JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

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halibot
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JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by halibot » Mon May 20, 2019 1:23 pm

The Greek text of Josephus' Antiquities can be found here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... ection%3D1

(Question 1) Did the Eunuchs have intimate relations or criminal conversation with King Herod's son Alexander in Antiquities, Book XVI, Chp. 8?
The passage says in Greek:
καί τις ἀγγέλλει τῷ βασιλεῖ διαφθαρῆναι τούτους ὑπὸ Ἀλεξάνδρου τοῦ παιδὸς ἐπὶ πολλοῖς χρήμασιν. ἀνακρίναντι δὲ περὶ μὲν τῆς γεγενημένης πρὸς αὐτὸν κοινωνίας καὶ μίξεως ὡμολόγουν, ἄλλο δὲ οὐδὲν δυσχερὲς εἰς τὸν πατέρα συνειδέναι. [232] βασανιζόμενοι δὲ μᾶλλον κἀν ταῖς ἀνάγκαις ὄντες ἐπιτεινόντων ἀεὶ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν καὶ χαριζομένων τῷ Ἀντιπάτρῳ τὸ τοιοῦτον, ἔλεγον ὡς εἴη δυσμένεια πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ μῖσος ἔμφυτον Ἀλεξάνδρῳ.
Whiston's 18th century translation says: "there was one told the king that these eunuchs were corrupted by Alexander the king's son with great sums of money. And when they were asked whether Alexander had had criminal conversation with them, they confessed it, but said they knew of no further mischief of his against his father".
In Loeb's 1920 translation, the Eunuchs confess to "intimate relations" with Alexander: "When Herod asked whether they had had intimate relations with Alexander, they confessed to this but said that they were not aware of any other offence on his part against his father."
In her book Jewish Slavery in Antiquity, Catherine Hezser takes this quote from Loeb's edition to refer to sexual relations.

And "intimate relations" apparently can mean a sexual relationship, because in Loeb's edition, because in the story of Ida getting Munda to have a relationship with Paulina (Ant. VIII.66-70), Loeb's translation uses this term:
She went to him, used argument to rouse him, and bu plausibly undertaking to find a way, held out hope that he might succeed in enjoying intimate relations with Paulina.
However, perhaps there could be be ambiguity in the Greek terms. By comparison, the word "intercourse" in English can mean either sex or conversation.

(Question 2) Did Josephus say that God appeared to the Pharisees or that He inspired them?
Whiston's translation says that Pheroras' wife paid a fine that was laid on the pharisees, and in return they gave her a favorable prophecy with divine inspiration:
In order to requite which kindness of hers, since they were believed to have the foreknowledge of things to come by Divine inspiration, they foretold how God had decreed that Herod's government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it; but that the kingdom should come to her and Pheroras, and to their children.
Loeb's translation however says: "In return for her friendliness they foretold - for they were believed to have foreknowledge of things through God's appearances to them - that by God's decree Herod's throne would be taken from him...."
I think that this is the sentence in the Greek: "οἱ δὲ ἀμειβόμενοι τὴν εὔνοιαν αὐτῆς, πρόγνωσιν δὲ ἐπεπίστευντο ἐπιφοιτήσει τοῦ θεοῦ, προύλεγον, ὡς Ἡρώδῃ μὲν καταπαύσεως ἀρχῆς ὑπὸ θεοῦ ἐψηφισμένης αὐτῷ τε καὶ γένει τῷ ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, τῆς δὲ βασιλείας εἴς τε ἐκείνην περιηξούσης καὶ Φερώραν παῖδάς τε οἳ εἶεν αὐτοῖς. "
If God was still making appearances to the pharisees in Herod's time, it makes me wonder what those appearances or theophanies were like.

(Question 3) Can you make sense of the ending of the Greek sentence below?
Josephus writes about Antipater's detention: "And after putting him in chains, Herod sent out a letter about him to Caesar in Rome and also sent some men to inform him by word of mouth about the villainy of Antipater." According to the translator Ralph Marcus, the Greek here has an additional, unintelligble part, underlined and beginning with "kai Koponiou" below:
δήσας δὲ αὐτὸν εἰς Ῥώμην ὡς Καίσαρα ἐκπέμπει γράμματα περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ γλώσσης διδάξοντας τὸν Καίσαρα τὴν κακίαν τοῦ Ἀντιπάτρου καὶ Κωπωνίου γνώμη τὴν Καίσαρος.

