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On Nobility

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Chapter Summary

Anyone who has studied biblical genealogies appreciates the importance ancient Israelites attached to matters of kinship and descent. In fact, the ability to trace one's lineage to a notable forebear constituted one of the most important means for asserting one's place, power, and status in Jewish society. The treatment of eugeneia in Aristotle's On Nobility, of which several fragments have been preserved, is of particular interest, since it is possible that Philo drew from this treatise (and related Aristotelian texts) when writing De nobilitate. Philo's repeated emphasis that nobility depends ultimately not on any inheritance from one's ancestors but on the decision to live a life of holiness and virtue.

Keywords:De nobilitate; eugeneia; inherited nobility; Philo



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