Containing The Interval Of Three Years And A Half.
From The Departure Out Of Babylon To Fadus, The Roman Procurator.
What Things King Agrippa Did For Claudius; And How Claudius When He Had Taken The Government Commanded The Murderers Of Caius To Be Slain.
1. NOW Claudius, though he was sensible after what an insolent manner the senate had sent to him yet did he, according to their advice, behave himself for the present with moderation; but not so far that he could not recover himself out of his fright; so he was encouraged [to claim the government] partly by the boldness of the soldiers, and partly by the persuasion of king Agrippa, who exhorted him not to let such a dominion slip out of his hands, when it came thus to him of its own accord. Now this Agrippa, with relation to Caius, did what became one that had been so much honored by him; for he embraced Caius's body after he was dead, and laid it upon a bed, and covered it as well as he could, and went out to the guards, and told them that Caius was still alive; but he said that they should call for physicians, since he was very ill of his wounds. But when he had learned that Claudius was carried away violently by the soldiers, he rushed through the crowd to him, and when he found that he was in disorder, and ready to resign up the government to the senate, he encouraged him, and desired him to keep the government; but when he had said this to Claudius, he retired home.
And upon the senate's sending for him, he anointed his head with ointment, as if he had lately accompanied with his wife, and had dismissed her, and then came to them: he also asked of the senators what Claudius did; who told him the present state of affairs, and then asked his opinion about the settlement of the public. He told them in words that he was ready to lose his life for the honor of the senate, but desired them to consider what was for their advantage, without any regard to what was most agreeable to them; for that those who grasp at government will stand in need of weapons and soldiers to guard them, unless they will set up without any preparation for it, and so fall into danger. And when the senate replied that they would bring in weapons in abundance, and money, and that as to an army, a part of it was already collected together for them, and they would raise a larger one by giving the slaves their liberty, - Agrippa made answer,
"O senators! may you be able to compass what you have a mind to; yet will I immediately tell you my thoughts, because they tend to your preservation. Take notice, then, that the army which will fight for Claudius hath been long exercised in warlike affairs; but our army will be no better than a rude multitude of raw men, and those such as have been unexpectedly made free from slavery, and ungovernable; we must then fight against those that are skillful in war, with men who know not so much as how to draw their swords. So that my opinion is, that we should send some persons to Claudius, to persuade him to lay down the government; and I am ready to be one of your ambassadors."
2. Upon this speech of Agrippa, the senate complied with him, and he was sent among others, and privately informed Claudius of the disorder the senate was in, and gave him instructions to answer them in a somewhat commanding strain, and as one invested with dignity and authority. Accordingly, Claudius said to the ambassadors, that he did not wonder the senate had no mind to have an emperor over them, because they had been harassed by the barbarity of those that had formerly been at the head of their affairs; but that they should taste of an equitable government under him, and moderate times, while he should only he their ruler in name, but the authority should be equally common to them all; and since he had passed through many and various scenes of life before their eyes, it would be good for them not to distrust him. So the ambassadors, upon their hearing this his answer, were dismissed. But Claudius discoursed with the army which was there gathered together, who took oaths that they would persist in their fidelity to him; Upon which he gave the guards every man five thousand (14) drachmae a-piece, and a proportionable quantity to their captains, and promised to give the same to the rest of the armies wheresoever they were.
3. And now the consuls called the senate together into the temple of Jupiter the Conqueror, while it was still night; but some of those senators concealed themselves in the city, being uncertain what to do, upon the hearing of this summons; and some of them went out of the city to their own farms, as foreseeing whither the public affairs were going, and despairing of liberty; nay, these supposed it much better for them to be slaves without danger to themselves, and to live a lazy and inactive life, than by claiming the dignity of their forefathers, to run the hazard of their own safety. However, a hundred and no more were gotten together; and as they were in consultation about the present posture of affairs, a sudden clamor was made by the soldiers that were on their side, desiring that the senate would choose them an emperor, and not bring the government into ruin by setting up a multitude of rulers. So they fully declared themselves to be for the giving the government not to all, but to one; but they gave the senate leave to look out for a person worthy to be set over them, insomuch that now the affairs of the senate were much worse than before, because they had not only failed in the recovery of their liberty, which they boasted themselves of, but were in dread of Claudius also.
