How were foreigners treated in ancient civilizations

Dealing with strangers in the world of the Greeks:: "natives", Persians, Jews

Published in: Contacts, Conflicts, Cooperations. Dealing with strangers in history. Edited by Waltraut Schreiber. (Eichstätter contact study for history lessons. Volume 2.). Neuried: ars una, 2001. pp. 47-76.

When "foreigners" are spoken of in the following, those are meant who are nowadays referred to as "foreigners". [1] The concept of the "foreign" in the Greek world could of course be understood much broader. For the Greeks of a single polis, "foreign" was not only every foreigner whose distant origin could be seen at the tip of his nose, but also everyone who did not fully belong to the citizens' association. A self-confident Athenian citizen would not easily accept a newcomer as having actually arrived. Hospitable integration and demarcation complemented each other; the differentiated regulations of the Athenian aliens law can illuminate both the one and the other. [2]

Attic democracy in particular was not a favorable breeding ground for the fraternization of all Greeks, but a system that vigorously defended the betterment of its own citizens against the claims of strangers. The Athenian civil rights law of 451, with which the descendants of connections between Athenian citizens and women of non-Athenian origin lost their civil rights and thus also their democratic privileges in the form of alimony, clearly shows how little the "locals" cared about the "strangeness" of strangers. [3]

It is solely the coincidence of the surviving tradition that we know more about the conditions within Athens than in other Greek poles - the Athenians, when they were thrown into the distance, were no different from the strangers in Athens. The Athenian Andokides, who at the end of the fifth century temporarily had to live abroad as an exile, remarked:

I learned what it means to live as a stranger or as a meta-like in a neighboring country. [4]

Was it for successful and respected Greek foreigners even after a long z. For example, life spent in Athens not being able to fully belong, this had to be even more difficult for real "foreigners" among the Athenian metics, [5] who already identified themselves as originally foreigners by their mother tongue and skin color. Understandably little was written about it: Xenophon offers one of the few places where "prejudices" against non-Greek "foreigners" are expressed quite openly: [6]

But the city would certainly also benefit from it if the citizens would rather go into the field alone, instead of Lydians, Phrygians, Syrians and other barbarians from many countries lining up with them in the battle line, as is now customary. Because many metics come from these peoples.

This brings me to the actual topic, the way the Greeks deal with strangers who are also "foreigners", ie people from really "foreign" countries, distinguishable from the average Greek by their language and - by the way, not always - by their appearance [7]; in Greek this is no longer the "xénos" [8], but the "bárbaros", the "barbarian", at the latest since the fifth century. [9]

Greek colonists and indigenous people.

My first example of the encounter of the Greeks with "strangers" is the age of colonization, with the accent on Sicily. The migration of Greek colonization began in the middle of the 8th century. v. And lasted until around 600. [10] During this period the Greeks established themselves on all the edges of the Mediterranean - in the west they came to Spain, in the north to the Crimea, in the east to Syria, in the south to North Africa. Plato puts the comparison in Socrates' mouth with the frogs that live around a swamp. [11] I would like to address two questions: how did the Greeks react to those they met on arrival and what do we know about their willingness to bond with local women?

When the new settlers were confronted with "strangers" there were always several possibilities: the failure of such an undertaking due to the resistance of the natives (of which there is understandably no evidence), the expulsion of the "natives", or - at least in the early phase of a colony - the more or less peaceful coexistence.

The literary tradition about the first conquest of the Greeks is extremely scarce; Insofar as this information can be supplemented with archaeological evidence, it is permissible to conclude that a considerable part of the new foundations was carried out in places where the original inhabitants can already be found to have settled. Statistically speaking, the first colonization was more violent than peaceful. At least half of the colonies e.g. B. Sicily are laid out on earlier Sikeler settlements; these colonies are also fortified from the start. [12]

Given the material hardship, which was one of the most important reasons for early Greek colonization, it should come as no surprise that the local people were generally anything but considerate. The undertaking of the settlement of residents of the island of Thera in North Africa, which is relatively well attested by Herodotus report and a supplementary inscription, clearly shows the serious conflicts that the first settlers of such colonization undertakings sparked on their arrival. [13] Thucydides's brief words about the history of the Greek colonies in Sicily also reveal the frequent violence of the Greek arrivals: [14]

Archias first chased the Sikelers away from the island, which is no longer surrounded by the inner city. (...) Thukles and the Chalkidians laid out the city of Leontinoi from Naxos, four years after the founding of Syracuse, after they had driven out the Sikelians in the war, and then Katana. (...) [15].

There will often have been lies and deceit in the negotiations with the natives, as Polybius writes in a section on the history of Lokroi Epizephyrioi in southern Italy: [16]

There were neither contracts with the Lokrians in Greece nor are they reported; but all of them knew those with the Siculians from tradition. They tell the following about it: Back when they found the Siculi on their arrival in Italy in possession of the land they now live in, they were so terrified that they accepted them in their fear. They had now made an agreement with the Siculians to be friends with them and to inhabit the land together with them, [17] as long as their feet walked the earth and they carried their heads on their shoulders. In taking the oath, however, the Lokrians would have put earth on the soles of their shoes and hid garlic heads under the robe on their shoulders, thus taking the oath; then they would have thrown the earth out of their shoes, thrown away the garlic heads, and not long after that, when the opportunity arose, they drove the Siculians out of the country.

"Forcible" land grabbing was not the only option; if the circumstances allowed it, the offer of a reconciliation of interests was accepted. From an archaeological point of view, these are Greek settlements, in the vicinity of which local settlements can also be found. As a rule, the political circumstances under which such arrangements arose cannot be determined. An example is Thucydides' message about the establishment of Megara Hyblaia: [18]

The others gave up Thapsus again in order to create Megara, which was called the Hyblean, after the advice of the Sikel king Hyblon, who gave up the field marrow.

