Josephus: Jewish War, Book 1

Sections 236 - 363


Translated by H.St.J. Thackeray (1927). The section numbers in the Greek text are shown in red; the traditional chapter numbers (as in Whiston's translation) are shown in green.  

 See key to translations for an explanation of the format. Click on the G symbols to go to the Greek text of each section.  

← Previous sections (120 - 235)   

{12.}   [236] G   The exit of Cassius from Syria was followed by a fresh outbreak at Jerusalem. A certain Helix, with a body of troops, attacked Phasael, wishing to punish Herod, through his brother, for the chastisement which he had inflicted on Malichus. Herod at the time was with Fabius the Roman general at Damascus, where, though impatient to lend his aid, he was detained by illness. [237] Meanwhile Phasael, unassisted, defeated Helix and reproached Hyrcanus for ingratitude both in abetting the rebel and in allowing the brother of Malichus to take possession of the fortresses. Quite a large number of these had been taken, including Masada, the strongest of all.   

[238] G   But nothing could avail the captor against the might of Herod. Once restored to health, he recovered the other forts and ousted him from Masada, a suppliant for mercy. He likewise expelled from Galilee Marion, the despot of Tyre, already master of three of the strongholds. The Tyrians whom he took prisoners, he spared to a man ; some he even sent away with presents, to procure for himself the favour of the citizens and for the tyrant their hatred. [239] Marion owed his position to Cassius, who had cut up the whole of Syria into principalities. Hatred of Herod had led to his taking part in bringing back the exiled Antigonus, son of Aristobulus ; and in this he was influenced still more by Fabius, whom Antigonus had induced by bribery to assist in his restoration. All the exile's expenses were met by his brother-in-law, Ptolemaeus.  

[240] G   These enemies were opposed by Herod at the entry to the territory of Judaea, where a battle took place in which he was victorious. Antigonus being banished from the country, Herod returned to Jerusalem, where his success won him all men's hearts. Even those who had hitherto stood aloof were now reconciled by his marriage into the family of Hyrcanus. [241] His first wife was a local woman of some standing, named Doris, by whom he had a son, Antipater ; but now he married Mariamme, daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, and grand-daughter of Hyrcanus, and thus became kinsman of the king.   

[242] G   After the death of Cassius at Philippi, the victors departed, Caesar going to Italy, Antony to Asia. Embassies from the various states waited upon Antony in Bithynia, and among them came the Jewish leaders, who accused Phasael and Herod of usurping the government and leaving to Hyrcanus  merely titular honours. Herod thereupon appeared  and by large bribes so wrought upon Antony that he refused his adversaries a hearing. So for the time being these enemies were dispersed.   

[243] But on a later occasion a hundred Jewish officials approached Antony, now a slave to his passion for Cleopatra, at Daphne beside Antioch, and, putting forward the most eminent and eloquent of their number, laid accusations against the brothers. The defence was undertaken by Messala, Hyrcanus supporting him because of his marriage connexion with Herod. [244] G   After hearing both parties, Antony inquired of Hyrcanus who was the best qualified ruler. Hyrcanus pronouncing in favour of Herod and his brother, Antony was delighted, because he had formerly been their father's guest and had been hospitably entertained by Antipater when he accompanied Gabinius on his Judaean campaign. He, accordingly, made the brothers tetrarchs, entrusting to them the administration of the whole of Judaea.   

[245] The deputies giving vent to indignation, Antony arrested and imprisoned fifteen of them, and  was even prepared to put them to death ; the rest he ignominiously dismissed. His action intensified the agitation in Jerusalem. A second embassy, numbering this time a thousand, was sent to Tyre, where Antony had broken the journey to Jerusalem. To check the clamour of this party he dispatched the governor of Tyre, with orders to chastise all whom he caught and to support the authority of the tetrarchs whom he had appointed.   

[246] G   Before these orders were executed, Herod, accompanied by Hyrcanus, came out to the deputies on the shore, and strongly recommended them not to bring ruin upon themselves and war upon their country by injudicious strife. His words only increasing their fury, Antony ordered out troops, who killed or wounded a large number ; burial for the dead and medical attention for the wounded were granted by Hyrcanus. [247] Those who escaped were, even now, not silenced, and by the disturbance which they created in the city so exasperated Antony that he put his prisoners to death.   

{13.}   [248] G   Two years later, Barzapharnes, the Parthian satrap, with Pacorus, the king's son, occupied Syria. Lysanias, who had inherited the principality of his father Ptolemaeus, son of Mennaeus, induced the  satrap, by the promise of a thousand talents and five hundred women, to bring back Antigonus and raise him to the throne, after deposing Hyrcanus. [249] Lured by this offer, Pacorus followed the coast route, directing Barzapharnes to advance through the interior. Of the maritime towns, Tyre closed its gates to Pacorus, Ptolemais and Sidon admitted him. Entrusting a squadron of horse to one of the royal cup-bearers who bore his own name, the prince ordered him to proceed in advance into Judaea, to reconnoitre the enemy's position and to lend Antigonus such aid as he might require.   