Yet were there those that hankered after the government, both on account of the dignity of their families and that accruing to them by their marriages; for Marcus Minucianus was illustrious, both by his own nobility, and by his having married Julia, the sister of Caius, who accordingly was very ready to claim the government, although the consuls discouraged him, and made one delay after another in proposing it: that Minucianus also, who was one of Caius's murderers, restrained Valerius of Asia from thinking of such things; and a prodigious slaughter there had been, if leave had been given to these men to set up for themselves, and oppose Claudius. There were also a considerable number of gladiators besides, and of those soldiers who kept watch by night in the city, and rowers of ships, who all ran into the camp; insomuch that, of those who put in for the government, some left off their pretensions in order to spare the city, and others out of fear for their own persons.
4. But as soon as ever it was day, Cherea, and those that were with him, came into the senate, and attempted to make speeches to the soldiers. However, the multitude of those soldiers, when they saw that they were making signals for silence with their hands, and were ready to begin to speak to them, grew tumultuous, and would not let them speak at all, because they were all zealous to be under a monarchy; and they demanded of the senate one for their ruler, as not enduring any longer delays: but the senate hesitated about either their own governing, or how they should themselves be governed, while the soldiers would not admit them to govern, and the murderers of Caius would not permit the soldiers to dictate to them. When they were in these circumstances, Cherea was not able to contain the anger he had, and promised, that if they desired an emperor, he would give them one, if any one would bring him the watchword from Eutychus.
Now this Eutychus was charioteer of the green-band faction, styled Prasine, and a great friend of Caius, who used to harass the soldiery with building stables for the horses, and spent his time in ignominious labors, which occasioned Cherea to reproach them with him, and to abuse them with much other scurrilous language; and told them he would bring them the head of Claudius; and that it was an amazing thing, that, after their former madness, they should commit their government to a fool. Yet were not they moved with his words, but drew their swords, and took up their ensigns, and went to Claudius, to join in taking the oath of fidelity to him. So the senate were left without any body to defend them, and the very consuls differed nothing from private persons.
They were also under consternation and sorrow, men not knowing what would become of them, because Claudius was very angry at them; so they fell a reproaching one another, and repented of what they had done. At which juncture Sabinus, one of Caius's murderers, threatened that he would sooner come into the midst of them and kill himself, than consent to make Claudius emperor, and see slavery returning upon them; he also abused Cherea for loving his life too well, while he who was the first in his contempt of Caius, could think it a good thin to live, when, even by all that they had done for the recovery of their liberty, they found it impossible to do it. But Cherea said he had no manner of doubt upon him about killing himself; that yet he would first sound the intentions of Claudius before he did it.
5. These were the debates [about the senate]; but in the camp every body was crowding on all sides to pay their court to Claudius; and the other consul, Quintus Pomponhis, was reproached by the soldiery, as having rather exhorted the senate to recover their liberty; whereupon they drew their swords, and were going to assault him, and they had done it, if Claudius had not hindered them, who snatched the consul out of the danger he was in, and set him by him. :But he did not receive that part of the senate which was with Quintus in the like honorable manner; nay, some of them received blows, and were thrust away as they came to salute Claudius; nay, Aponius went away wounded, and they were all in danger. However, king Agrippa went up to Claudius, and desired he would treat the senators more gently; for if any mischief should come to the senate, he would have no others over whom to rule.
