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)

Tethnēxomai

opnamedatum: 12-04-19
Jan Luyken, Josephus na de verovering van Jotapata met 40 metgezellen in een grot (1704)

This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

“Ἆρ’ οὐκ ἴστε ὅτι τῶν μὲν ἐξιόντων τοῦ βίου κατὰ τὸν τῆς φύσεως νόμον καὶ τὸ ληφθὲν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ χρέος ἐκτινύντων, ὅταν ὁ δοὺς κομίσασθαι θέλῃ, κλέος μὲν αἰώνιον, οἶκοι δὲ καὶ γενεαὶ βέβαιοι, καθαραὶ δὲ καὶ ἐπήκοοι μένουσιν αἱ ψυχαί, χῶρον οὐράνιον λαχοῦσαι τὸν ἁγιώτατον, ἔνθεν ἐκ περιτροπῆς αἰώνων ἁγνοῖς πάλιν ἀντενοικίζονται σώμασιν· ὅσοις δὲ καθ’ ἑαυτῶν ἐμάνησαν αἱ χεῖρες, τούτων ᾅδης μὲν δέχεται τὰς ψυχὰς σκοτεινότερος, ὁ δὲ τούτων πατὴρ θεὸς εἰς ἐγγόνους τιμωρεῖται τοὺς τῶν πατέρων ὑβριστάς. διὰ τοῦτο μεμίσηται παρὰ θεῷ τοῦτο καὶ παρὰ τῷ σοφωτάτῳ κολάζεται νομοθέτῃ· τοὺς γοῦν ἀναιροῦντας ἑαυτοὺς παρὰ μὲν ἡμῖν μέχρις ἡλίου δύσεως ἀτάφους ἐκρίπτειν ἔκριναν καίτοι καὶ πολεμίους θάπτειν θεμιτὸν ἡγούμενοι, παρ’ ἑτέροις δὲ καὶ τὰς δεξιὰς τῶν τοιούτων νεκρῶν ἀποκόπτειν ἐκέλευσαν, αἷς ἐστρατεύσαντο καθ’ ἑαυτῶν, ἡγούμενοι καθάπερ τὸ σῶμα τῆς ψυχῆς ἀλλότριον, οὕτως καὶ τὴν χεῖρα τοῦ σώματος. καλὸν οὖν, ἑταῖροι, δίκαια φρονεῖν καὶ μὴ ταῖς ἀνθρωπίναις συμφοραῖς προσθεῖναι τὴν εἰς τὸν κτίσαντα ἡμᾶς δυσσέβειαν. εἰ σώζεσθαι δοκεῖ, σωζώμεθα· καὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἄδοξος ἡ σωτηρία παρ’ οἷς διὰ τοσούτων ἔργων ἐπεδειξάμεθα τὰς ἀρετάς· εἰ τεθνάναι, καλὸν ὑπὸ τῶν ἑλόντων. οὐ μεταβήσομαι δ’ ἐγὼ εἰς τὴν τῶν πολεμίων τάξιν, ἵν’ ἐμαυτοῦ προδότης γένωμαι· καὶ γὰρ ἂν εἴην πολὺ τῶν αὐτομολούντων πρὸς τοὺς πολεμίους ἠλιθιώτερος, εἴ γ’ ἐκεῖνοι μὲν ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ τοῦτο πράττουσιν, ἐγὼ δὲ ἐπὶ ἀπωλείᾳ, καί γε τῇ ἐμαυτοῦ. τὴν μέντοι Ῥωμαίων ἐνέδραν εὔχομαι· μετὰ γὰρ δεξιὰν ἀναιρούμενος ὑπ’ αὐτῶν εὔθυμος τεθνήξομαι, τὴν τῶν ψευσαμένων ἀπιστίαν νίκης μείζονα ἀποφέρων παραμυθίαν.”
(Josephus, Bell. Iud. 3.374-382)

