« PreviousContinue »
when you are at the conclusion of your victory, and are assisted by God himself. For as to our misfortunes, they have been owing to the madness of the Jews : while their sufferings have been owing to your valour, and to the assistance God hath afforded you. For as to the seditions they have been in, the famine they are under, the siege they now endure, and the fall of their walls without our engines, what can they all be but demonstrations of God's anger against them, and of bis assistance afforded us? It will not, therefore, be proper for you either to show yourselves inferior to those to whom you are really superior; or to betray that divine assistance which is afforded you. And, indeed, how can it be esteemed otherwise than a base and unworthy thing, that while the Jews, who need not be much ashamed if they be deserted, because they have long learned to be slaves to others, do yet despise death, that they may be su 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 almost all the world that belongs to either land or sea, to whom it would 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 idle, with such brave arms as we have, and only wait till the famine and fortune do our husiness 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 Antonia, 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 us no less than a certain and sudden victory. As for myself, I shall at present wave any commendations of those twho die in war; and omit to speak of the immortality of those men who are slain in the midst of their martial bravery. 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 are 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 bodies in battle by the sword, are received by the æther, that purest of elements, and joined to that company which are placed among the stars; that they become good dæmons, and propitious heroes; and show themselves as such to their posterity afterward: While upon those souls that wear away in and with their distempered bodies, comes a subterranean night, to dissolve them to nothing, and a deep oblivion to take away all 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 hạth determined that death is to come of necessity upon all men, a sword is a better instrument for that purpose than 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 I have made upon the supposition that those who first attempt to go up this wall, must needs be killed in the attempt: though still men of true courage have a chance to escape, even in the most hazardous undertakings. 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, exert yourselves, and set about this work; and do you mutually encourage and assist one another : and this your bravery will soon break the hearts of your enemies. And perhaps such a glorious undertaking as yours may be accomplished withoạt bloodshed. For although it be justly to be supposed that the Jews will try to hinder you at your first beginning to go up to them; yet when you have once concealed yourselves from them, and driven them
1 * 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 else where speaks also. See VI. 2.
† In this speech of Titus's we may clearly see the notions which the Romans then had of death, and of the happy state of those who died bravely in war: and the contrary of those who died ignobly in their beds by sickness. Reland here also produces parallel passages : the one out of Ammianus Marcellinus, concerning the Alani, two lib, xxxi. that " They judged that man happy, who laid down his life in battle.” The
other of Valerius Maximus, ib. xi. c. 6. who says, that)" The Cimbri and Celtiberi exulted for joy in the army, as being to go out of the world gloriously and happily." VOL. Ir,
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 a one escape with his life, he shall have the command of others that are now but his equals : although it be true also, that the greatest rewards will accrue to such as die in the attempt.”
Upon this speech of Titus's, the rest of the multitude were affrighted 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 mental courage he had exhibited. 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 fleshi was lean, and thin, and lay close together. But there was a certain heroic soul that dwelt in this small body. Accordingly he rose up, and spake to this effect :-"I readily surrender up myself to thee, O Cæsar. I first ascend the wall. And I beartily wish that thy fortune may follow my courage and resolution. And if some ill fortune grudge me the success of my undertaking, take notice, that my ill success will not be unexpected; 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 bim eleven others, and no more, that resolved to imitate his bravery. But still this man 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 darls upon them from evey 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 upon the top of the wall, and put the enemy to flight. For as the Jews were astonished at his great strength, and the bravery of his soul : and as
they imagined more of the Romans had gotten upon the wall than really had, they were put to fight. 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 he had just obtained his purpose : for he then stumbled at a certain large stone, and fell down upon it headlong, with a very great noise. Upon this the Jewis turned back ; and when they saw him to be alone, and fallen down, 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, till at length he was quite covered over with darts, before he expired. 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, or Tamuz.
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 this the rest of the guard got up on the sudden, and ran away, 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,
* Signals of various kinds have ever been in use among soldiers. They serve to direct an army in circumstances which render it impossible for the instructions ofthe commander to be otherwise conveyed to the soldiers. B.
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 Aeeing away to the temple, they fell into that mine which John had tdug under the Roman banks. Then did the seditious of both the bodies of the Jewish army, 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 band to hand. Now during this struggle, the positions of the men were undistinguished on both sides, and they fought at random : 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 trod upon the bodies, and the armour of those that were dead, and dashed them to pieces. Accordingly, to which side soever the 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 fight, nor for pursuit, but disorderly evolutions 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 behind, 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;
+ See Book V. chap. 11..