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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 16.184-16.187


ζῶντι γὰρ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ κεχαρισμένως ἐκείνῳ καὶ καθ' ὑπηρεσίαν ἀνέγραφεν, μόνων ἁπτόμενος τῶν εὔκλειαν αὐτῷ φερόντων, πολλὰ δὲ καὶ τῶν ἐμφανῶς ἀδίκων ἀντικατασκευάζων καὶ μετὰ πάσης σπουδῆς ἐπικρυπτόμενοςfor he wrote in Herod’s lifetime, and under his reign, and so as to please him, and as a servant to him, touching upon nothing but what tended to his glory, and openly excusing many of his notorious crimes, and very diligently concealing them.


ὅς γε καὶ τὸν Μαριάμμης θάνατον καὶ τῶν παίδων αὐτῆς οὕτως ὠμῶς τῷ βασιλεῖ πεπραγμένον εἰς εὐπρέπειαν ἀνάγειν βουλόμενος ἐκείνης τε ἀσέλγειαν καὶ τῶν νεανίσκων ἐπιβουλὰς καταψεύδεται, καὶ διατετέλεκεν τῇ γραφῇ τὰ μὲν πεπραγμένα δικαίως τῷ βασιλεῖ περιττότερον ἐγκωμιάζων, ὑπὲρ δὲ τῶν παρανομηθέντων ἐσπουδασμένως ἀπολογούμενος.And as he was desirous to put handsome colors on the death of Mariamne and her sons, which were barbarous actions in the king, he tells falsehoods about the incontinence of Mariamne, and the treacherous designs of his sons upon him; and thus he proceeded in his whole work, making a pompous encomium upon what just actions he had done, but earnestly apologizing for his unjust ones.


ἐκείνῳ μὲν οὖν πολλὴν ἄν τις, ὡς ἔφην, ἔχοι τὴν συγγνώμην: οὐ γὰρ ἱστορίαν τοῖς ἄλλοις, ἀλλὰ ὑπουργίαν τῷ βασιλεῖ ταύτην ἐποιεῖτο.Indeed, a man, as I said, may have a great deal to say by way of excuse for Nicolaus; for he did not so properly write this as a history for others, as somewhat that might be subservient to the king himself.


ἡμεῖς δὲ καὶ γένους ὄντες ἀγχοῦ τῶν ἐξ ̓Ασαμωναίου βασιλέων καὶ διὰ τοῦτο σὺν τιμῇ τὴν ἱερωσύνην ἔχοντες τὸ ψεύσασθαί τι περὶ αὐτῶν οὐκ εὐπρεπὲς ὑπειληφότες καθαρῶς καὶ δικαίως ἐκτίθεμεν τὰς πράξεις, πολλοὺς μὲν τῶν ἐγγόνων τῶν ἐκείνου καὶ βασιλεύοντας ἔτι δι' ἐντροπῆς ἔχοντες, τὴν δ' ἀλήθειαν πρὸ ἐκείνων τετιμηκότες, ἣν ὅτε δικαίως ἐγίνετο συνέβη τε παρ' αὐτοῖς ἐκείνοις ὀργῆ τυγχάνειν.As for ourselves, who come of a family nearly allied to the Asamonean kings, and on that account have an honorable place, which is the priesthood, we think it indecent to say any thing that is false about them, and accordingly we have described their actions after an unblemished and upright manner. And although we reverence many of Herod’s posterity, who still reign, yet do we pay a greater regard to truth than to them, and this though it sometimes happens that we incur their displeasure by so doing.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

6 results
1. Polybius, Histories, 8.8.4-8.8.9 (2nd cent. BCE - 2nd cent. BCE)

8.8.4.  others, owing either to their regard for the kings or their fear of them, have explained to us unreservedly, that not only did the outrages committed by Philip against the Messenians in defiance of divine or human law deserve no censure, but that on the contrary all his acts were to be regarded as praiseworthy achievements. 8.8.5.  It is not only with regard to the Messenians that we find the historians of Philip's life to be thus biased but in other cases 8.8.6.  the result being that their works much more resemble panegyrics than histories. 8.8.7.  My own opinion is that we should neither revile nor extol kings falsely, as has so often been done, but always give an account of them consistent with our previous statements and in accord with the character of each. 8.8.8.  It may be said that it is easy enough to say this but exceedingly difficult to do it, because there are so many and various conditions and circumstances in life, yielding to which men are prevented from uttering or writing their real opinions. 8.8.9.  Bearing this in mind we must pardon these writers in some cases, but in others we should not.
2. Dionysius of Halycarnassus, Letter To Pompeius Geminus, 3.2, 3.12, 3.14 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3. Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 12.135-12.137, 12.358-12.359, 16.185-16.187, 20.157 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

