Imágenes de páginas

lem the special subject of a very careful examination, contrasting the account of that event by Severus with that by Josephus, and arriving at the conclusion not only that Josephus has misrepresented the facts, while the account of Severus is the true one, but that Severus undoubtedly derived his account from the Historia of Tacitus, and that thus the work of Severus serves to restore this portion of Tacitus. The charge against Josephus is a serious one, the arguments employed to support it are ingenious, and the result, if established, important, reasons enough for subjecting the hypothesis of Bernays to a close scrutiny.

We shall endeavor to state the argument of Bernays with the greatest care, so that, if we shall arrive at a conclusion different from his, it may not be ascribed to a misapprehension or unfair statement of his reasoning.

Bernays begins with the remark that, although the destruction of Jerusalem belongs to the same class of transactions as the destruction of Carthage and Corinth, so far as the amount of ruin is concerned, there was not the same necessity of destroying Jerusalem as there was for the destruction of the other two cities. In the former cases, the Roman republic, having no standing army, had no other choice than to destroy these strongholds of its enemies, while in the case of Jerusalem it would have been as easy to retain by military force the conquered city as Alexandria. Later, after the excitement of passion had subsided, this view that the city might have been spared became more predominant, and the expla nation which Titus either gave, or would have liked to give, is contained in the account of his client Josephus. Bernays is of opinion that the work of Josephus, notwithstanding its reliability in general, often reminds the reader that it was written under the censorship of Titus; that the description of the catastrophe of Jerusalem excites a suspicion, as if not a fact were related, but an opinion or thesis defended; that Josephus repeatedly reminds his readers that the Romans, by order of Titus, had made every effort to save the city, and especially the temple; that the Jews in their desperation were the first to set the temple on fire, and that its final destruction was caused by a firebrand thrown by a Roman soldier, without

command, through a window into the interior of the building; that the command of Titus to extinguish the fire was not heeded in the tumult of the battle, and Titus's own subsequent efforts to the same end were fruitless. However possible all this may be, it must appear strange that such details should have been noticed in the confusion of the assault, which Josephus himself describes as terrific; and, while sound historical criticism renders it proper to leave all this detail out of consideration, we see in the account of Josephus nothing but a version approved by Titus; and, instead of inquiring how the fire originated, it will be necessary to go back to the time before the assault, and ascertain what the intention of the council of war on this point was, whether the plan of attack was controlled by the intention of sparing the temple, or of destroying it under any circumstances. Josephus, indeed, relates that three opinions were expressed in the council of war; one urging the destruction at any rate, for the rebellion could not be crushed as long as the temple presented a rallying-point; — a second recommending the sparing of the temple as a sacred building, in case it should be evacuated by the Jews; if defended by them, it would cease to be a temple, and might be treated like a fortress;-finally, a third, maintained by Titus, and eventually supported by three of the six members of his council, that the temple should be spared, even if the Jews made it a means of defence. Accordingly, Josephus represents the destruction as contrary to the decision of the council; as accidental, or the result of Divine interposition; as an event deeply lamented by Titus. As it is neither usual, nor to some extent possible, to obtain information concerning the destruction of Jerusalem from other sources, it was to be expected that the account of Josephus should be generally received. Bernays finds a confirmation of his view that the attempt of protecting Titus against the charge of unnecessary severity in destroying Jerusalem and the temple was an after-thought, in a passage of Valerius Flaccus,

[merged small][ocr errors]

It is possible, but by no means certain, that Valerius Flaccus intended thus to

composed before the imperial family thought it expedient to furnish, through the agency of Josephus, a different version of the event. But the account of Josephus is, in Bernays's opinion, still more strikingly contradicted by the calm and definite narrative of Severus. Without entering into the confusing details of the battle, he leads us into the tent of the general, and furnishes an account of the doings of the council of war. "It is related, that Titus previously summoned a council of war, and deliberated whether he should destroy such an edifice as the temple. For some were of opinion that a consecrated house of God, surpassing all works of man, should not be destroyed, since its preservation would be a testimony to Roman clemency, its destruction an inextinguishable stain of cruelty. Others, on the contrary, and Titus himself, voted that the temple particularly must be destroyed, in order that the religion of Jews and Christians be more completely eradicated. For these religions, although opposed to each other, had sprung from the same authors; the Christians had sprung from the Jews; if the root was removed, the trunk would soon perish, In this way, after, by a divine impulse, all minds had become inflamed, the temple was destroyed in the three hundred and thirtieth year before the present."

