Images de page

III. then revolted against him, and set up the kingdoms of Armenia Major on the east, and Armenia Minor on the west of the Euphrates. The greatest king of Armenia Major was Tigranes I. (B. C. 96-55), who not only gained important victories from the Parthian monarch, but conquered all Syria, and held it fourteen years. He incurred the vengeance of Rome in various ways, but chiefly by sustaining his father-in-law, Mithridates, in his wars against the Republic He suffered several calamitous defeats, with the loss of his capital, Tigran'ocer'ta.

In 67 B. C., the disaffection of the Roman troops gave the two kings the opportunity to recover much of what they had lost. The appearance of the great Pompey upon the scene again turned the tide. The young Tigranes rebelled against his father, with the aid of Parthia and Rome. The king surrendered all his conquests, retaining only his hereditary kingdom of the Greater Armenia. His son, Artavas ́des I. (B. C. 55-34), aided the expedition of Crassus against the Parthians; but having afterward offended Antony, he was taken prisoner and put to death by order of Cleopatra. Artaxias, his son, ordered a massacre of all the Romans in Armenia. In 19 B. C., he was himself murdered by his own relations. The remaining kings were sovereigns only in name, being set up or displaced alternately by the Romans and Parthians, until Armenia was absorbed by the former, A. D. 114. Armenia Minor was usually a dependency of some neighboring kingdom, from the time of Mithridates to that of Vespa'sian (A. D. 69–79), when it, too, became a Roman province.


98. Bactria was a part of the Syrian empire from 305 to 255 B. C. Diodotus, the satrap, then made himself independent, and established a new Greek kingdom, the most easterly of all the scattered fragments of Alexander's conquests. Euthydemus, the third king, was a native of Magnesia, and a usurper (B. C. 222-200). His son Demetrius made many victorious campaigns, extending over Afghanistan and into India (B. C. 200-180). He lost a part of his native dominions to a rebel, Eucrat ́ides, who reigned north of the Pa'ropam'isus range during the life of Demetrius, and after his death, over the whole country. He, too, carried on Indian wars with great energy and success. Under his son, Heli'ocles (B. C. 160-150), the Bactrian kingdom rapidly declined, being invaded by the Parthian kings on the west, and the Tartar tribes from the north.


99. The Parthians established their independence about B. C. 250, under the lead of the Scythian Arsaces. The people were of the same race with the modern Turks- treacherous in war, indolent and unaspiring

in peace, rude in arts and barbarous in manners. Their warlike hardihood, however, gave the Romans a more troublesome resistance than they encountered in any other portion of Alexander's former empire; and the dominion of the Arsacidæ lasted nearly 500 years, until it was overthrown by the new Persian kingdom, A. D. 226. The greatness of the Parthian empire dates from Mithridates, who is also called Arsaces VI., B. C. 174-136. The neighboring kingdom of Bactria, with its Greek monarchs and its higher civilization, had hitherto maintained the ascendency; but while these kings were absorbed in their Indian conquests, Mithridates

seized upon several of their provinces, and eventually absorbed their whole dominion.

The Parti.ian empire, at its greatest extent, comprised all the countries between the Euphrates and the Indus; from the Araxes and the Caspian on the north, to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean on the south. Its numerous parts were not consolidated into one government, as were the satrapies of Persia or the provinces of Rome; but each nation, with its own laws and usages, retained its native king, who was tributary to the lord-paramount in the Arsacid family. Hence the Parthian coins, like the Assyrian monuments, commonly bear the title "King of Kings." The wars of Mithridates made the Euphrates the boundary-line between the Parthian and Roman empires. The wealth and power of the Oriental monarchy provoked at once the avarice and the jealousy of the western Republic, and a collision could not long be delayed. The details of the Parthian wars of Rome will be found in Book V.


Coin of Arsaces III., twice the size of original.