In the initial phase of colonization, there were occasional differences in dealing with the natives between settlers of different origins and backgrounds. The different ways in which the locals were treated could have far-reaching consequences, as can be seen from the example of the history of Sicily, in particular the different development of Syracuse, founded by Dorians, compared with neighboring Ionian foundations. [19]

The founders of Syracuse and their descendants apparently acted quite aggressively. After the first expulsion of the Sikeler from the island of Ortygia, which later became part of the city, Syracuse expanded further west, at the expense of the local indigenous population. These subjugated Sikeler later form a layer of servants, who then in the 5th century. make common cause with the Syracusan demos, oppressed by the aristocrats. The Syracusan landlords are driven out by the demos and their own slaves, the Kyllyrians. [20] The enormous size of the Syracusan territory results from the possibility of exploitation of the Sicilian indigenous people. Similar circumstances may explain the size of the Gela and Akragas territories. The formation of a class of servants is also attested for other geographical areas of colonization. [21]

The Ionian foundations of Naxos, Katane, and Zankle seem to have been built on coastal places without major conflicts with the Sikelern, which had already been abandoned by the indigenous population at the time of the Greek repopulation. The founders of Leontinoi were even welcomed by the Sikelern, who of course later drove them out. [22] The Chalcidian foundations Kallipolis and Euboia must also have lived together with the Sikelern without conflict at first. [23]

The various ways in which the Sikelians were dealt with had a long-term effect that was noticeable even in the era of the Peloponnesian War. The Naxians have full confidence in the loyalty of their Sicilian troops [24] and the Athenians can hope for the unreliability of the Syracusan auxiliaries during their invasion in 415. [25]

But even if there was a kind of cooperation between Greeks and Sikelern at times, this will mostly have been a coexistence, and very rarely a togetherness, as the geographer Strabo narrates for the Spanish Emporion: [26]

Emporion is a twin city, separated by a wall, because they used to have indicators of neighbors who, although they owned their own community, wanted to have a common surrounding wall with the Hellenes for the sake of security; it was double, divided by a wall through the middle of the city. Over time, however, they have united into one and the same community, mixed with barbaric and Hellenic customs, which was also the case with many others.

Such "mixed" settlements are likely to have been rare and then also very short-lived, although Strabo claims the opposite. Real coexistence was easier in the early phase of a start-up than later. First of all, some Sikelers may well have been satisfied with the new economic opportunities; However, if the Greeks tried to expand further, conflicts of interest soon arose, as has been attested for Cyrene in North Africa. [27]

The first settlers usually came unaccompanied by women. If women were there from the very beginning, they probably performed primarily religious functions as priestesses. [28] Only in Phokaia is the participation of women explicitly mentioned. [29] The majority of the early settlers will therefore not have had the easy way to start a family. The few reports on this question are, of course, not of the desired clarity. [30] It is controversial whether the message handed down by Herodotus about the women of the first Milesians is representative of the early phase of colonization: [31]

But those who left the Prytaneion in Athens and thought they were the noblest of the Jonians, they did not bring any women with them to their new settlement, but took Carian women whose parents they had previously killed. And for the sake of this manslaughter, women made it their law and took an oath and passed it on to their daughters never to eat with their husbands or to call their husbands by name because they killed their fathers and husbands and children and after such an act made them their own wives.

An indication of early agreements between Greek start-ups in Sicily and indigenous centers on questions of marriage law is e.g. B. a note in Thucydides about the "epigamia" between the Greek Selinus and Segesta, a city of the indigenous Elymians. [32] Selinus probably had good relations with the Elymers from the beginning. In the immediate vicinity of Selinus there seems to have been a settlement of the natives who traded with the Greeks. [33]

The conditions in North Africa after the founding of Cyrene were comparable; here, too, there was probably no alternative for the first settlers than contact with local women. Different customs of men and women still existed there in the fifth century, as Herodotus writes: [34]

The women of the Cyrenaians also forbid themselves meat from the cow, for the sake of the Egyptian Isis, yes, in her honor they also keep fasts and celebrate festivals. The women of the Barkaier eat nothing apart from the cow or the pork.

The Greeks of the archaic period had little prejudice when it came to connecting with local women. What has been proven by many examples for the Greek aristocracy of the archaic period [35] also applies with some probability to the lower social classes. For Sicily, however, there is no concrete evidence, with the exception of the note about the "epigamia" between Selinunte and Segesta. The best archaeological evidence for long-term forms of coexistence would be a mixture or alignment of funeral customs - but this is precisely what cannot be proven for Sicily, with the one controversial exception of Morgantina. [36] In any case, most of the indigenous people living together with Greeks in the entire geographical area of ​​colonization - with the one exception of Egypt - were Hellenized in the long term. [37]

Greeks and Persians in the 5th century BC Chr.

My second example of dealing with strangers is the establishment of the barbarian term in the fifth century and its differentiated application to the Persians by Herodotus. The conceptual demarcation between Greeks and all the other people who came into contact with the Greeks was largely alien to the archaic period. That changed in the course of the fifth century through the experience of the Persian Wars.

The designation of "foreigners" as barbarians originally comes from the Greek Asia Minor and does not designate the Persians, but indigenous peoples there and on the edge of the Greek world in the north; Clarity cannot be gained here, as there are very few examples of the use of the word before the Persian War. [38] The peoples who were counted among the "barbarians" in archaic times were not respected without using the term specifically: luxurious Lydians, cruel Thracians, sexually unusual Phrygians. [39]

The concept of barbarians is inconceivable without an idea of ​​who the Hellenes are. The growing importance of the Hellenic name is inextricably linked with the idea, which became more precise in the fifth century, of what constitutes the "others", the barbarians, those who are therefore not Greeks. Thucydides recognized this fact in his archeology when he writes about Homer: [40]

So he has no word for the barbarians either, because the Hellenes, I mean, were not yet grouped under an opposite name.