[250] G   While these troops were raiding Carmel, Jews flocked to Antigonus in large numbers and volunteered for the invasion. These he sent forward with orders to capture a place called Drymus. Here they came into action, repulsed the enemy, rushed in pursuit to Jerusalem, and, with growing numbers, actually reached the palace. [251] They were received by Hyrcanus and Phasael with a strong force, and a fierce battle ensued in the market-place. The Herodian party routed their adversaries, shut them up in the temple, and posted sixty men in the adjoining houses to keep guard over them. [252] G   The section of the populace that was in league against the brothers attacked this garrison and burnt them to death, which so enraged Herod that he turned his arms against the citizens and slew many of them. Every day small companies sallied out against each other, and slaughter was incessant.   

[253] When the feast called Pentecost came round, the whole neighbourhood of the temple and the entire city were crowded with country-folk, for the most part in arms. Phasael defended the walls ; Herod, with a small force, the palace. With this he descended upon the enemy's disordered ranks in the suburb, killed large numbers of them, put the rest to flight and shut them up, some in the city, others in the temple, others in the entrenched camp outside the walls. [254] G   Thereupon, Antigonus petitioned for the admission of Pacorus as mediator. Phasael consented, and received into the city and offered hospitality to the Parthian, who, with five hundred horsemen, had come ostensibly to put an end to strife, in reality to support Antigonus. [255] With this object, Pacorus insidiously induced Phasael to go on an embassy to Barzapharnes with a view to the  cessation of hostilities. So, notwithstanding the  strong dissuasion of Herod, who urged his brother to kill the schemer and not to abandon himself to his schemes, barbarians being (he said) by nature perfidious, Phasael left the city, accompanied by Hyrcanus. To allay suspicions, Pacorus left with Herod some of the cavalry called by the Parthians " Freemen " ; with the remainder he escorted Phasael on his way.   

[256] G   On their arrival in Galilee they found the inhabitants in revolt and up in arms. The satrap, with whom they had an audience, was a very crafty individual who disguised his plot under a show of benevolence : he gave them presents, and then laid an ambush to catch them on their departure. [257] They discovered the conspiracy at a maritime town, where they halted, named Ekdippa. There they heard of the promise of the thousand talents, and that the five hundred women whom Antigonus had devoted to the Parthians included most of their own ; [258] G   that the barbarians invariably kept a watch upon them at night ; and that they would long since have been arrested, had not the conspirators been waiting till Herod was caught at Jerusalem, fearing that the news of their capture would put him on his guard. This was now no mere idle gossip ; for already they could see the sentries posted in the distance.   

[259] Phasael, however, notwithstanding the urgent exhortations to flee made to him by a certain Ophellius, who had learnt the whole plan of the conspiracy from Saramalla, the wealthiest Syrian of his time, could not bring himself to desert Hyrcanus. Instead, he went to the satrap and frankly reproached him for the plot, and in particular for acting as he had done from mercenary motives ; undertaking, for his part, to give him a larger sum for his life than Antigonus had promised for a kingdom. [260] G   To this the Parthian made a wily reply, clearing himself of suspicion by protestations and oaths, and went off to join Pacorus. Immediately after, certain Parthians who had been left behind, with orders to do so, arrested Phasael and Hyrcanus, the prisoners cursing them bitterly for their perjury and breach of faith.   

[261] Meanwhile a plot to arrest Herod also was in progress, and the cup-bearer who had been sent to execute it was, in accordance with instructions, endeavouring to lure him to come outside the walls. Herod, however, having suspected the barbarians from the first, had now learnt that letters informing him of the conspiracy had fallen into the enemy's hands. He, therefore, refused to come out, notwithstanding the highly plausible assertions of Pacorus that he ought to meet the bearers of the documents, which, he said, had neither been intercepted by his enemies, nor contained any mention of a plot but a full report of Phasael's proceedings. [263] But Herod had already heard from another source of his brother's arrest. Moreover, Mariamme, the daughter of Hyrcanus, most sagacious of women, came and implored him not to venture out or trust himself to the barbarians, who were now openly planning his ruin.   

[263] While Pacorus and his accomplices were still deliberating by what stealthy means they might achieve their design, as it was impossible openly to triumph over so powerful an adversary, Herod forestalled them and, unobserved by his enemies, set out by night, with the nearest and dearest of his family, for Idumaea. [264] G   The Parthians, discovering his flight, started in pursuit. Herod, thereupon, directed his mother and sisters, the young girl who was betrothed to him, with her mother, and his youngest brother to continue their journey, and then, aided by his attendants, secured their retreat, holding the barbarians at bay. In every encounter he slew large numbers of them, and then pressed on to the fortress of Masada.   

