ABBA KOLON


ABBA KOLON
ABBA KOLON, legendary person mentioned in midrashic literature as the founder of a city, called "Rome-Babylon." It is related of him (Song R. 1:64): "On the day that Jeroboam, son of Nebat, installed the two golden calves, two huts were built in Rome, yet each time they were erected they collapsed. A wise man, Abba Kolon by name, was present. He told them that unless water from the Euphrates was mixed with the mortar, the buildings would not stand. He volunteered to fetch some and, disguised as a cooper, journeyed afar until he reached his destination. There he drew water from the Euphrates, brought it back and mixed it with the mortar. The huts now remained standing. Henceforth people would say: 'A city without Abba Kolon is unworthy of the name.'" They called this city Rome-Babylon. The moral of this aggadah is that Rome was founded as a result of the iniquities of the kings of Israel. According to one opinion the name, Abba Kolon, is derived from Deucalion in Greco-Roman mythology. According to another, he is identified with Ablaccon, a magician in the time of Emperor Tiberius, who is said to have saved the city of Antioch from inundation. It has also been suggested that there is a double allusion in this name: father of "a colony" and "of kalon" ("shame"). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Krauss, Griechische und Lateinische Lehnwoerter im Talmud, 2 (1899), S.V.; N. Bruell, in: Jeschurun, 7 (1871), 3 (Ger. section); Ginzberg, Legends, 6 (1959), 280.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.


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