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cured in the castle of Alexandrion, with a strong guard under the command of Sohemus, to whom he gave the like kind of order he had before left with his uncle Joseph; namely, that if any violence was offered to his person by Cæsar, he should immediately put the women to death, and use his utmost endeavors that his brother
Herod, having given these, and some other directions, respecting what he would have done in his absence, left Jerusalem, and proceeded with all expedition to wait on Cæsar who was at this time at Rhodes. On his arrival at that city, he immediately made application for being per. mitted to an audience of the emperor, which being grant. ed, before he entered into his presence he laid aside bis diadem, but did not disrobe himself of any other part of his dress that was an ensign of royalty. As soon as he saw Cæsar, disdaining to make needless apologies and idle excuses for what he had to say, he boldly delivered his sentiments to him in words to this effect:
66 Illustrious Cæsar (said he) I wait vot upon you to 6 disavow the sincerity of a friendship I have always en. “ tertained for Antony; and I must be free enough to 6 declare, that if it had been in my power to have made “ him master of the world, he had not wanted that distin« guished station. I acknowledge, great prince! that I “ am indebted to Antony for the regal state I at present 66 enjoy; and had not my duty called me against the 66 Arabians, I would have manifested my gratitude by “ being personally with him in the last battle. I did, 6 however, my utmost to serve him, by supplying him " with soldiers, provisions and money. Notwithstanding " the unfortunate event at Actiam, I still entertained for “ Antony the greatest warmth of friendship, and venerated 6 him as a generous patron. Though I could not attend 6 him in person, yet I gave him such advice that, had he “ pursued it, would have been of the most material ad“i vantage. I urged him to abandon Cleopatra, telling có him that while his connection with her subsisted he 66 would be in continual danger; but he chose to proceed 6 in another mode, and has promoted your interest rather có than his own, for want of an exertion of that prudence
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which his situation demanded. Now though you may « have conceived the less favorably of me, because I at66 tached myself to the interest of Antony, at a time when 66 you was his professed enemy, yet I shall not, on that “ account, hesitate to make known and defend the ser. « vices I have done him, and the perfect esteem I have 66 ever had for him. If you will, for a moment, advert to “ his rank, and the friendship. I bore him, without retroti spect to the peculiarities of his situation, I conceive that “ you will see so much of gratitude and good faith in my 66 conduct, that you may think the acceptance of my 6 friendship worthy your notice; for the dignity of my 6 character will suffer no alteration whether I vow this “ friendship to Cæsar or to Antony."
Herod delivered this speech with such an air of magnanimity, and accompanied it with so graceful an action, that Cæsar, who possessed a natural greatness and be nevolence of disposition, was most wonderfully charmed with it. He treated Herod with particular marks of generosity and regard, directed him to re-assume his crown, and continue to be as sincere a friend to him in future, as he had before been to Antony. “ Preserve (said he) the 6 sovereignty which you have hitherto enjoyed with so “ much honor, and still be happy. Rest assured that 6 your crown shall be more safely secured to you; for 6 the man who is capable of such exalted friendship, must “ necessarily be qualified for the sovereign authority. 6 Let your friendship for the successful be as steady as it 66 has been to the unfortunate; and from the natural dig. “ nity of your mind I shall promise myself great advan“ tages. I can scarcely censure Antony for rejecting your 6 counsel respecting Cleopatra, since it is to that act of “ imprudence that I am indebted for my late successes. 66 Be happy in the assurance that you shall be confirmed “in the possession of your kingdom; and that my friend. 66 ship will amply compensate for your unhappiness on 66 account of the fate of Antony."
These generous expressions of Cæsar were immediately followed by the most substantial effects; for, putting the crown on Herod's head, he confirmed him in the sovereignty of Judea, the possession of which was farther
secured to him by a decree of the senate. This very singular favor, which was granted to Herod through the immediate influence of Cæsar, was a circumstance that gave him equal surprize and joy, it being a favor that far ex. ceeded his most sanguine expectations.
Herod, having thus obtained the favor and interest of the greatest monarch then on earth, returned to Judea, loaded with honor and power. The Jews, on his departure, had considered him as a ruined man, and they were now so astonished at his returning with a greater degree of reputation and splendor than that with which he had left them, that they looked upon him as one whom Providence protected in a peculiar manner, and turned to his advantage all those circumstances which appeared to lead him only into disgrace and danger.