Bravery and barbarism of the Thracians. Rise of Pergamus, B. C. 283. Reigns of Philotærus, Eumenes, Attalus I. Success and enlightened policy of Eumenes II. Wars of Attalus Philadelphus. His new cities. Crimes of Attalus III. Bequest of his kingdom to Rome. Short reign of Aristonicus. Bithynia ruled by Nicomedes I., Zeilas, Prusias I. and II., Nicomedes II. and III., B. C. 278-74. Rise of the kingdom of Pontus, B. C. 363. Independent of Macedon, B. C. 318; enlarged by Mithridates III. and Pharnaces, B. C. 245-160. Education of Mithridates V., his conquests and alliances; first collision with the Romans, B. C. 88; massacre of 80,000 Italians; disasters and humiliating peace. Second Roman War, B. C. 83, 82. Seven years' drill of Pontic forces in Roman tactics. Third Roman War, B. C. 74-65; Mithridates driven into Armenia, B. C. 71; recovered his kingdom, B. C. 68;

defeated by Pompey, B. C. 66; took refuge in the northern wilds, and ended his life by violence, B. C. 63. Pontus became a Roman province. Cappadocia in alliance with Rome, B. C. 188. Just and peaceiul reign of Ariarathes V. End of the dynasty in Ariarathes VIII. Exiles and returns of Ariobarzanes I. The country absorbed into the Roman dominion, A. D. 17. Armenia a part of the Syrian empire, B. C. 301-190. "Greater" and "Lesser" kingdoms then formed on the east and west of the Euphrates. Conquest of Syria by Tigranes I., B. C. 83. His wars with Rome, B. C. 69-66. Losses. Fate of Artavasdes. Massacre of the Romans by Artaxias. Alternate dependence upon Rome and Parthia, B. C. 19-A. D. 114. Bactria dependent upon Syria, B. C. 305-255. Diodotus reigned, B. C. 255-237. The third king a Lydian, B. C. 222-200. Indian campaigns of Demetrius and Eucratidas, B. C. 200-160. Decline and fall of the kingdom under attacks of surrounding barbarians, B. C. 160-80. Parthian empire powerful, but uncivilized. Absorption of Bactrian provinces, B. C. 174-136. A group of kingdoms, rather than a nation, side by side with Rome.


100. Judæa, with the rest of Syria, had been assigned to Laomedon upon the partition of Alexander's conquests; but it was soon annexed by Ptolemy Soter, and continued 117 years a part of the Egyptian empire. Its history in this Book will be considered in three periods:

I. From the Fall of the Persian Empire to the Rise of an Independent Jewish Kingdom, B. C. 323-168.

II. The Time of the Maccabees, B. C. 168–37.

III. The Time of the Herods, B. C. 37-A. D. 44.

FIRST PERIOD. Under the first three Ptolemies, the Jews were peaceful and prosperous. The high priest was at the head of the state, and in local matters ruled with little interference from Egypt. Ptolemy Philopator, however, a wicked and foolish prince, attempted to profane the temple, and the Jews, in alarm, sought protection from Antiochus the Great. That monarch, with their aid, gained possession of all the coast between Upper Syria and the Desert of Sinai; and though often disputed, and once recovered by the Egyptians, this district remained a part of the Syrian kingdom.

101. For thirty years the privileges of the Jews were respected by their new sovereigns; but toward the close of his reign, Seleucus IV. resolved to appropriate the sacred treasures of the temple to his own pressing needs, and sent Heliodorus, his treasurer, for this purpose to Jerusalem. According to the Jewish tradition, three angels appeared for the defense of the holy place. One of them was seated on a terrible horse, which trampled Heliodorus under its feet, while the others scourged him until he fell lifeless to the ground. He was only restored by the prayers of the high priest, and the treasury remained unmolested.

*Read, in the Apocrypha, 2 Maccabees iii: 4-40.

Antiochus Epiphanes, the brother and successor of Seleucus, was guilty of still more impious outrages. He put up the high priesthood at auction, and twice awarded it to the highest bidder, on condition of his introducing Greek rites and customs into Jerusalem. One of these mercenary pontiffs stole the sacred vessels of the temple and sold them at Tyre. An insurrection arose at Jerusalem, but it was punished by Antiochus in person, who seized the city, set up an altar to Zeus Olympius, with daily sacrifices of swine's flesh in the sacred inclosure of the temple, and put to death a great number of the people. Two years later, B. C. 168, he ordered a general massacre of the Jews, and by a frightful persecution sought to exterminate the last remnant of the ancient religion. The Asmonæ'an family now arose, and by their brave fidelity made themselves at last sovereigns of Judæa.

