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Old May 8th, 2018 #1
Adolf Goldbergstein
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The Wars of the Jews

Flavius JOSEPHUS (37 - c. 100), translated by William WHISTON (1667 - 1752)

The Wars of the Jews (or The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, or as it usually appears in modern English translations, The Jewish War - original title: Phlauiou Iôsêpou historia Ioudaïkou polemou pros Rhômaious bibliona) is a book written by the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus.

It is a description of Jewish history from the capture of Jerusalem by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 BC to the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in the First Jewish-Roman War in AD 70. The book was written about 75, originally in Josephus's "paternal tongue", probably Aramaic, though this version has not survived. It was later translated into Greek, probably under the supervision of Josephus himself.

The sources of knowledge that we have of this war are Josephus's account and from the Talmud (gittin 57b) and in midrash Eichah. (Summary by Wikipedia)


To elaborate on this, books 5-7 of this follow Titus Flavius's military campaign. They are the basis for Jesus's ministry in the Gospels.

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Old June 7th, 2018 #2
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WAR OF THE JEWS Book 5, end of chapter 1
As also there came Tiberius Alexander, who was a friend of his, most valuable both for his good will to him, and for his prudence. He had formerly been governor of Alexandria: but was now thought worthy to be general of the army [under Titus]. The reason of this was, that he had been the first who encouraged Vespasian very lately to accept this his new dominion: and joined himself to him, with great fidelity, when things were uncertain, and fortune had not yet declared for him. He also followed Titus, as a counsellor; very useful to him in this war, both by his age, and skill in such affairs.

Roman general of the first century; son of the alabarch Alexander, who gave him the name of Tiberius, probably in honor of the emperor Tiberius; but he himself assumed the name of Julius out of compliment to the reigning family of the Julii. Alexander, who was a nephew or cousin of Philo, forsook the faith of his ancestors and rose to high rank. In the year 46 he was appointed by Claudius procurator of Judea (Josephus, "Ant." xx. 5, § 2; idem, "B. J." ii. 11, § 6). Nero afterward made him a Roman knight, and, in the war against the Parthians, assigned him to the post of civil governor by the side of the military official, the general Corbulo (Tacitus, "Annales," xv. 28). He received from Nero the important post of prefect of Egypt; and Agrippa hastened from Jerusalem—where the rebellion had just broken out—to Alexandria, in order to congratulate Alexander.

The appointment of this apostate from Judaism to this exalted position was destined to be fatal to the Jews of Alexandria; for when they began their struggle with the Alexandrians in order to maintain their rights, Alexander ordered out the Roman legions, and they devastated the Delta, the quarter inhabited by the Jews, and slew about fifty thousand of them ("B. J." ii. 18, §§ 7, 8). In the contest between Vespasian and Vitellius for the position of emperor, Alexander, on receipt of a letter from Vespasian, caused (July 1, 69) the Egyptian troops to swear the oath of allegiance to the latter ("B. J." iv. 10, § 6; Tacitus, "Hist." ii. 79; Suetonius, "Vespasian," vi.). This was probably done at the instigation of Berenice, who was a relative of Alexander. As a reward for this service the latter was appointed to accompany Titus in the Jewish war as prafectus prœtorio—"general of the army" ("B. J." v. 1, § 6), probably the highest military office to which a Jewever attained. In the council of war before Jerusalem Alexander voted for the preservation of the Temple (Renier, "Conseil de Guerre Tenu par Titus," in "Mémoires de l'Institut," 1867, xxvi. 294; Grätz, "Gesch. d. Juden," 4th ed., iii. 531).

In 1838 an inscription was found in Aradus, in which the council and the people of Aradus pay homage simultaneously to Pliny the Elder and to Alexander ("Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum," iii. 1278, No. 4536 et seq.). The dignities of Alexander are stated in this inscription as follows: ἀντεπίτροπος (this appellation is found here only, and is equivalent to vice-procurator; see Mommsen in "Hermes," xix. 640); eparch of the Jewish host; governor of Syria; eparch of the twenty-second legion in Egypt. The stone bearing this inscription was brought to Paris in 1864 (Renan, "Mission en Phénicie," 1864, p. 29


General and historian; born in 37 or 38; died after 100. He boasts of belonging to the Hasmonean race on his mother's side ("Vita," § 1). His great-grandfather was Simon "the Stammerer." As a boy Josephus was distinguished for his good memory and his ease in learning. He passed through the schools of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes in turn, and then spent three years in the desert with a certain Banus. When nineteen years old he attached himself finally to the party of the Pharisees (ib. § 2). In his twenty-sixth year he had occasion to journey to Rome in the interests of certain priests who had been sent thither in chains by the procurator Felix. Here he obtained the favor of the empress Poppæa.

