Thursday, August 19, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Pseudo-Hegesippus Book 3 Chapter 25 or Bellum Judaicum Book 3 Chapter 10?

And we continue with our section by section comparison of Pseudo-Hegesippus and Jewish War to determine which is closer to the (lost) original Josephan narrative. The next section in Pseudo-Hegesippus reads:

Saying this he as the foremost drove his horse against the enemy. And with a great shout the rest having followed stretched out over the entire field, by which even they were estimated to be more. Trajan also sent by Vespasian with three hundred horsemen came up to the advancing Titus. Nor were the Jews able to resist longer, since they were thrown into confusion by the lances of the men and the noises of the horses. Some were turned about in diverse directions, most sought the city. Titus leaps out, some fleeing he falls upon from their rear, he cuts down others wandering around aimlessly, and having reversed his course he thrusts back all from the walls and blocking the path of those running back he shuts off their flight. And again while some were overthrown, others escaped to whom the city was a refuge. But in that place also there was a fierce battle. For those who had flown in from neighboring regions at the beginning preferred peace, but the people coming up wrenched out an eagerness for fighting from the unwilling. Whence inside the city there was great conflict and uproar. Roused by this noise Titus turns himself to his troops. 'This,' he says 'is the situation, most blessed fellow soldiers, which I was hoping for. The enemy inside the city are sowing discord among themselves, outside they are being slaughtered, inside they are fighting. Let us hasten while they are still disagreeing, lest perhaps from the fear of danger they return to agreement.' And so he mounted his horse, from which he had dismounted near to the walls and having turned to the lake he sought the city through the waves of the waters. And as the foremost he rushes into the city and the rest after him. And immediately all within were scattered into flight. Some were struck down, others climbing into boats were plunged into the lake, many people were killed inside. However many who were in the fields presented themselves to the Romans asserting themselves to be unconnected to the offense, to whom with conscientious management Titus thought he should be lenient, pursuing the originators of the rebellion alone. He sent a horseman to his father to report the results of the victory. By which Vespasian was delighted and especially by the triumph of his son, who had finished the greatest portion of the entire war which was being waged against the Jews, he hastened there and ordered the city to be watched carefully lest anyone should slip away, that because all were deserving of punishment. On another day however because of those who had taken themselves into boats, he ordered rafts to be built, which were made without delay, inasmuch as the neighboring forests and the many workers gave the ability of hurrying the task. [Pseudo-Hegesippus 3.25]

The parallel narrative in Jewish War reads:

As Titus was saying this, an extraordinary fury fell upon the men; and as Trajan was already come before the fight began, with four hundred horsemen, they were uneasy at it, because the reputation of the victory would be diminished by being common to so many. Vespasian had also sent both Antonius and Silo, with two thousand archers, and had given it them in charge to seize upon the mountain that was over against the city, and repel those that were upon the wall; which archers did as they were commanded, and prevented those that attempted to assist them that way; And now Titus made his own horse march first against the enemy, as did the others with a great noise after him, and extended themselves upon the plain as wide as the enemy which confronted them; by which means they appeared much more numerous than they really were. Now the Jews, although they were surprised at their onset, and at their good order, made resistance against their attacks for a little while; but when they were pricked with their long poles, and overborne by the violent noise of the horsemen, they came to be trampled under their feet; many also of them were slain on every side, which made them disperse themselves, and run to the city, as fast as every one of them were able. So Titus pressed upon the hindmost, and slew them; and of the rest, some he fell upon as they stood on heaps, and some he prevented, and met them in the mouth, and run them through; many also he leaped upon as they fell one upon another, and trod them down, and cut off all the retreat they had to the wall, and turned them back into the plain, till at last they forced a passage by their multitude, and got away, and ran into the city.

But now there fell out a terrible sedition among them within the city; for the inhabitants themselves, who had possessions there, and to whom the city belonged, were not disposed to fight from the very beginning; and now the less so, because they had been beaten; but the foreigners, which were very numerous, would force them to fight so much the more, insomuch that there was a clamor and a tumult among them, as all mutually angry one at another. And when Titus heard this tumult, for he was not far from the wall, he cried out," Fellow soldiers, now is the time; and why do we make any delay, when God is giving up the Jews to us? Take the victory which is given you: do not you hear what a noise they make? Those that have escaped our hands are ill an uproar against one another. We have the city if we make haste; but besides haste, we must undergo some labor, and use some courage; for no great thing uses to be accomplished without danger: accordingly, we must not only prevent their uniting again, which necessity will soon compel them to do, but we must also prevent the coming of our own men to our assistance, that, as few as we are, we may conquer so great a multitude, and may ourselves alone take the city:"

As soon as ever Titus had said this, he leaped upon his horse, and rode apace down to the lake; by which lake he marched, and entered into the city the first of them all, as did the others soon after him. Hereupon those that were upon the walls were seized with a terror at the boldness of the attempt, nor durst any one venture to fight with him, or to hinder him; so they left guarding the city, and some of those that were about Jesus fled over the country, while others of them ran down to the lake, and met the enemy in the teeth, and some were slain as they were getting up into the ships, but others of them as they attempted to overtake those that were already gone aboard. There was also a great slaughter made in the city, while those foreigners that had not fled away already made opposition; but the natural inhabitants were killed without fighting: for in hopes of Titus's giving them his right hand for their security, and out of a consciousness that they had not given any consent to the war, they avoided fighting, till Titus had slain the authors of this revolt, and then put a stop to any further slaughters, out of commiseration of these inhabitants of the place. But for those that had fled to the lake, upon seeing the city taken, they sailed as far as they possibly could from the enemy.

Hereupon Titus sent one of his horsemen to his father, and let him know the good news of what he had done; at which, as was natural, he was very joyful, both on account of the courage and glorious actions of his son; for he thought that now the greatest part of the war was over. He then came thither himself, and set men to guard the city, and gave them command to take care that nobody got privately out of it, but to kill such as attempted so to do. And on the next day he went down to the lake, and commanded that vessels should be fitted up, in order to pursue those that had escaped in the ships. These vessels were quickly gotten ready accordingly, because there was great plenty of materials, and a great number of artificers also.
 [Jewish War 3.10.3 - 6]

While the narratives come from a common source there are some notable and important differences. In Pseudo-Hegesippus the number of horsemen that accompany Trajan are 300; in Jewish War the number is 400. The identification of a particular (and undoubtedly fictitious) rebel leader named 'Jesus' is continued to be perpetuated throughout the Jewish War narrative. The continuing characterization of the Jews as an 'irrational' opponent by the supposedly Jewish narrator reinforces what we have identified as the central literary purpose of the original text - i.e. to put Josephus forward as an example of a Jew who has 'repented' of traditional Judaism and embraced Roman values. 

The two narratives are again demonstrated to be similar to one another but ultimately derive from two different literary traditions.

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