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Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη

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Daily Word 2019


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Origen of Alexandria

The War of the Jews. Book 7


Executions and triumphs, after the war (70--73 CE)


(For Greek text with English translation, click here)

01. Jerusalem is demolished. Titus thanks & rewards his soldiers

02. Games in Caesarea Philippi. Simon is held for the triumph in Rome

03. Titus has many captives killed. Danger to the Jews in Antioch

04. Vespasian's welcome in Rome; Germans and Sarmatians revolt

05. A strange river in Syria; Triumph of Titus and Vespasian, in Rome

06. Lucilius Bassus captures Machaerus and other places

07. Ruin of Commagene king. Alans ravage the Medes and Armenians

08. Masada besieged by Silva. Eleazar's speeches to the besieged

09. The people in Masada, persuaded by Eleazar, agree to kill each other

10. Sicarii flee to Alexandria, putting its Jewish community at risk

11. Jonathan stirs up rebellion in Cyrene and accuses the innocent.

Chapter 01. [001-020]
Jerusalem is demolished. Titus thanks & rewards his soldiers


001 When the army had nobody left to kill or plunder, since none were left on whom to vent their fury, and any survivors would not have been spared, Caesar ordered them to demolish the entire city and temple, and leave standing only the highest of the towers: Phasael and Hippicus and Mariamne, and the part of the wall enclosing the city on the west side. 002 This wall was spared as a place of encampment for those who were to remain as garrison, and the towers were spared to show to descendants what a well fortified city had been subdued by Roman bravery. 003 All the rest of the wall was so fully flattened to the ground by digging it to its foundation, that nothing was left to give visitors an impression it had ever been inhabited. 004 This was the end that the madness of the rebels brought on Jerusalem, that magnificent city famed among all mankind.


005 Caesar resolved to leave the tenth legion there to guard it, along with some cavalry and infantry troops. Then, having entirely settled matters regarding the war, he wished to praise his whole army for their exploits in it and to properly reward those who had distinguished themselves. 006 For this he had a great tribunal erected in the middle of the place of his former camp and stood upon it surrounded by his chief officers and spoke so as to be heard by the whole army, thanking them handsomely for the goodwill they had shown him. 007 In particular he commended them for their prompt obedience during this whole war, through the many great dangers they had bravely endured, and for the courage they had shown. By this, not only had they increased their country's power but they had made clear to all mankind that neither the number of the enemy, nor the strength of their places, nor the size of their cities, nor the rash audacity and brutish rage of their fighters could ever prevail over Roman bravery, even if some of them often seemed to have fortune on their side. 008 It was a fine thing to put an end to this long war, in a manner better than they could have wished for when they begun it. 009 Even finer and more glorious was the fact that their officers whom they had chosen to assume the government of the Roman empire and sent into their own country for that purpose, were being greeted and acknowledged with thankfulness by the population. 010 Therefore he admired and appreciated them all, knowing that each of them had gone diligently about their work to the full extent of their abilities. 011 He would however, grant special rewards to those who had fought with distinction and whose exploits had won fame not only for themselves but for his army. He said he would bestow these rewards and honours immediately, and nobody who had been willing to make a greater effort than others would fail to be properly rewarded. 012 He would be very careful about this for he much preferred to reward the virtues of his fellow soldiers than to punish those who had offended.


013 He immediately ordered those in charge to read the list of all who had performed any spectacular exploit in this war. 014 Calling each of them to him by name he commended them before the company and congratulated them as heartily as a man would have rejoiced in his own exploits, placing crowns of gold on their heads and golden ornaments about their necks and giving them long spears of gold, 015 and ensigns made of silver, and promoting each of them to a higher rank. Besides, out of the spoils and the other booty they had taken, he assigned them a generous amount of silver and gold and clothing. 016 When they all had been honoured way according as he deemed them worthy, and he had prayed for prosperity for the whole army, he came down amid great acclamations and went to offer the victory sacrifice. After many oxen had been offered at the altars he distributed them to the soldiers for a feast. 017 While he himself stayed on for three days of celebration with his chief officers, he sent away the rest of his army to their various appropriate places, leaving the tenth legion as a garrison to Jerusalem and not sending them back across the Euphrates, where they had been before. 018 Remembering how the twelfth legion under Cestius had given way to the Jews, he expelled them from Syria altogether, for they had formerly been stationed in Raphanea, and sent them away to a place called Melitene, near the Euphrates, on the borders of Armenia and Cappadocia. 019 He also decided to keep two of the legions, the fifth and the fifteenth, with him until his departure to Egypt. 020 Then going down with his army to Caesarea-on-sea he deposited there the bulk of his spoils and ordered the captives to be kept there, for the winter season prevented any sailing to Italy.

Chapter 02. [021-036]
Titus holds games in Caesarea Philippi

Simon is captured, and reserved for the Triumph.


021 While Titus Caesar pressed on with the siege of Jerusalem, Vespasian got on board a merchant ship and sailed from Alexandria to Rhodes. 022 From there he sailed in a trireme, and as he called in at several cities on his voyage, he was joyfully received by all and so crossed from Ionia to Greece, and from Corfu to the Iapygean peninsula, from which he continued his journey overland. 023 Titus marched from Caesarea-on-sea and came to the place named Caesarea Philippi, where he stayed a long time and put on all sorts of shows. 024 Here many of the captives were killed, some being thrown to wild beasts and many others forced to kill each other like enemies. 025 Titus was told about the capture of Simon the son of Gioras, which happened as follows.


026 During the siege of Jerusalem, this Simon had occupied the upper city, but when the Roman army got inside the ramparts and were destroying the city, he took his most faithful friends, with some stone-masons among them, with the iron tools belonging to their trade and enough provisions to last them a long time and they all let themselves down into a subterranean cave that was not visible from above ground. 027 They went forward easily along it as far as it had already been dug, but where they met with solid earth, they mined through it, in the hope of being able to get far enough away to come up in a safety and so escape. 028 But in the event it proved a false hope, for the miners were with difficulty able to make but little progress, so that even though they rationed them, their provisions began to run out. 029 Then, thinking he might be able to shock and mislead the Romans, Simon dressed in a white robe and wrapped a purple cloak around him and appeared out of the ground where the temple had formerly stood. 030 At first, indeed, those who saw him were amazed and stayed where they were, but later they approached and asked him who he was. 031 Simon would not tell them, but had them call their captain, and when they ran to call him, Terentius Rufus soon arrived. He was commander of the army there, and got the whole truth from him and put him in chains, letting Caesar know that he had been captured. 032 That is how God had Simon punished by his worst enemies, for the bitter, savage way he had tyrannised his countrymen. 033 Though not subdued by force, he freely surrendered to be punished, he who had wrongly accused and killed so many Jews for turning to the Romans. 034 But he did not escape God's wrath, nor is justice unable to punish offenders, but in time it catches up with transgressors and punishes the wicked the more severely, as they expected to escape once they were not immediately caught. This Simon learned, by falling under the anger of the Romans. 035 His coming up also caused many of the other rebels who had hidden underground to be found. 036 When Caesar returned to Caesarea-on-Sea, Simon was brought to him in chains, and he ordered him kept alive for the triumph which he intended to celebrate in Rome.

Chapter 03. [037-062]
Titus has captives killed, on Domitian's birthday. Danger for the Jews in Antioch


037 While Titus was in Caesarea, he celebrated the birthday of his brother in a splendid manner and executed many of the captive Jews in honour of him. 038 The number of those who at this time were killed in fighting with beasts or against each other, or who were burned alive, exceeded two thousand five hundred. But to the Romans, though they died in thousands of ways, all this seemed less of a penalty than they deserved. 039 After this Caesar came to Berytus, a city of Phoenicia and a Roman colony, where he stayed somewhat longer and displayed still more pomp and ceremony about his father's birthday, both in the splendour of the shows and his great expenses relating to it. 040 Here too, a large number of the prisoners died in the same way as before.


041 About this time, the remaining Jews in Antioch were indicted and in danger of death, since the city of the Antiochians was riled at them because of slanders spread about them and also some incidents that had occurred in the recent past. 042 These I must certainly describe, even if briefly, to better connect the rest of my narrative with what has gone before.


