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Hereupon, they immediately sent to Terentius Rufus, who at that time had the command; and he soon discovered who Simon was, ordered him to be immediately put in chains, and then related all the particulars of the affair to Titus.
Simon was presented to Titus bound in chains: whereupon he gave orders that he should be detained a prisoner to grace his triumphant entry into Rome. Some short time after his arrival, he appointed a day for the celebration of the nativity of his brother Domitian with the utmost grandeur and magnificence: on this occasion, a great number of condemned persons were sacrificed to the splendor of the ceremony; for of those who were destroyed by beasts, by fire, or in combats with each other, it was calculated that not less than two thousand five hundred perished; yet such was the inveteracy of the Romans against the Jews, that they thought even this number_too small.
Some time after this, Titus went to Berytus, a city of Phoenicia, and one of the Roman colonies. In this place he continued some time, and there celebrated the anniversary of the birth of his father Vespasian, even with a greater degree of pomp and splendor than he had done that of his brother, both with respect to the article of expence, and the public shews exhibited.
From Berytus, Titus proceeded to Antioch, where he rejected some frivolous accusations which were brought by the citizens against the Jews. Thence he continued his journey to Egypt, and embarked at Alexandria for Rome, having previously to his embarkation dispatched the two legions that had attended him to their former stations, that is, the fifth was sent to Mysia, and the tenth to Hungary. Simon and John, with seven hundred of the most comely of the prisoners, were ordered to be sent into Italy, that they might dignify the triumph of Titus on his entry into Rome.
Titus had a most favourable and agreeable voyage, and was received with as great honour and respect as his father had been before him; and, exclusive of this general respect from the people, Vespasian went out in person to meet and congratulate him; a circumstance highly grateful to the public, who now beheld the father and his two sons meeting together in circumstances of the most auspicious nature.
In a short time after this, the senate passed a decree for two separate triumphs, the one in honour of the father, the other in that of the son; but notwithstanding this determination, Vespasian and Titus resolved that the solemnity to their mutual honour should be jointly celebrated. When the day was fixed on which it was to take place, there was hardly a single person in the city who did not attend as a spectator; so that when the whole multitude was assembled together, there was scarcely room enough left for the emperor and his son to pass. Before the break of day, the soldiers marched to the palace gates, near the temple of Isis, in regular order, preceded by their officers, to wait the arrival of the princes, who had lodged the preceding night in the temple above mentioned. Soon after the dawn of the morning, Vespasian and Titus came forward, being clothed in purple robes, according to the custom of their country, and having on their heads crowns of laurel. They proceeded to the Octavian walks, at which place the senate, nobility, and knights of Rome, waited for their arrival. Before the portal, there was erected a tribunal, on which they ascended, and reposed themselves on scats of ivory, which had been placed there on the occasion; and being thus situated, orations were made in their praise, while the surrounding multitudes testified their joy by the loudest acclamations. On this occasion, the princes wore no arms; and while the orators were rapidly declaiming in their praise, Vespasian made a signal for silence, which being strictly obeyed by every person present, he stood up; and having thrown his robe over a part of his head, he offered up certain prayers agreeable to the custom on such occasions; and in this Titus followed his example.
This being done, Vespasian addressed the company in a concise speech, and then dismissed the military people to regale themselves at his expence. In the next place. Vespasian and Titus proceeded to the triumphal gate, which received its name on account of the grand procession passing that way. Here they took some refreshment ; and, being then arrayed in their triumphal habiliments, they offered up sacrifices at the gate, and then proceeded in great pomp and solemnity through the midst of the crowd, that all the people might be gratified by a sight of them.
It is impossible for language to convey any adequate idea of the splendor and magnificence of this public exhibition, whether the expence and contrivance of it, or the novelty of its ornaments be considered. On this occasion, all the most valuable curiosities which the Roman nation had been collecting through a long succession of ages were combined to furnish the splendid triumph of one day, and displayed as a monument of the national grandeur. So great a number of curious performances in gold, silver, and ivory, equally valuable for their cost and their admirable contexture, were now exhibited to the public view, that they seemed rather a confusion than a regular display of riches. There likewise appeared such an amazing variety of purple garments and Babylonian embroideries, together with jewels and other stones of great value, which were disposed into the forms of crowns, and other devices, that what used to be accounted curious was now no longer deemed so. Images of the gods of the Romans were carried : procession, which were extraordinary for their size and constructure; and besides these, there were resemblances of various sorts of living creatures, which were dressed so as to answer their characters.
A great number of people dressed in cloth of gold and purple carried these pageants through the streets; aud they who were more immediately appointed to attend the pompous train were habited in garments of a singularly splendid appearance. Even the very prisoners that made a part of the train were dressed with unusual decency, to hide the misery of their condition, and conceal the marks of slavery that appeared in their countenances but in all the procession, nothing was so extraordinary as the carrying of the machines, many of them were three or four stories in height, so that it is astonishing how the bearers could support them. The expence of these was propor tioned to the contrivance of them; for the furniture and hangings were embroidered with gold, ivory, and other things of high value.
