29 April, 2008

Armchair history

London pelting but at least bright late. Library at last less choked with facebook-addled undergraduates. I remind myself of Lavengro, one of those Victorian paid-per-word novels that pays no attention to dramatic interest, thank God. George Borrow sojourning in London, 1825 or so. An evening at the house of an Armenian. Rabbi enters, a Sephardi, settles some business; Armenian asks him to stay for a drink. Rabbi says
"He—he—he! señor, you know I do not love wine. I love Noah when he is himself; but, as Janus, I love him not. But you are merry; bueno, you have a right to be so."

"Excuse me," said I; "but does Noah ever appear as Janus?"

"He—he—he!" said the Rabbi, "he only appeared as Janus once—una vez quando estuvo borracho; which means——"

"I understand," said I, "when he was—" and I drew the side of my right hand sharply across my left wrist.

"Are you one of our people?" said the Rabbi.

"No," said I, "I am one of the Goyim; but I am only half enlightened. Why should Noah be Janus, when he was in that state?"

"He—he—he! you must know that in Lasan akhades [Ladino, 'Hebrew language', from Hebrew leshon ha-kodesh (לשון הקודש), literally 'holy language'; compare Yiddish loshn-koydesh] wine is janin."

"In Armenian, kini," said I; "in Welsh, gwin; Latin, vinum. But do you think that Janus and Janin are one?"

"Do I think? Don't the commentators say so? Does not Master Leo Abarbenel say so, in his Dialogues of Divine Love?"

"But," said I, "I always thought that Janus was a god of the ancient Romans, who stood in a temple open in time of war, and shut in time of peace; he was represented with two faces, which—which—"

"He—he—he!" said the Rabbi, rising from his seat; "he had two faces, had he? And what did those two faces typify? You do not know; no, nor did the Romans who carved him with two faces know why they did so; for they were only half enlightened, like you and the rest of the Goyim. Yet they were right in carving him with two faces looking from each other—they were right, though they knew not why; there was a tradition among them that the Janinoso had two faces, but they knew not that one was for the world which was gone and the other for the world before him—for the drowned world and for the present, as Master Leo Abarbenel says in his Dialogues of Divine Love. He—he—he!"
If you look for Master Leo Abarbenel, you won't find your man. Your man, in fact, being Yehuda ben Yitzhak Abravanel, also known as Judah Leon Abrabanel, Isaacus Abravanel, or even simply as Leone Ebreo—Leon the Hebrew. Damn those polyonymous Jews. Leon's Dialoghi d'Amore was first published in Italian in 1535, although he probably composed it around 1501, its original language still disputed. I flicked through it in the Library today. Lots of pronouncements on Truth and Beauty in good Ficinian style. Obligatory quotations from the Symposium. Allegorical exposition of the pagan gods. And so on. No index; had to wade through every bloody page to find the one I wanted. Began with the first half, then tried a different tack and worked back from the last page. Finally found the page right in the very middle. Book 3:
Many declare that they have it on divine authority, not only from Moses, the divine lawgiver, but originally from Adam, from whom the unwritten oral tradition, called in the Hebrew tongue Cabbala, signifying reception, passed to the sage Enoch, and from Enoch to famous Noah; who, after the Flood, on account of his discovery of wine, was called Jajin, because in Hebrew this signifies wine; and he is depicted with two faces reversed, because he witnessed the age before and after the Flood.
Three years before Leon was putatively writing—ie. in 1498—appeared a most strange book that got the whole of Europe talking for a hundred years. This was Annius of Viterbo's Commentaria super opera diversorum auctorum de antiquitatibus loquentium. It is, incidentally, online here. Now Annius' big idea was to get lots of fragments from ancient historians—Berosus of Chaldaea, Myrsilos of Methymna, Fabius Pictor, and so on—draw them all up, and weave them into a holistic history of the ancient world. Here, for instance, is a nice bit of Myrsilos, in Gothic type, with Annius' commentary in Roman:

The same basic idea had been done before by writers like Josephus and Eusebius; the only problem with Annius was that all of his fragments had been entirely fabricated, and by him. One of Annius' core theses was that Noah and Janus were the same person, and also the same as Vertumnus, Ogyges and others. Annius gets his Janus lore from the first book of Ovid's Fasti, where the god is presented as a founder of agriculture in Rome. In an early comment to Berosus, Annius claims: 'Noa primus pontifex cum filiis et uxoribus sacrificia et holocausta obtulerit; Sive igitur idem sit Ianus et Noa: ut tempus et Epitheta utriusque convincunt'—Noah, the first pontifex, with his sons and wives, offered a sacrifice and a holocaust; but this means that Janus and Noah are the same: as the period and their epithets both convince us. On the spurious passage of Myrsilos shown above, or rather on the word Enotria, he remarks:
Et tempore Ianii non erat vinum in Etruria et Latio: negat hoc Cato dicens Ianum dictum Enotrium: quia primus invenit vinum et far. . . Unde Fabius pictor ait principio Ianum invenisse vinum et far ad religionem et sacrificia magisque usum et ob id sibi farrata et vinum in omni sacrificio prolibari; Addit autem Berosus quod ipse dictus est a Scythis / linguae eorum Ianus: quia primus in Armenia invenit vinum. Aramea enim et Hebrea lingua Iain vinum dicit, a quo Ianus vinifer derivat.

And in the time of Janus there was no wine in Etruria or Latium: Cato denies it, calling Janus 'Enotrius': because he first discovered wine and grain. . . From which Fabius Pictor has said that in the beginning, Janus discovered wine and grain for religion and sacrifices and greater use, and on account of this, wheaten cakes and wine are offered to him in every sacrifice; however, Berosus adds that he is called 'Janus' by the Scythians in their tongue: because he first found wine in Armenia. For wine is called 'Iain' in the Aramaic and Hebrew language, from which derives 'Janus', the wine-bearer.
Elsewhere: 'Ex his probatur irrevincibiliter a tempore demonstrato a Solino et propriis Epithetis Iani / eundem fuisse Ogygem / Ianum et Noam.' From these things is indisputably proved, from the time noted by Solinus, and by the characteristic epithets of Janus, that Ogyges, Janus and Noah were one and the same. Annius does not demonstrate his thesis quite as much as we would like, and this leads me to suspect that he is not the first to make such a connection. An origin, perhaps, in the Jewish commentaries? I do not know them at all. What I can find, however, is that the Rabbis commonly associated Janus with a more obscure character, Zepho. Noah Rosenbloom traces this to the mediaeval history of the Jews, the Josippon, which states "that Esau's grandson, Zepho, fled from Edom to Italy where he was crowned as king Zepho-Janus". In 1505, Abraham Zacuto writes 'Janus was the first king of Italy. He killed a beast named janus and thus got his name. They say he was Zepho, son of Eliphaz, grandson of Esau.' Zepho himself seems to come from a midrashic Book of Jasher, though I cannot ascertain how far this work predates its 1625 editio princeps.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, 'Ibn Yahya [Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah, 1587] says that Noah has been identified by some with Janus, deriving the latter name from the Hebrew "yayin" (wine); Noah, it is said, was so called because he was the first to drink wine.' So the Jews were happily recycling this stuff from Annius and Leon. Meanwhile, Annius's work is abridged into English by Richard Lynche, as An Historical Treatise of the Travels of Noah into Europe (1601):
He [Noah] further taught those people [the Scythians] the use of agriculture and tillage of the ground, and also the finding out of the use of the grape, and the manner to plant vines and other necessaries for their more easie living, wherupon hee was entearmed also Ianus, which in the Scythian tongue, signifies the giver of wine.