043 The Jewish nation is widely scattered among the inhabitants of countries all over the world and mainly in Syria because of its proximity, and, due to the size of the city, large numbers of them live in Antioch, where the kings, after Antiochus, had allowed them to live in untroubled tranquillity. 044 For though Antiochus, called Epiphanes, sacked Jerusalem and looted the temple, his successors in the kingdom restored to the Jews of Antioch all the donations made of brass, to be stored in their synagogue, and granted them the enjoyment of equal privileges in the city as the Greeks themselves. 045 When succeeding kings treated them in the same way, they multiplied in number and contributed much to the adornment of the temple by gifts of fine ornaments. They also made converts of many of the Greeks and thereby in a way got them to share in their own destiny. 046 But about the time the war began and Vespasian had recently sailed to Syria and 047 hatred of the Jews was everywhere, a man named Antiochus, one of their number and greatly respected due to his father who was ruler of the Jews in Antioch, came to the theatre during an Antiochene assembly and denounced his own father, accusing both him and others of planning to to burn the whole city in a single night. He also handed over to them some Jews who were foreigners, as partners in this plan. 048 When the people heard it they could not contain their rage, but ordered those handed over to them to be burned, and then and there they were consigned to the flames in the theatre. 049 They also violently attacked the whole Jewish population, thinking that only by quickly punishing them could they save their own city. 050 Antiochus aggravated their rage and thought to prove to them his own conversion and his hatred of Jewish customs, by sacrificing in the style of the Greeks. 051 He got them to compel others to do the same, for in that way they could find out who the schemers were, since they would not do so. When the people of Antioch tried the experiment, a few complied, but those who would not do so were killed. 052 Antiochus got soldiers from the Roman commander and domineered over his fellow-Jews, not letting them to rest on the sabbath day, but forcing them to work as on other days. 053 He pressed them so hard on this matter that the sabbath rest was cancelled not only in Antioch, for its example was followed in other cities too, for some time.


054 After these misfortunes of the Jews in Antioch, a second disaster befell them, which I was about to describe when I prefaced it with the foregoing account. 055 A fire occurred that burned down the market square as well as the town hall and the public archives and the palaces, and raged so furiously that only with difficulty was it prevented from engulfing the whole city, and Antiochus accused the Jews of this deed. 056 The people of Antioch would have believed this, even if they had not previously borne them any ill-will. Now in their confusion and in the light of what had gone before, they felt certain his words were as true as if with their own eyes they had seen the Jews lighting the fire. 057 Like madmen driven by a rage they violently attacked those who were accused and 058 the governor, Gneius Collegas, barely prevailed on them to let the matter be laid before Caesar. 059 As it happened, Cesennius Petus, the governor of Syria had already been sent out by Vespasian and had not yet returned. 060 But when Collegas made careful inquiry into the matter, he found out the truth and that not one of the Jews accused by Antiochus had any hand in it, 061 but that the whole thing was done by some scoundrels deeply in debt, who thought that by setting fire to the forum and burning the public records, they could get clear of them. 062 So the Jews were in a state great alarm and uncertainty as they awaited the upshot of the accusations against them.

Chapter 04. [063-095]
Vespasian's Welcome in Rome. The Germans and Sarmatians Rebel


063 Titus Caesar, hearing the news about his father, that his coming was desired by all the Italian cities and that Rome especially received him with warmth and splendor, was delighted and most agreeably set free from anxiety. 064 For everyone in Italy respected Vespasian and even before his arrival, imagined him as already present among them, and their goodwill towards him was entirely free and spontaneous. 065 The senate, who well remembered the troubles they had endured during their recent changes of leadership, felt relieved to find a ruler hallowed with the gravity of age and highly skilled in the art of war, whom they knew would be concerned for nothing else than the safety of those he ruled. 066 The people too, after being so harassed by civil woes, were even more eager for his arrival, thinking it would firmly rescue them from their troubles and trusting he would restore them to secure peace and prosperity. 067 But the soldiery had the greatest regard of all for him, being most aware of his great exploits in war, and having had to endure the lack of skill and lack of courage in other officers, they wanted to be free from the great shame they had suffered through them and heartily desired a ruler who would bring them security and credit. 068 Since this goodwill towards him was universal, the high dignitaries could not just stay in Rome, but hurried to meet him far outside it. 069 None of the others either could wait to see him, but all poured out of the city in crowds, all feeling that it was better to go out than to stay at home, so that for the first time the city happily saw itself almost empty, since those who stayed at home were fewer than those who went out. 070 When the news came that he was near and those who met him first told with what good humour he received every one who came to him, even the crowd that had stayed in the city came to the roadside with their wives and children, and waited for him there. 071 As he passed by, they cheered him in every way, delighted to see him and the pleasant expression he showed them. They acclaimed him as Benefactor and Saviour and the only one worthy to govern the city of Rome. The city was like a temple, full of garlands and sweet scents, 072 and if the thronging crowds all round made it hard for him to reach the royal palace, he finally got there and performed his thanks to his household gods for his safe return to the city. 073 The crowd set to feasting and celebrated drink-offerings by tribes and families in their neighbourhoods, and prayed to God that Vespasian, his sons and all their descendants, might continue to govern Rome for a very long time, as secure and unopposed rulers. 074 This was how the city of Rome joyfully welcomed Vespasian and soon reached great prosperity.


075 But before this, while Vespasian was near Alexandria and Titus was at the siege of Jerusalem, many of the Germans were in upheaval and revolt, 076 and as their neighbours the Gauls joined in with them, they had great hopes of success in freeing themselves from Roman rule. 077 What spurred the Germans to this attempted revolt and to begin the war, was first of all their nature, incapable of good judgment and ready to throw themselves rashly into danger; 078 and then their hatred of their rulers, as their nation had never been subject to any but the Romans and that only by force. More than anything else, the opportunity that now offered itself urged them on, 079 for seeing the Roman state in disorder due to its continual change of emperors, and that every part of the world under them was unsettled and tottering, they reckoned this their best possible opportunity to rebel, with their rulers in such a divided state. 080 Two of their officers, Classicus and Vitellius, pushed this plan and puffed them up with such hopes. 081 These had for a long time been known to long for such a change and were induced by the present opportunity to declare their feelings openly; and when they did, the people gladly supported them. 082 When a large section of the Germans joined the rebellion and the rest were no better disposed, Vespasian, guided by divine Providence, sent letters to Petilius Cerealius, who had formerly been in command in Germany, promoting him to consul and telling him to go away as governor to Britain. 083 As he was going in fulfilment of his orders, he was told of the revolt of the Germans, attacking them as soon as they had gathered and with his army in battle-array he killed many of them in the battle and forced them to learn their lesson and put a stop to their madness. 084 Even if he had not so suddenly attacked them on the spot, they would have been brought to justice before long, 085 for as soon as the news of their revolt came to Rome and Domitian Caesar learned of it, even though he was very young he made no delay in undertaking this vital matter. 086 Having a courageous mind from his father, he had grown up more quickly than his age, so he immediately marched against the barbarians, 087 whose hearts failed them at the very rumour of his approach and they surrendered to him out of fear and thought themselves fortunate to be brought back under their old yoke without a disaster. 088 So when Domitian had settled all the affairs of Gaul in such an order that it would not easily be shaken any further, he returned to Rome with honour and glory, having performed exploits beyond his own age and worthy of so great a father.


089 At the time of the aforesaid revolt of the Germans the Scythians made a bold attempt against the Romans. 090 Those of the Scythians who are called Sarmatians, a very numerous people, crossed over the Danube into Mysia, without being noticed. Then in a violent and unexpected attack, they killed many of the Romans that guarded the frontiers, 091 and as the consular legate Fonteius Agrippa came to meet them and fought them bravely, he was killed by them, and they overran all the region that had been subject to him, tearing and plundering whatever fell in their way. 092 When Vespasian learned what had happened and how Mysia was destroyed, he sent Rubrius Gallus to punish these Sarmatians. 093 Many of them died in the battles he fought against them and those who escaped fled with fear to their own country. 094 When he had put an end to the war, the general provided for the future security of the country, placing more and better garrisons in the place, until he made it quite impossible for the barbarians to cross the river any more. 095 And so this war in Mysia came to a sudden end.

Chapter 05. [096-162]
Titus Journeys through Syria. The Triumph celebrated in Rome


096 As we have said, Titus Caesar delayed some time at Berytus. Moving on from there he gave magnificent shows in all the cities of Syria through which he passed, using the Jewish prisoners to demonstrate their own destruction, and on the journey he saw a river worthy of special mention. 097 It flows from Arcea in Agrippa's kingdom to Raphanea and is notable in that, 098 when it runs, its current is strong and plentiful, after which its sources fail for six days in a row, leaving its channel visibly dry. 099 Then on the seventh day it flows as it did before, as though it had not changed at all. It has also been observed to keep this order always and exactly, and so they call it the Sabbatical River, a name taken from the sacred seventh day among the Jews.