In a famous section of his work, Herodotus spoke of the common common ground of the Greeks in the fight against the Persians: the Hellenic people are of the same blood and speak the same language, have common buildings for the gods and corresponding sacrifices, and common customs. These similarities are put forward by the Athenians to explain their strict refusal to enter into negotiations with the Persians. [41] The idea of ​​a not just Athenian, or Spartan, or Argive identity, but of a common - in modern - speaking, ethnicity [42] was by no means familiar to every Greek politician at the time, but was instrumentalized by the Athenians in their favor. The term "Hellas" for Greece is hardly used before the age of the Persian Wars, as Thucydides has already noted; "Hellas" as a name refers in the early days to a certain part of northern Greece. [43] A rudimentary awareness of Greek commonalities beyond the small-state particularism already in the archaic epoch should not be overlooked; already in the Iliad the army of the Greeks (for whom the Iliad has the names Achaeans, Argeians and Danaer), is characterized by a much better coordinated appearance than the Troians. [44] Not to be forgotten are the festivities in Olympia, with their "panhellenic" character, so to speak, which for a long time excluded the participation of Macedonian kings. [45]

So after the Persian War there were definitely ideas about what constitutes a Hellenic. But how do you describe a "barbarian"? For the Greeks, these "others" are not originally defined by other skin color or other customs, but rather by their incomprehensible language - a racial concept of modern times is completely alien to the Greeks when defining what constitutes the barbarian. [46] In this "linguistic" sense, Homer introduced the Carians in his enumeration of the Troian allies: as "barbaróphonoi", speaking incomprehensibly [47]: the barbarian speaks - and thinks - incomprehensibly and unclearly. Heraclitus also uses the term in a figurative manner: "Evil witnesses are human eyes and ears, provided they have barbarian souls" - that is, souls who have no understanding of the actual "logos". [48] This makes Herodotus' sentence about the people of the Ethiopian cave dwellers easier to understand:

They are practicing a language that is not like any other, but rather they screech like bats. [49]

This "older" barbarian term was not so easily applied to the Persians. Herodotus and his peers knew Persians of the upper class, and it would not have occurred to anyone to regard the Persian nobles as unequal, as barbaric. [50] Ultra-conservative, "tyrannical" families in Greece and Asia Minor looked to the east with sympathy and found asylum there if necessary.The Theban collaborators, who were preparing for the decisive battle at Plataiai in 479, held a banquet with the high officers of the Persian army - almost a model for Alexander the great's later policy of integrating the Macedonian and Persian ranks. [51] The members of the Greek upper class met, as one would say today, on an equal footing with the Persian aristocrats, and some will have tried, like Pausanias of Sparta, in vain, to marry a Persian princess. [52]

The term barbarian, which is more or less familiar to us today, only emerged after the victory of the Greeks over the Persians. The historical context is the political leadership of Athens in the Deli-Attic League, whose primary purpose when it was founded was to continue the struggle against the Persians. The Persians may have been a real threat at first, but they were also used as an enemy to stabilize Athenian rule. In the years of the fighting itself, hardly any Greek came up with the idea of ​​calling their opponent "barbarians": they spoke of the Medes or the Persians, but not of "the barbarians". [53]

The concept of the barbarian (in our sense, so to speak) found its way into the political and poetic vocabulary of the time by the 472 BC at the latest. "Persians" of Aeschylus listed in the 4th century BC. [54] A rather flat "enemy image" of the strange barbarians can be proven again and again in the decades that followed. [55] Many oriental "barbarians" appear in the comedies of the fifth century; a representative example is the cackling Persian diplomat in the "Acharnern" of Aristophanes. [56]

When I speak of Herodotus in the following, it is for the reason that he deals with the cheap barbarian theme of his time in a completely different and surprising, and perhaps even completely out of date way. To an astonishing degree it contradicts the image of the Persians as "barbaric" opponents, valued by parts of the population in Athens of the time. [57]

Herodotus comes from Halicarnassus in Caria and therefore had better knowledge of the Persians than most of the writers and politicians around him. [58] He had started as a traveler and geographer and only in the course of his work had he found his life's task of researching and depicting the campaign of Xerxes and its prehistory. With its ethnographic sections on the Persians and those peoples who came into contact with the Persians in the course of the Persian expansion or were subjected to them, it stands in a long scientific tradition. He explicitly mentioned his important predecessor Hecataeus of Miletus. [59]

Herodotus is open to everything foreign, even after the experience of the world conflict of the Persian War. In Herodotus' work we find the most important evidence of the origin of the Greek conflict with the barbarians, and at the same time he is full of understanding for them. The world is understood as a unit in which all people are fundamentally comparable and also of equal value. In the programmatic first movement of his work, Hellenes and barbarians are named side by side - he wrote his work, [60]

so that what happens by people does not fade with time, nor deeds, great and worthy of astonishment, presented by Hellenes and barbarians, lose their fame. [61]

These are words for the introduction of a universal historical account, and thus anything but representative of the troubled times of the Peloponnesian War, when the work reached the public. Herodotus' openness to everything foreign is possibly an antiquated attitude from the time of the earlier Ionia in his time - it is perhaps no coincidence that he decided to leave Athens and move to Thurioi in southern Italy. [62]

Herodotus' universal historical attitude towards foreign peoples is inconceivable without a certain relativism that identifies him as a contemporary of sophistry. He shows his audience that the moral evaluation of strange and possibly repulsive customs can be premature. The relativity of all morals and their assessment is formulated by him using the example of a survey experiment allegedly carried out by Darius, which may be fictitious and is therefore all the more important as testimony to basic convictions Herodotus: [63]

If someone gave the task to all people in the world and called them to choose the most beautiful customs and traditions from all the existing ones, they would look at them and everyone would choose those of his people. Every people believes so firmly that their customs are by far the best. So only a madman can make such a laugh. That all people think this way about their customs and traditions can be inferred from many different testimonies, including the following. Once, when he was king, Darius summoned the Greeks who were around him and asked them at what price they would be willing to eat their dead fathers. And they said at no cost would they do that. And then Darius summoned the Kallatians, an Indian people, who were eating their fathers, and asked them in the presence of the Hellenes, who learned through an interpreter what was being said, at what price they would be willing to give their dead fathers in the fire burn; but they screamed out loud and said he shouldn't talk so ungodly. So it is with belief in custom and custom, and it seems to me that Pindar is right to write poetry when he says that custom is king of all people. [64]

