Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Pseudo-Hegesippus Book 3 Chapter 24 or Bellum Judaicum Book 3 Chapter 10?

Our comparative analysis of the parallel narratives in Pseudo-Hegesippus and Jewish War continues with the next section in Pseudo-Hegesippus which happens to be a fine speech from Titus who has just been sent by Vespasian to the front:

Who when he [Titus] saw himself surrounded by huge forces, reported to his father that the multitude of the enemy was greater than rumor had expressed, but he infused into those assembled together whom he had brought with him an incentive of fighting with an address of this nature "Men,' he says "Romans -- it is proper that you who are about to fight should be mindful of your name and race, whose hands no one who is in the Roman world has escaped. For how have you given this name to all the world unless by conquering. Indeed you should be mindful of the place in which you now are and against whom you Romans are waging war. In the farthest part of the world we are standing together. Crossing even such a great distances of the world you have seen nothing belonging to others. For what does not belong to us, in whose possession is the world? Whatever is anywhere is your right. Whatever of the entire world a dwelling holds is your property -- you traveled well. Who has stopped you running triumphant over the entire world? Whom not Hasdrubal the Punician, not Pyrrus the Greek, not Brennus attacking the entrance of the Capitol, not the hordes of the Persians, not the Egyptian phalanxes were able to stop, them stopped rebellious Judaea offering an ignorant rashness of waging war, more suited for a noisy quarrel than a fight. Nor moreover is there anything I fear; but I think full of modesty you are wearied by conquering, those however who are defeated so many times have taken up daring, you are exhausted by favorable things, while they are more hardened to adverse things. Therefore lift up your spirits, men of Rome, and relying on your ancestral valor rise up against the swarms of the enemy. Nor should the number of the people of Judaea disturb you, although the innumerable marks of our valor may not discourage them, which are far more powerful than their number. Nor is there in the Hebrews any knowledge of military affairs or expertise in fighting or the value of control, no practice of discipline, no enduring of suffering. Only into battle they bring a contempt for death, but no one ever conquered an enemy by dying but by destroying him. They do not know weapons except in war, we in peace times exercise with weapons, so that in war we do not experience the uncertain chances of war. The outcome a matter of doubt to those not experienced, a customary victory to veterans. For why else do we practice every day, unless so that to us battles may never be strange. Each one at home exercises as if in battle, so that in battle there may be a certain view of the contest. Finally anyone will not have erred asserting that our practices are wars without blood, our wars are practices. We go into war completely protected, the head is covered by a helmet, the breast by a coat of armor, the entire body by a shield. An enemy is not able to discover where he should strike a Roman soldier, whom he sees enclosed in iron. To others such arms are a burden, to us they are a protection, because they are lightened by practice. Against those unarmored and therefore as if naked the battle is ours. And should we truly fear that we might be surrounded by their number? In the first place the cavalry is unimpeded in battles, it practices war by withdrawing and pursuing, and although it runs around the largest battle arrays, it withdraws to whatever distances it pleases. And afterwards in the battle on foot it is not so much the number of the larger group that determines the battle as the excellence of the smaller group. For a multitude arrogant of training is itself to itself an impediment to victory in good circumstances, an impediment to flight in bad circumstances. Truly patient courage strengthens in good circumstances nor does it fall away completely in adverse circumstances. That repeated experience of victories comes which is an incentive to us in fighting. For although they are fighting for their homeland for their children, they are not thereby more ready than is necessary for us. Nor indeed is it unimportant, indeed I do not at all know if it is more important, to fight for ourselves rather than for our people. We fight for ourselves when we fight for glory, nor are we the lesser because of that which we are. For who would doubt that it is better to fight for glory than for safety? For us however this fight is a test of reputation lest the right of birth should perish. We victors over the nations and foremost of the world make trial to appear the equals to the Jews, whom from the equal to us we have established as adversaries, if we approach not otherwise than equal in number. Our ancestors frequently routed great numbers of the enemy with a small band. And what has daily training conferred on us, the daily toil, if we come to battle equals? Indeed we have reported about the number to my father, because it is not permitted to do otherwise, but he directs us not to fear about the danger but to hold to our respect as a judge of the war. It is permitted to pour a libation for the battle to hold the enemy to seize the victory, while help is coming, lest those who shall have come should boast to us the enemy not to have been overcome so much by the common strength as protected by their valor. With what expression therefore will we come into the sight of my father if we have feared to begin the battle? With what shame shall I an ignoble son come into the eyes of such a great man, who does not know how to see his soldier unless as a victor? How shall I show myself his son, since he is always a victor, while I who overcome by my own judgment, which is most serious, have yielded to the enemy Judaea? What will happen to you your leader having been found unworthy, whom his confident father has sent to you? But I prefer you to plead the case about the courage of your leader rather than about his faintheartedness. Therefore let us rush forward against our adversaries, let us hurry, let us come before them. I shall run out first into danger, you will follow so that you may guard the trust and preserve the undertaking of my father. I weigh not the companions of danger but the partners in victory. You however take care that the palm of triumph offered to you not be taken from you, that you do not appear to have saved it for others. Certainly if it happens otherwise, I prefer that my father should recognize me his son in my wounds, if he shall not have recognized me among his soldiers. Let us put aside that my father would be offended by our undertaking of the battle. Which therefore is more tolerable, to have seized the victory or to have forsaken it? Haste in the seizing is a sign of bravery, in the forsaking a blame of faintheartedness. My father may disapprove certainly of the victors, I do not shrink from a charge of this nature, I prefer to be a culprit with the state celebrating a triumph rather than be unhurt with the state injured. Would that it be permitted to me in the peril alone to imitate the son of Manlius Torquatus, whom his father ordered to be struck with the headsman's axe, because against the command of his father he lead the army against the enemy. The young man with the enemy slaughtered and clothed in the triumphal garb stood firm beneath the executioner of his death because he thought it happy to die in victory. For what is more illustrious than to conclude life with a triumph and not be saved for the uncertainties of life after a certain victory? Oh the crime of victory should be sought by the farseeing, would that this be presented to us because we shall have conquered! certainly by this example I alone shall be put in peril, you will celebrate a triumph. But however my father has not forbad us to fight, but has ordered, whom he has sent to battle. And so I consider it more unworthy for us to have yielded to the Jews, when we can win, than to have fought.'[Pseudo-Hegesippus 3.24]