“Know you not that they who depart this life in accordance with the law of nature and repay the loan which they received from God, when He who lent is pleased to reclaim it, win eternal renown; that their houses and families are secure; that their souls, remaining spotless and obedient, are allotted the most holy place in heaven, whence, in the revolution of the ages, they return to find in chaste bodies a new habitation? But as for those who have laid mad hands upon themselves, the darker regions of the nether world receive their souls, and God, their father, visits upon their posterity the outrageous acts of the parents. That is why this crime, so hateful to God, is punished also by the sagest of legislators. With us it is ordained that the body of a suicide should be exposed unburied until sunset, although it is thought right to bury even our enemies slain in war. In other nations the law requires that a suicide’s right hand, with which he made war on himself, should be cut off, holding that, as the body was unnaturally severed from the soul, so the hand should be severed from the body. We shall do well then, comrades, to listen to reason and not to add to our human calamities the crime of impiety towards our creator. If our lives are offered us, let us live: there is nothing dishonourable in accepting this offer from those who have had so many proofs of our valour; if they think fit to kill us, death at the hands of our conquerors is honourable. But, for my part, I shall never pass over to the enemy’s ranks, to prove a traitor to myself; I should indeed then be far more senseless than deserters who go over to the enemy for safety, whereas I should be going to destruction—my own destruction. I pray, however, that the Romans may prove faithless; if, after pledging their word, they put me to death, I shall die content, for I shall carry with me the consolation, better than a victory, that their triumph has been sullied by perjury.” (tr. Henry St. John Thackeray)

Autocheiria

SONY DSC
Cave at Yodfat

This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here.

“Τί δὲ καὶ δεδοικότες πρὸς Ῥωμαίους οὐκ ἄνιμεν; ἆρ’ οὐχὶ θάνατον; εἶθ’ ὃν δεδοίκαμεν ἐκ τῶν ἐχθρῶν ὑποπτευόμενον ἑαυτοῖς βέβαιον ἐπιστήσομεν; ‘ἀλλὰ δουλείαν’, ἐρεῖ τις. πάνυ γοῦν νῦν ἐσμὲν ἐλεύθεροι. ‘γενναῖον γὰρ ἀνελεῖν ἑαυτόν’, φήσει τις. οὐ μὲν οὖν, ἀλλ’ ἀγενέστατον, ὡς ἔγωγε καὶ κυβερνήτην ἡγοῦμαι δειλότατον, ὅστις χειμῶνα δεδοικὼς πρὸ τῆς θυέλλης ἐβάπτισεν ἑκὼν τὸ σκάφος. ἀλλὰ μὴν ἡ αὐτοχειρία καὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἁπάντων ζῴων φύσεως ἀλλότριον καὶ πρὸς τὸν κτίσαντα θεὸν ἡμᾶς ἐστιν ἀσέβεια. τῶν μέν γε ζῴων οὐδέν ἐστιν ὃ θνήσκει μετὰ προνοίας ἢ δι’ αὐτοῦ· φύσεως γὰρ νόμος ἰσχυρὸς ἐν ἅπασιν τὸ ζῆν ἐθέλειν· διὰ τοῦτο καὶ τοὺς φανερῶς ἀφαιρουμένους ἡμᾶς τούτου πολεμίους ἡγούμεθα καὶ τοὺς ἐξ ἐνέδρας τιμωρούμεθα. τὸν δὲ θεὸν οὐκ οἴεσθε ἀγανακτεῖν, ὅταν ἄνθρωπος αὐτοῦ τὸ δῶρον ὑβρίζῃ; καὶ γὰρ εἰλήφαμεν παρ’ ἐκείνου τὸ εἶναι καὶ τὸ μηκέτι εἶναι πάλιν ἐκείνῳ διδῶμεν. τὰ μέν γε σώματα θνητὰ πᾶσιν καὶ ἐκ φθαρτῆς ὕλης δεδημιούργηται, ψυχὴ δὲ ἀθάνατος ἀεὶ καὶ θεοῦ μοῖρα τοῖς σώμασιν ἐνοικίζεται· εἶτ’ ἐὰν μὲν ἀφανίσῃ τις ἀνθρώπου παρακαταθήκην ἢ διαθῆται κακῶς, πονηρὸς εἶναι δοκεῖ καὶ ἄπιστος, εἰ δέ τις τοῦ σφετέρου σώματος ἐκβάλλει τὴν παρακαταθήκην τοῦ θεοῦ, λεληθέναι δοκεῖ τὸν ἀδικούμενον; καὶ κολάζειν μὲν τοὺς ἀποδράντας οἰκέτας δίκαιον νενόμισται κἂν πονηροὺς καταλείπωσι δεσπότας, αὐτοὶ δὲ κάλλιστον δεσπότην ἀποδιδράσκοντες τὸν θεὸν οὐ δοκοῦμεν ἀσεβεῖν;”
(Josephus, Bell. Iud. 3.366-373)