100 When the people of Antioch were told that Titus was near they were so glad that they could not stay within their walls, but hurried out to meet him, 101 going as far as thirty furlongs and more for that purpose, and not just the men only, but many women and their children streamed out from the city. 102 Seeing him come level with them, they stood on both sides of the road, stretching out their hands and blessing him in all ways and returned with him. 103 Among all their acclamations ran a petition to expel the Jews from their city. 104 Titus did not yield to this petition, but listened to them quietly, leaving the Jews in terrible fear, uncertain of what his opinion was. 105 Titus did not stay on in Antioch, but immediately continued on to Zeugma on the Euphrates, where messengers from Vologeses king of Parthia came to him bringing him a crown of gold for his victory over the Jews. 106 He accepted this and gave a feast for the king's messengers and then returned to Antioch. 107 When the senate and people of Antioch asked him to come to their theatre, where the population was assembled and waiting for him, he very cordially agreed, 108 but when they pressed him and earnestly implored him to expel the Jews from their city, he gave them this apt answer: 109 "But their own country, to which as Jews I should send them back, has been destroyed and nowhere else will receive them!" 110 The people of Antioch, having failed in their first request, made another, asking him to remove the brass plaques on which the Jews' privileges were engraved. 111 This too, Titus refused, and allowed the Jews of Antioch to enjoy the same privileges as before, and then he left for Egypt. 112 On his journey he visited Jerusalem and constrasting its sad desolation with the city's former glory, its present vast ruins compared to its ancient splendor, he pitied the ruin of the city. 113 Far from boasting of having captured so fine and great a city by storm, he said many curses against those who had caused the revolt and brought such a penalty on the city, making it clear that he never wished the disaster of their punishment to be the proof of his courage. 114 No small amount of the city's vast riches was still being found among its ruins, 115 much of which the Romans dug up, though most had been found by the prisoners, who carried it away, the gold and silver and other valuables which the owners had stored under ground, against the uncertain fortunes of war.


116 So Titus pursued his intended journey into Egypt and crossed the desert as quickly as possible and came to Alexandria. 117 Here, resolving to sail to Italy, he dismissed the two legions that accompanied him, sending each back to where they had come from: the fifth to Mysia and the fifteenth to Pannonia. 118 Of the captives, he ordered their officers, Simon and John, along with the other seven hundred men he had chose for their stature and physique, to be brought soon to Italy, to parade them in his triumph. 119 So after a successful voyage the city of Rome welcomed him as it had his father, but for Titus the most splendid moment was when his father met and welcomed him. 120 The thronging citizens were ecstatic to see all three of them together, as they did now. 121 A few days later they decided to celebrate their exploits with one common triumph, although the senate had decreed one for each of them. 122 When advance notice was given of the day appointed celebrate their victories, not a person stayed at home, but everyone went out to gain standing room, leaving only enough leeway as was needed for those in the procession itself.


123 During the night all the soldiery marched out in their companies and troops, under their officers, and were gathered at the doors not of the upper palace, but near the temple of Isis, for it was there that the emperors had rested the night. 124 At dawn that day, Vespasian and Titus came out crowned with laurel and clothed in the traditional purple, and went as far as Octavian's Promenade, 125 where the senate and chief magistrates and those of the equestrian register, waited for them. 126 A tribunal had been erected before the porticoes and ivory chairs had been set upon it, and they came and sat on them. All the soldiers immediately made them joyful acclamations, bearing witness their bravery, while they themselves were unarmed and were robed in silk and crowned with laurel. 127 Vespasian accepted the acclamations, but while they still wanted to continue he signalled for silence. 128 As everyone stayed quite still, he stood up and covering most of his head with his mantle, recited the ritual prayers, and Titus prayed likewise. 129 After the prayers Vespasian made a short speech to the assembly and then sent away the soldiers to the traditional meal provided for them by the emperors. 130 Then he withdrew to the gate from which triumphal processions always begin, and which is consequently named the triumphal gate. 131 There they first had some food and when they had put on their triumphal clothing and had offered sacrifices to the gods at the gate, they began the triumphal march, starting through the theatres, to let the crowds have an easier view.


132 One cannot adequately describe the size of the spectacle and its magnificence, for it surpassed all imagination in the workmen's craft, the variety of riches and the rarities of nature. 133 Almost every admirable and costly rarity which the most fortunate men could ever collect piece by piece, was here all heaped together on that day to show the might of the Roman empire. 134 Masses of silver and gold and ivory were on display, shaped into all sorts of things and did not seem to be merely carried along in a procession but, one could say, running along like a river. There were tapestries of the rarest purple being carried along, and others embroidered with detailed life, forms in the manner of the Babylonians. 135 There were precious stones that were transparent, some within in crowns of gold and some in other styles, in such numbers that we were made to realise how wrong we were in thinking of them as rarities! 136 The images of the gods were also carried, wonderful in size, and marvellously wrought, with nothing but the most costly materials, and beasts of many kinds, each with its own ornaments. 137 The many men carrying the various items wore purple clothing, interwoven with gold and everyone chosen for going in the pageant wore magnificent and colourful ornaments. 138 Even the many captives were not unadorned, and the variety and texture of their clothing concealed from sight the deformity of their bodies. 139 Most striking of all was the structure of the floats in the pageant, so large that the onlookers afraid that the bearers would not be able to support them, 140 for many of them were made in three or even four stories, one above another, of a texture both pleasing and amazing. 141 On many of them were laid carpets of gold, and they were festooned with wrought gold and ivory and 142 with many images of the war in a lively variety of ways. 143 These depicted a prosperous country destroyed and entire cohorts of enemies killed, some running away and some being taken prisoner, with walls of great height and size destroyed and ruined by machines, strong fortifications and the walls of populous cities on hilltops being captured 144 and an army pouring through the ramparts, and everywhere full of slaughter, with hands upraised in surrender when they could no longer strike, and fire set to temples and houses falling upon their owners' heads. 145 On top of this, they depicted rivers running not through a cultivated land or supplying drink to man and beast, but through a wasteland still on fire on every side, and all that had happened the Jews for getting into this war. 146 The art and craft of these representations was so lifelike that it showed the incidents to those who did not see them, as if they had been there. 147 On the top of each of these floats the commander of the captured city was shown in the way he had been taken, and a number of ships were towed. 148 Other spoils were carried in great plenty, but foremost of all were those taken in the temple of Jerusalem, that is, the golden table, weighing many talents, and the candlestick, also made of gold, though of a different shape from that which we normally used. 149 Its middle shaft was fixed on a base and from it stretched slender branches in the form of a trident, with a bronze lamp at the top of each. There were seven of these lamps representing the importance of the number seven to the Jews. 150 Last of all, at the end of the spoils, was carried the Law of the Jews. 151 Then came a group of men carrying images of Victory, made entirely of ivory and gold. 152 Behind them came first Vespasian followed by Titus, and with him Domitian, magnificently robed and riding a splendid horse.


153 The pageant ended at the temple of Zeus Capitolinus, where when they had arrived, they stood still, for it was the Romans' ancient custom to wait until someone brought news that the general of the enemy was killed. 154 This general was Simon, son of Gioras, who had been led among the captives in the triumph, with a rope around his neck, scourged by those leading him along, and he had been brought to the usual place in the forum as ddirected in Roman law for condemned criminals to be executed. 155 When his end was announced and the people applauded, they began the traditional sacrifices and recited the proper prayers and when they were finished, returned to the palace. 156 They entertained some at their own feast, and all the rest had banquets in their homes, 157 for the city of Rome was in festival that day for the victory of their army over the enemy, and that an end was now put to their civil woes and hopes for future prosperity had dawned.


158 With the triumph over and the affairs of the Romans settled on a firm foundation, Vespasian resolved to build a temple to Peace, and this was completed in an unbelievably short time and quite magnificently. 159 For with his vast wealth he adorned it with valuable ancient pictures and statues, 160 and in it were collected and kept such treasures as in the past people used to wander round the world to see, finding them piece by piece wherever they were. 161 He also stored there the golden vessels from the Jewish temple, to his own honour, 162 but he ordered that their Law and the purple veils of the holy place should be safely guarded in the palace.

Chapter 06. [164-218]
Lucilius Bassus captures Machaerus and other places


163 Lucilius Bassus was sent as legate into Judea and there he received the army from Cerealius Vitellianus and captured the Herodium citadel and its garrison. 164 After this he gathered all his forces which were numerous and divided into several groups, along with the tenth legion and set out to attack Machaerus, since it was essential to demolish this citadel due to its strength, or it might entice many into revolt. 165 The nature of the place inspired in those who occupied it a great sense of security, and could cause its attackers much delay and anxiety, 166 for it was a rocky walled-in place on a great height, which of itself made it formidable and so shaped by nature that access to it was difficult. 167 It was entrenched on all sides between apparently bottomless gorges that were not easy to cross, and impossible to bank up with earth. 168 The gorge which cuts it off on the west goes for sixty furlongs and only ends at lake Asphaltitis, and on that side, too, Machaerus reaches its highest point. 169 While not so extensive as the former, the gorges on the north and south sides are equally difficult to tackle, 170 while the gorge to the east is no less than a hundred feet deep and ends at a mountain facing Machaerus.