12.135. I will set down presently the epistles themselves which he wrote to the generals concerning them, but will first produce the testimony of Polybius of Megalopolis; for thus does he speak, in the sixteenth book of his history: “Now Scopas, the general of Ptolemy’s army, went in haste to the superior parts of the country, and in the winter time overthrew the nation of the Jews?” 12.136. He also saith, in the same book, that “when Seopas was conquered by Antiochus, Antiochus received Batanea, and Samaria, and Abila, and Gadara; and that, a while afterwards, there came in to him those Jews that inhabited near that temple which was called Jerusalem; concerning which, although I have more to say, and particularly concerning the presence of God about that temple, yet do I put off that history till another opportunity.” 12.137. This it is which Polybius relates. But we will return to the series of the history, when we have first produced the epistles of king Antiochus: 12.358. Whence one may wonder at Polybius of Megalopolis, who, though otherwise a good man, yet saith that “Antiochus died because he had a purpose to plunder the temple of Diana in Persia;” for the purposing to do a thing, but not actually doing it, is not worthy of punishment. 12.359. But if Polybius could think that Antiochus thus lost his life on that account, it is much more probable that this king died on account of his sacrilegious plundering of the temple at Jerusalem. But we will not contend about this matter with those who may think that the cause assigned by this Polybius of Megalopolis is nearer the truth than that assigned by us. 16.185. And as he was desirous to put handsome colors on the death of Mariamne and her sons, which were barbarous actions in the king, he tells falsehoods about the incontinence of Mariamne, and the treacherous designs of his sons upon him; and thus he proceeded in his whole work, making a pompous encomium upon what just actions he had done, but earnestly apologizing for his unjust ones. 16.186. Indeed, a man, as I said, may have a great deal to say by way of excuse for Nicolaus; for he did not so properly write this as a history for others, as somewhat that might be subservient to the king himself. 16.187. As for ourselves, who come of a family nearly allied to the Asamonean kings, and on that account have an honorable place, which is the priesthood, we think it indecent to say any thing that is false about them, and accordingly we have described their actions after an unblemished and upright manner. And although we reverence many of Herod’s posterity, who still reign, yet do we pay a greater regard to truth than to them, and this though it sometimes happens that we incur their displeasure by so doing. 20.157. but as to ourselves, who have made truth our direct aim, we shall briefly touch upon what only belongs remotely to this undertaking, but shall relate what hath happened to us Jews with great accuracy, and shall not grudge our pains in giving an account both of the calamities we have suffered, and of the crimes we have been guilty of. I will now therefore return to the relation of our own affairs.
4. Josephus Flavius, Jewish War, 1.1-1.8, 1.10, 1.12-1.18, 1.22, 1.27, 1.30-1.33, 4.317, 4.319 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