Herodotus is completely alien to hasty judgment about foreign customs, although he was quite able to make a clearly negative judgment if he thought it appropriate. What was true of barbarians on the fringes of the civilized world, however, did not apply to the ancient Persian people. Their customs are in no way judged negatively - they are just different from those of the Greeks. In the ethnographic section on the Persians, a mirror is held up to the Greeks; the Persians behave completely differently than the Greeks in many respects: [65]

The following is known to me of Persian customs and traditions: They do not have to erect images of gods and temples and altars, but rather they call fools who do this, and in my opinion they introduced this custom because they did not the gods consider human like the Hellenes. [66]

If one reads the ethnographic chapters on the Persians, one is surprised at the high assessment of the culture of the enemy of 480, who could be perceived as a threatening power until at least the year 449 [67]: bravery, love of truth and self-confidence are the most prominent characteristics of the Persian upper class. [68] Plutarch later called Herodotus a "barbarian friend". [69] A distinction must be made, however, between the original culture of the Persians and their condition in the era of the expansion of the empire at the time of the Persian Wars and afterwards. Herodotus is tolerant and z. Sometimes even full of appreciation for the Persian customs in general, but he is very critical when it comes to the regime and the behavior of the great king.

The "good" morals of the Persian upper class, at least at the time of Cyrus, the founder of the state, contrasted with the oriental expansionist urge of the later kings, so to speak. The great Cyrus is followed by rulers who ignore all warnings and embark on daring campaigns: Cambyses against Egypt, Darius against the Scythians, and in the end Xerxes against the Greeks. For Herodotus, this is probably explained by the excessive self-confidence of the Persian great kings and perhaps also by the increasingly servile atmosphere at court. Xerxes, who in anger causes the disobedient sea to be whipped with chains, is the most terrifying example of an oriental despot. [70] The whip that the officers bring down on the backs of the terrified Persian troops symbolizes the slavery of those who want to rob the Greeks of their freedom. [71]

In a scene before the decisive battle at Thermopylae, Herodotus describes a conversation between Xerxes and the Spartan king Demaratus, who fled to Persia. Xerxes asks Demaratos about the kind of men who dare to face the great king's army in a hopeless position. Here are the words that, although specifically related to the Spartans, should apply to all Greeks in the sense of Herodotus: [72]

It is the same with the Lacedaemonians: in individual combat they are no worse than any person in the world, but in joint combat they are the best of all. Because they are free, but not free in every respect. The law stands above them as lord, and they shy away from it even more than yours shy away from you. "Despite all the openness of his judgment on the culture of the Persians, Herodotus divided the widespread view of the division of the world into east and west into one Sphere of tyrannical or monarchical rule with the Persians, and in a sphere of freedom with the Greeks. [73]

There is one aspect of Herodotus' description that deserves special mention in the context of the question discussed here: the use of the current ideas about the Persians in their later days as a warning example for the Greeks, and especially probably for the Athenians, in the years before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. In the mirror of the stranger, the Greeks should be saved from becoming like those who so reject them.

Herodotus wrote his work in the height of the Delisch-Attic symmachy and in the crisis years before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. [74] The work ends with the conquest of Sestus in 478, but Herodotus designed the final section of his work in such a way that it must be read as a warning to his Athenian audience.

Herodotus takes a subtle position on the political development in the age of the League by making it clear to his Athenian listeners that on the one hand the Persians are different in their manners and customs, but on the other hand they can also behave in a very exemplary manner; Athens, on the other hand, runs the risk of alienating itself from itself in the ruthless pursuit of its political interests and of becoming as Persian-barbaric as it corresponds to the chauvinistic idea of ​​the Persian barbarians in the streets of Athens. [75] As a warner of dire developments, Herodotus was unfortunately as unsuccessful as all the warners and experts who appear in his work.

Greeks and Jews: the beginnings of "anti-Semitism".

My third example of dealing with strangers is perhaps the most important for the classroom, for obvious reasons. How did the Greeks meet the Jews? Since when has there been evidence of the negative assessment of Judaism in the sense of an ancient "anti-Judaism" or "anti-Semitism"? And how can these first testimonies be explained historically? [76]

The Jews were perceived surprisingly late by the Greeks as a people of their own with their own culture and religion. The Greeks had ideas of the Egyptians, of the Persians, even of the distant Indians, but did not even know the name of the Jews. Herodotus was probably not interested in the Jews because they had no conflict with the Persian king during the epoch of Marathon and Salamis. [77] Even he, who names so many subjects of the Persians, does not mention the Jews; when he speaks of the area of ​​present-day Israel, he calls the Phoenician city Ashkelon. [78] At another point he speaks of the "Syrians in Palestine". [79] It is permissible to ask how the later Greco-Roman image of the Jews would have been formed if Herodotus had written about them in his own, unprejudiced manner. There would have been enough informants. There was evidence of Greeks in Palestine early on, as mercenaries and traders. In the fourth century, before Alexander the Great, Greeks lived in Akko, and the first Jewish coins were iconographically based on the owls of Athens. [80]

The relations of Alexander the Great to the land of the Jews are badly attested; The Jews are also not mentioned by the Alexander historians. [81] It was not until the growing military and administrative importance of Palestine - in the early Diadoch period that the interest of Greek intellectuals aroused. The struggles of the Diadochi for possession of Palestine and Syria had to make digressions about the Jews, their culture and their religion a necessary part of all serious histories of Hellenism. Hieronymos von Kardia is the first Greek historian from whom an excursus on the geography of this part of the world can be grasped; later Jewish readers were annoyed that he wrote about the Dead Sea and the asphalt trade, but not about the country's population. [82]

Ptolemy I had 320 BC Jerusalem captured. [83] The first Greek author who wrote about the Jews - as part of a work on Egypt - is Hecataus of Abdera, who probably worked at the court of Ptolemy I and perhaps accompanied him on his campaign to Judaea and in this way Firsthand knowledge. His report on the Jews can be explained less by a "Herodoteic" research trip to Judaea than by the importance of the Jews in Egypt itself. [84]