171 Having noted the nature of this place, the Jewish king Alexander was the first to built a citadel here, which was later demolished by Gabinius, in his war with Aristobulus. 172 But when Herod became king, he thought the location should be fortified as solidly as possible, especially as it lay so close to Arabia and conveniently looked out towards that country. 173 So he surrounded a large area with walls and towers and built a city there, from which a path led up to the citadel. 174 Further, he built a wall round the top of the hill with towers at the corners, a hundred and sixty feet high. 175 In the middle he built a palace in magnificent style, with large, ornate buildings. 176 In the most suitable places there, he also made many reservoirs for water, to have a plentiful supply for all uses. It was as though he wrestled with the nature of the place and added man-made fortifications to its natural security, by which it was already hard to take. 177 There he also stored up many spears and other weapons and anything else tto ensure its inhabitants' security, under the longest of sieges.


178 Within this palace grew a plant of admirable size, no smaller than a fig tree in height or width. 179 According to report, it had stood since Herod's time, and would probably have lasted a very long time had it not been cut down by the Jews who later occupied the place. 180 Also in the gorge surrounding the city on the north side there is a place called Baaras, where there grows a root of the same name. 181 It is flame-coloured and towards evening sends out a ray like lightning, and is not easy to pick, as it draws back from the hands of the picker, and cannot be taken with ease until either a woman's urine or her menstrual blood is poured upon it. 182 Even then, it brings certain death to those who touch it, unless the root is taken and hung upside-down from the hand and so carried away. 183 Another way to pick it safely is to dig a trench round it, until only a small part of the root remains buried; 184 then a dog is tied to it and when the animal tries to follow the one who tied it, this root is easily plucked up, but the dog immediately dies, instead of the one who wants to take the plant. After this one need not fear to take it in one's hands. 185 This dangerous plant is prized for one single power, for just to bring it to a patient soon drives away so-called demons, which are none other than the spirits of the wicked, that enter into living people and kill them, unless they get some help against them. 186 Thermal springs also flow there, which have very different tastes, some of them bitter while others are quite sweet. 187 There are also many fresh-water springs, not only in the lower-lying places where the springs are near to each other. 188 More remarkably, one can see nearby a shallow cave which is overshadowed by a prominent rock. 189 Above it stand two breast-like hills, a little apart from each other, from one of which flows a very cold spring and from the other one that is very hot, and when mixed together they give a pleasant therapeutic bath, especially for strengthening the nerves. The place also contains mines of sulfur and alum.


190 When Bassus had looked around this place, he decided to besiege it by filling up the gorge on the east side, so he got to work and with great effort raised his earthworks as soon as possible, to facilitate the siege. 191 The Jews trapped in this place drew back from the foreigners among them, forcing those foreigners, whom they regarded as a mere crowd, to stay in the lower part of the city and face the danger first, 192 while themselves occupying the upper citadel on account of its strength, with a view to their own safety. They expected to obtain a pardon if the citadel were taken by the Romans, 193 but wanted first to see if they could avoid being besieged. With this in mind they made vigorous sorties every day against those who were digging the earthworks and while many of them died doing this, they also killed many of the Romans. 194 Victory went to whichever side took best advantage of any opportunity arising, the Jews when they could catch the others off guard, and the latter whenever they were alert and ready for the attack. 195 But the outcome of the siege was not determined by these raids, but by a surprising incident which forced the Jews to surrender the citadel. 196 Among the besieged there was a very daring and energetic young man named Eleazar, 197 who distinguished himself in those raids and encouraged many of the Jews to go out, to prevent the raising of the earthworks, and in the fighting he did the Romans a lot of harm. By always bringing up the rear, he directed operations so that those who ventured out with him could make their attacks with ease and get back inside without danger. 198 But once when the fighting was over and both sides had separated and retired, in order to show his scorn for the enemy and thinking that none of them would start to fight again, this man stayed outside the gates, talking to those who were up on the wall, giving his full attention to their conversation. 199 Taking his chance, a man named Rufus, an Egyptian by birth, suddenly ran out at him from the Roman ranks and carried him off in his armour, and the and the onlookers from the wall were so stunned by the speed of it that he brought the man back to the Roman camp. 200 The general had him tied up naked and scourged in full view of the city, so that the Jews were terribly downcast at this young man's misfortune and the city grieved for him and mourned to an unusual degree for the fate of one man. 201 When Bassus noticed this, he hatched a plan to use against the enemy, to increase their grief and get them to surrender the city in order to save that man, and in this hope he was not mistaken. 202 He ordered a cross to be to set up, as if intending to crucify Eleazar without delay, which caused such grief among those in the citadel who saw it that they groaned and shouted aloud that this tragedy was unbearable. 203 Eleazar implored them not to let him suffer so terrible a death, and to save themselves by yielding to the power and fortune of the Romans, along with so many who were conquered already. 204 They were much moved by his words, and there were many inside the city also praying on his behalf, for he came from an eminent and numerous family, so that, contrary to their nature, they yielded to pity, 205 and sent some people out to parley with the Romans about surrendering the citadel, asking to be allowed to leave and take Eleazar along with them. 206 When the Romans and their general agreed to this, the foreigners in the lower part of the city, hearing of the agreement made by the Jews for themselves alone, resolved to escape secretly in the night, 207 but as soon as they had opened the gates, those who had come to terms with Bassus told him of it, either out of envy that the others might escape free, or out of fear that they would be blamed for the men's escape. 208 The bravest of those who got out were too quick for the enemy and fled away but those who were caught were killed, as many as a thousand seven hundred of them, and their women and children were taken into slavery. 209 As Bassus felt bound to keep his agreement with those who surrendered the citadel, he let them leave and gave Eleazar back to them.


210 Having settled these matters, he led his forces on to what is called the forest of Jarden, having heard that many of those who had earlier fled from Jerusalem and Machaerus had assembled there. 211 When he reached it and found the report correct, he first surrounded the whole place with his cavalry, so that any Jews brave enough to try to break through would find their way blocked by the horses, and got his infantry to cut down the trees in the wood where they had fled. 212 To have any hope of escape, the Jews had to attempt some noble and desperate battle, so with a loud shout they attacked those who surrounded them. 213 These resisted stubbornly, and the fight was long, with one side fighting in desperation and the other unwilling to yield. But the battle ended differently for the two sets of combatants, 214 for no more than twelve died on the Roman side, plus a few who were wounded, but none of the Jews escaped, for all of them, no less than three thousand, were killed. 215 Their general, Judas, son of Jairus was among them, of whom we have already said that he had been the officer of a company at the siege of Jerusalem and had secretly escaped through an underground tunnel.


216 About the same time Caesar sent orders to Bassus and the procurator, Liberius Maximus, that all the land of Judea should be offered for sale; 217 for he founded no city there but kept the country for himself; and for eight hundred men discharged from his army he assigned a place to live in, called Emmaus, thirty furlongs from Jerusalem. 218 He also imposed a tax upon the Jews wherever they lived, obliging each of them to send two drachmae to the Capitol every year, just as they used to pay to the temple in Jerusalem. Such was the state of Jewish affairs at the time.

Chapter 07. [219-251]
Disaster befalls the king of Commagene. The Alans harm the Medes and Armenians


219 In the fourth year of Vespasian's reign, king Antiochus of Commagene and all his family, suffered a great misfortune, as follows. 220 The governor of Syria, Cesennius Petus, either for the love of truth or out of hatred to Antiochus, for his reason was never fully disclosed, 221 sent a letter to Caesar, stating that Antiochus and his son Epiphanes planned to rebel against the Romans and had made a treaty with the king of Parthia to that effect. 222 Something clearly must be done before they began a war that could shake the Roman empire. 223 When the matter was brought to Caesar's attention he took it seriously, since the proximity of those kings made it worthy of special attention. 224 Samosata, the capital of Commagene, lies on the Euphrates and in any such campaign could allow the Parthians an easy crossing and a secure base. 225 Petus was believed and given authority to do what he thought best in the situation, so he set about it without delay and attacked Commagene with the tenth legion, and some cohorts and troops of cavalry, before Antiochus and his people expected it. 226 His allies were king Aristobulus, of the region called Chalcidike, and Sohemus, king of the region called Emesa. 227 His forces met no opposition when they entered the kingdom, for nobody in the land was ready to raise a hand against them. 228 When Antiochus heard this unexpected news, he could no longer think of making war on the Romans, but decided to leave his whole kingdom as it was and to retire secretly, with his wife and children, thinking that this would prove to the Romans that he was innocent of the accusation against him. 229 So he left the city and camped in a plain a hundred and twenty furlongs away.


