20 Or “nick-named ‘The Stutterer’”—a figure otherwise unknown. Cf. Latin Balbus, a name that occurs frequently among senators (Kajanto 1965:240). To serve in the temple, priests were required to be free of physical blemish. Over time, the Bible’s list of disqualifying defects (Lev 21:16-23) was clarified and extended, partly by inference from what constitutes “blemish” in sacrificial animals ( m. Bek. 6.12-7.7; cf. m. Zebah. 12.1). Philo ( Spec. 1.80-81) and Josephus ( War 5.228; Ant. 3.278; Apion 1.284) both emphasize this matter. Although stuttering does not appear in the extant lists of defects, even in the time of the Mishnah (ca. 200 CE) debates continued ( m. Bek. 7.1, 6), and stuttering seems to be in the range of disqualifying conditions there. Apparently, non-serving priests often accreted nick-names identifying the fault that kept them from serving: Judah Maccabee (1 Macc 2.1—possibly “hammer-head”: cf. m. Bek. 7.1); Joseph son of Ellem ( Ant. 17.166—possibly “son of the mute”; cf. Schürer-Vermes 2.229 n. 7, 243). Such a priestly tradition might explain the historical origin of Psellus as a nick-name. It is, however, unclear whether Simon Psellus was already a priest, for it was his son Matthias I who married a Hasmonean woman and so, apparently, brought Josephus’ paternal line into the priesthood (see the note to “Further” at § 2). Josephus’ mention of an obviously revered ancestor with a name indicating a physical disability intersects remarkably well with the paradox of Roman cognomina (see Corbeill 1996:57-98). On the one hand, these third names originated among the nobility, so that they were ipso facto a mark of distinction. On the other hand, nearly half (44%) of them indicated some kind of physical peculiarity (Kajanto 1965:131; calculated by Corbeill 1996: 58 n. 2)—just as most of the names that Josephus gives his ancestors. Corbeill (1996:63-4) proposes that the practice of mocking attributions occurred in second-century BCE Rome, in a context of fierce competition for positions of honor: the targets were the scions of large families, who created an uneven playing field. But the salient point is that these names were a peculiarly Roman (not Greek) phenomenon (Corbeill 1996:60). This raises the question whether Josephus is not deliberately Romanizing his ancestry; for, paradoxically, such names “actually became a mark of noble birth, and were consequently avoided in slaves’ nomenclature” (Kajanto 1965:68). Even though the labels of physical deformity probably had a different origin in Judean culture (e.g., in the priestly disqualifications, above), Josephus could borrow them for effect with his Roman audience. All the same, orators—and Josephus—did not forfeit their right to exploit the literal meaning of someone’s name for the purpose of a word-play, whether friendly or hostile (e.g., Horace, Sat. 1.7; further examples in Corbeill 1996:74-98). See further the notes to “Capellus” at § 32, “Varus” at § 48, and “Modius” at § 61. It remains unclear why Josephus should have chosen Simon as the patriarch of his family, rather than one of Simon’s ancestors or Simon’s son Matthias, who actually married into the Hasmonean line. Perhaps the coincidence in name with the contemporary Hasmonean Simon provided a motive. If Simon Psellus was already a priest, then Josephus has spoken ambiguously at Ant. 16.187 in attributing his priestly heritage to the Hasmoneans.