Stasiōdeis

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Poppaea (15th-c. manuscript illustration)

Μετ’ εἰκοστὸν δὲ καὶ ἕκτον ἐνιαυτὸν εἰς Ῥώμην μοι συνέπεσεν ἀναβῆναι διὰ τὴν λεχθησομένην αἰτίαν· καθ’ ὃν χρόνον Φῆλιξ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐπετρόπευεν ἱερεῖς τινας συνήθεις ἐμοὶ καλοὺς κἀγαθοὺς διὰ μικρὰν καὶ τὴν τυχοῦσαν αἰτίαν δήσας εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην ἔπεμψε λόγον ὑφέξοντας τῷ Καίσαρι. οἷς ἐγὼ πόρον εὑρέσθαι βουλόμενος σωτηρίας, μάλιστα δὲ πυθόμενος ὅτι καίπερ ἐν κακοῖς ὄντες οὐκ ἐπελάθοντο τῆς εἰς τὸ θεῖον εὐσεβείας, διατρέφοιντο δὲ σύκοις καὶ καρύοις, ἀφικόμην εἰς τὴν Ῥώμην πολλὰ κινδυνεύσας κατὰ θάλασσαν. βαπτισθέντος γὰρ ἡμῶν τοῦ πλοίου κατὰ μέσον τὸν Ἀδρίαν περὶ ἑξακοσίους τὸν ἀριθμὸν ὄντες δι’ ὅλης τῆς νυκτὸς ἐνηξάμεθα, καὶ περὶ ἀρχομένην ἡμέραν ἐπιφανέντος ἡμῖν κατὰ θεοῦ πρόνοιαν Κυρηναϊκοῦ πλοίου φθάσαντες τοὺς ἄλλους ἐγώ τε καί τινες ἕτεροι περὶ ὀγδοήκοντα σύμπαντες ἀνελήφθημεν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον. διασωθεὶς δ’ εἰς τὴν Δικαιάρχειαν, ἣν Ποτιόλους Ἰταλοὶ καλοῦσιν, διὰ φιλίας ἀφικόμην Ἁλιτύρῳ, μιμολόγος δ’ ἦν οὗτος μάλιστα τῷ Νέρωνι καταθύμιος Ἰουδαῖος τὸ γένος, καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ Ποππαίᾳ τῇ τοῦ Καίσαρος γυναικὶ γνωσθεὶς προνοῶ ὡς τάχιστα παρακαλέσας αὐτὴν τοὺς ἱερεῖς λυθῆναι. μεγάλων δὲ δωρεῶν πρὸς τῇ εὐεργεσίᾳ ταύτῃ τυχὼν παρὰ τῆς Ποππαίας ὑπέστρεφον ἐπὶ τὴν οἰκείαν. καταλαμβάνω δ’ ἤδη νεωτερισμῶν ἀρχὰς καὶ πολλοὺς ἐπὶ τῇ Ῥωμαίων ἀποστάσει μέγα φρονοῦντας. καταστέλλειν οὖν ἐπειρώμην τοὺς στασιώδεις καὶ μετανοεῖν ἔπειθον ποιησαμένους πρὸ ὀφθαλμῶν πρὸς οὓς πολεμήσουσιν, ὅτι Ῥωμαίων οὐ κατ’ ἐμπειρίαν μόνον πολεμικήν, ἀλλὰ καὶ κατ’ εὐτυχίαν ἐλαττοῦνται· καὶ μὴ προπετῶς καὶ παντάπασιν ἀνοήτως πατρίσι καὶ γενεαῖς καὶ σφίσιν αὐτοῖς τὸν περὶ τῶν ἐσχάτων κακῶν κίνδυνον ἐπάγειν. ταῦτα δ’ ἔλεγον καὶ λιπαρῶς ἐνεκείμην ἀποτρέπων, δυστυχέστατον ἡμῖν τοῦ πολέμου τὸ τέλος γενήσεσθαι προορώμενος. οὐ μὴν ἔπεισα· πολὺ γὰρ ἡ τῶν ἀπονοηθέντων ἐπεκράτησεν μανία.
(Josephus, Vita 13-19)

After my twenty-sixth year, indeed, it fell to me to go up to Rome for the reason that will be described. At the time when Felix was administering Judea, he had certain priests, close associates of mine and gentlemen, bound and sent to Rome on a minor and incidental charge, to submit an account to Caesar. Wanting to find some means of rescue for these men, especially when I discovered that even in wretched circumstances they had not abandoned piety toward the deity but were subsisting on figs and nuts, I reached Rome after having faced many dangers at sea. For when our ship was flooded in the middle of the Adriatic, we—being about 600 in number—had to swim through the entire night. And when by the provision of God a Cyrenian ship appeared before us around daybreak, I and some others—about eighty altogether—overtook the rest and were taken on board. After we had come safely to Dicaearcheia, which the Italians call Puteoli, through a friendship I met Aliturus: this man was a mime-actor, especially dear to Nero’s thoughts and a Judean by ancestry. Through him I became known to Poppea, the wife of Caesar, and then very quickly arranged things, appealing to her to free the priests. Having succeeded, with enormous gifts from Poppea in addition to this benefit, I returned home. Now I was surprised already to find the beginnings of revolutions, with many [people] grandly contemplating defection from the Romans. So I tried to restrain the insurgents and charged them to think again. They should first place before their eyes those against whom they would make war—for not only with respect to war-related expertise but also with respect to good fortune were they disadvantaged in relation to the Romans—and they should not, rashly and quite foolishly, bring upon their native places, their families, and indeed themselves the risk of ultimate ruin. I said these things and was persistently engaged in dissuasive pleading, predicting that the outcome of the war would be utterly disastrous for us. I was not convincing, to be sure, because the frenzy of the desperadoes prevailed. (tr. Steve Mason)

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