The Antiquities of the Jews, 16.229–16.270

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. AJ 16.179–16.228 | J. AJ 16.229–16.270 | J. AJ 16.271–16.299 | About This Work »

2291. But still the affairs of Herod’s family were no better, but perpetually more troublesome. Now this accident happened, which arose from no decent occasion, but proceeded so far as to bring great difficulties upon him. 230There were certain eunuchs which the king had, and on account of their beauty was very fond of them; and the care of bringing him drink was intrusted to one of them; of bringing him his supper, to another; and of putting him to bed, to the third, who also managed the principal affairs of the government; 231and there was one told the king that these eunuchs were corrupted by Alexander the king’s son with great sums of money. And when they were asked whether Alexander had had criminal conversation with them, they confessed it, but said they knew of no further mischief of his against his father; 232but when they were more severely tortured, and were in the utmost extremity, and the tormentors, out of compliance with Antipater, stretched the rack to the very utmost, they said that Alexander bare great ill-will and innate hatred to his father; 233and that he told them that Herod despaired to live much longer; and that, in order to cover his great age, he colored his hair black, and endeavored to conceal what would discover how old he was; but that if he would apply himself to him, when he should attain the kingdom, which, in spite of his father, could come to no one else, he should quickly have the first place in that kingdom under him, 234for that he was now ready to take the kingdom, not only as his birth-right, but by the preparations he had made for obtaining it, because a great many of the rulers, and a great many of his friends, were of his side, and those no ill men neither, ready both to do and to suffer whatsoever should come on that account.

2352. When Herod heard this confession, he was all over anger and fear, some parts seeming to him reproachful, and some made him suspicious of dangers that attended him, insomuch that on both accounts he was provoked, and bitterly afraid lest some more heavy plot was laid against him than he should be then able to escape from; 236whereupon he did not now make an open search, but sent about spies to watch such as he suspected, for he was now overrun with suspicion and hatred against all about him; and indulging abundance of those suspicions, in order to his preservation, he continued to suspect those that were guiltless; 237nor did he set any bounds to himself, but supposing that those who staid with him had the most power to hurt him, they were to him very frightful; and for those that did not use to come to him, it seemed enough to name them [to make them suspected], and he thought himself safer when they were destroyed. 238And at last his domestics were come to that pass, that being no way secure of escaping themselves, they fell to accusing one another, and imagining that he who first accused another was most likely to save himself; yet when any had overthrown others, they were hated; and they were thought to suffer justly who unjustly accused others, and they only thereby prevented their own accusation; 239nay, they now executed their own private enmities by this means, and when they were caught, they were punished in the same way. Thus these men contrived to make use of this opportunity as an instrument and a snare against their enemies; yet when they tried it, were themselves caught also in the same snare which they laid for others: 240and the king soon repented of what he had done, because he had no clear evidence of the guilt of those whom he had slain; and yet what was still more severe in him, he did not make use of his repentance, in order to leave off doing the like again, but in order to inflict the same punishment upon their accusers.

2413. And in this state of disorder were the affairs of the palace; and he had already told many of his friends directly that they ought not to appear before him, her come into the palace; and the reason of this injunction was, that [when they were there], he had less freedom of acting, or a greater restraint on himself on their account; 242for at this time it was that he expelled Andromachus and Gamellus, men who had of old been his friends, and been very useful to him in the affairs of his kingdom, and been of advantage to his family, by their embassages and counsels; and had been tutors to his sons, and had in a manner the first degree of freedom with him. 243He expelled Andromachus, because his son Demetrius was a companion to Alexander; and Gamellus, because he knew that he wished him well, which arose from his having been with him in his youth, when he was at school, and absent at Rome. These he expelled out of his palace, and was willing enough to have done worse by them; but that he might not seem to take such liberty against men of so great reputation, he contented himself with depriving them of their dignity, and of their power to hinder his wicked proceedings.

2444. Now it was Antipater who was the cause of all this; who when he knew what a mad and licentious way of acting his father was in, and had been a great while one of his counselors, he hurried him on, and then thought he should bring him to do somewhat to purpose, when every one that could oppose him was taken away. 245When therefore Andromachus and his friends were driven away, and had no discourse nor freedom with the king any longer, the king, in the first place, examined by torture all whom he thought to be faithful to Alexander, Whether they knew of any of his attempts against him; but these died without having any thing to say to that matter, 246which made the king more zealous [after discoveries], when he could not find out what evil proceedings he suspected them of. As for Antipater, he was very sagacious to raise a calumny against those that were really innocent, as if their denial was only their constancy and fidelity [to Alexander], and thereupon provoked Herod to discover by the torture of great numbers what attempts were still concealed. 247Now there was a certain person among the many that were tortured, who said that he knew that the young man had often said, that when he was commended as a tall man in his body, and a skillful marksman, and that in his other commendable exercises he exceeded all men, these qualifications given him by nature, though good in themselves, were not advantageous to him, 248because his father was grieved at them, and envied him for them; and that when he walked along with his father, he endeavored to depress and shorten himself, that he might not appear too tall; and that when he shot at any thing as he was hunting, when his father was by, he missed his mark on purpose, for he knew how ambitious his father was of being superior in such exercises. 249So when the man was tormented about this saying, and had ease given his body after it, he added, that he had his brother Aristobulus for his assistance, and contrived to lie in wait for their father, as they were hunting, and kill him; and when they had done so to fly to Rome, and desire to have the kingdom given them. 250There were also letters of the young man found, written to his brother, wherein he complained that his father did not act justly in giving Antipater a country, whose [yearly] revenues amounted to two hundred talents. 251Upon these confessions Herod presently thought he had somewhat to depend on, in his own opinion, as to his suspicion about his sons; so he took up Alexander and bound him: yet did he still continue to be uneasy, and was not quite satisfied of the truth of what he had heard; and when he came to recollect himself, he found that they had only made juvenile complaints and contentions, and that it was an incredible thing, that when his son should have slain him, he should openly go to Rome [to beg the kingdom]; 252so he was desirous to have some surer mark of his son’s wickedness, and was very solicitous about it, that he might not appear to have condemned him to be put in prison too rashly; so he tortured the principal of Alexander’s friends, and put not a few of them to death, without getting any of the things out of them which he suspected. 253And while Herod was very busy about this matter, and the palace was full of terror and trouble, one of the younger sort, when he was in the utmost agony, confessed that Alexander had sent to his friends at Rome, and desired that he might be quickly invited thither by Caesar, and that he could discover a plot against him; that Mithridates, the king of Parthia, was joined in friendship with his father against the Romans, and that he had a poisonous potion ready prepared at Askelon.

