Archives for category: Rome


‘If only thou couldst feel as I do, and couldst get thee power of speech’

                                                                   (Od. 9.455-58)[1]

An important feature of the relationship between humans and animals since the early Neolithic age is one of reciprocity. In this line from Odysseus, Homer draws our attention to the close symbiotic relationship between a shepherd and his flock. The shepherd provides protection and the sheep provide sustenance and companionship in his lonely life[2]. However, Hesiod stated that it is the notion of justice that holds us apart from animals, with justice demanding that we do not prey on our own kind[3]. Lonsdale notes that Xenophon went further and argued that man is different because of his capacity to speak and reason, and also in his deep religiosity[4]. Yet, while the Greeks were deeply anthropocentric, the Egyptians did not have such a notion of division between human and animal. Humans were not considered superior and animals were considered the vehicle of earthly representation of the gods[5]. To consider ancient notions of the important attributes differentiating human and non-human it is necessary to review the literature left by ancient writers. These writers tend to relegate these attributes into three distinct types: rationality, intelligence and language, and argue for difference or deny it. The ancient argument that is most valid is the one propounded by writers such as Alexander, Plutarch and Porphyry and denies the superiority of humans, as it takes into account what we may not understand.

The first criterion that many ancient writers cite is the lack of rationality found in animals. In the 5th century BCE Alcamaeon of Croton wrote that humans have xunesis, an understanding which is the basis for rational thought. This allows language to develop which assists cultural maturity. He argues that animals do not have this facility and only have perception, or aesthesis, which humans have also[6]. Plato also states that the difference between humans and animals is human rationality and goes on to say that humans who do not use rational thought are no better than beasts[7]. Aristotle also denies animals reason but concedes that they have phronesis which is the knowledge needed to cope with their environment[8]. For Aristotle, humans live by skill and reason, whereas animals live by experience made up of impressions and memories[9]. In his protestation against his nephew Alexander’s assertion of the rationality of animals, Philo of Alexandria declares that, while animals might exhibit courage, only man has the understanding that enables him to form laws and governments, and to worship God[10]. Such a determination was later reflected even more vehemently by Augustine who stated that humans were made in God’s image and that animals were for their use. For Augustine, the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” only referred to humans[11].

Other writers, such as Alexander, claimed that animals were very much like humans. Alexander said that there were two types of reason: logos endiathelos (reason within the mind) and logos proporikos (uttered reason), and that animals had both. Alexander used the ability of different animals to construct complex dwellings, especially some birds and bees, to prove reason in animals, and also contended that the deliberation of a dog in following its prey is proof of reason[12]. Plutarch and Porphyry also used such an argument, but Plutarch added that good rational thinking was not apparent in many humans and only came about through much education. He argued that because animals chose between useful and harmful and exhibited fear, hope and desire this proved their rationality[13]. Porphyry extended this further by stating that justice should be awarded to animals because both humans and non-humans are endowed with reason and practise justice[14]. However, Diogenes Laertius contended that the practice of reasoned thought in humans, especially after the fourteenth year, showed that humans have a governing principle, or hegemonikon[15], that allows one to express meaningful language and is considered to be the foundation of intelligence.

Intelligence is the second criterion that ancient writers advance when they assert the superiority of humans over animals. For Aristotle, man is deliberative in that he has intentionality; only man has the ability of recollection and reason which differentiates him intellectually from animals[16]. Philo thought that pleasure and self-preservation were the prime motivating factors of animals and that they did not need intelligence for these[17]. The Stoics stated that humans have no intellectual kinship with animals as they are irrational, and for this reason humans owe them no obligation of justice[18]. There are other ancient writers who disagreed with this view. Alexander asserted that animals do have a sovereign mind[19], while Plutarch contended that the cleverness and intellect animals use for their survival ought to be enough for us to treat them respectfully[20]. Plutarch also believed that humans shared kinship, or oikeinsois, through manner or lifestyle[21]. Lonsdale writes that Aristotle’s follower, Theophrastus, argued that animal sacrifice was wrong because humans and animals shared an intellectual kinship[22]. Further, Cicero thought that while humans were superior in that they had higher intentions, such as the pursuit of comfort, industry and sympathy for others, he conceded that some animals have such higher intentions and some intellect[23].

Higher intentions and intellect could be prerequisites for engaging in contractual behaviour, a foundation of justice. Epicurus stated that, as animals do not have the capacity for language, they do not have the capacity for forming tacit contractual agreements with an intention to respect one another’s interests[24]. Language is the third criterion for the moral status of animals. For Xenophon, humans were superior to animals both intellectually and physically, and this was manifested in the human capacity for articulate language[25]. This view was also reflected by Diogenes Laertius, who stated that the lack of intelligible language in animals proved their inferiority[26]. While Aristotle thought that animals did communicate through language, he countered that it was not based in semantics and therefore inferior to humans[27]. Philo took this argument further, stating that animal utterances are as meaningless as musical notes[28]. However, Lucretius argues that humans and non-humans do engage in tacit contractual agreements. This is illustrated by the guardianship of humans to animals and the return of services and products by animals, and does not require the understanding of languages for it to be beneficial to both parties[29]. Plutarch and Porphyry also argue that humans lack the capacity to understand the language of animals not that animal language has no meaning[30]; as the modern philosopher, Wittgenstein, stated: “If a lion could talk we would not understand him”[31].

Most of the arguments above that deny non-humans the capacity of reason, intelligence and communication result in the denial to animals of any moral obligation. The Stoic, Chrysippus, puts this argument as such: humans and non-humans have three things on common: senses, utterance and reproduction. Humans can also reason, whereas animals are only motivated by impulse. Therefore, humans need not consider the interests of animals[32]. As Aristotle stated, slavery is a natural phenomenon because it is natural for one human to rule over another and as animals are intended for human use it is natural for humans to rule over animals[33]. This denial of interest to animals culminated in Augustine’s use of Aristotle’s and the Stoics’ arguments to defend the use of animals to benefit human lives on the grounds that God gave humans animals in order to help them to salvation[34]. To attribute reason to animals was tantamount to denying Christian notions of humans being fit for the divine recreation of God[35]. The Egyptian practice of animals representing the gods on earth was sacrilegious to Christian sensibilities. Therefore, animals became ‘the other’ and the primacy of humans became paramount.

