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12th of December, and ending the 20th of January. Narciffufes, he adds, are in flower during the whole of this weather, and hyacinths and violets, at the latest, appear before it is quite over '.

Their lamps, then, at the feaft of dedication, though it was celebrated in the depth of winter, might, at Jerufalem, be adorned with violets; though I should apprehend the violet makes not it's appearance about Rome 'till fome weeks after, in which country Perfius

wrote.

This then shows Perfius is speaking of this Jewish feaft as celebrated in Judæa, not at Rome, or any where near there.

3. It is very poffible, that the Maccabee feftival of the dedication of the altar, and the commemorating the inauguration of Herod the Great, might be blended together, at the time to which Perfius refers; nor are we without an inftance of a fimilar nature, in later times, in the East.

Sir John Chardin tells us, that the Perfians obferve only three religious feafons with great folemnity, and one civil festival, which is that of New-Year's Day. But if they obferve but one, they do it very folemnly. The celebration of it bolds three days, and in fome places, particularly at court, eight, beginning exactly at that point of time that the fun enters Aries. They call this feftival Naurus Sultanie, that is, the Royal

› P. 12, 13.

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or Imperial New Year, diftinguishing it from their ecclefiaftical New-Year's Day. The ancient Perfians obferved very folemnly the days when the fun came to each of the two folftices, and two equinoxes; but more particularly that of the Spring equinox, because of it's bringing on pleafant weather. The festival held eight days. It's obfervance continued 'till the time that the Mohammedans became mafters of Perfia, who introducing a new epocha, and a new way of computing time, the ancient custom of folemnizing the first day of the year fenfibly declined, and at length totally ceafed: people being dif inclined to the obfervation, from a diflike to the old religion of the country, which they fuppofed made a religious festival of the first day of the year, in honour of the Sun, which appeared therefore an idolatrous practice to the followers of Mohammed, who abhorred all forts of rejoicing therefore on that day. Things remained in this ftate till the year 475', when Jelaleldin * coming to the crown on the day of the vernal equinox, the aftronomers of the country took that occafion to reprefent to him, that it was an interpofition of Providence, directing that his coming to empire fhould happen on the first day of the year, according to the ancient form of computation, that fo he might re-establish a custom that had been obferved for many ages in that

2

' Of the Mohammedan computation, and about the year of our Lord 1082.

2 D'Herbelot would have called him Gelaleddin. Bib. Orientale, art. Neurouz.

country.

country. The aftronomers added, that if he fhould re-establish this feftival of the folar NewYear's Day, it would be fomething particular, as, according to an ancient cuftom of the Perfians, who reckoned the years by the reign of their kings, the beginning of his reign would be the first day of the folar year. This prince was pleafed with the propofal, and re-established the ancient feftival of the Royal New-Year's Day, which has been folemnized ever fince with pomp

and acclamations'.

Here we see, the coinciding of the time of a prince's coming to the crown with a remarkable day in the year, was fufficient not merely to add great fplendour to an old obfervance, but to revive it after it had been quite extinguished, and give it a permanent eftablishment. In like manner, if the day in which the Romans conferred royalty on Herod, and settled it so that it long continued in his family, happened at the time that the Jews celebrated their Feaft of Lights, it is no wonder that in the time of Perfius the illuminations in Judæa, and particularly at Jerufalem, were of the moft fplendid kind. Herod affected, it is well known, great pomp, and engaged in great expences, to make the nations round conceive an high notion of his magnificence. Accordingly he obtained the furname of Great.

In this view, it can be no wonder, that Perfius fuppofes, that many old Romans who

1 Voy. tome 1, p. 171, 172.

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fat funning themselves, and talking over the fights they had seen in their younger years, fhould mention with rapture the Jewish illuminations at which they had been present, when travelling in Judæa, or ferving in the army there, for fuch feems to me to be the fpirit of the paffage :

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Noftra ut Floralia poffint

"Aprici meminiffe fenes: quid pulchrius? at cum "Herodis venêre dies,

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"Labra moves tacitus, recutitaque fabbata palles.”

;

While one of thofe old gentlemen the poet fpeaks of was admiring the feasts of Flora, and faying what could be more beautiful another reminded him of Herod's illuminations, when your lips, faid he, moved with filent admiration, and you were pale with aftonishment at thofe festivals of the circumcifed.

The commentators indeed understand this paffage in a very different manner. Lubin fuppofes the noiseless motion of their lips, was upon the occafion of a filent offering up the prayers of fuperftition; and the learned Cafaubon himfelf apprehends, the words mean the frequenting the Jewish Profeuchas, and their praying each by themselves with a low voice. Can this be the meaning of Perfius?

I do not know, that any of the learned. have been able to determine precisely the day VOL. III.

d

of

of Herod's inauguration, or the day when he was declared king of Judæa, but in general it has been understood to have been in the winter-time', at which time the Feast of Lights was celebrated. They might then, very probably, coincide, as I have been fuppofing; and if they did, no one will wonder that this double festival was obferved with the greatest fplendour, in the time of fuch a prince as Herod.

The words may poffibly fignify nothing more than when the days came in which the Jews, the fubjects of Herod, were wont to rejoice with making illuminations; but certainly there will be found much greater energy in the words, if we confider them, as Cafaubon has done, as fignifying the days, as they annually returned, when Herod was made king of Judæa, and which were celebrated from time to time by his admirers with great rejoicings. Some, we know, were fo warmly attached to him as to be from thence called Herodians.

4. The manner in which thefe illuminations were made, and to which the word difpofita in this paffage refers, may be illuftrated probably by the modern ufages of the Eaft.

' Vide Jof. Antiq. Jud. lib. 14, cap. 14, § 5, not. r.

ed. Haverc..

The word dies, in the plural, feems to fhow, it was not merely, the day of Herod's being made king; but the rejoicing on that account might be blended with the folemnizing a feftival of eight days.

Chardin

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