Philo Epicus was a Jewish-Hellenistic poet. He composed a hexametric poem on Jerusalem that featured both descriptions of the city and references to biblical events relating to the patriarchs. It is not clear whether he is to be identified with a Philo mentioned by Josephus (Ap. 1.218, with the attribute “the Elder”), Clement of Alexandria (Str. 1.141.3), and Eusebius of Caesarea (Hist. eccl. 6.13.7); while Nikolaus Walter argued for a distinction between the poet and a homonymous, otherwise unknown historian, some recent scholars seek to justify the identification.1 As to the date of his work, scholars have adduced literary, historical, and archaeological arguments to support various periods between the end of the 3rd and the first half of the 1st centuries bce.2 The only undisputable terminus ante quem for his work is the death of Alexander (11) Polyhistor (not long after 40bce), who quoted the poem in his treatise Περὶ Ἰουδαίων.
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.