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ANTIPATER IS ACCUSED BEFORE VARUS, AND IS CONVICTED OF LAYING A PLOT [AGAINST HIS FATHER] BY THE STRONGEST EVIDENCE. HEROD PUTS OFF HIS PUNISHMENT TILL HE SHOULD BE RECOVERED, AND IN THE MEAN TIME ALTERS HIS TESTAMENT.
1. NOW the day following the king assembled a court of his kinsmen and friends, and called in Antipater's friends also. Herod himself, with Varus, were the presidents; and Herod called for all the witnesses, and ordered them to be brought in; among whom some of the domestic servants of Antipater's mother were brought in also, who had but a little while before been caught, as they were carrying the following letter from her to her son: "Since all those things have been already discovered to thy father, do not thou come to him, unless thou canst procure some assistance from Caesar." When this and the other witnesses were introduced, Antipater came in, and falling on his face before his father's feet, he said, "Father, I beseech thee, do not condemn me beforehand, but let thy ears be unbiassed, and attend to my defense; for if thou wilt give me leave, I will demonstrate that I am innocent."
2. Hereupon Herod cried out to him to hold his peace, and spake thus to Varus: "I cannot but think that thou, Varus, and every other upright judge, will determine that Antipater is a vile wretch. I am also afraid that thou wilt abhor my ill fortune, and judge me also myself worthy of all sorts of calamity for begetting such children; while yet I ought rather to be pitied, who have been so affectionate a father to such wretched sons; for when I had settled the kingdom on my former sons, even when they were young, and when, besides the charges of their education at Rome, I had made them the friends of Caesar, and made them envied by other kings, I found them plotting against me. These have been put to death, and that, in great measure, for the sake of Antipater; for as he was then young, and appointed to be my successor, I took care chiefly to secure him from danger: but this profligate wild beast, when he had been over and above satiated with that patience which I showed him, he made use of that abundance I had given him against myself; for I seemed to him to live too long, and he was very uneasy at the old age I was arrived at; nor could he stay any longer, but would be a king by parricide. And justly I am served by him for bringing him back out of the country to court, when he was of no esteem before, and for thrusting out those sons of mine that were born of the queen, and for making him a successor to my dominions. I confess to thee, O Varus, the great folly I was guilty for I provoked those sons of mine to act against me, and cut off their just expectations for the sake of Antipater; and indeed what kindness did I do them; that could equal what I have done to Antipater? to I have, in a manner, yielded up my royal while I am alive, and whom I have openly named for the successor to my dominions in my testament, and given him a yearly revenue of his own of fifty talents, and supplied him with money to an extravagant degree out of my own revenue; and' when he was about to sail to Rome, I gave him three talents, and recommended him, and him alone of all my children, to Caesar, as his father's deliverer. Now what crimes were those other sons of mine guilty of like these of Antipater? and what evidence was there brought against them so strong as there is to demonstrate this son to have plotted against me? Yet does this parricide presume to speak for himself, and hopes to obscure the truth by his cunning tricks. Thou, O Varus, must guard thyself against him; for I know the wild beast, and I foresee how plausibly he will talk, and his counterfeit lamentation. This was he who exhorted me to have a care of Alexander when he was alive, and not to intrust my body with all men! This was he who came to my very bed, and looked about lest any one should lay snares for me! This was he who took care of my sleep, and secured me from fear of danger, who comforted me under the trouble I was in upon the slaughter of my sons, and looked to see what affection my surviving brethren bore me! This was my protector, and the guardian of my body! And when I call to mind, O Varus, his craftiness upon every occasion, and his art of dissembling, I can hardly believe that I am still alive, and I wonder how I have escaped such a deep plotter of mischief. However, since some fate or other makes my house desolate, and perpetually raises up those that are dearest to me against me, I will, with tears, mourn my hard fortune, and privately groan under my lonesome condition; yet am I resolved that no one who thirsts after my blood shall escape punishment, although the evidence should extend itself to all my sons."
