Monday, August 16, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Pseudo-Hegesippus Book 3 Chapter 12 or Bellum Judaicum Book 3 Chapter 7?

ere is the next installment of our section by section comparison of all the parts of the surviving Josephan Jewish War narrative once Josephus is introduced in the third person. There is quite a bit of additional material in our received text of Jewish War when compared with Pseudo-Hegesippus. Hegesippus simply reads:

Vespasian pressed hard, he urged on so that he was struck in the heel by the dart of an arrow. The Romans were disturbed since they saw the blood of their leader to flow. Agitated his son ran to his father, but he bearing strength of mind above the pain of the wound forbad his son to worry and encouraged his soldiers more into the battle, that they should avenge the injury to their leader. Himself the standard bearer he recalled the army and collected it at the walls, he himself urged on the rest into the battle. Some with arrows, some with darts, some with military engines pressed hard upon the enemy. So great however was the force of this stone thrower, by which stones were thrown against the enemy, that one of the associates of Josephus having been struck, who was standing nearby, his head having been smashed died, the head was hurled beyond the third stadium. Also a pregnant woman struck in the stomach sent forth an infant more than half a stadium from the most secret seat of of her private genital organs. Finally when a victorious Roman soldier had already climbed the walls and it was being fought in the entrance itself with a strong band on both sides, they were so pressed together, Josephus ordered the Romans to be flooded with boiling oil, which flowed easily from the top to the lowest steps. Not less than by the heat of flame the heat of the boiling oil consumed every limb. Others advanced however and for most flowing sweat cooled the force of the oil. And although the nature of oil is of this type, that it quickly heats and later deposits its received heat, however in the enthusiasm of victory they ignore the injury. They rage in their minds and feel no burning of the body, nor did they consider the pain of boiling oil as great a penalty as the loss of glory, just as if those deprived of triumphs should desist from fighting who were the leaders in the dangers. And so extinguishing the fiery heat of the oil with their blood they fought [Hegesippus 3.12]

The parallel account in Jewish War reads:

After these men's performances, Josephus, and the rest of the multitude with him, took a great deal of fire, and burnt both the machines and their coverings, with the works belonging to the fifth and to the tenth legion, which they put to flight; when others followed them immediately, and buried those instruments and all their materials under ground. However, about the evening, the Romans erected the battering ram again, against that part of the wall which had suffered before; where a certain Jew that defended the city from the Romans hit Vespasian with a dart in his foot, and wounded him a little, the distance being so great, that no mighty impression could be made by the dart thrown so far off. However, this caused the greatest disorder among the Romans; for when those who stood near him saw his blood, they were disturbed at it, and a report went abroad, through the whole army, that the general was wounded, while the greatest part left the siege, and came running together with surprise and fear to the general; and before them all came Titus, out of the concern he had for his father, insomuch that the multitude were in great confusion, and this out of the regard they had for their general, and by reason of the agony that the son was in. Yet did the father soon put an end to the son's fear, and to the disorder the army was under, for being superior to his pains, and endeavoring soon to be seen by all that had been in a fright about him, he excited them to fight the Jews more briskly; for now every body was willing to expose himself to danger immediately, in order to avenge their general; and then they encouraged one another with loud voices, and ran hastily to the walls.

