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The porticoes and the inner temple itself were completed in nine years and a half; but it appears that the whole structure was not finished until long after the death of Herod. (Joseph. Ant. xv. 11, xx. 9. § 7, B. J. i. 21. § 1.) Nor was it only in his own dominions that Herod loved to give proofs of his wealth and munificence: he also adorned the cities of Tripolis, Damascus, Berytus, and many others not subject to his rule, with theatres, porticoes, and other splendid edifices. On his voyage to join Agrippa in Greece, he gave large sums of money to the cities of Mytilene and Chios for the repair of their public buildings; and in b.c. 18, having touched in Greece, on his way to Rome, he not only presided in person at the Olympic games, but gave such large sums towards the revival of that solemnity, that he was honoured with the title of its perpetual president. (Joseph. Ant. xvi. 2. §2, B. J.i. 21. §§ 11, 12.)
Herod had the singular good fortune to rule over his dominions during a period of near thirty years, from his confirmation on the throne by Augustus till his death, undisturbed by a single war, foreign or domestic ; for the occasional hostilities with the robbers of Trachonitis, or the Arab chiefs that supported them, scarcely deserve the name. Once only, during his temporary absence from Syria, did these plundering tribes ravage Judaea to a considerable extent, but they were repressed immediately on his return. But the more prosperous appears the condition of Herod as a sovereign, whether we regard his internal policy or his external relations, the darker shows the reverse of the picture when we look to the long series of domestic tragedies that mark the latter years of his reign. Into the details of this complicated tissue of crimes and intrigues it is impossible for us here to enter: they are given by Josephus (our sole authority) with a circumstantial minuteness, that naturally leads us to inquire whence his knowledge was derived,—a question which we have unfortunately no means of answering. A lively abridgment of his picturesque narrative will be'found in Milman's History of t7te Jews, vol. ii. book xi. A very brief outline is all that can be here given.
In b. c. 18, Herod paid a visit to Rome in person, where he was received with the utmost distinction by Augustus. When he returned to Judaea, he took with him Alexander and Aristo-bulus, his two sons by the unfortunate Mariamne, whom he had previously sent to Rome to be brought up at the court of Augustus. Having thus received an excellent education, and being just in the prime of their youth, the two young men quickly attained the greatest popularity, and enjoyed the especial favour of Herod himself. Among other marks of this, he married Alexander to the daughter of Archelaus, king of Cappadocia, and Aristobulus to Berenice, the daughter of his sister Salome. But the favour of the young princes excited the envy of Pheroras and Salome, the brother and sister of Herod, who contrived to poison the mind of the king against his two sons. In an evil hour Herod was induced to recal to his court Antipater, his son by a former wife, Doris; and this envious and designing man immediately set to work, not only to supplant, but destroy, his two brothers. So far did the combined artifices of Antipater, Salome, and Pheroras succeed in working,upon the mind of Herod, that in b.c. 11, he took the two princes with him to Aquileia, where Augustus then was,
and accused them before the emperor of designs upon the life of their father. But the charge was manifestly groundless, and Augustus succeeded in bringing about a reconciliation for a time. This, however, did not last long: the enemies of the young princes again obtained the ascendancy, and three years afterwards Herod was led to believe that Alexander had formed a conspiracy to poison him. On this charge he put to death and tortured many of the friends and associates of the young prince. Alexander, in return, accused Pheroras and Salome of designs upon the life of Herod ; and the whole court was in confusion, when the intervention of Archelaus, king of Cappadocia, once more effected a reconciliation. A third attempt of Antipater was more successful: by the instrumentality of Eury-cles, a Lacedaemonian, at that time resident at the court of Herod, he brought a fresh accusation against Alexander and his brother; to which the king lent a willing ear, and having first obtained the consent of Augustus, Herod brought his two sons to a mock trial at Berytus, where they were condemned without being even heard in their defence, and soon after put to death at Sebaste, b. c. 6. But the execution of these unhappy youths was far from removing all the elements of discord within the house of Herod. Repeated dissensions had arisen between him and his brother Pheroras, whom he at length ordered to withdraw into his own tetrarchy of Peraea. Here he soon after died: his widow was accused of having poisoned him, and the investigations consequent upon this charge led to the discovery of a more important conspiracy, which had been formed by Antipater and Pheroras-in concert, against the life of Herod himself. Antipater was at the time absent at Rome: he was allowed to return to Judaea without suspicion, when he was immediately seized, brought to trial before Quintilius Varus, the Roman governor of Syria, and condemned to death. His execution was, however, respited until the consent of Augustus could be obtained. (Joseph. Ant. xv. 10. § 1, xvi. 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, xvii. 1—5, B. J. i. 23—32 ; Strab, xvi. p. 765.)
Meanwhile, it was clear that the days of Herod himself were numbered. He was attacked by a painful disease, which slowly consumed his stomach and intestines, and the paroxysms of pain that he suffered from this disorder served to exasperate the natural ferocity of his temper. During his last illness a sedition broke out among the Jews, with the view of tearing down the golden eagle which he had set up over the gate of the temple, and which the bigoted people regarded as an idolatrous emblem ; but the tumult was quickly suppressed, and the leaders punished with unsparing cruelty. On his deathbed, too, he must have ordered that massacre of the children at Bethlehem which is recorded by the Evangelist. (Matth. ii. 16.) Such an act of cruelty, confined as it was to the neighbourhood of a single village, may well have passed unnoticed among the more wholesale atrocities of his reign, and hence no argument can fairly be drawn from the silence of Josephus against the credibility of the fact itself. (See Winer's Bib-lisches Real Worterbuch, vol. i. p. 568.) Almost the last act of his life was to order the execution of his son Antipater, permission having at length arrived from Rome for him to act in this matter as he thought fit. Five days afterwards he himself died, in the thirty-seventh year of his reign (dating