Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Trip through Time / Merciless Ruler with a Grand Vision: Herod the Great (73-4 B.C.) in Caesarea

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Trip through Time / Merciless Ruler with a Grand Vision: Herod the Great (73-4 B.C.) in Caesarea

Article excerpt

CAESAREA, Israel--Caesarea, a small town in central Israel on the Mediterranean Sea known for its upscale neighborhoods, was built two millenia ago as a port city at the command of Herod the Great, the Rome-appointed king of Judea.

Ruins of the man-made harbor still stand today, and though an earthquake once left most of the breakwater below the water's surface, the remains about 500 meters away reveal the grand scale of the undertaking.

The town's historic park includes the ruins of a palace with beautiful mosaic floors, an amphitheater and a stadium for chariot races, which offer a taste of the flourishing New Testament era when the city was built.

"It's said that there was once anchorage for 1,000 ships," said Oren Dov, a local tour guide. Surrounding the harbor, the ruins of the city are a valuable reminder of the legacy of "Herod the Builder."

Herod is almost universally portrayed as a cruel and jealous king. Many believe that when he learned of the birth of Jesus, who would become king of the Jews, he ordered all infant boys put to death.

He is also said to have murdered his wife, three sons and mother-in-law during an internal feud. "No Jew would name a child Herod, nor would that name be given to a street or building," Dov said.

But as an architectural visionary, Herod was glorious. Ruins of the architectural projects he spearheaded are scattered across Israel and the West Bank, which include the Temple in Jerusalem and the fortifications at Masada.

According to Dr. Silvia Rozenberg, 64, of the Israel Museum, "[As a builder,] Herod the Great changed the landscape of this area."

Today's Israel was then under the control of the Roman Empire.

Herod distinguished himself as a provincial governor under the Hasmonean dynasty and was heavily indebted to Rome for the establishment of his own power base.

Herod was backed by Octavius, who would become Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and successfully balanced the demands of being both king of the Jews and a Roman citizen. …

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