[265] But he found in this flight the Jews even more troublesome than the Parthians, for they perpetually harassed him, and at a distance of sixty stades from the city brought on a regular action which was prolonged for a considerable time. Here Herod eventually defeated them with great slaughter ; and here subsequently, to commemorate his victory, he founded a city, adorned it with the most costly palaces, erected a citadel of commanding strength, and called it after his own name Herodion. [266] G   Thenceforward the fugitive was joined daily by many others, and on reaching Rhesa in Idumaea was advised by his brother Joseph, who met him there, to disencumber himself of the bulk of his followers, Masada being unable to accommodate such a crowd, numbering upwards of nine thousand. [267] Herod, acting on his advice, dispersed throughout Idumaea those who were more an encumbrance than an assistance, after supplying them with provisions ; and retaining the most stalwart of them together with his cherished kinsfolk reached the fortress in safety. Leaving there a guard of eight hundred to protect the women, with sufficient supplies to stand a siege, he himself pushed on to Petra in Arabia.   

[268] G   In Jerusalem, meanwhile, the Parthians gave themselves up to pillage, breaking into the houses of the fugitives and into the palace ; refraining only from the funds of Hyrcanus, which, however, amounted to no more than three hundred talents. Elsewhere they found less than they had expected ; for Herod, long since suspecting the barbarians of perfidy, had taken the precaution of removing the most precious of his treasures to Idumaea, and each of his friends had done likewise. [269] After the pillage, the insolence of the Parthians proceeded to extremes. They let loose on the whole country the horrors of implacable war, laid the city of Marisa in ruins, and, not content with raising Antigonus to the throne, delivered up to him Phasael and Hyrcanus, in chains, for torture. [270] G   Hyrcanus threw himself at the feet of Antigonus, who with his own teeth lacerated his suppliant's ears, in order to disqualify him for ever, under any change of circumstances, from resuming the high priesthood ; since freedom from physical defect is essential to the holder of that office.  

[271] Phasael, on the other hand, courageously  forestalled the king's malice by dashing his head upon a rock, being deprived of the use of hands or steel. Thus showing himself to be a true brother of Herod, and Hyrcanus the most ignoble of men, he died a hero's death - an end in keeping with his life's career. [272] G   According to another account, Phasael recovered from his self-inflicted blow, and a physician sent by Antigonus, ostensibly to attend him, injected noxious drugs into the wound and so killed him. But whichever account be true, the initial act redounds to his glorious credit. It is said, moreover, that before he expired, being informed by a woman  of Herod's escape, he exclaimed, "Now I shall depart happy, since I leave one behind me who will have vengeance on my foes,"   

[273] Such was Phasael's end. The Parthians, though disappointed of their most coveted prize, the women, none the less installed Antigonus as master in Jerusalem, and carried off Hyrcanus  prisoner to Parthia.   

{14.}   [274] G   Herod, in the belief that his brother was, still alive, was now accelerating his march to Arabia,  hastening to obtain from its king the money by king of which alone he hoped to move the avaricious barbarians on behalf of Phasael. For, should the Arab prove unduly forgetful of the ties of friendship with his (Herod's) father and too mean to make him a present, he counted on borrowing from him the amount of the ransom and leaving in pledge the son of the prisoner whom he wished to redeem ; [275] for he had with him his nephew, a lad of seven years old. He was, moreover, prepared to give three hundred talents, offering as his sureties the Tyrians who had volunteered their services. Fate, however, proved to have outstripped his zeal : Phasael was dead and , Herod's fraternal affection was all in vain. He found, too, that the Arabs were no longer his friends. [276] G   For their king, Malchus, forwarded peremptory orders to him instantly to quit his territory, pretending to lave received formal notice from the Parthians to expel Herod from Arabia ; in reality, he was deternined not to repay his debts to Antipater, nor to be forced by any sense of shame into making the slightest return, for all he had received from the father, to his children in their hour of need. His advisers in this shameless conduct were the most powerful men at his court, who like himself desired to embezzle the moneys entrusted to them by Antipater.   

[277] Herod, finding the Arabs hostile to him for the very reasons which had made him look for their warm friendship, gave the messengers the reply which his feelings dictated and turned back towards Egypt. The first evening he encamped in one of the temples of the country, where he picked up those of his men who had been left in the rear. The next day he advanced to Rhinocorura, where he received the news of his brother's death. [278] G   His load of anxiety thus replaced by as heavy a burden of grief, he resumed his march. The Arab king, now tardily repenting his conduct, dispatched messengers in haste to recall his insulted suitor ; but Herod outstripped them, having already readied Pelusium. Here, being refused a passage by the fleet stationed in that port, he applied to the authorities, who, out of respect for his fame and rank, escorted him to Alexandria. [279] On entering the city he had a magnificent reception from Cleopatra, who hoped to entrust him with the command of an expedition which she was preparing ; but he eluded the queen's solicitations, and, deterred neither by the perils of mid-winter nor by the disturbances in Italy, set sail for Rome.  

