Cicero, Rhetorica ad Herennium

Marcus Tullius Cicero, after whom Teuffel name...
Marcus Tullius Cicero (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to the Loeb Classical Library volumes noted as freely available online at Loebolus and Edonnelly, the Internet Archive has available Cicero’s Rhetorica ad Herennium (Loeb vol. 403) in a number of formats. Another HTML version is also available from the University of Chicago. Among the work’s other features, it contains a robust treatment of memory, which continues to have significance still today.

Brookins, “Dispute with Stoicism”

Tim Brookins has the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, “Dispute with Stoicism in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.” According to Brookins,

It is not my aim to continue discussion regarding the criterion for the rich man’s judgment. But I propose that there is more to be said about the meaning of the parable in light of a Greco-Roman milieu. . . . I shall take up [Ronald] Hock’s wider net and cast it once again in the direction of Hellenistic philosophy. It will be argued that, while the parable may share a Cynic viewpoint on the issue of wealth, it also conveys pronounced resistance to certain Stoic ideas on this issue. As a supporting argument it will further be suggested that the parable reflects elements of rhetorical ‘declamation’ (declamatio), which was in certain circles closely associated with Stoic philosophy. With these substantive and formal features taken together, we shall see that the parable means to interact with Stoicism, though in a way that is subversive to the Stoic ideas evoked (35–36; underlining for original italics).

For the full text of Brookins’ article, please see the current JGRChJ volume page.

Cicero on the Earth as Sphere

The Flammarion woodcut is an enigmatic wood en...
Image via Wikipedia

Jim Davila has picked up a discussion about ancient testimony to the earth’s spherical shape. Cicero also, by way of his Stoic character Balbus, comments to this effect, saying,

[T]he sea, which is above the earth, tends still toward the earth’s centre, and so is itself shaped in conformity to the globe of the earth and nowhere spills or overflows. (171; italics added)

So, the Stoics, and perhaps Cicero, also would have acknowledged a spherical earth “before their time” (75, 238).

The Key Problem(s) in Cicero’s Preamble to The Nature of the Gods

The Nature of the Gods
Marcus Tullius Cicero

In his classic on The Nature of the Gods, Cicero identifies the key problem facing him as being “the question whether the gods do nothing, care for nothing, and take their ease detached from all concern with the care and government of the world: or whether on the contrary all things have been created and formed by them from the dawn of time, and will be ruled and governed by them to all eternity” (69–70).

The strict dichotomy that Cicero proposes between these two alternatives is certainly interesting, but each has its problems. According to Cicero, the first alternative undermines piety, reverence, and religion (70), and the second nearly amounts to “the gods[‘ . . .] creat[ing] all . . . things for the benefit of man” (71). Following the Academy’s method, if not its conclusions, however, Cicero finds it advisable to make his audience wait some time for his most (nearly) definitive thoughts on the matter (33–34, 74, 235).

Meerson, “One God Supreme”

Michael Meerson has the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, “One God Supreme: A Case Study of Religious Tolerance and Survival.” In this article, Meerson “attempt[s] to combine the consideration of both [θεὸς ὕψιστος and εἷς θεός]” as these titles are found in a sundial inscription from Mount Gerizim (32). For, although

[a] picture of a sundial with a Greek inscription was published in the 33rd (2000) issue of Qadmoniot, as an illustration to the essay of Y. Magen, ‘Mount Gerizim—A Temple City’ . . . the sundial’s inscription, neither transcribed nor translated, failed to provoke commentary. And yet the inscription is remarkable in many ways: one of only five Greek inscriptions from the Hellenistic era ever found on Mount Gerizim, it was discovered outside any architectural context. The inscription addresses θεὸς ὕψιστος, the God Most High, which would have provided the archaeologists of Gerizim with a doubly difficult quest: to identify the ‘nationality’ of the so-called god, and to find a temple in which this sundial would have stood—Samaritan, Seleucid or Roman. Inscriptions bearing the εἷς θεός invocation present a similar problem (32).

Gems from Justin

While reading around Justin Martyr’s First Apology this morning, I came across a few interesting points.

Historical
In discussing the injustice of Christians’ condemnation, Justin says,

By the mere application of a name, nothing is decided, either good or evil, apart from the actions implied in the name; and indeed, so far at least as one may judge from the name we are accused of, we are most excellent people. But as we do not think it just to beg to be acquitted on account of the name, if we be convicted as evil-doers, so, on the other hand, if we be found to have committed no offence, either in the matter of thus naming ourselves, or of our conduct as citizens, it is your part very earnestly to guard against incurring just punishment, by unjustly punishing those who are not convicted. For from a name neither praise nor punishment could reasonably spring, unless something excellent or base in action be proved. And those among yourselves who are accused you do not punish before they are convicted; but in our case you receive the name as proof against us, and this although, so far as the name goes, you ought rather to punish our accusers. For we are accused of being Christians, and to hate what is excellent (Chrestian) is unjust (Justin, 1 Apol. 4; emphasis added).

In this section, Justin makes rhetorical use of the identification of Christians as followers of Chrestus (see Suetonius, Claud. 25; χρήστος ≈ “excellent, worthy, good”) in order to establish his two-fold claim that: (1) Christians should be judged by their works rather than by their name and (2) even if they are judged by their name, they should receive approval.

