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Jews in Rome

The Jews in Rome to the End of the First Century

Friday 22nd October 2004

Peter Eyland


Roman awareness of the Jews seems to have started with the Maccabees. [1]  This essay will examine: (a) how increasing numbers of Jews and adherents at Rome brought political reactions; (b) ow Jews were continually characterized (by for example Cicero) as having significant influence in Roman life; (c) how Caesar came to view the Jews favourably; and (d) how the prosperity of the Jews in Rome depended on subsequent emperor's attitudes.  The synagogues in Rome are commented on, and Jewish population estimated.  The question of Tiberius’ expulsion of Jews is examined.  The tension under Gaius, and Claudius’ subsequent reconciliation with the Jews is considered.  The problem of Claudius’ expulsion of Jews is assessed.  The anti-Jewish writings of Seneca, Juvenal, Persius and Petronius are sampled.  Finally, the effect in Rome of the first Jewish revolt is noted.

Valerius Maximus

The first mention of Jews living in Rome was dated by Valerius Maximus to 139 BCE (Memorable Deeds and Words 1.3.3). [2]   He apparently described Jews then, as attempting “to infect Roman customs” or “transmit their sacred rites”. Now an infection is not something innate but something that invades.  Thus the praetor seemed to have caught a fear that the numbers of new converts or adherents to Judaism were subverting Rome’s religious base.  The political reaction was expulsion.

It is unlikely that the expulsion removed all Jews from Rome and its effect would not have lasted a long time.  The idea that they should “return to their homes” seems to imply that only “native” Jews who were recent migrants were expelled.  Presumably the authorities would have wanted new adherents to disavow Judaism and return to being good Romans.  It also indicates that by 139 BCE the Jews in Rome were conspicuous. 

Valerius Maximus described Jews in 139 BCE as being involved in the cult of Jupiter Sabazius. [3]   Varro (116-27 BCE) [4] in a later time, considered that “the God of the Jews was Jupiter”.  Plutarch (45 – 125 CE) merged the Sabbath with a festival of Sabazius. [5]  These were either part of a trend to identify foreign deities with local Roman ones, or indicated that information about the Jews was confused for centuries.



Cicero’s defense of Flaccus in 59 BCE is probably the “earliest secure information” about Jews actually living in Rome (Barclay, 1996:286).  Cicero intimated it was well known that the Jews banded together to influence things when it concerned them (Pro Flaccum, 28.66-69). However his deprecating tone was more that of a lawyer professionally influencing a jury than a demagogue inciting racial hatred, so it betrays no real animosity.  In Barclay’s words, he was “scornful but not venomous” (1996:288).  Yet it did characterise Jews with the ability to influence matters, and that became a continuing attribute.

Pompey’s annexation of Judaea in 63 BCE brought a large influx of captive Jews into Rome.  Josephus recorded that Aristobulus and his children were taken as captives to Rome (Antiquities, 14.79).  Presumably others were taken with them,  as Josephus referred to other captives (Antiquities 14.85 and 14.120).  Now Cicero implied that there were a significant number of free or citizen Jews around in 59 BCE.  Perhaps in four years many slave-captives were set free, but more likely previously captured and also free Jews had already settled in Rome before the annexation of Judaea. 

Julius Caesar

Around 49 BCE, the Judaean Jewish leaders chose to support Julius Caesar against Pompey.  After being victorious, Julius Caesar gave the Jews general recognition as friends and allies (Josephus, Antiquities, 14.190 – 212).  In Rome, they were also enabled by law, to “live according to their own customs, or to bring in contributions for common suppers and holy festivals” (Josephus, Antiquities, 14.214).  Since Suetonius (Iulius 42.3) has Julius Caesar at one time banning all collegia “except those of ancient foundation”, [6] it is doubtful that the privilege was only restricted to Jews.


Augustus seems to have taken the same attitude to the Jews in Rome as Caesar.  Philo, in a retrospect of Augustus’ rule, noted that Roman Jews had not been “compelled to alter any of their hereditary or national observances” (Philo, Legatio ad Gaius, 155).  Augustus was also credited with a significant concession to Jewish Romans [7] on the question of the dole on Sabbaths (Philo, Legatio ad Gaius, 158). 

