνδρεία. Cf. SARACHEK, Bernard. “Greek concepts of leadership” In The Academy of Management Journal, 11, 1, 1968, pp.39-48.
The payment many times more than the deed committed is common throughout the Sibylline Oracles: SibOr 2:304; 3:114; 264; 355 (ten-thousandfold from Rome back to Asia); 5:476.
A reference to a group of equestrian statues in Syracuse that will be given life and movement according to the whole story of Bouplagos and Publius. They appear in Herodotus, History, 3.160 as a real and very good breed of horses.
In another verse Publius refers to “Thrinakia”, i.e. Sicily. Cf. HANSLIK, Rudolf. “Νισαῖον πεδίον” In Pauly-Wissowa Real-Encyclopädie der classichen Altertumswissenschaft. Stuttgart, J.B.Metzler, 1894, vol.17, pp.712-713.
Hansen, in his commentary to the whole passage, points out two important things: part of the tale may be from the Second Century BCE and is, definitely, “a piece of resistence [sic] literature whose purpose was to deter Romans against further aggression in the Greek-speaking world” (HANSEN, op,cit. p.102).
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