, a famous grammarian, born at Oasis in Egypt, was a professor at Rome in Tiberius’ s reign. He was undeniably a man of learning, had made the most diligent inquiries into the abstrusest subjects of antiquity, and was | master of all those points which give to erudition the character of accuracy and variety. But he appears to have often been an arrogant boaster, and most importantly busied in difficult and insignificant inquiries. Bayle quotes Julius Africanus, as calling him “the most minutely curious of all grammarians;” and he might have applied tohim, what Strabo has to a pedant, “who vainly trifles’ about the reading of a passage,” though the sense was exactly the same, as-far as they were concerned with it, whichever way it was read. An idea may be formed of this writer from his imagining that he had performed something extraordinary, when he discovered that the two first letters of the Iliad, taken numerically, made up 48; and that Homer chose to begin his Iliad with a word, the two first letters of which would shew, that his two poems would contain 48 books.

Apion used to boast, with the greatest confidence, that he gave immortality to those to whom he dedicated his works, but none of these works remain; and his name and person had long ago been buried in oblivion, if other writers had not made mention of them. One of his chief works was “The Antiquities of Egypt,” in which he takes occasion to abuse the Jews; and not content with this, he composed a work expressly against them. He had before shewn his malice against this people: for, being at the head of an embasssy, which the Alexandrians had sent to Caligula, to complain of the Jews in their city, he accused them of several crimes; and insisted principally upon a point, the most likely to provoke the emperor, which was, that, while all the other people of the empire dedicated temples and altars to him, the Jews refused. With regard to his writings against them, Josephus thought himself obliged to confute the calumnies contained in them. He did not however write, on purpose to confute Apion, but several critics having attacked his Jewish Antiquities, he defends himself against them, and against Apion among the rest. Apion was not living when this confutation was published, for it relates the manner of his death, which was singular enough, at least in regard to Apion, who, having greatly ridiculed Jewish ceremonies, and circumcision in particular, was seized at length with a disease, which required an operation of that nature; and which, though submitted to, could not prevent him from dying under the most agonizing tortures. He boasted, that he had roused the soul of | Homer from the dead, to inquire concerning his country and family; and we learn from Seneca, that he imposed very much upon Greece, since he was received in every city as a second Homer: which shews, as Bayle observes, that “a man, with some learning, and a good share of impudence and vanity, may easily deceive the mass of the people.1


Gen. Dict.—Works of the Learned, 1740.