The Jews were mostly settled across the Tiber in Trastevere (Philo, Legatio ad Gaius, 155).  This was probably the result of a long-term trend typical of many immigrants.  A Jewish burial place has been found near Trastevere in Monteverde Nuovo. [8]   Barclay (1996:290) dates it from the first century BCE.  However it would be difficult to accurately date such a long-term establishment, especially since Rutgers (1992:104) maintains that Jewish funerary art was “religiously neutral”. [9]

Philo also has multiple “houses of prayer” there and Leon from sepulchral inscriptions [10] reported “eleven different synagogues or congregations” in Rome (Leon, 1960:136) [11] .  The synagogue of the Αὐγουστησίων (Augusteans), which is found in six inscriptions [12] shows that Jews in Rome were pleased to honour Augustus.  Inscriptions from the third century CE show that the synagogue in his honour was still functioning then (Barclay, 1996:306, n.59).

Williams (in Goodman 1998:225) draws attention to the title ἀρχιγερουσιάρχης (archigerousiarchs), which was found, on a Roman epitaph (SEG 26 no. 1178 = Noy II no.521). [13]  Williams suggested that it referred to the president of a supra-synagogal body at Rome.  However unlike Alexandria, Rome did not seem to have such a body.  As Leon has quoted Father Frey: “Le judaïsme n’eut jamais de pape” (Leon, 1960:170).  The title was probably equivalent to ἀρχισυνάγωγος (archisynagôgos), as a patron of a particular synagogue (Rajak and Noy, 1993:89) or perhaps patron of some regional council. 

Other titles found at Rome included πατὴρ συναγωγίων (patêr synagôgiôs - synagogue father) and μήτηρ συναγωγῆς (mêtêr synagôgês - synagogue mother).  They may refer to charitable acts towards their fellow members or buildings (Leon, 1960:186 - 8).  Together, these cultural identifiers show impressive “communal cohesion” (Barclay, 1996:290) that is not confined to the poorest classes.

The Jews seemed to have prospered under Augustus.  Horace (Sermones, 1.4:140-3) commented that their numbers could force an issue in their favour. [14]    It was probably an exaggeration, but indicated that they were a significant, though non-threatening group, in Roman society.  When Archelaus went to Rome  to have his succession validated (4 BCE), Josephus reported that 8,000 Jews, already living there, joined with the Jewish embassy from Judaea to protest Archelaus’ appointment (Josephus, War, 2.80, Antiquities, 17.300).  The number 8,000 was probably just indicative of a large crowd, but a population of about 40,000 Jews (i.e. ~4% of the total population) seems a reasonable guess. [15]

Herod’s friendship with Augustus resulted in several of Herod’s children being raised in Rome (Josephus, Antiquities, 15.342-3, 16.86-7, 17.20-1 and 52-3) and they did not seem to lose their Jewish identity.  Jews were well known for their food laws (not eating pork) and their Sabbath keeping.  With regard to pork, Augustus was said to have joked that it would be safer to be Herod’s pig than his son because you would live longer (Macrobius, Saturnalia, 2.4.11 "Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium" but note that in Greek pig = ὑός and son = υἱός). [16]   Horace (Sermones, 1.9:60-78) also made a joke about the Sabbath and Jewish intimidation. [17]   Ovid makes remarks about the Sabbath and how it caused a general reduction in business activity, e.g. Ars Amatoria 1.75-76 and 1.413-5. [18]


In 19 CE under Tiberius, there was a disruption in Roman Jewish society, when the Senate expelled various people from Rome and conscripted 4,000 young men to serve in Sardinia as peacekeeping  Tacitus (Annals, 2.85.4) [19] indicated that it was due to “infection” with the superstitions of Egyptian and Jewish worship.  The word infection suggests that the people referred to were proselytes or “God-fearers” (with Williams, 1989:770) within the two religions mentioned [20] .  The 4,000 young men were a sub-set of “the rest” of them, as “the rest” had a choice but the 4,000 did not.  The numbers are consistent with an estimate of 40,000 for the Jewish population.

Josephus (Antiquities, 18.81-84) ignored the proselyte question and blamed the expulsion of all Jews in Rome on the criminal actions of four men, with probably only one of them being a Jew [21] .  This placed Roman Jewish society as far from the problem as imaginable!  Barclay (1996:299) suggested that Josephus wrote this “in novelistic vein”.  It was probably a fiction designed to portray the Jews as victims of injustice rather than a threat to Roman society.

