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Diodorus Siculus, Book 40

  ( fragments covering the period 71 - ? 60 B.C. )


Click on the G symbols to go to the Greek text of the fragments.
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Books 38 & 39

[1] G   Marcus Antonius agreed peace terms with the Cretans, which they observed for some time; but afterwards, they called together a council to consider what would be most advantageous for them. The older and more prudent amongst them advised to send envoys to Rome, to defend themselves against those accusations that were brought against them, and by fair words and entreaties, to achieve a reconciliation with the senate. To this end they despatched thirty men, chosen out of their most eminent citizens, as envoys, who privately visited the senators at their individual houses, and by courting them with fine words, won over those that had most influence in their meetings. 2 When they were introduced into the senate, they made their defence against the matters objected against them with great prudence; accurately setting forth their good services, and their support for Roman rule, they requested that they might be restored to their former friendship and alliance. The senate, pleased with what they said, issued a decree, by which they not only acquitted the Cretans of the crimes laid against them, but declared them confederates and friends of the state. But Lentulus, surnamed Spinther, vetoed the decree; and the Cretans then departed. 3 The senate were told on many occasions that the Cretans were joining with the pirates, and sharing in their robberies; and therefore they decreed that the Cretans should surrender all their ships to Rome, even down to a skiff of four oars; and provide three hundred eminent hostages; and send away Lasthenes and Panares; and jointly pay four thousand talents of silver. The Cretans, hearing what was decreed, went into a consultation about these commands imposed upon them. The more prudent amongst them advised that they should comply with all the instructions; but Lasthenes and his associates, fearing that they would be summoned to Rome, where they would be punished for the offences that they had committed, stirred up the people and urged them to maintain those liberties that they had enjoyed ever since time immemorial.

[1a] G   Some of the citizens of Antioch, feeling contempt for Antiochus because of his defeat, stirred up the masses and proposed that the king should be banished from the city. There was a great tumult, but when the king prevailed, the leaders of the uprising took fright and fled from Syria. After reaching Cilicia, they decided to bring back Philippus, who was the son of Philippus son of Antiochus Grypus. Philippus agreed to their proposal, and went to meet Azizus the Arab, who willingly received him. Azizus put a diadem on Philippus' head, and restored him to the kingship.

[1b] G   Since all his hopes rested on his alliance with Sampsiceramus, he summoned him to come with his forces. Sampsiceramus, who had secretly agreed with Azizus to kill the kings, came with his forces and sent for Antiochus. Antiochus went unsuspectingly in response, but after pretending to welcome him like a friend, Sampsiceramus seized the king; for the time being he held him captive, but later he killed him. In a similar way Azizus, in accordance with their agreement to divide up the kingdom of Syria between them, attempted to assassinate Philippus; but Philippus became aware of the plot, and fled to Antioch.

[2] G   While Pompeius was staying near Damascus in Syria, he was approached by Aristobulus the king of the Jews and his brother Hyranus, who were in dispute over who should be king. The most eminent of the Jews, more than two hundred in number, met the imperator and explained that their ancestors, when they rebelled from Demetrius, had sent envoys to the senate. In response, the senate granted them authority over the Jews, who were to be free and autonomous, under the leadership not of a king but of a high priest. But their current rulers, who had abolished their ancestral laws, had unjustly forced the citizens into subjection; with the help of a large number of mercenaries, they had procured the kingship through violence and much bloodshed. Pompeius postponed a decision about their dispute until later; but he strongly rebuked Hyrcanus and his associates for the lawless behaviour of the Jews and the wrongs they had committed against the Romans. He said that they deserved a stronger and harsher reprimand, but in conformity with the traditional clemency of the Romans, if they were obedient from now onwards, he would grant them forgiveness.