[280] G   Nearly shipwrecked off Pamphylia, after throwing overboard the bulk of the cargo, he with difficulty came safe to Rhodes, which had suffered severely from the war with Cassius. Here he was welcomed by his friends Ptolemaeus and Sapphinius, and, notwithstanding his lack of funds, procured the construction of an immense trireme, [281] which carried him and his friends to Brundisium, whence he sped to Rome. He waited first on Antony, as his father's friend, and told him the story of his own and his family's misfortunes, and how he had left his nearest relatives besieged in a fortress and crossed the sea in the depth of winter to implore his aid.   

[282] G   Antony was moved with compassion at his  reverse of fortune ; and influenced by the recollection of Antipater's hospitality, but above all by  the heroic qualities of the man in front of him,  determined then and there to make him king of the Jews whom he had himself previously appointed tetrarch. [283] Besides admiration for Herod, he had as strong an incentive in his aversion for Antigonus, whom he regarded as a promoter of sedition and an enemy of Rome. Caesar proved a yet more ready champion than Antony, as his memory recalled the part which Antipater had borne with his own father in the Egyptian campaigns, his hospitality and invariable loyalty, while his eyes rested on Herod and read his enterprising character. [284] G   So he convened the Senate, to which Messala, seconded by Atratinus, presented Herod and dwelt on the services rendered by his father and his own goodwill towards the Roman people ; demonstrating at the same time that Antigonus was their enemy, not only from the earlier quarrel which they had had with him, but because he had also just been guilty of contempt of Rome in accepting his crown from Parthian hands. These words stirred the Senate, and when Antony came forward and said that with a view to the war with Parthia it was expedient that Herod should be king, the proposal was carried unanimously. [285] The meeting was dissolved and Antony and Caesar left the senate-house with Herod between them, preceded by the consuls and the other magistrates, as they went to offer sacrifice and to lay up the decree in the Capitol. On this, the first day of his reign, Herod was given a banquet by Antony.   

{15.}   [286] G   All this time Antigonus was besieging the occupants of Masada, who, though well supplied with all other necessaries, were in want of water. In these straits Joseph, Herod's brother, with two hundred of his men resolved to escape to Arabia, having heard that Malchus had repented of his criminal treatment of Herod. [287] He was on the point of leaving the fortress, when on the very night fixed for his departure, rain fell in abundance ; the reservoirs were replenished and Joseph saw no further need for flight. Instead, the garrison now began to sally out against the forces of Antigonus and partly in open combat, partly by ambuscades, destroyed a considerable number. They were not, however, uniformly successful, meeting with occasional reverses themselves and being forced to retire.   

[288] G   Meanwhile Ventidius, the Roman general dispatched from Syria to hold the Parthians in check, had in his pursuit of them advanced into Judaea, nominally to relieve Joseph and his friends, but in reality to extort money from Antigonus. [289] He accordingly encamped in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem and, after glutting his avarice, retired with the bulk of his troops ; leaving, however, a detachment under the command of Silo, to prevent the detection of his mercenary proceedings which might ensue from the withdrawal of the entire force. Antigonus, on his side, hoping for renewed assistance from the Parthians, meanwhile paid court to Silo, as he had to Ventidius, to prevent any trouble from him before his expectations were realised.   

[290] G   But already Herod, having sailed from Italy to Ptolemais and collected a considerable army of  foreign and native troops, was advancing through Galilee upon Antigonus. Ventidius and Silo, induced by Dellius, Antony's emissary, to assist in reinstating Herod, were co-operating. [291] But Ventidius was occupied in quelling local disturbances arising out of the Parthian invasion, while Silo, corrupted by the bribes of Antigonus, lingered in Judaea. Herod, however, had no lack of support : new recruits added daily to his strength as he advanced, and, with few exceptions, all Galilee went over to him. [292] G   The most urgent task ahead of him was Masada and, above all, the liberation of his relatives from the siege. But Joppa was a preliminary obstacle. For that town being hostile had first to be reduced, in order that there might be no stronghold left in enemy hands in his rear when he marched against Jerusalem. Silo, glad of an excuse for quitting Jerusalem, now proceeded to join him, hotly pursued by the Jews. Herod with a small party flew out upon them and soon routed them, rescuing Silo, who was making but a poor defence.   

[293] Then, after taking Joppa, he hastened to Masada to rescue his friends. The country - folk rallied to him, some drawn by old affection for his father, others by his own renown ; some in return for benefits conferred by both father and son, but the majority attracted by their expectations from one whose claim to the throne seemed assured ; so that by now he had assembled a formidable army. [294] G   Antigonus sought to obstruct his advance by posting ambuscades in suitable passes, but caused little or no injury to the enemy. Herod without difficulty rescued his friends in Masada, recovered the fortress of Rhesa, and then marched against Jerusalem ; where he was joined by Silo's troops and by many of the citizens, who were alarmed at the strength of his army.   

[295] Having encamped on the west side of the town, his forces were assailed by showers of arrows and javelins from the guards posted at that quarter, while others sallying out in companies made attacks on his outposts. At the outset, Herod ordered heralds to patrol the walls and proclaim that he had come for the good of the people and the salvation of the city, that he had no intention of punishing even avowed enemies and would grant an amnesty to his bitterest foes. [296] G   But when Antigonus issued counter-exhortations forbidding any to listen to these proclamations or to go over to the enemy, Herod at once gave his men permission to retaliate on their assailants on the ramparts, and with their missiles they soon drove them all out of the towers.   