230 Petus sent some men to capture Samosata and through them occupied the city, while he himself attacked Antiochus with the rest of his forces. 231 In his plight the king was unwilling to attempt any battle with the Romans, but simply cursed his hard fate and bore with patience what he could not prevent. 232 But his sons, who were young and untried in war, though strong in body, could not be persuaded to accept this disaster without a fight. So Epiphanes and Callinicus took to arms, 233 and the battle was hard fought all day, and due to their bravery only the approach of night put an end to it, without either force yielding. 234 At the end of the battle, however, Antiochus would not remain there but fled with his wife and daughters to Cilicia, which totally demoralised his own soldiers. 235 They rebelled and went over to the Romans, not believing that he could retain the kingdom, as all regarded his situation as hopeless. 236 Epiphanes and his soldiers therefore had to escape from the enemy before they lost all their allies, and he had only ten cavalry with him when he crossed the Euphrates. 237 From there they easily reached Vologeses, the king of Parthia, where they were not despised as fugitives, but respected as if they had retained their former success.


238 When Antiochus reached Tarsus in Cilicia, Petus ordered a centurion to go to him and send him in chains to Rome. 239 But Vespasian could not bear to have a king brought to him in that manner, preferring to recall their former friendship than show implacable anger on account of the war. 240 He ordered his chains removed while he was still on the way and not to have him brought to Rome, but now sent him to live in Sparta, alloting him a large enough income to be able to live not only richly, but royally. 241 Hearing this, Epiphanes and his party, who up to then were fearful about the father's fate, were relieved of their anxious concern, 242 and they too began to hope for reconciliation with Caesar, at the intercession of Vologeses, for although wealthy enough, they could not bear living outside the Roman empire. 243 When Caesar amiably gave permission, they came to Rome, and their father soon arrived there from Sparta, so that, welcomed with all respect, they remained there.


244 The Alans, as already said, were a nation of the Scythians and lived around lake Maeotis. 245 About this time this nation planned to attack and plunder Media and parts beyond, and so parleyed with the king of the Hyrcanians, who controlled the pass which king Alexander had shut up with iron gates. 246 This king let them pass through them, so they came in large numbers and took the Medes by surprise and looted their country, which they found very populous and abundant in livestock; and no one dared to stand against them. 247 Even Pacorus, the king of the country, had fled in fear to a remote place, surrendering to them all that he owned and only with difficulty managing to save his wife and concubines, who had been captured, by paying a ransom of a hundred talents. 248 So with no opposition they easily looted his country and went as far as Armenia, destroying everything before them. 249 Tiridates the king of that country met and fought them, but was nearly captured alive in the battle, 250 for a man threw a net over him from a great distance and would have dragged him in if he had not immediately cut the cord with his sword and escaped. 251 Frustrated by this, the Alans ransacked the country and took away with them a large crowd of people and much of what they had looted from both kingdoms, and then returned to their own country.

Chapter 08. [252-388]
Masada is besieged by Silva. Eleazar's speeches to the besieged


252 After Bassus died, Flavius Silva succeeded him as procurator in Judea, and seeing the rest of the country subdued in this war and that there was only one stronghold still in rebel hands, he gathered his whole army from its different bases and attacked it. 253 This stronghold was called Masada and it had been taken by Eleazar, a powerful man and commander of the Sicarii. He was descended from the Judas who, as we have already reported, persuaded many of the Jews not to submit to taxation when Quirinius was sent to collect it in Judea. 254 It was then that the Sicarii attacked those who wanted to submit to the Romans treating them in every way like enemies, looting them of what they had, driving away their livestock and setting fire to their houses. 255 They considered them no different than foreigners, for meekly betraying the freedom which true Jews should defend to the end, and by openly preferring slavery under the Romans rather than this struggle. 256 In fact this was no more than a pretext and cover for their savagery and to conceal their avarice, which later became clear from their actions. 257 Those who joined in their rebellion also took part in the war against the Romans and went even further in their rash attacks on them. 258 When their claims turned out to be spurious they heaped still more abuse on those who had justly reproached them for their wickedness. 259 It was a most fertile time for all sorts of evil practices, when no kind of crime was left undone and it was impossible to devise any new form of vice, 260 so deeply were they all infected and rivalling each other, individually and in groups, as to who would be most impious towards God and unjust towards their neighbours, with the powerful oppressing the people and the people strenuously seeking to destroy the powerful. 261 Each man wished to tyrannize over others and everyone was ready for violence and for looting those richer than himself. 262 It was the Sicarii who began these crimes and began showing savagery towards those allied to them and left no insults unsaid and no terrible acts untried, to do away with those whom they targeted. 263 But by his actions John showed that even these Sicarii were more moderate than he, for not only did he destroy all who advised him to do the right thing, but treated them worst of all, as his most bitter enemies among all the citizens. He filled the whole country with thousands of evils, suited to a character already well hardened in impiety towards God. 264 The food set upon his table was unlawful and he rejected the purifications ordained by the law of his country, so it was no wonder that, mad in his impiety towards God, he did not observe any rules of gentleness and common affection towards men. 265 Again, what wrongdoing did Simon, son of Gioras, not try? What kind of abuses did he not heap on the same free people who had helped him become a tyrant? 266 What friendship or ties of family restrained him from his daily murders? They regarded only the harming of strangers as a trifle and saw savagery towards their nearest relatives as an achievement. 267 The Idumaeans even competed with them for first prize in madness, for the villains cut the throats of the high priests, that so no vestige of religious regard to God was preserved. Then they proceeded to wipe out the last remains of political government 268 and introduced the fullest possible scenario of wrong-doing. This was where the so-called Zealots flourished and true to their name they were zealous for evil. 269 If memory recalled any evil done in the past, they zealously put it in practice, 270 and though named after zeal for what was good, it suited them only by way of irony, to mock those they had wronged in their wild and brutishness, or because the saw the greatest harms as the greatest good. 271 They all met with fitting ends from God who punishes justly, 272 for everything that human nature can undergo, up to the last moments of life and death itself, came upon them in various kinds of torment. 273 Even then one might say that they endured less than they inflicted, and it was hardly to punish them as they deserved. 274 But here is the place to deplore all that people endured from their men's savagery, so I return to the remaining part of the narrative.


275 The Roman general, meanwhile, led his army against Eleazar and the Sicarii who with him held the Masada fortress and soon captured all the adjoining countryside. After putting garrisons in appropriate places 276 he built a wall around the entire fortress, setting his men to guard its various parts so that none of the besieged could easily escape. 277 He encamped in a suitable place, chosen for the siege, where the citadel within the fortress was nearest to the neighbouring mountain. It was a difficult place for provisions, 278 or not only had food to be brought from a great distance, at the cost of much labour to the Jews assigned to it, but water too had to be brought to the camp, because the place had no springs near it. 279 After Silva had organised these matters, he set to besieging the place, a siege that was likely to need much skill and effort because of the strength of the fortress, whose quality I will now describe.


280 There was a rock, large in circumference and very high, surrounded with ravines so deep that their bases were invisible and so steep that no living thing could approach it except at two places where the rock allows for ascent, though with difficulty. 281 Of the paths leading to it, one is that from lake Asphaltitis, on the east side, and the other is from the west, where the ascent is easier. 282 They call the other track The Snake, for it resembles that creature in its narrowness and perpetual windings. Its line is broken by prominent outcrops and and it often turns back on itself and with difficulty goes forward by gradual lengths. 283 Whoever walks along it must alternately shift his weight from one leg to the other, and destruction awaits if your feet should slip, for the chasms on either side are deep enough to daunt the bravest. 284 After going thirty furlongs along this path, one reaches the summit, which is not a tapering peak but a plateau. 285 Here Jonathan the high priest first built a fortress and called it Masada, and later king Herod devoted attention to refurbishing the place. 286 He built a wall round the entire top of the hill, seven furlongs in length and made from white stone, twelve feet high and eight feet thick. 287 Built into that wall were thirty seven towers, each of fifty feet high, which gave access to the buildings that were all enclosed by the wall. 288 The king reserved the topmost area, with its rich soil, softer for agriculture than any valley, so that any who fled to this fortress to save their lives might not be lacking in food, even if none could be got in from outside. 289 He built a palace there on its slope beneath the ramparts of the citadel, facing north, surrounded by a very high, strong wall, with towers sixty feet high at its four corners. 290 The buildings, porticoes and baths were furnished in a most elaborate and costly style, and were supported on every side by monolith columns. The ramparts and even the floors of the buildings were paved with stones of various colours. 291 He also had cut from the rock at each dwelling-place on the plateau, round the palace and beside the wall, many great cisterns as reservoirs, and by this means provided a supply of water as if there were wells there. 292 There was also a road dug from the palace and leading to the very top of the mountain, which could not be seen by those who were outside; nor indeed could enemies easily use the open approaches, 293 for the road on the east side, as we have noted, was unviable by its nature, and he built a large tower at the narrowest point on the western path, no less than a thousand feet from the top of the hill. This tower could not be passed and was not easy to capture; and even if one were daring enough to reach it, to escape from it would be hard. 294 This was how the citadel was fortified, both by nature and by human hands, to frustrate the attacks of enemies.