1.1. 1. Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations; while some men who were not concerned in the affairs themselves have gotten together vain and contradictory stories by hearsay, and have written them down after a sophistical manner; 1.1. For that it was a seditious temper of our own that destroyed it; and that they were the tyrants among the Jews who brought the Roman power upon us, who unwillingly attacked us, and occasioned the burning of our holy temple; Titus Caesar, who destroyed it, is himself a witness, who, during the entire war, pitied the people who were kept under by the seditious, and did often voluntarily delay the taking of the city, and allowed time to the siege, in order to let the authors have opportunity for repentance. 1.1. But still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army. And as he looked upon taking his revenge on Alexander, for endeavoring to stop him, as a thing of less consequence, he marched directly against the Arabians 1.2. and while those that were there present have given false accounts of things, and this either out of a humor of flattery to the Romans, or of hatred towards the Jews; and while their writings contain sometimes accusations, and sometimes encomiums, but nowhere the accurate truth of the facts 1.2. as also how our people made a sedition upon Herod’s death, while Augustus was the Roman emperor, and Quintilius Varus was in that country; and how the war broke out in the twelfth year of Nero, with what happened to Cestius; and what places the Jews assaulted in a hostile manner in the first sallies of the war. 1.2. These honorary grants Caesar sent orders to have engraved in the Capitol, that they might stand there as indications of his own justice, and of the virtue of Antipater. 1.3. I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians; I, Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterward [am the author of this work]. 1.3. 12. I have comprehended all these things in seven books, and have left no occasion for complaint or accusation to such as have been acquainted with this war; and I have written it down for the sake of those that love truth, but not for those that please themselves [with fictitious relations]. And I will begin my account of these things with what I call my First Chapter. 1.3. When Antigonus heard of this, he sent some of his party with orders to hinder, and lay ambushes for these collectors of corn. This command was obeyed, and a great multitude of armed men were gathered together about Jericho, and lay upon the mountains, to watch those that brought the provisions. 1.4. 2. Now at the time when this great concussion of affairs happened, the affairs of the Romans were themselves in great disorder. Those Jews also, who were for innovations, then arose when the times were disturbed; they were also in a flourishing condition for strength and riches, insomuch that the affairs of the East were then exceeding tumultuous, while some hoped for gain, and others were afraid of loss in such troubles; 1.4. and when the city had already received its sacred constitution again, Antiochus died; whose son Antiochus succeeded him in the kingdom, and in his hatred to the Jews also. 1.4. but when Zenodorus was dead, Caesar bestowed on him all that land which lay between Trachonitis and Galilee. Yet, what was still of more consequence to Herod, he was beloved by Caesar next after Agrippa, and by Agrippa next after Caesar; whence he arrived at a very great degree of felicity. Yet did the greatness of his soul exceed it, and the main part of his magimity was extended to the promotion of piety. 1.5. for the Jews hoped that all of their nation which were beyond Euphrates would have raised an insurrection together with them. The Gauls also, in the neighborhood of the Romans, were in motion, and the Celtae were not quiet; but all was in disorder after the death of Nero. And the opportunity now offered induced many to aim at the royal power; and the soldiery affected change, out of the hopes of getting money. 1.5. 2. However, Simeon managed the public affairs after a courageous manner, and took Gazara, and Joppa, and Jamnia, which were cities in the neighborhood. He also got the garrison under, and demolished the citadel. He was afterward an auxiliary to Antiochus, against Trypho, whom he besieged in Dora, before he went on his expedition against the Medes; 1.5. for when he was come to him, he cried out, “Where in the world is this wretched son-in-law of mine? Where shall I see the head of him which contrived to murder his father, which I will tear to pieces with my own hands? I will do the same also to my daughter, who hath such a fine husband; for although she be not a partner in the plot, yet, by being the wife of such a creature, she is polluted. 1.6. I thought it therefore an absurd thing to see the truth falsified in affairs of such great consequence, and to take no notice of it; but to suffer those Greeks and Romans that were not in the wars to be ignorant of these things, and to read either flatteries or fictions, while the Parthians, and the Babylonians, and the remotest Arabians, and those of our nation beyond Euphrates, with the Adiabeni, by my means, knew accurately both whence the war begun, what miseries it brought upon us, and after what manner it ended. 1.6. And as the siege was delayed by this means, the year of rest came on, upon which the Jews rest every seventh year as they do on every seventh day. On this year, therefore, Ptolemy was freed from being besieged, and slew the brethren of John, with their mother, and fled to Zeno, who was also called Cotylas, who was the tyrant of Philadelphia. 1.6. Whereupon the king avenged this insolent attempt of the mother upon her son, and blotted Herod, whom he had by her, out of his testament, who had been before named therein as successor to Antipater. 1.7. 