The ancients likewise have shaped him forth with two keyes in his hand, to shew thereby that he was the inventor of gates and dores, and also of the locking of them and making them fast, to the end, that the holy temples and sacred places should not bee polluted with the impious abuse of theeves and uncivile persons, and to avoid adulteries and other such like sinnes then raigning: and of his name since have all dores and gates been called Ianuae. In many other sorts and formes have the auncients defigured the image of this Noe Ianus.
Scythian, Hebrew, same difference. (Scythians were pretty exciting to your average scholar of the period. Boxhornius was just about to identify their language as the very first—the so-called 'Scythian hypothesis', ancestor of our Kurgan hypothesis.) Lynche's translation was put out just in time for Sir Walter Ralegh to include, in the first volume of his History of the World (1614), an excoriating riposte to Annius:
And if we may believe Eusebius better than Annius, then all the kings of the Latins (before Æneas) consumed but 150 years; whereas no man hath doubted, but that from Noah to Æneas's arrival into Italy, there passed 1126 (after the least rate of the Hebrew account) and (after Codoman) 1291. For Janus (who was the first of their kings) lived at once with Ruth, who married Booz, in the world's year (as some reckon) 2717, after the flood 1064, and Noah died 350 years after the flood; and so there passed between Janus of Italy, and Noah surnamed Janus, 704 years.
Some were not to be put off their mythophilological flights. One such was Theophilus Gale, whose masterpiece, The Court of the Gentiles, retales, in its first volume, published in 1669, Book 2, chapter 6:
As for the Theogonie of Janus and his Parallel: if we consider him historically, and according to the Mythologie of the Poets, To he [sic] refers to the storie of Noah, or Javan. That which inclines some to make him Parallel with Noah is 1. The cognation of his Name, with the Hebrew יין jain, wine; whereof Noah was the first Inventor, according to Vossius. Again, 2. Janus was pictured with a double forehead; because he saw a double world, that before, and after, the Floud; as Noah. 3. As the beginning, and propagation of mankind, after the Floud, was from Noah; so also they ascribe the beginnings of al things unto Janus: Whence the entrance to an house is called by the Romans, Janua; and the entrance to the year Januaris. Whence some make the name Xisythrus, given by the Assyrians to Noah (as in the storie of the Floud, Book 3, Chap. 6, § 4.) to signifie an entrance or door, from ןין, a post or threshold of a dore, as Vossius. 4. Latium, where Janus's seat was, (whence part of old Rome was called Janicule) was called Oenotria. Now οινωτρια comes from οινος Wine. Thus much for Janus's parallel with Noah.
I was hoping that these references to 'Vossius' denoted one of the chronological treatises of Isaac Vossius. I was hoping for this because I own a 1661 copy of these various works bound together—the very kind gift of a family friend. But I could not find the relevant passage. What I did find was this: 'Quod si omnes istos errasse dixeris, et Noachum et Ogygum eundem fuisse putes, jam absurdior erit error, et necesse erit ut credas Noachum in Graecia regnasse, et regnum illud fuisse antiquius diluvio.' For if you say that all these things are wrong, and you think that Noah and Ogyges were the same, the error will now be more absurd, and you will be forced to believe that Noah reigned in Greece, and that his reign predates the Deluge. Still, fantasists like Godfrey Higgins and Morgan Kavanagh were peddling the same syllabub in the nineteenth century. Kavanagh takes it further, in fact:
Another very plain proof that Jonas, or Jonah, means water, is this, that it cannot differ from Janus, of which the root Jan is allowed to mean wine. . . And as the name Janus cannot mean wine without meaning water also, it follows that he might have had such events told of him as belong to Noah and Jonas; and that his history might have once borne a close resemblance to that of Noah, we can conceive from this fact, that "on his coins are often seen a boat and a dove, with a chaplet of olive leaves, or an olive branch." [The quote is from Gale.]
Thus men dream and dream. . . But our patience is drawn out, and it has finally grown dark. It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. A glass of port?


Raminagrobis said...

Lovely stuff. An investigation worthy of Molly himself!

I've been mildly interested in Annius of Viterbo recently because Badius published him. Incidentally, the Rome edition you link to doesn't have an index either. Badius always gives good index - and you can consult his 1512 edition on Gallica. A quick glance at his index shows a number of references to 'Ianus qui & Noa'. You seem to have got on quite well enough without any index, but I thought I'd mention it.