Rather than a symbiotic and reciprocal relationship based upon the interests of both humans and non-humans, this reliance on a criteria of reason, intelligence and language to assert an anthropocentric world view discounts and ignores all the ancient contentions that counter such a view. Porphyry, Plutarch and Alexander were right in using the many examples from their environment to show that other animals are very much like humans. They live in complex societies, they build complex dwellings, they make choices between good and bad, they exhibit hopes, fears and desires, and have autonomy. As Lucretius stated, humans and non-humans do engage in tacit contractual agreements when they breed animals for their products or services. However, these agreements can quickly degenerate into master/slave relationships when humans disregard the interests of animals. Also, just as some humans cannot understand the language of other humans from another society, so too it is with other animals. Therefore, arguments used by ancient writers to support the claim that animals are different to humans rely upon criteria that are not exclusive to human beings and have caused the suffering of animals for over two thousand years.


  1. Alcaemon of Croton, DK1a, Hermann Diels & Walther Kranz, eds, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th edn (Berlin: Weidmann, 1951-52)
  2. Aristotle, “Metaphysics”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
  3. Aristotle, “Parts of Animals”, from Pierre Louis, ed., Aristote; Les Parties des Animaux (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1956)
  4. Aristotle, “Politics”, Jean Aubonnet, ed., Aristote; Politique, Livres I et II (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1968)
  5. Augustine, “De civitate dei” [The City of God], from B. Dombart & A. Kalb, eds, Sancti Aurelii Augustini de Civitate Dei Libri I-X (Turnhout: Brepols, 1955 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 47)
  6. Beck, J., (2012), “Why we can’t say what animals think”, Philosophical Psychology, 2012, 1-27, Routledge Press
  7. Chryssipus, “SVF”, from Johannes von Arnim, ed. Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (Stuttgart; Teubner, 1964; reprint of the edition of 1905)
  8. Cicero, “De finibus bonorum et malorum” [On the Ends of Good and Evil], from Claudio Moreschini, ed., M.Tullius Cicero Scripta Quae Manserunt Omnia Fasc. 43: De Finibus Bonorum et  Malorum (Munich and Leipzig: Saur, 2005)
  9. Diogenes Laertius, “Lives of the Philosophers”, from H.S. Long, Diogenis Laertii Vitae Philosophum (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964)
  10. Epicurus, kuriai Doxai [Soveregn Maxims] XXXI and XXXII, as cited in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers X. 150 [from the life of Epicurus], from Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press
  11. Gilhus, Ingvild S. (2006) “The religious value of animals” in Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas , Gilhus, Ingvild S. , 2006 , 93-113
  12. Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Works and Days. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1918
  13. Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919
  14. Lonsdale, S.H., (1979), “Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece”, Greece and Rome, 2nd Ser., Vol.26, No.2, (Oct., 1979), 146-159
  15. Lucretius, “De rerum natura” [On the Nature of Things], from Joseph Martin, ed., T. Lucreti Cari de Rerum Natura Libri Sex (Leipzig: Teubner, 1963)
  16. Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press
  17. Philo of Alexandria, “On Animals”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
  18. Plato, “Laws”, Burnet, J., ed., Platonis Opera (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901-1902; rept. 1962-1967)
  19. Plutarch, “De esu cranium” [On the Eating of Flesh), from Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge PressPlutarch, “On the Cleverness of Animals”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
  20. Plutarch, “De Stoicurum repugnantis” [On the Self-Contradictions of the Stoics], from Michel Casevitz & Daniel Babut, eds, Plutarque: Ouvres Morales XV (Sur les Contradictions Stoiciennes, etc.) (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2004)
  21. Porphyry, “On Abstinence from Animal Flesh”, from Jean Bouffartigue, Michele Patillon, Alain Segond and Luc Brisson, eds, Porphyre; De l’Abstinence (Paris: Les Belle Lettres, 1977-1995)
  22. Wittgenstein, L., (1973), Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Blackwell
  23. Xenophon, “Memorabilia” [Recollections of Socrates], from E.C. Marchant, ed., Xenophontis Opera Omnia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967)

[1] Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919

[2] Lonsdale, S.H., (1979), “Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece”, Greece and Rome, 2nd Ser., Vol.26, No.2, (Oct., 1979), 149

[3] Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Works and Days. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1914

[4] Lonsdale, Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece, Greece and Rome, (1979), 156

[5] Gilhus, Ingvild S. (2006) “The religious value of animals” in Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas , Gilhus, Ingvild S. , 2006 , 99

[6] Alcaemon of Croton, (DK1a)

[7] Plato, Laws, 766a

[8] Aristotle, Politics 1332b3-8

[9] Aristotle, Metaphysics, 980a28-981a4

[10] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals, 85

[11] Augustine, De civitate dei [The City of God] , 1.20

[12] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals, 17; 45

[13] Plutarch, On the Cleverness of Animals, 960D-E

[14] Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Flesh III. 13.1-3

[15] Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VII.55 [from the life of Zeno the Stoic]

[16] Aristotle, History of Animals, 488a20-26;588a16-18-588b3

[17] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals 44

[18] Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press, 28

[19] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals 29

[20] Plutarch, On the Cleverness of Animals, 960D-E

[21] Plutarch, De Stoicurum repugnantis [On the Self-Contradictions of the Stoics] 1038B

[22] Newmyer, (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, 28

[23] Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum [On the Ends of Good and Evil] II. 109-110

[24] Epicurus, kuriai Doxai [Soveregn Maxims] XXXI and XXXII, as cited in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers X. 150 [from the life of Epicurus]

[25] Xenophon, Memorabilia [Recollections of Socrates] 1.4.11-14

[26] Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VII.55

[27] Aristotle, Parts of Animals 660a35-660b2

[28] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals, 98

[29] Lucretius, De rerum natura [On the Nature of Things] V. 855-877

[30] Plutarch, De esu carnium [On the Eating of Flesh] 994E; Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Flesh III.2-4

[31] Wittgenstein, L., (1973),Philosophical Investigations,  Oxford: Blackwell, XXxi

[32] Chryssipus, SVF 2.821

[33] Aristotle, Politics 1256b15-23

[34] Augustine, De civitate dei, 1.20

[35] Gilhus, (2006) “The religious value of animals” in Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas, 99