Appointed Governor of Galilee.
Shortly after the return of Josephus to Jerusalem (66) the great Jewish war broke out, and the defense of Galilee was entrusted to him by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem ("B. J." ii. 20, § 4; "Vita," § 7). Why this most important post was allotted to him is not known. In his autobiography he states that he was sent there in order to tranquilize the province and to keep it faithful to the Romans, for only part of it had revolted ("Vita," § 7; comp. § 14). This is plainly a distortion of the facts, since Galilee was always most inclined to war. He was accompanied by two men learned in the Law, Joazar and Judas, sent by the Sanhedrin to watch over his actions. He sent them back to Jerusalem (ib. §§ 7, 12, 14), and then proceeded to organize the administration of the province; instituting a sanhedrin of seventy members, and governing the cities through a council of seven men, an institution afterward extended throughout Palestine under the title "The Seven Best of the City." He maintained strict discipline among the troops, which numbered about 100,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry; he surrounded himself with 500 guards; and he fortified and provisioned a considerable number of cities (ib. §§ 12-14; "B. J. ii. 20, §§ 5-8).

Though a strict adherent of the Law, he was accused of treachery by some of the zealous patriots and especially by John of Giscala. But the deeds of which Josephus was accused may be interpreted to his honor. Young men from the village of Dabaritta had stolen treasure from the governor of King Agrippa. Josephus had taken it with the intention of restoring it to the king. The report was spread that he was a traitor, and the people were incited against him by John of Giscala and Jesus b. Zappha in Tarichæa. He was in danger of being killed, but he succeeded in making the Taricheans believe that he intended to use the treasure for the fortificationstions of their city. People from Tiberias, however, surrounded his house with the intention of setting it on fire. Their leaders were enticed within and there whipped and mutilated; and the Tiberians thereupon took to flight ("B. J." ii. 21, §§ 3-5; somewhat differently, "Vita," §§ 26-30). Not long afterward John went to Tiberias with the intention of murdering Josephus; but the latter fled to Tarichæa, which city was so devoted to him that war would have ensued between it and Tiberias had he not restrained the inhabitants ("B. J." ii. 21, § 6; "Vita," §§ 16-18).

Antagonism of John of Giscala.
John's next scheme was to have Josephus accused before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. The most influential members, being convinced of Josephus' guilt, sent four of their number with a force of 2,500 men to depose him. He, however, pretended to be occupied with preparations for war; and the delegates could not see him. Several Galileans went voluntarily to Jerusalem to demand the recall of the envoys. The latter then ordained a day for general fasting and prayer in Tiberias, but Josephus fell upon his opponents with his armed guards. A few days afterward messengers from Jerusalem brought letters in which the leaders of the people confirmed him in his position as governor of Galilee. He sent the Sanhedrin delegates back to Jerusalem in chains, and subdued by force the inhabitants of Tiberias, who were in revolt against him ("B. J." ii. 21, § 7; "Vita," §§ 38-64). They, however, still refused to recognize Josephus; but by a ruse he again overcame them ("B. J." ib. §§ 8-10; "Vita," §§ 32-34; comp. §§ 68, 69).

Sepphoris now asked for and received a Roman garrison in order to be safe from the rebels. Josephus, who was obliged to heed the insistence of his followers, tried to punish the city before the Romans arrived; but hearing that the last-named were on the way he beat a retreat. When the troop sent by Cestius Gallus had entered Sepphoris, it was no longer possible for Josephus to storm the city. A few days later the Romans made a sortie, and Josephus was defeated ("Vita," §§ 67-71). He was more successful against Sylla, a lieutenant of King Agrippa, whom he put to flight beyond the Jordan (ib. §§ 72, 73).

In the spring of 67 the Romans under Vespasian and Titus began the war. Josephus was encamped near the village of Garis, not far from Sepphoris; but he was forced to draw back upon Tiberias because his men had fled at the approach of the Romans (ib. § 71; "B. J." iii. 6, §§ 2-3). He demanded of Jerusalem whether or not he should treat with Vespasian, and asked for reenforcements. The Sanhedrin was unable to comply with his request; and Josephus entrenched his troops at Jotapata (May, 67), which place was besieged by Vespasian on the following day. Josephus had recourse to all possible stratagems; but in spite of these and of marvelous deeds of valor performed by the defenders, the Romans, after a siege of forty-seven days, forced their way into the city, which with the fortifications was razed to the ground (July, 67). Josephus escaped into a cistern connected with a cave in which he found forty soldiers. Their hiding-place was discovered; and Josephus, whose life had been assured to him by the Romans through the intervention of a friend named Nicanor, escaped only by playing a trick on his companions. He persuaded them to kill each other after drawing lots, but arranged to be the last, and then surrendered to the Romans with one companion ("B. J." iii. 8, §§ 1-8). Led before Vespasian, Josephus, asserting earnestly that he possessed the prophetic gift, prophesied that that general would become emperor (ib. § 9). According to the Talmud, Johanan b. Zakkai had made the same prophecy, and heathen priests had foretold the accession of Vespasian and Titus to the imperial throne (see Schürer, "Gesch." i. 613). Josephus' actions from this time on do not cover him with glory; and the suspicion of treachery rests heavily upon him.