Just a shame Badius didn't give an edition of Leone Ebreo...

Raminagrobis said...

Did I say 'Molly'?

I meant, of course, Moran.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Thanks, R. If only I'd known! The Gallica link is here, if anyone else wants it.

chris miller said...

I've always admired both of these characters:

Noah as the world's first zookeeper - and for his customary depiction in drunken threesome with two nubile lovers -- and Janus as my occupational deity over the Summer I once spent working as a janitor. How many other occupations have received their names from Roman gods?

But now that scholarship has revealed that they are one and the same - I don't know what to think.

How can I ever look at him/them the same again?

Anonymous said...

Conrad, my copy of Annius's Berosus (Wittenberg, 1612) has an index, listing four references under the heading "Ianus qui˜& Noa" of which the passage in reference appears to be the first, on folio 25, beginning:

"Cæterum Noa antequam discederet ab Armenia docuit illos simplice˜agriculturam, magis curãs religionem & mores quam opulentiã & delitias, quæ ad illicita & libidines provocant, & cælestium iram nuper induxerant. Primus tamen omnium invenit vites atq; plantavit & vinum conficere docuit cujus vim inexpertus & vaporem ebrius effectus minus pudice in terrã cecidit...

and later down the page stating:

"Ob beneficium inventæ vitis & vini dignitatus est cognomento Jano, quod Arameis sonat vitifer & vinifer."

Conrad H. Roth said...

"his customary depiction in drunken threesome with two nubile lovers"

His more customary depiction is drunken on the floor with his three sons--Ham staring, and Japhet and Shem looking away with a robe in their hand.

Michael, thanks. If only I could afford my own Annius!

chris miller said...

OK - it does appear that I've confused Noah and his sons with Lot and his daughters.

But if Master Leo Abarbenel can fabricate his own ancient legends - why can't I?

After the deluge, where did Noah and his sons find women if not among his own daughters?

And wouldn't alcohol have been required to remove their inhibitions?

These details were possibly expurgated from the original text - figuring that the faithful had already read enough about patriarchal incest and debauchery.

Conrad H. Roth said...

There's no doubt about it.

Malone said...

Is that a typo, or is Theophilus Gale confusing Janus with Javan/Jawan, Japhet's son, traditionally regarded as an ancestor of the Greeks?

Also, more grist for the mill perhaps: apparently Pierfrancesco Giambullari in his Origine della Lingua Fiorentina of 1549 claimed that the Italian of Dante took its origin from Hebrew, brought to Italy by "Noah, inventor of wine," aka Janus. (See "Noah, Italy, and the Sea Peoples" by S. J. Bastomsky - on JSTOR - interesting because it traces this legend through a different series of texts than those you consider here - you can take his theories about "real" links between the Israelites and the Etruscans however you like.)

Now . . . back to Facebook . . .

Conrad H. Roth said...

No typo. Gale actually has a further discussion of the relations between Iawan (= Ion) and Janus. Thanks for the Bastomsky article; it seems quite complementary to my investigations. As far as I know, the Iapetus / Japheth link has been refuted by modern scholars; but I don't remember the arguments. It's certainly suggestive.

Languagehat said...

Great stuff (as usual). I had been vaguely aware of Annius, but had not realized what a thorough mountebank he was. From Wikipedia:
"His expertise in Semitic philology, once celebrated even by otherwise sober ecclesiastical historians, was entirely fictive."
These days he'd have movie contracts galore!

John Emerson said...

Sinologists have done well in the hoax area during the last century. We need not hang our heads before Renaissance classicists. (Not everyone agrees that Menzies book is a hoax.)



1421: Menzies

Anonymous said...

Lasan akhades ['Akkadian language', Lasan from Hebrew lašon, possibly via Ladino lashón]

Loshn khodesh is, as far as I know, standard Modern Yiddish for (Biblical) Hebrew.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Steve and John, thanks.

RC: "Loshn khodesh is, as far as I know, standard Modern Yiddish for (Biblical) Hebrew."

