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[ This is a repost of the following article: ]
[ From: “David S. Maddison” ]
[ Subject: Another anti-Semitic “quote” refuted ]
[ Newsgroups: alt.revisionism ]
[ Message-ID: <[email protected]> ]

Here is the latest installment in my project to refute various
anti-Semitic fabrications. I would like to express my gratitude to
Professor Levene for his work on this piece.

Please see my web page for refutation of other material, including alleged
quotes from the Talmud and other anti-Semitic fabrications. (Page doesn`t exist)

Cicero was serving as defense counsel at the trial of Flaccus, a Roman
official who interfered with Jewish gold shipments to their international
headquarters (then, as now) in Jerusalem. Cicero himself certainly was not
a nobody, and for one of this stature to have to “speak softly” shows that
he was in the presence of a dangerously powerful sphere of influence, and
on another occasion Cicero wrote: “The Jews belong to a dark and repulsive
force. One knows how numerous this clique is, how they stick together and
what power they exercise through their unions. They are a nation of
rascals and deceivers.”

The above quote is #753 from the anti-Semitic document
“1000 Quotes by and about Jews”. It is
available in similar form from many sources, but not necessarily with the
same number.

Professor Levene responds:

This is yet *another* reference to the same passage from Cicero, “Pro
Flacco” 66-69, versions of which appeared as #51 and #258, and I refer
readers to my comments on the second of these for a full discussion [see

What I will address here is the final part, quoting what Cicero wrote “on
another occasion”. Of that quote, the second sentence (“One knows how
powerful this clique is …”) is not “another occasion” at all, but a
further “adjusted” quote from “Pro Flacco” 66 – but the original does not
refer to “power they exercise through their unions”, but says “how
powerful they are in public meetings”.

Moreover, the first and last sentences (“The Jews belong to a dark and
repulsive force” and “They are a nation of rascals and deceivers”), are
straightforward fabrications: Cicero never said anything even resembling

D S Levene ([email protected])
“Thou knowest how numerous this tribe is, how united and how powerful in
the assemblies. I will plead in a low voice so that only the judges may
hear, for instigators are not lacking to stir up the crowd against me, and
against all the best citizens. To scorn, in the interest of the Republic,
this multitude of Jews so often turbulent in the assemblies shows a
singular strength of mind. The money is in the Treasury; they do not
accuse us of theft; they seek to stir up hatreds…” (Pro Flacco, Cicero).

The above quote is #258 from the anti-Semitic document
“1000 Quotes by and about Jews”. It is
available in similar form from many sources, but not necessarily with the
same number.
David S. Maddison ([email protected])

Professor Levene’s response is as follows:

The exact reference is Cicero, “Pro Flacco” 66-69. But this passage does
not appear there in this form: the quoter has without acknowledgement
strung together a set of sentences each taken from a different part of
Cicero’s argument. This significantly distorts what Cicero is saying.
Thus the person who “scorns” the Jews is not Cicero (as the quote
implies), but the defendant Flaccus. And in the final sentence, the
person who is seeking to “stir up hatreds” is not the Jews, but the Roman
prosecuting counsel (it isn’t “they” in the original Latin).

The passage (or at least the first two sentences of it) is of course still
anti-Semitic; but I should perhaps explain a little about the background
in order that one can see how Cicero came to say this. Flaccus was the
Roman governor of Asia Minor, and was accused by the local Greek
inhabitants of extortion (he was almost certainly guilty). The case came
to trial in 59 B.C.E: Cicero was not only the leading barrister of the
day, but also Flaccus’ political ally, and so defended him.

Much of the speech is spent by Cicero in a virulent xenophobic attack on
Asian Greeks in order to impugn their reliability as witnesses. He then
very briefly refers to a subsidiary accusation against Flaccus by Jews,
which the prosecutor had alluded to in passing to support his case; and
accordingly Cicero there switches his attack to Jews: but that is a minor
side-issue in the case, and he drops the subject after barely a page.

The point is that it was normal in trials in Roman lawcourts for
provincial corruption for the defence to appeal to the Roman jury’s
xenophobia by indulging in racial attacks on the provincials. Thus as
well as attacking Greeks and (briefly) Jews in this speech, Cicero spent a
good deal of his earlier speech “Pro Fonteio” attacking Gauls (who were
there the chief accusers), and in his later speech “Pro Scauro” he spent
his time attacking Sardinians.

In short, while certainly anti-Semitic in part, this passage tells us
nothing about Cicero’s real views about Jews (or Greeks, Gauls or
Sardinians). It simply tells us the methods that, as an experienced
barrister, he thought would be effective in achieving an acquittal for
his client.

D S Levene

From: “David S. Maddison”
Subject: Another anti-Semitic “quote” refuted
Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish
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Date: 28 Jan 2000 15:05:46 +1100
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