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- The Antiquities of the Jews - 200/253 -


happened a good while later.

7. Now Agrippa stood in his bonds before the royal palace, and leaned on a certain tree for grief, with many others,. who were in bonds also; and as a certain bird sat upon the tree on which Agrippa leaned, (the Romans call this bird bubo,) [an owl,] one of those that were bound, a German by nation, saw him, and asked a soldier who that man in purple was; and when he was informed that his name was Agrippa, and that he was by nation a Jew, and one of the principal men of that nation, he asked leave of the soldier to whom he was bound, (22) to let him come nearer to him, to speak with him; for that he had a mind to inquire of him about some things relating to his country; which liberty, when he had obtained, and as he stood near him, he said thus to him by an interpreter: "This sudden change of thy condition, O young man! is grievous to thee, as bringing on thee a manifold and very great adversity; nor wilt thou believe me, when I foretell how thou wilt get clear of this misery which thou art now under, and how Divine Providence will provide for thee. Know therefore (and I appeal to my own country gods, as well as to the gods of this place, who have awarded these bonds to us) that all I am going to say about thy concerns shall neither be said for favor nor bribery, nor out of an endeavor to make thee cheerful without cause; for such predictions, when they come to fail, make the grief at last, and in earnest, more bitter than if the party had never heard of any such thing. However, though I run the hazard of my own self, I think it fit to declare to thee the prediction of the gods. It cannot be that thou shouldst long continue in these bonds; but thou wilt soon be delivered from them, and wilt be promoted to the highest dignity and power, and thou wilt be envied by all those who now pity thy hard fortune; and thou wilt be happy till thy death, and wilt leave thine happiness to the children whom thou shalt have. But do thou remember, when thou seest this bird again, that thou wilt then live but five days longer. This event will be brought to pass by that God who hath sent this bird hither to be a sign unto thee. And I cannot but think it unjust to conceal from thee what I foreknow concerning thee, that, by thy knowing beforehand what happiness is coming upon thee, thou mayst not regard thy present misfortunes. But when this happiness shall actually befall thee, do not forget what misery I am in myself, but endeavor to deliver me." So when the German had said this, he made Agrippa laugh at him as much as he afterwards appeared worthy of admiration. But now Antonia took Agrippa's misfortune to heart: however, to speak to Tiberius on his behalf, she took to be a very difficult thing, and indeed quite impracticable, as to any hope of success; yet did she procure of Macro, that the soldiers that kept him should be of a gentle nature, and that the centurion who was over them and was to diet with him, should be of the same disposition, and that he might have leave to bathe himself every day, and that his freed-men and friends might come to him, and that other things that tended to ease him might be indulged him. So his friend Silas came in to him, and two of his freed-men, Marsyas and Stechus, brought him such sorts of food as he was fond of, and indeed took great care of him; they ,also brought him garments, under pretense of selling them; and when night came on, they laid them under him; and the soldiers assisted them, as Macro had given them order to do beforehand. And this was Agrippa's condition for six months' time, and in this case were his affairs.

8. But for Tiberius, upon his return to Caprein, he fell sick. At first his distemper was but gentle; but as that distemper increased upon him, he had small or no hopes of recovery. Hereupon he bid Euodus, who was that freed-man whom he most of all respected, to bring the children (23) to him, for that he wanted to talk to them before he died. Now he had at present no sons of his own alive for Drusus, who was his only son, was dead; but Drusus's son Tiberius was still living, whose additional name was Gemellus: there was also living Caius, the son of Germanicus, who was the son (24) of his brother [Drusus]. He was now grown up, and had a liberal education, and was well improved by it, and was in esteem and favor with the people, on account of the excellent character of his father Germanicus, who had attained the highest honor among the multitude, by the firmness of his virtuous behavior, by the easiness and agreeableness of his conversing with the multitude, and because the dignity he was in did not hinder his familiarity with them all, as if they were his equals; by which behavior he was not only greatly esteemed by the people and the senate, but by every one of those nations that were subject to the Romans; some of which were affected when they came to him with the gracefulness of their reception by him, and others were affected in the same manner by the report of the others that had been with him; and, upon his death, there was a lamentation made by all men; not such a one as was to be made in way of flattery to their rulers, while they did but counterfeit sorrow, but such as was real; while every body grieved at his death, as if they had lost one that was near to them. And truly such had been his easy conversation with men, that it turned greatly to the advantage of his son among all; and, among others, the soldiery were so peculiarly affected to him, that they reckoned it an eligible thing, if need were, to die themselves, if he might but attain to the government.

