HORACE, QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS°


HORACE, QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS° (65–8 B.C.E.), Roman lyric poet and satirist. At the beginning of one of his Satires (1:4, 10) he describes a poet as scribbling bad verse while "standing on one foot," which was the phrase used by the proselyte who approached *Hillel, Horace's contemporary (Shab. 31a). At the end of the Satires (1:4) he refers to the zeal of Jewish missionary activity: "We are much more numerous, and like the Jews we shall force you to join our throng," perhaps a satirical reference to Exodus 23:2. The "thirtieth Sabbath" (Satires, 1:9, 69), which has been variously identified as Shabbat Parashat ha-Ḥodesh, Shabbat ha-Gadol, Passover, the Day of Atonement, Tabernacles, Shabbat Rosh Hodesh ("the thirtieth, a Sabbath"), the thirtieth anniversary of the conquest of Palestine by Pompey, or the thirtieth Sabbath as numbered by the sect of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is most probably a deliberately meaningless reference to Jewish superstition, so sharply attacked by the other Roman satirists, notably *Juvenal. Elsewhere (Satires, 1:5, 100) Horace refers to the gullibility of the Jew Apella as a byword and contrasts the Epicurean view of the gods with the providential "sad" theology of the Jews (perhaps an allusion to the alleged fasting on the Sabbath mentioned by other Roman writers such as Trogus *Pompeius, *Augustus, Strabo, Persius, *Petronius, and *Martial). The name Apella is perhaps Horace's satirical reference to circumcision, since, as the fourth-century commentator Porphyrion suggests, the name may be Horace's deliberately ridiculous etymology alluding to the Jews as being without a foreskin (pellis). In considering Horace's statements about the Jews, one must always remember that he is a satirist, though relatively more gentle than Juvenal.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Reinach, Textes, 244–7; M. Radin, Jewsamong the Greeks and Romans (1915), 245–9, 399–402; Alexander, in: Classical Philology, 37 (1942), 385–97; Baumgarten, in: VT, 16 (1966), 277–86.

[Louis Harry Feldman]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.