Lexical
Justin reports that, when a congregation gathered to share the Eucharist, the “president of the brethren” would offer “prayers and thanksgivings,”

And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the pople present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο” (Justin, 1 Apol. 65; emphasis added).

BDAG, of course, already contains this reference in the entry for ἀμήν, yet another anecdotal reason to read whole lexical entries.

Theological
Continuing in his description of the Eucharist, Justin explains that

And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn (Justin, 1 Apol. 66).

To these remarks, the Ante-Nicene Fathers edition subjoins the intriguing comment from Gelasius, the fifth-century, Roman bishop, that “[b]y the sacraments we are made partakers of the divine nature, and yet the substance and nature of the bread and wine do not cease to be in them” (Justin, 1 Apol. 66 n. 6). Others may have more astute perspectives, but surprisingly, to my perception, given Gelasius’s Roman ties, Gelasius’s seems to favor something more akin to consubstantiation (or something like it) than transubstantiatition. Of course, even on this reading, the extent to which Gelasius reflects well what Justin was intending to communicate remains debatable (see Justin, 1 Apol. 66 n. 6; Joseph Pohle, “The Real Presence of Christ”).


In this post:

Walter Bauer, Frederick Danker, William Arndt, and Wilbur Gingrich
Walter Bauer, Frederick Danker, William Arndt, and Wilbur Gingrich
Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox
Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox
Suetonius
Suetonius

Alexander’s Effects

Through his vast conquests, Alexander’s comparatively short life left several important marks on history:

  1. Alexander’s conquests effected a substantial influx of Greeks into various areas around the known world, and these Greeks brought their distinctive culture with them (Ferguson 13). To be sure, the Greeks had already established several colonies outside the Balkan Peninsula by this time, but after Alexander’s conquests, the numbers of Greeks living in other lands and degree of their influence with these lands’ native peoples significantly increased (Ferguson 13; Schürer 1:11).
  2. Alexander’s life allowed the culture that the Greek conquerors and settlers had carried with them to take hold more quickly and firmly in foreign soil than it might otherwise have done (Ferguson 14). This increased exposure to Greek culture was especially significant for the peoples of the Near East, including the Jews (Ferguson 14).
  3. Alexander’s campaigns spread Attic-standard currency throughout the known world, and this distribution enhanced economic consistency also increased people’s economic interconnectedness (Ferguson 14; Wright 153).
  4. Although the Greek language was relatively widespread in the fifth century BC, it became vastly more disseminated through Alexander’s conquests (Blass & Debrunner §2; Caragounis 566; Deissmann 58; Ferguson 14; Moule 1; Voelz 912, 931; Wallace 15, 17–18; Wright 153). In turn, this wide dissemination among non-native speakers caused a certain simplification of the classical tongue (Ferguson 14; Wallace 15, 19).
  5. The non-Greek world became vastly more acquainted with Greek philosophy and the use of it to describe a way of life (Ferguson 14; Wright 153).
  6. The increased acquaintance with Greek philosophy entailed a general increase in the overall level of education (Ferguson 14). While this increase in education was certainly not evenly distributed throughout the empire (Schürer 1:11), more people were better educated and more literate than they had previously been, and this fact, combined with the use of Koine as a lingua franca for the Greek empire as a whole, increased communication among people from different cultures (Ferguson 14).
  7. As Greek language and philosophy spread, so did Greek religion, though it too had begun to spread before Alexander’s time (Ferguson 14; cf. Schürer 1:11). In particular, Alexander’s conquests abroad significantly increased the adoption of Greek deities and the practice of identifying local deities with the members of the Greek pantheon (Ferguson 14; see Schürer 1:11–29).
  8. The Alexandrian conquests effected greater urbanization in the lands they affected, tending to present the polis, rather than the countryside, village, or temple-state, as the fundamental backbone of societal structure (cf. Plato 414d–415e; see Ferguson 14).
  9. Finally, despite the spread of things like similar language, philosophy, culture, and economics more broadly (Blass & Debrunner §2; Deissmann 59; Voelz 912, 931; Wallace 15, 17; Wright 153), Grecian conquest introduced greater opportunities for individualism as Greek conventions provided alternatives to traditional ones (Ferguson 14). In such an environment, perhaps contrary to what had gone before it, choices of individuals in the conquered lands could receive greater priority than the things that these individuals would have otherwise inherited from their communities of origin (Ferguson 14–15).

In large measure, therefore, Alexander’s conquests accelerated the development or increased the strength of Hellenic influences that were already beginning to creep toward many of the areas that he subjugated.


In this post:

Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase
Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase
Frederich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert Funk
Frederich Blass, Albert Debrunner, and Robert Funk
Chrys Caragounis
Chrys Caragounis
Adolf Deissmann
Adolf Deissmann
Everett Ferguson
Everett Ferguson
C. F. D. Moule
C. F. D. Moule
Plato
Plato
Emil Schürer
Emil Schürer
Daniel Wallace
Daniel Wallace
N. T. Wright
N. T. Wright