Suetonius (Life of Tiberius, 36) [22] referred to expelling foreign religions in general, though he does single out the Egyptians and Jews.  He did not address any particular fear about proselytizing.  He also gave the detail that it was only Jews who were sent to Sardinia.  Dio Cassius (Roman History 57.18.5a) [23] refers to the extent of Jewish migration into Rome and mentions that the expulsion problem was explicitly related to the attraction of “native” Romans towards Judaism.

From the above it seems that the Senate’s action was, as before, the result of a large number of Roman city people being attracted to Judaism, and not the result of Jewish rioting (i.e. contra Williams, 1989:784).  The Jews who were Roman citizens could not strictly be expelled without the due process of law, but this problem could partly be bypassed by conscription of suitable men into the army (Barclay, 1996:299).  Thus, by expulsion of non-citizens; constraints on remaining citizens, and conscription of military-age men, the Senate set out to reduce the numbers and influence of Jews in Rome. 

According to Philo (Legatio ad Gaius, 159-61), [24] around 29 CE, there was another crisis when Sejanus set out to attack the Jews.  There was probably some basis in fact for this incident, but its nature and extent are uncertain (Barclay, 1996:301, n.49)


By Gaius’ time (37 – 41 CE), four generations after the annexation of Judaea (Barclay, 1996:289) it suited Philo’s argument (Legatio ad Gaius, 155) [25] to say that the majority of Roman Jews were former captives who had obtained their citizenship.   However the argument from Cicero’s words above tends to vitiate Philo’s view on Jewish migration. 

Philo came to Rome as a Jewish lobbyist when it became apparent that Gaius’ antipathy to Jewish aniconic worship was becoming dangerous.  However Philo’s activities do not seem to have persuaded Gaius.   Both Philo (Legatio ad Gaius, 261-338) and Josephus (Antiquities, 18.289-309) record that it was Agrippa’s friendship with Gaius (and Gaius’ sudden death) that averted serious problems for Jews in Rome and elsewhere. 


Claudius also had a friendship with Agrippa, as indicated by Agrippa’s involvement in negotiations between Claudius and the Senate (Josephus, Antiquities, 19.236-47, The Jewish War, 2.206-10).   Consequently, Claudius in AD 41 proclaimed a law granting worship rights to Jews throughout the Empire.  The edict allowed Jews to their own laws and they were enjoined not to ridicule beliefs about the gods (Josephus, Antiquities, 19.286-91) [26] .

Suetonius (Life of Claudius 25.4) [27] apparently in violation of his edict, has Claudius expelling the Jews from Rome who were making disturbances “at the instigation of Chrestus”.  Some have seen a reference to Christians here.  The name “Chrestus” may have signified a “good” or “handy” slave, and Suetonius may have changed it deliberately from “Christus” for polemic effect.  On the other hand, “Christus” may also have produced some unfortunate reference for Latin speakers and the Christians themselves may have changed it deliberately to “Chrestus”.  As a consequence of such speculations, the intention behind the name that was written must remain uncertain.

The language indicates that Chrestus was alive at the time, though it may have been the result of confusing talk about the resurrection of Christ.  Chrestus was not an unknown name [28] , but pronunciations would have varied creating uncertainty about the central vowel.  However the major point is that Suetonius knew independently about the Christians (Life of Nero 16.2). [29]   When he wrote of Claudius’ time that it was specifically Jews who were making disturbances as the result of some agitator called Chrestus, then he probably does not mean Christians. 

Suetonius gave no explicit time reference for Claudius’ action, but it is likely to be soon after he was acclaimed i.e. 41 CE.  Also, Suetonius’ language (with no definite article available) does not make it clear whether all Jews were expelled, or only the Jews who were specifically involved.  Chrestus may have been someone who violated Claudius’ edict by ridiculing the Roman gods, hence he and a handful of his followers could then have been expelled under the terms of Claudius’ edict.

At this point Dio Cassius’ becomes relevant.  Dio Cassius, (Roman History 60:6) [30] writing about the same period gave specific reasons for denying that any mass expulsion of Jews took place.  He seems to be correcting a misapprehension about the expulsion.  He wrote that the numbers of Jews were so large that to expel them all would have caused massive social disturbances (and probably considerable and awkward disruption to trade).  Dio thus wrote that Claudius simply ordered the Jews among others “not to hold meetings”.   This may have resulted in a number of Jews leaving Rome for other parts of Italy, but being a temporary reaction to Gaius’ rule, the ban would not have lasted indefinitely.  Dio also mentioned that some who disobeyed were punished.  The expulsion of a specific handful of Jews as a punishment, may not then have constituted a general expulsion for Dio. 

