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common signification of a shield, in which I have fol. lowed the example of Dryden and Holyday.
It does not clearly appear, what part of the toga was understood by the umbo. Tertullian (de pallio) mentions it. Ferrarius de re vestiaria shows it to be dif. ferent from the sinus : but I am led to suspect, that both he and Rubenius build too much upon conjecture, in their opinions upon this and other parts of the Roman dress; Ferrarius however is the more accurate of the two.
The reader may see what Polybius has said concerning the armour of the Roman knights. As Persius was of the equestrian order, it is probable he was equipped in his martial dress as soon as he laid aside the pretexta. Tully was about the same age when he was entered a knight.
Herodis venere dies, unctâque fenestrá
Labra moves tacitus, recutitaque sabbata palles. I have thought myself obliged to alter this passage from the original. Persius, in throwing contempt upon the Jews, has expressed himself with as much obscurity, as when he censured the crimes, or laughed at the follies, of Nero.
Upon the first consideration of the above verses it does not appear, why the superstitious man waits for
the celebration of Herod's birthday, before he fasts at the sabbaths of the Jews. I can only conjecture, that that was the season when strangers were generally admitted at Rome within the pale of the temple. The Herodians, who probably alone of all the Jews observed this festival of Herod, were numerous at Rome. They had disobliged their countrymen by the support which they gave to Herod the Great, and by acceding to the payment of a tribute to Augustus.
It seems extraordinary that Persius should sneer at the Jews for lighting lamps at their festivals, as a similar practice was common to the Romans. The Jews, however, had certainly given offence at Rome upon that subject. Accendere aliquem, says Seneca in one of his epistles, lucernas Sabbatis prohibeamus; quoniam, adds he contemptuously, nec lumine Diï egent, et ne homines quidem delectantur fuligine.
Nothing, however, was more common at Rome, than the lighting of lamps at festivals. Even upon occasions of domestic rejoicing, the doors of the house were hung with laurels, and illuminated with lamps. Juvenal in a beautiful satire thus expresses himself,
Longos erexit janua ramos, Et matutinis operatur festa lucernis. It appears from Tertullian, that the Christians soon adopted this practice. He thus charges the alienated disciples of the faith. Sed luceant, inquit (nempe Christus), opera vestra. At nunc lucent tabernæ et januæ nostræ: plures jam invenies Ethnicorum fores sine lucernis et laureis quam Christianorum.
The Jews probably took their custom of burning lamps at their feasts from the Egyptians. Herodotus L. 11, tells us, there was an annual sacrifice at Sais known by the name of the feast of lamps. The Chinese have a similar festival at the present day.
We must not understand Persius in this place, to speak of the feast of lamps among the Jews. That festival was instituted by Judas, and was held annually on the twenty-fifth of the month Cishleu. See Josephus, and Picart des Cérémonies des Juifs.
Persius, as well as Suetonius, is mistaken in supposing that the Jews fasted on their sabbaths. The verb now, signifies quievit; the substantive derived from it (and which is the same in sound) signifies quies. The Jews on their sabbath abstained from labour, but they did not observe it as a fast: on the contrary, it appears that the nown 37sabbath eve was generally employed in preparing the feast of the succeeding day. They then lighted lamps, which burned during the day-time, which practice they still continue. Picart says he has seen“ leur appartement très artistement illuminé, tandis que les rayons du soleil encore doroit le toit de la maison.
Through the whole of this passage, it is evident, Persius means to expose the meanness and poverty of the Jews. The rubrum catinum, the alba fidelia, the cauda thynni, all mark the wretchedness of the feast, at which the superstitious man assists.
Persius alludes in the words, labra moves tacitus, to the Jews repeating inwardly certain words and prayers.
Thus they never pronounce the name of 710, Jehovah but upon occasions of extraordinary solemnity; and when at the commencement of the festival of Cheipur, the priest prays aloud from the hechal, the people re. peat after him in a low voice that is scarcely audible.
The real meaning of the word recutita has been rightly guessed at by Stelluti and Holyday. A more modern translator has strangely rendered it curtailed.
“ Strictly observant of the curtail'd race, “ Poor thou, with anguish brooding on thy face.”
But by what miracle did this translator account for the continuation of the curtailed race? I believe this question would have puzzled the whole Sanhedrim, if God, instead of ordering the males of his chosen people to be circumcised, had ordered them to be curtailed.
The severity which Persius displays in this passage, arose from a prejudice (if it was one) general among the Romans. The obstinacy, the treachery, and the intolerance of the Jews disgusted their conquerors. The usual lenity of the Cæsars towards the inhabitants of the provinces annexed to their empire, was necessarily violated towards the children of Israel; and in endeavouring to subdue their untractable spirit, Rome was provoked to acts of cruelty and oppression unexampled in her annals.
The rigid observance of their laws, as well as of the most minute ceremonies, rendered the Jews objects of derision to other nations, who considered them as the most ignorant and superstitious of mankind. But as the Roman arms gradually broke down the fence
which separated them from the rest of the world, their ancient institutions could not prevent the inundation of new opinions. Various sects suddenly sprang up, who disputed with all the subtlety of dialecticians. Philosophical questions, never before heard of within the walls of the synagogue, startled Superstition in her dotage. The children of the house of Aaron beheld with indignation the progress of Gentile doctrines, and denounced angry curses against those who neglected the laws of Israel, to teach the philosophy of Greece,
Cursed be the man–ארור אדם שלמד בגו תכמה יוונית
instructing his son in the wisdom of the Greeks.
In the age of Persius, the Jews were become better known to the Romans; but their new masters treated them only with contempt. The satirist, without doubt, thought the worst opprobrium he could throw upon the votary of superstition, was to represent him observ. ing the rites and ceremonies of the Jews and Syrians. Little did he know, that in that same country of Judea, where he believed misanthropy reigned with error, bigotry, and ignorance, a system was already taught, whose morality was simpler and sublimer than his own; and whose pure, benevolent, and exalted principles, far eclipsed all the splendid precepts admired in the school of Zeno.
Ver. 185. Tunc nigri lemures, ovoque pericula rupto:
Hinc grandes Galli, et cum sistro lusca sacerdos,