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935

ROME-THE FIRST CAESARS.

street. Vespasianus was immediately recognized by the senators, who sent an

embassy to the East to salute him as Imperator. Thus on the 21st of

December, A. D. 70, after a bloody turmoil of eighteen months duration, the

government of Rome at last fell into the hands of one who was competent to

rule the Empire with something of the old-time energy and firmness.

Before proceeding to narrate the events of the reign of Vespasianus, it

will be desirable to note in a few paragraphs the downfall of the

Israelitish nation. The story of this people was dropped at the time of the

conquest of Palestine by Cambyses, the Persian. During the reigns of the

succeeding kings the country remained subject to the empire of the

Achaemenians. In the time of Artaxerxes, Ezra, the pious scribe of Israel,

brought to Jerusalem a new colony of his people from beyond the Euphrates;

and by an able and energetic administration succeeded in restoring the

Mosaic economy. Afterwards in B. C. 445, Nehemiah, who had been the cup

bearer of Artaxerxes, restored the fortifications of the city and carried

forward the reforms undertaken by Ezra. The Jewish temple on Mount Moriah,

which was the center and core of Judaism, fell under the control of a long

line of high priests. The prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Nehemiah kept

alive the national spirit by the collection and authentication of the

sacred writings, among which were included the most valuable fragments of

the literature of ancient Israel. The Pentateuch was taught in the schools,

and publicly expounded as the fundamental law of the Jews.

After the epoch of Alexander, the influence of the Greeks began to be felt

in Palestine. The science and philosophy of that cultured people made great

progress among the doctors of Jewry. The doctrines of Epicurus were

received with much favor by many learned scribes who formed a sect known as

the Sadducees, rejecting the authority of tradition and denying the

immortality of the soul. The principles of the Stoics were still more

widely disseminated, and they who professed these doctrines were united in

the more numerous sect called the Pharisees. A smaller faction, more

ascetic and mystical than either of the others, was founded on socialistic

and philosophic professions, and was known as the Essenes.

The paganism of Greece also infected Samaria. The cities of this apostate

region became Hellenized, and in many places the worship of the Greek gods

was introduced. The language of the Hellenes prevailed in Judea more and

more. After the establishment of Jewish colonies in Alexandria, the Graeco-

Israelitish learning led to the translation of the sacred writings,

resulting in the Septuagint. With the accession of Ptolemy Soter, Judea

became an Egyptian dependency, but the relations of the little state were

fluctuating and uncertain. In the times of Ptolemy V. the Jews went over to

Antiochus the Great, and were worsted by the change. The rival parties in

Jerusalem began to auction their nationality in order to secure the favor

of the Graeco-Syrian kings. In order to settle the disgraceful broils of

the factions, and to punish the sedition which had spread abroad