A Treasury of Jewish Letters: Letters from the Famous and the Humble - Vol. 1

By Franz Kobler | Go to book overview

12
Agrippa II, the last Jewish King, praises the History of the Jewish War by Flavius Josephus

JOSEPH, son of Mathathias, was, before he assumed the Roman name Flavius Josephus, one of the first leaders in the revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 C.E. After the fall of the fortress Jodephath, he gave himself up to the Romans, espoused their cause from this moment, gained the favour of Titus and accompanied him on the campaign against Jerusalem. Later he wrote the well-known history of the Jewish War in which he obviously sought to justify his conduct and to put the blame for the national disaster on those who had continued the fight in spite of its hopelessness. He was bitterly attacked by a rival historian, Justin of Tiberias, who belonged to the opposite faction, but whose work has unfortunately not survived. Josephus defended himself with vigour and appealed for confirmation to a man whose character, behaviour and fate resembled in a striking way his own: the ex-King Agrippa II. This son and successor of Agrippa I had from the outset attached himself to the Romans, and even, in a great speech reproduced by Josephus in his history, besought the insurgent people, before the outbreak of the war, to give up the idea of fighting against the invincible power of Rome and so save their country and Temple. Now he, like Josephus, lived in victorious Rome and was in friendly intercourse with the famous author, whose pre- sentation of the events he endorsed wholeheartedly. Josephus states in his autobiography that King Agrippa wrote him no less than sixty-two letters confirming the truth of his narrative. Two of them are reproduced by him verbally.


AGRIPPA II TO FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS

"You seem to me to have written with much greater care and accuracy than any who have dealt with the subject"

[ Rome, towards the end of the 1st century C.E.]


(A)

King Agrippa to dearest Josephus, greeting. I have perused the book with the greatest pleasure. You seem to me to have written with much greater care and accuracy than any who

-63-

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