In the procession were likewise the most lively and picturesque representations of war and all its attendant circumstances. In one place was to be seen the appearance of a fruitful country totally laid waste; in another, the destruction of armies; some being killed, some flying, and others taken prisoners there were the resemblances of walls levelled with the ground, forts destroyed, fortified cities entered through breaches, towns taken by surprize, and streets streaming with blood, while the vanquished were imploring for mercy. Houses appeared to be falling on the heads of their owners, while temples were apparently in flames, and rivers found their course through the conflagrations instead of supplying water to man and beast, and refreshing the fields and meadows with their streams. Nor was this any other than an admirable representation of the sufferings of the Jews, so finely contrived by the ingenuity of art, that to those who were acquainted with the fate of Jerusalem, it might seem to be a well told story of the destruction of that celebrated city.
On each of the pageants was a representation of the manner in which some town of city was taken, with a figure of the governor of the place. To these succeeded a view of the shipping, and then were exhibited the spoils that were taken in various places, of which the most considerable were the golden table and the golden candlestick which were found in the temple at Jerusalem. The first of these weighed several talents,
and the latter was never applied to the use for which it had been designed. This candlestick consisted of a large foot, from which there ascended a sort of pillar, and from that pillar, as from the body of a tree, there arose seven branches, the top of each branch resembling a lamp; and the number was seven, in reference to the esteem in which the seventh day is held by the Jews. The next, and indeed the last trophy exhibited of the conquest which the Romans had made, was the code of Jewish laws, which was followed by figures of ivory and gold, intended as an emblematical representation of victory; and the procession was closed by Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, all mounted on fine horses elegantly caparisoned, and appearing with a dignity becoming their high rank; and in this splendid manner they proceeded together to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and thus put an end to the procession.
When they had arrived at the temple, they remained there for a short time, in conformity to an antient custom, which rendered it necessary that they should stay in that place till they received advice of the death of the general who had commanded the army of the enemy. The general on the present occasion was Simon Gioras (who had been led in triumph through the streets) round whose neck a rope being fixed, he was drawn through the market-place, those who drew him putting him to death, agreeable to the laws and usages of the Romans in the case of notorious offenders. Intelligence being brought that Simon was dead, the very air was rent with the shouts and acclamations of the multitude.
The people then offered up vows and sacrifices; and this solemn business being discharged, Vespasian and his sons returned to the palace, where they gave a most magnificent entertainment on the occasion. Indeed the whole city exhibited one general scene of joy and festivity, and public thanks were every where offered for the final victory which had now been obtained over their enemies; a victory which seemed to promise a lasting tranquillity, while it redounded to the immortal honour of the heroes who had acquired it.
As soon as the triumphs were ended, and the peace of the empire was secured, Vespasian caused a temple to be erected and dedicated to Peace. This edifice was remarkable for its richness and elegance, and still more so for the short space of time in which it was constructed. It was adorned with a great abundance of curious pieces of painting and sculpture, which had been collected at an immense expence; and it was, on the whole, so magnificent and elegant a building, that persons came from all parts of the world to obtain a sight of it. The golden table and the candlestick, as articles of inestimable value, Vespasian caused to be placed in this temple. With regard to the code of Jewish laws, and the purple vestments of the sanctuary, they were deposited with the utmost care in the royal palace.
The emperor having granted a commission to Lucilius Bassus, appointing him to be lieutenant-general of Judea, he thereupon succeeded Cerealis Petilianus in the command of the army, and soon rendered himself master of the castle of Herodion by treaty. This being done, he collected his troops which were stationed in different parts of the country, proposing, by the assistance of the tenth legion, to reduce Macheras, as a work of indispensible necessity, since that place was so remarkably strong, that it was a kind of incitement to acts of rebellion; and its situation was such as to inspire those in possession of it with fresh courage, though, on the other hand, it was calculated to repress the ardour of an assailant.
Macheras is situated on a mountain of immense height, and is of so strong a nature, that it is rendered almost impregnable. It is likewise, in a manner, inaccessible; for mature has surrounded it with vallies that are almost impassible and cannot be filled up.
These vallies are of such a depth as not to be surveyed from the mountain without horror. The mountain stretches sixty furlongs to the west, and approaches almost close to the lake Asphaltites, and the castle commands a very extensive view of the district on that side. To the north and south the vallies are very extensive, and appear to be equally well calculated for the defence of the place. On the east, the depth of the valley is not less than a hundred cubits; and opposite Machæras is a mountain to which this valley extends. This place was originally fortified by Alexander, king of the Jews, who built a castle on it but this castle was afterwards destroyed by Gabinius, when he made war on Aristobulus: but Herod the Great, thinking this mountain well worthy of his attention, particularly in case of any dispute with the Arabians, who were remarkably well situated to annoy him, he caused a strong wall, fortified with turrets, to be built round it, and erected a handsome city, in which he placed a colony of inhabitants; and from the city he made a passage up to the castle. Round the castle, at the top, he built another wall, at the angles of which were turrets sixty cubits in height; and, in the midst of the inclosure, he caused a large and elegant palace to be erected, which was supplied with water from a variety of cisterns; so that the situation and conveniences of this place seemed to have arisen from a happy conjunction of nature and art, each contributing in a liberal manner to its improvement. Herod likewise deposited in the castle an immense store of military arms, engines, arrows, &c.; and stocked it with a great quantity and variety of provisions; so that there could be little danger of the garrison being reduced either by famine or force.