Wins Favor of Vespasian.
Josephus, when Vespasian gave him his freedom ("B. J." iv. 10, § 7), according to custom adopted Vespasian's family name, "Flavius"; and when Vespasian became emperor, Josephus accompanied him to Alexandria ("Vita," § 75). While still a prisoner he married, at Vespasian's command, a Jewish captive from Cæsarea. She, however, did not remain with him long, but left him when he was in Alexandria. It seems, however, that he had already been married some time before, and that his first wife, as well as his mother and all his aristocratic relatives, remained in Jerusalem during the siege ("B.J." v.9, § 4). Josephus returned to Palestine in the suite of Titus ("Vita," § 75; "Contra Ap." i. 9); and during the siege of the capital he was compelled, at the risk of his life, to call upon the rebellious Jews to surrender. On the one hand, the Jews desired to capture and punish him; on the other, the Romans, whenever they were beaten, held him for a traitor. Titus, however, paid no heed to the accusations of the soldiers ("Vita," § 75). After the capture of Jerusalem, he gave Josephus permission to take whatsoever he chose. The latter took a few sacred books and asked only for the freedom of certain persons. He rescued 190 women and children who had been shut up in the sanctuary. He also begged Titus to rescue three persons whom he found crucified; and one of them actually recovered by careful nursing (ib.). As a Roman garrison was to be placed upon Josephus' estate near Jerusalem, Titus gave him other land in the plain. He returned with Titus to Rome, and there received high honors from Vespasian, including Roman citizenship and a yearly pension. He received also a fine estate in Judea, so that he was able to devote himself to writing without pecuniary anxiety. Josephus was occasionally calumniated by his coreligionists. Thus a certain Jonathan, who had raised a rebellion in Cyrene, claimed that he had received arms and money from Josephus; but Vespasian was not misled by the falsehood (ib. § 76; "B. J." vii. 11, §§ 1-3). The emperor Domitian punished certain Jews who had slandered Josephus; and he freed the Judean estate of his favorite from taxes. Josephus was also in favor with the empress Domitia.

The woman married by Josephus in Alexandria bore him three sons, of whom only one, Hyrcanus, was living at the time that the "Vita" was written. He divorced her and married a Jewess from Crete,who bore him two sons, Justus, in the seventh year of Vespasian, and Simonides, surnamed "Agrippa," two years later. Josephus' autobiography was written after the death of Agrippa II. ("Vita," § 65), which occurred in the third year of Trajan (i.e., 100). The date of Josephus' death is uncertain. It is said that a statue of him was erected in Rome after his death (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." iii. 9; Jerome, "De Viris Illustribus," § 13).

Josephus' numerous and comprehensive writings are of value not only for the historical data which they contain, but also as an apology of Judaism. His works are:

(1) "Concerning the Jewish War" (Greek, Περὶ τοῦ Ἰουδαϊκοῦ Πολέμου), usually cited as "Bellum Judaicum," in seven books ("Ant." xx. 11; "Vita," § 74); in some manuscripts and in Stephan Byzant (s.v. φασαηλίς), Ιστορία Ἰουδαϊκοῦ Πολέμου Πρὸς 'Pωμαίους, which Niese holds to be correct. Von Gutschmid, however ("Kleine Schriften," iv. 343), accepts the title Περὶ Ἁλώσεως ("Concerning the Capture"), found in most manuscripts; but this title probably originated in Christian circles. The division into seven books belongs to Josephus himself ("Ant." xiii. 10, § 6; xviii. 1, § 2), and was known to Porphyry ("Peri Apoches," iv. 11, p. 76). In addition to a long introduction, they cover the period from Antiochus Epiphanes to the minor events that followed the war. Josephus wrote this history originally in Aramaic, in order that it might be read by the Jews in Parthia, Babylonia, Adiabene, Arabia, etc. ("B. J." Preface, § 2). At a later time he decided to publish the history of the war in Greek also, and for this he had to receive help from others in the matter of style ("Contra Ap." i. § 9). The supposition is possible that the original, which is entirely lost, was not as favorable to the Romans as was the Greek version.
The Works of Josephus.
Josephus gives as his reason for writing this history the contradictory reports circulated either to flatter the Romans or to disparage the Jews (ib. § 1). He himself pretends not to have flattered the Romans, though he is distinctly partial to them. He emphasizes his exactness (e.g., "Vita," § 4); but his claim thereto is justified only when he states bare facts. He writes partly as an eye-witness and partly from reports obtained from eye-witnesses ("Contra Ap." i. § 9); and he had already begun to make notes during the siege of Jerusalem. Both Vespasian and Titus, to whom the work was submitted, praised his accuracy. The latter even wrote on the manuscript that it ought to be published ("Vita," § 65). King Agrippa II.testified in no less than sixty-two letters that he found the account accurate (ib.); and similar praise was given by relatives of the king ("Contra Ap." i. § 9). His rival, Justus of Tiberias, wrote his history twenty years later, while Josephus described the war immediately after the events ("Vita," § 65).

The work was presented to Vespasian, and must therefore have been completed before the year 79. The last events mentioned are of the year 73; but the account must have been written after the year 75; for Josephus refers to the Temple of Peace as being already finished ("B. J." vii. 5, § 7). It is necessary to assume a period of a few years between the end of the war and the final composition, other works on the war having already been published, as the introductions to the "Bellum Judaicum" and to the "Antiquitates Judaicæ" show. For the events preceding the war the same sources must be assumed as for the "Antiquities." The events of the war itself he knew exactly except the occurrences in the beleaguered city of Jerusalem, which facts he could get only from deserters. For the events within the Roman camp he doubtless made use of Vespasian's "Memorabilia." The statement of Sulpicius Severus ("Chron." ii. 30, § 6), that the Temple was burned at the express command of Titus, has not the credence possessed by Josephus' account ("B. J." vi. 4, §§ 5-7), which is to the effect that this happened contrary to the will of Titus. Schlatter's supposition, that Josephus is less creditable than Julianus Antonius, is unfounded.

