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date: 31 January 2023

Theodotus, epic poet, c. 2nd cent. bcelocked

Theodotus, epic poet, c. 2nd cent. bcelocked

  • Thomas Kuhn-Treichel


Author of an epic poem about the biblical patriarch Jacob, with special focus on the rape of his daughter Dinah and the conquest of Shechem, as narrated in Genesis 34. There is no external evidence about his life. Some scholars have tried to identify correspondences between his description of Shechem and the archaeological remains, suggesting a date between the late 3rd and the first half of the 2nd century bce;1 others, highlighting possible allusions to historical events, have argued for the last third of the 2nd century bce.2 Jakob Freudenthal has put forward the influential thesis that Theodotus was a Samaritan, as the town of Shechem, located below the Samaritans’ cultic centre on Mount Gerizim, plays a pivotal role in his poem and is in one place called ἱερὸν ἄστυ (“holy city,” Suppl. Hell. 757.7).3 Meanwhile scholars tend to take him for a Jew, arguing that ἱερὸν ἄστυ reflects a Homeric topos rather than a particular affinity to the place.


  • Greek Literature
  • Jewish Studies

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