Flaccus, Valerius°

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FLACCUS, VALERIUS °, Latin writer of the Flavian period, author of the Argonautica, describing the voyage of Jason and his companions. Only in the proem to the Argonautica does he touch upon matters pertaining to the Jews. It consists of a laudatory address to the emperor Vespasian, in which he refers to Titus' claim to military glory, the conquest of Jerusalem. The conquest of Judea (which he calls Idumea) and the burning of the Temple he describes in the words, "Thy son (i.e., Domitian) shall tell of the overthrow of Idumea – for well he can – of his brotherhood with the dust of Solyma, as he hurls the brands and spreads havoc in every tower." It is noteworthy that unlike *Josephus, who states that the Temple was destroyed against the wishes of Titus, Valerius Flaccus extols its destruction (although he refers generally to Jerusalem and not specifically to the Temple); this suggests that Josephus' description is an attempt to minimize the initiative taken by Titus in the destruction of the Temple. There is no reason to assume that the proem was composed immediately after the destruction or even during the reign of Vespasian; the conquest of Jerusalem was well remembered for many years. Scholars differ as to the date of the proem, some placing it in the reign of Titus, and others in that of Domitian.


J. Bernays, Ueber die Chronik des Sulpicius Severus (1861), 48ff.; Syme, in: Classical Quarterly, 23 (1929), 135–7; V. Ussani, Studio su Valerio Flacco (1955); Smallwood, in: Mnemosyne, 4th series, 15 (1962), 170–2; Pauly-Wissowa, 2nd series, 15 (1955), 10, no. 170.

[Menahem Stern]