The parallel section in Jewish War reads:

But when Titus perceived that the enemy was very numerous, he sent to his father, and informed him that he should want more forces. But as he saw a great many of the horsemen eager to fight, and that before any succors could come to them, and that yet some of them were privately under a sort of consternation at the multitude of the Jews, he stood in a place whence he might be heard, and said to them, "My brave Romans! for it is right for me to put you in mind of what nation you are, in the beginning of my speech, that so you may not be ignorant who you are, and who they are against whom we are going to fight. For as to us, Romans, no part of the habitable earth hath been able to escape our hands hitherto; but as for the Jews, that I may speak of them too, though they have been already beaten, yet do they not give up the cause; and a sad thing it would be for us to grow wealthy under good success, when they bear up under their misfortunes. As to the alacrity which you show publicly, I see it, and rejoice at it; yet am I afraid lest the multitude of the enemy should bring a concealed fright upon some of you: let such a one consider again, who we are that are to fight, and who those are against whom we are to fight. Now these Jews, though they be very bold and great despisers of death, are but a disorderly body, and unskillful in war, and may rather be called a rout than an army; while I need say nothing of our skill and our good order; for this is the reason why we Romans alone are exercised for war in time of peace, that we may not think of number for number when we come to fight with our enemies: for what advantage should we reap by our continual sort of warfare, if we must still be equal in number to such as have not been used to war. Consider further, that you are to have a conflict with men in effect unarmed, while you are well armed; with footmen, while you are horsemen; with those that have no good general, while you have one; and as these advantages make you in effect manifold more than you are, so do their disadvantages mightily diminish their number. Now it is not the multitude of men, though they be soldiers, that manages wars with success, but it is their bravery that does it, though they be but a few; for a few are easily set in battle-array, and can easily assist one another, while over-numerous armies are more hurt by themselves than by their enemies. It is boldness and rashness, the effects of madness, that conduct the Jews. Those passions indeed make a great figure when they succeed, but are quite extinguished upon the least ill success; but we are led on by courage, and obedience, and fortitude, which shows itself indeed in our good fortune, but still does not for ever desert us in our ill fortune. Nay, indeed, your fighting is to be on greater motives than those of the Jews; for although they run the hazard of war for liberty, and for their country, yet what can be a greater motive to us than glory? and that. it may never be said, that after we have got dominion of the habitable earth, the Jews are able to confront us. We must also reflect upon this, that there is no fear of our suffering any incurable disaster in the present case; for those that are ready to assist us are many, and at hand also; yet it is in our power to seize upon this victory ourselves; and I think we ought to prevent the coming of those my father is sending to us for our assistance, that our success may be peculiar to ourselves, and of greater reputation to us. And I cannot but think this an opportunity wherein my father, and I, and you shall be all put to the trial, whether he be worthy of his former glorious performances, whether I be his son in reality, and whether you be really my soldiers; for it is usual for my father to conquer; and for myself, I should not bear the thoughts of returning to him if I were once taken by the enemy. And how will you be able to avoid being ashamed, if you do not show equal courage with your commander, when he goes before you into danger? For you know very well that I shall go into the danger first, and make the first attack upon the enemy. Do not you therefore desert me, but persuade yourselves that God will be assisting to my onset. Know this also before we begin, that we shall now have better success than we should have, if we were to fight at a distance." [Jewish War 3.10.2]