It does sound more plausible. (Surely 'akhades' is related to 'Akkad'?) But isn't khodesh the word for 'month'? Oddly enough, according to Norman Cantor, the exiled Jew Bernard Berenson used the word khodesh as a code-word for fake paintings. Cantor says the word literally means 'new'.

Anonymous said...

But isn't khodesh the word for 'month'? Oddly enough, according to Norman Cantor, the exiled Jew Bernard Berenson used the word khodesh as a code-word for fake paintings. Cantor says the word literally means 'new'.

Very interesting, and new to me; I have some Yiddish but no Hebrew at all, either Biblical on modern.

Conrad H. Roth said...

OK, apparently קודש ('kodesh', with a quph) means 'holy', whereas חודש ('khodesh', with a chet) means 'month'. Confusion cleared up!

e-kvetcher said...

(Surely 'akhades' is related to 'Akkad'?)

I am guessing that it is not. More likely it is a-khades, the a being the definite article 'ha', with the leading 'hey' not voiced at all.

But isn't khodesh the word for 'month'? Oddly enough, according to Norman Cantor, the exiled Jew Bernard Berenson used the word khodesh as a code-word for fake paintings. Cantor says the word literally means 'new'.

The word for "new" is חדש(chadash) in Hebrew. Related to chodesh, probably because it is a "new" moon.

Conrad H. Roth said...

An annotation worthy of E. K. himself! Thanks. I realised yesterday that Wiki had all the answers. It always does.

Malone said...

Thank you, by the way, for inspiring me to read Lavengro. The encomium to "ab Gwilym" alone was worth the price of admission!

saul said...

In an idle moment I googled my surname and, lo & behold, Mr Roth's imost interesting article on Noah, Janus, wine, Italy etc etc appeared. Also what appeared was a comment by Persephonia that kindly referred to an article that I had written years ago and that had appeared in Jewish Quarterly Review. This was followed by Roth's response. I must say I was immensely flattered!!
Saul Bastomsky

saul said...

I googled my name - Bastomsky - and lo and behold, a most interesting blog on Noah, wine, Italy etc.etc. came up, and to my astonishment, my article that appeared years ago in JQR was cited. How flattering!!
You could contact me at sbastoms@hotmail.com or at saul.bastomsky@arts.monash.edu.au

Saul Bastomsky

Alex Schindler said...

After the deluge, where did Noah and his sons find women if not among his own daughters?

And wouldn't alcohol have been required to remove their inhibitions?

These details were possibly expurgated from the original text - figuring that the faithful had already read enough about patriarchal incest and debauchery.

May 01, 2008 8:21 AM
Blogger Conrad H. Roth said...
There's no doubt about it.

May 01, 2008 8:30 AM

or maybe, golly, the bible didn't forget that detail? If you missed it in Gen 6:18
יח וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, אִתָּךְ; וּבָאתָ, אֶל-הַתֵּבָה--אַתָּה, וּבָנֶיךָ וְאִשְׁתְּךָ וּנְשֵׁי-בָנֶיךָ אִתָּךְ.

you could have also seen it in 7:7

ז וַיָּבֹא נֹחַ, וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וּנְשֵׁי-בָנָיו אִתּוֹ--אֶל-הַתֵּבָה: מִפְּנֵי, מֵי הַמַּבּוּל.

or in 7:13
. יג בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה בָּא נֹחַ, וְשֵׁם-וְחָם וָיֶפֶת בְּנֵי-נֹחַ; וְאֵשֶׁת נֹחַ, וּשְׁלֹשֶׁת נְשֵׁי-בָנָיו אִתָּם--אֶל-הַתֵּבָה.

or in 8:16
טז צֵא, מִן-הַתֵּבָה--אַתָּה, וְאִשְׁתְּךָ וּבָנֶיךָ וּנְשֵׁי-בָנֶיךָ אִתָּךְ

Is armchair history the art of making up plausible-sounding histories of textual censorship without bothering to read a text once?