Early Accounts of the Temple of Jerusalem – Sources     HomeSourcesTopicsViews


Dio's Roman History, Loeb series,
Macmillan, 1914-27. Transl. Earnest Cary.


Chapter 1. 1 Such was the course of these events; and following them Vespasian was declared emperor by the senate also, and Titus and Domitian were given the title of Caesars. The consular office was assumed by Vespasian and Titus while the former was in Egypt and the latter in Palestine. 2 Now portents and dreams had come to Vespasian pointing to the sovereignty long beforehand. Thus, as he was eating dinner on his country estate, where most of his time was spent, an ox approached him, knelt down and placed his head beneath his feet. On another occasion, when he was also eating, a dog dropped a human hand under the table. 3 And a conspicuous cypress tree, which had been uprooted and overthrown by a violent wind, stood upright again on the following day by its own power and continued to flourish. From a dream he learned that when Nero Caesar should lose a tooth, he himself should be emperor. This prophecy about the tooth became a reality on the following day; and Nero himself in his dreams once thought that he had brought the car of Jupiter to Vespasian's house. These portents needed interpretation; 4 but not so the saying of a Jew named Josephus: he, having earlier been captured by Vespasian and imprisoned, laughed and said: "You may imprison me now, but a year from now, when you have become emperor, you will release me."

Chapter 2. 1 Thus Vespasian, like some others, had been born for the throne. While he was still absent in Egypt, Mucianus administered all the details of government with the help of Domitian. For Mucianus, who claimed that he had bestowed the sovereignty upon Vespasian, plumed himself greatly upon his honours, and especially because he was called brother by him, and had authority to transact any business that he wished without the emperor's express direction, and could issue written orders by merely adding the other's name. 2 And for this purpose he wore a ring, that had been sent him so that he might impress the imperial seal upon documents requiring authorization. In fact, he and Domitian gave governorships and procuratorships to many and appointed prefect after prefect and even consuls. 3 In short, they acted in every way so much like absolute rulers that Vespasian once sent the following message to Domitian: "I thank you, my son, for permitting me to hold office and that you have not yet dethroned me." 4 Mucianus desired to be honoured by all and above all, so that he was displeased not only when any man whatever insulted him, but also when anyone failed to extol him greatly. Hence, just as he could never honour enough those who assisted him to even the smallest extent, so his hatred was most fierce against all who were not disposed to do so. 5 Now Mucianus was gathering countless sums into the public treasury with the greatest eagerness from every possible quarter, thereby relieving Vespasian of the censure what such a proceeding entailed. He was for ever declaring that money was the sinews of sovereignty; and in accordance with this belief he not only constantly urged Vespasian to raise funds from every source, but also continued from the very first to collect money himself, thus providing large amounts for the empire and at the same time acquire large amounts for himself.

Chapter 3. 1 In the province of Germany various uprisings against the Romans took place . . . . 3 The troubles in Germany were settled by Cerialis in the course of numerous battles, in one of which so great a multitude of Romans and barbarians was slain that the river flowing near by was dammed up by the bodies of the fallen. [3.4]

Chapter 4. 1 Titus, who had been assigned to the war against the Jews, undertook to win them over by certain representations and promises; but, as they would not yield, he now proceeded to wage war upon them. The first battles he fought were indecisive; then he got the upper hand and proceeded to besiege Jerusalem. This city had three walls, including the one that surrounded the temple. 2 The Romans, accordingly, heaped up mounds against the outer wall, brought up painter engines, joined battle with all who sallied forth to fight and repulsed them, and with their slings and arrows kept back all the defenders of the wall; for they had many slingers and bowmen that had been sent by some of the barbarian kings. 3 The Jews also were assisted by many of their countrymen from the region round about and by many who professed the same religion, not only from the Roman empire but also from beyond the Euphrates; and these, also, kept hurling missiles and stones with no little force on account of their higher position, woman being flung by the hand and some hurled by means of engines. 4 They also made sallies both night and day, whenever occasion offered, set fire to the siege engines, slew many of their assailants, and undermined the Romans' mounds by removing the earth through tunnels driven under the wall As for the battering-rams, sometimes they threw ropes around them and broke them off, sometimes they pulled them up with hooks, and again they used thick planks fastened together and strengthened with iron, which they let down in front of the wall and thus fended off the blow of still others. 5 But the Romans suffered most hardship from the lack of water; for their supply was of poor quality and had to be brought from a distance. The Jews found in their underground passages a source of strength; for they had these tunnels dug from inside the city and extending out under the walls to distant points in the country, and going out through them, they would attack the Romans' water-carriers and harass any scattered detachments. But Titus stopped up all these passages.