(2) "The Antiquities of the Jews" (Greek, Ἰουδαικὴ 'Aρχαωλογία; Latin, "Antiquitates Judaicæ"). This is the most important of his works, and, indeed, one of the greatest of all antiquity. It comprises twenty books, and is so arranged that it might be placed side by side with the Roman history of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, which likewise consisted of twenty books. It was the purpose of Josephus to glorify the Jewish people, so often misunderstood, in the eyes of the Greco-Roman world. He wrote it in the thirteenth year of Domitian (93) and in the fifty-sixth year of his life. It commences with the creation of the world, and carries the history of the Jews down to the outbreak of the war in 66. In this stupendous work the individual books are preceded by an introduction which briefly indicates their contents; but it is doubtful whether these originated with Josephus. The work falls into the following divisionsa) Book i. ch. 7 to Book xi. ch. 6, parallel with the books of the Bible from the creation of the world to the rescue of the Jews under Artaxerxes in Persia. Here Josephus desires only to reproduce in Greek what may be read in the Hebrew Scriptures ("Ant." Preface, § 3; x. 10, § 6). He has, however, omitted or endeavored to excuse whatever might give offense. The story of the Golden Calf is wholly lacking; and excuses are found for the murmuring of the children of Israel. The Septuagint is used throughout, and even its style is imitated, though at times he deviates from this source (comp. "Ant." vi. 4, § 1, with I Sam. ix. 22). As a learned Pharisee, Josephus must have known enough Hebrew to make use of the original: this is shown by his explaining numerous Hebrew proper names, as the Hellenist Eupolemus had done before him; see, for example, "Ant." i. 1, § 2 (comp. Gen. iii. 20); i. 4, §


Convert to Judaism and martyr at Rome. An early branch of the imperial Flavian house was at one time inclined toward Judaism and Christianity. Even Titus Flavius Sabinus, Vespasian's elder brother, led during his last years a life that may be called Jewish or Christian. One of his four children, Titus Flavius Clemens, later consul and martyr, married Flavia Domitilla, who was a granddaughter of his uncle, the emperor Vespasian, and therefore a cousin of Titus and Domitian. Clemens' two children, called Vespasian and Domitian, were educated by the famous Quintilian ("Institutio Oratoria," iv. 1, § 2), and were secretly destined as successors to Domitian (Suetonius, "Domitian," § 15). This arrangement, however, was disturbed when it became known that both Clemens and Domitilla leaned toward the despised "Oriental superstition." Dion Cassius relates that Domitian had many persons executed, including the consul Flavius Clemens and his wife, Flavia Domitilla, although both were his own relations. He adds: "Both had been accused of atheism [άϑεότση], a charge under which many who had followed Jewish customs and laws were executed, while many others were deprived of their property; Domitilla, however, was only banished to the island of Pandataria" ("Hist." lxvii. 13). Clemens and Domitilla may be regarded as converts to Judaism.

The incident is alluded to in rabbinical writings. An eminent senator, a son of Titus' sister, and hence Domitian's nephew, is said to have adopted Judaism; even traces of the name "Clemens" are visible in the account (Giṭ. 56b). The tradition is again mentioned in 'Ab. Zarah 10b, but with the allegorical name Ḳeti'a b. Shalom" (= "circumcised," = "son of the world to come"); referenceis probably made to the same pious senator who averted a misfortune which threatened the Jews at Rome (Deut. R. xi.). It is curious that the Domitilla chapel in the catacombs of Rome is arranged on a Jewish pattern (N. Müller, in Herzog-Hauck, "Real-Encyc." 3d ed.,x.863). Clemens and Domitilla, however, on the authority of Eusebius ("Hist. Eccl." iii. 18), are generally considered to have been Christians. But he mentions only the conversion of Domitilla, saying that she was the daughter of Clemens' sister, and that she was deported to the island of Pontia (compare also his "Chronicle," year 98). Eusebius must refer to some other Flavia Domitilla.

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Onkelos is mentioned several times in the Talmud. According to the traditional Jewish sources, he was a prominent Roman nobleman, a nephew of the Roman emperor Titus. According to the midrash Tanhuma[1] he was a nephew of Hadrian, and not Titus. The story goes that his uncle, the Roman Emperor, advised Onkelos to go out and find something that wasn't worth much today but would be invaluable in the future. Onkelos found Judaism. His conversion is the subject of a story wherein he first consulted with the spirits of three deceased enemies of Israel to see how Israel fared in the next world (Gittin 56b). The first was his uncle Titus, who was blamed for the destruction of the Second Temple; the second was the seer Balaam, hired by Balak king of Moab to curse Israel; and the last was Yeshu, a name used for those who sought to lead Jews astray to idolatry, in particular an idolatrous former student of Joshua ben Perachiah in the Hasmonean period as well as Manasseh of Judah. (In later writings Yeshu is used for Jesus, but opinions differ over whether it can be understood this way in the Talmud.) Onkelos is said to have seen all of them subjected to humiliating punishments for harming Israel. The earlier Jerusalem Talmud[2] gives the subject of these stories as Aquilas the proselyte, often understood as being a person other than Onkelos. The difficulty with this theory, however, is that the Jerusalem Talmud says explicitly that he (Aquilas the proselyte) translated the Torah under Eliezer ben Hurcanus and Joshua ben Hananiah. The Babylonian Talmud[3] repeats the same oral tradition, but this time calls him by the name Onkelos the proselyte, which leads one to conclude that the name is a mere variant of "Aquila", applied in error to the Aramaic instead of the Greek translation. This view is supported by Epiphanius of Salamis (4th century).[4]