He wrote his "Egypt Book" soon after 320, thus before the establishment of the "Ptolemaic" state. [85] This work was about the glory of Egypt as an ancient civilization, as a philosophical community. During these years the later important Jewish community in Alexandreia came into being - it is therefore not surprising that Hecataus became aware of the Jews and dedicated a section of his work to them. It was an additional incentive to add content to his famous predecessor as the actor in Egypt, Herodotus, whom he criticized in the tried and tested manner of ancient authors. [86]

The Hellenistic writers on foreign countries and peoples have completely internalized Herodotus, despite all the criticism, and saw the world, so to speak, through the eyes of their predecessor. [87] In the succession of Herodotus, the gaze of Greek historiography on a foreign people is therefore initially free from prejudices of all kinds; the application of traditional ethnographic categories made it easier for the Greeks to compare their own cultures with foreign, "barbaric" cultures without immediately leading to a fundamental rejection of the foreign. The initially relatively minor political significance of the Jews may also have contributed to an unprejudiced description of Jewish customs and traditions.

The tradition from Hekataios is only preserved as a shortened excerpt in the work of Diodorus, who used the relevant section as an introduction to his description of Pompey's conquest of Jerusalem in 63 BC. Used: [88]

Since we are about to describe the war against the Jews, we consider it appropriate (writes Diodorus) to give a brief overview of the founding history of this people and their customs. When an epidemic broke out in Egypt in ancient times, the crowd attributed the cause of these evils to the deity. [89] Since many foreigners from all possible areas and with different customs in religion and sacrificial customs lived in Egypt, the traditional worship of gods was disdained. (2) Because of this, the original inhabitants of the country assumed that there would be no deliverance from these evils if they did not drive out the foreigners. Therefore the foreigners were chased out of the country at once; [90] the noblest and most energetic banded together and were taken to Greece, as some say, and to some other places, with distinguished leaders at their head, some of whom are believed to be Danaos and Kadmos were the most important. [91] The greater part of the displaced were stranded in the area called Judaea, not far from Egypt, which at that time was entirely unpopulated. [92] (3) This settlement was headed by Moses, a man of outstanding wisdom and bravery. [93] He took possession of the land and founded the now famous Jerusalem as well as other cities. [94] He also founded the temple that was most venerated by them, taught them worship and the sacred practice of the deity, gave them their laws and established their state. He divided the people into twelve tribes, since this number - according to the number of months that make up the year - was believed to be the most perfect. [95] (4) He did not make an image of the gods for them at all, because he believed that God had no human form, but that God alone was the heavens that surround the earth and Lord over all. [96] He established sacrifices that differed from those among other peoples, and also strange ways of life, because because of their own expulsion he led them into a rather shy and xenophobic life. [97] He chose from the men the most agreeable and capable as leaders of the whole people, and made them priests. He told them to stay in the temple and take care of the worship of the deity and the sacrifices. (5) He made the same men judges over the most important disputes and entrusted them with the supervision of the laws and morals. [98] That is why there is never a king of the Jews; the general leadership of the people rests with him who surpasses the other priests in wisdom and virtue.They call him high priest and believe that for them he is the messenger of divine commands. [99] (6) It is he, they say, who proclaims the commandments in meetings of the people and in other gatherings; the Jews are so obedient that they immediately fall to the ground and venerate the high priest who preaches the divine commandments to them. [100] At the end of their laws it is also written that these are the words that Moses heard from God and preached to the Jews. [101] The legislature also took great care in waging war, and ordered the young men to exercise courage and perseverance and, more generally, to endure every privation. [102] (7) He also led campaigns against neighboring peoples; After taking possession of the land, he distributed land and gave the common citizens landless people of the same size, but larger landless people to the priests, so that they had higher incomes and could attend to church services without hindrance. [103] The common citizens were not allowed to sell their landless so that some could not buy up the landless out of greed and thereby oppress the poor and cause a shortage of people. [104] He forced the rural population to raise their children; Since the children could be raised with little effort, the Jewish people always had a large population. [105] Moses made sure that marriage and burial customs were very different from those of other people. [106] But later, when they came under the rule of others, many of the traditional customs of the Jews were changed due to the way they dealt with foreigners during the rule of the Persians and the Macedonians who replaced them. [107]

Hekataios is not an anti-Semite, but neither does he see the Jews as ideal people. Basically, he sees them as expellees from Egypt who have retained a few of the good qualities of the Egyptians. That which Moses brings in innovation, rather initiates a development for the worse. And one of the main aspects of this first Greek account is the mention of "people-shy and xenophobic" life - a thoroughly critical assessment according to the criteria of Herodoteic ethnography. [108]

Despite this caveat, the first account of Jewish culture by a Hellenistic author is broadly positive; This impression is confirmed by a second testimony, in which it cannot really be decided whether it is explained by reading Hecataus' book of Egypt alone or by knowledge acquired elsewhere. Theophrastus (approx. 371 - approx. 287 BC) mentioned the Jews in his work "On Piety", which is only preserved in fragments: [109]

The Syrians, of which the Jews are a part, [110] continue to sacrifice live animals because of the original arrangement of this sacrifice. If someone instructed us to sacrifice in this way, we would shrink from such an act. There is also no feast for the sacrifices, [111] but they burn them all night long and douse them with honey [112] and wine in order to let the sacrifices be consumed more quickly by the fire, so that the one who sees everything does not experience this terrible sight must suspend. They fast in the days of these sacrifices. All the while they talk to one another about the Godhead incessantly, for they are philosophers by their very nature, [113] and at night they watch the stars, look at them, and invoke God with their prayers. They were the first to set up sacrifices of live animals and of themselves, [115] but they did so not voluntarily, but under duress.