[3] G   Since we are about to give an account of the war against the Jews, we consider it appropriate, before we proceed further, in the first place to relate the origin of this nation, and their customs. In ancient times a great plague occurred in Egypt, and many ascribed the cause of it to the gods, who were offended with them. For since the multitudes of strangers of different nationalities, who lived there, made use of their foreign rites in religious ceremonies and sacrifices, the ancient manner of worshipping the gods, practised by the ancestors of the Egyptians, had been quite lost and forgotten. 2 Therefore the native inhabitants concluded that, unless all the foreigners were driven out, they would never be free from their miseries. All the foreigners were forthwith expelled, and the most valiant and noble among them, under some notable leaders, were brought to Greece and other places, as some relate; the most famous of their leaders were Danaus and Cadmus. But the majority of the people descended into a country not far from Egypt, which is now called Judaea and at that time was altogether uninhabited.

3 The leader of this colony was one Moses, a very wise and valiant man, who, after he had possessed himself of the country, amongst other cities, built that now most famous city, Jerusalem, and the temple there, which is so greatly revered among them. He instituted the holy rites and ceremonies with which they worship God; and made laws for the methodical government of the state. He also divided the people into twelve tribes, which he regarded as the most perfect number; because it corresponds to the twelve months within a whole year. 4 He made no representation or image of gods, because he considered that nothing of a human shape was applicable to God; but that heaven, which surrounds the earth, was the only God, and that all things were in its power. But he so arranged the rites and ceremonies of the sacrifices, and the manner and nature of their customs, as that they should be wholly different from all other nations; for, as a result of the expulsion of his people, he introduced a most inhuman and unsociable manner of life. He also picked out the most accomplished men, who were best fitted to rule and govern the whole nation, and he appointed them to be priests, whose duty was continually to attend in the temple, and employ themselves in the public worship and service of God. 5 He also made them judges, for the decision of the most serious cases, and committed to their care the preservation of their laws and customs. Therefore they say that the Jews have never had any king; but that the leadership of the people has always been entrusted to a priest, who excels all the rest in prudence and virtue. They call him the chief priest, and they regard him as the messenger and interpreter of the mind and commands of God. 6 And they say that he, in all their public assemblies and other meetings, discloses what has been commanded; and the Jews are so compliant in these matters, that forthwith they prostrate themselves upon the ground, and adore him as the high priest, who has interpreted to them the will of God. At the end of the laws this is added: "This is what Moses has heard from God and proclaims to the Jews." This lawgiver also laid down many excellent rules and instructions for military affairs, in which he trained the youth to be brave and steadfast, and to endure all miseries and hardships. 7 Moreover, he undertook many wars against the neighbouring nations, and gained much territory by force of arms, which he gave as allotments to his countrymen, in such a way as that everyone shared alike, except the priests, who had a larger portion than the rest; so that, because they had a larger income, they might continually attend upon the public worship of God without interruption. Neither was it lawful for any man to sell his allotment, lest, by the greed of those that bought the allotments, the others might be made poor and oppressed, and so the nation might suffer a shortage of manpower.

8 G   He also ordered the inhabitants to be careful in rearing their children, who are brought up with very little expense; and by that means the Jewish nation has always been very populous. As to their marriages and funerals, he instituted customs far different from all other people. But under the empires which rose up in later ages, especially during the rule of the Persians, and in the time of the Macedonians, who overthrew the Persians, through intermingling with foreign nations, many of the traditional customs among the Jews were altered . . . This is what Hecataeus of (?) Abdera has related about the Jews.

[4] G   This is a copy of the inscription that Pompeius set up, recording his achievements in Asia.

Pompeius Magnus, son of Gnaeus, imperator, freed the coasts of the world and all the islands within the Ocean from the attacks of pirates. He rescued from siege the kingdom of Ariobarzanes, Galatia and the territories and provinces beyond there, Asia and Bithynia. He protected Paphlagonia, Pontus, Armenia and Achaia, also Iberia, Colchis, Mesopotamia, Sophene and Gordyene. He subjugated Dareius king of the Medes, Artoles king of the Iberians, Aristobulus king of the Jews, and Aretas king of the Nabataean Arabs, also Syria next to Cilicia, Judaea, Arabia, the province of Cyrenaica, the Achaeans, Iozygi, Soani and Heniochi, and the other tribes that inhabit the coast between Colchis and Lake Maeotis, together with the kings of these tribes, nine in number, and all the nations that dwell between the Pontic Sea and the Red Sea. He extended the borders of the empire up to the borders of the world. He maintained the revenues of the Romans, and in some cases he increased them. He removed the statues and other images of the gods, and all the other treasure of the enemies, and dedicated to the goddess {Minerva} 12,060 pieces of gold and 307 talents of silver.