Orosius, (Historiarum adversus paganos, 7:6:15ff), citing Josephus, dated this expulsion of Jews to the ninth year of Claudius’ reign (49 CE). [31]   However this date does not come from any of Josephus’ extant works.  It may have been a miscalculation on the basis of Luke (Acts 18:2) which has Priscilla and Aquilla “recently come from Italy … because Claudius ordered all Jews to leave Rome”.  

Priscilla and Aquilla may have left, or been forced to leave, Rome in 41 CE as a result of Claudius’ order which both banned meetings and prohibited ridicule of the gods.  They may have taken it tendentiously as “an expulsion of Jews” (for example to Luke) and gone to a less restrictive part of Italy.  When Luke wrote that they had “recently come from Italy” this may imply some period of time in Italy outside of Rome.  That groups were forced to leave Rome for other parts of Italy is indicated by the Scholium on Juvenal, Satires 4.11.  In this an undated record, some Jews who had been expelled from Rome are found at Mt. Alban, 25 km SE of Rome. [32]

Thus Claudius defended Jewish rights, but in the post-Gaius settling period, he took action that affected Jews for a period of time.  This may have resulted in some Jews leaving Rome, for whom it was personally an expulsion.  By the time of Seneca, Jews were again present in large numbers in Rome and seen as having undue influence. [33]   One later episode of influence occurred when Poppea, the wife of Nero, helped some Jewish emissaries in their appeal to Nero.  Josephus reasoned that it was because “she was a God-fearer” (Antiquities, 20.195), however J. Lieu disagrees and argued that Poppea was neither a convert nor a God-fearer (Lieu, J., 1998:16).

Anti-Jewish Writers

A round of anti-Jewish sentiment arose with the writings of Seneca [34] , Juvenal (Satire, 3. 14, 6. 153-160, 6.542, 14.96-106) [35] , Persius (Saturae 5, 176-184) [36] and Petronius (Satyricon 37) [37] .  It seems that an affair between Titus and Berenice did not lead to marriage because of prejudice against the Jewish princess (Tacitus, The Histories, 2.2.1,  Dio Cassius, Roman History, 66.15.3-4, 66.18.1).

After the Revolt

Rome’s Jewish population increased dramatically with the influx of Jewish prisoners of war after the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, but Roman Jews seem not to have been significantly affected.  Smallwood (1956:2) contends that Vespasian could have tried to destroy Jewish identity, in Rome and elsewhere, by rescinding their privileges.  However he chose instead to turn privilege into financial disadvantage, with the tax on all Jews. [38]   It was effectively war reparations.  Roman Jews do not seem to have been unduely oppressed socially.  It may have been that the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple removed a fear about Roman Jewish loyalties (Barclay, 1996:310).  

Domitian, at the end of the first century, expanded the categories of those who were liable to the tax. The two classes of tax evaders were improfessi i.e. those who did not admit their Judaism, and dissimulata origine i.e. probably lapsed Jews who concealed their circumcision (Smallwood, 1956:3).  Smallwood (1956:4) sees this supported by Martial, (Epigrams, 7.55.7-8).  Domitian was particular hard on tax evaders, as depicted by Suetonius (Domitian 12.2) [39] .  He also exiled or executed some of his family members for “atheism”, and “many others who had drifted into Jewish ways” (Dio Cassius, Roman History, 67.14.1-3). [40]


Concluding remarks

Increasing numbers of Jews and adherents at Rome brought periodic political suppression, but this did not affect the overall upward trend.  Jews in Rome were continually characterized as having significant influence.  The fortunes of the Jews in Rome depended heavily on the emperor’s attitudes toward them.  Roman writers, (e.g. Seneca, Juvenal, Persius and Petronius) wrote critically and satirically of the Jews, but this does not seem to have affected the whole population.  Jews within Rome seemed to be relatively unharmed in the aftermath of the tragedies that occurred to other Jews in Egypt and Judaea.



Primary sources

Augustine, The City of God, trans. Dods, M., 1952, Great Books of the Western World, Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc

Cassius Dio, Roman History, trans. Cary, E., 1914 - 1927, Loeb, Harvard

Feldman, L.H. and Reinhold, M., 1996, Jewish Life and Thought among Greeks and Romans, Edinburgh

Horace, The Works of Horace, trans. Smart C., 1863, New York.