Theophrastus apparently compared the Jewish forms of sacrifice with those of the Egyptians, the "wisest of men", who made "better" sacrifices to the gods, namely plants. Accordingly, Theophrast seems to have described the Jewish victims as a "deterioration" of the Egyptian ones. The weakness of the Hellenistic intellectuals for the wisdom of the East also led to their first encounter with Judaism having a rather positive impact. [116] Clearchus von Soloi had Aristotle speak about the encounter with a Jew, [117] Hermippus made Pythagoras a "pupil" of Jewish thinkers. [118] Some authors, including Megasthenes, an author on India, have seen the Jews as part of the Syrians, and the Jewish priests as a special caste among the Syrians, comparable to the Brahmins among the Indians. [119]

As long as there were no political conflicts, the predominantly positive character of Jewish ethnography has been preserved. But tensions were not long in coming. The settlement of Jews in Alexandreia led to conflicts with the Egyptian ruling class. A reflection of these conditions can be found in the fragments of the national history of the Egyptian Manetho, which the latter wrote in Greek, presumably during the reign of Ptolemy II (283 - 246 AD). [120] The fragments of the work of interest here are preserved in Josephus' work "Contra Apionem". [121] The Manetho fragments offer two anti-Jewish traditions. [122] The first is the equation of the Jews with the Hyksos, [123] which took place around the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. BC invaded Egypt. After their expulsion from Egypt, the Hyksos are said to have founded a city called Jerusalem in "Syria". Elsewhere in Scripture, Josephus speaks of a second version of Manetho about prehistory. Here the Jews are lepers, [124] whose leader is an Egyptian priest: [125]

First of all, he gave them the law not to worship the gods or to abstain from the sacred animals most revered by the Egyptians; they should sacrifice and consume all animals [126] and not associate with anyone who does not belong to the conspirators. [127] He issued this as a commandment, and many other things that were contrary to the customs of the Egyptians. (...). It is said that the priest who gave them a constitution and laws was a man from Heliopolis named Osarsiph, named after Osiris, the god of Heliopolis, and that when he joined this people he changed his name to Moses was called. [128]

There are a number of differences between Hecataeus and Manetho which rule out that Manetho only referred to this one model; Manetho's tradition, which is much more negative for the Jews, is likely to be derived not only from contemporary prejudices, but also from ancient Egyptian priestly tradition. [129] A conflict from earlier times, which could have given rise to anti-Jewish traditions of the Egyptians themselves, is the rule of Cambyses over Egypt. At that time the Persians were the protective power of the Jews living in Egypt, to the great anger of the priesthood. [130] The destruction of the Jewish temple at Elephantine in 410 became the beacon of pre-Greek anti-Semitism in Egypt. [131]

Anti-Jewish propaganda in the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC then became at least as important as the contribution of Manetho and the ancient Egyptian rejection of the Jews. Chr .; the conflict between the Maccabees and the Seleucids led to a further aggravation of Greek statements about the Jews. [132] As you can see in the second half of the second century. v. BCE could talk about the Jews and their customs is recognizable through an excerpt from the historical work of Poseidonius, in which we find all the prejudices enumerated from the mouth of the advisors of King Antiochus VII, which are still of importance much later far beyond the realm of "ancient history". Antiochus in 135 BC BC Jerusalem besieged: [133]

Most of his friends advised him to take the city by storm and to exterminate the race of the Jews completely - only the Jews of all peoples exclude themselves from dealing with any other people and see everyone as enemies. [134] They also told him that the ancestors of the Jews were godless people who hated the gods and had been driven out of Egypt. Since they had a white rash or leprosy, they were herded together like cursed people and chased beyond the borders for the sake of the cleansing of the country. [135] These displaced people occupied the area around Jerusalem, founded the people of the Jews and passed on the hatred of the people to their descendants. That is why they had introduced very unusual customs: they rejected table fellowship with any other people [136] and also met everyone without any benevolence. [137] The friends also reminded Antiochus of his ancestors' hatred of this nation. For Antiochus, nicknamed Epiphanes, who had defeated the Jews in the war, had penetrated into the holy of holies of the temple, which according to custom only the high priest was allowed to enter. Epiphanes found in the Holy of Holies the stone image of a man with a long beard who was sitting on a donkey and holding a book in his hands. [138] The king assumed that this was the image of Moses, the founder of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation, who had also made inhuman and immoral customs law for the Jews. And since Epiphanes found the misanthropic rejection of all peoples by the Jews abhorrent, he made it his ambitious goal to abolish Jewish customs. That is why he sacrificed a great sow to the image of the founder and the altar of the god set up under the open sky and poured the blood over the statue and the altar. He had the meat prepared and ordered the broth to be poured over the holy books of the Jews, which also contained the inhuman laws; He also ordered the so-called immortal candlestick, which burned incessantly in the temple, to be extinguished and the high priest and the other Jews to be forced to taste the meat. [139] The friends told of this and asked Antiochus to exterminate this people completely; [140] if he did not want that, then he should repeal their laws and force them to change their way of life.

How representative such evidence really is for the attitude of Hellenistic Greeks towards the Jews is another question. [141] In any case, Antiochus VII did not listen to his advisors, but granted in 135 BC. A mild peace treaty. [142] In any case, the reproaches of the Seleucid courtiers make it clear that the antisemitic topoi of antiquity since the 2nd century BC. Chr. Are all fixed and are later reinforced or sharpened at best. It should be noted that there is no anti-Semitic topos of modern times: that a Jew can be identified on the basis of his appearance. [143]

If one looks at ancient ethnography, the Jews occupy an entirely unusual place as "foreigners"; their "alterity" remains irritating, mainly due to the adherence to traditional religion and the resulting distance from the everyday life of the Greeks. There is not a single people in the entire Greco-Roman ethnographic tradition that has been so permanently covered with the hostile topoi known to us, [144] whose effect on political action should not be underestimated either then or now.


