Mnaseas of Patara°

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MNASEAS OF PATARA ° (in Lycia; probably second century b.c.e.), a disciple of *Eratosthenes. He wrote a Periegesis, a geographical work covering Europe, Asia, and Libya. According to Josephus (Apion, 2:112–4), Apion attributes to Mnaseas a story of how an Idumean named Zabidus duped the Jews into believing that he intended to deliver his god Apollo and thus gained entrance into the Temple, from which he stole the golden head of the ass allegedly worshiped by the Jews (cf. *Damocritus) – the first occurrence in literature of the canard that the Jews worshiped an ass. Since Mnaseas' words are known only at third hand, little weight attaches to the story, but it does illustrate the credulity (cf. *Hecataeus, *Horace, etc.) widely ascribed to the Jews in antiquity.