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ROME-THE FIRST CAESARS.

constant turmoil. It was during this troublous epoch that the Christ was

born, and was saved from the bloody edict of Herod the Great by the flight

of his parents into Egypt.

After the introduction of the new era Judea continued a Roman province. The

procurator generally- lived in the coast town of Caesarea, and stood aloof

as much as possible from the interminable broils of the Jews. At Jerusalem,

the capital, every thing was as far as practicable left to the management

of the nation, under the lead of the Sanhedrim, or Jewish Senate. Never was

a people so turbulent, so excited with expectation of a deliverer who

should restore the ancient kingdom, so fired with bigotry and fanaticism,

as were the wretched Jews of this period. One Christ came after another.

Revolt was succeeded by revolt, instigated by some pseudo, prophet or

pretended king.

Meanwhile Rome gave little heed to Jewish prejudices except to despise

them. Caligula required the priests to set up his statue in the temple of

Jehovah. The rage of the Jews at this proposition was so intense that

nothing but the temporizing policy of the procurator prevented a desperate

rebellion. Claudius was more inclined to humor the dispositions of his

Judaean subjects, and there was a lull in the gathering tempest. Under

Nero, however, the procurators, acting in accordance with the temper of

their master, began to oppress the Jews and to trample on their customs. A

general rebellion was the result. The priests, as usual, promised the

interposition of heaven. The authority of the hierarchy over the minds of

the people was absolute. Not the Druids themselves held such undisputed

sway over the forest tribes of British Celts as did the Jewish priesthood

over the rabble about the temple and city of Jerusalem. It now became

necessary for Rome to apply her exterminating iron to the turbulent race,

or else give up Judea to its own anarchic independence.

The conflict which was waged for independence by the infatuated Jews was

prosecuted with a desperation hardly equaled in the annals of warfare. Nero

committed the work of suppressing the revolt to Vespasianus, then in joint

command with Mucianus in the East. The tactics adopted by the Roman general

were at once cautious and severe. He first captured Iotapata, in Galilee;

then received the surrender of Tiberias; then took Tarichea by storm. The

Jews quickly perceived that they had nothing to expect except annihilation

as the penalty for their rash rebellion; but this knowledge merely inspired

them with a profounder hatred of the Romans and a more sullen determination

to resist to the last. The campaign of A. D. 69 was still directed against

the outlying Judaean towns, rather than Jerusalem. It was manifestly the

policy of Vespasianus to destroy the resources of the country, and when the

whole population had taken refuge in the capital to invest the city and

exterminate the race.

Meanwhile Rome tottered. Nero went down before Galba, and Galba before

Otho. The latter gave place to Vitellius, and he hung for a moment on the

edge of the precipice. The Syrian army declared for Vespasianus, and that

general entrusted the completion of the Jewish war to his son Titus. The

latter, in the year 70, moved with all his forces against Jerusalem. Within

the city was a multitude of strangers, numbering hundreds of thousands; for

it was the feast of the Passover. Behind the walls were twenty-four

thousand regular soldiers, besides a large army of irregular troops, armed

and equipped for the occasion. Titus had at his disposal a force of about

eighty thousand men, mostly veterans of the legions.

If the people of the city had been united in their purposes, the Romans

could hardly have succeeded. The defenses of Jerusalem, both natural and

artificial, were almost impregnable to assault. It was only in the

existence of warring factions among the fanatic multitudes of Jewry and in

the steady approach of famine that Titus could hope for certain success.

After advancing from the north, and planting his forces on the ridge of

Scopus, he undertook negotiations, and, sending the historian Josephus to

the city gates, offered honorable terms to the besieged. But all proposals

were rejected with disdain and unquenchable hatred. The envoys which were

sent by Titus were met with a shower of arrows.