Wars of the Jews     by Flavius Josephus
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Book II, Chapter 2

Archelaus Goes To Rome With A Great Number Of His Kindred. He Is There Accused Before Caesar By Antipater; But Is Superior To His Accusers In Judgment By The Means Of That Defense Which Nicolaus Made For Him

1. Archelaus went down now to the sea-side, with his mother and his friends, Poplas, and Ptolemy, and Nicolaus, and left behind him Philip, to be his steward in the palace, and to take care of his domestic affairs. Salome went also along with him with her sons, as did also the king's brethren and sons-in-law. These, in appearance, went to give him all the assistance they were able, in order to secure his succession, but in reality to accuse him for his breach of the laws by what he had done at the temple.

2. But as they were come to Cesarea, Sabinus, the procurator of Syria, met them; he was going up to Judea, to secure Herod's effects; but Varus, [president of Syria,] who was come thither, restrained him from going any farther. This Varus Archelaus had sent for, by the earnest entreaty of Ptolemy. At this time, indeed, Sabinus, to gratify Varus, neither went to the citadels, nor did he shut up the treasuries where his father's money was laid up, but promised that he would lie still, until Caesar should have taken cognizance of the affair. So he abode at Cesarea; but as soon as those that were his hinderance were gone, when Varus was gone to Antioch, and Archclaus was sailed to Rome, he immediately went on to Jerusalem, and seized upon the palace. And when he had called for the governors of the citadels, and the stewards [of the king's private affairs], he tried to sift out the accounts of the money, and to take possession of the citadels. But the governors of those citadels were not unmindful of the commands laid upon them by Archelaus, and continued to guard them, and said the custody of them rather belonged to Caesar than to Archelaus.

3. In the mean time, Antipas went also to Rome, to strive for the kingdom, and to insist that the former testament, wherein he was named to be king, was valid before the latter testament. Salome had also promised to assist him, as had many of Archelaus's kindred, who sailed along with Archelaus himself also. He also carried along with him his mother, and Ptolemy, the brother of Nicolaus, who seemed one of great weight, on account of the great trust Herod put in him, he having been one of his most honored friends. However, Antipas depended chiefly upon Ireneus, the orator; upon whose authority he had rejected such as advised him to yield to Archelaus, because he was his elder brother, and because the second testament gave the kingdom to him. The inclinations also of all Archelaus's kindred, who hated him, were removed to Antipas, when they came to Rome; although in the first place every one rather desired to live under their own laws [without a king], and to be under a Roman governor; but if they should fail in that point, these desired that Antipas might be their king.

4. Sabinus did also afford these his assistance to the same purpose by letters he sent, wherein he accused Archelaus before Caesar, and highly commended Antipas. Salome also, and those with her, put the crimes which they accused Archelaus of in order, and put them into Caesar's hands; and after they had done that, Archelaus wrote down the reasons of his claim, and, by Ptolemy, sent in his father's ring, and his father's accounts. And when Caesar had maturely weighed by himself what both had to allege for themselves, as also had considered of the great burden of the kingdom, and largeness of the revenues, and withal the number of the children Herod had left behind him, and had moreover read the letters he had received from Varus and Sabinus on this occasion, he assembled the principal persons among the Romans together, (in which assembly Caius, the son of Agrippa, and his daughter Julias, but by himself adopted for his own son, sat in the first seat,) and gave the pleaders leave to speak.

5. Then stood up Salome's son, Antipater, (who of all Archelaus's antagonists was the shrewdest pleader,) and accused him in the following speech: That Archelaus did in words contend for the kingdom, but that in deeds he had long exercised royal authority, and so did but insult Caesar in desiring to be now heard on that account, since he had not staid for his determination about the succession, and since he had suborned certain persons, after Herod's death, to move for putting the diadem upon his head; since he had set himself down in the throne, and given answers as a king, and altered the disposition of the army, and granted to some higher dignities; that he had also complied in all things with the people in the requests they had made to him as to their king, and had also dismissed those that had been put into bonds by his father for most important reasons. Now, after all this, he desires the shadow of that royal authority, whose substance he had already seized to himself, and so hath made Caesar lord, not of things, but of words. He also reproached him further, that his mourning for his father was only pretended, while he put on a sad countenance in the day time, but drank to great excess in the night; from which behavior, he said, the late disturbance among the multitude came, while they had an indignation thereat. And indeed the purport of his whole discourse was to aggravate Archelaus's crime in slaying such a multitude about the temple, which multitude came to the festival, but were barbarously slain in the midst of their own sacrifices; and he said there was such a vast number of dead bodies heaped together in the temple, as even a foreign war, that should come upon them [suddenly], before it was denounced, could not have heaped together. And he added, that it was the foresight his father had of that his barbarity which made him never give him any hopes of the kingdom, but when his mind was more infirm than his body, and he was not able to reason soundly, and did not well know what was the character of that son, whom in his second testament he made his successor; and this was done by him at a time when he had no complaints to make of him whom he had named before, when he was sound in body, and when his mind was free from all passion. That, however, if any one should suppose Herod's judgment, when he was sick, was superior to that at another time, yet had Archelaus forfeited his kingdom by his own behavior, and those his actions, which were contrary to the law, and to its disadvantage. Or what sort of a king will this man be, when he hath obtained the government from Caesar, who hath slain so many before he hath obtained it!

6. When Antipater had spoken largely to this purpose, and had produced a great number of Archelaus's kindred as witnesses, to prove every part of the accusation, he ended his discourse. Then stood up Nicolaus to plead for Archelaus. He alleged that the slaughter in the temple could not be avoided; that those that were slain were become enemies not to Archelaus's kingdom, only, but to Caesar, who was to determine about him. He also demonstrated that Archelaus's accusers had advised him to perpetrate other things of which he might have been accused. But he insisted that the latter testament should, for this reason, above all others, be esteemed valid, because Herod had therein appointed Caesar to be the person who should confirm the succession; for he who showed such prudence as to recede from his own power, and yield it up to the lord of the world, cannot be supposed mistaken in his judgment about him that was to be his heir; and he that so well knew whom to choose for arbitrator of the succession could not be unacquainted with him whom he chose for his successor.

7. When Nicolaus had gone through all he had to say, Archelaus came, and fell down before Caesar's knees, without any noise; upon which he raised him up, after a very obliging manner, and declared that truly he was worthy to succeed his father. However, he still made no firm determination in his case; but when he had dismissed those assessors that had been with him that day, he deliberated by himself about the allegations which he had heard, whether it were fit to constitute any of those named in the testaments for Herod's successor, or whether the government should be parted among all his posterity, and this because of the number of those that seemed to stand in need of support therefrom.

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