The main feature of the ethos of the Roman aristocracy at the time of the second century BC was a particular set of elite values and objectives. These were borne out in ambitious military and political careers and they entailed such objectives as high office, famous deeds and supremely persuasive oratorical skills. The four terms that ascribe such a rigorous set of ideals are gloria, nobilitas, virtus and auctoritas. This essay sets out to describe the meaning of these four terms, and to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Roman aristocracy was obsessed with family both living, dead and unborn for reasons of preserving the honour of the family name[1]. The term gloria was defined by Cicero as ‘praise given to right actions and the reputation for great merits in the service of the Republic which is approved not merely by the testimony of the multitude but by the witness of all the best men[2].’ For Sallust, it was the memory of the great deeds of his ancestors that kindled a quest to uphold the glory of the family name in a young man’s heart[3]. The various epitaphs written on the tombs of the family of Scipioni attest to their valiance in battle and high office. For example, Lucius Cornelius Scipio was inscribed as being ‘the very best of all good men’, that he was ‘aedile, consul and censor’ and that he ‘captured Corsica and Aleria[4]. Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus belonged to this patrician family. As a general he achieved total victories in the troublesome wars of Carthage and Numantia[5]. He went on to be twice consul, censor and triumphator.

The aristocracy developed out of wealthy plebian and patrician families called by the term nobilitas[6]. The qualification to be entitled noble was to hold public office and the attainment of consulship ennobled a man’s family forever[7]. The display of the imagos of their ancestors gave the nobility authority to establish the institution of clientage. This allowed people to oblige themselves to a noble in return for legal representation and financial aid. Scipio Aemilianus was the patron of many people and therefore referred to as nobilis. This patronage was fundamentally important in Roman politics and due deference was given to such status. Clientela allowed the nobility to display and enhance their prestige within the Senate. ‘New men’ were also allowed to obtain the status of nobilitas through their achievements, as the aristocracy was always looking for new talent[8]. Cato, who was one of these ‘new men’, earned the epithet catus meaning man of outstanding wisdom and experience[9]. Cicero said that the public nature of nobilitas means that a distinguished name must be scrutinized and that the words and deeds of these men were not expected to be kept secret[10].

TheRoman nobility were obsessed with morality and the pursuit of power, glory, position and prestige[11]. The term boni or ‘good men’ referred to the moral worth of the nobility [12] and this was expressed in the ideal of virtus [13]. Virtus consisted of winning preeminence through service to the Roman state and it was the tradition of Rome itself[14]. The use of superlatives to establish virtus is attested to in the epitaph of L. Cornelius Scipio: ‘This man Lucius Scipio, as most argue, was the best of all good men at Rome’[15]. Personal virtue was frowned upon. For the Roman nobility it was the service of state that was the only acceptable activity and this demanded private goodness but public achievement[16]. Furthermore, virtus was connected with family, honour and office and the obligations of political associations and alliance[17]. In pursuing the ideal of virtus a noble must have proper conduct and carry his office with dignitas. Wealth must be acquired in the correct manner or bono modo such as by inheritance or investment in land and must be used for honourable ends[18].

One of the outstanding features of the Roman senate was its exercise of auctoritas or moral authority. A young Roman noble was expected to rise from his ten years of military service to become a preator, consul and censor to give service to his family’s gloria. He was expected to achieve distinction in his military career and be enrolled in the senate. Real power in Republican Rome lay with around twenty families who ‘commanded armies, governed provinces and guided the policies of the senate’. It was only by originating and implementing public policy could the Roman nobility attain auctoritas, which was the highest form of prestige[19]. The ambition of the young Scipio Aemilianus was to serve the Republic as a warrior and general, as an orator and senator and to achieve great deeds[20]. The interlinking of one’s military and political talents was a considerable asset in Republican Rome and Scipio became known as a skilful orator, earning the expression summa eloquentia[21]. His ambition to become an outstanding man of state led him to state these words which express the ideals of the Roman nobility: ‘From innocence is born dignity, from dignity honour, from honour the right to command, from the right to command liberty’[22].

The strengths of such ideals could be determined as a rigorous system of merit in which only the ‘best of men’ achieve the highest status. The exacting standards and the scrutiny of the people could be said to allow a high degree of government transparency and fidelity. However, the quest for family gloria  could also allow for one to take advantage of their position and exaggerate the qualities and achievements of forebears. Also, the practice of being nobilis could allow for sycophancy and the development of corruption within the government, where public policy succumbs to private desires. Furthermore, the use of oratorical skills in the practice of auctoritas makes the most persuasive politician the most successful, rather than the right policy for the people. Therefore it could be said that virtus was the most important of these ideals, as it required the nobility to answer for their actions and demanded their service to the state alone.


  1. Astin, A. E. “P. Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus” in Scipio Aemilianus , Astin, A. E. , 1967 , 12-25
  2. Astin, A. E. “Epilogue” in Scipio Aemilianus , Astin, A. E. , 1967 , 242-244
  3. Cicero, Pro Sestio,79
  4. Cicero, On Duties, 2.44
  5. Cicero, Brutus,82 f.
  6. Earl, Donald. “Morality and politics” in The Moral and Political Tradition of Rome , Earl, Donald , 1967 , 11-43,133-138, Thames and Hudson
  7. Plutarch, Makers of Rome, 4.1, Trans. Ian Scott-Kilvert, (1965) Penguin Books, London
  8. Polybius VI, 53f
  9. Sallust The Jugurthine War 4.5
  10. The Scipionic Epitaphs(from the translation of E.H. Warmington, Remains of Old

Latin, Vol. IV, Loeb Classical Library)

[1] Polybius VI, 53f

[2] Cicero, Pro Sestio,139

[3] Sallust The Jugurthine War 4.5

[4] Warmington, 1. ii

[5] Astin:18

[6] Earl: 12

[7] Ibid: 13

[8] Ibid: 13

[9] Plutarch, Makers of Rome, 4.1

[10] Cicero, On Duties, 2.44

[11] Earl: 16

[12] Ibid: 18

[13] Ibid: 20

[14] Ibid: 21

[15] Warmington 1, ii

[16] Earl: 23

[17] Earl: 27

[18] Ibid: 32

[19] Earl: 14

[20] Ibid: 24

[21] Cicero, Brutus, 82.f

[22] Astin: 22

Celsus was a Neo-Platonist that lived in the time of the late second century. He wrote a book against Christianity called The True Word. Celsus’s work is only known through the Christian apologist Origen’s writings. Origen of Alexandria was a Christian theologian who cites much of Celsus’s work in his book Against Celsus. Porphyry was a philosopher born in the Roman near East and who wrote in the second half of the third century after the persecutions of Decian and Valerian. His book, Against the Christians, was responded to by various Christian apologists such as Eusibius, Methodius, Jerome and Augustine.