But still Josephus and those with him, although they fell down dead one upon another by the darts and stones which the engines threw upon them, yet did not they desert the wall, but fell upon those who managed the ram, under the protection of the hurdles, with fire, and iron weapons, and stones; and these could do little or nothing, but fell themselves perpetually, while they were seen by those whom they could not see, for the light of their own flame shone about them, and made them a most visible mark to the enemy, as they were in the day time, while the engines could not be seen at a great distance, and so what was thrown at them was hard to be avoided; for the force with which these engines threw stones and darts made them hurt several at a time, and the violent noise of the stones that were cast by the engines was so great, that they carried away the pinnacles of the wall, and broke off the corners of the towers; for no body of men could be so strong as not to be overthrown to the last rank by the largeness of the stones. And any one may learn the force of the engines by what happened this very night; for as one of those that stood round about Josephus was near the wall, his head was carried away by such a stone, and his skull was flung as far as three furlongs. In the day time also, a woman with child had her belly so violently struck, as she was just come out of her house, that the infant was carried to the distance of half a furlong, so great was the force of that engine.
 The noise of the instruments themselves was very terrible, the sound of the darts and stones that were thrown by them was so also; of the same sort was that noise the dead bodies made, when they were dashed against the wall; and indeed dreadful was the clamor which these things raised in the women within the city, which was echoed back at the same time by the cries of such as were slain; while the whole space of ground whereon they fought ran with blood, and the wall might have been ascended over by the bodies of the dead carcasses; the mountains also contributed to increase the noise by their echoes; nor was there on that night any thing of terror wanting that could either affect the hearing or the sight: yet did a great part of those that fought so hard for Jotapata fall manfully, as were a great part of them wounded. However, the morning watch was come ere the wall yielded to the machines employed against it, though it had been battered without intermission. However, those within covered their bodies with their armor, and raised works over against that part which was thrown down, before those machines were laid by which the Romans were to ascend into the city.

In the morning Vespasian got his army together, in order to take the city [by storm], after a little recreation upon the hard pains they had been at the night before; and as he was desirous to draw off those that opposed him from the places where the wall had been thrown down, he made the most courageous of the horsemen get off their horses, and placed them in three ranks over against those ruins of the wall, but covered with their armor on every side, and with poles in their hands, that so these might begin their ascent as soon as the instruments for such ascent were laid; behind them he placed the flower of the footmen; but for the rest of the horse, he ordered them to extend themselves over against the wall, upon the whole hilly country, in order to prevent any from escaping out of the city when it should be taken; and behind these he placed the archers round about, and commanded them to have their darts ready to shoot. The same command he gave to the slingers, and to those that managed the engines, and bid them to take up other ladders, and have them ready to lay upon those parts of the wall which were yet untouched, that the besieged might be engaged in trying to hinder their ascent by them, and leave the guard of the parts that were thrown down, while the rest of them should be overborne by the darts cast at them, and might afford his men an entrance into the city.

But Josephus, understanding the meaning of Vespasian's contrivance, set the old men, together with those that were tired out, at the sound parts of the wall, as expecting no harm from those quarters, but set the strongest of his men at the place where the wall was broken down, and before them all six men by themselves, among whom he took his share of the first and greatest danger. He also gave orders, that when the legions made a shout, they should stop their ears, that they might not be affrighted at it, and that, to avoid the multitude of the enemy's darts, they should bend down on their knees, and cover themselves with their shields, and that they should retreat a little backward for a while, till the archers should have emptied their quivers; but that When the Romans should lay their instruments for ascending the walls, they should leap out on the sudden, and with their own instruments should meet the enemy, and that every one should strive to do his best, in order not to defend his own city, as if it were possible to be preserved, but in order to revenge it, when it was already destroyed; and that they should set before their eyes how their old men were to be slain, and their children and wives were to be killed immediately by the enemy; and that they would beforehand spend all their fury, on account of the calamities just coming upon them, and pour it out on the actors.

And thus did Josephus dispose of both his bodies of men; but then for the useless part of the citizens, the women and children, when they saw their city encompassed by a threefold army, (for none of the usual guards that had been fighting before were removed,) when they also saw, not only the walls thrown down, but their enemies with swords in their hands, as also the hilly country above them shining with their weapons, d the darts in the hands of the Arabian archers, they made a final and lamentable outcry of the destruction, as if the misery were not only threatened, but actually come upon them already. But Josephus ordered the women to be shut up in their houses, lest they should render the warlike actions of the men too effeminate, by making them commiserate their condition, and commanded them to hold their peace, and threatened them if they did not, while he came himself before the breach, where his allotment was; for all those who brought ladders to the other places, he took no notice of them, but earnestly waited for the shower of arrows that was coming.

