Jewish Perspectives on Hellenistic Rulers (Hellenistic by Tessa Rajak, Sarah Pearce, James Aitken, Jennifer Dines

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By Tessa Rajak, Sarah Pearce, James Aitken, Jennifer Dines

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The obvious place to start is with the philoi, royal advisers, who have been studied and are conveniently listed by L. Mooren (1975). e. This latter group is also valuable for the present study, but it is vital here to distinguish the two groups, because of the significant differences in how they are documented. In essence, the use of philos in the sense of adviser to the king appears hardly at all in the papyrological evidence; the attestations listed by Mooren are mainly in literary authors (including Joseph.

Nothing is known of later Platonic works on kingship: the Academy spent most of the Hellenistic period sunk in a gloomy skepticism about the reality of the external world. In the Peripatetic school, Theophrastus is alleged to have written no less than four works on kingship, On Kingship in one book, On the Education of a King in one book, On Kingship Addressed to Cassander in one book, and On Kingship in two books. We can if we wish reduce this list considerably: works one and two may be identical with work four; and work three was alleged in antiquity to be a forgery by Sosibius, the chief minister of Egypt under the third, fourth, and fifth Ptolemies: I particularly regret the loss of this work, since a political forgery of this nature by such an author would be much more interesting than a work by Theophrastus himself and would reveal much about the development of philosophical justifications of monarchy in a practical context.

For gentleness, forgiveness, and a general philanthrOpia were considered essential virtues of the ideal king: how then could a Stoic wise man without emotions be a perfect king? This problem was clearly seen as a real one; there is an interesting discussion of this issue in a philosophical papyrus of late Hellenistic date;17 and it is the most important philosophical question tackled in Seneca’s De clementia, where the Latin clementia is intended in part at least as a translation of the Greek philanthrOpia; it is clear that many opponents of Stoicism claimed that it was an unsuitably harsh philosophy to be held by a king, precisely because it excluded the possibility of emotions as a basis for royal action.

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