3. It is true, these writers have the confidence to call their accounts histories; wherein yet they seem to me to fail of their own purpose, as well as to relate nothing that is sound. For they have a mind to demonstrate the greatness of the Romans, while they still diminish and lessen the actions of the Jews 1.7. 1. For after the death of their father, the elder of them, Aristobulus, changed the government into a kingdom, and was the first that put a diadem upon his head, four hundred seventy and one years and three months after our people came down into this country, when they were set free from the Babylonian slavery. 1.8. as not discerning how it cannot be that those must appear to be great who have only conquered those that were little. Nor are they ashamed to overlook the length of the war, the multitude of the Roman forces who so greatly suffered in it, or the might of the commanders, whose great labors about Jerusalem will be deemed inglorious, if what they achieved be reckoned but a small matter. 1.8. And when the old man had said this, he was dejected in his mind, and so continued. But, in a little time, news came that Antigonus was slain in a subterraneous place, which was itself also called Strato’s Tower, by the same name with that Caesarea which lay by the seaside; and this ambiguity it was which caused the prophet’s disorder. 1.12. Accordingly, it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were; while the authors of them were not foreigners neither. This makes it impossible for me to contain my lamentations. But, if anyone be inflexible in his censures of me, let him attribute the facts themselves to the historical part, and the lamentations to the writer himself only. 1.12. 1. Now Hyrcanus was heir to the kingdom, and to him did his mother commit it before she died; but Aristobulus was superior to him in power and magimity; and when there was a battle between them, to decide the dispute about the kingdom, near Jericho, the greatest part deserted Hyrcanus, and went over to Aristobulus; 1.15. But then, an undertaking to preserve the memory of what hath not been before recorded, and to represent the affairs of one’s own time to those that come afterward, is really worthy of praise and commendation. Now he is to be esteemed to have taken good pains in earnest, not who does no more than change the disposition and order of other men’s works, but he who not only relates what had not been related before, but composes an entire body of history of his own: 1.15. 5. And now did many of the priests, even when they saw their enemies assailing them with swords in their hands, without any disturbance, go on with their Divine worship, and were slain while they were offering their drink-offerings, and burning their incense, as preferring the duties about their worship to God before their own preservation. The greatest part of them were slain by their own countrymen, of the adverse faction, and an innumerable multitude threw themselves down precipices; nay, some there were who were so distracted among the insuperable difficulties they were under, that they set fire to the buildings that were near to the wall, and were burnt together with them. 1.16. accordingly, I have been at great charges, and have taken very great pains [about this history], though I be a foreigner; and do dedicate this work, as a memorial of great actions, both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians. But, for some of our own principal men, their mouths are wide open, and their tongues loosed presently, for gain and lawsuits, but quite muzzled up when they are to write history, where they must speak truth and gather facts together with a great deal of pains; and so they leave the writing such histories to weaker people, and to such as are not acquainted with the actions of princes. Yet shall the real truth of historical facts be preferred by us, how much soever it be neglected among the Greek historians. 1.16. 2. But as for Alexander, that son of Aristobulus who ran away from Pompey, in some time he got a considerable band of men together, and lay heavy upon Hyrcanus, and overran Judea, and was likely to overturn him quickly; and indeed he had come to Jerusalem, and had ventured to rebuild its wall that was thrown down by Pompey, had not Gabinius, who was sent as successor to Scaurus into Syria, showed his bravery, as in many other points, so in making an expedition against Alexander; 1.17. 6. To write concerning the Antiquities of the Jews, who they were [originally], and how they revolted from the Egyptians, and what country they traveled over, and what countries they seized upon afterward, and how they were removed out of them, I think this not to be a fit opportunity, and, on other accounts, also superfluous; and this because many Jews before me have composed the histories of our ancestors very exactly; as have some of the Greeks done it also, and have translated our histories into their own tongue, and have not much mistaken the truth in their histories. 1.17. He also parted the whole nation into five conventions, assigning one portion to Jerusalem, another to Gadara, that another should belong to Amathus, a fourth to Jericho, and to the fifth division was allotted Sepphoris, a city of Galilee. So the people were glad to be thus freed from monarchical government, and were governed for the future by an aristocracy. 1.18. But then, where the writers of these affairs and our prophets leave off, thence shall I take my rise and begin my history. Now, as to what concerns that war which happened in my own time, I will go over it very largely, and with all the diligence I am able; but for what preceded mine own age, that I shall run over briefly. 1.18. 