Monday, August 16, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Pseudo-Hegesippus Book 3 Chapter 5 or Bellum Judaicum Book 3 Chapter 1?

Pseudo-Hegesippus is not a copy of Jewish War. This is just a lazy explanation to help 'close the book' on this curious text. I would argue that the 'Hegesippus' textual tradition which includes the Slavonic and the Yosippon actually represents a separate line of transmission dating back to our 'second century Josephus' figure. 

Just look at what happens when we go back to side by side comparison of Pseudo-Hegesippus and Jewish War in the section which immediately follows our last post: 

First the account of Pseudo-Hegesippus:

But in fact the Periatian Niger and the Babylonian Sylas and Johannes Essaeus, collecting all that were in Judaea of strong young men, attacked Ascalonis, large however and a city defended by strong walls, but in want of aid and assistance, which was separated from the city of Jerusalem by seven hundred and twenty stadia and by great hatreds. Therefore the Jews wishing to destroy a city hostile to themselves rushed upon it with their collected troops. Antonius was in charge of the city with a lesser number of Roman troops than he considered to be able to resist the Jews. But a man of acute judgment and an equally experienced soldier he allowed them scattered and trusting more upon number than valor, his cavalry having been led out, to cross to the city, then he attacked those in advance, harassed those following, scattered those crowded together, put the disordered to flight and pursued those straggling over the entire plain. Others turned about are driven against the walls all possibility of flight cut off, others seek different ways but surrounded by the horsemen they are cut to pieces. Many fall down upon themselves and in turn scatter themselves in their impetuosity. And so until evening slaughtered they lost out of their troops ten thousand men, their leaders Johannes and Sylas as well killed. Few however of the Romans were wounded in that battle. The rashness of the Jews however was not restrained but inflamed. For grief aroused their daring and the disgrace called out eagerness of avenging themselves. They are armed therefore with greater by far fury and the wounds of the injured not yet healed and more having been collected than the first time they rush in to attack, but them having been caught by arranged ambushes, before they came into hand to hand combat, Antonius cut them off surrounded by cavalry, and surrounded ordered them to be destroyed. Once more eight thousand were killed, the rest having been put to flight. Niger himself having slipped away betook himself into a fortification. There was a tower, enclosed on all sides by strong rock, the Romans because they were not able to destroy it encompassed it with set fires. Them having been lighted having crossed over from the tower into a certain cave he lay hidden from the enemy, he escaped the fire, and untroubled by the Romans because he himself should have been consumed by the conflagration, after the third day his own troops searching for his body for burial, he is restored alive and flourishing. And so with great joy saved from the enemy he is presented to the Jews.

Vespasian in the meantime the Hellespont having been crossed and crossing Bythinia and Cilicia, when he reached Syria, he led forth the legions and the other military forces which he found in it to Antioch. That city of Syria without objection is regarded as the foremost and thus the chief city, founded by those who adhered to the fighting Alexander the Great, called by the name of its founder. The location of the city: the length spread out immensely, narrower in width, because it is limited on the left by the steepness of a mountain, so that the sizes of the boundaries of the city are unable to be extended further. Necessity marks out the location, because the lofty mountain would give a hiding place to Parthians bursting in through hidden byways, from which they would pour themselves in an unexpected arrival and a quick attack against the unprepared Syria, unless the city threw up as if a barrier to the mountain and blocked the exit for those arriving, so that if any of the foreigners should climb it, he would immediately be seen from the middle of the city. Finally they say, when stage plays are frequented in that city, a certain actor of the mimes with eyes raised to the mountain saw Persians coming and said immediately: 'I either am dreaming or I see great danger. There! Persians!' For the mountain so overhangs the city, that not even the height of the theater is an impediment to seeing the mountain. A river in the middle cuts it asunder, which arising from the rising of the sun not far from the city is plunged into the sea, which from the course of its beginning men of old called the Orient, as it is commonly thought they gave the name to places, when from thence it was accepted. From the vigor itself of which flowing and the colder zephyrs continually blowing through those places the entire state is cooled at nearly every moment, so that it will have hidden the Orient in parts of the Orient. Within sweet waters, without a neighboring grove interwoven with numerous cypresses and abundant fountains. They call it Daphnen, because it never puts aside its greenness. Numerous and happy people and as is the greatest part of the Orient more merry than almost all but nearer to licentiousness. Previously a city in the third place out of all, which in the Roman world are considered states, but now in the fourth place after the city of the Byzantines outgrew Constantinople, once the capital of the Persians, now a means of defence. I think enough has been said about the site of the city. Nor for instance does it seem worth delaying by describing its buildings. When I said the East was behind it, it was clear that South lay to the left, Europe lay in front, to the right the northern races live and the Caspian kingdoms are held, which previously were most inclined to invade Syria. But after Alexander the Great established the Caspian Gate at the critical spot of the Taurus mountain and shut off every route for the interior tribes, he restored the peaceful renowned city, unless perhaps mistrusting Persian movements. In that city king Agrippa with all his troops was awaiting the arrival of Vespasian, nor did he adhere longer to the loitering retinue. The route having been joined they began to make for the city Ptolomais. Near that city they met the inhabitants of Sepphorim seeking (that) the peace entered into long ago with Caesentius Gallus be confirmed by Vespasian. Whose discretion having been praised, because they took regard for their own safety by not provoking the Romans, and good faith having been accepted, he received them into friendship and auxiliary troops of foot soldiers and horsemen having been added he fostered security, lest perhaps stirred up by the pain of failure arousers of war should rise up against them, since like a certain frontier fortress of Judea, the Sepphoritanians offering themselves to the Roman empire, it was resolved, that a passable route into it would be open to an enemy, which would run against the protector of the entire race as a certain opportune obstacle against an enemy. For it was besides its fitness as a fortified place even the greatest city of Galilaea. Which thing suggests that since there are two Galilaeas, one higher, the other lower, connected and joined to themselves, we should distinguish one from the other. But first (something) must be said about each.
 [Pseudo-Hegesippus 3.4,5]

