« PreviousContinue »
of the city for their sakes; for that if he stayed with them, he should be able to do them little good, while they were in a safe condition, and that if they were once taken, he should only perish with them to no purpose; but that, if he were once gotten free from this siege, he should be able to bring them very great relief; for that he would then immediately get the Galileans together, out of the country, in great multitudes, and draw the Romans off their city by another war. That he did not see what advantage he could bring to them now by staying among them, but only provoke the Romans to besiege them more closely, as esteeming it a most valuable thing to take him ; but that, if they were once informed that he was fled out of the city, they would greatly remit of their eagerness against it."Yet did not this plea move the people, but inflamed them the more to hang about him. Accordingly, both the children and the old men, and the women with their infants, came mourning to him, and fell down before him, and all of them caught hold of his feet, and held him fast, and besought him with great lamentations that he would take his share with them in their fortune; and I think they did this, not that they envied my deliverance, but that they hoped for their own; for they could not think they should suffer any great misfortune, provided Josephus would but stay with them.
17. Now Josephus thought, that if he resolved to stay, it would be ascribed to their entreaties, and if he resolved to go away by force, he should be put into custody. His commiseration also of the people under their lamentations had much broken that his eagerness to leave them ; so he resolved to stay, and arming himself with a common despair of the citizens, he said to them, “Now is the time to begin to fight in earnest, when there is no hope of deliverance left. It is a brave thing to prefer glory before life, and to set about some such noble undertaking as may be remembered by late posterity.” Having said this, he fell to work immediately, and made a sally, and dispersed the enemies' out-guards, and ran as far as the Roman camp itself, and pulled the coverings of their tents to pieces, that were upon their banks, and set fire to their works. And this was the manner in which he never left off fighting, neither the next day nor the dav after it, but went on with it for a considerable number of both days and nights.
18. Upon this, Vespasian, when he saw the Romans distressed by these sallies, (though they were ashamed to be made to run away by the Jews; and when at any time they made the Jews run away, their heavy armour would not let them pursue them far, while the Jews, when they had per. formed any action, and before they could be hurt themselves, still retired into the city,) ordered his armed men to avoid their onset, and not fight it out with men under desperation, while nothing is more courageous than despair ; but that their violence would be quenched when they saw they failed of their purposes, as fire is quenched when it wants fuel; and that it was most proper for the Romans to gain their victories as cheap as they could, since they are not forced to fight, but only to enlarge their own dominions. So he repelled the Jews in a great measure by the Arabian archers, and the Syrian slingers, and by those that threw stones at them, nor was there any intermission of the great number of their offensive engines. Now, the Jews suffered greatly by these engines, without being able to escape from them, and when these engines threw stones or javelins a great way, and the Jews were within their reach, they pressed hard upon
the Romans, and fought desperately, without sparing either soul or body, one part succouring another by turns, when it was tired down.
19. When, therefore, Vespasian looked upon himself as in a manner be. sieged by these sallies of these Jews, and when his banks were now not far from the walls, he determined to make use of his battering ram. This battering ram is a vast beam of wood like the mast of a ship, its forepart is armed with a thick piece of iron at the head of it, which is so carved as to be like the head of a ram, whence its name is taken. This ram is slung in the air by ropes passing over its middle, and is hung like the balance in a pair of scales from another beam, and braced by strong beams that pass on both sides of it, in the nature of a cross. When this is pulled backward by a great number of men with united force, and then thrust forward by the same men, with a mighty noise, it batters the walls with that iron part which is prominent. Nor is there any tower so strong, or walls so broad, that can resist any more than its first batteries, but all are forced to yield to it at last. This was the experiment which the Roman general betook himself to, when he was eagerly bent upon taking the city ; but found lying in the field so long to be to his disadvantage, because the Jews would never let him be quiet. So these Romans brought the several engines for galling an enemy nearer to the walls, that they might reach such as were upon the wall, and endeavoured to frustrate their attempts: these threw stones and javelins at them, in the like manner did the archers and slingers come both together closer to the wall. This brought matters to such a pass that none of the Jews durst mount the walls, and then it was that the other Romans brought the battering ram that was cased with hurdles all over, and in the upper part was secured with skins that covered it, and this both for the security of themselves and of the engine. Now, at the very first stroke of this engine, the wall was shaken, and a terrible clamour was raised by the people within the city, as if they were already taken.