102. SECOND PERIOD. Mattathias, a priest, living between Jerusalem and Joppa, killed with his own hand the king's officer who was sent to enforce the heathen sacrifices, together with the first renegade Jew who consented to offer. He then took refuge in the mountains with his five sons, and was reinforced daily by fugitives from various parts of Judæa. As their numbers increased, this band issued frequently from their fastnesses, cut off detachments of the Syrian army, destroyed heathen altars, and in many places restored the Jewish worship in the synagogues. The aged Mattathias died in the first year of the war, and was succeeded in command of the forces by his third son, Judas, who obtained the name of Maccabæus from his many victories.

During the disputes for the Syrian regency, which followed the death of Antiochus Epiphanes (see 40, 41), Judas Maccabæus gained possession of all Jerusalem, except the citadel on Mount Zion, and held it three years. He purified the temple, restored the incense, lights, and sacrifices, and drove out Syrians and Hellenizing Jews from every part of Judæa. The Syrian general, Nicanor, was twice defeated with great loss. In the second battle, near Beth-horon, Nicanor fell, and his whole army was cut to pieces. The Romans made alliance with the Maccabees; but before their aid could arrive, Judas had fallen in battle, B. C. 160. Jerusalem was lost, and for fourteen years Jonathan Maccabæus could only carry on a guerrilla warfare from his fastness in the Desert of Teko'ah. The disputes for the Syrian throne, between Demetrius and Alexander Balas, which were continued under their sons (see {} 42-46), gave a respite to the Jews, and even made their alliance an object of desire to both parties. Jonathan was thenceforth recognized as prince and high priest, with full possession of the Holy City.

103. His brother Simon succeeded him in both dignities, and under his prosperous administration Judæa recovered, in great measure, from the long-continued ravages of war. The life of Simon was ended by

treachery, His son-in-law, Ptolemy, the governor of Jericho, desiring to seize the government for himself, murdered the high priest and two of his sons at a banquet. But the other son, John Hyrcanus, escaped and succeeded his father. At the beginning of his reign, Jerusalem endured a long and painful siege by Antiochus Sidetes, B. C. 135-133. Its walls, which had been restored, were leveled with the ground; and a tribute was again demanded, which lasted, however, no longer than the life of Sidetes. Hyrcanus captured Samaria, and destroyed the temple on Mount Gerizim (see Book II, 64). He conquered Id'ume'a, rendering Judæa fully equal in power to Syria, which was now reduced from a great empire to a petty and exhausted kingdom.

104. Aristobu'lus, son of Hyrcanus, was the first of the family who assumed the title of king. He reigned but a year, and was succeeded by his brother, Alexander Jannæ'us (B. C. 105-78). This prince was a Sadducee, and the opposite sect of the Pharisees stirred up a mob to attack him, while officiating as high priest in the Feast of Tabernacles. The riot was put down with a slaughter of 6,000 insurgents. Alexander gained victories over the Moabites and the Arabs of Gilead; but in a subsequent war with the latter he suffered a great defeat, and the malcontents at home seized the occasion for a new outbreak. The civil war now raged six years. For a time Alexander was driven to the mountains, but at length he regained the ascendency, and revenged himself upon the rebels with frightful cruelty. He left the crown to his widow, Alexandra, who joined the Pharisees, and was maintained in power by their influence.

105. After her death, her two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, quarreled seven years for the sovereignty. Pompey the Great, who was then at Damascus, interfered and captured Jerusalem, carried off Aristobulus to Rome, and established the elder brother in the government. He reigned six years in peace, B. C. 63-57. In the latter year Aristobulus escaped, and being joined by many of his partisans, renewed the war. He was besieged and taken in Macha'rus by the Roman proconsul, who also deposed Hyrcanus, and set up a sort of oligarchy in Jerusalem. Pompey, in taking the city, had left its sacred treasures untouched, but during this period, Crassus, on his way to Parthia, seized and plundered the temple. After ten years (B. C. 57-47), Hyrcanus was restored to the high priesthood, while his friend Antipater, the Idumæan, was appointed procurator, or civil governor, of Judæa.

In B. C. 40, Antigonus, son of Aristobulus, with the aid of a Parthian force, captured Jerusalem and reigned three years, the last of the Asmonæan princes. Antipater had been poisoned; his son Herod repaired to Rome, and received from the Senate the title of King of Judæa. Returning speedily, he conquered Galilee and advanced to the siege of Jerusalem. This was protracted several years, for the Jews were firmly attached to

« PrécédentContinuer »