And then we read in the section which roughly parallels what we just read in Hegessipus:

When Nero was informed of the Romans' ill success in Judea, a concealed consternation and terror, as is usual in such cases, fell upon him; although he openly looked very big, and was very angry, and said that what had happened was rather owing to the negligence of the commander, than to any valor of the enemy: and as he thought it fit for him, who bare the burden of the whole empire, to despise such misfortunes, he now pretended so to do, and to have a soul superior to all such sad accidents whatsoever. Yet did the disturbance that was in his soul plainly appear by the solicitude he was in [how to recover his affairs again].

And as he was deliberating to whom he should commit the care of the East, now it was in so great a commotion, and who might be best able to punish the Jews for their rebellion, and might prevent the same distemper from seizing upon the neighboring nations also, - he found no one but Vespasian equal to the task, and able to undergo the great burden of so mighty a war, seeing he was growing an old man already in the camp, and from his youth had been exercised in warlike exploits: he was also a man that had long ago pacified the west, and made it subject to the Romans, when it had been put into disorder by the Germans; he had also recovered to them Britain by his arms, which had been little known before whereby he procured to his father Claudius to have a triumph bestowed on him without any sweat or labor of his own.

So Nero esteemed these circumstances as favorable omens, and saw that Vespasian's age gave him sure experience, and great skill, and that he had his sons as hostages for his fidelity to himself, and that the flourishing age they were in would make them fit instruments under their father's prudence. Perhaps also there was some interposition of Providence, which was paving the way for Vespasian's being himself emperor afterwards. Upon the whole, he sent this man to take upon him the command of the armies that were in Syria; but this not without great encomiums and flattering compellations, such as necessity required, and such as might mollify him into complaisance. So Vespasian sent his son Titus from Achaia, where he had been with Nero, to Alexandria, to bring back with him from thence the fifth and. the tenth legions, while he himself, when he had passed over the Hellespont, came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood.

Now the Jews, after they had beaten Cestius, were so much elevated with their unexpected success, that they could not govern their zeal, but, like people blown up into a flame by their good fortune, carried the war to remoter places. Accordingly, they presently got together a great multitude of all their most hardy soldiers, and marched away for Ascalon. This is an ancient city that is distant from Jerusalem five hundred and twenty furlongs, and was always an enemy to the Jews; on which account they determined to make their first effort against it, and to make their approaches to it as near as possible. This excursion was led on by three men, who were the chief of them all, both for strength and sagacity; Niger, called the Persite, Silas of Babylon, and besides them John the Essene. Now Ascalon was strongly walled about, but had almost no assistance to be relied on [near them], for the garrison consisted of one cohort of footmen, and one troop of horsemen, whose captain was Antonius.