20. And now, when Josephus saw this ram still battering the same place, and that the wall would quickly be thrown down by it, he resolved to elude for a while the force of the engine : with this design he gave orders to fill sacks with chaff, and to hand them down before that place where they saw the ram always battering, that the stroke might be turned aside, or that the place might feel less of the strokes by the yielding nature of the chaff. This contrivance very mnch delayed the attempts of the Romans, because, let them remove their engines to what part they pleased, those that were above it, removed their sacks, and placed them over against the strokes it made, insomuch that the wall was no way hurt, and this by diversion of the strokes, till the Romans made an opposite contrivance of long poles, and by tying hooks at their ends, cut off the sacks. Now when the battering ram thus recovered its force, and the wall having been but newly built, was giving way, Josephus and those about him had afterward immediate recourse to fire, to defend themselves withal ; whereupon they took what materials soever they had that were but dry, and made a sally three ways, and set fire to the machines and the hurdles, and the banks of the Romans themselves; nor did the Romans well know how to come to their assi: tance, being at once under a consternation at the Jews' bold. ness, and being prevented by the flames from coming to their assistance; for the materials being dry with the bitumen and pitch that were among them, as was brimstone also, the fire caught hold of every thing imme
diately, and what cost the Romans a great deal of pains was in one hour consumed.
21. And here a certain Jew appeared worthy of our relation and commendation; he was the son of Sameas, and was called Eleazar, and was born at Saab, in Galilee. This man took up a stone of a vast bigness, and threw it down from the wall upon the ram, and this with so great a force that it broke off the head of the engine. He also leaped down and took up the head of the ram from the midst of them, and without any concern carried it to the top of the wall, and this while he stood as a fit mark to be pelted by all his enemies. Accordingly, he received the strokes upon his naked body, and was wounded with five darts : nor did he mind any of them while he went up to the top of the wall, where he stood in the sight of them all, as an instance of the greatest boldness ; after which, he drew himself on a heap with his wounds upon him, and fell down together with the head of the ram. Next to him, two brothers showed their courage ; their names were Netir and Philip, both of them of the village Ruma, and both of them Galileans also; these men leaped upon the soldiers of the tenth legion, and fell upon the Romans with such a noise and force as to disorder their ranks, and to put to flight all upon whatsoever they made their assaults.
22. After these men's performances, Josephus, and the rest of the multitude with him, took a great deal of fire, and burnt both the machines and their coverings, with the works belonging to the fifth and to the tenth legion, which they put to flight, when others followed them immediately, and buried those instruments and all their materials under ground. However, about the evening, the Romans erected the battering ram again, against that part of the wall which had suffered before ; where a certain Jew that defended the city from the Romans, hit Vespasian with a dart in his foot, and wounded him a little, the distance being so great, that no mighty impression could be made by the dart thrown so far off. However, this caused the greatest disorder among the Romans, for when those who stood near him saw his blood, they were disturbed at it, and a report went abroad, through the whole amy, that the general was wounded, while the greatest part left the siege, and came running together with surprise and fear to the general; and before them all came Titus, out of the concern he had for his father, insomuch, that the multitude were in great confusion, and this out of the regard they had for their general, and hy reason of the agony that the son was in. Yet did Vespasian soon put an end to the son's fear, and to the disorder the army was under, for being superior to his pains, and endeavouring soon to be seen by all that had been in a fright about him, he excited them to fight the Jews more briskly; for now every body was willing to expose himself to danger immediately, in order to avenge their general; and then they encouraged one another with loud voices and ran hastily to the walls.
23. But still Josephus and those with him, although they fell down dead one upon another by the darts and stones which the engines threw upon them, yet did they not desert the wall, but fell upon those who managed the ram, under the protection of the hurdles, with fire, and iron weapons, and stones; and these could do little or nothing, but fell themselves perpetually, while they were seen by those whom they could not see, for the light of their own flame shone about them, and made them a most visible mark to the encmr, as they were in ine day-time, while the engines could not be seen at a great distance, and so what was thrown at them was hard to be avoided, for the force with which these engines threw stones and darts made them hurt several at a time, and the violent force of the stones that were cast by the engines was so great, that they carried away the pinnacles of the wall, and broke off the corners of the towers; for no body of men could be so strong as not to be overthrown to the last rank by the largeness of the stones. And any one may learn the force of the engines by what happened this very night: for as one of those that stood round about Josephus was near the wall, his head was carried away by such a stone, and his skull was flung as far as three furlongs. In the day-time also, a woman with child had her belly so violently struck, as she was just come out of her house, that the infant was carried to the distance of half a furlong, so great was the force of that engine. The noise of the instruments themselves was very terrible ; the sound of the darts and stones that were thrown by them was so also; of the same sort was that noise the dead bodies made, when they were dashed against the wall ; and indeed dreadful was the clamour which these things raised in the women within the city, which was echoed back at the same time br the cries of such as were slain ; while the whole space of ground whereon they fought ran with blood, and the wall might have been ascended over by bodies of the dead carcases ; the mountains also contributed to increase the noise by their echoes, nor was there on that night any thing of terror wanting, that could either affect the hearing or the sight; yet did a great part of those that fought so hard for Jotapata fall manfully, as were a great part of them wounded. However, the morning watch was.come ere the wall yielded to the machines employed against it, though it had been battered without intermission. However, those within covered their bodies with their armour, and raised works over against that part which was thrown down, before those machines were laid, by which the Romans were to ascend into the city.
