views updated May 29 2018


PHILO (The Elder ), author of a Greek epic entitled On Jerusalem. He is sometimes identified with the Philo the Elder mentioned by Josephus (Contra Apionem 1:218) and Clemens of Alexandria (Stromata, 1:141, 3). If so, his presumed date can be conjectured from the fact that these list him after *Demetrius (fl. 221–204 b.c.e.) and before *Eupolemus (fl. 161–157). It is, however, by no means certain that the two are identical, since Philo was a common name. Of Philo's lengthy epic of 14 (or four) books, only three fragments consisting of a total of only 24 lines survive. About half of the lines are unintelligible, either because of faulty transmission of the text or because of the author's own obscurity. The view that the obscurity was intentional must be rejected.

Mras explains the first fragment as dealing with Abraham's circumcision and the binding of Isaac. Because the patriarch was the first to perform circumcision according to statute, God made a covenant with him. Gutmann rejects this interpretation, as based on a too heavily emended text. But Gutmann's own interpretation of the first four lines as a statement of the Torah's antedating the creation of the world has been questioned. The remaining six lines of Fragment i, however, appear clearly to deal with the binding of Isaac, the appearance of the angel, and the slaughtering of the ram, though the details are not quite clear. Fragment ii depicts the remarkable fountains that watered Jerusalem. Similar accounts, contrasting the dry parched surroundings of the city with the wealth of water in the city itself are found in the Letter of *Aristeas (88–91) and in a fragment from Timochares, the author of a Life of Antiochus (iv?). Philo's poem can also be compared with that of Theodotus, a Samaritan epicist, describing the marvelous streams that watered the valleys of the holy city of Shechem. Philo's poem, however, does not restrict itself to Jerusalem, but ranges widely through biblical lore. Fragment iii records Joseph's rule in Egypt. If the author of the poem On Jerusalem is identical with the historian mentioned by Clemens, it is reasonable to assume that Philo dealt with chronology in a manner similar to Eupolemus, and that perhaps again, like Eupolemus, wrote in Jerusalem.


K. Mras (ed.), Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica (1954), 9:20; 24; 37; J. Gutmann, Ha-Safrut ha-Yehudit ha-Hellenistit, 1 (1958), 221–44.

[Ben Zion Wacholder]


views updated Jun 08 2018

Philo (c.20 BCE–50 CE). Hellenistic Jewish philosopher. His writings were preserved by the Christian Church in their original Gk. Mainly dealing with the Pentateuch, they include De Opificio Mundi (On the Creation), De Vita Mosis (On the Life of Moses), Legum Allegoriae (Allegorical Interpretation), De Somniis (On Dreams), Quaestiones et Solutiones in Genesin (Questions and Answers on Genesis). In addition, he produced various philosophical treatises on such subjects as providence and the eternity of the world. He also wrote works (of great historical importance for understanding the situation of the Jews in Alexandria) against the oppression of Jews by Flaccus, and concerning the cruelty of the Roman emperor Gaius.


views updated May 23 2018

Philo or Philon (fl. C4 bc). Athenian architect. He designed the dodecastyle portico of the great Hall of the Mysteries (Telesterion) at Eleusis (330–310 bc) and the huge Arsenal of the Piraeus, near Athens (c.346–328 bc), intended as a store for the sails, ropes, etc., of the Athenian navy. He was the author of books on proportion and prepared a description of the Arsenal. Another Philo of Byzantium wrote on mechanics and architecture c. C2 bc.


Coulton (1977);
Dinsmoor (1950);
Lawrence (1983)