After his conversion, the Talmud records a story of how the Roman emperor tried to have Onkelos arrested (Avodah Zarah 11a). Onkelos cited verses from the Tanakh to the first Roman legion, who then converted. The second legion was also converted, after he juxtaposed God's personal guidance of Israel in the Book of Numbers to the Roman social hierarchy. A similar tactic was used for the third legion, where Onkelos compared his mezuzah to a symbol of God guarding the home of every Jew, in contrast to a Roman king who has his servants guard him. The third legion also converted and no more were sent.
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Philo was probably born with the name Julius Philo. His ancestors and family were contemporaries to the rule of the Ptolemaic dynasty and the rule of the Seleucid Empire. Although the names of his parents are unknown, Philo came from a family which was noble, honourable and wealthy. It was either his father or paternal grandfather who was granted Roman citizenship from Roman dictator Gaius Julius Caesar. Jerome wrote that Philo came "de genere sacerdotum" (from a priestly family).[4][5] His ancestors and family had social ties and connections to the priesthood in Judea, the Hasmonean Dynasty, the Herodian Dynasty and the Julio-Claudian dynasty in Rome.

Philo had two brothers, Alexander the Alabarch and Lysimachus. Through Alexander, Philo had two nephews Tiberius Julius Alexander and Marcus Julius Alexander. The latter was the first husband of the Herodian Princess Berenice. Marcus died in 43 or 44.

Philo visited the Temple in Jerusalem at least once in his lifetime.[6] Philo would have been a contemporary to Jesus of Nazareth and his Apostles. Philo along with his brothers received a thorough education. They were educated in the Hellenistic culture of Alexandria and Roman culture, to a degree in Ancient Egyptian culture and particularly in the traditions of Judaism, in the study of Jewish traditional literature[7][citation needed] and in Greek philosophy.

Philo's dates of birth and death are unknown but can be judged by Philo's description of himself as "old" when he was part of the delegation to Gaius Caligula in 38 CE. Jewish history professor Daniel R. Schwartz estimates his birth year as sometime between 20 and 10 BCE. Philo's reference to an event under the reign of Emperor Claudius indicates that he died sometime after 41 CE.[5]

Embassy to Gaius Edit
See also: Alexandrian riots (38)

Woodcut from Die Schedelsche Weltchronik (Nuremberg Chronicle)
In Legatio ad Gaium (Embassy to Gaius), Philo describes his diplomatic mission to Caligula, one of the few events in his life which is known specifically. He relates that he was carrying a petition describing the sufferings of the Alexandrian Jews and asking the emperor to secure their rights. Philo gives a description of their sufferings, more detailed than Josephus's, to characterize the Alexandrian Greeks as the aggresors in the civil strife that had left many Jews and Greeks dead.

Philo lived in an era of increasing ethnic tension in Alexandria, exacerbated by the new strictures of imperial rule. Some expatriate Hellenes in Alexandria condemned the Jews for a supposed alliance with Rome, even as Rome was seeking to suppress Jewish nationalism in Judea.[5] In Against Flaccus, Philo describes the situation of the Jews in Egypt, writing that they numbered not less than a million and inhabited two of the five districts in Alexandria. He recounts the abuses of the prefect Flaccus, who he says retaliated against the Jews when they refused to worship Caligula as a god.[8] Daniel Schwartz surmises that given this tense background it may have been politically convenient for Philo to favor abstract monotheism instead of overt pro-Judeanism.[5]

Philo considers Caligula's plan to erect a statue of himself in the Second Temple to be a provocation, asking, "Are you making war upon us, because you anticipate that we will not endure such indignity, but that we will fight on behalf of our laws, and die in defence of our national customs? For you cannot possibly have been ignorant of what was likely to result from your attempt to introduce these innovations respecting our temple." In his entire presentation, he implicitly supports the Jewish commitment to rebel against the emperor rather than allow such sacrilege to take place.[9]

Philo says he was regarded by his people as having unusual prudence, due to his age, education, and knowledge. This indicates that he was already an older man at this time (40 CE).[9]

In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus tells of Philo's selection by the Alexandrian Jewish community as their principal representative before the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula. He says that Philo agreed to represent the Alexandrian Jews in regard to civil disorder that had developed between the Jews and the Greeks. Josephus also tells us that Philo was skilled in philosophy, and that he was brother to the alabarch Alexander .[10] According to Josephus, Philo and the larger Jewish community refused to treat the emperor as a god, to erect statues in honor of the emperor, and to build altars and temples to the emperor. Josephus says Philo believed that God actively supported this refusal.

