Villains Called Sicarii: A Commonplace for Rhetorical Vituperation in the Texts of Flavius Josephus

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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  • 1 Ghent University, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Department of History, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 35, 9000 Gent,
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Examining the presentation of sicarii in Flavius Josephus’s Judean War from a rhetorical perspective, this article argues that each reference to sicarii alludes to the clauses of a Roman law concerning sicarii, which Josephus has used as a commonplace for rhetorical vituperation against particular groups. Three literary-rhetorical tendencies of War are highlighted to show how this vituperation, as well as the connection between War’s sicarii and the so called Fourth Philosophy, is part of a general rhetorical strategy to shift the blame for the outbreak of the violent conflict to one particular rebel group.

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