Celsus’s first criticism is to do with God’s descent amongst men. For Celsus, this is an impossibility because God, even by Christian belief, is immutable, unchanging and pure. For God to undergo such a transformation, he would have to go from a pure to a blemished state, from good to bad and Celsus states that this is wrong. Celsus asserts that if God wished to bring about the moral reformation of men he did not need to come down onto the earth because he is omnipotent. In other words God could have used his divine power to enact such a reformation. Cesus also questioned why God only decided to make this action in the generation of Jesus , stating that such an act shows that the Christian idea of God is arbitrary and capricious, which makes Christians a group of impious babblers.

Celsus’s second major criticism of Christianity was the belief in the resurrection of Jesus. As far as Celsus is concerned this is contrary to nature as it reverses the natural process of disintegration and disrupts the order if the world. He questions why God would wish to do such a thing because if God is reason, he obviously is not going to do anything contrary to reason. Therefore, if the Christian believes in a God who does things contrary to reason, they are worshipping a God that is unfit for devotion.

The third major criticism of Christianity for Celsus is the worship of Jesus as God. For Celsus, Jesus was not worthy of being venerated as divine as he was just a low-grade magician not a great hero such as Heracles or Orpheas. The practice of magic was a criminal offence in the Roman Empire and Celsus contends that the miracles of Jesus were simply magic tricks. The Gospels presented Jesus as a wonder worker and Celsus sees the prayers that the Christian’s used as incantations or spells. Celsus contends that by Jesus being conferred the status of God by the Christians that they were making him a rival to the one true God. In Celsus’s view, Jesus’s mortality must make him inferior to God and he asserts that the monotheism of Christians is undone by the adoration of him. As far as Celsus was concerned, Jesus was a lesser deity and excessive adoration robbed the one high God of his proper due.

Porphyry’s first point was that the Book of Daniel had been used by Christians to verify their belief that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. Porphyry thought that the Old Testament Book of Daniel was a Maccabean pseudograph that had been written contemporarily in the time of Antioch in the second century BC as encouragement for Jewish resistance. The Christian use of the book as a prophecy of Christ’s birth and the destruction of Temple was invalid as far as Porphyry was concerned. He was able to do this through a detailed analysis of the Book of Daniel.

Porphyry’s second point against Christians was their account of the New Testament. He claimed that the disciples based their writings on hearsay because only Matthew and John were eyewitnesses whereas Luke and Mark based their writings on the testimony of the former. Porphyry’s main criticism is that the disciples made Jesus out to be more than he was actually, such things as Jesus being the Son of God, and that he was able to express the word of God through he and God were one was a suspension of belief .

Porphyry also brought to attention the inconsistencies in the writings, behaviour and character of the apostles. One of the main inconsistencies he points to is the conflict between Peter and Paul over circumcision. Porphyry thought that this made the apostles, upon whom the Christians based their belief, unreliable. He points to examples of where there was strife and division in the church from the beginning.

Porphyry’s final and main argument against the Christians was the teaching by the disciples of the worship of Jesus. Porphyry thinks that they are mistaken and that Jesus taught the worship of the one God whereas the disciples turned this into the worship of Jesus. Porphyry thought that the disciples advocated apostacy from their true religion, that of Judaism and questioned why they did not follow the teachings of Moses, or practice the religion inaugurated by Jesus.

The Christian apologist Origen answered these Celsus’s claims by attacking him for being extremely relativistic. Rather than appealing to a specific doctrine that others should follow, for Origen Celsus only appeals to traditon; that things should be done because they were done in the past, that people should obey laws because established social conventions ought to be maintained. Augustine, who wrote a criticism of Porphyry’s work called him the most learned of all, as Porphyry knew the Christian writings as well as any Christian teacher did. However, Augustine states that although the critics of Christianity believe that Jesus should be worshipped as a wise man, he cannot understand why they do not accept that he should be worshipped as God. Augustine states that even Porphyry had to admit from his own consultation with the oracles that Jesus should be praised. Other Christian apologists say they at a loss to understand why such pagans are hostile to the Christians when they both believe in the one true God.

Celsus’s three most important criticisms of Christianity were to do with the Christian beliefs that God came to live amongst men, the belief on the resurrection of Jesus and the worship of Jesus as God. Porphyry’s rested on four core points being the Christian belief in the prophecies of Daniel, the exaggerated fabrication of the life of Jesus, the inconsistencies in Christian writings and the apostacism of Christianity from its foundation belief of Judaism. The Christians apologists responded with incredulity as to why these philosophers were so dependent upon reason and tradition in their arguments against Christianity.


The persecution of Christians by Diocletian began in 303 C.E. at a time when the Roman Empire was under extreme economic pressure. The economy of currency had been ruined and the tax system had to be based on payments in kind, just as the military were also paid in kind. Certain occupations that were considered to be essential for the maintenance of the Empire became known as ‘compulsory services’ and those engaged in them were prohibited from changing them. To try and unify the Empire at this politically difficult time, Diocletian used the state religion.

Diocletian had divided the Empire into four princeps to be run by four emperors. In 293 C.E. he appointed Galerius to the eastern empire of the Balkans. Galerius married Diocletian’s daughter Valerian who, along with her mother, was a Christian. It is considered by Eusibius that it was Galerian, at the behest of his mother, who instigated Diocletian to carry out persecutions of the Christians. Eusibius goes on to state that Diocletian thought that it would be foolish to have so many put to death, especially seeing that the Christians were eager to be martyred. Diocletian suggested that it would be enough to exclude Christians from court. However, he had many advisors who thought that Christians should be cut off ‘as enemies of the gods and adversaries of the established religious ceremonies’.

