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 Main Index : History : Josephus : Against Apion : Book I Index : Chapter 12

Flavius Josephus Against Apion - BOOK I

Chapter 11 | Chapter 13

      As for ourselves, therefore, we neither inhabit a maritime country, nor do we delight in merchandise, nor in such a mixture with other men as arises from it; but the cities we dwell in are remote from the sea, and having a fruitful country for our habitation, we take pains in cultivating that only. Our principal care of all is this, to educate our children well; and we think it to be the most necessary business of our whole life to observe the laws that have been given us, and to keep those rules of piety that have been delivered down to us. Since, therefore, besides what we have already taken notice of, we have had a peculiar way of living of our own, there was no occasion offered us in ancient ages for intermixing among the Greeks, as they had for mixing among the Egyptians, by their intercourse of exporting and importing their several goods; as they also mixed with the Phoenicians, who lived by the sea-side, by means of their love of lucre in trade and merchandise. Nor did our forefathers betake themselves, as did some others, to robbery; nor did they, in order to gain more wealth, fall into foreign wars, although our country contained many ten thousands of men of courage sufficient for that purpose. For this reason it was that the Phoenicians themselves came soon by trading and navigation to be known to the Grecians, and by their means the Egyptians became known to the Grecians also, as did all those people whence the Phoenicians in long voyages over the seas carried wares to the Grecians. The Medes also and the Persians, when they were lords of Asia, became well known to them; and this was especially true of the Persians, who led their armies as far as the other continent [Europe]. The Thracians were also known to them by the nearness of their countries, and the Scythians by the means of those that sailed to Pontus; for it was so in general that all maritime nations, and those that inhabited near the eastern or western seas, became most known to those that were desirous to be writers; but such as had their habitations further from the sea were for the most part unknown to them which things appear to have happened as to Europe also, where the city of Rome, that hath this long time been possessed of so much power, and hath performed such great actions in war, is yet never mentioned by Herodotus, nor by Thucydides, nor by any one of their contemporaries; and it was very late, and with great difficulty, that the Romans became known to the Greeks. Nay, those that were reckoned the most exact historians (and Ephorus for one) were so very ignorant of the Gauls and the Spaniards, that he supposed the Spaniards, who inhabit so great a part of the western regions of the earth, to be no more than one city. Those historians also have ventured to describe such customs as were made use of by them, which they never had either done or said; and the reason why these writers did not know the truth of their affairs was this, that they had not any commerce together; but the reason why they wrote such falsities was this, that they had a mind to appear to know things which others had not known. How can it then be any wonder, if our nation was no more known to many of the Greeks, nor had given them any occasion to mention them in their writings, while they were so remote from the sea, and had a conduct of life so peculiar to themselves?

Chapter 11 | Chapter 13

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