by Evropa Soberana
The Alexandrian school has special relevance, as here lived the most important Jewish population (almost half of the total), and also the most important ‘anti-Semitic’ tradition (I use quotation marks because the Syrians, the Babylonians and the Arabs were Semites and the Alexandrians had nothing against them).
As an important part of Jewish history had taken place in Egypt, these Hellenised Egyptian writers attacked Jewry harshly. In addition, the Greeks of the Near East had long been badly living with the Jews, and during that time a real animosity had developed between the two peoples.
Hecataeus of Abdera (around 320 BCE), not an Alexandrian himself, was probably the first pagan who wrote about Jewish history, and he did not do it on good terms:
Due to a plague, the Egyptians expelled them… The majority fled to uninhabited Judea, and their leader Moses established a cult different from all the others. The Jews adopted a misanthropic and inhospitable life.
Manetho (3rd century BCE), an Egyptian priest and historian, in his History of Egypt—the first time someone wrote the history of Egypt in Greek—said that at the time of King Amenhotep, the Jews left Heliopolis with a colony of lepers under the command of a renegade Osiris priest named Osarseph, whom he identifies with Moses. Osarseph would have taught them habits contrary to those of the Egyptians, and ordered them not to relate to the rest of the villages, and also made them burn and loot numerous Egyptian villages of the Nile valley before leaving Egypt in the direction of Asia Minor.
Mnaseas of Patrae (3rd century BCE), a disciple of Eratosthenes, was the first to say something that would later be recurrent in Greek and also in Roman anti-Semitism: that the Jews, in the temple of Jerusalem, worshiped a golden donkey’s head.
Agatharchides of Cnidus (181-146 BCE) in Affairs in Asia mocks the Mosaic law and its practices, especially Sabbath rest.
Posidonius of Apameia (philosopher and historian, 135-51 BCE—bust left), called ‘the Athlete’, said that Jews are ‘an ungodly people, hated by the gods’.
Lysimachus of Alexandria (1st century BCE) said that Moses was a kind of black magician and an impostor; that his laws, equivalent to those recorded in the Talmud, were immoral and that the Jews were sick:
The Jews, sick with leprosy and scurvy, took refuge in the temples, until the king drowned the lepers, and sent other hundred thousand to perish in the desert. A certain Moses guided and instructed them so that they would not show good will towards any person and destroyed all the temples they found. They arrived in Judea and built a city of temple robbers.
Apollonius Molon (around 70 BCE) of Crete, grammarian, rhetorician, orator and teacher of Caesar and Cicero in an academy of Rhodes, dedicated an entire work to the Jewish quarter, calling them misanthropes and atheists disguised as monotheists:
They are the worst among the barbarians. They lack any creative talent; they have not done anything for the good of humanity, and do not believe in any god… Moses was an impostor.
Diodorus Siculus (around 50 BCE), a Greek historian of Sicily, wrote in his Bibliotheca Historica (below, a medieval illuminated manuscript of Diodorus’ book):
The Jews treated other people as enemies and inferiors. The ‘usury’ is their practice of lending money with excessive interest rates. This has caused for centuries the misery and poverty of the Gentiles, and has been a strong condemnation for Jewry.
Already King Antiochus’ advisors were telling him to exterminate the Jewish nation completely, because the Jews were the only people in the world that resisted mixing with other nations. They judged all other nations as their enemies and passed on that enmity as an inheritance to future generations. Their holy books contain aberrant rules and inscriptions hostile to all mankind.
Strabo (64 BCE-25 CE), Greek geographer, in his Geographica admires the figure of Moses, but thinks that the later priests distorted his history and imposed on the Jews an unnatural lifestyle. In the following quote it is clear that the Jews, already in those times, constituted a powerful international mafia:
Jews have penetrated all countries, so it is difficult to find anywhere in the world where their tribe has not entered and where they are not powerfully established.
Apion, Egyptian writer and main promoter of the pogrom of Alexandria of the year 38 CE that culminated in a massacre of 50,000 Jews at the hands of the Roman military, said that the Jews were bound by a mutual pact to never help any foreigner, especially if he was Greek:
The principles of Judaism oblige to hate the rest of humanity. Once a year they take a non-Jew, they kill him and taste his insides, swearing during the meal that they will hate the nation from which the victim came. In the Holy of Holies of the sacred temple of Jerusalem there is a golden ass head that the Jews idolize. The Shabbat originated because of a pelvic ailment that the Jews contracted when fleeing from Egypt, forced them to rest on the seventh day.
Plutarch (50-120) was initiated into the mysteries of Apollo in Chaeronea, and served as a priest in the sanctuary of Delphi. His work is one of the favourite sources of information about the lifestyles of Sparta. In his Table Talks Plutarch wrote that the Jews neither kill nor eat the pig or the donkey because they worship them religiously, and that in the Shabbat, they get drunk.
Philo of Byblos (64-141), a Hellenized Phoenician who wrote about Phoenician history, the Phoenician religion and the Jews, speaks of human sacrifices of the firstborn among Hebrews (remember the passage of Abraham and his son Isaac).
Celsus, a Greek philosopher of the 2nd century, especially known for The True Word, in which he attacked Christianity and also Judaism, wrote:
The Jews are fugitives from Egypt who have never done anything of value and were never held in esteem or had a good reputation.
Philostratus, a sophist of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, wrote:
The Jews are a people that have risen up against humanity itself… They have made their life apart and irreconcilable, and cannot share with the rest of humanity the pleasures of the table, nor join their libations or prayers or sacrifices…
They are separated from us by a gulf greater than that which separates us from the farthest Indies.