[297] And now Silo's conduct betrayed his corruption. For he induced a large number of his soldiers to raise an outcry about a lack of supplies and to demand money for the purchase of provisions and to be marched to suitable winter quarters, as the troops of Antigonus had already completely cleared the neighbourhood of the city and reduced it to a desert. He, therefore, broke up his camp and attempted to retire. [298] G   Herod, however, interviewed first the officers of Silo's staff and then the assembled troops, and besought them not to desert him, holding, as he did, a commission from Caesar, Antony, and the senate; "for," said he, "this very day I will relieve your wants." [299] After making this appeal he instantly set off in person into the country and brought back such an abundance of supplies as to cut away all Silo's excuses ; while, to ensure that there should be no shortage in the immediate future, he instructed the inhabitants of the district of Samaria, that city having declared in his favour, to bring corn, wine, oil, and cattle down to Jericho. [300] G   Hearing of this, Antigonus issued orders throughout the country to hold-up and waylay the convoys. Acting on these orders, large bodies of men in arms assembled above Jericho and took up positions on the hills, on the look-out for the conveyors of the supplies. [301] Herod, however, was on the alert, and with ten cohorts, of which five were Roman, and five Jewish with mercenaries intermixed, and a small body of horse, proceeded to Jericho. He found the city deserted and the heights occupied by five hundred persons with their wives and children. [302] G   These he made prisoners and then released ; while the Romans fell upon and rifled the rest of the town, where they found the houses full of treasures of every sort. Leaving a garrison in Jericho, the king returned and dismissed his Roman army to winter quarters in the districts which had joined his standard, Idumaea, Galilee, and Samaria. Antigonus, on his side, to ingratiate himself with Antony, induced Silo by a bribe to billet a division of his troops in Lydda.  

{16.}   [303] While the Romans were thus living on the fat of the land, at rest from arms, Herod, never idle, occupied Idumaea with two thousand foot and four hundred horse, which he sent thither under his brother Joseph, to prevent any insurrection in favour of Antigonus. His own care was the removal of his mother and other relations, whom he had rescued from Masada, to Samaria ; having safely installed them there, he set out to reduce the remaining strongholds of Galilee and to expel the garrisons of  Antigonus.   

[304] G   He pushed on to Sepphoris through a very heavy snowstorm and took possession of the city without a contest, the garrison having fled before his assault. Here, provisions being abundant, he refreshed his troops, sorely tried by the tempest, and then started on a campaign against the cave-dwelling brigands, who were infesting a wide area  and inflicting on the inhabitants evils no less than those of war. [305] Having sent in advance three battalions of infantry and a squadron of cavalry to the village of Arbela, he joined them forty days later with the rest of his army. Nothing daunted by his approach, the enemy, who combined the experience of seasoned warriors with the daring of brigands, went armed to meet him, [306] G   and, coming into action, routed Herod's left wing with their right. Herod instantly wheeling round his troops from the right wing, where he was in command, came to the relief, and not only checked the flight of his own men, but falling upon their pursuers broke their charge, until, overpowered by his frontal attacks, they in turn gave way.   

[307] Herod pursued them, with slaughter, to the Jordan and destroyed large numbers of them ; the rest fled across the river and dispersed. Thus was Galilee purged of its terrors, save for the remnant still lurking in the caves, and their extirpation required time. [308] G   So, before proceeding further, Herod awarded to his soldiers the fruits of their labours, distributing to each man a hundred and fifty drachmas of silver and to their officers much larger sums, and then dismissed them to their various winter quarters. He instructed Pheroras, his youngest brother, to take charge of the commissariat department and to fortify Alexandrion ; both tasks received his brother's attention.   

[309] At this time Antony was residing in the neighbourhood of Athens, and Silo and Herod were summoned by Ventidius for the war with Parthia, being instructed first to settle affairs in Judaea. Herod gladly dismissed Silo to Ventidius, and set out himself on a campaign against the bandits in the caves. [310] G   These caves, opening on to mountain precipices, were inaccessible from any quarter, except by some tortuous and extremely narrow paths leading up to them ; the cliff in front of them dropped sheer down into ravines far below, with water-courses at the bottom. The king was, consequently, for long baffled by the impracticable nature of the ground, but at length had recourse to a most hazardous scheme. [311] By means of ropes he lowered the most stalwart of his men in cradles and so gave them access to the cavern-mouths ; these then massacred the brigands and their families, hurling in fire-brands upon those who resisted. Anxious to save some of them, Herod, by word of herald, summoned them to his presence. Not one of them voluntarily surrendered, and of those taken by force many preferred death to captivity. [312] G   It was then that one old man, the father of seven children, being asked by them and their mother permission to leave under Herod's pledge, killed them in the following manner. Ordering them to come forward one by one, he stood at the entrance and slew each son as he advanced. Herod, watching this spectacle from a conspicuous spot, was profoundly affected and, extending his hand to the old man, implored him to spare his children ; [313] but he, unmoved by any word of Herod, and even upbraiding him as a low-born upstart, followed up the slaughter of his sons by that of his wife, and, having flung their corpses down the precipice, finally threw himself over after them.   