295 The materials stored in this fortress were still more amazing, in quality and durability. 296 Large supplies of corn were stored there, enough to last for a long time, along with abundant wine and oil, with all sorts of pulse and heaps of dates. 297 hen by a ruse he and his Sicarii took the fortress, Eleazar found all this, still in good condition and not inferior to fruits newly brought in, although almost a hundred years had passed from when they were put there until the place was taken by the Romans, who had found what remained of the fruits unspoiled. 298 It would not be wrong to attribute their durability to the atmosphere of the place, with the fortress being so high and untainted by admixture of dust or other particles. 299 Also found here was a heap of all sorts of weapons that had been stored there by the king, enough for thousands of men, along with cast iron and brass and tin, clearly prepared for some emergency. 300 They say that Herod prepared this fortress as a refuge for himself, against danger of two kinds: first, for fear the Jewish populace might depose him and restore their former royal house, and second, the greater and more serious danger, from Cleopatra queen of Egypt, 301 who did not conceal her intentions, but was constantly asking and imploring Antony to depose Herod to grant her the kingdom of Judea. 302 The surprising thing is that, miserably enslaved though he was by his passion for her, Antony never did give in to her demands on this point. 303 On account of such fears, Herod rebuilt Masada and so left it as the final challenge for the Romans in the war with the Jews.


304 When the Roman commander Silva had built an enclosing wall around this whole place, as already said, and thereby had taken care to prevent any of the besieged from escaping, he took the siege in hand, though he found only one place that would allow for earthworks to be raised. 305 Behind the tower that barred the path from the west to the palace and to the top of the hill was a large outcrop called the White Rock, broad and very prominent, but three hundred feet beneath the top of Masada. 306 Getting up and seizing it he ordered the army to put up earthworks, and when they willingly set to that work with many hands, a solid earthwork was raised, two hundred feet high. 307 Even this bank was not thought stable or large enough for the machines that were to be set upon it, so on top of it was set a platform of large stones closely fitted together, fifty feet wide and the same high. 308 The war-machines that were now got ready were like those used in sieges first by Vespasian and then by Titus. 309 A tower sixty feet high was made and plated all over with iron, from which the Romans rapidly launched spears and stones at the fighters on the ramparts and prevented them from showing themselves. 310 At the same time Silva ordered the great battering ram he had prepared to be brought to bear constantly against the wall and with some difficulty broke down and destroyed a part of it. 311 But the Sicarii hurried to built another wall inside, which should not be as vulnerable to the rams as the other, making it soft and yielding and capable of absorbing the terrible blows that shook the other. This was how they made it. 312 They laid great beams of wood lengthways, close together and joined at the ends, in two parallel rows a wall's width apart and filled the space between those rows with earth. 313 That the earth might not fall away when this bank was raised higher, they further laid other beams across to bind together diagonally the beams that lay lengthways. 314 This work looked like a real structure, and when the rams were applied, the blows were absorbed by its yielding, and as the materials were shaken closer together by this pounding, and it became firmer than before. 315 When Silva saw this, he thought it easier to take this wall by burning it, so he commanded the soldiers to shower blazing torches upon it. 316 As it was mainly made of wood, it soon caught fire, and when once it was ablaze, its hollowness made that fire grow to a mighty flame. 317 At the start of this fire, a wind from the north proved dire to the Romans, for it blew the flame downward upon them until they almost despaired, fearing their machines would be burned. 318 But then the wind suddenly changed to the south, as if by divine Providence, and blew strongly in the opposite direction, carrying the flame hard against the wall, which was now on fire through its entire thickness. 319 So with this divine help the Romans returned happily to their camp, intending to attack the enemy the following day, and kept watch more vigilantly that night, to prevent any of the Jews escaping them unseen.


320 But Eleazar had not thought of escaping nor would he allow anyone else do so. 321 When he saw their wall consumed by the fire and could see no way out and no room for further bravery, he described what the Romans would do to them, their children and their wives, if they got their hands on them, and considered having them all killed. 322 Judging this to be the best they could do in the circumstances, he assembled the bravest of his companions and encouraged them to take that course by the following speech:

323 "My generous friends, since long ago we resolved never to be slaves to the Romans, nor to any other than to God himself, who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time has now come for us to carry out that resolve. 324 Let us not now shame ourselves, for formerly we would not accept even safe slavery, but now, along with slavery, we face intolerable tortures, I mean, if the Romans capture us alive. We were the very first to revolt from them and we are the last to still resist them, 325 so I really see it as a grace from God that we still have the power to die bravely and in a state of freedom, which was not the case for others, who were unexpectedly defeated. 326 Clearly we shall be taken within the next day, but we may still choose an honourable death, along with our dearest friends. This our enemies cannot prevent, dearly though they want to take us alive, any more than we can hope to defeat them. 327 We should have given thought from the start, to God's purpose, when we were so eager to defend our liberty and when we treated each other so harshly and got even worse from our enemies. 328 We should have known that our Jewish nation once favoured by God is now doomed to destruction. If his favour had continued or had he been less angry with us, he would not have ignored the death of so many, or handed over his most holy city to be burned and demolished by our enemies. 329 Did we hope we alone could guard our freedom, as if we had not sinned against God, or had no part in crime, while we taught it to others? 330 See how God has shown how vain were our hopes, by bringing such dire distress upon us now, worse than anything we feared, 331 for the invincible nature of this fortress has not proved able to save us, and even though we still have lots of food and more weapons and other essentials than we need, God has clearly removed all hope of our being saved. 332 It was not of its own accord that the fire we poured upon our enemies turned back upon the wall that we built. No, it shows wrath against us for the many mad wrongs we inflicted on our countrymen. 333 Let us accept the punishment for these not from the Romans, but from God himself, dying by our own hands, a milder penalty. 334 Let our wives die before they are dishonoured and our children before they have tasted slavery, and having killed them, let us mutually give each other that noble gift, keeping liberty as our winding-sheet. 335 But first let us burn our money and the fortress itself, for I am quite sure that this will greatly annoy the Romans, not only to be unable to take us alive but also to miss out on our wealth. 336 Let us leave nothing behind but our provisions, to witness when we are dead that we were not subdued for lack of essentials, but that we kept to our original resolve and preferred death to slavery."


