Saturday, August 28, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Pseudo-Hegesippus Book 4 Chapter 15 or Bellum Judaicum Book 4 Chapter 7?

We continue with our side by side comparison of Pseudo-Hegesippus and Jewish War. The next section in Pseudo-Hegesippus is:

He immediately ordered Placidus to pursue those who had fled. He himself returned to Caesarea.

Placidus five hundred cavalry having been sent ahead followed those fleeing and drove them into a village which was nearest, in which grown up males of picked young men were discovered to have assumed the audacity to rise up against the Romans. Which thing was the greatest disaster for them, because surrounded by cavalry and shut off from the village they were cut to pieces without hindrance, while others crowded together were withdrawing they were slaughtered before the thresholds of the gates. The mass piled up with bodies of the slain was level with the height of the walls. The Romans pierced some with arrows, they wounded others with various missiles, finally they captured the stronghold and there all except those to whom there was an opportunity to escape were killed. Others fleeing heightened the great reputation of Roman strength by their remarks, their bodies bigger than those seen of men, no assurance to anyone of resisting against the invincible. From which place terrified everyone fled immediately, not only from the vicinity and neighboring places but even the city of Jericho, which on account of the number of its inhabitant multitude encouraged the hope of the rest, was abandoned. Placidus with events occurring to his satisfaction pursued them also with cavalry, some crowded together, others dispersed he laid low all the way to the river Jordan. He also found the greatest number at the bank of the river, the crossing hindered, because then by chance the heralded river had been enlarged by rains or swollen up by melted snows. But they when they saw the Romans to be at hand, prepare themselves and crowd together at the edge of the river. The aid of flight having been shut off, the remedy is turned back into their hands and an attack having been made the many throw themselves against the fewer horsemen. They with the known art and ancient custom of warfare riding in between begin to scatter the formations of the enemy, to break apart masses, to press upon the weary, to follow those giving way. Thus some by the weapons of the enemy, others by their own, because crowded together and thrown back upon themselves they run into one bunch, they are killed. Some tumble down into the river, who are a ruin to themselves, and others entangled with one another were submerged. Yet most thinking that they are able to get across gave themselves to the river, whom when they had progressed a short distance the force of the whirlpools swallowed up or the power of the river carried away. And if any by the exercise of swimming had moved forward upon the waters and by floating or floating under had sustained themselves, or hindered by the branches of trees which are carried off by the river or buffeted by the trunks themselves they deposited their soul in the river. Often even untrained in swimming, when he had grabbed a swimmer, he held on, in order that he himself should escape as well, and tired the one held in the arms, until both immersed each was the death of the other. And if anyone by chance running with a favorable river was thought to be about to escape, he was stitched up with arrows and suddenly on his back the oars of his arms stopping he perished. And there were even those who not knowing how to swim, while they seek a death devoid of pain, voluntarily throw themselves into the river from a high protuberance of the banks, others entering onto the sandy river-bank their foot-prints having been swallowed up sank down. Still the majority vexed by the slipperiness of the smooth rocks or by the shallow places and hesitating on the unstable ground of the stream were overwhelmed by those following. Thirteen thousands were cut to pieces with swords, however an innumerable multitude was annihilated by the river, a huge booty was acquired from the flocks of sheep and herds of camels and asses and cattle. Granted that the butchery of men was very great, it was estimated to be more, because not only was the entire region filled with human bodies, since dispersed and wandering about they were killed in whatever places they were seized, truly even the Jordan itself blocked up with the bodies of the dead was not able to follow its proper course, the Dead Sea also from the blood and viscera of the dead changed the appearance of its nature, into which everything whatever that the Jordan had attracted was carried. Finally on that day ninety two thousands and two hundreds of Judeans were estimated to have perished by only five hundred horsemen and three thousands of foot soldiers. Having progressed also to the farther places Placidus restored to the Roman Empire Abila and Iuliadis and Bethesmon and all the villages of this very place up to the Dead Sea. He placed soldiers also in boats, by whom all who had fled into the celebrated lake were killed.