What is it we fear that prevents us from surrendering to the Romans? Is it not death? And shall we then inflict up an ourselves certain death, to avoid an uncertain death, which we fear, at the hands of our foes? ‘No, it is slavery we fear,’ I shall be told. Much liberty we enjoy at present! ‘It is noble to destroy oneself,’ another will say. Not so, I retort, but most ignoble; in my opinion there could be no more arrant coward than the pilot who, for fear of a tempest, deliberately sinks his ship before the storm. No; suicide is alike repugnant to that nature which all creatures share, and an act of impiety towards God who created us. Among the animals there is not one that deliberately seeks death or kills itself; so firmly rooted in all is nature’s law—the will to live. That is why we account as enemies those who would openly take our lives and punish as assassins those who clandestinely attempt to do so. And God—think you not that He is indignant when man treats His gift with scorn? For it is from Him that we have received our being, and it is to Him that we should leave the decision to take it away. All of us, it is true, have mortal bodies, composed of perishable matter, but the soul lives forever, immortal: it is a portion of the Deity housed in our bodies. If, then, one who makes away with or misapplies a deposit entrusted to him by a fellow-man is reckoned a perjured villain, how can he who casts out from his own body the deposit which God has placed there, hope to elude Him whom he has thus wronged? It is considered right to punish a fugitive slave, even though the master he leaves be a scoundrel; and shall we fly from the best of masters, from God Himself, and not be deemed impious? (tr. Henry St. John Thackeray)