These Jews, therefore, out of their anger, marched faster than ordinary, and, as if they had come but a little way, approached very near the city, and were come even to it; but Antonius, who was not unapprized of the attack they were going to make upon the city, drew out his horsemen beforehand, and being neither daunted at the multitude, nor at the courage of the enemy, received their first attacks with great bravery; and when they crowded to the very walls, he beat them off. Now the Jews were unskillful in war, but were to fight with those who were skillful therein; they were footmen to fight with horsemen; they were in disorder, to fight those that were united together; they were poorly armed, to fight those that were completely so; they were to fight more by their rage than by sober counsel, and were exposed to soldiers that were exactly obedient; and did every thing they were bidden upon the least intimation. So they were easily beaten; for as soon as ever their first ranks were once in disorder, they were put to flight by the enemy's cavalry, and those of them that came behind such as crowded to the wall fell upon their own party's weapons, and became one another's enemies; and this so long till they were all forced to give way to the attacks of the horsemen, and were dispersed all the plain over, which plain was wide, and all fit for the horsemen; which circumstance was very commodious for the Romans, and occasioned the slaughter of the greatest number of the Jews; for such as ran away, they could overrun them, and make them turn back; and when they had brought them back after their flight, and driven them together, they ran them through, and slew a vast number of them, insomuch that others encompassed others of them, and drove them before them whithersoever they turned themselves, and slew them easily with their arrows; and the great number there were of the Jews seemed a solitude to themselves, by reason of the distress they were in, while the Romans had such good success with their small number, that they seemed to themselves to be the greater multitude. And as the former strove zealously under their misfortunes, out of the shame of a sudden flight, and hopes of the change in their success, so did the latter feel no weariness by reason of their good fortune; insomuch that the fight lasted till the evening, till ten thousand men of the Jews' side lay dead, with two of their generals, John and Silas, and the greater part of the remainder were wounded, with Niger, their remaining general, who fled away together to a small city of Idumea, called Sallis. Some few also of the Romans were wounded in this battle.

Yet were not the spirits of the Jews broken by so great a calamity, but the losses they had sustained rather quickened their resolution for other attempts; for, overlooking the dead bodies which lay under their feet, they were enticed by their former glorious actions to venture on a second destruction; so when they had lain still so little a while that their wounds were not yet thoroughly cured, they got together all their forces, and came with greater fury, and in much greater numbers, to Ascalon. But their former ill fortune followed them, as the consequence of their unskilfulness, and other deficiencies in war; for Antonius laid ambushes for them in the passages they were to go through, where they fell into snares unexpectedly, and where they were encompassed about with horsemen, before they could form themselves into a regular body for fighting, and were above eight thousand of them slain; so all the rest of them ran away, and with them Niger, who still did a great many bold exploits in his flight. However, they were driven along together by the enemy, who pressed hard upon them, into a certain strong tower belonging to a village called Bezedeh However, Antonius and his party, that they might neither spend any considerable time about this tower, which was hard to be taken, nor suffer their commander, and the most courageous man of them all, to escape from them, they set the wall on fire; and as the tower was burning, the Romans went away rejoicing, as taking it for granted that Niger was destroyed; but he leaped out of the tower into a subterraneous cave, in the innermost part of it, and was preserved; and on the third day afterward he spake out of the ground to those that with great lamentation were searching for him, in order to give him a decent funeral; and when he was come out, he filled all the Jews with an unexpected joy, as though he were preserved by God's providence to be their commander for the time to come.

And now Vespasian took along with him his army from Antioch, (which is the metropolis of Syria, and without dispute deserves the place of the third city in the habitable earth that was under the Roman empire, both in magnitude, and other marks of prosperity,) where he found king Agrippa, with all his forces, waiting for his coming, and marched to Ptolemais. At this city also the inhabitants of Sepphoris of Galilee met him, who were for peace with the Romans. These citizens had beforehand taken care of their own safety, and being sensible of the power of the Romans, they had been with Cestius Gallus before Vespasian came, and had given their faith to him, and received the security of his right hand, and had received a Roman garrison; and at this time withal they received Vespasian, the Roman general, very kindly, and readily promised that they would assist him against their own countrymen. Now the general delivered them, at their desire, as many horsemen and footmen as he thought sufficient to oppose the incursions of the Jews, if they should come against them. And indeed the danger of losing Sepphoris would be no small one, in this war that was now beginning, seeing it was the largest city of Galilee, and built in a place by nature very strong, and might be a security of the whole nation's [fidelity to the Romans].
[Jewish War 3.1 - 2.4]

The difference in parallel 'red sections' is quite striking. Pseudo-Hegesippus devotes a whole paragraph to Vespasian's exploits. Jewish War 'divides' the account into two different sections. The difference between the calculated distance from Jersualem and Askelon is striking also - 520 stadia in Jewish War, 720 in Hegesippus. Jewish War's interest in the goings on in Nero's court is utterly absurd. Josephus could not read Greek. So how did he know what Nero was doing in Rome? 

His original account dealt exclusively with the goings on the ground in Palestine. These sections represent later additions in both traditions. The reference to Constantinople by name in the long section added by the fourth century editor is also worth noting.

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