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of distraction. As soon as he had a little recovered himself, he ordered Mariamne's favorite eunuch (without whose privity he knew she would not do any thing that was of a material nature) to be put to the torture. Obedience being paid to this order, the eunuch was strictly questioned; but nothing could be extorted from him till, in the extremity of his anguish, he dropped some words, intimating, that the uneasiness of Mariamne arose from something that had been communicated to her by So. hemus. The sufferer had hardly pronounced these words, when Herod burst into the most passionate exclamation, declaring that “ Sohemus, who had hitherto been so 6 loyal a subject, and approved himself so true a friend “ both to his king and country, never could have betrayed " a secret of so important a nature as that with which he
when Heroue sufferer had harmmunicated to
6 miliarities with Mariamne." He therefore gave immediate orders that Sohemus should be put to death; having done which he directed that his wife should be summoned to take her trial before à court of justice, and appointed for her judges a number of persons devoted to his will.
When the day of her trial arrived, the charge exhibited against her was, having conspired to poison the king. Herod was more violent against her, both by his words and actions, than was consistent with the conduct of any man in a court of justice, and the judges, observing the disposition of the king, followed his example, and Mariamne was pronounced guilty of the charge exhibited against ber. Herod, however, relenting of bis conduct, observed that it would be more prudent to spare her life, and detain her in prison, than put her to death; which proposition was approved of not only by the judges, but the greater part of the assembly. But this was over-ruled by Salome and her adherents, who were violent to the most extreme degree in their exclamations for immediate justice; and in consequence of what they urged, that a revolt would happen among the people if the queen's life was spared, Herod was prevailed on to agree to her execution, and a day was accordingly appointed for the tragical scene,
As soon as Alexandra found to what extremity the proceedings against her daughter had been carried, she had every reason to apprehend that her own life was in danger. In order, therefore, to avoid the dreadful consequence, she descended to a conduct that was altogether derogatory to the dignity of her character. Her fears at this juncture induced her to go such lengths, and she was so desirous of not being thought to have combined with her daughter, that she sought every opportunity of traducing her character, representing ber as the most base and ungrateful of women, and extolling the justice of that sentence which had doomed her to death for conspiring the destruction of a husband to whose tenderness she lay under such unbounded obligations.
Alexandra carried this hypocritical behavior to such a degree that she became universally despised, as one who could condescend to insult her daughter during the ex. tremity of her misfortunes; but Mariamne, even while she was conducting to the place of execution, spoke not a word in answer to all she had heard of her mother's unnatural behavior, though her countenance testified the sense she entertained of the shameful part that her mother had acted. In short, Mariamne maintained her spirits with the greatest degree of firmness and constancy, not exhibiting, even by the change of her complexion, that she was in the least terrified at the thoughts of approaching death. In a word, she died in the same manner she had lived, a pattern of courage, disdaining fear, and proving herself capable of sustaining the most severe trials*.
• The character Josephus gives of this amiable princess is to the following effect: “ She was (says he) a woman who would have been (6 superior to all her sex, but that she had too great a mixture of 6 passion and pride in her disposition. Her beauty was so great, the “ graces of her person so extraordinary, and the charms of her con6 versation so singular, as not simply to render her superior to all 66 other women, but so much so, as not to admit of any degree of com“parison. Now these super-eminent gifts and qualifications tended “ in a great degree to the advancement of her misfortunes, by oc“casioning the unhappy life she led with her husband. He was en* amored of her beyond all description: he neither opposed her will “ nor denied her any thing, but permitted her to do what she pleased, After the death of Mariamne, the passion which Herod hail entertained for her in her life-time displayed itself with redoubled violence. When he came to reflect upon the sentence which he had ordered to be carried into exe. cution, he broke out into the strangest and most unmanly exclamations, frequently repeating the name of Mari. amne, and saying, that her blood cried aloud for vengeance. The agonies of his mind encreased to such a degree that he sought to divert his melancholy by drinking, feasting, keeping much company, and a variety of other entertainments; but all these endeavors proved fruitless, and instead of finding any relief he grew delirious, talked in a raving manner, and, while the fits of phrenzy were on him, would frequently call for Mari. amne, and direct that she should be brought before him.*
Herod's disorder daily increasing on him, he retired to a private country seat near Samaria, hoping that the difference of air, and being detached from the noise of the court, might do him some service. Before, however, he had been long in this retreat, he was attacked with an illness much more violent than the former, and attended with such a racking pain and inflammation in the head, that he was not master of his own conduct. The prescriptions applied for his relief were found to do him more injury than service, so that his case was considered as no other than hopeless. The difficulties that arose in the attempt to conquer this disease, the peculiar situation of the patient, and the impossibility of relieving him in
6 and indulged her in every gratification she chose. This, perhaps, “ might give rise to those frequent and inconsiderate reproaches 6 which she cast upon Herod, without reflecting that she was there6 by destroying her own happiness : for by this kind of conduct she “ rendered herself obnoxious to the mother and sister of her hus“ band, and finally to himself, whose affection she conceived to be “ so excessive, that it could not, by any circumstance whatever, be “ alienated, more especially to such a degree as to affect her life.”