Stenaxeian

Josephus

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Καὶ τῶν Ἰουδαίων οἱ συγκαταφυγόντες ὡς τὸν Ἰώσηπον συνίεσαν εἴκοντα τοῖς παρακαλοῦσιν, ἀθρόοι περιστάντες, “ἦ μεγάλα γ’ ἂν στενάξειαν,” ἐβόων, “οἱ πάτριοι νόμοι, καὶ κατηφήσαι θεὸς Ἰουδαίοις ὁ κτίσας ψυχὰς θανάτου καταφρονούσας. φιλοζωεῖς, Ἰώσηπε, καὶ φῶς ὑπομένεις ὁρᾶν δοῦλον; ὡς ταχέως ἐπελάθου σαυτοῦ. πόσους ὑπὲρ ἐλευθερίας ἀποθνήσκειν ἔπεισας. ψευδῆ μὲν ἄρα δόξαν ἀνδρείας, ψευδῆ δὲ καὶ συνέσεως εἶχες, εἴ γε σωτηρίαν μὲν ἔχειν ἐλπίζεις παρ’ οἷς οὕτως ἐπολέμησας, σώζεσθαι δὲ ὑπ’ ἐκείνων, κἂν ᾖ βέβαιον, θέλεις. ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ σοὶ λήθην σεαυτοῦ κατέχεεν ἡ Ῥωμαίων τύχη, προνοητέον ἡμῖν τοῦ πατρίου κλέους. χρήσομέν σοι δεξιὰν καὶ ξίφος· σὺ δ’ ἂν μὲν ἑκὼν θνήσκῃς, Ἰουδαίων στρατηγός, ἂν δ’ ἄκων, προδότης τεθνήξῃ.” ταῦθ’ ἅμα λέγοντες ἐπανετείναντο τὰ ξίφη καὶ διηπείλουν ἀναιρήσειν αὐτόν, εἰ τοῖς Ῥωμαίοις ἐνδιδοίη. δείσας δὲ τὴν ἔφοδον ὁ Ἰώσηπος καὶ προδοσίαν ἡγούμενος εἶναι τῶν τοῦ θεοῦ προσταγμάτων, εἰ προαποθάνοι τῆς διαγγελίας, ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτοὺς φιλοσοφεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς ἀνάγκης· “τί γὰρ τοσοῦτον, ἔφη, σφῶν αὐτῶν, ἑταῖροι, φονῶμεν; ἢ τί τὰ φίλτατα διαστασιάζομεν, σῶμα καὶ ψυχήν; ἠλλάχθαι τις ἐμέ φησιν. ἀλλ’ οἴδασιν Ῥωμαῖοι τοῦτό γε. καλὸν ἐν πολέμῳ θνήσκειν, ἀλλὰ πολέμου νόμῳ, τουτέστιν ὑπὸ τῶν κρατούντων. εἰ μὲν οὖν τὸν Ῥωμαίων ἀποστρέφομαι σίδηρον, ἄξιος ἀληθῶς εἰμι τοὐμοῦ ξίφους καὶ χειρὸς τῆς ἐμῆς· εἰ δ’ ἐκείνους εἰσέρχεται φειδὼ πολεμίου, πόσῳ δικαιότερον ἂν ἡμᾶς ἡμῶν αὐτῶν εἰσέλθοι; καὶ γὰρ ἠλίθιον ταῦτα δρᾶν σφᾶς αὐτούς, περὶ ὧν πρὸς ἐκείνους διιστάμεθα. καλὸν γὰρ ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐλευθερίας ἀποθνήσκειν· φημὶ κἀγώ, μαχομένους μέντοι, καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν ἀφαιρουμένων αὐτήν. νῦν δ’ οὔτ’ εἰς μάχην ἀντιάζουσιν ἡμῖν οὔτ’ ἀναιροῦσιν ἡμᾶς· δειλὸς δὲ ὁμοίως ὅ τε μὴ βουλόμενος θνήσκειν ὅταν δέῃ καὶ ὁ βουλόμενος, ὅταν μὴ δέῃ.”
(Josephus, Bell. Iud. 3.355-365)

But when the Jews who shared his retreat understood that Josephus was yielding to entreaty, they came round him in a body, crying out, “Ah! well might the laws of our fathers groan aloud and God Himself hide His face for grief—God who implanted in Jewish breasts souls that scorn death! Is life so dear to you, Josephus, that you can endure to see the light in slavery? How soon have you forgotten yourself! How many have you persuaded to die for liberty! False, then, was that reputation for bravery, false that fame for sagacity, if you can hope for pardon from those whom you have fought so bitterly, or, supposing that they grant it, can deign to accept your life at their hands. Nay, if the fortune of the Romans has cast over you some strange forgetfulness of yourself, the care of our country’s honour devolves on us. We will lend you a right hand and a sword. If you meet death willingly, you will have died as general of the Jews; if unwillingly, as a traitor.” With these words they pointed their swords at him and threatened to kill him if he surrendered to the Romans. Josephus, fearing an assault, and holding that it would be a betrayal of God’s commands, should he die before delivering his message, proceeded, in this emergency, to reason philosophically with them. “Why, comrades,” said he, “this thirst for our own blood? Why set asunder such fond companions as soul and body? One says that I am changed: well, the Romans know the truth about that. Another says, ‘It is honourable to die in war’: yes, but according to the law of war, that is to say by the hand of the conqueror. Were I now flinching from the sword of the Romans, I should assuredly deserve to perish by my own sword and my own hand; but if they are moved to spare an enemy, how much stronger reason have we to spare ourselves? It would surely be folly to inflict on ourselves treatment which we seek to avoid by our quarrel with them. ‘It is honourable to die for liberty,’ says another: I concur, but on condition that one dies fighting, by the hands of those who would rob us of it. But now they are neither coming to fight us nor to take our lives. It is equally cowardly not to wish to die when one ought to do so, and to wish to die when one ought not. (tr.  Henry St. John Thackeray)