Juvenal, Satires, trans. Green, P., 1967, Penguin

Macrobius, Saturnalia, trans. Davies, P.V., 1969, Budé, Columbia

Orosius, The Seven Books of  History against the Pagans, trans. 

Deferrari, R.J., 1964Washington DC

Ovid, The Art of Love, trans. Mahoney, A., 1855, New York

Petronius, The Satyricon, trans. Walsh, P. G. 1999, Oxford

Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, trans. Graves, R., 1979, Penguin.

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, trans. Church, A.J. and Brodribb, W.J., 1952, Great Books of the Western World, Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc

Williams, M., 1998, The Jews amomg the Greeks and Romans A Diasporan Sourcebook, John Hopkins


Secondary Sources

Barclay, J.M.G., 1996, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora from Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE – 117 CE), Edinburgh

Feldman, L.H., 1996, Studies in Hellenistic Judaism, Brill

Goodman, M., ed., 1998, Jews in a Graeco-Roman World, Clarendon

Lane, E.N., (1979), “Sabazius and the Jews in Valerius Maximus: A Re-Examination”, Journal of Roman Studies, 69, 35-38

Leon, H.J., 1960, The Jews of Ancient Rome, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia

Lieu, J., (1998), “The ‘Attraction of Women’ in/to Early Judaism and Christianity: Gender and the Politics of Conversion”, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 72, 5-22

Rajak, T., and Noy, D., (1993), “Archisynagogoi: Office, Title and Social Status in the Greco-Jewish Synagogue”, Journal of Roman Studies, 83, 75-93

Rutgers, L.V., (1992), “Archaeological Evidence for the Interaction of Jews and Non-Jews in Late Antiquity”, American Journal of Archaelogy, 96, 101-118

Slingerland, H.D., 1997, Claudian Policymaking and the Early Imperial Repression of Judaism at Rome. South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism,   Atlanta

Smallwood, E.M., (1956), “Domitian’s Attitude towards the Jews and Judaism”, Classical Philology, 51, 1-13

Williams, M., in Goodman, M., ed., 1998, Jews in a Graeco-Roman World, Clarendon

Williams, M.H., (1989), “The Expulsion of the Jews from Rome in A.D.19”, Revue d’Études Latines, 48, 765-784



Figure: Map of Rome, including specific locations of Jewish hypogea and catacombs

jews in Rome
From Rutgers, (1992:102)

[1] Eupolemus and Jason apparently went to Rome to establish an alliance with the Roman Senate (1 Maccabees 8:17-32, 2 Maccabees 4:11)

[2] Valerius Maximus wrote in Tiberian times. Texts are cited from Feldman and Reinhold, (1996:313-4).

Julius Paris: “Hispalus (sic) … compelled the Jews, who attempted to infect the Roman customs with the cult of Jupiter Sabazius, to return to their homes”.  Januarius Nepotanius: “Hispalus (sic) banished the Jews from Rome, because they attempted to transmit their sacred rites to the Romans, and he cast down their private altars from public places”.  Lane (1979:37) has proposed that the autograph had three expulsions: the “Chaldeans”, the Sabazius-worshippers and the Jews. Paris then mentioned 1 and 2 and Nepotanius 1 and 3.  A scribe subsequently made the Jews into Sabazius-worshippers by incorrectly melding the information from Nepotanius into Paris.

[3] Sabazius was a Phrygian god. Various proposals are: that the Jews were syncretistic (e.g. Hengel); there was confusion with a name like Yahveh, Sabaoth; the people mentioned were confused with Jews; or there was textual confusion.  The charge of having set up private altars in public places, would support the third proposal (non-Jews), however the last proposal of textual confusion seems most likely.

[4] According to Augustine ( 354 – 430) in his tendentious account of Varro. Harmony of the Gospels, 22.30: “But their own Varro, than whom they can point to no man of greater learning among them, thought that the God of the Jews was Jupiter, and he judged that it mattered not what name was employed, provided the same subject was understood under it; in which, I believe, we see how he was subdued by His supremacy”.

[5] Plutarch (Symposium, 4.6). He also thought that the Jews worshipped Dionysus

[6] Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum, Divus Iulius, 42.3 “Cuncta collegia praeter antiquitus constituta distraxit”.