Philo used philosophical allegory to harmonize Jewish scripture, mainly the Torah, with Greek philosophy. His method followed the practices of both Jewish exegesis and Stoic philosophy. His allegorical exegesis was important for several Christian Church Fathers, but he has barely any reception history within Rabbinic Judaism. He believed that literal interpretations of the Hebrew Bible would stifle humanity's perception of a God too complex and marvelous to be understood in literal human terms.

Some scholars hold that his concept of the Logos as God's creative principle influenced early Christology. Other scholars deny direct influence but say that Philo and Early Christianity borrow from a common source.[1]

The only event in Philo's life that can be decisively dated is his participation in the embassy to Rome in 40 CE. He represented the Alexandrian Jews in a delegation to the Roman Emperor Gaius (Caligula) following civil strife between the Alexandrian Jewish and Greek communities. The story of this event, and a few other biographical details, are found in Josephus[2] and in Philo's own works, especially in Legatio ad Gaium (Embassy to Gaius) of which only two of the original five volumes survive.[3]
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Berenice (daughter of Herod Agrippa)

Berenice of Cilicia, also known as Julia Berenice and sometimes spelled Bernice (28 AD – after 81), was a Jewish client queen of the Roman Empire during the second half of the 1st century. Berenice was a member of the Herodian Dynasty that ruled the Roman province of Judaea between 39 BC and 92 AD. She was the daughter of King Herod Agrippa I and a sister of King Herod Agrippa II.

What little is known about her life and background comes mostly from the early historian Flavius Josephus, who detailed a history of the Jewish people and wrote an account of the Jewish Rebellion of 67. Suetonius, Tacitus, Dio Cassius, Aurelius Victor and Juvenal, also tell about her. She is also mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (25:13, 23; 26:30). However, it is for her tumultuous love life that she is primarily known from the Renaissance. Her reputation was based on the bias of the Romans to the Eastern princesses, like Cleopatra or later Zenobia. After a number of failed marriages throughout the 40s, she spent much of the remainder of her life at the court of her brother Herod Agrippa II, amidst rumors the two were carrying on an incestuous relationship. During the First Jewish-Roman War, she began a love affair with the future emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus. However, her unpopularity among the Romans compelled Titus to dismiss her on his accession as emperor in 79. When he died two years later, she disappeared from the historical record.
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Adolf Goldbergstein

Pisonian Conspiracy

The conspiracy of Gaius Calpurnius Piso in AD 65 was a major turning point in the reign of the Roman emperor Nero (reign 54–68). The plot reflected the growing discontent among the ruling class of the Roman state with Nero's increasingly despotic leadership, and as a result is a significant event on the road towards his eventual suicide and the chaos of the Year of Four Emperors which followed.

Gaius Calpurnius Piso, a leading Roman statesman, benefactor of literature, and orator, intended to have Nero assassinated, and replace him as Emperor through acclamation by the Praetorian Guard. He enlisted the aid of several prominent senators, equestrians, and soldiers with a loosely conceived plan in which Faenius Rufus—joint prefect of the Praetorian Guard with Ofonius Tigellinus—would conduct Piso to the Praetorian Camp, where the Guard would acclaim him as emperor. The conspirators were said to have varying motives. Some wished to replace Nero with a better emperor; others wished to be free of emperors altogether, and to restore a purely Republican form of government. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, the ringleaders included a Praetorian tribune named Subrius Flavus, and a centurion named Sulpicius Asper, who helped Piso devise the plot.[1]

The conspiracy was put in jeopardy by a woman named Epicharis, who divulged parts of the plan to Volusius Proculus, a fleet captain in Campania. Epicharis was involved with the conspiracy and was attempting to move it along faster;[2] When Proculus complained to Epicharis that Nero did not favor him, she informed him of the conspiracy. Proculus informed Nero of the conspiracy and Epicharis was arrested. Though she denied the accusations, the conspiracy collapsed and Epicharis was tortured brutally. While on transport to be tortured a second time, she committed suicide by strangling herself with her own girdle.[3]

On the morning that the conspirators' plot was to be carried out a freedman named Milichus and his wife discovered the conspiracy and reported it to Nero's secretary, Epaphroditos.[4][5] The plot collapsed as Scevinus, the man Milichus served, and Natalis, two conspirators whom Milichus accused, quickly gave up everything they knew.[6]

Nero ordered Piso, the philosopher Seneca, his nephew Lucan, and the satirist Petronius to commit suicide. Many others were also killed. In Plutarch's version, one of the conspirators remarked to a condemned prisoner that all would change soon (because Nero would be dead). The prisoner reported the conversation to Nero, who had the conspirator tortured until he confessed the plot.[7]

The ancient Roman historian, Tacitus, writes in Annals that "It was rumoured that Subrius Flavus and the centurions had decided in private conference, though not without Seneca's knowledge, that, once Nero had been struck down by the agency of Piso, Piso should be disposed of in his turn, and the empire made over to Seneca; who would thus appear to have been chosen for the supreme power by innocent men, as a consequence of his distinguished virtues."[8]

Named conspirators
See also Members of the Pisonian conspiracy
At least 41 individuals were accused of being part of the conspiracy. Of the known 41, there were 19 Senators, 7 Equites, 11 soldiers, and 4 women.