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  1. The presentation form was retained and supplemented by footnotes with references to sources and references.
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  2. Brandt (1992) and Sonnabend (1996) provide an introduction to this subject area.
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  3. Cf. [Arist.] Athenaion Politeia 26, 4 and the explanations in Arist. Politics 1278a26 - 34.
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  4. See Andokides, orat. 1, 144.
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  5. See Cartledge (2000).
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  6. Xenophon, de vectig. 2.3. See Tuplin (1999), p. 53.
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  7. See below note 143 on the Jews.
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  8. Xenos "is both the stranger and the hospitable friend. The Spartan language is still very archaic in the age of the Persian War: they also call the Persians" xenoi "(cf. Herodotus 9, 11).
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  9. For the word, see note 38 and 47 below.
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  10. See the still important study by Schaefer (1960) and Boardman (1981). Sicily: Dunbabin (1948).
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  11. See Plat. Phaedo 109B.
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  12. See Dunbabin (1948), p. 43.
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  13. Cf. Herodotus 4, 145-158 and the inscription in Brodersen (1992), No. 6.
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  14. Thucydides 6, 3, 2-3.
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  15. On reflexes of colonizing violence in literature, see Dougherty (1993).
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  16. Polybios 12, 6 (translated by H. Drexler).
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  17. An example of agreements between colonists and "natives", such as the "epigamia" (an agreement on questions of marriage law) between Selinunte and Segesta (note 32).
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  18. Thucydides 6, 4, 1; Villard (1999).
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  19. O'Neill (1989), p. 16.
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  20. Herodotus 7, 155.
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  21. The relationship of dependence of the Mariandynoi on Herakleia Pontike is best attested; further references in Rihll (1993), p. 100.
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  22. See Dunbabin (1948), pp. 45f.
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  23. See Graham, Colonial Expansion (1982), pp. 177f.
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  24. Thucydides 4, 25, 6-7.
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  25. Thucydides 7, 57, 10.
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  26. Strabo 3, 4, 8.
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  27. Compare Herodotus 4, 159.
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  28. See Graham (1982)
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  29. Herodotus 1, 164, 3; however, shortly after the collapse of the Ionian Uprising, the Phocean journey to the west is not a colonization undertaking like e.g. B. that of the people of Thera (note 13), but the "emigration" of an entire city.
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  30. See Brodersen (1994), p. 47f.
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  31. Herodotus 1, 146, 2 - 3 (translated by Walter Marg).
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  32. See Thucydides 6, 6, 2.
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  33. See Graham, Western Greeks (1982), pp. 169f.
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  34. Herodotus 4, 186.
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  35. Compare, for example, the Thracian prince name Oloros from Thucydides' father (Thuk. 1, 1).
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  36. See Lyons (1996).
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  37. See Strabon's message about Emporion in Spain (note 26). Sicily: Dunbabin (1948), pp. 191f.
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  38. The most important evidence is Heraclitus' use of the word in a thoroughly critical sense (note 48). Hekataios of Miletus mentioned "barbarians" as natives of the Peloponnese (FGrHist 1 Frg. 119).
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  39. Lyder: Xenophanes Frg. 3 Diels wreath; Thracian: Archilochus Frg. 93a West; Phrygian: Archilochus Frg. 42 West.
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  40. Thucydides 1, 3, 3.
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  41. Herodotus 8, 144. The "blood" as a criterion of the Greek community is unusual; this was supposed to emphasize the family connection, so to speak, of all Greeks.
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  42. See Hall, Ethnicity (1997).
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  43. Thucydides 1, 3; Werner (1989) p. 172.
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  44. Levy (1991), pp. 52-57.
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  45. Cf. Herodotus 5, 22 on Alexander I of Macedonia (approx. 494 - 454 BC).
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  46. See Spawforth (1996).
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  47. Iliad 2, 867; Werner (1989), pp. 170f.
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  48. Heraklit Frg. 107 Diels wreath.
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  49. Herodotus 4, 183; see also Long (1986), pp. 133ff. about barbarian languages ​​in comedy.
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  50. Herodotus Persian interlocutor: Wells (1907). The tradition, which is focused on Athens, leads one to overlook the contacts between Greeks and Persians in Asia Minor that continued even after 478; s, on this Hornblower (1983), p. 18f.
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  51. Cf. Herodotus 9, 16 (the feast of Attaginos).
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  52. See Thucydides 1, 128, 7; "merely" a satrap's daughter: Herodotus 5, 32.
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  53. Cf. Brodersen, Historical Greek Inscriptions in Translation (1992) No. 32 ("Meder"), No. 39 "Asia"), No. 41 ("Perser"). The linguistic usage of the poet Simonides: Hall (1989), p. 10.
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  54. See Hall (1993) and Pelling (1997).
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  55. See Raeck (1985) on representations in art. A particularly rough example is the portrayal of a Persian in the role of a passive homosexual: Davidson (2001), p. 10f.
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  56. Cf. Aristophanes, Acharner v. 94ff .; Avelin (2001).
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  57. Bichler (2000) gives an excellent overview of the complete works.
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  58. See Cartledge (1993), p. 37f.
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  59. On some of the prerequisites for Herodotus' observations as a traveler in a strange environment, see Redfield (1985). Hecataeus of Miletus: Herodotus 2, 143.
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  60. Herodotus, prooem. (translated by Walter Marg).
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  61. The consideration of foreign peoples in the constructions of the early Greek genealogists presupposes similar ideas; see Speyer (1989), p. 23.
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  62. See Plutarch, de exilio 13 (p. 604 F).
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  63. Herodotus 3, 38 (translated by W. Marg).
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  64. Compare with Sigot (1996).
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  65. Herodotus 1, 131 (translated by Walter Marg).
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  66. Here - and not only here - Herodotus deliberately contrasts Greeks and Persians without, for example, wanting to devalue the Persians; see Cartledge (1990), pp. 35f. The figureless cult of the Jews also had an "exotic" effect on the Greeks (note 96).
