Wars of the Jews     by Flavius Josephus
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Book I, Chapter 18

How Herod And Sosius Took Jerusalem By Force; And What Death Antigonus Came To. Also Concerning Cleopatra's Avaricious Temper

1. Now the multitude of the Jews that were in the city were divided into several factions; for the people that crowded about the temple, being the weaker part of them, gave it out that, as the times were, he was the happiest and most religious man who should die first. But as to the more bold and hardy men, they got together in bodies, and fell a robbing others after various manners, and these particularly plundered the places that were about the city, and this because there was no food left either for the horses or the men; yet some of the warlike men, who were used to fight regularly, were appointed to defend the city during the siege, and these drove those that raised the banks away from the wall; and these were always inventing some engine or another to be a hinderance to the engines of the enemy; nor had they so much success any way as in the mines under ground.

2. Now as for the robberies which were committed, the king contrived that ambushes should be so laid, that they might restrain their excursions; and as for the want of provisions, he provided that they should be brought to them from great distances. He was also too hard for the Jews, by the Romans' skill in the art of war; although they were bold to the utmost degree, now they durst not come to a plain battle with the Romans, which was certain death; but through their mines under ground they would appear in the midst of them on the sudden, and before they could batter down one wall, they built them another in its stead; and to sum up all at once, they did not show any want either of painstaking or of contrivances, as having resolved to hold out to the very last. Indeed, though they had so great an army lying round about them, they bore a siege of five months, till some of Herod's chosen men ventured to get upon the wall, and fell into the city, as did Sosius's centurions after them; and now they first of all seized upon what was about the temple; and upon the pouring in of the army, there was slaughter of vast multitudes every where, by reason of the rage the Romans were in at the length of this siege, and by reason that the Jews who were about Herod earnestly endeavored that none of their adversaries might remain; so they were cut to pieces by great multitudes, as they were crowded together in narrow streets, and in houses, or were running away to the temple; nor was there any mercy showed either to infants, or to the aged, or to the weaker sex; insomuch that although the king sent about and desired them to spare the people, nobody could be persuaded to withhold their right hand from slaughter, but they slew people of all ages, like madmen. Then it was that Antigonus, without any regard to his former or to his present fortune, came down from the citadel, and fell at Sosius's feet, who without pitying him at all, upon the change of his condition, laughed at him beyond measure, and called him Antigona. (26) Yet did he not treat him like a woman, or let him go free, but put him into bonds, and kept him in custody.

3. But Herod's concern at present, now he had gotten his enemies under his power, was to restrain the zeal of his foreign auxiliaries; for the multitude of the strange people were very eager to see the temple, and what was sacred in the holy house itself; but the king endeavored to restrain them, partly by his exhortations, partly by his threatenings, nay, partly by force, as thinking the victory worse than a defeat to him, if any thing that ought not to be seen were seen by them. He also forbade, at the same time, the spoiling of the city, asking Sosius in the most earnest manner, whether the Romans, by thus emptying the city of money and men, had a mind to leave him king of a desert, and told him that he judged the dominion of the habitable earth too small a compensation for the slaughter of so many citizens. And when Sosius said that it was but just to allow the soldiers this plunder as a reward for what they suffered during the siege, Herod made answer, that he would give every one of the soldiers a reward out of his own money. So he purchased the deliverance of his country, and performed his promises to them, and made presents after a magnificent manner to each soldier, and proportionably to their commanders, and with a most royal bounty to Sosius himself, whereby nobody went away but in a wealthy condition. Hereupon Sosius dedicated a crown of gold to God, and then went away from Jerusalem, leading Antigonus away in bonds to Antony; then did the axe bring him to his end, (27) who still had a fond desire of life, and some frigid hopes of it to the last, but by his cowardly behavior well deserved to die by it.

4. Hereupon king Herod distinguished the multitude that was in the city; and for those that were of his side, he made them still more his friends by the honors he conferred on them; but for those of Antigonus's party, he slew them; and as his money ran low, he turned all the ornaments he had into money, and sent it to Antony, and to those about him. Yet could he not hereby purchase an exemption from all sufferings; for Antony was now bewitched by his love to Cleopatra, and was entirely conquered by her charms. Now Cleopatra had put to death all her kindred, till no one near her in blood remained alive, and after that she fell a slaying those no way related to her. So she calumniated the principal men among the Syrians to Antony, and persuaded him to have them slain, that so she might easily gain to be mistress of what they had; nay, she extended her avaricious humor to the Jews and Arabians, and secretly labored to have Herod and Malichus, the kings of both those nations, slain by his order.

5. Now is to these her injunctions to Antony, he complied in part; for though he esteemed it too abominable a thing to kill such good and great kings, yet was he thereby alienated from the friendship he had for them. He also took away a great deal of their country; nay, even the plantation of palm trees at Jericho, where also grows the balsam tree, and bestowed them upon her; as also all the cities on this side the river Eleutherus, Tyre and Sidon (28) excepted. And when she was become mistress of these, and had conducted Antony in his expedition against the Parthians as far as Euphrates, she came by Apamia and Damascus into Judea and there did Herod pacify her indignation at him by large presents. He also hired of her those places that had been torn away from his kingdom, at the yearly rent of two hundred talents. He conducted her also as far as Pelusium, and paid her all the respects possible. Now it was not long after this that Antony was come back from Parthia, and led with him Artabazes, Tigranes's son, captive, as a present for Cleopatra; for this Parthian was presently given her, with his money, and all the prey that was taken with him.

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Matt Curtin
Last modified: Wed Apr 26 20:14:16 EDT 1998