337 This was Eleazar's speech to them, but not all the hearers agreed to it. Some of them wanted to put his advice in practice and were somehow pleased at it and regarded death as a blessing, 338 but the gentler sort felt pity for their wives and families, and being deeply moved by the prospect of their own certain death, they looked wistfully at each other and through the tears in their eyes declared their dissent from his view. 339 Seeing them so fearful and in such low spirits at his drastic proposal, Eleazar was afraid that these gentler folk, by their sighs and tears, might enfeeble those who had heard his words with courage, so he went on urging them. 340 Stirring himself to find suitable arguments to raise their spirits, he spoke more forcefully and fully to them about the immortality of the soul. 341 Fixing his eyes intently on those who wept, with a deep groan he said, "How mistaken I was in thinking I was helping brave men struggling hard for their liberty and people who were resolved either to live with honour, or to die. 342 Now I find you no better or braver than others, afraid of death, even though it will free you from such great sorrows. But you should not hesitate in this matter, nor need advice from anyone. 343 As soon as we had the use of reason the ancient laws of our country and our God have taught us, and our ancestors have shown by their actions and bravery of mind, that it is life that is burdensome to humans, not death. 344 By contrast, death gives our souls their freedom and sends them off to their own place of purity, where they will not feel misery of any kind. For while souls are tied to a mortal body, they share in its burdens, and are, so to speak, dead, in the troublesome union of the divine and mortal elements. 345 The power of the soul is indeed great, even when imprisoned in a mortal body, for by invisibly moving it it makes the body a conscious instrument and enables it to act in ways beyond the power of mortal nature. 346 Once freed from that cloying weight that binds it to the earth, it reaches its proper place and then shares in that blessed power and those abilities, which cannot in any way be hindered in their operations. 347 It stays invisible to human eyes, like God himself, for being there invisibly it is not seen while in the body, and when freed from it, it remains unseen. This soul has one incorruptible nature, but yet it is the cause of changes observed in the body. 348 Whatever the soul touches, lives and flourishes, and any body from which it is removed, withers away and dies; such is its immortal nature. 349 The state of sleep as a clear proof of what I say. Undistracted by the body, souls have in sleep the sweetest state and converse with God, in alliance to him and there they travel elsewhere and foretell many future events. 350 Why then do we fear death, if the repose we have in sleep is so pleasant? And how absurd to seek liberty while we are alive but deny it to ourselves where it will be eternal! 351 We who are reared in our special discipline should be an example to others by our readiness to die. But if we need the support of foreigners in this matter, consider those Indians who profess to practise philosophy. 352 These good folk endure the time of life unwillingly and regard it as a necessary servitude. 353 They look forward to releasing their souls from their bodies even when no misfortune presses or drives them to it. They so desire the immortal life that they tell others in advance of their intention to depart, and nobody hinders them. Rather, all think them happy and give them letters to bring to their friends, 354 so firmly do they believe that souls converse with each other. 355 When these have heard all such orders to be delivered, they consign their body to the fire, and, to ensure a most pure separation of the soul from the body, they die amidst hymns of gladness. 356 Indeed their dearest friends conduct them to their death more readily than do the rest of mankind bid farewell to their companions before going a very long journey, at the same time weeping for themselves but regarding the others as happy, soon to share in the order of immortal beings. 357 Are we not ashamed to have lower ideas than the Indians? By our cowardice will we besmirch the laws of our country, so much asked about and imitated by all mankind? 358 Even if we had been reared in another doctrine and were taught that life is the greatest good of humans and that death is a disaster - even then, the present moment should lead us to bear if bravely, since it is inevitable and by God's will that we are to die. 359 For it now appears that God has decreed that the whole Jewish nation is to be deprived of this life which we would not use properly. 360 For do not blame yourselves for our present condition, nor think the Romans are the truly the reason that our war with them has become so destructive to us all. It was not by their power that these things happened, but a more powerful cause intervened, making us give them the chance of seeming to triumph over us. 361 Tell me, was it by Roman weapons that the Jews in Caesarea were killed? 362 No, but while they were in no way rebellious, but were keeping their sabbath festival and never lifted their hands against the Caesareans, still those citizens crowded over them and cut their throats, with their wives and children. This had nothing to do with the Romans, who never saw us as enemies until we rebelled from them. 363 Some may say that the people of Caesarea always had a quarrel with those living among them and that when opportunity offered, they only satisfied their old grudge against them. 364 What then shall we say about those of Scythopolis, who went to war with us due to the Greeks? 365 It was not an act of revenge upon the Romans, when they acted in concert with our countrymen. See how little our goodwill and fidelity to them profited us, when our families were brutally killed, which was the thanks we got for helping the others. 366 We suffered the very fate we had saved them from, just as if we had been ready to act against them. 367 It would take too long for me now to describe every evil brought upon us, for you must know how there was no Syrian city which did not kill their Jewish inhabitants hating us more than even the Romans do. 368 Even the people of Damascus, though unable to allege any plausible charge, filled their city with the murder of our people and cut the throats of eighteen thousand Jews, with their wives and children. 369 We have been told that were over sixty thousand were killed and tortured in Egypt, even though as exiles in a foreign country they had no means of defence against their enemies. But when we fought the Romans in our own country, had we not reason to have good hopes of victory? 370 We had arms and walls and fortresses not easy to take, and courage unmoved by any dangers in the cause of liberty, which prompted all of us to revolt from the Romans. 371 But these advantages kept us going for too short a time and only raised our hopes, while they now seem the cause of our woes, for all we had was taken from us and has fallen to our enemies, as though our advantages only served to render their victory more glorious and not for the safety of those who provided them. 372 As for those who have died already in the war, it is right for us to reckon them blessed, for they died defending their freedom, and not betraying it. As to those who are now under the Romans, who would not pity their condition? Who would not rather die than suffer the same woes as they? 373 Some of them were racked and tortured with fire and whips and so died. Some have been half devoured by wild beasts and yet kept alive to be devoured by them a second time, to afford laughter and sport to our enemies. 374 The survivors are the most of all to be pitied who, longing for death, could not reach it. 375 Where is now that great city, the heart of the Jewish nation, fortified by so many walls, defended by so many fortresses and towers, which could hardly contain the weapons of war and which had so many thousands of men to fight for it? 376 Where is the city that was believed to have God himself dwelling there? It is now demolished to the very foundations, with nothing but its monument preserved, I mean the camp of those who destroyed it, which still stands upon its ruins. 377 Some unfortunate old men also lie within the ashes of the temple and a few women are there kept alive by the enemy, for our bitter shame and reproach. 378 Who can revolve these things in his mind and yet bear the sight of the sun, though he could live safe from danger? Who is there so much his country's enemy, so unmanly and so fond of life, as not to regret that he is still alive? 379 I really wish that we had all died before seeing that holy city demolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our holy temple so profanely dug up. 380 But since our noble hope deceived us, and the thought of avenging ourselves on our enemies has now become empty and leaves us alone in this calamity, let us die quickly and bravely. 381 Let us show pity on ourselves, our children and our wives while it is in our power to pity them, for we were born to die, as well as those were whom we have begotten, and even the most fortunate of our race cannot avoid it. 382 But savagery and slavery and the sight of our wives ignobly led away, with their children, such evils are not natural or necessary among men. They must only be borne by those who, in their cowardice, do not prefer death to such woes, when it is in their power to do so. 383 With a high spirit of courage we rebelled from the Romans and when, at the very last, they invited us to save ourselves, we would not accept it. 384 Is it not clear that they will vent their rage on us, if they can take us alive? Then woe betide the young men whose bodies are strong enough to sustain many tortures! Woe to those of elder years, unable to bear the pains which young men might sustain! 385 A man must see his wife led off to be raped, or hear the voice of his son imploring his father's help, when his hands are bound. 386 But our hands are still free and hold a sword. Let them serve us in our noble plan! Let us die rather than become slaves to our enemies and let us, our children and our wives, leave this world while we are still free. This 387 it is that our laws demand and it is that our wives and children crave at our hands. It is God himself who makes this necessary, while the Romans desire the contrary and want none of us to die before we are taken. 388 So we must hurry and, instead of giving them the pleasure they hope for in capturing us, leave them shocked by our death and amazed at our bravery."

Chapter 09. [389-406]
The defenders of Masada commit mass suicide. The Romans enter a silent citadel


389 Eleazar wanted to continue his exhortation but they all cut him short and hurried to do the deed, full of invincible ardour. Like people possessed, they went off intending to outdo each other and thinking to prove their courage and goodwill by avoiding being seen among the last, such was their passion to kill their wives and children and themselves. 390 Nor did their courage fail, as one would expect, when it came to the act, but unwaveringly they held to the resolve they had felt at hearing the speech, for while each felt the natural passion of love for themselves and their families, the reasoning convinced them as just, even for those dearest to them. 391 So while husbands tenderly embraced their wives and took their children into their arms and with tears in their eyes gave them lengthy final kisses, 392 they still carried out their resolve, as though executing them by the hands of others, with no solace but the need to kill them, to avoid the woes they would suffer from the enemy. 393 None of them evaded acting his part in this terrible deed, but each despatched his closest family, forced by necessity to kill their own wives and children with their own hands, as the lesser of the evils facing them. 394 Unable to bear any longer their grief at what they had done and thinking it wronged the slain to live even a short while after them, they soon piled all their property in a heap and set fire to it. 395 Then they chose by lot ten of their number to kill all the rest. Each man lay down alongside his wife and children and throwing his arms about them offered his neck to the stroke of whoever by lot fulfilled that sad duty. 396 When these ten had killed all the rest, they followed the same rule by casting lots for themselves, so that he who drew the lot should first kill the other nine and finally kill himself. All were too brave to lag behind each other in action or suffering. 397 In the end they offered their necks to the executioner and he who was last of all looked round all the other bodies, in case amid the slaughter someone might still need his help. When he saw that all were dead, he set fire to the palace and then raised his hand and ran himself through with his sword and fell dead alongside his own relatives. 398 So these died, believing they had not left one of them alive to be subject to the Romans. 399 But one old woman and another, a relative of Eleazar's who surpassed most women in prudence and learning, and five children, had hidden in caves under ground and had brought water there to drink and stayed concealed there while the rest were intent upon killing each other. 400 The others were nine hundred and sixty in number, including women and children. 401 This awful slaughter took place on the fifteenth day of the month Xanthicus.


