Imagens da página



his accusers, saluted him with the words, “I am come, father, I am come.”

14. From this time he constantly acted as a partner with his father, in the government, and shared with him all the honours of the state. He officiated constantly as his deputy and assistant, administering the functions of a ruler, with vigour, and sometimes with severity. In the triumph which was decreed him for his victories, the father and the son were seen together dividing the honours of it; and on all occasions there was displayed to the court, and to the people, the same rare example of paternal regard, and of filial obedience.

15. One circumstance connected with the victory over the Jews, obtained by the Roman people in the person of Titus Vespasian, is too important and singular to be forgotten. It was customary among the Romans on particular occasions, to commemorate their triumphs over a fallen nation, by erecting monuments which were intended to signalize the event, and to hand down the remembrance of it to future generations. Of these, the Triumphal Arch of Titus remains to this day, and may

be standing in the Via Sacra, which commenced at the Great Circus and extended as far as the Capitol. The sceptical traveller


here be reminded of the facts to which the Scripture records bear faithful witness.

Here he may see the sides of the archway still decorated with sculptures, somewhat defaced, it is true, but plainly telling their melancholy tale. On one side is pourtrayed the triumphal entry into Rome; and on the opposite the procession of captive Jews, with "staves in their hands," bearing the spoils of Jerusalem; the golden candlestick, with its seven branches; the golden table, with the censer; the silver trumpets, with other articles of the temple furniture. This monument is not the only one which attests how important this conquest was considered at that time, in the eyes of the Romans. Coins are still extant, some of which have been dug up even in this country, having on one side the head of Vespasian, on the other a female figure, weeping. On some of these curious and valuable relics, the woman is represented seated beneath a palm tree, and beside her are piled up trophies of war, as if literally fulfilling the language of the prophets; “She being desolate, shall sit upon the


ground. How is she become a widow? She that was great among the nations, a princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary?” (Lam. i. 1.)

16. The miseries which fell upon the Jews were far from being terminated, when the siege of Jerusalem was at an end. Shame and sorrow, and the odium of a fallen nation, besides other punishments, were awaiting them, in all countries whither they were carried away captive. Simon, the son of Giora, the chief captive, and most daring of the rebels, was transported to Rome to adorn the triumph of Titus (A.D. 71). During this ceremony, according to custom, he was put to death as soon as the victor had ascended to the Capitol. Jonathan, the leader of the Sicarii, who, with Simon and John, had exercised a tyranny in Jerusalem, which kept the city in almost as much terror as the siege itself, was detected in a conspiracy after he had been brought to Rome, and was first scourged, and then burnt alive. John, the companion of Simon in his flight, was taken with him, and kept a perpetual prisoner. Titus, among his other great undertakings, finished the Coliseum, which had been begun by his father Vespasian. In this magnificent structure, which is an astonishing one, even in its ruins, Titus employed 12,000 of his Jewish captives.

17. Titus was not disposed to show much mercy to his captives. He caused 2000 of them to be slaughtered by beasts, and to lose their lives in the gladiatorial combats, or by fire at Cæsarea Philippi, where he went soon after the termination of the war, to celebrate the birthday of his father and brother. A great number he also put to death by similar modes of punishment, at Berytus, on a festive occasion; and the remark of Josephus on these transactions, is, “that though the Jews were thus consumed in a thousand ways, yet it seemed after all to the Romans, much less than they deserved.”

18. The furniture of the Jewish temple, which Titus carried away, after having used it to adorn his triumph, he appropriated to the uses of a pagan shrine dedicated to Peace, in which he placed them. But the Book of the Law and the purple veil of the Sanctuary were laid up among the stores of the Palatium*. (A.D. 75.)

* The spoils of the Jewish temple remained at Rome for more than 300 years, but were carried away by Genseric, king of the Vandals, 21. His benevolence and humanity were strikingly exemafter he had sacked Rome (A.D. 455). From Carthage they were afterwards transported to Constantinople, by Belisaris, who removed them thither upon his conquest of Africa. Justinian then restored them again to Jerusalem, from whence they were taken by Chosroes, after the Persians had got possession of the Holy City, about the year 614. It is doubtful, however, if the ship in which they were embarked ever reached its destination. These spoils, it should be observed, were not the original articles in Solomon's temple, it having been plundered of them by Antiochus Epiphanes. But no doubt such articles were made according to the exact patterns of those first placed in the Jewish temple.