(Question 4) What does the Greek name "Damneion" mean? I guess that the name means "The Condemned". What 1st century Jew would be named "The Condemned", especially with a name in Greek, rather than in Aramaic or Hebrew?
Here is how Josephus tells the story of James' killing, leading to the appointment of Jesus Ben Damneus as High Priest:
...this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, (23) who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.
The figure of the high priest Jesus son of Damnaeus, who replaced Ananus, is a mystery for me.
I don't know if this was a fictional character, but he shows up a few places later in real circumstances. For example, in the next chapter, Josephus writes: "the high priest, Ananias... increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree, and had obtained the favor and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner; for he was a great hoarder up of money: he therefore cultivated the friendship of Albinus, and of the high priest [Jesus], by making them presents".
Josephus talks about Jesus ben Damnaeus again here:
And now Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, became the successor of Jesus, the son of Damneus, in the high priesthood, which the king [Agrippa] had taken from the other; on which account a sedition arose between the high priests, with regard to one another; for they got together bodies of the boldest sort of the people, and frequently came, from reproaches, to throwing of stones at each other. But Ananias was too hard for the rest, by his riches, which enabled him to gain those that were most ready to receive.

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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by BrianB » Mon May 20, 2019 6:15 pm

Tentative answers to two of your four questions.

(1) In Whiston’s eighteenth-century English, “criminal conversation” is a euphemism equivalent to “illicit intercourse”. So, yes, Herod’s son was paying for gay sex.

(4) Greek names were not unusual in Judea at that time. The Twelve Apostles included an Andrew and a Philip, and one of Herod the Great’s high priests was called Boethus. Δαμναιος is not, I think, connected with Latin damno but with the verb δαμάζω, which is usually translated as something like “overpower”, “subdue”, “break”, or “crush”. In the NT it occurs, for example, in the Gadarene Swine passage (Mark 5:4):

4 διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν πολλάκις πέδαις καὶ ἁλύσεσιν δεδέσθαι καὶ διεσπάσθαι ὑπ' αὐτοῦ τὰς ἁλύσεις καὶ τὰς πέδας συντετρῖφθαι, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἴσχυεν αὐτὸν δαμάσαι,

Knox translates this verse as “He had been bound with fetters and chains often before, but had torn the chains apart and broken the fetters, and nobody had the strength to control him,” where his choice of “control” for δαμάζειν suggests he may be indulging his British taste for understatement.
http://newadvent.com/bible/mar005.htm

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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by jeidsath » Mon May 20, 2019 6:45 pm

BrianB wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 6:15 pm
Tentative answers to two of your four questions.

(1) In Whiston’s eighteenth-century English, “criminal conversation” is a euphemism equivalent to “illicit intercourse”. So, yes, Herod’s son was paying for gay sex.
Whiston's translation of this or what Whiston meant hardly matters. This was written in Greek, and the the Greek says "κοινωνίας καὶ μίξεως." To me, this is suggestive, but not explicit, and in a non-sexual context (ie., speaking about conspiracies) may not have a sexual meaning.
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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by seneca2008 » Mon May 20, 2019 11:46 pm

I think the context here makes it clear that sexual relations are being described. Line 230 is “ἦσαν εὐνοῦχοι τῷ βασιλεῖ διὰ κάλλος οὐ μετρίως ἐσπουδασμένοι.” The king had eunuchs of whom he was immoderately fond on account of their beauty.

Whether the sexual relations are a metaphor for a political conspiracy is an interesting question and seems entirely credible. At a later date certainly accusations of immorality were frequent in Rome as a means of political aggression. See Catherine Edwards “The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome” 1993.

Whether an accusation that Alexander’s sexual relations with Eunuchs could be described as “gay sex” seems to me wrongheaded. I wonder in what Sexual category BrianB would put the Eunuchs. If “gay” is to mean sexual attraction for the same sex in what way is the unsexed eunuch the same sex as the King’s son.

