Apion’s a Racist Buffoon, But People Listen to Him

Josephus, Against Apion 2

“I will turn now to refuting the remaining authors who have written against us. I really don’t know if it is worth my time to respond seriously to the attacks of Apion the grammarian. Some of what he has written is similar to what other people claim; things which he added are rather weak, and most of it is complete absurdity which, to speak truthfully, exposes the author for a scoundrel and a fraud right to the end of his life.

But since many people tend because of ignorance to be attracted by these kinds of arguments rather than those of a serious nature and they take pleasure in slander while finding praise annoying, I believe I am compelled to not to leave this person unexamined since he has composed an indictment of us direct enough for a courtroom.

This is because I have also noticed that people are especially pleased when someone who started to slander others first is refuted through his own vices. Now, Apion’s argument is not easy to sum up or to understand clearly what he wants to say. But—as far as is pack of disordered lies can be analyzed—some of his words are like those already examined, related to how our people departed from Egypt; another category is the accusation against the Jewish residents of Alexandria; and the third is mixed up among those with claims against our temple rites and general practices.”

ἄρξομαι δὲ νῦν τοὺς ὑπολειπομένους τῶν γεγραφότων τι καθ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐλέγχειν. καίτοι περὶ τῆς πρὸς Ἀπίωνα τὸν γραμματικὸν ἀντιρρήσεως ἐπῆλθέ μοι διαπορεῖν, εἰ χρὴ σπουδάσαι· τὰ μὲν γάρ ἐστι τῶν ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ γεγραμμένων τοῖς ὑπ᾿ ἄλλων εἰρημένοις ὅμοια, τὰ δὲ λίαν ψυχρῶς προστέθεικεν, τὰ πλεῖστα δὲ βωμολοχίαν ἔχει καὶ πολλήν, εἰ δεῖ τἀληθὲς εἰπεῖν, ἀπαιδευσίαν, ὡς ἂν ὑπ᾿ ἀνθρώπου συγκείμενα καὶ φαύλου τὸν τρόπον καὶ παρὰ πάντα τὸν βίον ὀχλαγωγοῦ γεγονότος. ἐπεὶ δ᾿ οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων διὰ τὴν αὐτῶν ἄνοιαν ὑπὸ τῶν τοιούτων ἁλίσκονται λόγων μᾶλλον ἢ τῶν μετά τινος σπουδῆς γεγραμμένων, καὶ χαίρουσι μὲν ταῖς λοιδορίαις, ἄχθονται δὲ τοῖς ἐπαίνοις, ἀναγκαῖον ἡγησάμην εἶναι μηδὲ τοῦτον ἀνεξέταστον καταλιπεῖν, κατηγορίαν ἡμῶν ἄντικρυς ὡς ἐν δίκῃ γεγραφότα. καὶ γὰρ αὖ κἀκεῖνο τοῖς πολλοῖς ἀνθρώποις ὁρῶ παρακολουθοῦν, τὸ λίαν ἐφήδεσθαι ὅταν τις ἀρξάμενος βλασφημεῖν ἕτερον αὐτὸς ἐλέγχηται περὶ τῶν αὐτῷ προσόντων κακῶν. ἔστι μὲν οὖν οὐ ῥᾴδιον αὐτοῦ διελθεῖν τὸν λόγον οὐδὲ σαφῶς γνῶναι τί λέγειν βούλεται, σχεδὸν δ᾿, ὡς ἐν πολλῇ ταραχῇ καὶ ψευσμάτων συγχύσει, τὰ μὲν εἰς τὴν ὁμοίαν ἰδέαν πίπτει τοῖς προεξητασμένοις περὶ τῆς ἐξ Αἰγύπτου τῶν ἡμετέρων προγόνων μεταναστάσεως, τὰ δ᾿ ἐστὶ κατηγορία τῶν ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ κατοικούντων Ἰουδαίων. τρίτον δ᾿ ἐπὶ τούτοις μέμικται περὶ τῆς ἁγιστείας τῆς κατὰ τὸ ἱερὸν ἡμῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων νομίμων κατηγορία.

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