3. Upon Herod's saying this, he was interrupted by the confusion he was in; but ordered Nicolaus, one of his friends, to produce the evidence against Antipater. But in the mean time Antipater lifted up his head, (for he lay on the ground before his father's feet,) and cried out aloud, "Thou, O father, hast made my apology for me; for how can I be a parricide, whom thou thyself confessest to have always had for thy guardian? Thou callest my filial affection prodigious lies and hypocrisy! how then could it be that I, who was so subtle in other matters, should here be so mad as not to understand that it was not easy that he who committed so horrid a crime should be concealed from men, but impossible that he should be concealed from the Judge of heaven, who sees all things, and is present every where? or did not I know what end my brethren came to, on whom God inflicted so great a punishment for their evil designs against thee? And indeed what was there that could possibly provoke me against thee? Could the hope of being king do it? I was a king already. Could I suspect hatred from thee? No. Was not I beloved by thee? And what other fear could I have? Nay, by preserving thee safe, I was a terror to others. Did I want money? No; for who was able to expend so much as myself? Indeed, father, had I been the most execrable of all mankind, and had I had the soul of the most cruel wild beast, must I not have been overcome with the benefits thou hadst bestowed upon me? whom, as thou thyself sayest, thou broughtest [into the palace]; whom thou didst prefer before so many of thy sons; whom thou madest a king in thine own lifetime, and, by the vast magnitude of the other advantages thou bestowedst on me, thou madest me an object of envy. O miserable man! that thou shouldst undergo this bitter absence, and thereby afford a great opportunity for envy to arise against thee, and a long space for such as were laying designs against thee! Yet was I absent, father, on thy affairs, that Sylleus might not treat thee with contempt in thine old age. Rome is a witness to my filial affection, and so is Caesar, the ruler of the habitable earth, who oftentimes called me Philopater. (47) Take here the letters he hath sent thee, they are more to be believed than the calumnies raised here; these letters are my only apology; these I use as the demonstration of that natural affection I have to thee. Remember that it was against my own choice that I sailed [to Rome], as knowing the latent hatred that was in the kingdom against me. It was thou, O father, however unwillingly, who hast been my ruin, by forcing me to allow time for calumnies against me, and envy at me. However, I am come hither, and am ready to hear the evidence there is against me. If I be a parricide, I have passed by land and by sea, without suffering any misfortune on either of them: but this method of trial is no advantage to me; for it seems, O father, that I am already condemned, both before God and before thee; and as I am already condemned, I beg that thou wilt not believe the others that have been tortured, but let fire be brought to torment me; let the racks march through my bowels; have no regard to any lamentations that this polluted body can make; for if I be a parricide, I ought not to die without torture." Thus did Antipater cry out with lamentation and weeping, and moved all the rest, and Varus in particular, to commiserate his case. Herod was the only person whose passion was too strong to permit him to weep, as knowing that the testimonies against him were true.
4. And now it was that, at the king's command, Nicolaus, when he had premised a great deal about the craftiness of Antipater, and had prevented the effects of their commiseration to him, afterwards brought in a bitter and large accusation against him, ascribing all the wickedness that had been in the kingdom to him, and especially the murder of his brethren; and demonstrated that they had perished by the calumnies he had raised against them. He also said that he had laid designs against them that were still alive, as if they were laying plots for the succession; and (said he) how can it be supposed that he who prepared poison for his father should abstain from mischief as to his brethren? He then proceeded to convict him of the attempt to poison Herod, and gave an account in order of the several discoveries that had been made; and had great indignation as to the affair of Pheroras, because Antipater had been for making him murder his brother, and had corrupted those that were dearest to the king, and filled the whole palace with wickedness; and when he had insisted on many other accusations, and the proofs for them, he left off.
5. Then Varus bid Antipater make his defense; but he lay along in silence, and said no more but this, "God is my witness that I am entirely innocent." So Varus asked for the potion, and gave it to be drunk by a condemned malefactor, who was then in prison, who died upon the spot. So Varus, when he had had a very private discourse with Herod, and had written an account of this assembly to Caesar, went away, after a day's stay. The king also bound Antipater, and sent away to inform Caesar of his misfortunes.
6. Now after this it was discovered that Antipater had laid a plot against Salome also; for one of Antiphilus's domestic servants came, and brought letters from Rome, from a maid-servant of Julia, [Caesar's wife,] whose name was Acme. By her a message was sent to the king, that she had found a letter written by Salome, among Julia's papers, and had sent it to him privately, out of her good-will to him. This letter of Salome contained the most bitter reproaches of the king, and the highest accusations against him. Antipater had forged this letter, and had corrupted Acme, and persuaded her to send it to Herod. This was proved by her letter to Antipater, for thus did this woman write to him: "As thou desirest, I have written a letter to thy father, and have sent that letter, and am persuaded that the king will not spare his sister when he reads it. Thou wilt do well to remember what thou hast promised when all is accomplished."
7. When this epistle was discovered, and what the epistle forged against Salome contained, a suspicion came into the king's mind, that perhaps the letters against Alexander were also forged: he was moreover greatly disturbed, and in a passion, because he had almost slain his sister on Antipater's account. He did no longer delay therefore to bring him to punishment for all his crimes; yet when he was eagerly pursuing Antipater, he was restrained by a severe distemper he fell into. However, he sent all account to Caesar about Acme, and the contrivances against Salome; he sent also for his testament, and altered it, and therein made Antipas king, as taking no care of Archclaus and Philip, because Antipater had blasted their reputations with him; but he bequeathed to Caesar, besides other presents that he gave him, a thousand talents; as also to his wife, and children, and friends, and freed- men about five hundred: he also bequeathed to all others a great quantity of land, and of money, and showed his respects to Salome his sister, by giving her most splendid gifts. And this was what was contained in his testament, as it was now altered.