79Ammiror autem etiam eos, qui ei huiusmodi fomitem praebuerunt id est Posidonium et Apollonium Molonis, quoniam accusant quidem nos, quare nos eosdem deos cum aliis non colimus, mentientes autem pariter et de nostro templo blasphemias componentes incongruas non se putant impie agere, dum sit ualde turpissimum liberis qualibet ratione mentiri multo magis de templo apud cunctos homines nominato tanta sanctitate pollente.
80in hoc enim sacrario Apion praesumpsit edicere asini caput collocasse Iudaeos et eum colere ac dignum facere tanta religione, et hoc affirmat fuisse depalatum, dum Antiochus Epiphanes expoliasset templum et illud caput inuentum ex auro compositum multis pecuniis dignum.
81ad haec igitur prius equidem dico, quoniam Aegyptius, uel si aliquid tale apud nos fuisset, nequaquam debuerat increpare, cum non sit deterior asinus furonibus et hircis et aliis, quae sunt apud eos dii.
82deinde quomodo non intellexit operibus increpatus de incredibili suo mendacio? legibus namque semper utimur hisdem, in quibus sine fine consistimus, et cum uarii casus nostram ciuitatem sicut etiam aliorum uexauerint et Pius ac Pompeius Magnus et Licinius Crassus et ad nouissimum Titus Caesar bello uincentes optinuerint templum, nihil huiusmodi illic inuenerunt, sed purissimam pietatem, de qua nihil nobis est apud alios effabile.
83quia uero Antiochus neque iustam fecit templi depraedationem, sed egestate pecuniarum ad hoc accessit, cum non esset hostis, et super nos auxiliatores suos et amicos adgressus est nec aliquid dignum derisione illic inuenit,
84multi et digni conscriptores super hoc quoque testantur, Polybius Megalopolita Strabon Cappadox Nicolaus Damascenus Timagenis et Castor temporum conscriptor et Apollodorus; omnes dicunt pecuniis indigentem Antiochum transgressum foedera Iudaeorum et spoliasse templum auro argentoque plenum.
85haec igitur Apion debuit respicere, nisi cor asini ipse potius habuisset et impudentiam canis, qui apud ipsos assolet coli; neque enim extrinsecus aliqua ratiocinatione mentitus est.
86nos itaque asinis neque honorem neque potestatem aliquam damus, sicut Aegyptii crocodillis et aspidibus, quando eos qui ab istis mordentur et a crocodillis rapiuntur felices et deo digni arbitrantur.
87sed sunt apud nos asini quod apud alios sapientes uiros onera sibimet imposita sustinentes, et licet ad areas accedentes comedant aut uiam propositam non adimpleant, multas ualde plagas accipiunt quippe operibus et ad agriculturam rebus necessariis ministrantes.
88sed aut omnium gurdissimus fuit Apion ad componendum uerba fallacia aut certe ex rebus initia sumens haec implere non ualuit, quando nulla potest contra nos blasphemia prouenire.
79I am amazed272 also by those who have supplied Apion with fodder of this sort,273 that is, Posidonius274 and Apollonius Molon.275 For, on the one hand, they make it a charge against us that we do not worship the same Gods as other people,276 while at the same time, when they issue lies and concoct incongruous slanders about our temple,277 they do not consider what they do irreligious,278 although proper gentlemen279 consider a lie on any topic extremely disgraceful, and particularly so in relation to a temple that is universally acclaimed and powerful with such great sanctity.280
80For Apion dared281 to assert that in this shrine the Judeans had set up the head of an ass, and worshipped that animal,282 considering it worthy of the greatest reverence. He claims that this was revealed when Antiochus Epiphanes plundered the temple283 and discovered this head, made of gold and worth a considerable sum of money.284
81On this, I would say first that, since he is an Egyptian,285 even if we did possess any such thing, he should certainly not have made it a matter of censure, since an ass is no worse than the hawks,286 goats,287 and other animals which constitute Gods among them.
82Next, how did he not understand that in proposing his incredible lie he stands convicted by the facts?288 For we always observe the same laws, to which we hold fast eternally,289 and although various misfortunes have shaken our city (like others’ also)290 and although (Antiochus) the Pious,291 Pompey the Great,292 Licinius Crassus293 and, most recently, Titus Caesar have defeated us in war and occupied our temple,294 they have not discovered there anything of that sort, but only the purest form of piety,295 concerning which there is nothing we cannot communicate to others.296
83That in fact Antiochus’ plundering of the temple was unjust,297 but that he was reduced to it by shortage of funds – although he was not at war with us but attacked us, his allies and friends298 – and that he did not find there anything deserving of ridicule,299
84this is what many reputable historians also attest,300 Polybius of Megalopolis,301 Strabo the Cappadocian,302 Nicolas of Damascus,303 Timagenes,304 Castor the chronicler,305 and Apollodorus;306 all say that it was from lack of funds that Antiochus broke his treaty with the Judeans and plundered the temple, which was full of gold and silver.307
85Such are the facts to which Apion ought to have paid attention,308 had he not himself had the mind of an ass and the impudence of a dog,309 which is habitually worshipped among such people;310 for it was not wholly beyond explanation that he told lies.311
86We do not accord any honor or authority to asses, as the Egyptians do to crocodiles and asps,312 when they consider those who are bitten by asps or snatched away by crocodiles as blessed and worthy of God.313
87For us, as for other sensible people, asses are used to carry the goods loaded onto them, and if they wander into threshing-floors and start eating, or do not go the distance required,314 they get a very good beating, as serving the labor and necessary tasks of agriculture.315
88But Apion was either the greatest imbecile of all in concocting his false tales316 or, having begun at least with some material,317 he was unable to carry it through; for none of his slanders against us is successful.318