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.
HEROD BY CAESARS DIRECTION ACCUSES HIS SONS AT EURYTUS. THEY ARE NOT PRODUCED BEFORE THE COURTS BUT YET ARE CONDEMNED; AND IN A LITTLE TIME THEY ARE SENT TO SEBASTE, AND STRANGLED THERE.
1. MOREOVER, Salome exasperated Herod's cruelty against his sons; for Aristobulus was desirous to bring her, who was his mother-in-law and his aunt, into the like dangers with themselves; so he sent to her to take care of her own safety, and told her that the king was preparing to put her to death, on account of the accusation that was laid against her, as if when she formerly endeavored to marry herself to Sylleus the Arabian, she had discovered the king's grand secrets to him, who was the king's enemy; and this it was that came as the last storm, and entirely sunk the young men when they were in great danger before. For Salome came running to the king, and informed him of what admonition had been given her; whereupon he could bear no longer, but commanded both the young men to be bound, and kept the one asunder from the other. He also sent Volumnius, the general of his army, to Caesar immediately, as also his friend Olympus with him, who carried the informations in writing along with them.
Now as soon as they had sailed to Rome, and delivered the king's letters to Caesar, Caesar was mightily troubled at the case of the young men; yet did not he think he ought to take the power from the father of condemning his sons; so he wrote back to him, and appointed him to have the power over his sons; but said withal, that he would do well to make an examination into this matter of the plot against him in a public court, and to take for his assessors his own kindred, and the governors of the province. And if those sons be found guilty, to put them to death; but if they appear to have thought of no more than flying away from him, that he should moderate their punishment.
2. With these directions Herod complied, and came to Berytus, where Caesar had ordered the court to be assembled, and got the judicature together. The presidents sat first, as Caesar's letters had appointed, who were Saturninus and Pedanius, and their lieutenants that were with them, with whom was the procurator Volumnius also; next to them sat the king's kinsmen and friends, with Salome also, and Pheroras; after whom sat the principal men of all Syria, excepting Archelaus; for Herod had a suspicion of him, because he was Alexander's father-in-law. Yet did not he produce his sons in open court; and this was done very cunningly, for he knew well enough that had they but appeared only, they would certainly have been pitied; and if withal they had been suffered to speak, Alexander would easily have answered what they were accused of; but they were in custody at Platane, a village of the Sidontans.
3. So the king got up, and inveighed against his sons, as if they were present; and as for that part of the accusation that they had plotted against him, he urged it but faintly, because he was destitute of proofs; but he insisted before the assessors on the reproaches, and jests, and injurious carriage, and ten thousand the like offenses against him, which were heavier than death itself; and when nobody contradicted him, he moved them to pity his case, as though he had been condemned himself, now he had gained a bitter victory against his sons. So he asked every one's sentence, which sentence was first of all given by Saturninus, and was this: That he condemned the young men, but not to death; for that it was not fit for him, who had three sons of his own now present, to give his vote for the destruction of the sons of another. The two lieutenants also gave the like vote; some others there were also who followed their example; but Volumnius began to vote on the more melancholy side, and all those that came after him condemned the young men to die, some out of flattery, and some out of hatred to Herod; but none out of indignation at their crimes. And now all Syria and Judea was in great expectation, and waited for the last act of this tragedy; yet did nobody, suppose that Herod would be so barbarous as to murder his children: however, he carried them away to Tyre, and thence sailed to Cesarea, and deliberated with himself what sort of death the young men should suffer.
4. Now there was a certain old soldier of the king's, whose name was Tero, who had a son that was very familiar with and a friend to Alexander, and who himself particularly loved the young men. This soldier was in a manner distracted, out of the excess of the indignation he had at what was doing; and at first he cried out aloud, as he went about, that justice was trampled under foot; that truth was perished, and nature confounded; and that the life of man was full of iniquity, and every thing else that passion could suggest to a man who spared not his own life; and at last he ventured to go to the king, and said,
"Truly I think thou art a most miserable man, when thou hearkenest to most wicked wretches, against those that ought to be dearest to thee; since thou hast frequently resolved that Pheroras and Salome should be put to death, and yet believest them against thy sons; while these, by cutting off the succession of thine own sons, leave all wholly to Antipater, and thereby choose to have thee such a king as may be thoroughly in their own power. However, consider whether this death of Antipater's brethren will not make him hated by the soldiers; for there is nobody but commiserates the young men; and of the captains, a great many show their indignation at it openly."
Upon his saying this, he named those that had such indignation; but the king ordered those men, with Tero himself and his son, to be seized upon immediately.
5. At which time there was a certain barber, whose name was Trypho. This man leaped out from among the people in a kind of madness, and accused himself, and said,
"This Tero endeavored to persuade me also to cut thy throat with my razor, when I trimmed thee, and promised that Alexander should give me large presents for so doing."
When Herod heard this, he examined Tero, with his son and the barber, by the torture; but as the others denied the accusation, and he said nothing further, Herod gave order that Tero should be racked more severely; but his son, out of pity to his father, promised to discover the whole to the king, if he would grant [that his father should be no longer tortured]. When he had agreed to this, he said that his father, at the persuasion of Alexander, had an intention to kill him. Now some said this was forged, in order to free his father from his torments; and some said it was true.
6. And now Herod accused the captains and Tero in an assembly of the people, and brought the people together in a body against them; and accordingly there were they put to death, together with [Trypho] the barber; they were killed by the pieces of wood and the stones that were thrown at them. He also sent his sons to Sebaste, a city not far from Cesarea, and ordered them to be there strangled; and as what he had ordered was executed immediately, so he commanded that their dead bodies should be brought to the fortress Alexandrium, to be buried with Alexander, their grandfather by the mother's side. And this was the end of Alexander and Aristobulus.