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1 Historical Background

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Chapter Summary

The antecedents of Italian Jewry are shrouded in darkness, as are those of most other Jewish communities in the Diaspora. In Italy too later generations interwove fact with fiction and attempted to trace their ancestry as far back as possible. The Jews belonged to the populares, whereas Cicero was among the leaders of the optimates, the opposing and ruling political faction at that time. So the antagonism of Cicero towards Jews was not only fomented by his natural partisanship for his client in the matter of the funds raised for the upkeep of the Temple, but also by political considerations in Rome. The political and military upheavals in the middle of the first century BCE, which paved the way for this revolution, saw a grouping that put the Jews of Rome on the side of Caesar and their enemies, among them Pompey and Cicero, his opponents.

Keywords: antagonism; Caesar; Cicero; Italian Jewry; Judaism; Rome

10.1163/9789004282360_003
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