Page images
PDF
EPUB

*s despise death, that they may be so no longer ; and do “make sallies into the very midst of us frequently, not in “ hopes of conquering us, but merely for a demonstration “ of their courage ; we, who have gotten possession of al“ most all the world that belongs to either land or sea, to or whom it will be a great shame if we do not conquer them, “ do not once undertake any attempt against our enemies “ wherein there is much danger, but sit still idle, with “ such brave arms as we have, and only wait till the famine ** and fortune do our business themselves, and this, when we “ have it in our power, with some small hazard, to gain “all that we desire. For, if we go up to this tower of An“tonia, we gain the city; for, if there should be any more “ occasion for fighting against those within the city, which “ I do not suppose there will, since we shall then be upon “ the top * of the hill, and be upon our enemies before " they can have taken breath, these advantages promise sus no less than a certain and sudden victory. As for my.“ self, I shall at present wave any commendations of those or who die in war, and omit to speak of the immortality of " those men who are slain in the midst of their martial braso very ; yet cannot I forbear to imprecate upon those who “are of a contrary disposition, that they may die in time “ of peace, by some distemper or other, since their souls care condemned to the grave, together with their bodies. “ For, what man of virtue is there who does not know, “ that those souls which are severed from their fleshly bo“ dies in battles by the sword, are received by the other, " that purest of elements, and joined to that company which " are placed among the stars ; that they become good de6 mons, and propitious heroes, and shew themselves as such « to their posterity afterwards? While, upon those souls " that wear away in and with their distempered bodies

* Reland notes here, very pertinently, that the tower of Antonia stood higher than the floor of the temple, or court adjoining to it; and that accordingly they descended thence into the temple, as Josephus elsewhere speaks also. See B. vi. ch. ii. $5.

f In this speech of Titus, we may clearly see the notions which the Roinans then had of death, and of the happy state of those who died bravely in war, and the contrary estate of those who died ignobly in their beds by sickness. Reland here also produces two parallel passages, the one ont of Ammi. anus Marcellinus, concerning the Alapi, lib, 3). That “they judged that man happy, who “ laid down his life in battle,” The other of V Jerinis Maximus, lib. xi c. 6. who says that “ the Cinbri and Celtiberi exulted for joy in the army, as being to go out of the world gloriously and hap

pily."

comes a subterranean night, to dissolve them to nothing, 66 and a deep oblivion to take away all the remembrance of “ them, and this notwithstanding they be clean from all “ spots and defilements of this world ; so that, in this case, " the soul at the same time comes to the utmost bounds of “ its life, and of its body, and of its memorial also. But, “ since fate hath determined that death is to come of neces“ sity upon all men, a sword is a better instrument for thiat “ purpose that any disease whatsoever. Why is it not " then a very mean thing for us not to yield up that to the “ public benefit, which we must yield up to fate! and this “ discourse have I made upon the supposition that those " who first attempt to go upon this wall must needs be kil“ led in the attempt, though still men of true courage have " a chance to escape, even in the most hazardous underta“ kings. For, in the first place, that part of the former “ wall that is thrown down is easily to be ascended, and, “ for the new-built wall, it is easily destroyed. Do you, “ therefore, many of you, pull up your courage, and set “ about this work, and do you mutually encourage, and as“ sist one another ; and this your brayery will soon break “ the hearts of your enemies; and perhaps such a glorious “ undertaking as yours is may be accomplished without “ blood-shed. For, although it be justly to be supposed, “ that the Jews will try to hinder you at your first begin“ning, to go up to them, yet when you have once concealo ed youselves from them, and driven them away by force, " they will not be able to sustain your efforts against them “ any longer, though but a few of you prevent them, and “ get over the wall. As for that person who first mounts “the wall, I should blush for shame, if I did not make him to “ be envied of others, by those rewards I would bestow upon “ him. If such an one escape with his life, he shall have " the command of others that are now but his equals; al“ though it be true also, that the greatest * rewards will “ accrue to such as die in the attempt.”

6. Upon this speach of Titus, the rest of the multitude were aftrighted at so great a danger. But there was one whose name was Sabinus, a soldier that served among the cohorts, and a Syrian by birth, who appeared to be of very great fortitude, both in the actions he had done, and the

* See note, p. 64.