[314] G   Herod having thus mastered the caves and their inhabitants, leaving behind him under the command of Ptolemaeus a contingent sufficient, in his opinion, to repress insurrection, returned towards Samaria, bringing to meet Antigonus a force of three thousand heavy infantry and six hundred cavalry. [315] Thereupon, emboldened by his departure, the usual promoters of disturbance in Galilee made a surprise attack on his general Ptolemaeus and slew him, and proceeded to ravage the country, finding refuge in the marshes and other places difficult to search. [316] G   Apprised of the revolt, Herod returned in haste to the relief, killed a large number of the rebels, besieged and destroyed all their fortresses, and imposed on the towns, as the penalty for their defection, a fine of a hundred talents.   

[317] The Parthians having now at last been expelled  and Pacorus slain, Ventidius, under instructions from Antony, dispatched a thousand horse with two legions to support Herod in opposing Antigonus, the officer in command being Machaeras. To this general Antigonus wrote, imploring him instead to come to his own assistance, complaining bitterly of Herod's high-handed and abusive treatment of the realm, and adding a promise of money. [318] G   Machaeras, not being prepared for such contempt of his superior's  orders, especially as Herod was offering him a larger sum, declined the temptation to treason, but, feigning amity, went off to spy out the position of Antigonus, without listening to Herod, who tried to dissuade him. [319] Antigonus, divining his intention, refused him admittance to the city, and repulsed him from the walls as an enemy ; until at length Machaeras, for very shame, was forced to retire to Emmaus and rejoin Herod. Infuriated by his discomfiture, he killed all the Jews whom he met on his march, not even sparing the Herodians, but treating all alike as friends of Antigonus.   

[320] G   At this Herod, in indignation, hastened to attack Machaeras as an enemy, but, restraining his anger, set out instead to lay before Antony an accusation of his enormities. Machaeras, reflecting on his errors, pursued after the king and by dint of entreaties succeeded in pacifying him. [321] Herod, notwithstanding, continued his march to join Antony ; the receipt of intelligence that the latter with a large army was assaulting Samosata, a strong city near the Euphrates, quickened his pace, as he saw in this a favourable opportunity for displaying his courage and strengthening his hold upon Antony's affection. [322] G   His arrival, in fact, brought the siege to a conclusion. He killed numbers of the barbarians and secured booty in abundance, with the result that Antony, who had long admired his valour, now held it in even higher respect, and largely increased both his honours and his high expectations of sovereignty ; while King Antiochus was compelled to surrender Samosata.   

{17.}   [323] Meanwhile Herod's cause had suffered a  grave reverse in Judaea. He had left his brother Joseph in charge of the realm, with injunctions to take no action against Antigonus until his return, because the previous conduct of Machaeras proved him to be an untrustworthy ally. No sooner, however, did Joseph hear that his brother was at a safe distance, than, disregarding instructions, he marched towards Jericho with five cohorts sent to him by Machaeras, with the object of carrying off the corncrop in its midsummer prime. [324] G   On the way he was  attacked by his adversaries on difficult ground in the hills ; after displaying great gallantry in the battle he fell, and the whole Roman force was cut to pieces. For the cohorts had been recently levied in Syria and had no leavening of the so-called "veterans" to support these raw recruits.   

[325] Not content with his victory, Antigonus was so far carried away by rage as actually to do outrage to Joseph's corpse. Being in possession of the bodies of the slain, he had his head cut off, notwithstanding the ransom of fifty talents with which Pheroras, the brother of the deceased, offered to redeem it. [326] G   In Galilee this victory of Antigonus led to so serious a revolution that his partisans dragged out of their houses the men of rank who were in favour of Herod and drowned them in the lake. There was defection also in many parts of Idumaea, where Machaeras was rebuilding the walls of a fortress called Gittha. [327] Of all this Herod as yet knew nothing. For after the capture of Samosata Antony had appointed Sossius governor of Syria, with orders to support Herod in opposing Antigonus, and had then taken his departure for Egypt. Sossius, thereupon, sent on two legions into Judaea to assist Herod, and followed himself close behind with the rest of his troops.   

[328] G   But while Herod was at Daphne, near Antioch, he had a dream distinctly warning him of his brother's  death, and springing in horror from his bed was met by the messengers bringing news of the catastrophe. After brief lamentation for his loss, he deferred further mourning for another season and set out in haste to meet his foes. [329] By forced marches he pushed on to Lebanon, where he received a reinforcement of eight hundred of the mountaineers and was joined by one of the Roman legions. With these allies, without waiting for daylight, he invaded Galilee ; he was met by the enemy, but drove them back to the position which they had just left. [330] G   He made repeated attacks upon their fortress, but before he could capture it was compelled by a terrific storm to encamp in the neighbouring villages. A few days later he was joined by the second of Antony's legions, whereupon the enemy, alarmed at his strength, under cover of night evacuated their stronghold.   