24. In the morning Vespasian got his army together, in order to take the city [by storm,] after a little recreation upon the hard pains they had been at the night before ; and as he was desirous to draw aff those that oppressed him from the places where the wall had been thrown down, he made the most courageous of the horsemen get off their horses, and placed them in three ranks over against these ruins of the wall, but covered with their armour on every side, and with poles in their hands, that so these might begin their ascent as soon as the instruments for such ascent were laid; behind them he placed the flower of the footmen; but for the rest of the horse, he ordered them to extend themselves over against the wall, upon the whole hilly country, in order to prevent any from escaping out of the city when it should be taken ; and behind these he placed the archers round about, and commanded them to have all their darts ready to shoot. The same commands he gave to the slingers, and to those that managed the engines, and bade them to take up other ladders, and have ready to lay upon those parts of the wall which were yet untouched, that the be. sieged might be engaged in trying to hinder their ascent by them, and leave the guard of the parts that were thrown down, while the rest of them should be overborne by the darts cast at them, and might afford his men an entrance into the city.
25. But Josephus, understanding the meaning of Vespasian's contri.
vance, set the old men, together with those that were tired out at the sound parts of the wall, as expecting no harm from these quarters, but set the strongest of his men at the place where the wall was broken down, and before them all six men by themselves, among whom he took his share of the first and greatest danger. He also gave orders, that “when the le. gions made a shout they should stop their ears, that they might not be affrighted at it, and that, to avoid the multitude of the enemies' darts, they should bend down on their knees, and cover themselves with their shields, and that they should retreat a little backward for a while, till the archers should have emptied their quivers ; but that, when the Romans should lay their instruments for ascending the walls, they should leap out on the sudden, and with their own instruments should meet the enemy, and that every one should strive to do his best, in order, not to defend his own city, as if it were possible to be preserved, but in order to revenge it, when it was already destroyed; and that they should set before their eves how their old men were to be slain, and their children and wives were to be killed immediately by the enemy; and that they would befurehand spend all their fury on account of the calamities just coming upon them, and pour it out on the actors."
26. And thus did Josephus dispose of both his bodies of men ; but then for the useless part of the citizens, the women and children, when they saw their city encompassed by a threefold army, (for none of the usual guards, that had been fighting before, were removed,) when they also saw, not only the walls thrown down, but their enemies, with swords in their hands, as also the hilly country above them, shining with their weapons, and the darts in their hands of the Arabian archers, they made a fioal and lamentable outcry of the destruction, as if the misery were not only threatened, but actually come upon them already. But Josephus ordered the women to be shut up in their houses, lest they should render the warlike actions of the men too effeminate, by making them commiserate their condition, and commanded them to hold their peace, and threatened them if they did not, while he came himself before the breach, where his allotment was : for all those who brought ladders to the other places, he took no notice of them, but earnestly waited for the shower of arrows that was coming.
27. And now the trumpeters of the several Roman legions sounded together, and the army made a terrible shout, and the darts, as by order, flew so fast, that they intercepted the light. However, Josephus's men remembered the charges he had given them; they stopped their ears at the sounds, and covered their bodies against the darts ; and as to the engines that were set ready to go to work, the Jews ran out upon them, before those that should have used them were gotten upon them. And now, on the ascending of the soldiers, there was a great conflict, and many actions of the bands, and of the soul, were exhibited, while the Jews did earnestly endeavour, in the extreme danger they were in, not to show less courage than those who, without being in danger, fought so stoutly against them, nor did they leave struggling with the Romans till they either fell down dead themselves, or killed their antagonists. But the Jews grew wearv with defending themselves continually, and had not enow to come in their places, and succour them; while on the side of the Romans fresh men still succceeded those that were tired, and still new men soon got upon the machines for ascent, in the room of those that were tired, in the room of those