They began in the March 305 C.E. with the destruction of the church in Nicodemia, and the next day an edict was published that deprived Christians of all honours and dignities, that they would undergo torture, that all lawsuits against them would be accepted, that they could not be a plaintiff, and finally that they should not be free or have suffrage. Diocletian’s wife, Priscia, and Valeria were forced to sacrifice to the gods. Presbyters and officers of the church, along with their families, were seized without trial and executed by being burnt alive. The judges were dispersed to all the temples to compel everyone to sacrifice. Eusibius writes that the prisons became crowded and that the courts were set with alters so that every accused could turn and sacrifice. All the other emperors followed suit except for the emperor Constantinus, who only called for the demolition of churches.

In 305 Diocletian abdicated along with the second emperor Maximianus. Constantinus and Galerius became the new Augusti. Under Galerius the persecutions worsened, he began a mode of executions by edicts against the Christians, who were slowly and tortuously burnt to death. This punishment along with others became normal for all people. Under Galerius people were burnt, crucified and killed by wild beasts daily. Eusibius writes that this eventuated in a general illiteracy, with lawyers slain or exiled and the use of writing to be considered the same as magical or forbidden arts. All those who possessed books were considered enemies of the government and, once the law was dissolved, licence to be a judge was given to any rude and illiterate men.

Eusibius writes that the worst calamity to beset the Empire was the imposition of a capitation tax on all provinces and cities, where marketplaces were assembled with all the people, and sons hung on the rack to determine the effects of the fathers. Imaginary effects, the result of attestation through torture, were recorded on the lists. This infliction of all the subjects of Rome led to the number of animals decreasing and men dying. Eusibius goes on that all that was left were beggars and even they were rounded up and drowned in the sea. Constantinus in the meantime gave his sovereignty to his son Constantine in 306 C.E., much to the grief of Galerius.

By 312 C.E. Constantine was made the sole ruler of the Western Empire after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Lactantius, who was the tutor of Constantine’s son and close to the imperial family, reports that Constantine was commanded in a dream to place the sign of Christ on the shields of his soldiers. From that day Constantine identified himself as a Christian. Galerius had died the previous year after a terrible disease that, Eusibius writes, ate away his insides. Before he died, Galerius issued an Edict of Toleration which stated that because Christians in great numbers still persisted in their opinions, even after many were persecuted, they were permitted to worship their god and restore their places of worship. After Galerius’s death, Maximinius Daia proclaimed himself emperor of the east and continued the persecution of Christians in his realm.

In February 313C.E. Licinius, one of the emperors of the Eastern Empire met Constantine and formed a common religious policy. Although at that time Licinius issued an edict of toleration, he went on later to persecute Christians. Constantine, however, decided to use the church as an instrument of imperial policy and thus deprived it of its former independence. The church fathers throughout the Diocletian persecutions had struggled to maintain some control of their ‘flock’. This is attested to in a letter from four Egyptian bishops who questioned the bishop Melitius of Lycopolis and his authority to ordain priests. This caused a schism in which Peter of Alexandria wrote to his flock that ‘Miletius acts in no way for the common good’. This seems to imply that the martyrdom of many church leaders during the Diocletian persecutions was causing leadership stress within the church.

Constantine was dismayed when he discovered the disunity within the church, specifically in the province of Africa where there was conflict between the rigorist position towards the lapsi, those who had succumbed to the demand to sacrifice, and those who had a more forgiving position. Constantine convened two councils of bishops in 313 and 314 to resolve this problem unsuccessfully. The rigorists, under Caecilian bishop of Carthage, established a separatist church in North Africa. By 324 Constantine was the sole ruler in the Empire and wanted to to reconcile differences in beliefs about the Holy Trinity through convening the First Ecumenical Council of the church in 325. This was also unsuccessful. Eusibius eventually became the emperor’s chief spiritual advisor in 327. In 330 Constantine’s desire to have Byzantium become the new capital of Rome was realised. Here, he had built three major churches and made New Rome, unlike the pagan Old Rome, be a Christian capital.

It could be said that the effects of the persecutions on Christianity were the instigation of a Christian emperor and the ceding of much authority to him through a level of disunity among the bishops over key issues of forgiveness of the lapsi and beliefs about the Holy Spirit which resulted in breakaway churches.

Traditional Roman religious practice, we are told by Cassius Dio, did not tolerate atheists, which the Jews and the Christians were seen to be. The Romans did not like new divinities to be introduced which might cause ‘conspiracies’ and ‘factions’ either. These were Roman fears and the determination by various emperors to assert the priority of Roman religion brought them into conflict with both religions.

It was said by Philo the Alexandrian that it was the emperor Gaius’s demand to be worshipped as a divine figure that brought him to persecute the Jews. Philo, who represented the Jews in an embassy to Gaius, states that Gaius thought that the Jews wished to counter his desires. When Gaius ordered a statue to be placed in the Temple at Jerusalem, a decision later rescinded, the Jews felt that their whole nation was under threat. This setting for conflict was exacerbated by the procurator Florus, sent to Judea by the emperor Nero in 64 C.E.. Josephus writes that he thought it a petty offence to get money out of single people, therefore he spoiled whole cities and forced many people to flee to other provinces. Florus was considered a criminal by Josephus, who wished to hide his crimes by inciting revolt amongst the Jews. When Florus marched against Jerusalem the high priests could not contain their outrage and these acts were used by Florus to attempt to seize the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem.

Such poor political policies could be said to have driven the Jews into conflict with the Roman state. Cassius Dio, the second century Roman historian and politician, also wrote that the cause of the revolt in Judea was heavy taxation, as there was similar unrest in the Roman provinces of Gaul and Britain. After the destruction of the Temple by Vespasian in 66C.E. great animosity and another cycle of violence were generated. Cassius Dio states that in the time of the emperor Trajan, Jews in the regions of Cyrene, Egypt and Cyprus were destroying both Roman and Greeks. Various papyri from 117-118 C.E. from Egypt and Cyrene also attest to the results of such discord and anger. Some of them refer to the acts of ‘impious Jews’, a serious accusation of disrespect for Roman authority.

The Christians also came into conflict with the Roman state at this time. In 64 C.E. the city of Rome suffered a great fire and Nero, who was in need of a convenient scapegoat, blamed the infant sect of Christianity which was growing in the city. Tacitus, who was nine at the time of the fire, wrote that Nero fastened guilt and enacted the most ‘exquisite tortures’ upon a class that were hated for their ‘abominations’. They were convicted of the crime of hatred of mankind because they spoke of the end of the world, rather than the conflagration of the city. Nero opened up his palace gardens and, covered with the skins of beasts, an ‘immense multitude’ of Christians were torn to pieces by dogs, crucified or burnt as torches to illuminate the spectacle.