[331] His subsequent march, accelerated by the desire for speedy vengeance on his brother's murderers, took him through Jericho. Here he had a providential and miraculous escape, the surprising nature of which won him the reputation of a special favourite of heaven. A large company of magistrates had dined with him that evening, and no sooner had the banquet ended and all the guests departed, than the building collapsed. [332] G   Seeing in this an omen alike of perils and of preservation during the coming campaign, he at daybreak put his troops in motion. Some six thousand of the enemy rushed down from the hills and assailed his vanguard ; they had not the courage to come to close quarters with the Romans, but pelted them from a distance with stones and darts, wounding many of them. On this occasion Herod himself, while riding along the lines, was struck by a javelin in the side.   

[333] Antigonus, wishing to create an impression of the superiority of his men, not only in enterprise but in numbers, dispatched an army to Samaria under one of his comrades named Pappus, [334] G   whose commission was to oppose Machaeras. Herod, meanwhile, ravaged the enemy's territory, subdued five small towns, slew two thousand of their inhabitants, set fire to the houses, and returned to his camp. His present headquarters were in the neighbourhood of a village called Cana.   

[335] Multitudes of Jews now joined him daily from Jericho and elsewhere, some drawn by hatred of Antigonus, others by his own successes, the majority by a blind love of change. Herod was burning for a fight, and Pappus, undeterred either by the number or the ardour of his adversaries, advanced with alacrity to meet them. [336] G   On coming into action the enemy made a brief stand in other parts of the line ; but Herod, with his memories of his murdered brother, hazarding all to be avenged on his murderers, quickly overcame the troops in front of him, and then, successively directing his attacks upon any that still held together, routed the whole body. [337] A scene of carnage ensued, the enemy driven pell-mell back into the village from which they had issued, Herod pressing upon their rear and massacring untold numbers. Rushing with his foes into the village, he found every house packed with soldiers and the roofs thronged with others who attacked him from above. [338] G   After defeating his enemies in the open, he pulled the buildings to pieces and dragged out those within. Many perished in a mass under the roofs which he brought down upon their heads, while those who escaped from beneath the ruins were met by the soldiers with drawn swords ; and there was such a heap of corpses that the streets were impassable to the victors. [339] This blow was too much for the enemy ; those of them who rallied after the battle, when they saw the village strewn with dead, dispersed and fled. With the confidence of his victory, Herod would instantly have marched upon Jerusalem, had he not been detained by a storm of exceptional severity. This accident impeded the completion of his success and the defeat of Antigonus, who was by now meditating the abandonment of the capital.  

[340] G   That evening, Herod having dismissed his companions to refresh themselves after their fatigues, went himself just as he was, yet hot from the fight, to take a bath, like any common soldier, for only a single slave attended him. Before he entered the bath-house one of the enemy ran out in front of him, sword in hand, then a second and a third, followed by more. [341] These were men who had escaped from the combat and taken refuge, fully armed, in the baths. There for a while they had remained lurking and concealed ; but when they saw the king, they were panic-stricken and ran trembling past him, unarmed though he was, and made for the exits. By chance not a man was there to lay hands on them ; but Herod was content to have come off unscathed, and so they all escaped.   

[342] G   On the following day he cut off the head of  Pappus, Antigonus's general, who had been killed in the combat, and sent it to his brother Pheroras in retribution for the murder of their brother ; for it was Pappus who had slain Joseph. [343] When the tempest abated, he advanced upon Jerusalem and marched his army up to the walls, it being now just three years since he had been proclaimed king in Rome. He encamped opposite the Temple, for from that quarter the city was open to attack and had on a previous occasion been captured by Pompey. [344] G   He then appointed his army their several tasks, cut down the trees in the suburbs, and gave orders to raise three lines of earth-works and to erect towers upon them. Leaving his most efficient lieutenants to superintend these works, he went off himself Samaria to fetch the daughter of Alexander, son of Aristobulus, who, as we have said { 1.241}, was betrothed to him. Thus, so contemptuous was he already of the enemy, he made his wedding an interlude of the siege.   

[345] After his marriage he returned with a larger force to Jerusalem. Here too he was joined by Sossius with an imposing army of horse and foot,  which that general had sent on ahead through the interior, while he himself took the route by Phoenicia. [346] G   The total strength of the united armies amounted to eleven battalions of infantry and six thousand cavalry, not including the Syrian auxiliaries, who formed no inconsiderable contingent. The two generals encamped near the north wall : Herod with the confidence inspired by the senatorial decrees, which had proclaimed him king ; Sossius relying on Antony, who had dispatched the army under his command in support of Herod.   