Chapter 5. 1 In the course of these operations many on both sides were wounded and killed. Titus himself was struck on the left shoulder by a stone, and as a result of this accident that arm was always weaker. 2 In time, however, the Romans scaled the outside wall, and then, pitching their camp between this and the second circuit, proceeded to assault the latter. But here they found the conditions of fighting different; for now that all the besieged had retired behind the second wall, its defence proved an easier matter because its circuit was shorter. 3 Titus therefore once more made a proclamation offering them immunity. But even then they held out, and those of them that were taken captive or deserted kept secretly destroying the Romans' water supply and slaying any troops that they could isolate and cut off from the rest; hence Titus would no longer receive any Jewish deserters. 4 Meanwhile some of the Romans, too, becoming disheartened, as often happens in a protracted siege, and suspecting, furthermore, that the city was really impregnable, as was commonly reported, went over to the other side. The Jews, even though they were short of food, treated these recruits kindly, in order to be able to show that there were deserters to their side also.

Chapter 6. 1 Though a breach was made in the wall by means of engines, nevertheless, the capture of the place did not immediately follow even then. On the contrary, the defenders killed great numbers that tried to crowd through the opening, and they also set fire to some of the buildings near by, hoping thus to check the further progress of the Romans, even though they should gain possession of the wall. In this way they not only damaged the wall but at the same time unintentionally burned down the barrier around the sacred precinct, so that the entrance to the temple was now laid open to the Romans. 2 Nevertheless, the soldiers because of their superstition did not immediately rush in; but at last, under compulsion from Titus, they made their way inside. Then the Jews defended themselves much more vigorously than before, as if they had discovered a piece of rare good fortune in being able to fight near the temple and fall in its defence. The populace was stationed below in the court, the senators on the steps, and the priests in the sanctuary itself. 3 And though they were but a handful fighting against a far superior force, they were not conquered until a part of the temple was set on fire. Then they met death willingly, some throwing themselves on the swords of the Romans, some slaying one another, others taking their own lives, and still others leaping into the flames. And it seemed to everybody, and especially to them, that so far from being destruction, it was victory and salvation and happiness to them that they perished along with the temple.

Chapter 7. 1 Yet even under these conditions many captives were taken, among them Bargiora, their leader; and he was the only one to be executed in connexion with the triumphal celebration. 2 Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most. From that time forth it was ordered that the Jews who continued to observe their ancestral customs should pay an annual tribute of two denarii to Jupiter Capitoline. In consequence of this success both generals received the title of imperator, but neither got that of Juda´cus, although all the other honours that were fitting on the occasion of so magnificent a victory, including triumphal arches, were voted to them. [8.1 . . . 9.2]

Chapter 9. 2a He soon restored order in Egypt and sent thence a large supply of grain to Rome. He had left his son Titus at Jerusalem to storm the place, and was waiting for its capture in order that he might return to Rome with him. But as time dragged on and the siege continued, he left Titus in Palestine and took passage himself on a merchantman; in this manner he sailed as far as Lycia, and from there he proceeded partly by land and partly by sea to Brundisium. 3 Vespasian had later come to Rome, after meeting Mucianus and other prominent men at Brundisium and Domitian at Beneventum. [9.4 . . . 12.1]

Chapter 12. 1a After Jerusalem had been captured Titus returned to Italy and both he and his father celebrated a triumph, riding in a chariot. Domitian, who was consul, also took part in the celebration, mounted upon a charger. Vespasian afterwards established in Rome teachers of both Latin and Greek learning, who drew their pay from the public treasury. [13.1 . . . . 16.3]

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