The inconsistency of the two accounts of course attracted notice. Sigonius believes Severus's statement an invention ("credo hoc ex ingenio suo expressisse Severum"). Bernays can see no motive for such a fraud, and rejects decidedly this solution. Then he mentions the solution of Hieronymus de Prato, the latest editor of the Chronicle, as the only satisfactory one. De Prato says: "It is evident that Severus has not consulted Josephus, but that the source whence this account, contradicting that of Josephus, was derived, has not yet been ascertained."*

Upon this, Bernays undertakes to discover the source. That

indicate the agency of Titus in the destruction of Jerusalem. Poets, and even prosewriters, furnish many instances in which, with a natural license, they ascribe acts done during the command of their hero as done by him. An historical fact must be very much in need of confirmation, if evidence such as this is resorted to.

* " Apparet sane Severum non consuluisse libros Josephi de Bello Judaico, sed unde hæc Josepho contraria habuerit, adhuc incertum."

Severus, as regards the history of the Roman emperors, has drawn chiefly from Tacitus, Bernays endeavors by several combinations to place beyond a doubt. He points to the almost literal agreement of the two writers in the account of the crimes of Nero, culminating in the murder of his mother, and finds a confirmation of his theory even in the slight difference between the two accounts. He takes the same view with regard to the account given by Tacitus and Severus of the burning of Rome by Nero. In the consideration of these two passages, Bernays shows, in the most brilliant manner, his talent of ingenious argumentation, and his thorough and nice knowledge of the Latin language in its different periods.

Bernays then goes on to say, that, in taking his materials for the history of the Flavian dynasty and the destruction of Jerusalem from the same author, Severus was not even obliged to turn to a different volume, since as early as the fourth century the Annals and Histories of Tacitus were united into one whole of thirty books. We, indeed, now look in vain, in the preserved fragments of the Histories, for the account of the end of the city which Tacitus in the beginning of the fifth book promises. The commencement of the siege alone is related; the portion which contained the capture and destruction has been lost with the latter part of the fifth and the remaining books of the Histories. That this loss occurred after the time of Severus is proved by the testimony of Orosius, a contemporary of Severus, who quotes, naming Tacitus, passages which relate to the events in the later years of the reign of Vespasian and the reign of Domitian, and which must have been contained in the lost portion of the Histories. "From all sides," says Bernays, "the indications are gathering which render the Tacitean origin of the account of the council of war given by Severus so highly probable, that this probability can only be shaken and overthrown by an irrefragable proof of internal impossibility." Bernays thinks that both the historical contents and the language tend to strengthen the probability. The difference between Josephus and Severus must be considered as favoring the view that we have the account of

* C. 2: "famosæ urbis supremum diem tradituri sumus."

Tacitus before us. Tacitus- who disdained to be instructed by the works of Josephus in those things where he might have learned, and from sheer ignorance has fallen into the most egregious absurdities concerning the earlier history and laws of the Jews would certainly not have sought information of a Jew concerning Roman military plans, and proceedings in a Roman council of war. On these matters, a man of the social position of Tacitus must have had access, besides the public records, to secret memoirs and oral information of the most reliable kind, being moreover, since he wrote after the removal of Domitian, unfettered by, all those considerations which guided the pen of the Jewish client in his work, which appeared under the censorship of the Flavii. Bernays thinks that he can give the name of one of the authorities whom Tacitus undoubtedly consulted. Minucius Felix, who wrote under the Antonines, mentions the work of one Antonius Julianus, treating of Jewish affairs. No trace is left of the book, but the name of the author forces upon us the belief that this Julianus is the identical person with the Procurator of Judæa, Marcus Antonius Julianus, whom Josephus mentions as one of the six members of the council of war, and as voting for the destruction. It is not to be supposed that Tacitus would neglect to use a Roman witness of so high a position; and if this view should prove to be correct, we can trace the source of the account of Severus even beyond Tacitus to the very time of the event itself.

The next step in Bernays's argument is one of considerable boldness. He finds in the language of Severus, in this passage, as many of the characteristics of Tacitus as in the two instances before mentioned; and to show most clearly how few the words in the account of Severus are which Tacitus could not have used, he constructs a passage such as Tacitus might have written, disclaiming, indeed, the audacity of asserting positively what Tacitus had written.

Bernays entertains no doubt, from the known predilection of Tacitus for dwelling upon the proceedings of councils of war on the eve of important events, that he stated the opinions of the different members of the council mentioned by name, as is done by Josephus, with this exception, that they must have

« AnteriorContinuar »