[5] G   In Rome, a certain Catilina, who was heavily in debt, and Lentulus, surnamed Sura, collected a mob and planned an uprising against the senate, as follows. A festival was due to occur, in which it was customary for those who had eminent patrons to send gifts to their patrons, and for this reason their houses were kept open throughout the night. Therefore they decided that on this occasion they would send assailants to the houses of the victims of the plot; the assailants would enter the houses without suspicion by pretending to bring gifts, but they would secretly be carrying swords, and when a few of them had gathered in each house, at one and the same time they would slaughter almost the whole senate. Although the plot had been carefully organised in this way, the senate was preserved from it by remarkable coincidence. For more than four hundred persons had been assigned to carry out the killing, but one of them happened to be in love with a girl, who often rebuffed him; and he told her that in a few days he would have mastery of her life. She was amazed by this statement, and could not understand why he made the threat; but since the youth persisted with his claim, while they were relaxing and drinking together, she pretended to be enjoying his company, and asked him to explain what he meant by his remark; and because he was in love with her, and wanted to please her, he told her the complete truth. At the time she kept quiet, pretending to be pleased with what she had heard; but on the following day she met with the wife of Cicero the consul, and privately informed her of what had happened and of what the youth had said. When the conspiracy had been revealed in this way, Cicero, partly by menacing threats and partly by gentle persuasion, learned all the details of the plot from them.

[5a] G   Lucius Sergius, surnamed Catilina, being heavily in debt, planned an uprising. Marcus Cicero, the consul, composed a speech about the anticipated troubles. Catilina was summoned to the meeting, and Cicero made the accusation to his face; but Catilina said that in no way would he admit his guilt by going into voluntary exile without a trial. Cicero put the question to the senators, whether they considered that Catilina should be banished from the city. When most of them kept quiet, because they were reluctant to condemn Catilina in his presence, Cicero tried another ploy, to reveal the true opinion of the senate. He put a second question to the senators, whether they would command Quintus Catulus to leave Rome. With one voice, they all exclaimed that they did not agree and that they were unhappy with the suggestion. Turning back to Catilina, Cicero pointed out how loudly the senators objected, if they did not consider it right for someone to go into exile; so it was clear from their previous silence that they agreed that Catilina should go into exile. Catilina said that he would ponder on this privately, and he withdrew from the meeting.

2 G   According to the proverb, less is the enemy of more.

[6] G   Vergilius, Lucian and Galen mention this Cleopatra, and Plutarch as well, and also Diodorus, Georgius the chronicler and others.

[7] G   See Diodorus, 1.5'1.   {The start of the Caesar's Gallic wars has been chosen by Diodorus to be the end of his history}

2 G   See Diodorus, 3.38'.2-3.   {Diodorus will give an account of the most northerly regions of Europe, when he describes the exploits of Caesar}

3 G   See Diodorus, 5.21'2.   {Diodorus will describe Caesar's invasion of Britain at the appropriate time}

4 G   See Diodorus, 5.22'1.   {Diodorus will record the customs and peculiarities of the British when he comes to describe Caesar's invasion of Britain}

[8] G   Some of the books were filched and published before they had been corrected and properly completed, when we were not yet fully satisfied with what had been written. We disown these books. To prevent the books that have appeared from damaging the reputation of the entire History, we have decided to compose a summary that will disprove such errors. We have arranged the work in forty books; in the first six we have related the events and myths of the times before the Trojan war; in these books we have not accurately defined the dates, because no fixed chronology is available . . .


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