It is said that Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousand pairs of disciples
dispersed about between Gabbath and Antipatris, and all of them died
within a short period because they paid no honor to one another. The
land was then desolate until Rabbi Akiva came among our Rabbis of the
south and taught the law to Rabbis Meir, Yehudah, Yossi, Shimon, and
Elazer ben Shamua, who re-established its authority.
THE TALMUD, _Yevamoth_, fol. 26, col. 2.