courage of his soul he had shewed; although any body would have thought before he came to his work, that he was of such a weak constitution of body, that he was not fit to be a soldier: for his colour was black his flesh was lean and thin, and lay close together; but their was a certain heroic soul that dwelt in this small body, which body was indeed much too narrow for that peculiar courage which was in him.- Accordingly he was the first that rose up, when lie thus spake: “I readily surrender up myself to thee O “Cæsar ! I first ascend the wall, and I heartily wish that "my fortune may follow my courage and my resolution. " And if some ill fortune grudge me the success of my under“taking, take notice that my ill success will not be unexpect“ed, but that I choose death voluntarily for thy sake." When he had said this, and had spread out his shield over his head with his left hand, and had, with his right hand, drawn his sword, he marched up to the wall just about the sixth hour of the day. There followed him eleven others, and no more, that resolved to imitate bis bravery; but still this was the principal person of them all, and went first as excited by a divine fury. Now, those that guarded the wall shot at them from thence, and cast innumerable darts upon them from every side; they also rolled very large stones upon them, which overthrew some of those eleven that were with him. But, as for Sabinus himself, he met the darts that were cast at him, and though he were overwhelmed with them, yet did he not leave off the violence of his attack before he had gotten up on the top of the wall, and had put the enemy to flight. For, as the Jews were astonished at his great strength, and the bravery of his soul, and as, withal, they imagined more of them had got upon the wall than really had, they were put to flight. And now, one cannot but complain here of fortune, as still envious at virtue, and always hindering the performance of glorious achievements : this was the case of the man before us, when lie had just obtained his purpose, for he then stumbled at a certain large stone and fell down upon it head-long, with a very great noise. Upon which the Jews turned back and when they saw him to be alone, and fallen down also, they threw darts at him from every side. However, he got upon his knee, and covered himself with his shield, and at the first defended himself against them, and wounded many of those that came near him: but, he was soon forced to relax

his right hand, by the multitude of the wounds that had been given him, till, at length, he was quite covered over with darts, before he gave up the ghost. He was one who deserved a better fate, by reason of his bravery ; but, as might be expected, he fell under so vast an attempt. As for the rest of his partners, the Jews dashed three of them to pieces with stones, and slew them, as they were gotten up to the top of the wall; the other eight being wounded, were pulled down, and carried back to the camp. These things were done upon the third day of the month Panemus [Tamuz.]

7. Now, two days afterward, twelve of those men that were on the forefront, and kept watch upon the banks, got together, and called to them the standard-bearer of the fifth legion, and two others of a troop of horsemen, and one trumpeter : these went without noise, about the ninth hour of the night, through the ruins, to the tower of Antonia ; and when they had cut the throats of the first guards of the place, as they were asleep, they got possession of the wall, and ordered the trumpeter to sound his trumpet. Upon which, the rest of the guard got up on the sudden, and ranaway, before any body could see how many they were that were gotten up; for, partly from the fear, they were in, and partly from the sound of the trumpet which they heard, they imagined a great number of the enemy were gotten up. But, as soon as Cæsar heard the signal, he ordered the army to put on their armour immediately, and came thither with his commanders, and first of all ascended, as did the chosen men that were with him. And, as the Jews were flying away to the temple, they fell into that mine which John had dug under the Roman banks. Then did the seditious of both the bodies of the Jewish ariny, as well that belonging to John, as that belonging to Simon, drive them away ; and, indeed, were no way wanting as to the highest degree of force and alacrity: for they esteemed themselves entirely ruined if once the Romans got into the temple, as did the Romans look upon the same thing as the beginning of their entire conquest.-So a terrible battle was fought at the entrance of the temple, while the Romans were forcing their way, in order to get possession of that temple, and the Jews were driving them back to the tower of Antonia ; in which battle, the darts were on both sides useless, as well as the spears, and both sides

drew their swords, and fought it out hand to hand. Now, during this struggle, the positions of the men were undistinguished on both sides, and they fought at random, the men being intermixed one with another, and confounded, by reason of the narrowness of the place; while the noise that was made fell on the ear after an indistinct manner, because it was so very loud. Great slaughter was now made on both sides, and the combatants trode upon the bodies, and the armour of those that were dead, and dashed them to pieces. Accordingly, to which side soever tha battle inclined, those that had the advantage exhorted one another to go on, as did those that were beaten make great lamentation. But still there was no room for flight, nor for pursuit, but disorderly revolutions and retreats, while the armies were intermixed one with another ; but those that were in the first ranks were under the necessity of killing or being killed, without any way for escaping; for those on both sides that came hehind, forced those before them to go on without leaving any space between the armies. At length, the Jews' violent zeal was too hard for the Roman skill, and the battle already inclined entirely that way; for the fight had lasted from the ninth hour of the night, till the seventh hour of the day, while the Jews came on in crowds, and had the danger the temple was in for their motive; the Romans having no more here than a part of their army; for those legions on which the soldiers on that side depended, had not come up to them. So it was at present thought sufficient by the Romans to take possession of the tower of Antonia.

8. But there was one Julian, a centurion, that came from Bithynia, a man he was of great reputation, whom I had formerly seen in that war, and one of the highest fame, both for his skill in war, his strength of body, and the courage of his soul. This man, seeing the Romans giving ground, and in a sad condition, for he stood by Titus at the tower of Antonia, leaped out, and of himself alone put the Jews to fight, when they were already conquerors, and made them retire as far as the corner of the inner court of the temple : from him the multitude fled away in crowds, as supposing that neither his strength por his violent attacks could be those of a mere man. Accordingly he rushed through the midst of the Jews, as they were dispersed all abroad, and killed those that he caught. Nor indeed was *

« PreviousContinue »