And now the trumpeters of the several Roman legions sounded together, and the army made a terrible shout; and the darts, as by order, flew so last, that they intercepted the light. However, Josephus's men remembered the charges he had given them, they stopped their ears at the sounds, and covered their bodies against the darts; and as to the engines that were set ready to go to work, the Jews ran out upon them, before those that should have used them were gotten upon them. And now, on the ascending of the soldiers, there was a great conflict, and many actions of the hands and of the soul were exhibited; while the Jews did earnestly endeavor, in the extreme danger they were in, not to show less courage than those who, without being in danger, fought so stoutly against them; nor did they leave struggling with the Romans till they either fell down dead themselves, or killed their antagonists. But the Jews grew weary with defending themselves continually, and had not enough to come in their places, and succor them; while, on the side of the Romans, fresh men still succeeded those that were tired; and still new men soon got upon the machines for ascent, in the room of those that were thrust down; those encouraging one another, and joining side to side with their shields, which were a protection to them, they became a body of men not to be broken; and as this band thrust away the Jews, as though they were themselves but one body, they began already to get upon the wall.

Then did Josephus take necessity for his counselor in this utmost distress, (which necessity is very sagacious in invention when it is irritated by despair,) and gave orders to pour scalding oil upon those whose shields protected them. Whereupon they soon got it ready, being many that brought it, and what they brought being a great quantity also, and poured it on all sides upon the Romans, and threw down upon them their vessels as they were still hissing from the heat of the fire: this so burnt the Romans, that it dispersed that united band, who now tumbled clown from the wall with horrid pains, for the oil did easily run down the whole body from head to foot, under their entire armor, and fed upon their flesh like flame itself, its fat and unctuous nature rendering it soon heated and slowly cooled; and as the men were cooped up in their head-pieces and breastplates, they could no way get free from this burning oil; they could only leap and roll about in their pains, as they fell down from the bridges they had laid. And as they thus were beaten back, and retired to their own party, who still pressed them forward, they were easily wounded by those that were behind them.

However, in this ill success of the Romans, their courage did not fail them, nor did the Jews want prudence to oppose them; for the Romans, although they saw their own men thrown down, and in a miserable condition, yet were they vehemently bent against those that poured the oil upon them; while every one reproached the man before him as a coward, and one that hindered him from exerting himself; and while the Jews made use of another stratagem to prevent their ascent, and poured boiling fenugreek upon the boards, in order to make them slip and fall down; by which means neither could those that were coming up, nor those that were going down, stand on their feet; but some of them fell backward upon the machines on which they ascended, and were trodden upon; many of them fell down upon the bank they had raised, and when they were fallen upon it were slain by the Jews; for when the Romans could not keep their feet, the Jews being freed from fighting hand to hand, had leisure to throw their darts at them. So the general called off those soldiers in the evening that had suffered so sorely, of whom the number of the slain was not a few, while that of the wounded was still greater; but of the people of Jotapata no more than six men were killed, although more than three hundred were carried off wounded. This fight happened on the twentieth day of the month Desius [Sivan].

Hereupon Vespasian comforted his army on occasion of what happened, and as he found them angry indeed, but rather wanting somewhat to do than any further exhortations, he gave orders to raise the banks still higher, and to erect three towers, each fifty feet high, and that they should cover them with plates of iron on every side, that they might be both firm by their weight, and not easily liable to be set on fire. These towers he set upon the banks, and placed upon them such as could shoot darts and arrows, with the lighter engines for throwing stones and darts also; and besides these, he set upon them the stoutest men among the slingers, who not being to be seen by reason of the height they stood upon, and the battlements that protected them, might throw their weapons at those that were upon the wall, and were easily seen by them. Hereupon the Jews, not being easily able to escape those darts that were thrown down upon their heads, nor to avenge themselves on those whom they could not see, and perceiving that the height of the towers was so great, that a dart which they threw with their hand could hardly reach it, and that the iron plates about them made it very hard to come at them by fire, they ran away from the walls, and fled hastily out of the city, and fell upon those that shot at them. And thus did the people of Jotapata resist the Romans, while a great number of them were every day killed, without their being able to retort the evil upon their enemies; nor could they keep them out of the city without danger to themselves.
[Jewish War 3.7.22 - 30]

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