9. But when Tiberius had given order to Euodus to bring the children to him the next day in the morning, he prayed to his country gods to show him a manifest signal which of those children should come to the government; being very desirous to leave it to his son's son, but still depending upon what God should foreshow concerning them more than upon his own opinion and inclination; so he made this to be the omen, that the government should be left to him who should come to him first the next day. When he had thus resolved within himself, he sent to his grandson's tutor, and ordered him to bring the child to him early in the morning, as supposing that God would permit him to be made emperor. But God proved opposite to his designation; for while Tiberius was thus contriving matters, and as soon as it was at all day, he bid Euodus to call in that child which should be there ready. So he went out, and found Caius before the door, for Tiberius was not yet come, but staid waiting for his breakfast; for Euodus knew nothing of what his lord intended; so he said to Caius, "Thy father calls thee," and then brought him in. As soon as Tiberius saw Caius, and not before, he reflected on the power of God, and how the ability of bestowing the government on whom he would was entirely taken from him; and thence he was not able to establish what he had intended. So he greatly lamented that his power of establishing what he had before contrived was taken from him, and that his grandson Tiberius was not only to lose the Roman empire by his fatality, but his own safety also, because his preservation would now depend upon such as would be more potent than himself, who would think it a thing not to be borne, that a kinsman should live with them, and so his relation would not be able to protect him; but he would be feared and bated by him who had the supreme authority, partly on account of his being next to the empire, and partly on account of his perpetually contriving to get the government, both in order to preserve himself, and to be at the head of affairs also. Now Tiberius had been very much given to astrology, (25) and the calculation of nativities, and had spent his life in the esteem of what predictions had proved true, more than those whose profession it was. Accordingly, when he once saw Galba coming in to him, he said to his most intimate friends, that there came in a man that would one day have the dignity of the Roman empire. So that this Tiberius was more addicted to all such sorts of diviners than any other of the Roman emperors, because he had found them to have told him truth in his own affairs. And indeed he was now in great distress upon this accident that had befallen him, and was very much grieved at the destruction of his son's son, which he foresaw, and complained of himself, that he should have made use of such a method of divination beforehand, while it was in his power to have died without grief by this knowledge of futurity; whereas he was now tormented by his foreknowledge of the misfortune of such as were dearest to him, and must die under that torment. Now although he was disordered at this unexpected revolution of the government to those for whom he did not intend it, he spake thus to Caius, though unwillingly, and against his own inclination: "O child! although Tiberius be nearer related to me than thou art, I, by my own determination, and the conspiring suffrage of the gods, do give and put into thy hand the Roman empire; and I desire thee never to be unmindful when thou comest to it, either of my kindness to thee, who set thee in so high a dignity, or of thy relation to Tiberius. But as thou knowest that I am, together with and after the gods, the procurer of so great happiness to thee; so I desire that thou wilt make me a return for my readiness to assist thee, and wilt take care of Tiberius because of his near relation to thee. Besides which, thou art to know, that while Tiberius is alive, he will be a security to thee, both as to empire and as to thy own preservation; but if he die, that will be but a prelude to thy own misfortunes; for to be alone under the weight of such vast affairs is very dangerous; nor will the gods suffer those actions which are unjustly done, contrary to that law which directs men to act otherwise, to go off unpunished." This was the speech which Tiberius made, which did not persuade Caius to act accordingly, although he promised so to do; but when he was settled in the government, he took off this Tiberius, as was predicted by the other Tiberius; as he was also himself, in no long time afterward, slain by a secret plot laid against him.

10. So when Tiberius had at this time appointed Caius to be his successor, he outlived but a few days, and then died, after he had held the government twenty-two years five months and three days. Now Caius was the fourth emperor. But when the Romans understood that Tiberius was dead, they rejoiced at the good news, but had not courage to believe it; not because they were unwilling it should be true, for they would have given huge sums of money that it might be so, but because they were afraid, that if they had showed their joy when the news proved false, their joy should be openly known, and they should be accused for it, and be thereby undone. For this Tiberius had brought a vast number of miseries on the best families of the Romans, since he was easily inflamed with passion in all cases, and was of such a temper as rendered his anger irrevocable, till he had executed the same, although he had taken a hatred against men without reason; for he was by nature fierce in all the sentences he gave, and made death the penalty for the lightest offenses; insomuch that when the Romans heard the rumor about his death gladly, they were restrained from the enjoyment of that pleasure by the dread of such miseries as they foresaw would follow, if their hopes proved ill-grounded. Now Marsyas, Agrippa's freed-man, as soon as he heard of Tiberius's death, came running to tell Agrippa the news; and finding him going out to the bath, he gave him a nod, and said, in the Hebrew tongue, "The lion (26) is dead;" who, understanding his meaning, and being ovejoyed at the news, "Nay," said he, "but all sorts of thanks and happiness attend thee for this news of thine; only I wish that what thou sayest may prove true." Now the centurion who was set to keep Agrippa, when he saw with what haste Marsyas came, and what joy Agrippa had from what he said, he had a suspicion that his words implied some great innovation of affairs, and he asked them about what was said.


The Antiquities of the Jews - 200/253

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