[7] Jewish Romans rather than Roman Jews, since the emphasis is on their Roman citizenship.

[8] See the map at end. The other catacombs are widely distributed and probably from a later time.

[9] It seems that at a later time “one workshop could satisfy the iconographic needs of both Jewish and Christian communities” (Rutgers, 1992:105).  This is similar to the situation at Dura-Europos.

[10] Leon, (1960:257) noted that of the 560 inscriptions, they were predominantly in Greek with some Latin. Hebrew was virtually unknown.

[11] Leon (1960:140-166) gives the names as: Ἀγριππησίων, Αὐγουστησίων, Καλκαρησίων, Καμπησίων, Ἐλαίας, Ἐβρέων, Σεκηνῶν, Σιβουρησίων, Τριπολειτῶν, Βεράκλων, Βολουμνησίων .

[12] Cited in Leon (1960:306, 308, 314, 319, 328, 337)

[13] Williams, Sourcebook (1998:49) ”Here lies Anastasios, archgerousiarch, son of Anastasios, aged …". Williams Sourcebook (1998:50) does not accept that the title archon alti ordinis refers to a Jew.

[14] Horace (Sermones, 1.4:140-3) “When I have any leisure, I amuse myself with my papers … if you do not grant your indulgence, a numerous band of poets shall come, which will take my part, and like the Jews, we will force you to come over to our numerous party.”

[15] Barclay, (1996:295, n.32) cited three estimates from 20,000 to 60,000.

[16] Also cited in Barclay, (1996:294, n.30)

[17] Horace (Sermones, 1.9:60-78) “I began … to take hold of [Fuscus] … that he might rescue me ... [Fuscus said] to-day is the thirtieth sabbath. Would you affront the circumcised Jews?’ I reply, ‘I have no scruple.’ ‘But I have: I am something weaker, one of the multitude. You must forgive me: I will speak with you on another occasion.’"  The “thirtieth sabbath” was probably a reference to a new moon sabbath as in Feldman, (1996:375).

[18] Ovid, (Ars Amatoria 1.75-76) “Nor let Adonis, bewailed of Venus, escape you, nor the seventh day that the Syrian Jew hold sacred.” 

Ovid, (Ars Amatoria 1.413-5) “You may begin [to make love] on the day on which woeful Allia flows stained with the blood of Latin wounds, or on that day, less fit for business, whereon returns the seventh day feast that the Syrian of Palestine observes.” Cited from Feldman and Reinhold, (1996:369)

[19] Tacitus, (Annals, 2.85.4) “There was a debate too about expelling the Egyptian and Jewish worship, and a resolution of the senate was passed that four thousand of the freedmen class who were infected with those superstitions and were of military age should be transported to the island of Sardinia to quell the brigandage of the place, a cheap sacrifice should they die from the pestilent climate. The rest were to quit Italy unless before a certain day they repudiated their superstitious rites”.

[20] Proselytes were formally associated with Jews without being fully Jews. See Williams, (Sourcebook, 1998:165-8) for inscriptions. Also see Lieu, J., (1994), ‘Do God-Fearers Make Good Christians?’, in Porter, S., Joyce, P., and Orton, D.E., eds., Crossing the Boundaries: Essays in Biblical Interpretation in Honour of Michael D. Goulder, Brill, pp. 329-45.

[21] Josephus, (Antiquities, 18.81-84) “a Jew … procured three other men … These men persuaded Fulvia … to send purple and gold to the Temple at Jerusalem … and spent the money … Tiberius, who had been informed by … the husband of Fulvia … ordered all the Jews to be banished out of Rome … the consuls listed 4,000 men out of them and sent them to the island of Sardinia; but punished a greater number of them, who were unwilling to become soldiers on account of keeping the laws of their forefathers.  Thus were these Jews banished … by the wickedness of four men.”

[22] Suetonius, (Tiberius, 36) “[Tiberius] abolished foreign cults, especially the Egyptian and Jewish rites, compelling all who were addicted to such superstitions to burn their religious vestments and all their paraphernalia. Those of the Jews who were of military age he assigned to provinces of less healthy climate, ostensibly to serve in the army; the others of the same race or of similar beliefs he banished from the city, on pain of slavery for life if they did not obey.”

[23] Dio Cassius (Roman History 57.18.5a) “As the Jews flocked to Rome in great numbers and were converting many of the natives to their ways, [Tiberius] banished most of them”. Cited from Feldman and Reinhold, 1996:317.