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  67. The year 449 is the year of the so-called "Callias Peace" or at least of a diplomatic arrangement that led to a temporary cessation of hostilities.
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  68. Herodotus 1, 136ff. See also Wolff (1934).
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  69. Plutarch, de malignitate Herodoti 12 (p. 857A).
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  70. Herodotus 7:35.
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  71. Herodotus 7, 223.
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  72. Herodotus 7, 104 (translated by Walter Marg).
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  73. On the tradition of the contrast between "Europe and Asia" see Cobet (1996).
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  74. See Bichler (2000), p. 367ff. on Herodotus' allusions to events after 478.
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  75. On the instrumentalization of the "foreign" Persians as a warning example, see Moles (1996) and Pelling (1997).
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  76. One of the best introductions to the whole problem is Schmitthenner (1981). See also Baltrusch (1998).
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  77. On the completely different behavior of the Greeks and the Jews towards the Persians see Myres (1953). On the toleration of a - tolerant - government by the Jews from a universal historical perspective see Yerushalmi (1993).
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  78. Herodotus 1, 105 (Ashkelon "in Syria"). Herodotus may have known the area himself: the mention of Kadytis (Gaza) indicates an autopsy; see Stern (1974), p. 4f. to Herodotus 3, 5, 2.
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  79. Herodotus 2, 104 (= star no. 1). The "Syrians in Palestine" also provide ships for the Great King (7, 89). The name of the landscape is derived from the Philistines; the name has been - at first only for the coastal strip inhabited by Philistines - since the eighth century. v. (Cf. Isaiah 14, 29 & 31). For the history of the name see Stern (1974), p. 3 and p. 7.
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  80. See Auscher (1967).
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  81. See Momigliano, Alexander's Visit to Jerusalem (1988).
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  82. See Stern (1974), pp. 18f.
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  83. See Diodor 18, 43; Appian, Syriake 52.
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  84. On the person and work see Jacoby (1912).
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  85. For the controversial dating of the work see Murray (1973).
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  86. Diod. 1, 69, 7 (= FGrHist 264 Frg. 25).
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  87. See Murray (1972).
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  88. Diodorus 40, 3, 1 - 8 (star no.11).
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  89. Hekataios dated the Exodus to a mythical past (cf. note 91 on Danaos and Kadmos). Later authors date "historically accurate", Manetho (note 120) places the exodus in the time of the pharaohs Amenophis and Ramses.
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  90. This is described as alien expulsion ("xenelasia"), as it was ascribed to the Spartans as a traditional institution (Rebenich 1998) - nota bene not only of the Jews, but also of the Greeks. In the version of Hecataeus, the Jews did not contract leprosy either, as in the later version of Manetho (note 124). Strangers in ancient Egypt: see Assmann (1996).
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  91. Danaos, the twin brother of Aegyptus, flees with his 50 daughters to the Argolis, whose culture is later considered to be particularly old. Kadmos, the founder of Thebes, is otherwise considered a Phoenician; the Egyptian city of the same name should explain its place in the tradition presented here.
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  92. The arrival in an unpopulated area does not correspond to the tradition of the Hebrew Bible (cf. e.g. Joshua 5: 1 on the Amorites and Canaaites).
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  93. Moses is characterized as a founder ("ktistes") in the Greek style. Smend (1995) gives a brief overview of the more recent theses on Moses as a historical figure. See also note 128 below.
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  94. The founding of the famous city is only given to Moses (note 93). The Hebrew Bible knows of the existence of the city even before the arrival of the Jews (cf. 2 Samuel 5: 6).
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  95. The number of twelve tribes (Joshua 3:12) had to be considered particularly convincing to a Greek like Hecataeus, because it was "harmonious"; see also Herodotus 1, 145 on the twelve Ionic tribes. Plato, Leges 745 B-C: Division of citizens into twelve groups.
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  96. The lack of images of the cult was just as "interesting" for Hekataios (and many others) as the lack of images of the Persian religion was for Herodotus (note 66).
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  97. apanthropos tis kai misoxenos bios ". The retreat of the Jews, which was noticeable for Hekataios (and his informants), is aitiologically" explained "by the fate of the expulsion from Egypt. In the Manetho tradition this becomes a real oath (note 127)." Misoxenia "is a seldom used word: in the wisdom of Solomon 19:13 it is held up to the Egyptians in relation to the Jews; cf. Schaefer, Judaeophobia (1997), p. 171. If one takes into account that the commandment" Love your neighbor as yourself "comes from the Torah (Leviticus 19, 18), it becomes clear how little Herodotus' successors (see note 87) have taken over from his scientific curiosity.
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  98. On the judge function of the priests see Deuteronomy 19, 17; 21, 5. Megasthenes compared the Jewish priests with a caste of priests (note 119).
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  99. At the time Hecataeus was written, the office of high priest was passed on from father to son in a family.
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  100. Did Hekataios hear of the appearance of the high priest on Yom Kippur (cf. Leviticus 16:32)? From the Greek point of view, veneration on foot would not be unusual, but here it is a misunderstanding that could relate to the kneeling of the community just (and only) on Yom Kippur.
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  101. Hekataios knows the Torah from hearsay (cf. Leviticus 26, 46; 27, 34; Numbers 36, 13).
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  102. In the later anti-Semitic tradition, bravery is explained by belief in immortality: ... animosque proelio aut suppliciis peremptorum aeternos putant (Tacitus, Hist. 5, 5, 3).
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  103. According to the testimony of the Hebrew Bible, the priests do not have their own land (cf. Deuteronomy 10, 9; Numbers 18, 24). Here, Hecataeus may have transferred Egyptian ideas of privileging the priestly caste to the Jews (cf. Diodor 1, 73, 2 = FGrHist 264 Frg. 25 on the priests of Egypt).
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  104. If there is a reflex of real regional studies, this message could refer to the so-called Jobel year (Leviticus 25, 8ff.).
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  105. The Jews here behaved very differently from the Greeks, who practiced child abandonment. See Tacitus, Hist. 5, 5, 3: augendae tamen multitudine consulitur.
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  106. These are ethnographic topoi that have certainly been dealt with in much greater detail in the original. Tacitus, Hist. 5, 5, 3: corpora condere quam cremare e more Aegyptio, eadem cura et de infernis persuasio, caelestium contra.
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