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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Agrippa’s Appeal to the Jews
By Josephus (37–100)
From the ‘Jewish Wars’: Translation of Robert Traill

THE POPULACE, addressing the king and the chief priests, requested that ambassadors might be sent to Nero with an accusation against Florus; lest, on an occasion of so much bloodshed, they should leave themselves under suspicion of insurrection by their silence…. Agrippa, though he deemed it invidious to send up an accusation against Florus, yet thought it not his interest to overlook the strong bias for war manifested by the Jews. He accordingly convened the people in the Xystus; and having placed his sister Berenice in a conspicuous situation on the house of the Asamonæan family,—which was above the Xystus, on the opposite side of the upper town, where a bridge connected the Temple with the Xystus,—he spoke as follows:—  1
  “Had I seen that you all were bent on war with the Romans, and not that the more upright and unprejudiced portion of the community were desirous of preserving peace, I would neither have appeared before you, nor ventured to advise. For superflous is every address bearing on measures proper to be pursued, when all who hear it are by common consent resolved on the less prudential course. But since youth, inexperienced in the evils of war, stimulates some; some an inconsiderate hope of freedom; others avarice; and in the general confusion, a desire of private aggrandizement at the expense of the weak,—I have thought it my duty to call you together, and lay before you what I conceive will most conduce to your welfare: that these several classes, being better instructed, may alter their views, and that the virtuous may sustain no damage from the pernicious counsels of a few….  2
  “Consider separately each of these [complaints], and how slight are the grounds for war! And first, as to the charges against your procurators. Duty enjoins us to conciliate, not to irritate, the authorities. But when of little offenses you make great complaints, you exasperate, to your own prejudice, the individuals thus defamed…. But as nothing so much averts correction as patient submission, so the quiet demeanor of the wronged serves as a restraint on their oppressors. But granting that the Roman officers are beyond endurance severe, still, all the Romans do not wrong you, nor does Cæsar; and yet it is against these you levy war. It is not by command that any one comes among you, from them, to be wicked; neither do they see from west to east; nor is it easy to obtain in that quarter early intelligence from hence.  3
  “But it is absurd to wage war with many on account of one, and for trivial reasons, with so great a people; and that too when they know not what we complain of. And yet the evils with which we charge them may be speedily corrected, for the same procurator will not remain forever; and his successors, it is probable, will come in a spirit of greater moderation. War, however, once moved, it is neither easy to lay aside without calamity, nor yet to bear the burthen of it. But your present desire of freedom is unseasonable, seeing you should have struggled earlier not to lose it. For the experience of servitude is bitter, and the exertion to avert its first approaches is just; but he who, once subdued, afterwards revolts, is a refractory slave, not a lover of liberty. For then was the time for doing your utmost to prevent the Romans from gaining a footing, when Pompey made his first inroad upon your country….  4
  “You alone disdain servitude to those to whom the universe has submitted. On what troops, on what weapons, do you rely? Where is your fleet to occupy the Roman seas? where the treasures sufficing for the enterprise? Do you suppose that it is with the Egyptians and Arabians that war is to be waged? Will you not reflect on the empire of the Romans? Will you not measure your own weakness? Have not your forces been frequently defeated by nations on your borders? and yet, through the world their strength has stood unconquered; nay rather, they have stretched their views farther even than this. For the entire Euphrates has not sufficed them on the east; nor the Danube on the north; nor on the south Libya, penetrated even to uninhabited climes; nor Gadeira on the west. But beyond the ocean they have sought another world, and have carried their arms far as the Britons, unknown before to history….  5
  “Reflect, likewise, that even were you contending with no formidable foe, the uncompromising character of your worship would create a difficulty, since those very laws by which you mainly hope to secure the Divine assistance will, if you are compelled to transgress them, render God your enemy; since, should you observe the usages of the Sabbath, and put your hand to no work, you will fall an easy prey, as did your forefathers to Pompey, who pressed his operations with the greatest vigor on those days upon which the besieged rested….  6
  “Unless indeed it be supposed that you will wage war by compact; and that the Romans, when triumphant, will act toward you with moderation, and not, as an example to other nations, burn the Holy City to the ground, and root you out as a people from the earth. For those of you who may survive will not find a spot to flee to, since all have acknowledged the supremacy of the Romans, or fear that they soon must do so. The danger, however, threatens not us alone, but those also who reside in the other cities. For there is not a nation in the world where some of you are not to be found; all of whom, should you go to war, will be sacrificed in retaliation by your adversaries….  7
  “Look with pity, then, if not on your children and wives, yet on this your metropolis, and the sacred boundaries. Spare the Temple, and preserve for yourselves this sanctuary with its holy things.”…  8
  Having spoken thus, he wept, as did his sister; and their emotion restrained in a great degree the violence of the people, who cried out that they had not taken up arms against the Romans, but to avenge their sufferings on Florus.  9

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