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GORGIAS:

Syrian general of the second century B.C. After Judas Maccabeus had defeated the Syrians, they determined to send a stronger force against him. According to I Macc. iii. 38, which Josephus follows ("Ant." xii. 7, § 3), it was the governor Lysias who commissioned the generals Nicanor and Gorgias, sending them with a large army to Judea; but according to II Macc. viii. 8, it was Ptolemy, governor of Cœle-Syria and Phenicia, who sent them. Nicanor seems to have been thecommander-in-chief, although II Maccabees praises Gorgias' military ability. The Syrians were so sure of victory that they took with them a number of merchants, to whom they intended to sell the Jewish prisoners as slaves. The Syrians camped at Emmaus; and Gorgias was sent thence with 5,000 infantry and 1,000 horse to attack Judas by night, his guides being treacherous Jews. Judas had been informed of the expedition, and attacked the main Syrian army at Emmaus, completely routing it. Gorgias, not finding the enemy in camp, concluded they had retired into the mountains, and went in pursuit of them. Judas sagaciously kept his men from touching the booty, preparing them for the impending battle with Gorgias. When the latter returned to the main camp, he found it in flames, and the Jews ready for battle. The Syrians, seized with panic, fled into the Philistine territory, and only then did the Jews seize the rich spoils (166 B.C.).

Gorgias did not again dare to enter Judea. Once when Judas and Simon Maccabeus were carrying the war outside of that country, two subordinate generals, Joseph and Azariah, in violation of orders undertook an expedition against Jamnia, but were severely beaten by Gorgias (I Macc. v. 18, 19, 55-62), who is designated in "Ant." xii. 8, § 6, "general of the forces of Jamnia." II Maccabees does not mention this expedition, but refers to another, and calls Gorgias "governor of Idumæa" (xii. 32), which seems to be more correct than "of Jamnia." He set out with 3,000 infantry and 400 horse, and killed a number of Jews; whereupon a certain Dositheus of Tobiene (so the correct reading of the Syrian translation), one of those whom Judas had protected against the pagans, threw himself upon Gorgias and seized his mantle, intending to take him prisoner; but a Thracian horseman cut off Dositheus' arm and so saved Gorgias. The last-named then retired to Marissa (ib. verse 35; comp. "Ant." xii. 8, § 6), after which he is lost to view. Willrich assumes ("Judaica," p. 33) from the description of the booty in I Macc. iv. 23 that "Holofernes" in the Book of Judith represents Gorgias.

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. ii. 343, 357;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 205, 212;
  • Niese, in Hermes, xxxv. 466.
G. S. Kr.
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