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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by jeidsath » Tue May 21, 2019 12:24 am

If that's the context, then it would be extremely suggestive, yes.
Whether an accusation that Alexander’s sexual relations with Eunuchs could be described as “gay sex” seems to me wrongheaded. I wonder in what Sexual category BrianB would put the Eunuchs. If “gay” is to mean sexual attraction for the same sex in what way is the unsexed eunuch the same sex as the King’s son.
Burton's notes to his translation of the 1001 Nights have some extended discussions on the sexual capabilities of eunuchs, which apparently varied depending on the extent of the mutilation. This, however, is the first time that I've ever heard someone suggest that crude mechanical mutilation could affect someone's gender. Most people have some experience with neutered or castrated animals, or have at least eaten them, but I've never heard of them talking about steers or castrated dogs as genderless. The animals tend to be behaviorally different, but still keep a good deal of their sexual characteristics. Perhaps there is some religious literature (Skoptsy, Heaven's Gate, etc.?) that refers to castrates as genderless.
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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by seneca2008 » Tue May 21, 2019 10:37 am

This, however, is the first time that I've ever heard someone suggest that crude mechanical mutilation could affect someone's gender
I was simply trying to introduce a more nuanced discussion. Those who undergo gender reassignment are subject to a “mechanical” process. Eunuchs are in a kind of halfway house. I think that current academic discussions of gender seem to regard sex as not coterminous with Gender although there are people who wish to change their sex organs to line up with their view of their Gender.

To make the assumption that a eunuch, who by force has had his sexual organs altered or removed, suddenly also changes his sexual orientation seems to me to be eliding several arguments. What I objected to in BrianB’s post was the term “gay sex”. If a man rapes another man it is rape not ”gay sex”. If a man pays another man for sex it is prostitution. We know nothing of the sexual feelings of the Eunuchs in this passage. Clearly though they were little more than objects to their powerful masters.

The binary distinctions man/woman gay/straight don’t seem very helpful and I was just urging some caution in using them.

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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by jeidsath » Tue May 21, 2019 11:57 am

It doesn't feel right lumping gender reassignment surgery in with the ancient practice of (usually child) castration. People with gender dysphoria deserve enormous sympathy, having a mental condition that very frequently leads to disastrous outcomes (50% or higher risk of suicide or violence against others). There are perhaps various arguments about the ultimate effectiveness of the hormone treatments and plastic surgeries used as a treatment method for a minority of these individuals, but is it right to include such treatment strategies in the same breath as the gross genital mutilation practiced by the ancients?
We know nothing of the sexual feelings of the Eunuchs in this passage. Clearly though they were little more than objects to their powerful masters.
We know a few things about eunuch politics from ancient (and later) accounts, and "little more than objects to their powerful masters" is not a description that I have seen anywhere. Besides, in this passage, "κοινωνίας καὶ μίξεως" would preclude it. And "ἐπὶ πολλοῖς χρήμασιν".
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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by seneca2008 » Thu May 30, 2019 1:40 pm

It doesn't feel right lumping gender reassignment surgery in with the ancient practice of (usually child) castration.
I agree and I didn't. I was simply offering and example (a fairly obvious one) where "crude mechanical mutilation could affect someone's gender". There are examples in ancient literature where castration was an attempt to reassign gender, for example Nero's castration of Sporus prior to a "marriage".
We know a few things about eunuch politics from ancient (and later) accounts, and "little more than objects to their powerful masters" is not a description that I have seen anywhere. Besides, in this passage, "κοινωνίας καὶ μίξεως" would preclude it. And "ἐπὶ πολλοῖς χρήμασιν".
I was simply making an observation on this passage and not making generalisations about Eunuchs. But as slaves they were in fact objects as far as their masters were concerned. I do not understand how "κοινωνίας καὶ μίξεως" or "ἐπὶ πολλοῖς χρήμασιν" precludes them being objects. They were paid for sex.

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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by jeidsath » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:45 pm

There are examples in ancient literature where castration was an attempt to reassign gender, for example Nero's castration of Sporus prior to a "marriage".
Puerum Sporum exsectis testibus etiam in muliebrem naturam transfigurare conatus cum dote et flammeo per sollemnia nuptiarum celeberrimo officio deductum ad se pro uxore habuit
Whether this was a true or untrue event, Suetonius only wrote it down to persuade us that Nero was hopelessly insane. Citing it as an example of anybody's opinion in antiquity is not convincing.
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Re: JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES (Books XVI-XX) 4 Questions

Post by seneca2008 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:39 pm

Whether this was a true or untrue event
It is precisely for this reason I wrote “There are examples in ancient literature”. Whether it happened or not is beside the point! The idea of using castration to change gender exists whether Nero did it or not.

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