402 The Romans expected combat in the morning, so they put on their armour and laid bridges of planks upon their ladders from the earthworks. 403 When they attacked the fortress they saw none of the enemy, but a terrible solitude on every side, with the place on fire, and all perfectly still. Perplexed to know what had happened, they raised a shout, as loud as a blow of the battering ram, to see if they could bring anyone out from inside. 404 The women heard this noise and came out of their underground cave and told the Romans what had been done, and one of them clearly described both the speech and the way the deed was done. 405 These found it hard to take seriously the scale of the bold act, and disbelieved it, and tried to put out the fire, quickly cutting a way through to the inside of the palace. 406 When they came upon the number of the fallen, what they felt was not rejoicing over enemies but admiration for the nobility of their resolve and the firm contempt of death shown by so many, to carry it out.

Chapter 10. [407-436]
Many Sicarii flee to Alexandria. They endanger the Jews there, and their temple


407 After the fortress was so taken, the general left a garrison to guard it and he went off to Caesarea. 408 There were now no enemies left in the country, as it was all ruined by this long war, but it caused trouble and danger in faraway places too. 409 Even in the area of Alexandria in Egypt, many Jews were killed, 410 since many of the Sicarii who were able to flee there from the rebellion, were not content to have saved their lives, but had to start new disturbances and persuaded many of those who welcomed them to assert their liberty, regarding the Romans as no better than themselves, and honouring God as their only Lord and Master. 411 When the prominent Jews opposed them, they killed some of them and pressed the others very hard, urging them to rebel. 412 When the officers of the Jewish council saw their madness they thought it no longer safe to ignore them, so they called all the Jews to a meeting and accused the Sicarii of madness, showing how they had been the cause of all their woes. 413 They said that "These men, now that they have fled from Judea, have no hope of escape, for as soon as they are recognised, they will soon be killed by the Romans. Now they come here and load their troubles on us, who have not shared in any of their crimes." 414 The people should take care not to be ruined on account of them and apologise to the Romans for what had been done, by handing these men over to them. 415 Realising from these words the extend of their danger, they agreed and ran with force at the Sicarii and captured them. 416 Six hundred of them were caught immediately, and soon all those who had fled to Egypt and to the Egyptian Thebaid were caught and brought back. 417 Their courage, or perhaps we should call it madness, or the strength of their opinions, amazed everyone. 418 For though all imaginable kinds of tortures and physical pain were used on them, none of them could be forced to yield and to confess, or even give the impression of confessing, Caesar as their master, but in spite of all that was inflicted on them, they stuck to their own view, as if receiving these tortures, even fire itself, with bodies that felt no pain and a soul that almost was glad at it. 419 Most astounding of all to the onlookers was the courage of the children, for none of them was so defeated as to call Caesar master. So far does the power of courage prevail over the weakness of the body.


420 Lupus who then governed Alexandria, soon sent word of this upheaval to Caesar. 421 He, suspecting the mood of the Jews for revolt and fearing that they could again join forces and persuade others to join them, ordered Lupus to demolish the Jewish temple in a place called Onias. 422 This is the region in Egypt which had been settled and named as follows. 423 When Antiochus the king of Syria made war against the Jews, one of the Jewish high priests, Onias, the son of Simon, fled and came to Alexandria; and when Ptolemy received him cordially, due to his hatred for Antiochus, promised that if he followed his proposal, he would get the Jewish nation to ally with him. 424 Then when the king agreed, as far as he was able, he asked to be let build a temple somewhere in Egypt and to worship God according to their ancestral customs, 425 for the Jews would be so much readier to fight Antiochus, who had ransacked the temple in Jerusalem, and would join him all the more willingly, if he granted them liberty of religion.


426 Persuaded by this, Ptolemy gave him a tract of land a hundred and eighty furlongs from Memphis, in what is called the Nomos of Hellopolis. 427 There Onias built a fortress and a temple, not like that in Jerusalem, but one resembling a tower, built of large stones to a height of sixty feet. 428 He modelled the altar on that in the home country and adorned it with similar gifts, except the shape of the candlestick; 429 for he did not make a candlestick, but had a lamp hammered from a piece of gold, to illuminate the place with its rays, and he hung it from a chain of gold. The entire temple was surrounded with a wall of burned brick, though it had gates of stone. 430 The king also gave him a large area to yield an income so that the priests might be well provided for and plenty of all that was required for divine worship. 431 Onias, however, did not do this out of sober prudence, but wished to vie with the Jews in Jerusalem and could not forget his anger for being banished from there, thinking that by building this temple he could lure the majority away from them. 432 An ancient prophecy had also been made about six hundred years earlier, by a man named Isaiah, that this temple would be built by a Jew in Egypt; and that is how that sanctuary was built.


433 On receiving Caesar's letter, the governor of Alexandria, Lupus, came to the temple and took away some of the donations dedicated to it, and shut the temple itself. 434 When a little later Lupus died, his successor, Paulinus, left none of the donations there and threatened the priests with severe sanctions if they did not bring them all out, and allowed nobody who wanted to worship God there even to come near the sanctuary. 435 Shutting up the gates, he made it entirely inaccessible, leaving no trace remaining of any divine worship that had been in that place. 436 The length of time from the building of this temple until it was shut again was three hundred and forty-three years.

Chapter 11. [437-455]
Jonathan and Catullus still stir up trouble. End of this story of the Jewish War


437 The madness of the Sicarii infected even the cities around Cyrene. 438 A rogue named Jonathan, a weaver by trade, took refuge there and winning the attention of a number of the poorer class he led them out into the desert with the promise of showing them signs and visions. 439 He concealed his knavery from the others and fooled them, but the highest ranking the Jews of Cyrene told Catullus, the ruler of the Libyan Pentapolis, about his exodus and what he planned for it. 440 So he sent out cavalry and infantry in pursuit, and defeated them easily, as they were unarmed. Many of them were killed in the fight, and some were taken alive and brought to Catullus. 441 The leader of this affair, Jonathan, escaped for a time, but after a thorough search of the whole country for him was finally captured. When he was brought to Catullus, he found a way to escape punishment himself but which caused Catullus to do a large amount of harm, 442 for he falsely accused the richest of the Jews of being the instigators of the whole thing.


443 Catullus easily accepted his calumnies and greatly exaggerated the matter with theatrical cries, to give himself the appearance of putting an end to some Jewish war. 444 But what was worse, not only did he give easy credence to his stories, but he taught the Sicarii to accuse men falsely. 445 He told this Jonathan to indict a Jew called Alexander, with whom he had formerly quarreled and openly professed to hate, and to involve his wife Berenice along with him. These were his first victims, and after them he killed all the rich and well-to-do, three thousand in all, 446 reckoning he could safely do, since he confiscated their property and added them to Caesar's revenues.


447 Indeed, in case any Jews living elsewhere should convict him of his villainy, he further extended his false accusations and persuaded Jonathan and others who were captured with him, to accuse of rebellion some Jews of the highest character both in Alexandria and in Rome. 448 One of those falsely accused in this way, was Josephus, the writer of these books. 449 But this plan hatched by Catullus did not succeed according to his hopes. He came personally to Rome bringing Jonathan and his companions with him in chains, and thought no further enquiries would be made about the lies that were forged under his rule. 450 But Vespasian still had some suspicion about the matter and enquired how far it was true, and when he understood that the accusation against the Jews was an unjust one, at the request of Titus he acquitted them, and sentence Jonathan as he deserved, for he was first tortured and then burned alive.


451 The emperors treated Catullus so mildly that he was not censured at the time, but soon afterwards he fell victim to an incurable ailment and died miserably. He was not only afflicted in body, but the ailment of his mind was even worse than the other. 452 For he was woefully troubled and constantly shouting that he saw in front of him the ghosts of those he had killed, and unable to contain himself, he would jump out of bed, as if racked with torture and fire. 453 His ailment grew continually worse and his innards rotted so that they poured from his body and in that condition he died, providing the clearest proof of divine Providence and showing that God does indeed punish the wicked.


454 Here we shall put an end to our history. At the start we promised to deliver it with all accuracy to all who wish to understand the story of this war of the Romans with the Jews. 455 How good the style of this history is, must be left to the reader's discretion, but as for its factual content, I do not hesitate to say publicly that truth alone is what I have aimed at, throughout its composition.