* While llerod was in this distracted state a most dreadful plague broke out in Jerusalemn, which raced with such prodigious violence, that persons of all ranks and degrees fell sacrifices to its rigor, and many thousands were taken off in a very short space of time. This dreadful calamity was universally considered by the people as a just judgment consequent ou the murder of the unfortunate and innocent Mariamne.
the regular way, being considered, the physicians reflected that it would be in vain to interpose their advice any longer, and therefore left him entirely to his own manage
that he might be gratified in every thing he desired.
The wretched situation of Herod being made known to Alexandra, who was then at Jerusalem, she, after reflecting on the circumstance, began to consider whether or not it might be possible for her to obtain possession of some of the strong fortresses about Jerusalem. She was particularly desirous of becoming mistress of two above the rest, one of which was situated in the city, and the other close adjoining to the temple, being assured that the people must be altogether at the mercy of the party who should be in possession of those two towers. In order to accomplish her design, she made application to the governors of these respective fortresses, whom she addressed in words to this effect: “ I need not (said she) “ inform you of the very deplorable state of the king's 66 health; wherefore I entreat you that the two fortresses 66 may be given up to the possession of the mother of the 6 king's wife and the children of Herod and Mariamne, 66 lest, in case of his death, a different family should suc66 ceed to the throne; and even if the king should recover, 66 the hands of his nearest relations are those in which 65 the government may with most safety be trusted."
The governors (one of whom was named Achiab, and nephew to Herod) partly from a sense of their duty, but chiefly from an enmity they had to Alexandra, refused to acknowledge the force of her arguments for delivering up the towers, telling her it would ill become them to make a kind of prejudication of the king's life, for whom, during many years, they had entertained the most perfect friendship and loyalty. No sooner was their conversation ended, than Achiab immediately repaired to his uncle, and gave him a particular account of the proposal that had been made by Alexandra. Herod, who was at this time much recovered from his illness, was enraged to the highest degree, and without admitting Alexandra into his presence, or suffering her to say any thing in her own defence, sent immediate orders that she should be put to
VOL. iii. . S
death. These orders were accordingly executed, and thus did Alexandra nieet with a just punishment for the perfidy and baseness with which she had treated her own daughter in the height of her misfortunes.
Soon after this, Herod quite recovered of his illness, but it produced a very strange and singular alteration both in his body and mind, particularly the latter. His disposition was totally altered, and he became so extravagantly cruel and ferocious, that the least trifle that ruffled his temper incited him to acts of singular barbarity, and either friends or foes were equally the objects of bis vengeance.
Herod had two sons by his wife Mariamne, the one named Alexander, and the other Aristobulus, both of whom he sent to Rome for the benefit of their education. These two youths, on their return home, (which was soon after Herod had recovered from his illness) fell under their father's displeasure by the arts of the very same people who had been the cause of their mother's death. They unwarily let fall some rash words expressive of their resentment at their mother's hard usage, with threats of revenge upon those who had been the authors of it. All this was carried to their father, with such malicious glosses and comments on it as made bim believe that they were hatching ill designs against his person. He was naturally of a jealous temper, and this was so improved by the artifices of Pheroras and Salome, his brother and sister, that he resolved to inflict some severe punishment on his two sons, and for that purpose had them seized, and placed under confinement.
But before Herod took any step towards executing his design upon his sons, he thought proper to write a letter to Cæsar, in which he told him of their undutiful behavior, that they had laid a plot against his life, and designed to have made an escape out of his dominions; and therefore begged he would be pleased to give him advice in what manner he should act on the occasion.
The advice Cæsar gave Herod, was to call together a council at Berytus, in Phænicia, and enquirein to the nature of the offence bis sons had committed. This Herod accordingly did; but when he came into the assembly, which consisted of an hundred and fifty persons whom