“The Essenes shun pleasures as a vice and regard temperance and control of the passions as a special virtue. Marriage they disdain … They do not on principle condemn wedlock and the propagation of the race, but they wish to protect themselves against women’s wantonness, being persuaded that none of the sex keeps her plighted troth to one man.

Riches they despise … They have a law that new members on admission to the sect shall forfeit their property to the order, with the result that you will nowhere see either abject poverty or inordinate wealth; the individual’s possessions join the common stock and all, like brothers, enjoy a single patrimony …

They live to a great age—most of them to upwards of a century—in consequence, I imagine, of the simplicity and regularity of their mode of life. They make light of danger, and triumph over pain by their resolute will … The war with the Romans tried their souls through and through by every variety of test. Racked and twisted, burnt and broken, and made to pass through every instrument of torture in order to induce them to blaspheme their lawgiver or to eat some forbidden thing, never once did they cringe to their persecutors or shed a tear.”

(The Jewish War 2.119–154)