The confusion of Roman state policy to Christianity, which was seen as a branch of Judaism, can be seen through the actions of Pliny. While he was governor of the province of Bithynia-Pontus in the early second century, Pliny came into contact with anti-Christian sentiment. He was perplexed as to what to do with the Christians or why they were to be considered criminals worthy of execution. Pliny knew that Rome had earlier dealt with troublesome religious sects, such as the Bacchae, the Jews and the Druids, however he felt he could only accuse them and punish them for stubbornness and obstinacy, which was considered offensive to Roman sensibilities. Because of these convictions the amount of denunciations grew. The only thing he could accuse them of was having illegal political associations, but even that they ceased to do. Pliny found all he could accuse them of was ‘depraved, excessive superstition’ and that concerned not what one might do privately but that the state and status quo be upheld, and that the economy of a city dependent upon feasts and community religion be stabilised. Pliny saw the Christians as a destabilising influence on his province and punished them for that.

This may also have been a reason for the emperor Decian to issue an edict of sacrifice across the Empire in the mid-third century. His aim was to appeal to the conservative aristocracy in Rome and the troops that were responsible for helping him to power. Although this was considered usual for the accession of a new emperor, participation in such festivals was considered an obligatory duty and a demonstration of loyalty to the empire. It was such participation in sacrifice and idol worship that was to bring a marked conflict between the Roman state and the growing Christian community. Another source of conflict could have been the Christians refusal to serve in the Roman army at a time when the borders of the Empire were under threat. One of Christianity’s chief critics in the late second century was the conservative philosopher Celsus, who urged Christians to help and cooperate with emperor and to fight and be fellow-soldiers if it was commanded. Christians refused to do military service which is confirmed by the Christian apologist Origen who stated that Christians do more for the empire by forming ‘an army of piety’ that prays for the well-being of the emperor and the safety of the empire.

Just as the Jews were able to refuse military service because of their upholding of the Sabbath, the Christians also demanded this exemption. It was likely then that in the beginning the Christians were seen as a sect of the Jews. Later, however, under different persecutions of Christians, they were accused of apostatising Judaism and rebelling against the laws of Moses. However, it was considered the lack of piety for the authority of Rome that brought the Christians and the Jews into conflict with the Roman state. The allegation of ‘impiety’ was brought against both religions and this was followed by defiance against the state to the situation where the Romans saw such behaviour as treasonous and seditious. Although religious pluralism was a part of the Roman Empire, the ultimate authority was the emperor and over the period of the first to the third centuries the apparent lack of respect for Roman religious beliefs, especially the imperialist cult, were a source of insecurity and conflict.


The Jewish Revolts against Roman rule were reflective of Jewish dissent in the Maccabaen revolt of the second century B.C.E.. The Jewish leader, Mathathias, states to king Antiochus- “Although all nations obey king Antiochus…I and my sons, and my brethren will obey the law of our fathers”[1].Under Julius Caesar in the first century B.C.E., the client king Herod negotiated for the Jews to have a favoured status within the empire. It allowed them to practice their religion freely: they were exempted from military service, they had the right to assemble and could send money to Jerusalem[2]. So to explore whether the Jewish Revolts of the first and second centuries were politically or religiously motivated, one should first explore the change of status that the Jews experienced under subsequent Roman emperors and its outcome.

Prior to the first revolt of the Jews against Roman authority, the Jewish community suffered persecution under the emperor Gaius (Caligula). Philo, who represented the Jews in an embassy to Gaius, states that Gaius thought that the Jews wished to counter his desires and that ‘a most terrible and irreconcilable war was prepared against our nation…’[3]. When Gaius ordered a statue of himself to be placed in the temple at Jerusalem the Jews felt that their whole nation was under threat, ‘for in the destruction of the temple there is reason to fear that this man…will also order the general name of our whole nation to be abolished’[4]. Although Gaius later retracted his order it had made the Jewish people insecure. When Claudius came to power in 41 C.E., Cumanus was made procurator of the province of Palestine and had to deal with several uprisings against perceived Roman injustice. Josephus, who was one of the leaders of the First Revolt, tells of a religious festival guarded by Roman soldiers to try and stop any ‘innovations’ by the populace. When a soldier made an indecent posture to the crowd, youths threw stones and Cumanus had to call for more arms. Cumanus had the Jews thrown out of the temple and, in their panic, many were trampled and killed. This festival became a day of national mourning[5].

The political dimension of the subsequent revolt became apparent in 54 C.E. when Nero came to power and the procurator of Palestine was Albinus. He was accused by Josephus of stealing and plundering ‘…and abused his authority over those about him, in order to plunder those who lived quietly’[6]. Gessius Florus, who succeeded Albinus was even worse, according to Josephus: ‘He indeed thought it a petty offense to get money out of single persons; so he spoiled whole cities…and a great many people left their own country, and fled to foreign provinces’[7]. Josephus thinks that Florus was determined to procure a revolt amongst the Jews to conceal his own crimes, ‘…he therefore did every day augment their calamities, in order to induce them to rebellion’[8]. When a conflict arose in Caesarea over access to the synagogue and the inflammatory sacrifice by a Gentile of birds on its steps on the Sabbath, Florus ‘blew this war into a flame’ by seizing the Jewish leaders who approached him with their complaint about this act and imprisoning them[9]. When Florus marched against Jerusalem ‘that he might gain his will by the arms of the Romans, [and] bring the city to subjection’[10], the high priests could not contain the people’s outrage. Josephus states that the acts of ‘the seditious’ were used by Florus to attempt to seize the temple, and the people ‘…stood upon the tops of their houses, they threw their darts at the Romans, who, as they were sorely galled thereby’ retired to their camp[11]. Agrippa II, the political leader of the Jews and their ambassador in the Roman court, tried to persuade the Jews from continuing their revolt. In a speech given by Agrippa and recorded by Josephus, he states: “Had I perceived that you were all zealously disposed to go to war with the Romans, and that the purer and more sincere part of the people did not propose to live in peace, I had not come out to you, nor been so bold as to give you counsel…’[12]. Agrippa’s doctrine was that Rome was raised and supported by divine providence, and that it was in vain for the Jews or any others to think about destroying it[13]. However, Agrippa was unable to stop Florus from provoking or the people from revolting, so he retired to his own palaces after sending the leaders of the insurrection to Florus[14].