Executed or forced to commit suicide
Piso (Annales xv.59), Plautius Lateranus (Annales xv.60), Lucan (Annales xv.70), Afranius Quintianus (Annales xv.70), Flavius Scaevinus (Annales xv.70), Claudius Senecio (Annales xv.70), Vulcatius Araricus, Julius Augurinus, Munatius Gratus, Marcius Festus, Faenius Rufus (Annales xv.66), Subrius Flavus (Annales xv.67), Sulpicius Asper (Annales xv.68), Maximus Scaurus, Venetus Paulus, Epicharis (Annales xv.57), Seneca the Younger (Annales xv.60-65), Antonia, Marcus Julius Vestinus Atticus (Annales xv.68f).

Exiled or denigrated
Novius Priscus, Annius Pollio, Publius Glitius Gallus, Rufrius Crispinus, Verginius Flavus, Musonius Rufus, Cluvidienus Quietus, Julius Agrippa, Blitius Catulinus, Petronius Pricus, Julius Altinus, Caesennius Maximus, Caedicia.[9]

Pardoned or acquitted
Antonius Natalis, Cervarius Proculus, Statius Proximus (but afterwards committed suicide), Gavius Silvanus (also afterwards committed suicide), Acilia Lucana.[9]
Old June 7th, 2018 #7
Adolf Goldbergstein
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Adolf Goldbergstein

Seneca the Younger

Seneca was born in Cordoba in Hispania, and raised in Rome, where he was trained in rhetoric and philosophy. He was a tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. He was forced to take his own life for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, in which he was likely to have been innocent.[1][2] His father was Seneca the Elder, his elder brother was Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, and his nephew was the poet Lucan. His stoic and calm suicide has become the subject of numerous paintings. As a writer Seneca is known for his philosophical works, and for his plays which are all tragedies. His philosophical writings include a dozen philosophical essays, and one hundred and twenty-four letters dealing with moral issues. As a tragedian, he is best known for his Medea and Thyestes.

Early life, family and adulthood Edit
Seneca was born at Córdoba in the Roman province of Baetica in Hispania.[3] His father was Lucius Annaeus Seneca the elder, a Spanish-born Roman knight who had gained fame as a writer and teacher of rhetoric in Rome.[4] Seneca's mother, Helvia, was from a prominent Baetician family.[5] Seneca was the second of three brothers; the others were Lucius Annaeus Novatus (later known as Junius Gallio), and Annaeus Mela, the father of the poet Lucan.[6] Miriam Griffin says in her biography of Seneca that "the evidence for Seneca's life before his exile in 41 is so slight, and the potential interest of these years, for social history as well as for biography, is so great that few writers on Seneca have resisted the temptation to eke out knowledge with imagination."[7] Griffin also infers from the ancient sources that Seneca was born in either 8, 4, or 1 BC. She thinks he was born between 4 and 1 BC and was resident in Rome by AD 5.[7]

Modern statue of Seneca in Córdoba
Seneca tells us that he was taken to Rome in the "arms" of his aunt (his mother's stepsister) at a young age, probably when he was about five years old.[8] His father resided for much of his life in the city.[9] Seneca was taught the usual subjects of literature, grammar, and rhetoric, as part of the standard education of high-born Romans.[10] While still young he received philosophical training from Attalus the Stoic, and from Sotion and Papirius Fabianus, both of whom belonged to the short-lived School of the Sextii which combined Stoicism with Pythagoreanism.[6] Sotion persuaded Seneca when he was a young man (in his early twenties) to become a vegetarian, which he practised for around a year before his father urged him to desist because the practice was associated with "some foreign rites".[11] Seneca often had breathing difficulties throughout his life, probably asthma,[12] and at some point in his mid-twenties (c. 20 AD) he appears to have been struck down with tuberculosis.[13] He was sent to Egypt to live with his aunt (the same aunt who had brought him to Rome), whose husband Gaius Galerius had become Prefect of Egypt.[5] She nursed him through a period of ill-health which lasted up to ten years.[14] In 31 AD he returned to Rome with his aunt; his uncle dying on route in a shipwreck.[14] It was his aunt's influence which allowed Seneca to be elected quaestor (probably after 37 AD[10]) which also earned him the right to sit in the Roman Senate.[14]

Politics and exile
Seneca's early career as a senator seems to have been successful and he was praised for his oratory.[15] Dio Cassius relates a story that Caligula was so offended by Seneca's oratorical success in the Senate that he ordered him to commit suicide.[15] Seneca only survived because he was seriously ill and Caligula was told that he would soon die anyway.[15] In his writings Seneca has nothing good to say about Caligula and frequently depicts him as a monster.[16] Seneca explains his own survival as down to his patience and his devotion to his friends: "I wanted to avoid the impression that all I could do for loyalty was die."[17]

In 41 AD, Claudius became emperor, and Seneca was accused by the new empress Messalina of adultery with Julia Livilla, sister to Caligula and Agrippina.[18] The affair has been doubted by some historians, since Messalina had clear political motives for getting rid of Julia Livilla and her supporters.[9][19] The Senate pronounced a death sentence on Seneca which Claudius commuted to exile, and Seneca spent the next eight years on the island of Corsica.[20] Two of Seneca's earliest surviving works date from the period of his exile—both consolations.[18] In his Consolation to Helvia, his mother, Seneca comforts her as a bereaved mother for losing her son to exile.[20] Seneca incidentally mentions the death of his only son, a few weeks before his exile.[20] Later in life Seneca was married to a woman younger than himself, Pompeia Paulina.[6] It has been thought that the infant son may have been from an earlier marriage,[20] but the evidence is "tenuous".[6] Seneca's other work, his Consolation to Polybius, was written to console Polybius, one of Claudius' freedmen, on the death of his brother. It is noted for its flattery of Claudius, and Seneca expresses his hope that the emperor will recall him from exile.[20] In 49 AD Agrippina married her uncle Claudius, and through her influence Seneca was recalled to Rome.[18] Agrippina gained the praetorship for Seneca and appointed him tutor to her son, the future emperor Nero.[21]