19. Whatever the severities were which Titus exercised towards a people who had forfeited all claim to his forbearance, by their obstinate and fierce resistance, bis conduct, after he returned to Rome and was invested with the powers of empire, was virtuous and irreproachable. Some heavy charges of a moral nature lay against him before that period, which led the Romans to entertain an unfavourable opinion of his future career. But, although by his natural disposition he was prone to luxuries and excesses of every kind, yet with a degree of virtuous resolution almost unexampled in history, he had no sooner taken the reins of government than he became a model of temperance, humanity, and benevolence. He sent away from the city Queen Berenice, to whom he was fondly attached, because she was not his lawful wife; and dismissed from his society and from the public assemblies, all those who had been corrupters of the public morals.. In a word, so sudden a change was never known in any prince, from vice to virtue. It was thus that he won for himself a nobler diadem than that of empire-that empire over his own heart, and the hearts of others, which was seen in the title given him“ The love and delight of mankind.”

20. His generosity of conduct was shown in a variety of actions. Anticipating the wants of the people by his bounty, he confirmed all the acts of former princes in their favour, by a general proclamation, not waiting to be petitioned on the subject. It was his constant practice to send away none without hopes, if they expressed a wish for a particular favour. And when his ministers insinuated that he would thus be promising more than he could perform, he nobly replied_." No person ought to go away sad, from an audience with his prince.”

plified, during a period of much public calamity. In the great eruption of mount Vesuvius, which happened in his reign, many had perished, and left no heirs to their estates. These lands, therefore, he applied to support the repairs of such cities as had been injured by this accident. To provide for the loss sustained by a dreadful fire in the city, he made use of the ornaments of his own palaces, and declared that no one should be a loser by this calamity but himself. And for the relief of the people during a plague prevailing at this time, he took all the means that were in his power, offering sacrifices, comforting them by his proclamations, and supplying medicines, and every other kind of assistance that was necessary. By these and other methods, as well as by the discouragement of many evil practices, which had grown up under the licence of former reigns, he displayed not only that due concern for the public welfare and happiress which might be expected in a good prince, but also a regard for the safety of his people beyond what could have been hoped for, and which appeared nothing less than a truly paternal affection.

22. There seems to have been a gentleness in his nature that rendered him from this time averse to the shedding of human blood on any occasion, even where his own security was concerned. Having accepted the office of high priest, or Pontifex, for the purpose of preserving his hands thus undefiled, he faithfully adhered to his vow, not to put any man to death. Two men of patrician rank, being convicted of a conspiracy against him, he only advised them to desist, by saying, that “the sovereign power was disposed of by fate," and promising them that if they had anything else to desire, he would gratify them. Besides showing them other marks of his forgiveness, he sent to the mother of one of them at a distance, who was deeply concerned about her son, to assure her that he was safe. A similar feeling manifested itself towards his infamous brother Domitian, whom he knew to be concerned in plotting against him. He would not bring him to punishment, nor banish him from the court. But from his first accession to the sole empire, he constantly declared him his partner in it, and promised him that he should be his successor. Sometimes in private he besought him, with tears, to make him a return of similar affection.

23. Few princes have had so profound a sense of the value of their time, in relation to works of beneficence, as Titus Vespasian. Once, while he was at supper, reflecting that he had spent the day without having done any act of kindness to his subjects, he uttered that memorable and justly-admired saying, –“ Oh, friends, I have lost a day.”

_" 24. It would have been well for the Roman people, if a life so truly valuable had been extended to a long period ; for it is probable that his authority and example would have had the most beneficial influence upon the manners of the age. But it was otherwise determined by that power which determines the destiny of sovereigns and of empires. Like other warriors, whose arms have been employed against the Jews, Titus was doomed to be taken off by a premature death, after a reign of little more than two years, though he had been a partner with his father in the government for nearly nine years before. As he was ro tiring to his father's house, in the country of the Sabines, he was seized with a violent fever-a fate which he had apprehended, when he left Rome, in consequence of two disastrous omens- -the

escape of a victim from the altar, and a noise of loud thunder heard during a cloudless sky. Titus therefore at once believed his discase to be mortal; and, drawing aside the curtains of his chair, lamented the severity of the fate which was about to deprive him of life, though he declared himself conscious of no action of his life but one, that he had reason to repent of. What this action was, has never been explained, and it would be vain to conjecture. He died, not without a suspicion of his brother Domitian having been concerned in lois death, as he was placed by his orders, during his last agony, in a vessel full of snow, where he expired (A.D. 81). After the news of his death had reached Rome, there was a general lamentation, every one mourning for him as for the loss of some near relation; and the senate having assembled, heaped upon his name the highest praises and honours.

25. The only two remarkablo writers of the period of Vespasian and his son Titus, were Josephus and Pliny. The first of these is well known by his bistory of the Antiquities of the Jews, and of the Jewislı war, written first in his native or Syriac langnage, and afterwards by himself translated into Greek. The latter of thiese works so gra

« AnteriorContinuar »