9. But now Cassius, after Crassus, put a stop to the Parthians, who were marching in order to enter Syria. Cassius had fled into that province, and when he had taken possession of the same, he made a hasty march into Judea; and, upon his taking Taricheae, he carried thirty thousand Jews into slavery. He also slew Pitholaus, who had supported the seditious followers of Aristobulus; and it was Antipater who advised him so to do. 1.22. Now, when I am come so far, I shall describe the good order of the Romans in war, and the discipline of their legions; the amplitude of both the Galilees, with its nature, and the limits of Judea. And, besides this, I shall particularly go over what is peculiar to the country, the lakes and fountains that are in them, and what miseries happened to every city as they were taken; and all this with accuracy, as I saw the things done, or suffered in them. For I shall not conceal any of the calamities I myself endured, since I shall relate them to such as know the truth of them. 1.22. 2. So he gave command that the Jews should bring in seven hundred talents; whereupon Antipater, out of his dread of Cassius’s threats, parted the raising of this sum among his sons, and among others of his acquaintance, and to be done immediately; and among them he required one Malichus, who was at enmity with him, to do his part also, which necessity forced him to do. 1.27. 11. After this, I shall relate the barbarity of the tyrants towards the people of their own nation, as well as the indulgence of the Romans in sparing foreigners; and how often Titus, out of his desire to preserve the city and the temple, invited the seditious to come to terms of accommodation. I shall also distinguish the sufferings of the people, and their calamities; how far they were afflicted by the sedition, and how far by the famine, and at length were taken. 1.27. Antigonus himself also bit off Hyrcanus’s ears with his own teeth, as he fell down upon his knees to him, that so he might never be able upon any mutation of affairs to take the high priesthood again, for the high priests that officiated were to be complete, and without blemish. 1.31. Now these caves were in the precipices of craggy mountains, and could not be come at from any side, since they had only some winding pathways, very narrow, by which they got up to them; but the rock that lay on their front had beneath it valleys of a vast depth, and of an almost perpendicular declivity; insomuch that the king was doubtful for a long time what to do, by reason of a kind of impossibility there was of attacking the place. Yet did he at length make use of a contrivance that was subject to the utmost hazard; 1.31. 1. At the same time that Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, had a quarrel with the sixth Ptolemy about his right to the whole country of Syria, a great sedition fell among the men of power in Judea, and they had a contention about obtaining the government; while each of those that were of dignity could not endure to be subject to their equals. However, Onias, one of the high priests, got the better, and cast the sons of Tobias out of the city; 1.32. 7. Hereupon Herod was very angry at him, and was going to fight against Macheras as his enemy; but he restrained his indignation, and marched to Antony to accuse Macheras of mal-administration. But Macheras was made sensible of his offenses, and followed after the king immediately, and earnestly begged and obtained that he would be reconciled to him. 1.32. who fled to Antiochus, and besought him to make use of them for his leaders, and to make an expedition into Judea. The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months. 1.33. But Onias, the high priest, fled to Ptolemy, and received a place from him in the Nomus of Heliopolis, where he built a city resembling Jerusalem, and a temple that was like its temple, concerning which we shall speak more in its proper place hereafter. 1.33. He also made an immediate and continual attack upon the fortress. Yet was he forced, by a most terrible storm, to pitch his camp in the neighboring villages before he could take it. But when, after a few days’ time, the second legion, that came from Antony, joined themselves to him, the enemy were affrighted at his power, and left their fortifications in the nighttime. 4.317. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun. 4.319. He was on other accounts also a venerable, and a very just man; and besides the grandeur of that nobility, and dignity, and honor of which he was possessed, he had been a lover of a kind of parity, even with regard to the meanest of the people;
5. Josephus Flavius, Against Apion, 1.55, 2.84 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

1.55. and as for the History of the War, I wrote it as having been an actor myself in many of its transactions, an eyewitness in the greatest part of the rest, and was not unacquainted with any thing whatsoever that was either said or done in it. 2.84. This is attested by many worthy writers; Polybius of Megalopolis, Strabo of Cappadocia, Nicolaus of Damascus, Timagenes, Castor the chronologer, and Apollodorus, who all say that it was out of Antiochus’s want of money that he broke his league with the Jews, and despoiled their temple when it was full of gold and silver.
6. Josephus Flavius, Life, 358, 357 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
claudius, roman emperor, expulsion of jews from rome by Feldman, Judaism and Hellenism Reconsidered (2006) 359
elites Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (2019) 165
fines, qorban Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (2019) 165
historiography, greco-roman Brighton, Sicarii in Josephus's Judean War: Rhetorical Analysis and Historical Observations (2009) 25
sacrifices' Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (2019) 165
stasis (στάσις) Brighton, Sicarii in Josephus's Judean War: Rhetorical Analysis and Historical Observations (2009) 25
temple mount, jerusalem temple Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (2019) 165
temple mount Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (2019) 165
temple of artemis (ephesos) Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (2019) 165
temple tax Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (2019) 165