Imperial advisor

Nero and Seneca, by Eduardo Barrón (1904). Museo del Prado
From AD 54 to 62, Seneca acted as Nero's advisor, together with the praetorian prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus. One byproduct of his influence was that Seneca was appointed suffect consul in 56.[22] Seneca's influence was said to have been especially strong in the first year.[23] Seneca composed Nero's accession speeches in which he promised to restore proper legal procedure and authority to the Senate.[21] He also composed the eulogy for Claudius that Nero delivered at the funeral.[21] Seneca's satirical skit Apocolocyntosis which lampoons the deification of Claudius and praises Nero dates from the earliest period of Nero's reign.[21] In 55 AD Seneca wrote his On Clemency which was written following Nero's murder of Britannicus, perhaps as a means of assuring the citizenry that the murder would be the end, not the beginning of bloodshed.[24] On Clemency is a work which, although it flatters Nero, was intended to show the correct (Stoic) path of virtue for a ruler.[21] Tacitus and Dio suggest that Nero's early rule, during which time he listened to Seneca and Burrus, was quite competent. However, the ancient sources suggest, over time, Seneca and Burrus lost their influence over the emperor. In 59 they had reluctantly agreed to Agrippina's murder, and afterward Tacitus reports that Seneca had to write a letter justifying the murder to the Senate.[24]

In 58 AD the consul Publius Suillius Rufus had made a series of public attacks on Seneca.[25] These attacks, reported by Tacitus and Cassius Dio,[26] include charges that, in a mere four years of service to Nero, Seneca had acquired a vast personal fortune of three hundred million sestertii by charging high interest on loans throughout Italy and the provinces.[27] Suillius' attacks included claims of sexual corruption, with a suggestion that Seneca had slept with Agrippina.[28] Tacitus, though, reports that Suillius was highly prejudiced: he had been a favourite of Claudius,[25] and had been an embezzler and informant.[27] In response, Seneca brought a series of prosecutions for corruption against Suillius: half of his estate was confiscated and he was sent into exile.[29] However, the attacks reflect a criticism of Seneca which was made at the time and continued through later ages.[25] Seneca was undoubtedly extremely rich: he had properties at Baiae and Nomentum, an Alban villa, and Egyptian estates.[25] Dio Cassius even reports that the Boudica uprising in Britannia was caused by Seneca forcing large loans on the indigenous British aristocracy in the aftermath of Claudius's conquest of Britain, and then calling them in suddenly and aggressively.[25] Seneca was sensitive to such accusations: his De Vita Beata ("On the Happy Life") dates from around this time and includes a defense of wealth along Stoic lines, arguing that wealth which is properly gained and spent is appropriate behaviour for a philosopher.[27]

After Burrus's death in 62, Seneca's influence declined rapidly.[30] Tacitus reports that Seneca tried to retire twice, in 62 and 64 AD, but Nero refused him on both occasions.[27] Nevertheless, Seneca was increasingly absent from the court.[27] He adopted a quiet lifestyle on his country estates, concentrating on his studies and seldom visiting Rome. It was during these final few years that he composed two of his greatest works: Naturales quaestiones—an encyclopedia of the natural world; and his Letters to Lucilius—which document his philosophical thoughts.[31]


Manuel Domínguez Sánchez, The suicide of Seneca (1871), Museo del Prado
In AD 65, Seneca was caught up in the aftermath of the Pisonian conspiracy, a plot to kill Nero. Although it is unlikely that Seneca was part of the conspiracy, Nero ordered him to kill himself.[27] Seneca followed tradition by severing several veins in order to bleed to death, and his wife Pompeia Paulina attempted to share his fate. Cassius Dio, who wished to emphasize the relentlessness of Nero, focused on how Seneca had attended to his last-minute letters, and how his death was hastened by soldiers.[32] A generation after the Julio-Claudian emperors, Tacitus wrote an account of the suicide, which, in view of his Republican sympathies, is perhaps somewhat romanticized.[33] According to this account, Nero ordered Seneca's wife to be saved. Her wounds were bound up and she made no further attempt to kill herself. As for Seneca himself, his age and diet were blamed for slow loss of blood and extended pain rather than a quick death; he also took poison, which was also not fatal. After dictating his last words to a scribe, and with a circle of friends attending him in his home, he immersed himself in a warm bath, which was expected to speed blood flow and ease his pain. Tacitus wrote, "He was then carried into a bath, with the steam of which he was suffocated, and he was burnt without any of the usual funeral rites. So he had directed in a codicil of his will, even when in the height of his wealth and power he was thinking of life’s close."[33]

Last edited by Adolf Goldbergstein; June 7th, 2018 at 06:26 PM.


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