SICARII


SICARII, name, of Latin origin, used by *Josephus for Jewish patriots who maintained active resistance against the Roman government of Judea, and Jewish collaborators with it, during the period 6–73 C.E. The name derived from the Latin word sica, "curved dagger"; in Roman usage, sicarii, i.e., those armed with such weapons, was a synonym for bandits. According to Josephus, the Jewish Sicarii used short daggers, μικρἁ Ξιφίδια (mikra ziphidia), concealed in their clothing, to murder their victims, usually at religious festivals (Wars, 2:254–5, 425; Ant., 20:186–7). The fact that Josephus employs the Latin sicarii, transliterated into Greek as σικαριοι (sikarioi) suggests that he adopted a term used by the Roman occupation forces; his own (Greek) word for "bandit," which he more generally uses to describe the Jewish resistance fighters, is λησταί (lestai). For a full description of their activities, see *Zealots and Sicarii.

[Samuel G.F. Brandon]


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