The satisfaction which Herod felt in consequence of his very great success in his late expedition, was greatly eclipsed by the disturbances he found among his own family on his arrival at Jerusalem. Mariamne, his beloved wife, as well as his mother in-law, had been very unhappy on account of the situation in which he had left them at his departure, considering themselves rather as • prisoners in the castle of Alexandrion (which was really
the case) than being lodged there for the security of their persons. Mariamne's mind was filled with the idea that the whole of Herod's professions of regard to her had no farther views than the consulting of his own convenience. The sanguinary tendency of the orders which Herod had before given to his uncle Joseph engrossed all her attention, and being apprehensive that he might have left the like orders with Sohemus, she tried various means to discover if her suspicions were justly founded. For some time Sohemus remained true to his trust, but on Mariamne's treating bim with great complaisance, and presenting him with several very valuable articles, be began to recede by degrees, and at length discovered the whole secret with which Herod had entrusted him.
Mariamne was so shocked with these conditional orders, which her husband had repeatedly given respecto ing her, that she conceived the greatest antipathy against him; and such was the horror and dread of her mind at the thoughts of living with a man who could entertain such sentiments, that she made it the subject of her daily prayers that he might never return to her alive: and, at a
her sentiments any longer, she acknowledged this circumstance in the most open and explicit manner.
As soon as Herod returned from Cæsar, he immediately repaired to his beloved wife Mariamne, and delivered to her the happy tidings of his success, at the same time embracing her with the most tender affection. But while he was relating the circumstances of events which he thought would afford her the greatest satisfaction, she looked about her with an air of the most perfect indifference, without paying the least kind of attention to his narrative. She was, in fact, perfectly unreserved in her neglect; and being a woman who prided herself in acting without disguise, she took no pains to assume a look foreign from her heart, but gave Herod the opportunity of reading in her countenance that his good news and endearments af. forded her much more pain than satisfaction.
This apparent aversion in Mariamne tortured the mind of Herod, who, partly through the indignation he felt at finding his love rejected, and partly through his confusion from the transports of his rage, was, for a time, almost distracted. He saw not how to gratify his love without offering violence to bis resentment; and at the same time he dreaded giving a scope to his vengeance more than the opposite extreme, for he felt a principle of self-love in his breast, which told him, that should he take vengeance on his wife, the most unhappy consequences would arise to himself, when future experience should convince him that life was not to be supported without the endear. ments of her conversation.
This restless anxiety of Herod's mind leaving him in doubt how he should conduct himself with regard to Mariamne, his mother and sister Salome thought this a fit opportunity of increasing the difference between them, by doing all kinds of ill offices, and propagating every species of calumny that might tend to promote that hatred which was already growing apace in the breast of Herod. In consequence of this, Herod became daily more and
more discontented in his mind, and behaved with a greater degree of severity to his wife. On the contrary, Mariamne took not the least pains to disguise the discontent which rankled in her heart; so that the violent regard that Herod had entertained for her, was, by degrees, converted to the utmost rancor and hatred, and it is proba. ble she might have fallen an immediate sacrifice to his resentment had it not been for the following unexpected incidents.
Just at this juncture Herod received intelligence of the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra, and that Egypt was then in the possession of Cæsar. On the receipt of this information, Herod lost not a moment in repairing to his patron, leaving his family in the greatest disorder, and once more committing Mariamne to the care of Sohemus, to whom he had made some acknowledgments for his former services.
When Herod arrived in Egypt, he was received by Cæsar with the greatest respect and kindness; and haying, in his return, accompanied him to Antioch, he so far ingratiated himself with Cæsar on the way, that he granted him several places in augmentation of his dominions, and, for ever after, of all the tributary princes in the Roman empire, gave him the first place in his favor.
But how prosperous soever Herod was in his affairs abroad, on his return be found nothing but trouble and vexation at home. Mariamne still retained her resentment for the cruel commission given to Sohemus; so that when Herod offered her his caresses she not only rejected them with the utmost aversion, but reproached him in the most bitter terms, for the deaths of her relations, which enraged Herod to such a degree that he could hardly forbear laying violent hands on her. This fit of rage Salome (the sister of Herod and most implacable enemy to Mariamne) took the advantage of, and sent in the king's butler (whom she had before suborned for the purpose) to accuse the queen of having tempted him to give him poison. Herod had heretofore met with sufficient cause of vexation; but the astonishment with which he was struck at this information drove him to the very verge