And thus both these and everything all the way to Maecheruntis was regained.
 [Pseudo-Hegesippus 4.14c - 16a]

The parallel section in Jewish War reads:

And now Vespasian sent Placidus against those that had fled from Gadara, with five hundred horsemen, and three thousand footmen, while he returned himself to Cesarea, with the rest of the army. But as soon as these fugitives saw the horsemen that pursued them just upon their backs, and before they came to a close fight, they ran together to a certain village, which was called Bethennabris, where finding a great multitude of young men, and arming them, partly by their own consent, partly by force, they rashly and suddenly assaulted Placidus and the troops that were with him. These horsemen at the first onset gave way a little, as contriving to entice them further off the wall; and when they had drawn them into a place fit for their purpose, they made their horse encompass them round, and threw their darts at them. So the horsemen cut off the flight of the fugitives, while the foot terribly destroyed those that fought against them; for those Jews did no more than show their courage, and then were destroyed; for as they fell upon the Romans when they were joined close together, and, as it were, walled about with their entire armor, they were not able to find any place where the darts could enter, nor were they any way able to break their ranks, while they were themselves run through by the Roman darts, and, like the wildest of wild beasts, rushed upon the point of others' swords; so some of them were destroyed, as cut with their enemies' swords upon their faces, and others were dispersed by the horsemen.

Now Placidus's concern was to exclude them in their flight from getting into the village; and causing his horse to march continually on that side of them, he then turned short upon them, and at the same time his men made use of their darts, and easily took their aim at those that were the nearest to them, as they made those that were further off turn back by the terror they were in, till at last the most courageous of them brake through those horsemen and fled to the wall of the village. And now those that guarded the wall were in great doubt what to do; for they could not bear the thoughts of excluding those that came from Gadara, because of their own people that were among them; and yet, if they should admit them, they expected to perish with them, which came to pass accordingly; for as they were crowding together at the wall, the Roman horsemen were just ready to fall in with them. However, the guards prevented them, and shut the gates, when Placidus made an assault upon them, and fighting courageously till it was dark, he got possession of the wall, and of the people that were in the city, when the useless multitude were destroyed; but those that were more potent ran away, and the soldiers plundered the houses, and set the village on fire. As for those that ran out of the village, they stirred up such as were in the country, and exaggerating their own calamities, and telling them that the whole army of the Romans were upon them, they put them into great fear on every side; so they got in great numbers together, and fled to Jericho, for they knew no other place that could afford them any hope of escaping, it being a city that had a strong wall, and a great multitude of inhabitants. But Placidus, relying much upon his horsemen, and his former good success, followed them, and slew all that he overtook, as far as Jordan; and when he had driven the whole multitude to the river-side, where they were stopped by the current, (for it had been augmented lately by rains, and was not fordable,) he put his soldiers in array over against them; so the necessity the others were in provoked them to hazard a battle, because there was no place whither they could flee. They then extended themselves a very great way along the banks of the river, and sustained the darts that were thrown at them, as well as the attacks of the horsemen, who beat many of them, and pushed them into the current. At which fight, hand to hand, fifteen thousand of them were slain, while the number of those that were unwillingly forced to leap into Jordan was prodigious. There were besides two thousand and two hundred taken prisoners. A mighty prey was taken also, consisting of asses, and sheep, and camels, and oxen.

Now this destruction that fell upon the Jews, as it was not inferior to any of the rest in itself, so did it still appear greater than it really was; and this, because not only the whole country through which they fled was filled with slaughter, and Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it, but because the lake Asphaltiris was also full of dead bodies, that were carried down into it by the river. And now Placidus, after this good success that he had, fell violently upon the neighboring smaller cities and villages; when he took Abila, and Julias, and Bezemoth, and all those that lay as far as the lake Asphaltitis, and put such of the deserters into each of them as he thought proper. He then put his soldiers on board the ships, and slew such as had fled to the lake, insomuch that all Perea had either surrendered themselves, or were taken by the Romans, as far as Macherus.
 [Jewish War 4.7.4 - 6]

The account, while very similarly, betrays some very noticeable differences in numbers of dead Jews. In both narratives the Roman side consists of 500 cavalry and 3000 footmen. Pseudo-Hegesippus says that 13000 Jews were cut down by Roman swords, "an innumerable multitude was annihilated by the river" and countless asses, sheep, camels and cattle. Later in the narrative Hegesippus says that the total number of Jews that died numbered 92,200. Jewish War by contrast says that 15000 Jews were cut down by the sword, undetermined number leaped into the Jordan. As well as asses, and sheep, and camels, and oxen being taken captive, 2,200 were said to be taken prisoner. Clearly these are two different but related traditions. There is no reference to the number of prisoners taken in Pseudo-Hegesippus, nor a total number of dead in Jewish War but the two numbers here are clearly related (92,200 to 2,200).

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