When Bassus had taken a careful survey of Machæras, he came to a determination to besiege the place; and, for this purpose, he intended to have filled up the valley to the eastward of the town, and to make his approach from that quarter. His first proceeding was to throw up a mount opposite the castle with all possible expedition, as the readiest way to ensure his success. The Jews, who were natives of the city, now divided themselves from those who were strangers, whom they dismissed as persons who were unworthy a connection 'with them, and sent them into the lower town to sustain the first shock, themselves taking possession of the castle, which, from its strength, they thought would be the most defensible, and a place from which, in case of necessity, it was probable that they might make the best terms with the Romans. In the mean time, they exerted their utmost industry to repel the attacks of the besiegers. There was not a day passed in which the Jews did not sally forth in a determined manner, when violent skirmishes ensued, and both parties lost a considerable number of men, The advantage lay sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other; the Jews being successful when they attacked the Romans by surprize, and the latter being the victors when they were properly advised of the advance of the enemy, and had time to prepare for their reception. But it appeared evident that the siege was not to end in this manner, since a most singular accident reduced the Jews to the disagreeable necessity of surrendering the castle.
In Macharas there was a young man of a spirit remarkably bold, daring, and enterprizing. His name was Eleazer, and he exerted himself in a very extraordinary manner, both by advice and example, to check the progress of the Romans, and encourage his countrymen to oppose their proceedings. This Eleazer frequently sallied forth in a most determined manner, and was constantly the first man to begin an encounter, and the last to retreat when retreat became absolutely necessary. Now it happened, after the conclusion of a skirmish, on a particular day, when both parties were retired, that Eleazer determined to evince his utter contempt of danger; and to prove that he
was incapable of fearing any man, stopped without the gate of the city, and entered into an idle conversation with some of the Jews that were on the walls, seeming to pay no kind of regard to any thing that might pass around him.
Eleazer being now within view of the Romans in their encampment, an Egyptian soldier, named Rufus, took an opportunity to run to him unnoticed, and, seizing him with all his accoutrements, conveyed him to the enemy. The prisoner was no sooner brought, than Bassus directed that he should be stripped, laid on the ground, and publicly whipped within view of those in the city. The distressful situation of this youth afflicted the Jews to such a degree, that the generality of them burst into tears, and lamented his unhappy fate. Bassus finding how exceedingly concerned the people in general were for the misfortunes of this one man, a thought struck him that he hoped to improve it to his advantage; for he conceived that if he could but increase the ardour of their passions, they might be induced to purchase the life of Eleazer by a surrender of the place. The scheme succeeded to the height of his expectation: a cross was erected, on which it seemed to appear that Eleazer was to be immediately crucified; but no sooner was this cross fixed, than the whole garrison exclaimed, as with one voice, that they could no longer bear their sufferings. Immediately hereupon, Eleazer intreated them to consider their own situation, and that of himself, who was sentenced to an ignominious death; and conjured them to desist from conteuding against the superior courage and success of the Romans, to whose dominion all the world had submitted.
Eleazer being of a distinguished family, and having many friends and relations in the castle, their interest was exerted in support of his earnest supplication; so that, in the end, the besieged, compassionating his case in a high degree, dispatched deputies to the Romans, who were commissioned to offer the surrender of the castle on the condition that Eleazer's life and liberty should be granted him, and that the garrison should be permitted to dispose of themselves as they thought proper.
Bassus readily consented to these terms: but the people in the lower town, enraged to think that they had not been consulted before the agreement was made, determined to secure themselves by privately retreating in the night. Those who were in the castle gave notice of this to Bassus as soon as the gates were opened, partly lest themselves should be suspected to have been concerned in the plot, and partly through envy of their associates. Hereupon Bassus attacked them; but the most gallant of those who first got out made their escape, while the rest, in number no fewer than seventeen hundred, were slain, and their wives and children made slaves. Notwithstanding the abovementioned circumstance, Bassus gave Eleazer his liberty, and dismissed the garrison agreeably to his contract.
The transactions above mentioned being at an end, and Bassus having received information that great numbers of the Jews who had effected their escape during the sieges of Jerusalem and Machæras, had assembled together and retired to the forest of Jardus, he marched with his army immediately to that place; and, on his arrival, found that the intelligence which had been brought him was true: wherefore he issued orders that his cavalry should instantly surround the whole wood, which were so punctually obeyed, that not a single Jew could make his escape. In the mean time, the infantry were employed to cut down the trees and bushes which formed those thickets under which the Jews had taken shelter; so that by this means they were deprived of all possibility of concealment, and had no hopes of safety but in cutting their way through the forces of the enemy. Being reduced to the alternative of perishing or taking this desperate step, they united in a body, and made a violent attack on those who surrounded them, who received the assault with the utmost bravery.