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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
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 ni 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 repeat 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,
BREWSTER. 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
Cursed be the man instructing his son–ארור אדם שלמר
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, sur non 122
– 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 observing 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,
Incussere Deos inflantes corpora, si non
Prædictum ter mane caput gustaveris alli.
“ Then a crack'd eggshell thy sick fancy frights,
These priests were indeed what Dryden calls them. Herodian informs us how they received the appellation of Galli,-παλαι μην φρυγες οργίαζον επί τω πόθαμώ Γαλλω Tápfapcort, from which, continues he, the touías lepojuevos received their surname : they were generally called at Rome by names more descriptive of their situation than Galli, such as, evirati, abscissi, semi-viri, &c. Lucian thus describes the ceremony of their inauguration. Adolescens quicunque ad hoc paratus venit, abjectis vestibus, magna voce in medium progreditur, atque ense distringit : accepto autem eo, continuo se ipsum secat, curritque per urbem, et ea quæ resecuit in manibus
quamcunque autem domum hæc abjicit, ex ea, et vestem fæmineam, et ornamentum muliebrem accipit.
These eunuchs were the priests not of Isis, but of Cybele or Cybebe, the goddess of the Phrygians. I have preferred giving her the latter name, as being more expressive. Κυβήξειν κυρίως το επι την κεφαλήν ρίπτειν έθεν
και την μητέρα των Θεών από 18 ένθεσιασμδυ Κυβηβην λεγεσιν" " ailía
yag ένθεσιασμόυ τοις μύσαις γίνεθαι. . The sistrum belonged equally to the Phrygian and Egyptian goddesses. Apuleius describes it as a brazen timbrel-cujus per angustam laminam in modum balthei recurvatam, trajectæ media, parva virgula, crispante brachio, tergeminos ictus reddebant argutum sonum.
Plutarch pretends, that the rods were expressive of the four elements, why not the four cardinal points, or the four seasons ? This is an ill founded conjecture, Besides the sistrum had sometimes only three rods.
Ver. 189. Dixeris bæc inter varicosos centuriones,
Continuo crassum ridet Vulfenius ingens,
Et centum Græcos curto centusse licetur. I could have wished the absence of these three verses.
It was not worthy of the attention of the poet to consider, how his philosophical opinions might be received inter varicosos centuriones. Any man, who should be rash enough to introduce an abstruse metaphysical argument, while dining with the young ensigns at a messroom, would probably not go unpunished for his want of knowledge of the world. But upon the other hand, it is at least equally unbecoming the character of a philosopher, to be solicitous about the reception which his opinions may meet from those, who from prejudice, ignorance, or imbecillity, are incapable of judging of them.