To illustrate the ambiguous political and religious intent of the insurgents, the assault made upon the fortress at Masada was conducted by Eleazar, son of Annais and the high priest and governor of the temple. He convinced his followers to stop paying the tribute to Rome[15]. However, any religious zeal was definitely put aside when preparations for war were made, with Josephus stating that ‘those that ministered the temple would not attend their Divine service, but were preparing matters for beginning the war’[16]. Because Agrippa had appeared to the insurgents to have acquiesced to the Romans they attacked his palaces, overwhelmed the king’s soldiers ‘…after which they carried the fire to the place where the archives were deposited, and made haste to burn the contracts belonging to their creditors, and thereby to dissolve their obligations for paying their debts…’[17]. This was done, Josephus asserts in order to gain the support of those who had been debtors, ‘and that they might persuade the poorer sort to join their insurrection with safety against the more wealthy’[18]. They assaulted the garrison of Antonia, set the citadel on fire and besieged the palaces[19]. Manahem, son of Judas, distributed arms from king Herod’s armory at Masada to all of the people and set himself up as king of Jerusalem [20]. When Eleazar heard that Menahem had set himself up as a tyrant and had killed the high priest Ananias, his followers attacked and killed Manahem. It was thought that ‘it was not proper when they revolted from the Romans, out of the desire of liberty, to betray that liberty to any of their own people’[21]. This political statement about liberty and the destruction of Agrippa’s palaces, along with any credit contracts, point to the motivation for the First Revolt being political rather than religious in nature.

Florus had all the Jews in Caesarea killed or enslaved. This outraged the whole nation so that Jews laid waste to the villages of the Syrians, their neighbouring cities and numerous other cities and villages of the region, ‘and immense slaughter was made of the men who were caught in them’[22]. Civil war beset the whole region and ‘greediness of gain was a provocation to kill the opposite party…’[23]. This last statement of Josephus’s implies that by now the insurrection had little to do with religious freedom and more to do with power. At this point Cestius the governor of Syria intervened, supported by the armies of Agrippa and Antiochus. However, the Jews refused to be defeated and when they saw this army approach Jerusalem they took up arms with ‘… that rage which made them forget religious observation [of the Sabbath], [and] made them too hard for their enemies in the fight’[24]. After Agrippa’s peace delegation was killed, Cestius sent to Nero for help and Nero sent Vespasian to quell the rebellion.

In 66 C.E., at the same time that Vespasian was sent to quell the insurrection in Jerusalem, unrest had also broken out in the Roman provinces of Britain and Gaul over heavy taxation[25]. This pointed to underlying economic troubles being a factor in the unrest in Judea as well. The use of religious zeal as a motivating element to keep fighting became apparent when Vespasian tried to quell the rebellion through various methods of representation and offers of immunity. However, when the Jews would not yield after a protracted siege, Vespasian was finally able to open the temple to the soldiers[26]. Cassius Dio writes that ‘then the Jews defended themselves much more vigorously than before, as if they had discovered a piece of rare good fortune in being able to fight near the temple and fall in its defence[27]. When the temple was finally overcome ‘they met their death willingly, some throwing themselves on the swords of the Romans, some slaying one another, others taking their own lives, and still others leaping into the flame’[28]. Cassius asserts that they seemed to die of happiness because ‘they had perished along with the temple’[29].

A purpose driven by religious zeal is given in the account of Yigael Yadin whose archaeological team in the 1960s revealed that the temple at Masada had been added to by the ‘zealots’[30]. Coinage from the time was found on the site and on the floor of the building there is an ‘ostracon’ with an inscription which translates as ‘Priestly Tithe’. Ostraca were found inscribed with the names of people and seemed to be a type of coupon with a name and a symbol. Yadin suggests that they may have been used for rations as they were found near a storehouse. It was possible to accurately date the ostraca as being written between 66-73 C.E. which was the period in which Masada was occupied by the ‘zealots’[31]. Also, religious scrolls were deliberately buried in a pit in the building’s floor. Three skeletons, possibly Jewish defenders, were found on a lower level of the building  and another group of disordered skeletons of males aged between 20-70 years and some females and children were found in an adjacent cave. Yadin posits that these were the remainder of the zealots who died by suicide before the fall of Masada[32]. However, although Yadin treated Josephus’s account of Masada and the collective suicide of its defenders as authentic[33], scholars think that Josephus’s story of suicide was a literary ‘ topos’ and that it ran counter to the Jewish mentality[34].

The destruction of the Temple had generated great animosity and another cycle of violence. Cassius Dio, a Roman, wrote in the late second century that in the time of the emperor Trajan, Jews in the region of Cyrene were destroying both Romans and Greeks. Cassius goes on: ‘In Egypt too, they perpetrated many similar outrages, and in Cyprus…’[35]. In the third century Eusibius, Christian writer, also writes about this: ‘For in Alexandria and in the rest of Egypt, and also in Cyrene, as if incited by some terrible factious spirit, they rushed into seditious measures against their fellow inhabitants the Greeks’[36]. Eusibius goes on to tell how Quintis became governor of Judea, after marching against the Jews and ‘[slaying] a great multitude of those that dwell there’[37]. Various papyrus documents from 117-118 C.E. form Egypt and Cyrene also attest to the results of such discord and anger. Some refer to them as ‘impious Jews’, a serious accusation of disrespect for Roman authority[38]. There are also inscriptions ordering the restoration of Cyrene’s Caesareum [39], baths[40] and roads[41] which were ‘destroyed and burnt down in the Jewish revolt’.

