UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
Angered at this obstinacy, the Roman general at once began a siege. For
this he was well prepared with all the enginery known to the invention of
the time. The defense was conducted with all the spirit which insane
fanaticism could engender. The outer wall was battered down, and the
besiegers advanced against the second rampart and the tower of Antonia.
Upon these strong bulwarks the engines were brought to bear, and it was but
a question of time when they must fall.
Meanwhile famine began to gnaw at the vitals of the city. The factions
hawked at and tore each other, and the distress became intolerable. The
wolf of cannibalism began. to screech in the streets. The bodies of the
dead began to be eaten by the survivors, and then the living quailed at the
horrid thought of being served up to the soldiers. In the wild rage of the
hour, children were eaten by their parents. The insane illusions begotten
of unappeasable hunger and fanaticism seized upon the feverish minds of the
multitudes as they surged from one side of the city to the other looking
for the Christ. Delirious prophets cried in the streets. Prodigies were
seen in the heavens-spectral warriors striding the clouds as cherubim going
Finally the tower of Antonia was carried by assault, and the engines were
brought to bear on the temple of Mount Moriah. This beautiful edifice soon
yielded to the battering rams, and was stormed by the assailants. The Roman
soldiers rushing into the holy place over the bodies of the slain applied
fire-brands, and the building was soon wrapped in flames. Meanwhile the
people under their leaders, John and Simon, had withdrawn to Mount Zion,
and here made their last defense. In vain did Titus, assisted by Josephus,
attempt to secure a capitulation; but the envoys were met with curses and
violence. Thereupon the Roman general resolved to accomplish the complete
destruction of the race. Thousands upon thousands of the crowded, host on
Zion died of starvation, and other thousands, attempting to break through
the lines of the besiegers, were impaled on Roman spears.
At last the work of destruction was completed. The remnant were captured
and sold into slavery. John and Simon, having concealed themselves for a
season, attempted to effect their escape through subterranean passages
leading from the city, but were caught and dragged from the cavern. The
former was condemned to imprisonment for life, and the latter was reserved
to grace the general's triumph. The annihilation of Jewish nationality was
complete. Jerusalem was reduced to a ruin, and the survivors of her people
were to be found exposed in the slave markets of Rome or groaning out their
lives in the rock quarries of Egypt. As for Titus, he hurried to the
capital of the Empire to express by tokens of affection his loyalty to his
father; for he had himself been saluted as Imperator by the Syrian army.
Nor were the ties of filial affection which bound together this father and
son ever disturbed by the ambitions or jealousies of either.
The death of Vitellius marked the extinction of the Julian line in the
government. With the accession of Vespasianus, the Flavian House was
recognized as the head of the Empire. The recent change in administration
denoted not only the transfer of the imperial diadem from one family to
another, but also a striking modification in the theory of the government.
The first Caesars had reigned under a kind of divine autocracy, and the
veneration, in which the emperors-disgusting as had been the character of
many-had been held, was traceable to the fact that the throne was occupied
by a sort of religious sanction. The emperors themselves diligently
encouraged this illusive delusion; they would fain be gods. Albeit, at such
an epoch and among such a people, it was safer to be god than man!
With Vespasianus all this was changed. The Flavian gens was of plebeian
origin; nor had the family been materially improved with the lapse of time.
Vespasianus himself was a man of low birth who had risen to distinction by
military genius, and by that he had won the Imperial crown.
The new reign covered a period of ten years (A.D. 70-79) and was an epoch
of greater tranquillity than Rome had enjoyed since the days of Augustus.
It was the high