CAIUS NORBANUS FLACCUS, PROCONSUL, TO THE GOVERNORS OF THE

EPHESIANS, GREETING.

“‘Caesar has written word to me, that the Jews, wherever they are, are accustomed to assemble together, in compliance with a peculiar ancient custom of their nation, to contribute money which they send to Jerusalem; and he does not choose that they should have any hindrance offered to them, to prevent them from doing this; therefore I have written to you, that you may know that I command that they shall be allowed to do these things.’ (316) “Is not this a most convincing proof, O emperor, of the intention of Caesar respecting the honours paid to our temple which he had adopted, not considering it right that because of some general rule, with respect to meetings, the assemblies of the Jews, in one place should be put down, which they held for the sake of offering the first fruits, and for other pious objects? (317) “There is also another piece of evidence, in no respect inferior to this one, and which is the most undeniable proof of the will of Augustus, for he commanded perfect sacrifices of whole burnt offerings to be offered up to the most high God every day, out of his own revenues, which are performed up to the present time, and the victims are two sheep and a bull, with which Caesar honoured the altar of God, well knowing that there is in the temple no image erected, either in open sight or in any secret part of it. (318) But that great ruler, who was inferior to no one in philosophy, considered within himself, that it is necessary in terrestrial things, that an especial holy place should be set apart for the invisible God, who will not permit any visible representation of himself to be made, by which to arrive at a participation in favourable hopes and the enjoyment of perfect blessings. (319) “And your grandmother, Julia Augusta, following the example of so great a guide in the paths of piety, did also adorn the temple with some golden vials and censers, and with a great number of other offerings, of the most costly and magnificent description; and what was her object in doing this, when there is no statue erected within the temple? for the minds of women are, in some degree, weaker than those of men, and are not so well able to comprehend a thing which is appreciable only by the intellect, without any aid of objects addressed to the outward senses; (320) but she, as she surpassed all her sex in other particulars, so also was she superior to them in this, by reason of the pure learning and wisdom which had been implanted in her, both by nature and by study; so that, having a masculine intellect, she was so sharpsighted and profound, that she comprehended what is appreciable only by the intellect, even more than those things which are perceptible by the outward senses, and looked upon the latter as only shadows of the former.