2545. To these accusations Herod gave credit, and enjoyed hereby, in his miserable case, some sort of consolation, in excuse of his rashness, as flattering himself with finding things in so bad a condition; but as for the poisonous potion, which he labored to find, he could find none. 255As for Alexander, he was very desirous to aggravate the vast misfortunes he was under, so he pretended not to deny the accusations, but punished the rashness of his father with a greater crime of his own; and perhaps he was willing to make his father ashamed of his easy belief of such calumnies: he aimed especially, if he could gain belief to his story, to plague him and his whole kingdom; 256for he wrote four letters, and sent them to him, that he did not need to torture any more persons, for he had plotted against him; and that he had for his partners Pheroras and the most faithful of his friends; and that Salome came in to him by night, and that she lay with him whether he would or not; 257and that all men were come to be of one mind, to make away with him as soon as they could, and so get clear of the continual fear they were in from him. Among these were accused Ptolemy and Sapinnius, who were the most faithful friends to the king. 258And what more can be said, but that those who before were the most intimate friends, were become wild beasts to one another, as if a certain madness had fallen upon them, while there was no room for defense or refutation, in order to the discovery of the truth, but all were at random doomed to destruction; so that some lamented those that were in prison, some those that were put to death, and others lamented that they were in expectation of the same miseries; and a melancholy solitude rendered the kingdom deformed, and quite the reverse to that happy state it was formerly in. 259Herod’s own life also was entirely disturbed; and because he could trust nobody, he was sorely punished by the expectation of further misery; for he often fancied in his imagination that his son had fallen upon him, or stood by him with a sword in his hand; 260and thus was his mind night and day intent upon this thing, and revolved it over and over, no otherwise than if he were under a distraction. And this was the sad condition Herod was now in.

2616. But when Archelaus, king of Cappadocia, heard of the state that Herod was in, and being in great distress about his daughter, and the young man [her husband], and grieving with Herod, as with a man that was his friend, on account of so great a disturbance as he was under, he came [to Jerusalem] on purpose to compose their differences; 262and when he found Herod in such a temper, he thought it wholly unseasonable to reprove him, or to pretend that he had done any thing rashly, for that he should thereby naturally bring him to dispute the point with him, and by still more and more apologizing for himself to be the more irritated: 263he went, therefore, another way to work, in order to correct the former misfortunes, and appeared angry at the young man, and said that Herod had been so very mild a man, that he had not acted a rash part at all. He also said he would dissolve his daughter’s marriage with Alexander, nor could in justice spare his own daughter, if she were conscious of any thing, and did not inform Herod of it. 264When Archelaus appeared to be of this temper, and otherwise than Herod expected or imagined, and, for the main, took Herod’s part, and was angry on his account, the king abated of his harshness, and took occasion from his appearing to have acted justly hitherto, to come by degrees to put on the affection of a father, 265and was on both sides to be pitied; for when some persons refuted the calumnies that were laid on the young man, he was thrown into a passion; but when Archelaus joined in the accusation, he was dissolved into tears and sorrow after an affectionate manner. Accordingly, he desired that he would not dissolve his son’s marriage, and became not so angry as before for his offenses. 266So when Archelaus had brought him to a more moderate temper, he transferred the calumnies upon his friends; and said it must be owing to them that so young a man, and one unacquainted with malice, was corrupted; and he supposed that there was more reason to suspect the brother than the soft. 267Upon which Herod was very much displeased at Pheroras, who indeed now had no one that could make a reconciliation between him and his brother. So when he saw that Archelaus had the greatest power with Herod, he betook himself to him in the habit of a mourner, and like one that had all the signs upon him of an undone man. 268Upon this Archelaus did not overlook the intercession he made to him, nor yet did he undertake to change the king’s disposition towards him immediately; and he said that it was better for him to come himself to the king, and confess himself the occasion of all; that this would make the king’s anger not to be extravagant towards him, and that then he would be present to assist him. 269When he had persuaded him to this, he gained his point with both of them; and the calumnies raised against the young man were, beyond all expectation, wiped off. And Archelaus, as soon as he had made the reconciliation, went then away to Cappadocia, having proved at this juncture of time the most acceptable person to Herod in the world; on which account he gave him the richest presents, as tokens of his respects to him; and being on other occasions magnanimous, he esteemed him one of his dearest friends. 270He also made an agreement with him that he would go to Rome, because he had written to Caesar about these affairs; so they went together as far as Antioch, and there Herod made a reconciliation between Archelaus and Titus, the president of Syria, who had been greatly at variance, and so returned back to Judea.

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