Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Philo and the Quote of the Day

Thanks to some helpful advice from Dr.Torrey Seland, and the acquisition of the entirety of Philo's works in the Loeb Classical Library (LCL) from my dear, departed friend, Dr. Edwin D. Freed, I have been working through Philo's works.

I am presently making my way through Philo's On the Embassy to Gaius (De Legatione ad Gaium), where Philo discusses the persecution of the Jews during the administration of the Emperor Gaius Caligula who reigned from 37-41 CE.

Philo spends considerable time discussing Gaius' claims to divinity and his habit of dressing up in the various god's garb (Legat 78-113). The Jews refusal to worship Gaius becomes the impetus for the persecution that the former will endure under his reign (Legat 117).

Philo succinctly and memorably states the crux of the issue when he writes:

One nation standing apart, the nation of the Jews, was suspected of intending opposition, since it was accustomed to accept death as willingly as if it were immortality, to save them from submitting to the destruction of any of the ancestral traditions, even the smallest, because as with buildings if a single piece is taken from the base, the parts that up to then seemed firm are loosened and slip away and collapse into the void thus made. But that displacement was of nothing petty, but of the greatest of all that exists, when the created and corruptible nature of man was made to appear uncreated and incorruptible by a deification which our nation judged to be the most grievous impiety, since sooner could God change into a man than a man into God (θᾶττον γὰρ ἂν εἰς ἄνθρωπον θεὸν ἢ εἰς θεὸν ἄνθρωπον μεταβαλεῖν; Legat 117-118). 

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