Claudius complied with him, and called the senate together into the palace, and was carried thither himself through the city, while the soldiery conducted him, though this was to the great vexation of the multitude; for Cherea and Sabinus, two of Caius's murderers, went in the fore-front of them, in an open manner, while Pollio, whom Claudius, a little before, had made captain of his guards, had sent them an epistolary edict, to forbid them to appear in public. Then did Claudius, upon his coming to the palace, get his friends together, and desired their suffrages about Cherea. They said that the work he had done was a glorious one; but they accused him the he did it of perfidiousness, and thought it just to inflict the punishment [of death] upon him, to discountenance such actions for the time to come. So Cherea was led to his execution, and Lupus and many other Romans with him.
Now it is reported that Cherea bore this calamity courageously; and this not only by the firmness of his own behavior under it, but by the reproaches he laid upon Lupus, who fell into tears; for when Lupus laid his garment aside, and complained of the cold (15) he said, that cold was never hurtful to Lupus [i.e. a wolf] And as a great many men went along with them to see the sight, when Cherea came to the place, he asked the soldier who was to be their executioner, whether this office was what he was used to, or whether this was the first time of his using his sword in that manner, and desired him to bring him that very sword with which he himself slew Caius. (16) So he was happily killed at one stroke. But Lupus did not meet with such good fortune in going out of the world, since he was timorous, and had many blows leveled at his neck, because he did not stretch it out boldly [as he ought to have done].
6. Now, a few days after this, as the Parental solemnities were just at hand, the Roman multitude made their usual oblations to their several ghosts, and put portions into the fire in honor of Cherea, and besought him to be merciful to them, and not continue his anger against them for their ingratitude. And this was the end of the life that Cherea came to. But for Sabinus, although Claudius not only set him at liberty, but gave him leave to retain his former command in the army, yet did he think it would be unjust in him to fail of performing his obligations to his fellow confederates; so he fell upon his sword, and killed himself, the wound reaching up to the very hilt of the sword.
(14) This number of drachmae to be distributed to each private soldier, five thousand drachmae, equal to twenty thousand sesterces, or one hundred and sixty-one pounds sterling, seems much too large, and directly contradicts Suetonius, Ch. 10., who makes them in all but fifteen sesterces, or two shillings and four pence. Yet might Josephus have this number from Agrippa, junior, though I doubt the thousands, or at least the hundreds, have been added by the transcribers, of which we have had several examples already in Josephus.
(15) This piercing cold here complained of by Lupus agrees well to the time of the year when Claudius began his reign; it being for certain about the months of November, December, or January, and most probably a few days after January the twenty-fourth, and a few days before the Roman Parentalia.
(16) It is both here and elsewhere very remarkable, that the murders of the vilest tyrants, who yet highly deserved to die, when those murderers were under oaths, or other the like obligations of fidelity to them, were usually revenged, and the murderers were cut off themselves, and that after a remarkable manner; and this sometimes, as in the present case, by those very persons who were not sorry for such murders, but got kingdoms by them. The examples are very numerous, both in sacred and profane histories, and seem generally indications of Divine vengeance on such murderers. Nor is it unworthy of remark, that such murderers of tyrants do it usually on such ill principles, in such a cruel manner, and as ready to involve the innocent with the guilty, which was the case here, Ch. 1. Sect. 14, and Ch. 2. Sect. 4, as justly deserved the Divine vengeance upon them.
Which seems to have been the case of Jehu also, when, besides the house of Ahab, for whose slaughter he had a commission from God, without any such commission, any justice or commiseration, he killed Ahab's great men, and acquaintance, and priests, and forty-two of the kindred of Ahaziah, 2 Kings 10:11-14. See Hosea 1:4. I do not mean here to condemn Ehud or Judith, or the like executioners of God's vengeance on those wicked tyrants who had unjustly oppressed God's own people under their theocracy; who, as they appear still to have had no selfish designs nor intentions to slay the innocent, so had they still a Divine commission, or a Divine impulse, which was their commission for what they did, Judges 3:15, 19, 20; Judith 9:2; Test. Levi. Sect. 5, in Authent. Rec. p. 312. See also page 432.