Concerning The Interval Of One Hundred And Sixty-Seven Years.
From The Taking Of Jerusalem By Antiochus Epiphanes,
To The Death Of Herod The Great.
ARCHELAUS PROCURES A RECONCILIATION BETWEEN ALEXANDER PHERORAS, AND HEROD.
1. NOW as to Alexander, since he perceived it impossible to persuade his father [that he was innocent], he resolved to meet his calamities, how severe soever they were; so he composed four books against his enemies, and confessed that he had been in a plot; but declared withal that the greatest part [of the courtiers] were in a plot with him, and chiefly Pheroras and Salome; nay, that Salome once came and forced him to lie with her in the night time, whether he would or no. These books were put into Herod's hands, and made a great clamor against the men in power. And now it was that Archelaus came hastily into Judea, as being affrighted for his son-in-law and his daughter; and he came as a proper assistant, and in a very prudent manner, and by a stratagem he obliged the king not to execute what he had threatened; 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. And I cannot but admire at thy patience, against whom this plot is laid, if Alexander be still alive; for as I came with what haste I could from Cappadocia, I expected to find him put to death for his crimes long ago; but still, in order to make an examination with thee about my daughter, whom, out of regard to thee and by dignity, I had espoused to him in marriage; but now we must take counsel about them both; and if thy paternal affection be so great, that thou canst not punish thy son, who hath plotted against thee, let us change our right hands, and let us succeed one to the other in expressing our rage upon this occasion."
2. When he had made this pompous declaration, he got Herod to remit of his anger, though he were in disorder, who thereupon gave him the books which Alexander had composed to be read by him; and as he came to every head, he considered of it, together with Herod. So Archclaus took hence the occasion for that stratagem which he made use of, and by degrees he laid the blame on those men whose names were in these books, and especially upon Pheroras; and when he saw that the king believed him [to he in earnest], he said,
"We must consider whether the young man be not himself plotted against by such a number of wicked wretches, and not thou plotted against by the young man; for I cannot see any occasion for his falling into so horrid a crime, since he enjoys the advantages of royalty already, and has the expectation of being one of thy successors; I mean this, unless there were some persons that persuade him to it, and such persons as make an ill use of the facility they know there is to persuade young men; for by such persons, not only young men are sometimes imposed upon, but old men also, and by them sometimes are the most illustrious families and kingdoms overturned."
3. Herod assented to what he had said, and, by degrees, abated of his anger against Alexander, but was more angry at Pheroras; for the principal subject of the four books was Pheroras; who perceiving that the king's inclinations changed on a sudden, and that Archelaus's friendship could do every thing with him, and that he had no honorable method of preserving himself, he procured his safety by his impudence. So he left Alexander, and had recourse to Archelaus, who told him that he did not see how he could get him excused, now he was directly caught in so many crimes, whereby it was evidently demonstrated that he had plotted against the king, and had been the cause of those misfortunes which the young man was now under, unless he would moreover leave off his cunning knavery, and his denials of what he was charged withal, and confess the charge, and implore pardon of his brother, who still had a kindness for him; but that if he would do so, he would afford him all the assistance he was able.
4. With this advice Pheroras complied, and putting himself into such a habit as might most move compassion, he came with black cloth upon his body, and tears in his eyes, and threw himself down at Herod's feet, and begged his pardon for what he had done, and confessed that he had acted very wickedly, and was guilty of every thing that he had been accused of, and lamented that disorder of his mind, and distraction which his love to a woman, he said, had brought him to. So when Archelaus had brought Pheroras to accuse and bear witness against himself, he then made an excuse for him, and mitigated Herod's anger towards him, and this by using certain domestical examples; for that when he had suffered much greater mischiefs from a brother of his own, he prefered the obligations of nature before the passion of revenge; because it is in kingdoms as it is in gross bodies, where some member or other is ever swelled by the body's weight, in which case it is not proper to cut off such member, but to heal it by a gentle method of cure.
5. Upon Arehelaus's saying this, and much more to the same purpose, Herod's displeasure against Pheroras was mollified; yet did he persevere in his own indignation against Alexander, and said he would have his daughter divorced, and taken away from him, and this till he had brought Herod to that pass, that, contrary to his former behavior to him, he petitioned Archelaus for the young man, and that he would let his daughter continue espoused to him: but Archelaus made him strongly believe that he would permit her to be married to any one else, but not to Alexander, because he looked upon it as a very valuable advantage, that the relation they had contracted by that affinity, and the privileges that went along with it, might be preserved. And when the king said that his son would take it for a great favor to him, if he would not dissolve that marriage, especially since they had already children between the young man and her, and since that wife of his was so well beloved by him, and that as while she remains his wife she would be a great preservative to him, and keep him from offending, as he had formerly done; so if she should be once torn away from him, she would be the cause of his falling into despair, because such young men's attempts are best mollified when they are diverted from them by settling their affections at home.
So Arehelaus complied with what Herod desired, but not without difficulty, and was both himself reconciled to the young man, and reconciled his father to him also. However, he said he must, by all means, be sent to Rome to discourse with Caesar, because he had already written a full account to him of this whole matter.
6. Thus a period was put to Archelaus's stratagem, whereby he delivered his son-in-law out of the dangers he was in; but when these reconciliations were over, they spent their time in feastings and agreeable entertainments. And when Archelaus was going away, Herod made him a present of seventy talents, with a golden throne set with precious stones, and some eunuchs, and a concubine who was called Pannychis. He also paid due honors to every one of his friends according to their dignity. In like manner did all the king's kindred, by his command, make glorious presents to Archelaus; and so he was conducted on his way by Herod and his nobility as far as Antioch.