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"DIONYSIAN REVELLERS?" Lou Silbennan Vanderbill University/University of Arizona The question posed in the title-Is there a reference to Dionysian revelers in the Ierusalem Talmud?-was prompted by a query by Professor Peter Brown of Princeton University to Professor Eric Meyers of Duke University following a lecture by the latter dealing with the remarkable mosaic floor in a house in Sepphoris excavated by Meyers, Ehud Netzer, and Carol Meyers. This magnificent mosaic is described in BA 50:4 (1987):223-231. In the words of David Castriota of Duke, the mosaic encompasses "the diverse range of themes connected with Dionysios." It was this that prompted Professor Brown's question. His source was, Meyers gathered, the translation of that work by Professor Iacob Neusner.l Intrigued by the discovery and by this suggestion, I sought out the reference. On p. 64 of vol. 33 (CAboda Zara) of the Neusner translation we read: R. Aha had chills and fever. [They brought him] a medicinal drink prepared from the phallus of Dionysian revelers [thus Jastrow, I 400b]. But he would not drink it. They brought it to R. Jonah and he drank it. Said R. Mana, "Now if R. Jonah, the patriarch, had known what it was, he would never have drunk it.'t2 When, however, one turns to the text itself, y. CAbod. Zar. 2.2 [40d), we fmd no mention of "Dionysian revelers." It reads: 1m"M 'ntD'M am 3'i1Tn irrn-or 10 iM 1m''M 1"'IC~ iT" m., MM ., .'ntD iT1i1 1" 1,n 'JMC lT1' lOR i1l1' ., "., '''1' 'lD "'M 'nID'M' iTJ1' ." 1 An oral communication from Professor Meyer. 2 The Talmud of the Land ofIsrael: A Preliminary Translalion and Explanation (Chicago: University of Chicago. 1982). Why "they brought him" is enclosed in brackets I do not understand. Although the common !eXt hils1'""1'.the emtioprinceps (Venice) and the Leyden Codex have ty1'''-. a term used subsequently in the anecdote and translated without brackets. M:lM following R. Jonah is incorrectly translated "patrian:h." It means simply "father" for that was his relationship to the speaker, R. Mana. 3 The parallel text. J. Sabb. 14.4 [14a) has .".". The Piotrkow edition has .,,,,. Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 42 Silbennan: Dionysian Revellers? This being the case I turned to Neusner's authority. Jastrow.4 The lexical entry cited reads: M'~t ch. same, I) male genitals. Y. Ab. Zar. n, 40d bot. 'ilm i1'n'~l 10; Y. Sabb. XIV, 14b bot. "", or ,.,,,, nrnou' 10; Tosaf. to Ab. Zar. 27b ',m nrol, read: ''1I;IT1 M":ll 1 0 (v. Rm R,!r;r1) a medicinal drink prepared o/the phallus 0/Dionysian revellers [italics added].5 Granting for the moment that M'~r means "male genitals" or "phallus" in this context. it is instructive to observe the lexical and philological legerdemain by which the definition "Dionysian reveller" was arrived at. The first move was the acceptance in the entry of the reading in the Tosafists' note to b. 'Abod. Zar. 27b "lM"l attested nowhere else. This is reported in a lexical entry: "Rl'll f.jester, dancer.-PI. H'll. Dan. VI. 19 (cmp. R'~"1)."6 The cross-reference reads: "R'~rn m. (v. Rllll) feaster, reveller.-PI.l'~r;r:I. Lev. R. s. 33. v.l'9'~R'1."7 Although there is no philological basis for either of these entries. they are assumed to refer to the same class of persons: jesters. dancers. feasters. revelers.s The derivation of l'9'~1R'1 is equally fascinating. The passage in Lev. R. 33.6 contains an interpretation of Ezek 32:42. The two words discussed are C'R:lO and C'R:l,o.l"m is offered as the explanation of C'R:lO whose meaning is uncertain. perhaps "drunkard:' C'R:l'O is explained in the text before Jastrow as l'O')RP. His entry for that word reads: "l'O')RP. v.l'Q'~iR'l. [The change is an intentional perversion. in accordance with the Talmudic interpret . of Ex. XXllI. 13. v. Soh. 63b; cmp. Ab. Zar. 46a. a. e. quot. s. v. R~~. Perh. our...


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