{18.}   [347] Throughout the city the agitation of the  Jewish populace showed itself in various forms. The feebler folk, congregating round the Temple, indulged in transports of frenzy and fabricated numerous oracular utterances to fit the crisis. The more daring went out in companies on marauding expeditions of all kinds, their main object being to seize all provisions in the neighbourhood of the city and to leave no sustenance for horse or man . [348] G   Of the military the more disciplined men were employed in repelling the besiegers, from their position on the ramparts beating off the excavators of the earth-works and constantly contriving some new means of parrying the enemy's engines ; but it was above all in their mining operations that they showed their superiority.   

[349] To stop the raiders the king arranged ambuscades, by which he succeeded in checking their incursions ; to meet the shortage of provisions he had supplies brought from a distance ; while as for the combatants, the military experience of the Romans gave him the advantage over them, although their audacity knew no bounds. [350] G   If they did not openly fling themselves against the Roman lines, to face certain death, they would through their underground passages appear suddenly in the enemy's midst ; and before one portion of the wall was overthrown they were erecting another in its stead. In a word, neither in action nor ingenuity did they ever flag, fully resolving to hold out to the last. [351] In fact, notwithstanding the strength of the beleaguering army, they sustained the siege into the fifth month ; until some of Herod's picked men ventured to scale the wall and leapt into the city, followed by Sossius's centurions. The environs of the Temple were first secured, and, when the troops poured in, a scene of wholesale massacre ensued ; for the Romans were infuriated by the length of the siege, and the Jews of Herod's army were determined to leave none of their opponents alive. [352] G   Masses were butchered in the alleys, crowded together in the houses, and flying to the sanctuary No quarter was given to infancy, to age, or to helpless womanhood. Nay, though the king sent messengers in every direction, entreating them to spare, none stayed his hand, but like madmen they wreaked their rage on all ages indiscriminately. [353] In this scene Antigonus, regardless alike of his former fortune and that which now was his, came down from the castle and threw himself at the feet of Sossius. The latter, far from pitying his changed condition, burst into uncontrollable laughter and called him Antigone. He did not, however, treat him as a woman and leave him at liberty : no, he was put in irons and kept under strict guard.    

[354] G   Now master of his enemies, Herod's next task  was to gain the mastery over his foreign allies ; for this crowd of aliens rushed to see the Temple and the holy contents of the sanctuary. The king expostulated, threatened, sometimes even had recourse to weapons to keep them back, deeming victory more grievous than defeat, if these people should set eyes on any objects not open to public view. [355] Now too he put a stop to the pillage of the town, forcibly representing to Sossius that, if the Romans emptied the city of money and men, they would leave him king of a desert, and that he would count the empire of the world itself too dearly bought with the slaughter of so many citizens. [356] G   Sossius replying that he was justified in permitting the soldiers to pillage in return for their labours in the siege, Herod promised to distribute rewards to each man out of his private resources. Having thus redeemed what remained of his country, he duly fulfilled his engagement, remunerating each soldier liberally, the officers in proportion, and Sossius himself with truly royal munificence, so that none went unprovided. [357] Sossius, after dedicating to God a crown of gold, withdrew from Jerusalem, taking with him to Antony Antigonus in chains. This prisoner, to the last clinging with forlorn hope to life, fell beneath the axe, a fitting end to his ignominious career.   

[358] G   King Herod, discriminating between the two classes of the city population, by the award of honours attached more closely to himself those who had espoused his cause, while he exterminated the partisans of Antigonus. Finding his funds now reduced, he converted all the valuables in his possession into money, which he then transmitted to Antony and his staff. [359] Yet even at this price he failed to secure for himself complete exemption from injury ; for Antony, already demoralised by his love for Cleopatra, was becoming wholly enslaved to his passion, and Cleopatra, after killing off her own family, one after another, till not a single relative remained, was now thirsting for the blood of foreigners. [360] G   Laying before Antony calumnious charges against high officials in Syria, she urged him to put them to death, in the belief that she would have no difficulty in appropriating their possessions ; and now, her ambitions extending to Judaea and Arabia, she was secretly contriving the ruin of their respective kings, Herod and Malchus.   

[361] One part, at any rate, of her orders brought Antony to his sober senses : he held it sacrilege to take the lives of innocent men and kings of such eminence. But - what touched them more nearly he threw over his friends. He cut off large tracts of their territory - including, in particular, the palm-grove of Jericho where the balsam grows - and presented them to Cleopatra, together with all the towns to the south of the river Eleutherus, Tyre and Sidon excepted. [362] G   Now mistress of all this land, she escorted Antony, who was starting on a campaign against the Parthians, as far as the Euphrates, and then, by way of Apamea and Damascus, came into Judaea. There, by large bounties, Herod appeased her ill will, and agreed to take on lease for an annual sum of two hundred talents the lands which had been detached from his realm. He then escorted her to Pelusium, treating her with every mark of respect. [363] Not long after Antony returned from Parthia bringing, as a present for Cleopatra, his prisoner Artabazes, son of Tigranes ; for upon her, together with the money and all the spoils of war, the Parthian was instantly bestowed.    

Following sections (364 - 512) →


Attalus' home page   |   15.12.20   |   Any comments?