« IndietroContinua »
roras, or with Pheroras himself, or with any one belonging to her. Antipater did not disobey that injunction publicly: but he went in secret to their nocturnal meeting
Being afraid that Salome watched his proceedings, he procured leave, by means of his Italian friends, to go and live at Rome. Those friends wrote word that it was proper for Antipater to be sent to Cæsar for some time. Herod dismissed him without delay, splendidly attended, with a large sum of money, and gave him his will to carry, containing the bequest of the kingdom to Antipater, and appointing Herod for Antipater's successor. The Herod here meant by Josephus is not Herod the tetrarch, but the son of Mariamne, the highpriest Simon's daughter.
Herod soon after this laboured under the complicated evils of a severe distemper, old age, and a melancholy state of mind. He was already almost seventy years of age, and had been prematurely weighed down by the calamities he had sustained respecting his children. His life was attended with no pleasure, even when in health. He was grieved that Antipater, whose character had been fully developed since his return from Rome, was still alive. This aggravated his disease; and he resolved to put him to death, though not suddenly or rashly. He determined that as soon as he should be well again, his execution should take place publicly. It did so; and his own death immediately ensued. He survived the slaughter of his son only five days.
Herod had reigned thirty-four years since the time when he procured the death of Antigonus, and obtained his kingdom : thirty-seven years since he had been made king by the Romans. At his funeral there was a bier entirely of gold, embecame a great encourager of the rest, through indignation at what he had only heard of. He was incapable of affording them personal assistance, but anxious to share their hazards and risk their sufferings.
With this common resolve, they went into the theatre, in the hope that Herod himself could not escape them, as they meant to fall on him unexpectedly. But if they missed him, they were likely to kill many of his attendants. They determined to do this, should they die for it; by way of reading a lesson to the king, on the injuries he had done the multitude. The conspirators thus prepared, went about their design with alacrity. But one of Herod's spies, appointed to hunt out conspiracies, discovered this, and told the king of it, just as he was going into the theatre. The citizens did execution on the informer. Herod made a strict scrutiny, and put many to severe torture: but he would never have discovered the perpetrators of the assassination, had not certain women in their agonies confessed what they had
The authors of the fact were terribly punished by the king, and their families destroyed for this rash attempt. Herod was not rendered more mild by the obstinacy of the people, and their constancy in defence of their laws. To
prevent his innovations from producing open rebellion, he determined to encompass the multitude on
He now married again. One Simon, a citizen of Jerusalem, the son of one Boethus, a citizen of Alexandria, and a priest of great note there, had a daughter, esteemed the most beautiful woman of her time. The people of Jerusalem spoke loudly
in her praise. Herod was much moved by what he heard of her; and when he saw the damsel, was smitten with her beauty. But he entertained no design of using his authority to abuse her, justly believing, that he should so be stigmatised with violence and tyranny. He determined therefore to make her his wife.
In the time of a great famine, he thought it politic to use his utmost endeavours in assisting his people. He cut off the rich furniture of his palace, both silver and gold, without sparing his finest, and most elaborately chased vessels. The money so raised was sent to Petronius, prefect of Egypt, appointed by Cæsar, to whom several had fled in their necessities. This person was Herod's particular friend, and anxious to preserve his subjects. He gave them leave to export corn, which he assisted them in purchasing. He was indeed the principal, if not the only person, who gave them any help. Herod took care the people should understand, that this assistance came from himself. He thus removed their past ill opinion, and proved his regard and care of them. He distributed portions of corn with the utmost exactness to such as were able to provide their own food.
The bakers were commissioned to make their bread ready for the aged, the infirm,
and the poor.
All Herod's designs had now succeeded according to his hopes; nor had he the least suspicion that any troubles could arise in his kingdom. He was implacable in the infliction of his punishments, and so retained the people in obedience by the influence of fear. Yet he had displayed the most provident care of them, and behaved in the most
magnanimous manner in their distresses, and thus earned, notwithstanding his tyranny, the title of Herod the Great. But he took further measures for external security, and raised a moral fortress for his government, against his subjects. His orations to the cities were eloquent, and full of benevolent sentiments. He cultivated a politic understanding with their
purchased the friendship of each by seasonable presents. He thus secured his kingdom by the magnificence of his temper, while his resources were continually increasing. Yet his real disposition was tyrannical and extravagant, and displayed itself with least reserve in his Grecian cities. In the cities of the Jews, even he was obliged to be cautious in introducing plays, shows, and idolatrous temples, in consequence of a still subsisting zeal for the laws of Moses.
Dean Prideaux, in his excellent Connection of the History of the Old and New Testament, has an admirable reflection on ambition, in reference to Pompey and Cæsar, which is applicable to tyrants of all ages and countries. 66 One of them could not bear an equal, nor the other a superior : And through this ambitious humour and thirst after more power in these two men, the whole Roman empire being divided into two opposite factions, there was produced hereby the most destructive war that ever afflicted it. And the like folly too much reigns in all other places. Could about thirty men be persuaded to live at home in peace, without enterprizing upon the rights of each other for the vain glory of conquest, and the enlargement of power, the whole world might be at quiet ; but their ambition, their follies,
and their humour leading them constantly to encroach upon, and quarrel with each other, they involve all that are under them in the mischiefs hereof, and many thousands are they which yearly . perish by it: so that it may almost raise a doubt, whether the benefit which the world receives from government, be sufficient to make amends for the calamities which it suffers from the follies, mistakes, and male-administrations of those that manage it.”— Part ii. book 7.
Among Herod's other public works, he built Cæsarea. To rectify the inconvenience of an exposure to the south wind, he laid out such a compass towards the land as might be sufficient for a haven, where ships might lie in safety. This he effected by letting down vast stones of above fifty feet in length, not less than eighteen in breadth, and nine in depth, into twenty fathom deep. Some were less, but others exceeded those dimensions. He also built a theatre of stone, and on the south quarter, behind the port, a very capacious amphitheatre, with an agreeable prospect towards the
In one passage, the rebuilding and decora. tion of Cæsarea is stated to have occupied twelve years, in another, ten. The true number cannot now probably be determined ; nor is the point of the slightest importance.
While Herod was thus employed, and after he had rebuilt Sebaste, the Greek name for Samaria, he determined on sending his sons Alexander and Aristobulus to Rome, that they might profit by Cæsar's company. On their arrival they lived at the house of Pollio; not the Pharisee twice mentioned by Josephus, but Asinius Pollio the Roman, who was much attached to Herod. They had leave