Saturday, September 17, 2011

The offensive
public utterance of the Tetragrammaton
made by the Emperor Gaius Caligula (40 C.E.) /

Η προσβλητική
δημόσια αναφορά του Τετραγράμματου
από τον αυτοκράτορα Γάιο Καλιγούλα (40 Κ.Χ.)


*


349 Ἄξιον δὲ ἐπιμνησθῆναι καὶ ὧν εἴδομέν τε καὶ ἠκούσαμεν μεταπεμφθέντες ἀγωνίσασθαι τὸν περὶ τῆς πολιτείας ἀγῶνα. Εἰσελθόντες γὰρ εὐθὺς ἔγνωμεν ἀπὸ τοῦ βλέμματος καὶ τῆς κινήσεως, ὅτι οὐ πρὸς δικαστὴν ἀλλὰ κατήγορον ἀφίγμεθα, τῶν ἀντιτεταγμένων μᾶλλον ἐχθρόν. 350 Δικαστοῦ μὲν γὰρ ἔργα ταῦτα ἦν· καθίσαι μετὰ συνέδρων ἀριστίνδην ἐπιλελεγμένων, ἐξεταζομένης ὑποθέσεως μεγίστης ἐν τετρακοσίοις ἔτεσιν ἡσυχασθείσης καὶ νῦν πρῶτον εἰσαγομένης ἐπὶ μυριάσι πολλαῖς τῶν Ἀλεξανδρέων Ἰουδαίων, ἑκατέρωθεν στῆναι τοὺς ἀντιδίκους μετὰ τῶν συναγορευσόντων, ἐν μέρει μὲν ἀκοῦσαι τῆς κατηγορίας, ἐν μέρει δὲ τῆς ἀπολογίας πρὸς μεμετρημένον ὕδωρ, ἀναστάντα βουλεύσασθαι μετὰ τῶν συνέδρων, τί χρὴ φανερῶς ἀποφήνασθαι γνώμῃ τῇ δικαιοτάτῃ· τυράννου δὲ ἀμειλίκτου δεσποτικὴν ὀφρὺν ἐπανατειναμένου τὰ πραχθέντα.  351 Χωρὶς γὰρ τοῦ μηδὲν ὧν ἀρτίως εἶπον ἐργάσασθαι, μεταπεμψάμενος τοὺς δυεῖν κήπων ἐπιτρόπους τοῦ τε Μαικήνα καὶ Λαμία—πλησίον δέ εἰσιν ἀλλήλων τε καὶ τῆς πόλεως, ἐν οἷς ἐκ τριῶν ἢ τεττάρων ἡμερῶν διέτριβε· κεῖθι γὰρ ἐπὶ παροῦσιν ἡμῖν ἡ κατὰ παντὸς τοῦ ἔθνους ἔμελλε σκηνοβατεῖσθαι δραματοποιία—κελεύει τὰς ἐπαύλεις αὑτῷ πάσας περιανοιχθῆναι· 352 βούλεσθαι γὰρ μετὰ ἀκριβείας ἑκάστην ἰδεῖν. ἡμεῖς δὲ ὡς αὐτὸν εἰσαχθέντες ἅμα τῷ θεάσασθαι μετ’ αἰδοῦς καὶ εὐλαβείας τῆς ἁπάσης νεύοντες εἰς τοὔδαφος ἐδεξιούμεθα, Σεβαστὸν Αὐτοκράτορα προσειπόντες· ὁ δὲ οὕτως ἐπιεικῶς καὶ φιλανθρώπως ἀντιπροσηγόρευσεν, ὡς μὴ μόνον τὴν ὑπόθεσιν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ ζῆν ἀπογνῶναι. 353 Σαρκάζων γὰρ ἅμα καὶ σεσηρὼς «ὑμεῖς» εἶπεν «ἐστὲ οἱ θεομισεῖς, οἱ θεὸν μὴ νομίζοντες εἶναί με, τὸν ἤδη παρὰ πᾶσι τοῖς ἄλλοις ἀνωμολογημένον, ἀλλὰ τὸν ἀκατονόμαστον ὑμῖν;» Καὶ ἀνατείνας τὰς χεῖρας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐπεφήμιζε πρόσρησιν, ἣν οὐδὲ ἀκούειν θεμιτόν, οὐχ ὅτι διερμηνεύειν αὐτολεξεί. 354 Πόσης εὐθὺς ἀνεπλήσθησαν ἡδονῆς οἱ τῆς ἐναντίας μερίδος πρέσβεις, ἤδη κατωρθωκέναι διὰ τῆς πρώτης ἀναφθέγξεως Γαΐου τὴν πρεσβείαν νομίζοντες· ἐπεχειρονόμουν, ἀνωρχοῦντο, τὰς θεῶν ἁπάντων ἐπωνυμίας ἐπεφήμιζον αὐτῷ.


349 I must now report what we both saw and heard when we were sent to conduct our campaign about our civic position. As soon as we came into Gaius' presence, we realized from his appearance and gestures that we were standing not before a judge but before an accuser more hostile to us than our actual opponents. 350 For the duties of a judge were as follows: to sit with assessors chosen on their merits during the investigation of a vital question affecting many thousands of Alexandrian Jews, which had not been raised for four hundred years and was now being brought up in court for the first time; to let the opposing parties stand on either side of him; to listen first to the accusation and then to the defence for the allotted time; and finally to retire and discuss with his assessors what would be the fairest judgement to pronounce. His actual conduct, however, was that of an implacable tyrant with a scowl on his despotic brow. 351 For apart from doing none of the things which I have just mentioned, he sent for the procurators of the two gardens of Maecenas and Lamia. (These gardens are near to each other and to Rome, and he had been spending the previous three or four days there; it was there that the drama concerning all our people was to be staged, with us as the principal actors.) He told them to have the mansions all opened up for him, as he wanted to inspect each of them in detail. 352 We were brought into Gaius' presence, and as soon as we saw him we bowed low to the ground with the greatest reverence and punctiliousness, and greeted him with the title "Augustus Imperator". His reply was so polite and kind that we despaired not only for our case but also for our lives. 353 For with a sneering grin he said, "So you are the god-haters, the people who do not believe that I am a god-I, who am acknowledged as a god among all other nations by this time but am denied that title by you?" And raising his hands to heaven he uttered a Name which it is a sin even to hear, let alone to pronounce. 354 How overjoyed the envoys from the other party were at this, imagining that Gaius' first remark meant that their mission had already succeeded! They waved their arms about, danced up and down, and called him by the titles of all the gods.

Φίλων ο Αλεξανδρεύς / Philo of Alexandria,
Πρεσβεία προς Γάιον / Legatio ad Gaium 349-354.

Greek text / Ελληνικό κείμενο:
L. Cohn and S. Reiter,
Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, vol. 6.
Berlin: Reimer, 1915 (repr. De Gruyter, 1962).

English translation / Αγγλική μετάφραση:
Philonis Alexandrini: Legatio Ad Gaium 
(transl. & comment. E. Mary Smallwood), Brill 1961.



ἐπεφήμιζε πρόσρησιν . . . . I.e. Gaius uttered the sacred name for the Jewish God, Jahweh (the tetragrammaton), as an intentional act of blasphemy.

ἐπεφήμιζε πρόσρησιν . . . . Δηλ. ο Γάιος προέφερε το ιερό όνομα του Ιουδαϊκού Θεού, Ιαβέ (το τετραγράμματο), ως μια εσκεμμένη πράξη βλασφημίας.

(transl. & comment. E. Mary Smallwood),
Brill 1961,
p./σ. 318.


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