[24] Philo (Legatio ad Gaius, 159-61) “all people … took great care not to violate … Jewish customs ... And in the reign of Tiberius things went on in the same manner, although … Sejanus was preparing to make his attempt against our nation … the accusations … against the Jews who were dwelling in Rome were false calumnies, inventions of Sejanus, who was desirous to destroy our nation”.

[25] Philo, (Legatio ad Gaius, 155) “How then did he look upon the great division of Rome which is on the other side of the river Tiber, which he was well aware was occupied and inhabited by the Jews? And they were mostly Roman citizens, having been emancipated”

[26] Josephus (Antiquities, 19.286-91) “Claudius: … Kings Agrippa and Herod, my dearest friends, having petitioned me to permit the same privileges … for the Jews throughout the empire … I very gladly consented … Jews … should observe the customs of their fathers without let or hindrance. I enjoin upon them also … not to set at nought the beliefs about the gods held by other peoples.”

[27] Suetonius (Life of Claudius 25.4) “Iudæos, impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit.” Cited from Graves, (1979:202): “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome”

[28] Lewis and Short ( indicates the name as one of a slave or freedman of Cicero, Cicero FamSee also Slingerland  (1997:169-217).

[29] Suetonius (Life of Nero, 16.2) “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a  class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.” Cited from Graves, (1979:221)

[30] Dio Cassius, (History 60:6) “As for the Jews, who had again increased so greatly that by reason of their multitude it would have been hard without raising a tumult to bar them from the city, he did not drive them out, but ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings. He also disbanded the clubs, which had been reintroduced by Gaius. Moreover, seeing that there was no use in forbidding the populace to do certain things unless their daily life should be reformed, he abolished the taverns where they were wont to gather and drink, and commanded that no boiled meat or hot water should be sold; and he punished some who disobeyed in this matter.”

[31] That is 25th Jan. 49 - 24th Jan. 50 CE.

[32] Scholium on Juvenal, (Satires 4.11) “A man well fitted to beg at the Arician Gate or Slope, among the Jews who had gone to Aricia after they had been expelled from the city.”  Cited from Williams, (Sourcebook, 1998:99).

[33] Seneca, De Superstitione, apud Augustine, City of God 6.11 “the customs of that most accursed nation have gained such strength that they have been now received in all lands, the conquered have given laws to the conqueror”

[34] For example, Seneca denounced Sabbath observance in Rome as laziness (De Superstitiones, cited by Augustine, The City of God 6, 11) and decried Sabbath lamps (Epistles, 95.47). Seneca, (De Superstitiones), cited by Augustine, The City of God 6.11 “Seneca … found fault with … the sabbaths, affirming … they lose through idleness about the seventh part of their life, and also many things which demand immediate attention are damaged.” Seneca (Epistles, 95.47) “Let us forbid the lighting of lamps on the Sabbath; for neither do gods need the light nor men like the smoke.”

[35] Juvenal (Satire, 14.96-106) “Some … who [revere] the Sabbath, worship nothing but the clouds, and the divinity of the heavens, and see no difference between eating swine's flesh … and that of man. In time they take to circumcision … the father was to blame, who gave up every seventh day to idleness, keeping it apart from all concerns of life.”

[36]  Persius adduces the Sabbath as a first proof that superstition enslaves man, satirises the lighting of Sabbath lamps, and interestingly calls the sabbath the dies Herodis

[37] Petronius (Satyricon 37) “The Jew can worship his porcine divinity and clamour in the ears of high heaven, but unless he also cuts back his foreskin with the knife, and closely binds his knotty head, cut off from the people, he must go live in Greek cities  and not be bound to tremble at the Sabbath fast.”

[38] For sample receipts from Egypt and also under Vespasian, Titus, Domitian and Trajan, see Williams, Sourcebook, (1998:100-105)

[39] Suetonius, (Domitian 12.2) The tax “on the Jews was leveled with the utmost vigour, and those were prosecuted, who without publicly acknowledging their faith yet lived as Jews, as well as those who concealed their origin, and did not pay the tribute levied upon their people. I recall … when … a man ninety years old was examined before the procurator and a very crowded court, to see whether he was circumcised.”

[40] Cited in Williams, Sourcebook, (1998:174).  Atheism and “Jewish ways” may mean Christianity.

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