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Were the Ancient Greeks Responsible for Antisemitism?

Erich Gruen, University of California, Berkeley

October 25, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 010 East Pyne

Program in the Ancient World
photo of man wearing glasses

This talk addresses a widespread notion that the roots of antisemitism lay in the Hellenistic period, as Greek rulers and populace found the Jews to be divisive, seclusive, misanthropic, and alien. It examines closely the principal episodes regularly cited as exhibiting deep Greek hostility to the Jews, such as the persecutions of Antiochus IV, the slanders and libels spread by Greek intellectuals, and the “pogrom” in Alexandria. The talk attempts to reassess these actions and attitudes in the circumstances of the ancient world rather than through the lens of modern experience.”

Erich S. Gruen is Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics, Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He owns degrees from Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard. He is the author, among other works, of The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome, Heritage and Hellenism: The Reinvention of Jewish Tradition, Rethinking the Other in Antiquity, and Ethnicity in the Ancient World – – Did It Matter?

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