Jewish armed resistance against Roman rule culminated and was defeated in the Revolt of Bar Kokhba (132-136 C.E.). The rebels were united by the leader Bar Kokhba and the result was a rebel state in which coinage was issued and ‘ state-land’ was leased. In the Bar Kokhba revolt the Jews showed remarkable ‘ military and political activity’ sixty years after the suppression of the first revolt[42]. Little is known about the causes of the war but it could have been derived as a possible conquest of Jerusalem and an attempt to reconstruct the Temple by the rebels. Cassius Dio wrote that it was the emperor Hadrian’s desire to build a new city called Aelia Capitolina on the site of Jerusalem and the intention of raising a temple to Jupiter on the site of the destroyed Jewish temple that incited the Jews to war: ‘for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there’[43]. Bar Kokhba coinage tells something of the population and the economy of Judea at the time of the revolt. Their symbols embody the objectives and values of the insurgents. Economic conditions before the revolt were underscored by ‘peasant discontent engendered by expropriation and oppressive tenurial conditions[44]. Coinage that states ‘Jerusalem’, or ‘For the Freedom of Jerusalem’ with the design of the Temple on the coinage indicates a declaration. These reflect the values and objectives of the revolt and Jerusalem was of utmost importance to the rebels[45].

Bar Kokhba was the only ancient war fought by the Jews to be named after a single leader. In the Talmud he is given the title ‘Nasi and Messiah’ and while he reigned he was described as a king[46]. R. Aqiva, a rabbi who was part of the revolt, described Bar Kokhba as ‘ the King Messiah’[47]. Bar Kokhba signed his letters as “Nasi Yisrael” and coinage denotes him as ‘Simeon Nesi Yisrael’. Some say that this refers to the ideal king in Ezekiel’s vision of the End of Days[48]. The Talmud has an ambivalent attitude to Bar Kokhba, emphasising his legendary strength and obedience to the sages, to criticizing his addresses to God and stating ‘that he was put to death by the sages when it appeared that he was the false messiah[49]. Bar Kokhba’s letters show him to be an aggressive general and ruler who was occupied with the discipline and routine of his army. However, Bar Kokhba was not just a military leader, lands were leased in his name and he insisted on strong observance of the Sabbath and other religious commandments, plus control of land produce[50].

It seems that the Jewish Revolts of the first and second centuries could have been the result of both Jewish religious nationalism and the arbitrary nature of the Roman emperors of the period. The Jewish people relied upon the favours that were obtained by Herod from Julius Caesar, and enacted by the Roman Senate, to feel secure that they could practice their religion without being impinged upon by Roman military duties or Roman religious sacrifices. When Gaius arbitrarily incited anger and fear amongst the Jews with his proposal for a statue of himself to be erected within the temple at Jerusalem, Jewish religious leaders saw this as a threat to their authority and to the religious rights to which they had been accustomed. Cumanus’s weakness in dealing with Jewish uprisings against religious insult culminated in Nero’s appointment of a series of corrupt procurators who dealt with Jews harshly and arbitrarily. The Jews saw their political representative to Rome, Agrippa, as being in collusion with the Romans. The burning of credit contracts and following civil strife that resulted in looting shows economic pressures were also indicative of political unrest. However, because the Jewish religion was so bound with the geographical location of Jerusalem and the concept of the temple, it was the Maccabean model of religious revolt that motivated the zeal of the Jews at Masada and in the Bar Kokhba revolt. Therefore, it could be said that religious nationalism served as the motivating factor for the Jewish Revolts.


  1. Bowersock, Glen Warren. “The making of martyrdom” in Martyrdom and Rome , Bowersock, Glen Warren , 1995 , 1-21
  2. Cassius Dio, Roman Histories
  3. Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum (CPJ) 438: Papyrus, Letter (June 116 – Jan. 117AD; Hermopolite nome, Egypt); CPJ 443: Papyrus, Application for leave (28 Nov 117; Hermopolite nome, Egypt)
  4. CJZC 17. Inscription (118 AD, Cyrene); CJZC 19. Inscription (119 AD, Cyrene); CJZC 25. Milestone (118 AD; Cyrene)
  5. Eusibius, Ecclesiastical History
  6. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews
  7. Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews
  8. Isaac, Benjamin H. “The revolt of Bar Kokhba: Ideology and modern scholarship” in The Near East Under Roman Rule: Selected Papers , Isaac, Benjamin H. , 1998 , 220-248
  9. Maccabees I 2.19-20
  10. Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius
  11. Yadin, Yigael. “Extract” in Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealots’ Last Stand , Yadin, Yigael , 1966 , 181-201
  12. yTa’anit iv 68d; cf. Lamentations Rabbah ii 4

[1] Maccabees I 2.19-20

[2] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 14.225-7; 213-16

[3] Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius, 18.17.119

[4] ibid. 18.17.194

[5] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 2.12.1

[6] ibid. 2.14.1

[7] ibid. 2.14.2

[8] ibid. 2.14.3

[9] ibid. 2.14.6

[10] ibid.

[11] ibid. 2.15.3

[12] J. BJ 2.16.4

[13] ibid.

[14] ibid. 2.17.1

[15] ibid. 2.17.2

[16] ibid. 2.17.4

[17] ibid. 2.17.6

[18] ibid.

[19] ibid. 2.17.7

[20] J. BJ 2.17.8

[21] ibid. 2.17.9

[22]ibid. 2.18.1

[23] ibid. 2.18.2

[24] ibid. 2.19.2

[25] Cassius Dio, Roman Histories, 63.2.2

[26] Cassius Dio, 65.6.2

[27] ibid.

[28] ibid.

[29] ibid.

[30] Yadin, 1966

[31] ibid.

[32] Isaac, 1998

[33] Yadin, 1989

[34] Bowersock, 1991

[35] Cassius Dio 68.32.1-3

[36] Eusibius, Ecclesiastical History 4.2.1-5

[37] ibid.

[38] Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum (CPJ) 438: Papyrus, Letter (June 116 – Jan. 117

AD; Hermopolite nome, Egypt); CPJ 443: Papyrus, Application for leave (28 Nov 117; Hermopolite nome, Egypt)

[39] CJZC 17. Inscription (118 AD, Cyrene)

[40] CJZC 19. Inscription (119 AD, Cyrene)

[41] CJZC 25. Milestone (118 AD; Cyrene)

[42] Isaac, 1998

[43] Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.12.1-14.2

[44] Isaac, 1998

[45] ibid.

[46] ibid.

[47] yTa’anit iv 68d; cf. Lamentations Rabbah ii 4 (ed. Buber, p.101)

[48] Isaac 1998

[49] Isaac, 1998

[50] ibid