It is impossible not to see Titus's speech as perpetuating the agenda of the second century author characterizing the Jews as an 'irrational' assembly guided by 'passion' rather than reason. Pseudo-Hegesippus references them as "rebellious Judaea offering an ignorant rashness of waging war" who "bring into battle a contempt for death" (compare the words of the forty Jews who praise Saul's suicide as a legally binding duty viz. "the god of the Hebrews, who teaches the righteous to have contempt for death). Titus says over and over again that despite this apparent valor the Jewish represent a half-crazed they cannot conduct themselves as an effective fighting group. 

Jewish War makes similar references to the inherent irrationality of the Jews - viz. "they have been already beaten, yet do they not give up the cause" and even makes the same point more explicitly viz. "these Jews, though they be very bold and great despisers of death, are but a disorderly body, and unskillful in war, and may rather be called a rout than an army" and "It is boldness and rashness, the effects of madness, that conduct the Jews. Those passions indeed make a great figure when they succeed, but are quite extinguished upon the least ill success." 

I want to stress again that themes of this kind could not possibly be reasonably associated with the historical Josephus the former guerilla commander of Galilee and Pharisee. They develop as part of an effort of his synergoi - or more specifically - the text of the second century 'Josephus' known to Clement of Alexandria and 'Hegesippus' of Eusebius to move forward a specific racist agenda which was virulently anti-Jewish. 

We have already noted that the the forty Jews of the well imploring Josephus to imitate Saul's 'para-suicidal example and subsequent self-slaughter (Pseudo-Hegesippus), the speech of Josephus to Vespasian where he alludes to the same beliefs as 'the law of the Jews', the characterizing of the 'madness' rebels at Jaffa as they commit mass suicide rather than submit to nature and the natural order will continue to build until the true climax of the Jewish War tradition - not in the real historical end to the military campaign (i.e. the destruction of the temple and capture of Jerusalem) but an invented mass suicide at Masada.

The second century author of Jewish War had more on his mind than merely recounting or improving the original hypomnema of Josephus. He was crafting a narrative on the seventy seventh anniversary of the destruction of the temple (i.e. in 147 CE) with the most recent Jewish rebellion in mind. This narrative argued effectively that Judaism - or perhaps more correctly the interpretation of Judaism (to use the distinction always employed in the contemporary age with regards to Islam) was basically and fundamentally flawed. It was governed by an irrational spirit that could only be corrected by the adoption of the invented example of Josephus complete embracing of Greco-Roman values. One may even suppose that there was a more prominent Christian agenda in the earlier manuscripts albeit Josephus was never originally identified as a Christian (see Origen and statements in the existing Hegesippus material).

It is also worth noting again that Titus' speech in Pseudo-Hegesippus is much fuller than the parallel material in Jewish War. Pseudo-Hegesippus is once again demonstrated not to be a copy, a translation or even a summary of Jewish War. They are two independent preservations of a lost second century grandfather text.

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