The ‘Maria Story’ in Greek, Latin, & Hebrew
The Teknophagia Episode (BJ 6.201-13) in Josephus, Latin Josephus, Rufinus, Pseudo-Hegesippus, and Sefer Yosippon with Introduction, Texts, Translations, Notes, & Commentary
This article provides the first close comparative analysis of the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew versions of the ‘Maria Story’ or teknophagia, the account of the mother who ate her child within a besieged Jerusalem first recorded in Flavius Josephus’ Jewish War 6.201–203. Josephus’ original account was written in Greek in the first century. Within the following half-millennium, three Latin versions of the story developed: those of 1) the Latin translation of the War, 2) Rufinus of Aquileia’s translation of Eusebius’ Church History, which contains Josephus’ Greek version of the story, and 3) the Latin adaptation of Pseudo-Hegesippus or On the Destruction of Jerusalem (De Excidio Hierosolymitano). This latter text comprises a late fourth-century Christian rewrite of the War and served as the most important source for a Jewish text that would emerge five hundred years later: the so-called Sefer Yosippon, an early tenth-century Hebrew text which is arguably the first and most important installment of medieval Jewish historiography. Each of these texts has received scholarly attention, and sometimes several of them have been discussed together; the Maria Story itself has not escaped scholarly treatment. Yet for all this research the exact relationship between these texts and particularly their accounts of the Maria Story has never been explained clearly and in detail. This article fills this gap in the research and uses the Maria Story to explore source-critical, literary, philological, and rhetorical questions pertaining to these five versions of the Maria Story, with an emphasis upon De Excidio and Sefer Yosippon, the most understudied iterations of this developing ancient and medieval tradition, enhancing scholarly knowledge and appreciation of all these works as distinctive iterations of an interconnected web of tradition.